What is a Christian? Insight From an Unlikely Source

The famous atheist philosopher, Bertrand Russell, had the following to say in the opening of his book, Why I am Not a Christian. It is actually a good and challenging word His Church today.

“I think that you must have a certain amount of definite belief before you have the right to call yourself a Christian. The word does not have quite such a full-blooded meaning now as it had in the days of St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas. In those days, if a man said that he was a Christian it was known what he meant. You accepted a whole collection of creeds which were set out with great precision, and every single syllable of those creeds you believed with the whole strength of your convictions. Nowadays it is not quite like that.”

Posted in atheism, christian faith, cultural analysis, culture, God, sociology of religion, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Non-Binary T-Shirts Come in Only Two Genders

Perfectly good irony seems to be lost on these folks

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Rosie the Riveter: Not the Feminist Icon You Think She Is

She’s become one of the world’s most well-known icons.

The rolled up sleeves of her heavy denim work shirt. Her slender arm flexed, fist clenched in an unmistakable “don’t mess with me” pose. Her factory employee button alongside her finely manicured nails. Her hair bundled up in her trademark bandanna, crowning her very pretty and meticulously made up face. She’s at once hard, strong, beautiful and unmistakably feminine.

But she’s not who you think she is. Not at all. And the New Yorker’s historically incorrect use of the poster and misappropriation of the woman herself is an insult to women’s history.  Let me tell you her story.

She was created in 1942 by artist J. Howard Miller who produced her under contract for Westinghouse. It was one of a series of posters, each used as motivational tools for Westinghouse employees to boost team spirit, factory productivity, and safety and also avoid strikes. The directions to shop managers to “Post Feb. 15 to Feb. 28” appear in its bottom left corner. Thus it was seen for only two weeks, exclusively by Westinghouse employees of its Midwest operations. It was unknown to the public until the mid-1980s.

She is not actually Rosie the Riveter. Westinghouse didn’t rivet anything. The Rosie that people knew and loved at the time was Norman Rockwell’s “Rosie the Riveter.” (Note her halo, her curious “man arms” and the title of the book she is crushing beneath her foot.) She was even feted in this snappy and popular tune.

The “We” in “We Can Do It!” is not a collective, feminist “we.” “We” was the corporation’s male and female employees. The “It” was meeting the order quotas for each factory, each day. Her flexed arm and clenched fist? It was certainly not a revolutionary symbol of strength and feminist empowerment. It was part of Westinghouse’s daily corporate cheer to stoke morale. Westinghouse Magazine (September 1942) featured a picture of such a rally with the explanation, “With ‘Let’s Show Them’ as their slogan and a clenched fist as their symbol,” the team readies for their duties.

Rosie has been grossly misappropriated. She was no feminist, to be sure!

She was only so in that she expected full and equal pay for a full day’s work. But she was first and foremost a dedicated patriot, standing in while her husbands and boyfriends were on the Front. Her desire was to earn a living for her family and help her men come home safe and soon. Nobody, even the most traditionalist of her day, thought she was transcending or redefining femininity by doing this sort of labor.

Yes, she was happy for the work, the education and independence it provided. She changed the working world for her daughters and granddaughters, to be sure. But the only message she was interested in sending was to the Axis powers. Her only stand was for victory. She was indeed strong, capable, and dedicated and did not shrink from the difficult challenge. The millions of women who became Rosies were true national treasures, and the Great War likely could not have been won without them. Her British sisters did the same, as did her mother and grandmother in WWI.

Just as Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony would be scandalized to find themselves assumed into a movement that is antithetical to their strongly held convictions about the life of the unborn and virtue of motherhood, Rosie would be as well. A scholarly article in the journal Rhetoric and Public Affairs addresses the many myths and misconceptions that have grown up around the “We Can Do It!” poster in recent decades. The authors designate its pop-culture evolution a “feminist fable.”

Today’s understanding of the poster and its message are for the most part “mythic” …[W]hile the words in “We Can Do It!” may appear to emerge from a female source, the image’s beauty and elegance conceal the fact that it is a ventriloquist’s voice commissioned by Westinghouse, a voice whose purpose was evidently [corporately] masculine and perhaps even exploitive.

