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Saturday, February 09, 2019

"Wait For Me"--The Song That Just Won't Go Away

I'm not exactly sure when I first heard this song by Daryl Hall and John Oates. It could have been the LP, X-Static (1979), or it might have been the web show "Live From Daryl's House." By the way, if you have a life, don't start watching the show. Just don't. You've been warned.

Anyway, I love this song. The mystery to me is, why? It's not a complicated one, to be sure. From what I can gather, Daryl's got himself in a mess. Let's be honest: We're assuming it's Sara (yes, that Sara) and she's just done with this. Daryl is kind of saying in that first verse, there was a magic time, and it's ending. The carriage is turning back into a pumpkin, so to speak. He says it's his fault, but we've tried again. What's one more?

She's still kind of on the fence, you see. "Is it easier to stay?" he says. But he doesn't know what she's going to do. He wants to keep her, but then, we don't know what he keeps messing up. But then seriously, if it's gonna "fall down" when you're away, is it worth it, bro? [You just called Daryl Hall "bro."--ed.] Yeah, I did.

"Love is what it does, and ours is doing nothing." Are they long distance, or is it just not working? It's been going on so long, it's gotta be worth something, it means something. He knows he's the one trying to hold on, but he thinks he's got enough good will, he can say what he feels. And apparently, he's not giving up. She's coming back, and he'll be ready.

I don't have any direct experience with anything like this. That's probably a good thing. I had a thought that our love songs would be boring if we were not sinners, but that's not true. Yet what is true is that we're so enmeshed by The Fall that we can hardly imagine anything else. Men and women will never be easy.

What I appreciate about most of the live versions is that they are toward the present, pertaining to a song that is, as of this year, 40 years old. Daryl sings it slower nowadays; he lets it breathe. And frankly, if we're singing along, it lets us breathe! It would only be me and some buddies goofing off, but I wanted to record this song. The story of every great Hall and Oates song is that it was ahead of its time, and was underappreciated, and this one is no exception, in my view. It's been stuck in my head for a year; now it can get stuck in yours! You're welcome.

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

A Simple Pro-Life Argument

Call it the Axiom of Epistemic Humility: “What someone (including myself) does or does not believe, in and of itself, bears no necessary relationship to reality.” Take a moment to reflect on this, and then consider this argument:

Sex, properly speaking, makes people;
Those yet to be born are the most innocent of all people;
It is always wrong to intentionally kill an innocent person;
Abortion is the intentional killing of an innocent person yet to be born;
Therefore, abortion is always wrong.

Sex is one of those things that implies its obligations, even if you ignore them. Consequence-free sex does not actually exist. To insist upon consequence-free sex requires this act of brutality, and others like it, to maintain its regime. Indeed, sexual "liberation" is like a dictator of the mind and soul, who relies upon lies to deceive people.

Tuesday, February 05, 2019

I See You, Rick (Or, The Inspiration Isn't What You Think It Is)

I saw more than a few stories in the last few years about Rick and Dick Hoyt. Rick has CP, as I do, and in brief, Dick wanted to include his son Rick in something they could do together. They started doing triathlons together. No, really. Dick had to do a whole lot extra to bring Rick with him. In a sense, Rick needs help with everything. So I have seen this before, and I've seen news stories and videos lay it on a little thick with the "inspiration" stuff. But I love their story, because I know why Rick did what he did. He could have had a pity party, and decided to sit on the sidelines. (And there's truly nothing wrong with rooting on your Dad, and living vicariously.) Rick wanted to do more. And as I think back on the footage I've seen, the image of Rick's spastic arm raised in celebration as they approach the finish line is something that resonates. It's that warrior spirit, and it belongs to Rick. In my view, the inspiration is not in what Dick is doing for Rick, but what Rick does for his father. The elder Hoyt often called his son a "competitor" and said that had they not begun training together, he would be dead. And that's factually correct.

When I appreciate great feats of athleticism, I don't spend time brooding about the fact that I can't do them. You don't, either. Why should I? When I see the warrior spirit, I recognize it as kindred to my own. So many times in our lives, we lament the fact that we fail at this or that. Maybe quite frankly, we're unhappy with who and where we are. It still remains to cultivate the true warrior within, that true person of greatness we are supposed to be.

 Josiah Viera died recently. He was a Cardinals baseball minor league coach. He had a rare form of progeria, or rapid aging disease. They probably thought they were doing this little dying kid a solid when they first met him. And that's fair enough; I have no gripes with the myriad Make-A-Wish chapters all around the world, and what they do. And we make a certain allowance for the publicity of inspirational stories, and how we're all encouraged to be more intentional, thankful, and filled with purpose.

But I don't see a dying kid when I think of Josiah. I see a guy in uniform, with a bat in his hand. I see those strong forearms, ready to hit a ball. Honorary coach, my foot. He loved that game as much as anybody out there, and the players knew it, too. That's what  saw. Don't miss the warrior spirit while feeling pity or sadness.

Some Context For Defenses Of Abortion Centered On "Bodily Autonomy"

"My body, my choice." It means more than simply being wrong about how many people are involved, though some people do need to consider how many lives are at stake in the question of a particular "choice." Yet I think the reason abortion rights has dovetailed so easily with feminism is that, with limited exceptions, the political counterweight to "progressive" feminism--some kind of "conservatism"--has accepted the general degradation of women. This is how abortion can be seen as "empowering." It disregards the male contribution to the sexual act, and any rights or duties that flow from that, because in extreme forms, radical feminism denies the goodness of maleness as such.

