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Domestic violence is more than a political issue

Posted by Chance on September 15, 2014

There was a piece in Grantland discussing the media in response to the Ray Rice incident.

1. During the Donald Sterling fiasco, I argued that the sportswriting class had gone from holding a range of political opinions to fusing into a single, united liberal bloc. You can see that in the coverage of Goodell, too. Reading sports this week is like being on a Nation magazine cruise.

I take issue with the author categorizing this as a “liberal” issue.  Now, I don’t think the author generally thinks that conservatives are “okay” with domestic violence, and it’s not like I’m offended as someone who is typically culturally conservative, it’s just that I think the author thinks this issue falls in line with more black coaches in the NFL or more women with front office jobs (it’s not that those latter issues aren’t important, it’s just people disagree on the importance of diversity or even the ways to achieve those).

In a similar vein

and

Whether Jane McManus sees this as a “woman’s issue” or is making the point that most people see this as a “woman’s issue” I’m not sure.  But either way I disagree.  Calling something a “woman’s issue” has political/social connotations, of which there is often disagreement.  I think the domestic violence issue transcends that.  Yes, it affects women more than men (at least on the victim end), but people see men beating the crap out of women as more than a “woman’s issue”.  

Likewise, many people don’t see,in my mind, the domestic violence issue as some “social cause”.  This isn’t like the Michael Sam storyline (where most people don’t have an issue with a gay NFL player, just the constant coverage of it).  In one sense, he is right, people want to hear about football and not about Rice, but I think it’s in the sense of getting tired of all the bad news in the world.  

In short, I think the domestic violence issue is less politicized than people think it is.  People are painting it in the same vein as the Michael Sam issue or any other intersection of politics and sports, and I think this is inaccurate.  It’s also not an issue where people are just coming around to in the sense of domestic violence being immoral, although people often aren’t aware how commonplace it is.  But obviously there is a problem with how domestic violence is handled. I don’t think the NFL’s lack of response is one of political values, I think it is one of money and image.  

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Posted in Culture, Sports | Leave a Comment »

On troubled wide receivers, the Nuclear Family, and the Genealogy of Christ

Posted by Chance on November 3, 2013

Two wide receivers from my alma mater, Oklahoma State, made headlines this week.  Justin Blackmon is entering rehab and is suspended indefinitely from the NFL, and Dez Bryant has emotional outbursts on the sideline.  The interesting thing, to me, is that these two people come from, what seems to be, radically different backgrounds.  Dez Bryant was born to his mother at the age of 14 and lived a very troubled childhood.  Justin Blackmon came from what seems to be a stable two-parent family with a Christian faith.  When Justin Blackmon came out to the NFL I thought he would be different from the somewhat troubled Bryant.  That perception ended quickly when Blackmon received a DUI before his first NFL snap.

A stable family goes a long way toward helping someone on the straight and narrow, but it is no guarantee.  And just because certain boxes are checked in a person’s life (Christian, parents never divorced) doesn’t mean that everything is just great.  We cannot honestly speculate about a person’s life.

This whole thing has made me think about the value we place on the stable nuclear family, especially cultural conservatives like myself.  We focus a lot on how things should be, but I think we sometimes forget that great things can happen out of the non-ideal situations.

When we look at the Bible, especially the genealogy of Christ, we see a whole history of non-ideal situations.  One of Jesus’ ancestors, Rahab, was a prostitute.  David was an ancestor to Jesus, but it wasn’t through the virtuous Abigail, it was a woman with whom he had an affair and killed her husband.  Even Jesus was born as a sort of stepson of Joseph, with step siblings.  I wonder if the family dynamics were awkward there.

I don’t know if all this stuff really relates.  All I know is that bad stuff can happen with people arising from a stable family, and that God does great things out of messy situations, including broken families.  And don’t forget, the story of Dez Bryant and Justin Blackmon is far from finished.

Posted in Christianity, Culture | Leave a Comment »

Thoughts on college

Posted by Chance on August 22, 2011

So, as I was reading an OSU sports blog (one I greatly recommend visiting if you like Oklahoma State sports), the blogger mentioned that today is the first day of school for many college students, including OSU.  The blog had a poll regarding how we feel now that summer is over, and one of the answers was “I have a job, I’d walk a 5k on broken glass for 1 more semester of college”.

As someone who now has a job and is out of college, this is a viewpoint to definitely consider.

College was a lot of fun.  I was on my own and pretty much independent.  I wasn’t a party animal at all, but I rarely went to bed before 1 or 2 am, and the dorms (sorry, residence halls) were a lot of fun, as I hung out in the Parker Hall lounge or played foosball.  Although I was flat broke, usually going to Denny’s to order a side of fries, I had a lot of fun.

