Thursday, November 03, 2005

Second Thoughts on "DumDum TV" and Miscellaneous Comments

The previous post was cathartic.

However, in retrospect, I overreacted.

(1) I see such ham-handed argumentation and 'tude on a very frequent basis. I saw it as an undergrad, a grad student, a lowly lecturer, and an assistant prof. I see it not only from outside the Church, but from the Emergent-types and the pomo-types. So, there is nothing new under the sun.

[BTW, have you heard that if you put a large number of Emergent types, pomo types, and Reformed Catholic types in a room to randomly type with typewriters, they'll eventually type the Westminster Confession of Faith?]

(2) It was a TV character --- why freak out over a fictional character? But, in my defense, I'm consistent: I nearly popped out of the movie theater seat when [if memory serves me correctly] Obi-Wan told Anakin that "only Sith deal with absolutes" and told Obi-Wan to take his schtick back to the English Dept or the Postcolonial Studies Dept at whatever university was close by. Diane can back me up on this point.

I had said sometime in May the following:

To get to the point, there was one scene that made me chuckle. Near the end of the film, when Obi-Wan confronts Anakin on some volcano planet whose name has since escaped from my memory, a classic lightsaber battle ensues with Obi-Wan, representative of the [Jedi] Light Side doing battle with his former disciple Anakin, who has since turned to the [Sith] Dark Side.

At one lull in the fight, the combatants have a brief dialogue where Anakin attempts to justify his changing sides. Obi-Wan states something to the effect that "Only a Sith believes in absolutes." [These may not be the very words, but they convey the gist of what Obi-Wan stated to Anakin.]

This is a precarious example of Jedi wisdom, for we have a Jedi making an absolute statement about his ideological foe --- a foe he considers evil and worthy of destruction. What is the absolute statement of the Jedi? That a property of the Sith [or Siths, not sure of the plural form here], a property that makes them the bad guys, is absoluteness. An absolute statement about how those supposedly evil Sith are absolute! The PP was lucky that he remembered to turn off his self-stultification detector off before entering the theater, as the loud and furious beeps that would emanate from that device would doubtless draw hisses and "Sssshhh!" catcalls from the few other people in the theater. O Wise Jedi! Still, it was rather humorous.

When the PP decided to indefatigably fight the inanities posing as modern and progressive thought, both inside and outside the Christian Church, little did he know that his divine calling would lead him "long ago in a galaxy far far away." Yet, Obi-Wan is immortalized here in the annals of PP-dom for his self-refuting error. [But we come to ultimately praise Obi-Wan, and not to bury him, as he does believe in good versus evil, and he does wield a mean lightsaber.]

The above is all said with a grin and a wink, but what follows has the doubly-depressing status of being both sad and true, dealing instead with real people and not merely the words of characters of a well-loved film franchise.

The sad and true fact is that in today's modern stream of thinking, having absolutes is a sign of an anachronistic mind that has refused to ante up in the modern poker game. Thinking that there is an immutable God whose attributes can not [and must not] change --- lest God be something other than what He must be --- is an action that if advertised will earn one all sorts of negative titles: logocentrist, religious nut, too-sure-of-himself, intolerant, etc etc etc.

A studied and practiced reticence towards absolutes is one of the marks of modern sophistication. Let a man do has he pleases, just so long as he does not think that the justification for his actions is grounded in timeless truth. In respect to the Christian faith, my experience has been that people are not opposed to it [but neither do they support it] as long as they can view the faith and my selection of it as essentially the same as deciding to get the shrimp egg rolls over the szechuan chicken from the Chinese buffet nearby. The moment I assert that the faith is true, or at least has enough supporting reason and evidence to demand a response, the seculars don the wisdom of Obi-Wan: We don't think in terms of black and white, but in terms of shades of grey. Tolerance trumps truth! Only benighted Bible-thumpers and people who don't support X make such audacious claims, where X stands for any item the secularist supports.

Upon making the triumphalistic claim for a certain degree of relativism and epistemological tolerance, the enlightened modern man feels proud of himself --- he has defended the secular faith with a broadside polemic that is guaranteed to work at the latest faculty tea or upscale cocktail party.

However, a teenage medieval can see the fatal flaw at once: the secularist has made a rather absolute statement and assumed an absolute standard of comparison. It is objectively better to be nonjudgemental. It is objectively good to pour invective on the man who asserts a worldview and attempts to live consistently by it. It is better to be broad-minded and tolerant than it is to be like those people in that absolute-thinking group. In the end, therefore, the secularist has acted just as dogmatically as those whose dogmatism he excoriates.

