The Life of the Party

 

The office of the Director of Behavioral Management Services (BMS), Social Sciences Division, Administration Building No. 1 of 20, Government Dept. of Social Services, Godwin Ave., Washington D.C.:

A knock on the door.

A voice from inside, “Come in.”

“Life Coach Tidd reporting sir.”

“How did it go today, Tidd? Have a seat.”

“Thank you, sir.” Tidd takes a seat.

“It went well I believe. This morning I coached client Xym to continue his lifestyle. He was questioning whether his former church would accept him. I told him, ‘No matter, this government accepts you as you are. You are free to be yourself. If you are not yourself you will be unhappy. And our mission at Behavioral Management Life Coach Services is to pursue happiness with you, the client. Happy clients are the best advertisement tax dollars can buy.’ Xym seemed relieved.

My ten o’clock client, a youth pastor, I once again had to remind him of our Uniform Behavior Code which must be presented weekly to the youth. He was more than a little hesitant…”

“Remind him, Tidd, about our Universal Morals Seminars. Sounds like he needs a refresher course. We must teach our youth to be nice, pleasant, respectful. We teach them self-improvement and doing one’s best, and feeling good about oneself…and all that. We must form our youth while we can, before any thoughts of You Know Who enters the picture.

Let me remind you, Tidd, that our core mission is to generate self-happiness. We want our clients to feel good about themselves. You Know Who is not particularly interested in our daily problems. That is why we are here, Tidd. We are here for them. We are inclusive and You Know Who is not. We listen, we coach, we improve the life process for each and every one of our clients. And we do it for free!”

“Sir, this youth pastor asked me if I knew about grace. I said of course I did. I watch Will and Grace.”

“Excellent response, Tidd. Keep redirecting his thinking. We must deconstruct any inherited meaning so that we can construct what the people want constructed today, here and now. And besides, it makes no sense for this youth pastor to get all mucked up with some ancient spiritual mumbo jumbo when our Moral Code is so…so relevant and compassionate. Religion is values. But we are a values organization based on settled social science. Keep in mind that we Life Coaches are precursors to our clients in the discovery of truth. No savior from on high delivers like we do. ”

“So true, Sir. Sir, I also talked to Anna, you know the one, the feminist. I encouraged her to go ahead and write her article laying out the case for women in the work place to be promoted every two years. I told her that she is a wondrously talented person who has been sinfully suppressed by males running a patriarchal system and that the feminine had been imposed upon her by superior forces and reinforced by a culture of romance in art and literature. You should have seen her swoon.”

“Good work, Tidd. You remind me of myself when I life coached in the field.”

“Thank you, Sir.”

“Tidd, I am going to promote you. But before I do I want you to attend the “Cultivate the Imperial Self” training course. It is mandatory for all level three Life Coaches. The training will give you a chance to brush up on yourself. You will also learn how to do consciousness raising and how to cultivate indignation and righteous resentment and to have both directed at metanarratives. In other words, there will no longer be one voice. Also, as part of the training you will learn how to make your clients suspicious of any written word and how to liberate language from the shackles of dictated meaning. And, critical to our mission, you will learn how to build consensus among our clients. Consensus building insures our client’s happiness. The more “Likes” the better, and all that.

Before the end of the week, Tidd, let me know if any of your clients want individual rights. As you know they must fill out an application first and then I will talk to the Department of Rights. They usually issue guaranteed SCOTUS honored rights in a matter of five business days. It sounds like your client Anna needs a right to be promoted every two years. Let me know about that one. Janet, the head of our Rights on Demand Department -Rodd – will ram it through for you. Get my gist, Tidd?”

“Yes, sir, and quite funny at that, if I may say so. Thank you, sir.”

‘In any case, individual rights are the wellspring of our organization. Without them where would we be? Hand them out freely. But remember to tell them what equality says, “No rights without their duties.”

“Yes, sir. And, before I go, here is my list of follow-up appointments.”

“You are coming to the dinner tonight, Tidd, aren’t you?”

“Oh, yes, I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

“Good. See you there.”

 

Later that night:

“Life Coach F.E. Tidd we are awarding you the 2017 Pat ‘Em on the Head Kick ‘Em in the Ass Achievement Medal for Life Coaching Excellence.