College was also a great time of mental stimulation.  Whether it was the classroom, an opinion article in the O’Colly, or a discussion in the lounge, I was faced with all sorts of viewpoints different from my own and had my faith challenged.  It was in college that I started to have a passion to follow along with my aptitude for math, and learned basic ideas about how the universe worked in Physics 1.  It was also then that, through the O’Colly and some comic strips posted on someone’s door, that many libertarian ideas of mine started to take root, although lying dormant for 4 years.

Most importantly, I met my wife there.  I remember when I first met her, although we didn’t start dating for a year after that.  She is definitely the greatest thing that happened to me at OSU (although 2002 Bedlam was pretty sweet too).  I sometimes look at my life and feel that, if this was a movie, she’s my happy ending.

That takes me to where I am now.  Now I have a job.  I can afford to order a full meal at Denny’s.  This stage of life doesn’t have the spontaneity of college life, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.  I now have my wonderful wife and two great kids.  I also have a job that I enjoy, one that challenges me.  While college was great, and sometimes I miss what it offers, that was in the past, a season of my life.  Now I enjoy this one.

Posted in Culture | 2 Comments »

Some people like adulthood, some don’t

Posted by Chance on July 31, 2011

I like adulthood much more than I liked childhood.  Adulthood has a lot of responsibilities, but I like the freedom that it offers.  I like making my own choices – if I want to go to Arby’s for lunch I can go there, I don’t have to ask my parents.  I can eat cookies before desert, and I can stay up as late as I want. I can also choose, to some degree, how to spend my own money, although I still have to pay my mortgage and feed my family.

That being said, I have to face the consequences for my choices.  I can stay up late, but I’ll be tired for work the next day.  I can eat and drink whatever I want, but I know that has some consequences health-wise.  That is the nature of adulthood.  To some extent, I have external factors governing my decisions, i.e the bank that loaned me money for my house, my employer, but I have much more freedom now than I did as a child, and I don’t have an active force preventing me from making those decisions, I will just face the consequences later, as opposed to a parent or guardian.

I think there are a large contingency of people who don’t like adulthood, or, they want to be the parents for other people.  These people want to ban smoking, or tax fast food, or tell us how exactly how we should spend our savings.  Let’s look at the fast food tax – this is the antithesis of adulthood.  When I was a child, my parents didn’t let me eat happy meals for every single meal, and even if that was affordable, they still wouldn’t have done so because I needed more balance in my diet.  As an adult, they don’t tell me what to do, I make my own choices and pay the consequences later.  The fast food tax, and similar ideas, tells me I’m not responsible enough to make my own decisions, that I need discouragement from making the wrong choices.  For people who are on board with such an idea, I have two words.  Grow up.

Posted in Culture, Politics | 2 Comments »

What’s special about Christmas and Country Music?

Posted by Chance on July 4, 2011

Some of this stuff I’ve touched on before, in this post, but I wanted to explore it a little bit more.

In mainstream music, there seems to be a strong divide between secular and Christian music.  There’s the Christian category in music, then there’s everything else.  There’s a few artists, like Switchfoot and P.O.D. that started out in the Christian genre but now have their feet in both sectors of the music industry, or other groups that play secular music but have Christian members, such as U2 and Lifehouse, but they seem to differ from the norm.  For the artists that do exist in both spheres, they are constantly analyzed to determine whether or not they are truly “Christian”.

Such a distinction does not seem to exist in country and Christmas music realms.  Artists like Carrie Underwood sing unabashedly about their faith, but there seems to be much less debate about whether Underwood is a Christian or secular artist.  It’s quite normal for any country artist to sing about their faith or put God in a song, and it’s not a huge deal.  Why does such a huge divide not exist.

A similar thing exists with Christmas music.  It is not unusual for a Christian station to play secular Christmas songs, or a secular Christmas song to sing  an overwhelmingly spiritual Christmas song.

I’m not sure why such a heavy distinction exists in mainstream pop/rock, but not in country.  The only theory I have is that perhaps country music is composed primarily of middle America culturally conservative type people where faith is a big part of their lives, and there’s no separation between their faith and the rest of their life.  But I know the same has to be true for some rock groups as well.  Is there something different about Nashville, and that where a person records (i.e. Nashville vs. L.A.) that makes such a huge difference?  Is it that most rock groups come from big cities, which tend to be more culturally liberal and less involved in faith/religion?

