“Sam Harris Vs. Abby Martin”

Interesting to listen to them express their views on Islam, jihadists, and U.S. intervention in the Middle East.

“Take Me To Church”

Came across a new song today, introduced to me by my companion. It’s by Hozier and titled “Take Me To Church”:

He’s been listening to it on the radio and said it reminded him of me due to its gospel feel. Never saw the video before though.

This song has really been growing on me over the last couple of days. Very emotionally provocative.

The way of one Primitive Baptist preacher

Mentioned in a recent video that my ex-in-laws were Primitive Baptists, so let me elaborate a bit so people have a better idea of what I’m getting at here. My ex-father-in-law was a preacher (as well as owning his own bricklaying company and before that being a chicken farmer when his kids were young) and he came up in a Primitive Baptist family who all lived near one another in the same county, not too far off from where my own lived (my ex-in-laws lived for many years right directly next door to one of my Grandma’s sisters, coincidentally, years before I met my ex). I mentioned that my ex-father-in-law was a harsh man who took his position as the male leader of the family too far and wound up being very abusive to all of his kids and his wife, finally resulting in his wife divorcing him after approximately 24 years of marriage (when my ex was about 14, which is what freed him up to attend public school beginning in the 9th grade, the kids having all been home-schooled while the parents were together, with only one exception who paid for his own attendance at a local private school for his last couple of years).

My ex-father-in-law for many years now has been running a column in their local newspaper where he preaches his brand of fire and brimstone. I’ve noticed a little while back that he now also has a website with his sermons uploaded. I recall reading more than a few columns of his that were outright vitriolic against homosexuals (he completely and utterly detests and condemns them and states it loud and proud any chance he gets), but he’s a very judgmental man who takes issue with damn-near everything. When it comes to females, he and his family firmly believe women should never wear pants or shorts and must always wear skirts of long length. The mother is expected to only be a caretaker of the home and kids and vegetable garden, forbidden to work outside of it. Children must be home-schooled (as mentioned above) since they consider the rest of society to be filled with dangerous sinners, and religious education occurred every single day and ALL DAY on Sundays.

[And for the record, I’m not even opposed to home-schooling. Just didn’t care for how all they did it, though all 5 kids received educations superior to the rest of us attending the public or private local schools. Even though their mother only had a high school diploma, she did a good job there — I give her that. My ex-husband came up with familiarity with classic literature and understood human anatomy well enough that he was granted admittance into a rural medical scholarship program as a teen. Out of 5 kids, 4 attended college and I believe 3 completed their bachelor’s degrees. Though they obviously did grow up in a very insular environment, surrounded by relatives and cousins, except where they participated in local sports.]

When I speak of this man being abusive to his family, I am referring to excessive control and psychological mistreatment and bouts of violence. For example, choking out one of his sons out as a teenager. Another example that was mentioned in the divorce papers (which I read while dating my ex) was continuing to whip his adult daughters with belts when they’d return home for visits while attending college. My ex was particularly traumatized by events that he witnessed, he being the youngest of the kids, such as his father mistreating his mother and almost running her over with a vehicle on one occasion. We’re not talking mild or vague abuse here, and all of his kids (last I knew) and his ex-wife turned their backs on him and moved away (and all were seriously impacted as adults when I met them, having since abandoned the denomination they grew up with). By the time I met my ex-husband (when I was 17 and he was a senior in high school), he had converted to atheism/agnosticism and never again returned to Christianity (though he remained extremely knowledgeable of the bible and could quote scripture and explain verses in a way I found fascinating and illuminating).

To give a small taste of who my ex-father-in-law was, I’ll transcribe a portion of one of his columns that was printed in the local newspaper in 2013:

Some of you are so ignorant as to suppose that because you have not bowed to a statue of a heathen “deity” that you are not an idolater. But go read Colossians 3:5 and you will see that covetousness is idolatry. If you have something or someone that you love more than God, you are an idolater. Some of you have made money your god. Some of you have made pleasure your god. Some of you have made your base lusts your god. Some of you have made your children your god. Some of you have your religion your god. Ultimately, a lost man worships himself. You are not saved, because you have never turned from your idols to serve the living and true God.