 

 

 

 

© Jennifer A. Johnson, 2017, All Rights Reserved

Outside the Left-Brain Safe Space: Unsettled Science, Mystery, Wonder and Mental Well-Being

 

“So the left hemisphere needs certainty and needs to be right. The right hemisphere makes it possible to hold several ambiguous possibilities in suspension together without premature closure on one outcome.” ― Iain McGilchrist, The Master and his Emissary:  The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World

~~~

To understand light as both particle and wave, one must “hold several ambiguous possibilities in suspension together without premature closure on one outcome.”

 

light-and-particle

“Light behaves both as a particle and as a wave. Since the days of Einstein, scientists have been trying to directly observe both of these aspects of light at the same time. Now, scientists at EPFL have succeeded in capturing the first-ever snapshot of this dual behavior. “ –The first ever photograph of light as both a particle and wave

 

 

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.” – Albert Einstein

“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science.” – Albert Einstein

“The most incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is comprehensible.” – Albert Einstein

einstein-quote

If Its True Its Not New OR Don’t Stick Your Head in the Oven

Following on the heels of my previous post “The Vision of the Anointed is Our Nightmare; Ivy league Progressives and Their Creeping Racism” I offer the following video discussion. And, once again real adults are involved. No trigger warnings or pacifiers issued here.

 The discussion led by Peter Robinson of the Hoover Institute centers on the current state of liberal arts education. Joseph Epstein and Andrew Ferguson both share from their extensive experience. The participant’s credentials, included in the video, won’t be repeated here.

 “We may fairly ask, could any field other than liberal arts yield as broad and as significant an introduction to life’s comparisons and choices; could any other provide a more vital classroom experience for the development of men who are free not primarily because of birth, but because they have learned to use their birthright to chose a way of life? Quoting from Dartmouth College President John Sloan Dickey’s Convocation Address,1954, as recorded in the Dartmouth Review, March 13, 2013, page 11

Considering my birthright to be that of an autodidact liberal arts student, I look at the world from both ends of a telescope. And, though my pay-the-bills ‘FT’ job is in the field of engineering I seek out all manner of wonderful going beyond the rote of everyday life. From my posts you’ll see that this includes and is not limited to quantum physics, genetics, theistic “old earth” evolution, philosophy, psychotherapy, Christianity, music, art, poetry and both non-fiction and fiction literature including Shakespeare. I say this not out of braggadocio but to let you know that I was taught early on to seek wisdom, knowledge and a good understanding. I have an insatiable appetite to learn.  I need clarion answers and I also need a universe full of space, time and matter to ponder.

An old preacher once told me, “If it’s new it’s not true.  If it’s true it’s not new.”  This adage applies especially to a liberal arts education wherein one can unearth ancient wisdom, dust off traditional values and compare them to today’s instantly gratifying, mostly politicized and ‘Democratic-ized” popular icons of ‘knowledge” (e.g., global warming is a man-made crisis, crime originates from poverty and poor government institutions, etc.). This adage aptly applies to the physical sciences as well since what is being discovered has been around since the beginning of time

 Knowledge-wise I cut my teeth, so to speak, sans ‘higher education’ when I began questioning common knowledge, spitting out popular ‘wisdom’ and seeking to rid myself of the scourge of acid-like sentimentality that eats away at the protective enamel of wisdom. The dentist told me to floss every day. And, Socrates told me that “an unexamined life is not worth living.” They share the same Hippocratic Office, I think.

 Some of my liberal arts ‘findings’ are presented in my posts. I write the posts to remind myself of what I have read, to reinforce the content in my mind and to learn to parse, focusing only on what is true, good and worthy. And, then, there is also this reason… 

And as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen
Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name.
– William Shakespeare (from A Midsummer Night’s Dream)

 Some thoughts on the most important aspect of a liberal arts education-gaining wisdom:

Hopefully by now you have noticed that science’s data collection and life’s growing empiricism do not counterbalance the super-sized questions of life weighing you down. Please don’t “scien-tize” your life as Joseph Epstein coined in the video or meta-data yourself into boredom. Wise-up your life.

 And, even though the wisest, most circumspect and ‘experienced’ man in history, King Solomon, writes his direst thoughts in the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes, telling us that life is …

 

“Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher.

Everything is meaningless!”

 

…we are reminded that Solomon asked God for the gift of wisdom yet Solomon did not use all of the wisdom given to him. That led him to…

 

The Conclusion of the Matter

 

Not only was the Teacher wise, but he also imparted knowledge to the people. He pondered and searched out and set in order many proverbs.  The Teacher searched to find just the right words, and what he wrote was upright and true.

 

The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails—given by one shepherd. Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them.

 

Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.

Now all has been heard;
here is the conclusion of the matter:

Fear God and keep his commandments,

for this is the duty of all mankind.
For God will bring every deed into judgment,
including every hidden thing,
whether it is good or evil.

 

There is just too much of life to be taken in to ever be bored with life or to find time to despair. No head in the oven for me.

~~~

Allan Bloom, American philosopher, classicist, and academician, in his 1987 book “The Closing of the American Mind How Higher Education Has failed Democracy and Impoverished the Souls of Today’s Students” writes about how liberal arts education became impoverished and the consequential effects.