Even then, these theories discuss why the secular stays away from the religious in rock, but why does the religious stay away from the secular?  Do groups that are composed of Christians feel pressure to focus on “Christian” music?  Is this an effect of the “Christian Bubble” in which sometimes Christians want to stay?

Anyway, just thinking out loud.  Brant Hansen, formerly of the Way-FM radio station – I don’t know what he’s doing these days – has some interesting thoughts on the distinction of sacred vs. secular in music, and how these lines are “blurry”.

Posted in Culture, Music | 1 Comment »

Why Harry Potter doesn’t bother me as a Christian

Posted by Chance on June 16, 2011

The last installment of the Harry Potter series is coming out July 15, which I greatly look forward to seeing.  I’ve seen all the movies and listened to book 6 and read book 7.

In Christian circles much has been made of the HP series, although it’s died down over the years.  But the presence of magic in movies and books is something that Christians should consider and address.

First of all, let’s take a look at “magic” or the supernatural in real life.  Sorcery was condemned in the Bible in the Old and New Testament.  Why?  I think because the supernatural does exist in our world, and it comes from one of two possible sources.  It is either God or his enemy, and I’m pretty sure sorcery as we know it came from the enemy.

In a fictional world, such a dilemma does not exist.  Magic doesn’t have to come from a demonic being.  It is no more unwholesome than a mutation that gives Wolverine his powers or a radioactive spider bite that gave Spiderman his.  This magic, like technology, can be used for good or evil purposes.  Also, if one condemns magic in the Harry Potter series they have to do so in the Lord of the Rings trilogy and even possibly the Chronicles of Narnia (although one could argue that Narnia is different since Aslan represents Christ).

That being said, I recognize some of the issues that Harry Potter can represent to younger children.  For one, these stories are about everyday young kids who appear normal, yet happen to have magical gifts.  Consequently, the idea of a child being able to possess magical gifts seems a little more feasible than a child being able to walk through walls because of a mutation or a visitor arriving from a distant planet.  Impressionable young kids may wonder if they too, could possess magic powers.  But hopefully this can be quickly remedied by the parents steering them back to reality.  Also, the books get progressively more violent and dark, so that’s another thing parents need to keep in mind.  Even in that case, the Harry Potter series becomes an issue of discernment, not a cause to rise against.

Posted in Christianity, Culture | Leave a Comment »

I’m not going to mourn

Posted by Chance on May 2, 2011

So, Bin Laden is dead. In the era of Facebook, I get to see people’s various reactions. The one I wanted to focus on was the Christian response – not to rejoice even when the wicked perish, and that we should never be happy when someone is suffering in hell, even if that person was evil incarnate.

Nine and a half years ago, I wanted Osama to pay. He killed thousands of people and I wanted him to suffer. Death was too good for him; I wanted him tortured. Over time, my anger has faded. When I heard the news last night, I felt a sense of excitement. But I don’t think this excitement was out of revenge or vindication. I thought we would never catch the guy, despite all our efforts for the past decade (and probably beyond that). Catching him was a huge victory, even if it was largely symbolic. I believe I would have been just as happy if he was captured, although I’m not sure by what court he would be tried and if he would have received the death penalty. So, my excitement was not due to Osama’s suffering, but just the enormity of the news.

That being said, the reaction of “not rejoicing” is still technically correct. We shouldn’t rejoice that someone rejected God and is now suffering in hell. For a great perspective, visit Mornings with Brant (ironically the picture posted in the blog is what Brant is reacting against).  We are all deserving of hell, so we shouldn’t really rejoice when someone gets what they deserve.  The Bible lumps murderers together with people who disobey their parents.

While I’m not rejoicing at Osama’s fate, I’m not mourning either.  Maybe some of this has to do with my desensitization.  People die across the world, tragically.  Unfortunately, there is so much death in the world that it is hard to be moved by tragic news, unless it’s on a large scale like 9/11 or natural disasters.  So, when I hear of one person dying, and that person happens to be an infamous terrorist, I won’t rejoice at their fate, but I won’t mourn either.  I’m not saying that’s necessarily the right attitude, so it’s something about which I have to pray to God so that I would have the right attitude.

Posted in Christianity, Culture | 1 Comment »

Sometimes it is hard to believe in some things

Posted by Chance on April 10, 2011

So, I finally have time to do a little bit of blogging, so I’m reacting, in a way, to something that happened a month ago.  This is in response to all the new conversations about heaven and hell.  But I’m not going to talk so much about that, but the nature of believe in general.

