Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Anyone else feel

That the Mormon Church is starting to become like the Pharisees? Do this, don't do that, can't you read the signs?

I feel like there's too much worrying about rules, written and unwritten, and not enough thinking about how to follow Christ's example of love for everyone. It's a little depressing to hear people worry about what color shirt I wear to church, or if I wear shorts, or what hand I use to take the sacrament, or what are the exact rules for having the missionaries be able to come to my house for dinner.

What happened to the simplicity of the Church that Joseph Smith founded? Sometimes I feel like I wouldn't be shocked to see someone praise the Talmud Bavli (Babylonian Talmud)'s clarity from the stand on Sunday, and how we can learn a lot from the Law of Moses about how to know God's Will for us. Is it lawful to replace straw that fell from one's pillow on the Sabbath? Is it lawful to go trick or treating on Sunday?

I don't think God really cares too much about most things I do. As long as I'm trying to love my fellow man, I feel like I'm pretty good. I don't think he gives a damn whether or not I wear long pants to Church or if I say "thee" and "thou" in my prayers instead of "you."

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Youthful Culture of Hate & the Internet

Thinking about the Modern Warfare 2 (MW2) culture of hate, I am appalled at the racism, gay-bashing, and just outright bullying that you hear on there. I've been called
"motherfucker" or "fag" or "nigger"
or "40 year old virgin living in your mom's basement" by so many 11 year olds now that I'm convinced that the unfettered anonymity of the internet is doing precious little to quash this culture among our youth. Rather, I see it as exacerbating the problem that was already there.

When I went to school in rural-trending-towards-suburban Georgia in the late 80's, if you called someone who wasn't your friend a "faggot" you knew that there was going to be a fight. The ability to just spew whatever hatred out there that you want, without fear of reprisal, brings what was our immature culture of hatred shared among friends, out in the open, as it were.

I've been playing a bunch with these guys from Jamaica. The other night, some kids were complaining about losing to "a bunch of foreign niggers."

One of the guys on my team then said, "How about I follow your ip address with my tcp/ip sniffer, come over to your house, rape your mom while I make you watch, and then kill you? I don't work; I got time to find you."

The other team then quickly exited the chat room, while everyone else laughed. I was appalled again. I said, "That was a bit offsides." He said back, "Now that little bastard will think twice about dropping racist shit on me."
All of this anonymity permmited by the internet, brings us into a new space. It's comparable to what Zygmunt Bauman calls the postmodern space of the city:

City life is a life morally impoverished and thus free to be subjected to unchallenged rule of other than moral criteria. It is a joyously embraced choice - urban relations are anonymous and non-committal.
Also, when we look at a popular culture that embraces a minority non-sub-altern style as the apogee of cool, and that style chooses to denigrate, not the majority, but sub-altern segments of society, I see little wonder in reflecting on these issues as a reflection of cultural attitudes which manifest themselves in the hate-filled speech of MW2.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Mario Vargas Llosa

I'm still shocked that Vargas Llosa won. He's very polarizing; love him or hate him. I have always enjoyed teaching his essay "My Son, the Rastafarian" ("Mi hijo, el etíope") in my classes. I was hoping for Nicanor Parra or Carlos Fuentes. At any rate, it'd been since 1994 that an American won. It's about time that the New World got some attention again.

I think that Parra, Fuentes, Piglia, Rushdie, Zizek, and McCarthy all deserve to win. But, that's probably never going to happen.