Thursday, September 12, 2013

John 8 and the BYUreaucrat

"The Woman Taken in Adultery," interpreted by the Honor Code Office:

A rabbi was sitting teaching in a public square, when a loud mob came before him pushing and kicking a terrified woman, accusing her of having been taken in the throes of passion with a married man who was not her husband. The people hesitate to carry out the Mosaic sentence due to the rabbi's interposition of himself between her and them. He takes a moment to speak, but when he does, he says, "If any of you be sinless, be the first to throw a rock to stone her and we will all follow you." Convicted in their hearts that they too were guilty of many sins, they toss their rocks to the ground and begin to file out of the plaza. With the women kneeling beside him, begging for her life, and then kissing his feet as she realizes that his words have saved her life, the rabbi reaches down, grabs a rock, raises his hand high, and with all his might, smashes the rock against the dome of her head, staving it in like a rotten melon. She dies immediately. The rabbi then says, "I am not without sin. But, if we allow sin to exist because none of us are perfect, if we don't enforce the laws that we agreed to live by when we came here, then this university, the Gospel, and our way of life will all die."

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

What Jack Taught Me about Jack

My son Jack is 7 years old right now.  Since he turned four, he has been a rambunctious, single-minded, and high-energy child.  In Spanish, we might say that he is ensimismado, meaning that he's all caught up in himself and what he's doing and what he wants to do.  That can be incredibly frustrating to a parent, or to a sibling.

He wants to play all of the time, and he will scatter toys and things from hell to breakfast if we let him.  If the house is quiet, we get nervous because that usually means he's concentrating on something intently, which often means a mess, his playing with water inside, or some other potential mess.  Some days he's the sweetest most innocent and caring child there is.  And then some days he's oblivious to what's going on around him.  He'll probably grow out of it, but today, as I was listening to Spotify, the White Stripes song "We're Going to Be Friends" came on, and the lyrics made me realize that I've forgotten what the innocence of childhood feels like.  I got a little teary thinking that this is how Jack Williams's mind works.  Had Jack White not penned these lines, I wouldn't have had this moment of reflection and understanding of how little Jack must feel.

Thank you, Jack White.  Thank you, Jack Williams.

Fall is here, hear the yell
back to school, ring the bell
brand new shoes, walking blues
climb the fence, books and pens
I can tell that we're going to be friends

Walk with me, Suzy Lee
through the park and by the tree
we will rest upon the ground
and look at all the bugs we found
safely walk to school without a sound
safely walk to school without a sound

Here we are, no one else
we walked to school all by ourselves
there's dirt on our uniforms
from chasing all the ants and worms
we clean up and now its time to learn
we clean up and now its time to learn

Numbers, letters, learn to spell
nouns, and books, and show and tell
at playtime we will throw the ball
back to class, through the hall
teacher marks our height against the wall
teacher marks our height against the wall

We don't notice any time pass
we don't notice anything
we sit side by side in every class
teacher thinks that I sound funny
but she likes the way you sing

Tonight I'll dream while in my bed
when silly thoughts go through my head
about the bugs and alphabet
and when I wake tomorrow I'll bet
that you and I will walk together again
I can tell that we're going to be friends

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

The Morality of Striking Syria

Heteronomous morality comes from without, imposed on someone or something by the Other.  Autonomous morality comes from within.  We want to impose Western heteronomy on sovereign/autonomous Syria.  

We think chemical weapons are especially reprehensible, but, I hold that if you don't get involved when 100,000 people are slaughtered, why the sudden moral outrage when a few thousand are poisoned with gas?  I don't believe that anyone in our government, at the highest levels, cares about the chemical attack in a moral sense.  If we would just quit pretending that this is about propriety (given the immoral drone strikes we use every single day that target civilians), and start admitting that we fear chemical attacks on our shores, and we want a reason to destroy the ability to manufacture them, then the insincere hand-wringing about striking Syria would be unnecessary.  Or, call it "national interests."  But, spare us the performance of moral outrage.   I'd much rather someone say, "Using chemical weapons crosses a line into terrorism that we have decided not to let anyone do in this world.  If you don't like it, tough.  We will come for anyone who uses them, and we will destroy them and their ability to make and use them," rather than all this pussyfooting around about Congressional permission and the evilness of someone using chemical weapons.

Hell, our cops used tear gas on Occupy Wall Street protesters; since I started writing this post, some cop somewhere has peppersprayed some citizen for not expressly following his instructions. Should we start bombing cops for using chemical weapons on the citizenry?  No, we shouldn't.  Just like we should stay the hell out of Syria.  I don't want my boy dying over there, and I don't want anyone else's boy dying over there.  Let the Syrians fight each other for control of their own country.  I reject anyone who claims that chemical weapons mean that we should respond now, when this has been going on all along: