Saturday, April 30, 2005

Still Waiting

So, I'm back. Three hours later and nothing written (at least nothing on the thesis). I thought maybe I should just write something here. Maybe my desire for attention will fuel my whatever - juju - or something.

Here's the topic:

I'm interested in how the doctrine of predestination informs the social conscience of americans. I think that the idea of election (meaning, God has chosen from the beginning, some to be saved - elected into God's kingdom - and others to be damned) feeds into several characteristics of American society, specifically capitalism (a la Max Weber), individualism (Barth - I think), the spiritualization of christianity, and nationalism.

[I always forget one of these four things - perhaps that's a sign]

Basically, the whole thing is about dualism. In capitalism there is necessarily a loser - see Adam Smith - and this seems to parallel the notion of election quite nicely. The rub is that our thinking about the necessity (whether explicit [not usually] or not) of a losing "class..." easily morphs into an idea that there is something about the losing class that makes them inevitably losers. We, then, aren't required to do anything about helping them, because if God wanted them to be rich, or even not poor, God would have made them that way.

Individualism too is fed by this idea. We (the elect) are "set apart" from the rest of humanity. The ascetic character of Calvinists has been outlined at length by Weber and others. (But I think I'll explicate their arguments for the sake of making the paper longer - terrible huh?)

Ok - next

Spiritualization of religion/Christianity. I like this one the best I think.

What this is is the separation of the this life from the next in such a way that we don't pay attention to what we do here/now. Since our salvation is a done deal that has nothing to do with anything that we do or don't do, we don't do. This plays out in two (rather diverse) ways: one, in the "lower class" churches, it's the pie in the sky in the sweet by -n-bye notion. Escapism. Two: in the "upper class" churches it's a focus on the cultivation of spiritual mindedness - without the real-life groundedness of "how, then, shall we live?"

Finally, nationalism. This is the one I always forget, perhaps because it is a bit overworked at the moment due to the war and our dueling national guilt vs national patriotism mindsets as seen on Fox and MSNBC. My interest, though, is in this "American ideal" the "city set on a hill" thing that pervades the culture - even those who don't agree with "W" or the war or even Christianity. For better or worse, we see ourselves as a beacon of [fill in the blank] in the world. We're different - us vs. them.

And there ya go. This helps. Any thoughts you nameless, faceless people who probably won't come to this site anyhow?

Here We Go, But Not Really

So, I guess it begins here. It may as well.

I have been intrigued by this blogging thing and have lately found myself whittling away way too much time having the bizarre voyeuristic experience of reading people's blogs whom I know. It's a sort of anonymous cyber-peeping tom, though they know I, or at least someone, am/is watching. For some reason I have become totally wrapped up in one particular blog called purty mommy by an aquaintance of mine who is a mom (obviously). I'm not a mom, nor ever will be, but I just hang on her every word. It's not that I'm envious at all, I just am finding it fascinating reading about breast feeding (the one thing about motherhood that I kinda crave), attachment parenting (sounds AWFUL!!!), cleaning up spit-up..... Go figure. Perhaps it's because I'm that desperate to NOT be doing what I'm SUPPOSED to be doing......

I'm supposed to be writing my thesis and can't seem to get going, so I thought I would do this instead. Maybe it will get my juices going. At this point it's becoming both ridiculous and dire. I started out great guns at the beginning of the semester and had the absurd interruption of oral surgery in the middle of the semester - knocking me on my wide ass for almost two weeks! So all I've got is pages and pages of notes pasted from journals and a meandering thought process which just won't coalesce. However, I have rambled on about the subject to unsuspecting inquirers to such an extent in the last couple of days that I might just be on the precipice of beginning.

But, still, I'm typing away in this blog - that no one will likely read (seems kind of silly and mastubatory, but, what the hell). Ugh - don't know what my problem is!!!!