That poster was replaced on the factory floor by this one of the same series by the same artist, just the opposite of any feminist ideal. These scholars conclude the “poster has come to represent a past that never was.” Most of these patriotic and self-sacrificing Rosies would not care for the way they have been coopted by the more radical fringes of the feminist movement today, particularly the New Yorker’s historically dishonest use of her. This is who she was, here, here, here, and here.

She signed up for and succeeded in a great national cause. It’s incorrect to sign her up for something she was never about. She was not a revolutionary idealist, but a patriotic realist; head down, working hard for her family and country.

Rosie was a well-behaved woman who made history. Let her be what she was.

Posted in cultural analysis, culture, feminism, politics | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Why Are So Many Lesbians Getting Pregnant?

It makes for an illogical syllogism.

          Premise A: Lesbians are sexually attracted to women only.

          Premise B: Women cannot impregnate women.

          Conclusion: Lesbians have higher pregnancy rates than non-lesbians.

It’s contrary to all reason, but it’s true. Lesbians have significantly higher pregnancy rates than their heterosexual peers. It’s also true for teen gay males. They are substantially more likely to impregnate their sexual partners than are heterosexual males.

                  Continue reading here

Posted in cultural analysis, culture, lesbian, lgbt, Loving My (LGBT) Neighbor, politics, Sexuality | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

The Time We Creamed a Guy in Auckland

Late last year I was invited to New Zealand for six weeks to work on a writing project for my friends at Focus on the Family NZ.

The last few days we filmed a presentation of the completed curriculum before a group of Kiwi teens at a downtown Auckland church. I ordered an Uber to deliver me to the shoot. The driver, an Indian gentleman, was pleasantly friendly and an enjoyable conversationalist.

His car was a nice Prius and NZ drivers are situated on the “other” side of the car. I was sitting in the rear seat, sitting close and diagonal to my driver. As we got in the middle of the bustling downtown, we started to make a left hand turn. What happened next happened in an absolute flash, but in slow motion.

As we began our turn, a blur appeared in my left peripheral vision. Then a helmeted head exploded through the front passenger window, right in front of my face. That whole window shattered into a hurricane of glass, assaulting my driver. As quick as that blur slammed into the side of the car and the head blasted through the window, it was gone from view, rocketing back and downward.

The driver stopped the car on a dime post-impact. I was in shock and the drive was rightfully freaking out. We hit a bike messenger. He was flying one second. Then he wasn’t. In this slow-motion instant, I remember wondering if I wanted to look back and check on the bike messenger or not see a horrid sight I might not ever get out of my head.

In that split second, before I could even turn my head, the bike messenger was up and his head shoved back in the window. Rather than the sound of shattering glass and impact, he was sharing his choice and colorful thoughts about my driver’s navigational ability with great conviction. I patted my friend on the shoulder and told him it was alright. It was just a accident and the victim appeared more than fine. Actually, more lively than he had probably been in some time.

Uberman turned around and said to me quite firmly, “Get out, get out! Go. You go!” Not angry, but definite. Feeling he had enough on this hands, I gathered my things, exited the car and started to walk away. I had two thoughts.

What did it look like, someone just getting out of a car involved in a substantial accident and walking away. Second, where was I relative to where I needed to be? Again, I figured my dilemma was nothing compared to my driver’s. So I headed to the curb and saw my destination a half a block down. The film crew met me in the parking lot and asked how I was. Still shaking, I told them the story, pointing to the mangled bike in the street and the driver and cyclist engaged.

Creamed a bike messenger my first time in New Zealand. I won’t forget that. I’ve thought of the outcome of the two men many times since. Oh, and I gave the driver a very positive Uber review and didn’t mention the incident. I wanted him to have a great feeling of  grace and relief when he checked his review for that fare.

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Mr. UNTUCKit. An American Hero

From the moment you see him on screen, you know he’s a man of purpose. His eyes are set, locked on the horizon. A visionary. Others easily step aside for him on the street, not out of fear, but respect. He’s going somewhere and you would happily follow him there.

He comes bearing great news. He alone has recognized a problem that has long plagued him and millions of other men. He was the only wise enough to realize it was a problem. Finding the solution would be no simple task, but doing so became his life’s passion. He is not shy about using the word – passion – in his commercial with something approaching the fierce urgency of now. The problem?

You’ll want to sit down for this.