The Pedantic Protestant works in the midst of the vortex of such inanity, and can assure all readers that these silly hare-brained sorts of self-refutational nuggets of wisdom that are offered by our academic elites are ubiquitous. Furthermore, this sort of inanity is what guides much of the ecumaniacal pursuits as well. If I'm not willing to compromise the deity of Christ, I'm intolerant. If I take my side with St John and say that Jesus is the way, truth, and life, I'm intolerant. If I point out that certain behaviors stand in clear defiance of scripture, I'm an absolutist. And so it goes with those in the liberal wings of the visible [and not necessarily the true] church.

But, in the end, Obi-Wan trumps the liberals and the spineless ecumenicals, for he does square off evil and call it as such [what an absolutist!], his above silly statement notwithstanding. On the other hand, the liberals and ecumenicals would merely pass some sort of statement about how the Jedi and Sith need to talk through their differences and embrace each other, equivocating between the Light Side an the Dark Side, and generally adding confusion to the whole matter, just as they do in the church today.

[This quote also has the secondary effect of proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that Steve Hays and PP could knock Ebert&Roeper out of business when if comes to movie reviews.]

As further proof of my consistency, which might fit too closely with Chesterton's description of "The Madman," you should've heard me yell at Dagny Taggart and John Galt in Atlas Shrugged!

(3) On the other hand, a nice built-up supply of rage has the well-known capacity to make heavy weights seem lighter, to make treadmill tread not seem to move quite as fast, to make power-squats not so much reminiscent of having some SS guard stand over you and say Herr Pedantik Protestant, ve have vays of making zu talk!.

[Oh no....the above paragraph and its exercise-talk is making me sound like James White...however, there are no PP Cruisefests scheduled. We're a much more low budget operation here. The PP Cruisefest would consist of my taking Frank Turk to a well-deserved session at the local Chinese Buffet. Frank, whenever you're in Norcal, you and I can raid the buffet.]

Anyway, lifting and running seems easier when you're worked up about something. But that's just me.

(4) If you're on a fairly strict eating regimen, as I am [desiring to run a marathon, drop more lbs, lower the body fat %], and if you dream of, say, Chinese buffets, deep fried [insert food here], going through entire family-sized sacks of pizza-flavored "goldfish," etc, it is sheer torture to be treated to a dinner at Chili's. The folks took me to dinner, and I had to sit across from my nieces and nephews eating ribs and fries, next to Mother's plate of "Chicken Crispers" and fries, diagonal from the nephew's half-pound bacon cheeseburger. Meanwhile, I had to make do with a mere Chicken Caesar Salad. The only relief was seeing the Pedantic Pop make do with a Cobb Salad, which looked much tastier and filling than my salad.

Sally Struthers stood over me and commented on my plight, in case anybody wants to know.

(5) Chicks with tattooes make me ask the eternal question WHY?. At Chili's there were cute waitresses running around. And, let's be frank: any woman who brings me a diet Coke, even if she is paid to do so, is quite attractive. However, the wandering eye noticed that most [all?] of the waitresses had these obnoxious tattooes. Stars, dragons, butterflies, script, etc. On the small of the back, on the neck, on the arm, etc.

Tattooes are not morally wrong, and I'm speaking perhaps as the proverbial ultra-pasty-white-guy who views taking his tie clip off as a mark of radical anarchy. They wouldn't keep me from liking somebody, but, they strike me as defacements of the female body. I suppose the ladies just like them for their own merits, or perhaps they think they look good in them. Perhaps it makes them look "hardcore," "authentic," etc, to throw around some terms of whose meaning I'm not sure. I've always wanted to ask the tattooed chicks why they got a tattoo and why they got that tattoo instead of some other tattoo. But this conflicts with good manners. It would be like somebody asking me why I chose this nerdy pair of glasses instead of whatever fashionable frames exist, or why I let myself get out of shape a few years back.

What happens when the skin gets wrinkly? Does the image collapse into some other sort of image like those Mad Magazine Fold-In pages? Does a butterfly on Trixie, age 25, become, say, an image of Elvis as the image of the wings collapses inwardly due to the skin drying out and wrinkling? Can this be solved with Oil of Olay?

(6) I ..... HATE ..... BIRKENSTOCKS.


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