If you begin with an a priori assumption that a relentless and crushing patriarchy exists, and it squelches all femaleness and its creativity, and you add in political opposition that has taken to calling concerns about consent as "puritanical", perhaps add in genuine sexism and discrimination in workplaces, rape, sexual assaults in varying degrees, and the reality that oftentimes justice is not done in such cases, you could see how a reasonable person might miss the full and true contours of the moral question of abortion, and so such "reproductive choice" becomes a matter of being heard and seen as a person, as something more than an object for male use.

We might say that the patriarchy kept the power, and abandoned the virtue. Christians, do you hear me? There's only so far I can walk across this bridge, because 1. I don't believe in anyone's absolute autonomy; and 2. I do believe in some kind of patriarchy, in the end. A Catholic who doesn't believe in general in hierarchy is likely in dissent. That's the way we tend to see the world, as mediated by the Church.

As one example, though, have you seen those pick-up artists? I doubt those guys are leftists. And true enough, some radical women would have no patience with my genteel paternalism, anyway. Admittedly, I have clicked around a few of those PUA sites in moments of quiet desperation, but those dudes are not Christians, or they certainly don't talk like us. Of course, somebody should write a startling expose about how PUAs and institutional "feminism" are just mechanisms for the capitalist monolith. [You could probably get Deneen to write the foreword.--ed.] Yeah, totally.

The Tension Between The Goodness Of Bodies, And The Reality Of Disability

It is the goodness of bodies that an extremism of disability-worship denies, by asserting that there is something essential to me in the experience of my disability. This error explains why some people make themselves disabled, in some cases, maiming themselves for the purpose of receiving pity, attention, or any number of other reasons. We have to reject this kind of thinking. God has promised to restore that which has been broken, both in ourselves, and in this creation He made. At the risk of massive understatement, we cannot enjoy God's restoration of all things if we deny that there is anything that needs to be restored.

There is an example of this pernicious type of thinking in an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation called, "Loud As a Whisper". Generally speaking, it is a great episode, filled with many examples showing the goodness of people with disabilities, and the goodness that can be found in overcoming those disabilities. The Enterprise is assigned to transport a mediator to a warring planet. When they arrive on the mediator's planet, they realize that he is deaf. Riva the mediator uses a unique form of communication called a "chorus". Its individual members are able to interpret Riva's thoughts and speak them. When the Enterprise crew questions Riva about his deafness, he says, "Born, and hope to die." Very subtly, the writers have communicated the idea that deafness is intrinsic to Riva's identity as a person. I don't know what it would be like to live without my disability, but it is a limitation. Even as I give thanks for the unique perspective that my disability affords me, and even for the difficulty I am invited to overcome, it is beyond reason to suggest that a lack of ability to do something is intrinsic, or even virtuous.

Another side plot within this episode involves Lt. Cmdr. Geordi La Forge. As you may know, La Forge is blind. He stopped in to Sickbay, reporting to the new doctor aboard the Enterprise, Dr. Pulaski. Pulaski has never met La Forge in person, but has heard of his case, and is understandably curious about his prosthetic, the VISOR. She tells La Forge that she may be able to restore his optic nerve, thus curing his blindness. There is a risk that she could fail, in which case he would lose all of his sight, including the ability to use the VISOR. La Forge hesitates, and this is a mystery to Pulaski. On the one hand, if Geordi is hesitating because of the risk of the surgery, this is legitimate. However, if he is hesitating because being cured of his blindness will eliminate the special experiences that experiencing his disability have created, then he is surrendering to the idea that disability is desirable or proper, and intrinsic to the human experience.

There is a fine line between thankfulness in spite of difficulties, and believing that defects are integral to our identity as individuals. This distinction is the difference between accepting suffering, and the celebrating of it for its own sake.

On a more personal note, I apologize for my vast array of sports analogies and references. Surely I could describe the goodness of bodies in other ways! Yet by God's grace, I am what I am, and if you've borne up thus far, perhaps you can make it the rest of the way.

Monday, February 04, 2019

Just A Kid, Playing With His Friends

After the Super Bowl, (WOOO! GO PATS!) I saw a woman on a performance show, playing a violin. Took me about 60 seconds to realize she was playing with a prosthetic arm. I promise you, I did not notice. She had a pitiable story, but it had little to do with her arm, because again, I missed that part. [Pardon the pun.--ed.] Oh, awful! That was bad. You're fired! [You have fired me many times.--ed.]

Her playing was OK, but not great. On the other hand, that she's playing again is fantastic, beneficial, and right for her to do.

You might have seen the adaptive game controller commercial. I was impressed, and glad people are doing this. It's right and good to help a kid feel included. We should let each other know, in big and small ways, that we're important to one another.

It, however, was not "inspirational." It was just normal, friends and kids playing video games. That's what I saw. Re-think your pity. It's not that it never has a place. I feel pity for others. I can also acknowledge the reality of disability as defect. Otherwise, the excellence of Tom Brady, or Roger Federer, or Carl Lewis, is muted and denied. For example. But what you actually owe me, and others like me, is to see me as a peer. If we are fellow sharers in the human condition, then we can talk about what I need, what you need, and if we need to make changes. And it's on these terms and these alone, that we can acknowledge suffering and difficulty together.

When we are peers, then we can inspire one another. Without this, I am an object lesson, and no one wants that, if you think about it.