Our man couldn’t find a shirt that looked good untucked.

Men, we all know what he’s talking about. When I first saw Mr. UNTUCKit’s commercial, my heart felt strangely warmed. I was no longer alone, drowning in my own sense of shame. Sure, I knew I’d been walking around in public with a shirt that was never, ever intended to be untucked. But untuck it I did. I just didn’t know any better. My need to untuck was greater than my own need of self-worth. I didn’t care if people pointed and laughed or looked away in disgust. I didn’t care if people met the eyes of my children with those tender “you poor child” glances. Like so many others, I had lost myself utterly in that no-man’s land between comfort and respectability. But all that’s changed now with Mr. UNTUCKit’s 30-second message of hope.

He refused to succumb, to live one more day looking like a dang fool. He rose up. He fought back. He blazed a trail for all other men. He said “it’s easier said than done” but he did what seemed impossible: design a shirt that was intended to be untucked. Constantine, Columbus, Lindbergh, Churchill, Edison and Gates all felt a little smaller, a little less at this great turn. He alone had the man stuff to take it on and do so with absolute confidence and calm. He was born to it.

There’s no news yet of a Nobel Prize or Presidential Medal of Honor but you know their coming. His vision and persistence has been handily rewarded with hordes of men blinking their way out of fashion darkness and into one of his five expensively designed, hip retail shops in our nation’s premier apparel centers. Others visit his smart website featuring bearded male models that do not exist in nature. His only flaw is lacking a business model like a certain shoe company: order a incredibly priced item and a poor child on the other side of the world receives the exact same product for free. Now young men in undeveloped countries can walk with with their heads held high. A human dignity twofer.

Somebody has promised to make America great again. I say we’ve never been better. Thank you Mr. UNTUCKit. Every man, and the woman who loves him, is forever in your debt.

Posted in cultural analysis, culture, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Was the Women’s March on Washington Really the Women’s March?

womens-marchLast Saturday women by the millions took the streets across the nation to protest. As many commentators have noted, the purpose of their marching was not precisely clear, even to the marchers. It certainly had something to do with clever pink knit hats that were supposed to be somehow anatomically presentative. There must have been more to it than that for sure.

Yes, “reproductive rights” and “women’s health” were a key part which actually means just one thing: abortion. It is not actually reproductive nor healthy. Euphemisms.

Given this, did this march of millions of women really represent women?

I read a unique and insightful article earlier this week that challenged this very question as well as the real nature of the march. It is written by a Canadian columnist, Margaret Went, who generally identifies with the ideals of mainstream feminism. Her piece appeared in Canada’s country wide paper, The Globe & Mail.

The money part of Wente’s piece is here:

But will this weekend’s march change history? Not a chance. Women’s solidarity is a mirage. Forty-two per cent of U.S. women voted for Donald Trump. Among white women, it was 53 per cent. The people we saw on Saturday simply reflected the Democratic base: big-city urban and suburban professionals, overwhelmingly white, along with people from minority groups. I liked the festive air – the pink “pussy hats,” the cheeky signs, the people dressed up as vaginas. But the keynote speakers – Gloria Steinem, Angela Davis, and Madonna – were relics from another age. Let’s face it. The heady, glorious days of feminism are far behind us.”

Her point is not to slam the March or its efforts, but to explain that women are not a monolithic body, which is obvious enough if we just think about it. She’s saying it didn’t seem to represent most women, not even the smartest, most enlightened ones. It represented  only one sliver of the female population. This march was properly a national, if not global, demonstration writ large that radical feminism jumped the shark some time ago. Most women, who care passionately about genuine women’s issues, did delight to see other women being publically active and vocal, but largely rolled their eyes at this march’s theatrics and rhetoric.

It has little to do with their world and concerns.

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U2 Delays New Album Because Trump Won

u2Dear Bono:

Can I speak frankly as a friend? Its time you appreciate that you and your band’s super coolness has passed its “Best by” date some time ago.

It could have been a learning opportunity when scads of people didn’t want your last album downloaded to their devices as it required precious energy to delete it. Sure, it was free, but even then… It was class that you publicly apologized for assuming everyone would be stoked to have it. Even for free.

Now the news that you guys have to take a moment, catch your breath and get your bearings before you can release your new album because the American people elected Donald to occupy the White House. It will be OK.

