hiding behind the ironic mantle

“What will future generations make of this rampant sarcasm and unapologetic cultivation of silliness? Will we be satisfied to leave an archive filled with video clips of people doing stupid things? Is an ironic legacy even a legacy at all?

The ironic life is certainly a provisional answer to the problems of too much comfort, too much history and too many choices, but it is my firm conviction that this mode of living is not viable and conceals within it many social and political risks. For such a large segment of the population to forfeit its civic voice through the pattern of negation I’ve described is to siphon energy from the cultural reserves of the community at large. People may choose to continue hiding behind the ironic mantle, but this choice equals a surrender to commercial and political entities more than happy to act as parents for a self-infantilizing citizenry.”

From a thought-provoking NY Times article by Christy Wampole. Earlier in the article, she asks:

“Where can we find other examples of nonironic living? What does it look like?”

Her answer:

“Nonironic models include very young children, elderly people, deeply religious people, people with severe mental or physical disabilities, people who have suffered, and those from economically or politically challenged places where seriousness is the governing state of mind. My friend Robert Pogue Harrison put it this way in a recent conversation: “Wherever the real imposes itself, it tends to dissipate the fogs of irony.”

faith for narcissists

Chris Lehmann:

“There’s a term from the psychiatric clinics that neatly captures the outlook of someone possessed of grandiose fantasies about the imperial reach of the self, and a principled refusal to acknowledge anything poised to diminish such fantasies — such as the passage of time. That term is “narcissistic personality disorder,” and it does nothing to detract from the positive features of the Osteen gospel — the injunctions to persevere in the face of adversity, or the appeals for donations to World Vision — to note that this is a system of faith tailor-made to sustain narcissistic delusion.”

laying down lines towards the unexplored country

Charlotte Mason:

“Just as it is on the whole easier for the locomotive to pursue its way on the rails than to take a disastrous run off them, so it is easier for the child to follow lines of habit carefully laid down than to run off these lines at his peril. It follows that this business of laying down lines towards the unexplored country of the child’s future is a very serious and responsible one for the parent. It rests with him to consider well the tracks over which the child should travel with profit and pleasure; and, along these tracks, to lay down lines so invitingly smooth and easy that the little traveller is going upon them at full speed without stopping to consider whether or not he chooses to go that way.”

Consumer society riots

These are “consumer society riots”, says Dr Paul Bagguley, who is a sociologist at Leeds. This is very perceptive. It points clearly to the consumerist, acquisitive nature of the looting, and it hints that these are the kind of riots that a consumer society (and let’s not forget, that’s all of us) has. It hints that this is the kind of riot you expect from members of a consumer society, not from those who refuse to be part of it. That does not allow me to say the looters are totally alien or other, or even “enemies of society” in a straightforward way. The looters are committed to the consumer society. They’re “us”, not simply “them”.After all, the unspoken but powerful message of a consumer society is “the one with the most toys wins”, and possessing stuff is what someone is measured on rather than the way they acquire it. Further, the public face of acquiring wealth doesn’t stress that wealth should be acquired in socially responsible ways: think of the bonuses and pay-offs for bankers. They don’t look as though they’re sharing the pain of recession. As for honouring positions of trust, think of the MPs’ expenses scandal. The smartphones and trainers that a looter snatches aren’t in the same league financially as some of the MPs

This is perceptive indeed and relevant for Americans. The whole commentary is worthwhile.

Playground or Battleground?

In the early days, when Christianity exercised a dominant influence over American thinking, we conceived the world to be a BATTLEGROUND. Our fathers believed in sin and the devil and hell as constituting one force; and they believed in God and righteousness and heaven as the other. Man, so our fathers held, had to choose sides; he could not be neutral. For him it must be life or death, heaven or hell, and if he chose to come out on God’s side he would expect open war with God’s enemies. The fight would be real and deadly and would last as long as life continued here…How different today. The fact remains the same, but the interpretation has changed completely. Men think of the world not as a battleground but as a PLAYGROUND. We are not in a foreign land, we are at home. We are not getting ready to live, we are already living, and the best we can do is to rid ourselves of our inhibitions and our frustrations and live this life to the full.

A. W. Tozer, 1952

Abortion and the sexual revolution

If I’m on the right track, pro-life arguments are not likely to succeed by simply continuing to stress the humanity of the fetus. The opposition already knows this, as probably do most women who have an abortion. Rather, the pro-life movement must take into account the larger cultural context of the sexual revolution that invisibly but surely sustains the triumphant advocates of abortion.

Dinesh D’Sousa