Now God’s word is clear. “Idolaters… shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone” (Revelation 21:8). Dear reader, unless you turn this moment from your idols, and turn to God, you will spend eternity where the fire is not quenched, and the worm never dies. Sinner, turn or burn!

The man pretty much considers damn-near anything and everything a sin too. VERY hard for anyone (outside of his parents and certain relatives perhaps) to escape his condemnation. Very insular thinking. And he preaches to a congregation mostly made up of his own extended family these days (or at least last I knew).

In his view, divorce is completely unacceptable, even when exposed to cruel and unrelenting abuse. I noticed when I checked Wikipedia’s page on Primitive Baptists it didn’t go into much detail, and I assume that the extremes can and do differ depending on particular groups’ and individuals’ interpretations of scripture and whatever else, as is the case all across all denominations of Christianity. So this man represents only one small clan in rural Mississippi that I came to be exposed to.

But I offer this information just to help flesh out the points I’m aiming to make, one of which is that there are patriarchal setups still alive and well. They do exist and have for a long, long time. If you asked my ex-father-in-law if he considers himself a patriarch, he will unequivocally say “yes.” To him and his people, it is the proper order, because they deem men as closest to God, then women, then children. That is how they structure their own community and lives, and it’s what they preach as right and proper for all others as well. So this is not simply a myth fabricated by feminists, even as feminists have tended to blow it all out of proportion. For the record.

And I may have actually written about this man on here before, but ah well. Felt like adding a bit more. He appears to have mellowed out a good bit in recent years, so that’s positive at least.

“Glimpses into Existence” series by Dr. Sadler, lectures 1-4

Finally took time today to get caught up on the following lecture series.

The intro, “Glimpses into Existence, Lecture 1: ‘What is Existentialism?'”:

“Glimpses into Existence, Lecture 2: ‘Lessons of Socrates and Abraham – Søren Kierkegaard'”:

This was actually the last video of the series (available up to this point) that I watched, having started with Fyodor Dostoevsky and the Nietzsche (posted below). A couple years back or so I read Kierkegaard’s Purity of Heart is to Will One Thing and took what I could from it. Actually brought it along on a trip to Mississippi for reading out on the porch. But it helps to have Dr. Sadler break his philosophy down in a general, overview sort of way.

“Glimpses into Existence, Lecture 3: Underground Men, Inquisitors, and Saints – Fyodor Dostoevsky”:

This one I found very helpful as well, after having only listened to Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment on audiobook in the past. Maybe someday I’ll listen to The Brothers Karamazov, but I’m most interested in his The Demons and The Idiot.

“Glimpses into Existence Lecture 4 Overcoming Nihilism After The Death of God – Friedrich Nietzsche”:

Still haven’t picked back up my copy of The Portable Nietzsche lately, though eventually I will. It rides around in the car for days I forget to bring along another book. For as much as I understand of his writings, I can’t help but take issue with Nietzsche’s definitive atheist stance. It rules out too many possibilities, IMO, though I’ve found his writings on nihilism and individualism pretty interesting.

Looking forward to the rest of this series very much so. It appears existential philosophy is the branch of philosophy that interests me most and seems especially relevant in modern times.

Francis Collins – The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence of Belief (plus my thoughts)

Still learning about Francis Collins’ views, and this video went a  long way in letting me know where he’s coming from. He and I come from different places and our views do differ in terms of how we envision or understand God to be. But I greatly appreciated this talk and Q&A. Dr. Collins does a good job of laying out that there’s more to life than science can explain, now and possibly ever; it’s just his conception of God that I have some serious quibbles over. To me, Christianity is interesting, but I see it as yet another narrative in a long line up through history. I cannot accept its deity in full, though I can appreciate what these people 2,000 years ago were attempting to point to. All religious narratives were attempting to describe that which we call “God,” and I believe all fell short. All have so far been caught up in and limited by our human lens. We are incapable of fully comprehending such wonders, that is my belief. To describe God as a He or a She or an It is inadequate and misleading. People take biblical scriptures wayyy too literally these days, and that seriously clouds people’s judgment, religious people and atheists combating them alike.

There’s more to life than science can allow us to understand, this I strongly believe to be true. And this ties into our social, psychological, and moral realm where science is already clearly demonstrating its limitations. This is my primary qualm with the psychiatry and mental health professions today — so-called “experts” are attempting to treat social and interpersonal and system-induced difficulties as if they were medical maladies, “diseases” being the popular term nowadays. That route will never bear fruit, messing with neurochemistry without deeply examining the societal and environmental influences on emotional turbulence and/or apathy. People wish to believe a cure can come in the form of a pill, but oftentimes this is not so, especially not when it comes to addressing our natural reactions to social upheaval. We blame people for not “adjusting properly,” but according to what standard? It’s according to the standard set by our economy primarily. People must function in order to serve it; that seems to be the dominant concern. And most of us are not adjusting well, despite plenty being very good and consistent actors.

For me this all relates back to my own inquiry into that which we call God. It involves a moral dimension that science alone cannot sufficiently address.

But that is all I have time to say tonight.

**Update 5/25/13: That video spurred me to order Francis Collins’ book The Language of God in audiobook format, which arrived a couple days ago. Nice having something new to listen to and concentrate on as I drive between appointments. Audiobooks rock!

The reading of “Body Pleasure and the Origin of Violence” by James W. Prescott (my thoughts follow)

YT user ChristophDollis recommended I watch the following video titled “Abusers, Orgasms, Pain and Pleasure…” uploaded by Stefan Molyneux:

Pausing at the 34 min. mark, let me first say thanks for suggesting this clip of the reading of a piece titled “Body Pleasure and the Origin of Violence” by James W. Prescott (from “The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists” — Nov. 1975). Interesting hearing what people have been putting out into the universe and how much of the public has overlooked it. The rest of my comments below aren’t directed at anyone in particular and are simply thoughts stimulated by the video.

One reason I believe the public tends to glance right past material such as that (besides not finding it entertaining) is because we’re all affected by exactly that which Dr. Prescott is discussing. While 1975 was before my time, not much has changed in the way of improvement in our social relations since then most certainly, yet our heads remain firmly planted in the sand. Not many of us are out here actively seeking information and answers, partly because many people lack time and/or energy, but also because we are a socially and sexually fucked up lot. lol That’s not putting it delicately, but I doubt many would disagree if they really stopped and thought about it.

We’re a society of sado-masochists basically, and plenty of folks are attached to being that way. They see it as normal or even healthy. It affects so many of us that it indeed appears to be the norm. Pressing pleasure and pain boundaries is all the rage these days, whether that be on the softer or harder ends of the spectrum. And arguably on the less extreme end it’s difficult to argue that such behavior is terribly detrimental when it can be quite enjoyable play for both involved. Furthermore, I do believe sex has become a balm of sorts to pacify us as we struggle through modern times. Sex can have drug-like qualities of its own, particularly in how it allows a mental escape. I’ve been particularly skeptical of these claims circling about “sexual addiction,” but I do get how sex has for many an obsessive allurement. It’s where pleasure-seeking meets sexual dysfunction brought about in a wide assortment of ways. People do need touch and I’d agree many lacked enough of it and go on seeking it however which way. This easily can lead into the topic of prostitution and pornography, which then necessarily runs into economic bullshittery, but I’d prefer to keep it relatively brief right now.