You thought Ronnie and Maggie, the 80s power couple, were going to destroy the world. They did not. Trump will not either. Find your happy place and release your album when you feel better.

But do know that you’ll become your better selves by realizing that people care what you think about our politics so much less than you think they do. It will take a tremendous weight off your shoulders.

Your friend,


Posted in arts, cultural analysis, culture, music, politics, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Patti Smith, the Nobel Ceremony and a Turn of Beautiful Grace

It was announced on October 13th that Bob Dylan had won the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature.

The discussion of whether his work was worthy of such an honor ensued. It is, if not for his Himalayan body of work, at least for this song alone.

It seemed as if Mr. Dylan wasn’t much interested in recognizing the honor. The committee heard nothing from him for nearly a week. They gave up trying to contact him. A member of the committee called his silence “impolite and arrogant.”

He finally contacted the Nobel folks and graciously told them their honor “left him speechless.” No wonder they hadn’t heard from him. However, he told them regretfully he would not be able to attend the ceremony in Oslo. In the speech he sent to be read in his absence, he admitted this recognition was something he “never could have imagined or seen coming” and that his chance of winning this coveted award was equal to standing on the moon one day.

He also turned down President Obama’s congratulatory invitation to the White House.

As a fix, it was announced that the elegant Patti Smith would attend the ceremony and perform in Dylan’s stead. Imagine the equal honor/pressure being chosen for such an assignment. On December 9th, she performed Dylan’s cataclysmic prophecy Hard Rainwritten in 1962 by the 21-year-old kid from the frozen, no-where iron-ore fields of northern Minnesota.

It was Smith’s performance of this difficult song that was the most remarkable thing about this whole remarkable story.

Patti is a uniquely beautiful woman with a rare heart-melting voice. She was the perfect choice. But the most extraordinarily wonderful part of her performance is curiously where she lost her place in the lyrics. It happened about a third of the way into her performance (at 2:03 below).

She tried her best to recover and move through it without notice but without luck. She was too far off the trail. After a number of stumbling tries, you can see in her face the calculation of whether to stop, get her bearings and start over.

She looks to the conductor with deep embarrassment offering a helpless “I’m sorry. Can we start again?” She’s a soul laid bare, putting in mind a terrified high-schooler asking to start over in her try-out for the school musical. It’s humiliating but also requires a ton of personal presence.

Smith then turned to the audience and said, “I’m sorry. I’m so nervous.” She buried her face in her hands.

patti-smith-oslo2That simple, humble admission transforms the cavernous theater. Her audience, filled with some of the most important people in the world, erupts in a thunder of empathy. Their forgiving applause are a warmer assurance than if they were each able to hug her and offer assuring words like, “I run an entire country and don’t possess a fraction of the bravery you do. Don’t give it another thought my dear!”

It’s a moment of raw, stripped down human honesty in a setting of over-the-top pomp and positioning. A lovely collision of two worlds. We have Patti Smith, by day clad in simple knit cap, tattered black coat, well-worn work boots, her majestic mane, colored grey only by the years, combed straight down with no fuss whatsoever, living her humble life in Greenwich Village writing in coffee houses.  She performs, accompanied by a young man playing a well-worn folk guitar, for thousands of people decked with jewels, crowns and medals, any of which could fund the daily needs of a family for years. But they all connect so personally in this awkward, honest moment of humanity.

It’s really something beyond words.

As she starts again, she’s freed to give so much more of herself in the song and to her audience. Her audience daubs at tearing eyes.

Nothing speaks to the wonder of the performances like the performance itself. It’s just simply exquisite.



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Why Your Beliefs About Homosexuality Don’t Kill People

kills-gay-youthIt is deeply concerning that health measures are significantly lower and suicide attempts higher among LGB people, but it is also concerning that people who cannot celebrate homosexuality are said to cause these things. If I had a nickle for every time I’ve been told with great anger that I (me, myself) am responsible for such tragedies…

Here’s an article I have at the Federalist showing there is no objective connection between the two in the current research literature. In fact, much of the research shows it’s simply not true.

It’s a story that needs telling.

Posted in cultural analysis, lesbian, lgbt, Loving My (LGBT) Neighbor, Sexuality | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments