Posts Tagged ‘holyspiritzombies’

Oh, goodness! Being “good” as being “same”?

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

Having recently listened to the Joe Jackson song referenced in class, I have been on a “kick,” if you will, about sameness. As our readings, particularly the Wilkins piece, exemplified, sameness offers solace and comfort, as well as social reaffirmation that one is on the “right path.” For example, we witnessed the University Unity kids assert repeatedly that they do pursue and hold friendships outside the confines of Unity and Christianity as a whole. However, and most notably, they find it hard to know “where they stand” with these secular friends or friends of other faiths. This cuts Unity/non-Unity friendships short, or only allows them to reach a certain point before one or both of the members feels disconnected from the other person on moral grounds. And in terms of Unity lifestyle, there are many areas that are apt to prompt disagreement with non-Unity friends.

The idea of being a part of a group that Wilkins originally categorizes as “just good people” is intriguing, because it brings up the necessary and essential idea of goodness. What—and who—can be considered “good?” In terms of Unity alone, it seems that if one is dutiful in praying and reading the Bible, setting aside time for God, and abstaining from sex, drug usage, and immodesty, then that individual fits the criteria for “goodness.” But in effect, adherence to these rules leaves very little room for individuality and potential to think for oneself outside of an academic context, so no wonder it limits their more secular relationships.

My question here is, does goodness imply sameness—sameness of “thought, word, and deed,” as outlined in the Nicene Creed itself?

This is a disturbing thought, because the last thing we want to believe is that we, as humans with functional minds and control over our actions, could subscribe to a set of prescribed actions and thoughts to such an extent that we become, as we mentioned earlier in the semester, “holy spirit zombies.” That we would be unable to identify any personal characteristic or marking qualities aside from surface-level hobbies, such as Lucas’ swing-dancing pastime, is frightening to a modern, liberal, 21st-century mind. And yet, on the surface, they seem so normal—college hoodies and movie nights with friends, going out to diners and for ice cream, and the like, seem to suggest that we as non-Unity members are not so different from them after all.

However, it is also important to note that while the Unity kids seem not to stand out in their choice of dress and lack of partying—Wilkins describes them explicitly as “vanilla” at one point—this is precisely what sets them apart from the norm. Though understated and subtle, Unity kids maintain the appearance of social “norms” in the way that Christian Rock does—they take the semblances of the mainstream and then “clean it up,” therefore making the action more palatable for those who subscribe to the Unity lifestyle. For example, some of the Unity girls like to go out and dance with their friends, but instead of contour skirts and pumps, they can be seen in T-shirts and jeans.

“Unity Style”

versus

This chick

This is the tricky part: T-shirts and jeans seem so normal, but in this case, their wearers are actually embodying a quiet form of resistance to social (i.e., secular) norms. By going against the expected code of dress, Unity girls maintain the modesty expected of them, and are able to participate in activities outside Unity, all the while upholding Unity values.

This resistance is fascinating, because it is often gender-dependent, can have many layers, and can be done in a variety of ways. In my Language and Gender class, we have talked a lot about gender and how individuals and groups will often subvert gender in ways that are unexpected and often surprising. If you have the time, I would recommend you read the following article about “Nerd Girls” that we had to read for class. Just the idea that the category of “Nerd” does not already include females is noteworthy, but that aside, it is a good read and exemplifies yet another way that groups subvert, undercut, and otherwise resist social norms and gender expectations. Furthermore, this is another example of how important sameness is in terms of connection and group cohesiveness, and how social situations can become potentially problematic or confusing if not all participants in the conversation approach the subject the same way.

[Incidentally, another gender-bending article we read for Language and Gender may be of interest to some of you. It is a culturally-based a commentary on Japan’s “Kogals”who routinely defy and redefine young Japanese women’s sexuality through sexual availability, deliberate linguistic change, and distinctive images that offer yet another form of resistance against traditional femininity.]

Whew, sorry for the longest blog post ever! See you all in class!