Pornography must be mentioned, because it reflects just how sado-masochistic we’ve become. Americans may argue that many of us don’t truly engage in the cruelties exhibited on common pornos, but it’s enough that we use them for masturbatory material. How many of us don’t? It gets into our psyches through viewing, and we don’t resist it and demand more affectionate sexual displays because why? Because we are lazy and will take whatever is put before us? Because we grow conditioned to viewing this sort of material since many of us were exposed by our teen years? Because some have grown to genuinely like it? Men and women genuinely are turned on watching a woman be gagged by cock, making choking sounds, looking pathetic, while the man has hold of her hair and is calling her a “stupid whore”? That is truly exciting, is it? And all this anal sex, is that really what everyone wants? Many have told me no, but I also know that plenty are curious.

The trouble is that people tend to imitate pornography, this is my observation. Everyone has their own experience to pull from, but this is my view of it. Especially younger males. Older males over the age of 45 approach sex differently, though it’s difficult to put into words. Less formulaic approach to sex, perhaps. The younger man is oftentimes re-acting a routine, one that apparently is supposed to include oral sex performed on him and involves a lot of banging, not much kissing, not much caressing. That’s a weird thing to me and it turned me off on much of my own age group in my 20s. I’ve watched my share of porn and still do occasionally, so I do know where they’re getting this stuff from. It’s not just the way of men — it’s the training of young men and women to be bad lovers. That is my take.

The lesson of porn is one too often of aggression and intimate distance. Because a penis is inserted into a vagina, we call that intimacy. That is not intimacy. That is mere function. Calling the purely physical act itself intimacy is so completely detached from considerations of realness, genuine attraction, mutual respect and feelings of exhilaration. This mindset is robbing sex of the sanctity it rightfully deserves.

Whether money is exchanged or two lovers find one another in a bar or sex is filmed and distributed for others to view, it is not my concern. None of that automatically desacralizes sex in my eyes. What does is the negative, resentful and/or apathetic attitude that so often accompanies sexuality, at least as practiced in the U.S today. The lack of respect for the act is apparent to me, and it sickens me, even as I’ve been caught up in just such a lifestyle myself. Extricated myself from it, by and large, but I am still affected by it, and my body responds to it, even as my mind knows better. That is the result of conditioning, of youthful exposure, of porn increasingly influencing the mainstream media (which I term as “porn culture”), of widespread acceptance (especially within my age group), and undoubtedly upbringing factors in. We live in a social climate of value anomie where everything is up for experimentation, especially if money or attention can be attained off of it.

Sexual displays garner attention. People respond to that, as is natural, especially for those who feel deprived of enough attention. Sexuality, therefore, isn’t so much addictive as it is magnetic. We’re drawn to it like moths to a flame. Social and intimate dysfunction opens people up to drawing toward sexual dysfunctionality. This I do believe.

Yet people defend it. Tooth and nail. They tend to argue from a libertarian legal perspective (which, to an extent, I share), stating whatever adults are involved in voluntarily should be allowable. While I’m not an advocate for censorship or bringing in new laws to attempt to control our behaviors, I have come to take issue with the hard-line attitude in support of virtually all pornography and violent displays, because it leaves off the table the moral, social, and psychological dimensions to this ordeal. It’s as if legality is all people want to see in any of this; all other concerns are reduced and dismissed as mere personal preferences.

Having now finished watching the entire video clip, I basically agree with what that man said. However, I worry about his strategies being employed someday in a “Brave New World” kind of way, which would create a host of problems all unto itself. Call me a Luddite of sorts, which is probably accurate to an extent, but I have trouble with comprehending how modern life as Westerners experience it is healthy for humans in terms of its push toward “experts”micromanaging everything and economics ultimately determining our collective fate. Much more could be said in response to this clip, which I am glad to have listened to, but it’s approaching dinner time.

One man pondering reality

A fantastic video I wandered across tonight:

Which I came across via this playlist.