I don’t think many people, even conservative Christians, want to believe in hell, at least, most people.  I don’t want to.  I think there are more vindictive Christians who are happy at the thought of sinners suffering at the hands of an angry God; I don’t personally see myself as one of them.  I don’t want anyone to suffer.  I wish universalism was true in the sense that I don’t want people to suffer; I don’t want it to be true in the sense that I have to trust God and believe that He knows what is best.

Sometimes this not wanting to believe in hell affects theology.  The idea of hell is so horrible that we change what we believe about God and eternity, or we reject Him all together.

But I think we all, to some extent, minimize or reinterpret what God said to reflect our cultural values, or we simply see things through our cultural lenses.

Sometimes that means not believing in a hell, or the devil, or certain commands Jesus said. For me, probably the hardest thing to interpret is Jesus’ command to turn the other cheek.   I’ve always interpreted this to mean to not seek revenge, but not an indictment on self-defense.  And it is to be used in the individual sense, not the national sense (war, etc…).  But am I softening what this verse is really asking?  These are the types of questions I have to ask myself.

I’ve always been hard on liberal theologians because I feel that they reshape the Bible to fit their cultural perspective (ironically blaming the “wrong” things on the Bible on the cultural perspectives of those writing it).  But do I do the same?

Posted in Christianity, Culture | Leave a Comment »

At the risk of sounding like a grumpy old man…

Posted by Chance on February 4, 2011

I don’t think they make cartoons like they used to. I was watching Pinocchio with my son the other day. This movie is far from PC. There are characters drinking and smoking – granted, they are the bad guys, but you wouldn’t see such a thing in a G rated Disney movie today. But the movie is also far more morally powerful than any cartoon today. It’s not a complex moral – you make bad choices and you get in situations you are not supposed to be in. We see Pinocchio as he matures and as his conscience in the form of Jiminy Cricket continually pester him when he makes bad choices. We see pure folly in the form of youngsters who immediately jump at the chance to go to Pleasure Island without the supervision of parents. Those boys pay the consequences and fortunately Pinocchio escapes just in time.

In many Disney movies or any cartoons today the focus is different. The parent or parents are the ones going threw some growing and learning life lessons. It is hard to see a movie or TV show where the children are not smarter than the parents. Finding Nemo moral concerns primarily the father fish learning to not be overprotective of his son. (To be fair, my wife pointed out that it was Nemo’s disobedience that caused him to get in trouble). In the Shaggy Dog and The Haunted Mansion we are repeatedly beaten over the head with the father character who is too wrapped up in his work to pay attention to his kids. (I talk more about the father character portrayed in media here).

I’m not sure what has caused this paradigm shift. I suppose one could say society is becoming increasingly rebellious and we see that displayed on film by the depiction of clueless parents and children who have it all figured out. It could have to do with absent parents, but I would think the depiction of the parents would be more negatively extreme, such as parents who are absent altogether. Perhaps it has to do with a generation of parents who were present, but maybe were not strong moral agents, or at the very least, fostered an environment that allowed the child to think they knew everything and the parents knew nothing. Or, based on the depiction of the father figure, they had fathers that were there, but simply were not there enough.

Obviously my position as a dad has changed my perspective. I’m now one of those over 30 that people under 30 can no longer trust. Parents are far from perfect and I know that I have a lot of growing to do as a person, a father, and a child of God himself. But the majority of growth will be that of my children. They will be the ones seeing exponential growth in every since of the word from their current age to when they leave the house. I may not know everything, but I do know more than them.

Posted in Culture | Leave a Comment »

Would you tell a person with car trouble to buy a Mercedes?

Posted by Chance on December 10, 2010

In the past I have had problems with my Windows PC and I post about it on facebook. Invariably, one or two people suggest that I buy a Mac. It doesn’t bother me so much that they mention Macs, but it is the way they do it. They bring it up in a smug manner, suggesting that it is the obvious solution and I’m a fool if I don’t follow it.

Now, I truly believe the Mac is better. As I’ve worked more in Linux at my job I have learned a little bit more about how Mac, which shares some commonalities with Linux, has some advantages to Windows. I would say that even based on the little I know about Mac, it is superior to Windows for several reasons I won’t go into here.

But here’s the thing; Macs are simply more expensive. Although a Mac at $1200 is probably better than a PC at $1200 (I haven’t done a direct comparison, but I would choose a Mac at that price), the point is, I can get a PC for $400; I cannot with a Mac. So if you are a Mac owner, I’m not saying you can’t talk about how great your Mac is or even suggest one if someone is looking for a new computer. Just keep in mind that the person you are talking to may not have $1200 to spend at the moment before you imply that someone is an idiot for not buying one.

Until I choose to spend money on a Mac, Linux is probably the next best thing.

Posted in Computers, Culture | 1 Comment »