Here Comes the Ghost, doo doo doo doo :)

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

In Ghosts of Futures Past, Molly McGarry touches on several things that “struck my fancy,” so to speak. A brief list of these may include the following:

-Mediums channeling those of other sexes/genders, and the complications thereof

-“Free love” and how it upset the “moral hierarchical order” of man-woman marriage—who knew the turn of the century marked the first hippie era?! (Just kidding—I know it’s not parallel, but the terminology made me laugh.

-The “science” behind the “hysterical” woman—and the sexualization thereof

-Phrenology (I’ve just always thought it was cool), and

-Walt Whitman!

 

Of all of these subjects of interest, however, I found the section concerning Walt Whitman to be the most compelling. It is no surprise to me that one of America’s earliest poetic geniuses, who arguably created all-new forms of dealing with language, was also interested in the occult and wished to channel other’s souls. In fact, as the general public became more comfortable with and receptive to spiritualism, such instruments of spiritualistic “tinkering,” such as Ouija Boards, landed on the market. Spiritualism had officially become marketable, and the American public readily consumed.

Ouija Board and “Spirit”

*Side note: I still think it is really weird that Ouija boards are sold at Toys R Us, right next to Apples to Apples and Monopoly…as if they try to serve the same purposes in terms of entertainment…

This fascination with otherworldly or spiritual means of communication became somewhat of a motif throughout the 1900s, actually; some other major artists who exhibit similar interest and dedication in spiritual efforts include Madonna, who dabbled in Kabbalah (much to the fury and/or excitement of Jews worldwide), and my beloved Beatle, George Harrison.

George Harrison <3

Both Whitman and Harrison made spiritual beings integral to their lives and their art; however, Whitman’s efforts in the matter were, of course, complicated by the fact that he was gay. This is where phrenology sailed in to “save the day,” by justifying Whitman’s love for and commitment/connection to other men as biologically-based; it was literally “all in his head.” As we talked about last class, biology served to “prove” (read: assuage) certain aspects of American society that were “undesirable”; in doing so, it provided evidence for racism, sexism, etc. As we can see from the image below, sometimes we still see vestigial signs of this phenomenon:

“You’re just a woman with a tiny brain, a brain 1/3 the size of a man’s. It’s science.” -Ron Burgundy

So basically, “Anchor Man” aside, I have a lot to talk about in class today…

“I am the Mouthpiece. You are the Belly….

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

…Get into the harness, or get out of the way!”

Oh, what to make of this complex character, Brigham Young?!

https://www.google.com/search?hl=en&site=&tbm=isch&source=hp&biw=1366&bih=623&q=whip+and+carriage&oq=whip+and+carriage&gs_l=img.3...225731.244846.1.245006.27.15.5.7.7.1.244.1375.12j2j1.15.0...0.0...1ac.1.4.img.Z6bLEv2CREs#hl=en&tbm=isch&sa=1&q=cracking+the+whip&oq=cracking+the+whip&gs_l=img.3..0i10i24.473.2870.7.2983.4.4.0.0.0.0.538.699.2j5-1.3.0...0.0...1c.1.4.img.EGi9O_VaVf0&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.&bvm=bv.42965579,d.dmQ&fp=5d09ed3ab16fb5d7&biw=1047&bih=478&imgrc=VvPlf0lONXXOtM%3A%3B7dqcWZ5_raNDXM%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww.christart.com%252FIMAGES-art9ab%252Fclipart%252F1769%252Frg-cartoon-1c.png%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww.christart.com%252Fclipart%252Fimage%252Fwhip%3B300%3B210

https://www.google.com/search?hl=en&site=&tb

(Brigham Young cracks the whip on the LDS followers.)

Here’s just a smattering of what I picked up about this great Mormon leader:

  1. He was a redhead. (I don’t know why this surprised me; probably because I’ve never met a redheaded Mormon, and I know a lot of Mormons!)
  2. He claimed that he “only swore in the pulpit,” which I thought was kind of hilarious, since usually one would associate churchgoing with using LESS profanity, out of respect for God.
  3. He didn’t grow up Mormon. In fact, he was a Methodist for a while…
  4. He didn’t know how to read.
  5. At first, he was very averse to plural marriage.

As many others have said already, if we didn’t know these aspects about him were true, Brigham Young seems akin to Paul Bunyan– that is, he sounds like the protagonist of a tall tale centered around the American west. Considering he was such a fascinating guy just in and of himself, it’s easy to ignore the spiritual “repercussions” his leadership style had on so many people. But once we do, that’s when this American western drama becomes a horror story.

The Mighty Brigham Young, folk hero?

The Mighty Brigham Young, folk hero?

How can a man so devoted to his Heavenly Father preach against one of the Ten Commandments (“Thou shalt not kill”) by justifying mob-ocracy? In fact, I believe his direct words were that if anyone else dared bother the Mormons, they [the Mormons] would be justified in “cutting their damned throats.” That’s pretty heavy stuff, though I suppose he did feel they had been boxed into a corner of some kind (that corner being Utah), and had to lash out with whatever they had against “American meddlers.” As Mr. Turner pointed out, Mormons and politics never did have a harmonious relationship, which will make Mitt Romney an interesting candidate for study in the future of LDS.

https://www.google.com/search?hl=en&site=&tbm=isch&source=hp&biw=1366&bih=623&q=whip+and+carriage&oq=whip+and+carriage&gs_l=img.3...225731.244846.1.245006.27.15.5.7.7.1.244.1375.12j2j1.15.0...0.0...1ac.1.4.img.Z6bLEv2CREs#hl=en&tbm=isch&sa=1&q=Mitt+Romney+quotes+&oq=Mitt+Romney+quotes+&gs_l=img.3..0i24l10.8858.9921.4.11057.7.5.0.2.2.0.196.758.0j5.5.0...0.0...1c.1.4.img.aCXY9Pg73mg&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.&fp=5d09ed3ab16fb5d7&biw=1047&bih=478&imgrc=xbpf43UJCY7n3M%3A%3BElcVe4VfD6aM1M%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fa.abcnews.com%252Fimages%252FPolitics%252Fht_dirty_dancing_binder_ss_thg_121016_ssh.jpg%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fabcnews.go.com%252FPolitics%252FOTUS%252Fslideshow%252Fbinders-full-women-debate-quotes-17496665%3B541%3B411

https://www.google.com/search?hl=en&site=&tbm=isch&source

Then we have Blood-Atonement: let’s not forget about that little instance of “spiritual charity.” This scared me less than other things I have learned about the Church of LDS, but I can understand why it would horrify some people. As John Turner put it, Blood-Atonement represented a “chilling perversion of the Golden Rule” by advocating harm to others and feelings of guilt associated with the crucifixion. Now, as we all know, guilt and religion are no strangers to each other; in fact, they seem downright married in some cases. But when it is put in the following terms, one must really begin reckoning how he/she regards Jesus’ absolute sacrifice in a modern age:

“Will you love that man or woman/brother or sister enough to shed their blood? That’s what Jesus did.”

This example of fear-mongering within the Mormon community is definitely a troubling aspect in the Mormon community of Young’s time.

Not to geek out about ol’ Brigham, but I’m really fascinated by him still. He seems like (pardon my language, here) an asshole and a bully, but also a brilliant, dynamic, fervent leader who believed ardently in God and his own actions. I am doing a little bit of research on him on my own, and getting my Mormon cousins to give me their views about him as a central historical figure who shaped their faith. Therefore, I will probably be posting about him again later this semester!

I’ve Just Met a Girl Named Mariaaaaa…

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

…and BOY, is she an awful liar!

Okay, I am basically going to repeat the sentiments everyone else’s posts have already expressed:

  1. Sex sells. Whether it be rape (*cringing, can’t believe I wrote that*), incest, or any other negative/questionable sexual content, it grabs the reader’s attention.
  2. Babies. Gotta have infant death if it’s a worthwhile story. (For the record, I HATE “dead baby” jokes. Can’t stand them.)
  3. Priests make good scapegoats. They’re the guys people love to hate. Who would come to the door of a convent, make hissing noises, and expect to be let in around midnight for some wayward sexual pleasure? A priest, of course!

But seriously. I know that in 19th-century America– and indeed, since then– there has been a strong anti-Catholic rhetoric going around. Sometimes, the faith itself was used as a basis of racial oppression, as well. Indeed, two of the most discriminated-against European immigrant groups– the Irish and the Italians– were primarily Catholic, and in the early 1900s, they were “hated on” quite a bit for this reason.