 Here is a previous post with quotes from Allan Bloom: Fear and Loathing In America

Fear and Loathing in America

I know, I know, I am polemical.  I polarize people with my words.  I piss people off because I am ever seeking to destroy pretense.  And yet at this juncture in my life I understand this irksome gift as a God-given trait that must be used.  This does not mean that I am perfect, of course, or exempt.  It does mean though that just like the prophets recorded in the Old Testament I cannot remain silent. I am will ever be forthright and forth telling…

 *****

Pervasive throughout our land is the avoidance of asking the hard questions.  We shun the real questions about life and death, about God, about good and evil, about the body and soul, about reason and revelation and about eternity and time. 

 Yesterday I happened to watch The Lord of the Rings (LTR):  The Return of the King.  Putting the above statement into LTR terms, we want to live peaceably in the shire with never having to venture out and deal with the Ring which has consequential power over us. We may say to ourselves, “Why destroy the ring when we can pretend it doesn’t exist? We may have doubts that all that the shire presents to us is all there is to life but we will ignore those doubts in order to avoid conflict and to live peaceably. We choose the immediate surroundings to avoid the dangerous quest that truth demands. We fear what it might take to make the journey.  We fear we will lose ourselves on the way and never return to the shire. We fear what it might take to fight the good fight.

 We fear conflict. Conflict is the evil we most want to avoid.  Our “dialectics” begin with opposites and end in synthesis.  We seek conflict resolution, bargaining, harmony and therapy, no-fault divorce, etc.  Because of this we find it easier to believe nothing of import so that we do not have to fear disagreement, ostracism or even death for what one believes. And because we do not believe in anything then we cannot be responsible for outcomes.

 To choose to believe nothing means that absolute truth is discharged from our lives.  Its voice is no longer heeded.  In fact its voice is now being drowned out.  The commotion that you hear daily is man’s raucous resistance to leaving the shire ~ his tweeting and texting of empty words, the ever streaming pop/rock music filling the void, the Surround sound of ubiquitous blaring entertainment.  It is as if men and women were walking around in the dark calling out to each other and never finding the light switch. They have chosen to stay in the purgatory of their fears.

 The avoidance of pain and conflict has become our primary goal in life.  This is seen in the young voter’s desire for Obamacare.  The health care reform is seen by them as in line with their “values”.  The reform is also seen as providing a sense of self-esteem in that it affirms the young voters wish to avoid pain and insecurity at all costs. On the surface Obamacare appears to provide security for themselves and for others while in truth it is a compromise of what is good and what is evil – the good being the desire for your well-being and the well-being of others and the evil which is the lie that Obama and the government will somehow provide self-esteem and security for you and others and do it with altruism. Remember, God has now been replaced by social science, social science based on rationalism and egalitarianism (think John Rawls, Laurence Tribe, etc.) all under the banner of “Social Justice.”  Rationalism’s,’ “Social Justice” trumps God every time.  Social science is now becoming the creator of society’s values, e.g., God is not to be talked about in public but homosexuality must be.  All of this in spite of the fact that rationalism without revelation could never create value. As Benedict XVI said in 1969:

“What is essential is that reason shut in on itself does not remain reasonable or rational, just as the state that aims at being perfect becomes tyrannical. Reason needs revelation in order to be able to be effective as reason.”

 The avoidance of truth with its inherent conflicts with other than the truth affects our relationships, our sexuality, our creativity, our culture. In place of absolute truth Americans, as mentioned, have latched on to “values.” And our new “value” system has a new way of talking:  “lifestyle”, “Be Yourself;” “Be original;” “Let go and be;”  diversity;” “I have my rights.” But now “rights” are no longer the natural inalienable God-given rights “of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”  Now “rights” have morphed into feelings worn on our sleeve.  We demand that others accept what we feel and that others be open and tolerant. This is what we value above all else. Right and wrong (and love (read not sex)) no longer have a place in our psyche. “Values” – a synthesis of good and evil dominates our diseased culture. And when we ignore serious questions we create words with synthetic meanings to describe our lives.

 “Charisma” is one of those words often heard today. Charisma was once considered a God-given grace but has been used as cover for the “banality of evil” as Hannah Arendt, political philosopher, notes when talking about Hitler’s appeal.

  Allan Bloom, another political philosopher, notes in his 1987 book The Closing of the American Mind:  How Higher Education Has failed Democracy and Impoverished the Souls of Today’s Students, “Charisma both justifies leaders and excuses followers.  The very word gives a positive twist to rabble-rousing qualities and activities treated as negative in our constitutional tradition.  And it s vagueness makes it a tool for frauds and advertising men adept at manipulating images.” Consider that both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama have both been called charismatic leaders.

 In the introduction to his book, Bloom writes about what he sees in the classrooms of higher education: 

“There is one thing a professor can be absolutely certain of:  almost every student entering the university believes, or says he believes that truth is relative….They are unified only in their relativism and their allegiance to equality….They have been equipped with this framework early on, and it is the modern replacement for the inalienable rights that used to be the traditional American grounds for a free society…The danger they have been taught to fear from absolutism is not error but intolerance.  Relativism is necessary to openness; and this is virtue, the only virtue, which all primary education for more than fifty years has dedicated itself to inculcating.  Openness ~ and the relativism that makes it only plausible stance in the face of various claims to truth and various ways of life and kinds of human beings ~ is the great insight of our times. The true believer is the real danger.  The study of history and culture teaches that all the world was mad in the past; men always thought they were right, and that led to wars, persecutions, slavery, xenophobia, racism, and chauvinism.  The point (now) is not to correct the mistakes and really be right; rather it is not to think you are right at all.”  (emphasis mine)

  In a later chapter titled The German Connection, Bloom relates how Nietzsche, Heidegger, Hegel, Weber, Freud have influenced American thinking.  Americans, within a “pro-choice” democracy, have assimilated this German thinking sometimes turning it on its head.   Bloom writes, 

“…there is now an entirely new language of good and evil, originating in an attempt to get “beyond good and evil” and preventing us from talking with any conviction about good and evil anymore.  Even those who deplore our current moral condition do so in the very language that exemplifies that condition.”

“The new language is that of value relativism and it constitutes a change in our view of things moral and political as great as the one that took place when Christianity replaced Greek and Roman paganism.”

“Value relativism can be taken to be a great release from the perpetual tyranny of good and evil, with its cargo and shame and guilt, and the endless efforts that the pursuit of the one and the avoidance of the other enjoin. Intractable good and evil cause infinite distress – like war and sexual repression – which is almost instantly relieved when more flexible values are introduced.  One need not feel bad about or uncomfortable with oneself when just a little value adjustment is necessary.  And this longing to shuck off constraints and have one peaceful, happy world is the first of the affinities between our real American world and that of German philosophy in its most advanced form, given expression by the critics of the President’s speech.”

 Here Bloom is referring to the clamor arising when President Reagan referred to the Soviet Union as the “evil empire.”  When yet at another time Reagan said that the Soviets had “different values,” this statement was met “at worst with silence and frequently with approval,” thus revealing our loathing of absolutism in the former statement.

 At the beginning of the chapter Values, Bloom, relates, “We have come back to the point where we began (in the book), where values take the place of good and evil.” (emphasis mine)

And so like Gollum we place the utmost value on the ring of power, becoming blind to its tyranny over us. Along with the ring we call our values “My Precious.”  Under the yolk of temporal “values” and without facing the serious questions of life we lose ourselves, we lose the real.  We lose love, romance, culture, art ~ everything meaningful to us.

 Love or charity, a virtue which must be constantly worked at, is replaced with easy sex. Consider that in our culture sexual activity is not to be repressed or disciplined but rather it is to be given preeminent unrestrained “value.” Think Sandra Fluke and contraception. Think in-your-face homosexuality. Does America “confirm her soul in self-control” or not?

 Romance, apart from truth is portrayed in movie after movie as just a response to nihilism. Nowhere to be found is the expectation, the unrequited desire and the hoped-for revelation of real romance. Without absolutes there can be no true romance.

 We are a culture that seeks therapeutic counseling.  Yet modern psychology, the sworn enemy of shame and guilt, refuses to talk about good and evil and therefore offers nothing for the soul. Freudian psychology only brings the patient back to repressed sex.

 Modern art has nothing of consequence to offer. Consider the pop art of Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein.

 Deafening music, pop or rock, pummels our ear drums daily evoking barbaric passions and depriving the soul of its senses.

 Tattoos deface our bodies so as to reveal our disdain for the discipline that purity of mind and body requires. Inking is given the (non-)value of counter-culture and rabble-rousing.

 Religion, wherein serious questions are faced, is being replaced by positive thinking as preached from the temples of TV.

 In view of the fact that our nation is becoming increasingly devoid  of absolutes and truth while at the same time becoming  increasingly laced with relativism and sliding scale “values” consider this:

 Jesus, the Son of the Living God, says, “You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free.” Free from what? Free from fear.  All fear:  the fear of the unknown, the fear of facing accountability, the fear of death, the fear of loss and personal suffering, the fear of evil.  Jesus’ perfect love casts out all fear. Because of this we can face the serious questions of life head-on knowing that He loves us, that He stands with us and that He has gone before us through the same difficult places. Seek Him and He will be found.

 Going back to the LTR analogy do you remember how Frodo and Sam and the rest rejoiced that the ring had been destroyed, that their arduous life and death journey had been accomplished? Their courage and resoluteness saved the shire, themselves and Middle Earth even while the others in the shire had no clue as to what was going on.  You and I are about to do the same.