HOWEVER, I would like to believe that if I were alive when the Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk came out that I would have been at least a little bit skeptical. No matter how terrible you may think a particular religious sect is, would you really ascribe to them infanticide, rape, murder, and whatever else, all in the name of God? This seems to be a stretch, even for your average illiterate American Protestant who “didn’t know any better.”

Therefore, I must say that Maria (a.k.a., the shady Protestant males with a knack for tall tales…hey, that rhymed) may have put forth an interesting horror story through this volume, but no wonder it was disproved within months of its publication. It was simply “too bad to be true,” and the writing style itself left a lot to be desired– I think I yawned twice for each page.

Spectacular, Spectacular!: Sensationalism and Maria Monk

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

Whenever I go to the grocery store, I am overwhelmed by all the magazines and little newspapers that litter the check-out aisle.  Among this week’s headlines:

STREISAND’S TABLE MANNERS: YUCKY!

MACHOS AFFLECK & TIMBERLAKE GET GIRLY IN HIGH HEELS

EXCLUSIVE! MICHELLE OBAMA’s JEALOUS RAGE: “STAY AWAY FROM THAT WOMAN!”

As usual, the National Enquirer only reports the hard-hitting news stories.  Sensationalism is all over the media.  Every trial (take the Casey Anthony case for example) gets blown up on both sides of the argument.  Even if there is only one scrap of truth in an article, the public eats it up.  The public loves scandal.  Trashy journalists appeal to the lowest common denominator of readers, the gullible sort who eat up drama-infused articles like they were Red Lobster cheddar biscuits.

Sensationalism has been around a lot longer than the National Enquirer.  Way back when, some Protestant ministers decided to rile up some rumors about the Catholic Church and its practices in nunneries, all wrapped up in a straitjacket and labeled “The Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk.”

According to these awful disclosures (which, mind you, were discredited quickly), Catholic nuns were in the habit of killing babies born in the convent, having sex with priests, and imprisonment of other nuns.  This text builds and builds, fabricating scandal after scandal.  For anyone who loves drama and thrills, Maria Monk is a dream come true.  I’m pretty sure if they made a sensationalized musical of it, it would go something like:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ffv8FskEQlY

Just take out the epic love triangles and singing sitar and add infanticide and rape.

But then again…

cat-power-cute-maybe-not-person-text-Favim.com-105189_large

Here’s the thing to remember: Things are not always what they seem.  Maria Monk didn’t even write these disclosures but guess what?  People ate it up.  Even if you didn’t believe what she wrote, you can’t get out of your head the image of the nuns dragging one of their own to be smothered by a mattress.  Sure, it’s not real, but that’s how sensationalism works.

An easy example is a horror movie:

images (2)

 

No, scarier:

images (3)

 

Better.  So a bunch of kids start seeing this guy Freddy in their nightmares.  Freddy starts killing them in their dreams, so the kids try to stay awake to escape him.  Now, we all know it’s impossible for something in a dream to kill you.  But after watching this movie, there were a couple times I caught myself thinking of Freddy Krueger and his knife-hands and it scared the bejezzus out of me.  I know it’s not real, but when something plants a seed on your mind, it’s hard to weed it out.

I think that’s the biggest issue with Maria Monk.  We know it was written by a bunch of dudes.  But they go through such lengths to make it sound believable.  They describe, in great detail, the apartments of the nuns, the horrors that happen, and in some passages, they even say, “You may not believe me.”  They set up the text so that if anyone said, “Hey, that’s not how the convent looks,” Maria Monk would answer, “Oh no worries guys, it might have changed and I’m a woman and frail so obviously I can’t remember everything!”

Genius.

No matter how true or horribly false a story can be, if a writer is good, the public will buy into it.  National Enquirer is probably the best modern day example, considering it started in 1926 and it’s still going.  People are still buying it because people love a good story.  And that’s what Maria Monk’s awful disclosures are.  They are good stories that are easy to read and easy to imagine.  In the case of sensationalism, sometimes the difference between fact and fiction is a hard line to draw.