Web Design

As those who read this blog on the actual site will have noticed, I’ve been playing around a bit with my “look.”  Neither famous nor influential, I’m just a regular guy with a doctorate who wants to make some use of it.  This blog is a way of doing that.  In any case, as I was changing templates and background images, I noticed my rather lengthy blogroll.  Apart from sounding like a particularly tasteless eastern appetizer, blogrolls are pretty much outdated these days.  Back when I started this, there was a community of like-minded bloggers who linked to each others’ pages and helped stir some stats.  In those days doing something like posting on the winner of the Super Bowl could garner you a thousand hits in a day.  The web’s become a bit more crowded since then, I suspect.

So I went to edit my blogroll.  As I did so I found no other blogs linked to mine—no offense taken!—and many that had become defunct.  Many, many.  And there were many blogs that hadn’t been updated in years.  Now, I understand that it is possible to make a living as a blogger these days.  According to my stats, this will be my 3,447th post.  When I consider the time it takes each day to write one of these things, I realize it’s a considerable piece of my life.  Seeing the blogs that have become inactive was like walking through a technological graveyard where many virtual comrades are buried.  For me, the exercise of writing (and I don’t mean the physical typing) is an essential part of each day.  I’d miss it if I stopped.

My redesign focuses on a couple of things: books and pelicans.  Since the books part should be obvious, the pelicans might need explaining.  The background image is one I took while visiting the University of California, Santa Barbara for Routledge.  On my lunch break I went down to the beach and this flock of pelicans flew right over my head.  The iPhone was new in those days, so I pulled it out and snapped a picture.  It won a company photo of the month prize (no monetary value).  There’s quite a bit of symbolism in this image of birds against the California sun.   This blog tends to be metaphorical and those who’ve complained on it over the years don’t really get that.  That’s because things are not what they seem.  There’s something valuable about having to dig for meaning, even if it means looking up.

Sporting Chance

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I didn’t watch the SuperBowl last weekend. In fact, I haven’t had television service for over two decades now. I don’t really miss it too much since I don’t have time to watch TV (the commuting life leaves time only for sleeping and working, except on weekends). Still, for special events, I think, it might be nice to see things live. (My wife raises this point every time the Olympics roll around. I seem to recall them being every four years, but now it seems they’re seasonal, and about twice as frequent. Could it be that advertising revenues are really that important? Maybe I missed that, not having television…) Even when I have managed, over the last couple of decades, to pull the SuperBowl onto a fuzzy, snowy screen, it was for one major reason—the commercials. I wonder what that says about a society? I now spend precious weekend time watching commercials on YouTube, sometimes having to watch a commercial for the privilege of watching a commercial. The substance without the fluff of the actual entertainment.

So it was that I saw the Mophie commercial about the apocalypse (here’s the link, in case you’re as entertainment-challenged as I am). So as the world comes to an end, the weather goes even more wonky than we’ve already made it go, Fortean fish fall from the sky, dogs walk their owners and priests steal plasma television sets. Then the punchline, God’s cell phone dies and the end of the world ends. It isn’t the shock of seeing an African-American God—Morgan Freeman led the way there with Bruce Almighty—but rather the technique, the divine delivery, if you will, that is the shock. Not even God is anything without his cell. (I wonder when we’ll see a Latino woman as God? Dogma came close, but not quite.) Is the smartphone really not the deity here?

God, it seems, has become a null concept. I don’t mean because of different racial or gender presentations, but I do mean that the concept itself is completely up for grabs. God, according to Anselm of Canterbury, is that being greater than which nothing can be conceived. In fact, God seems to be that which people worship, more of a Tillichian ultimate concern. A wired world should, in theory, be a world headed toward peace and equality. If we know what’s going on everywhere, shouldn’t we be doing our best to ensure that it is fair and just? The truth of the matter gives the lie to such optimistic musings. I would hate to confess just how much my phone bill is every month. Even without the “triple play” (no television) it is the biggest expense after college tuition and rent. And it goes on, in saecula saeculorum. When I pull out my smartphone, I gaze upon the face of the Almighty. And perhaps that’s a good thing, because how else would I entertain myself without television?

A Long Way to Go

“One of the greatest injustices we do to young people is ask them to be conservative.” The words are those of Francis Schaeffer. The Francis Schaeffer. Among evangelical circuits, Schaeffer has a status right up there with James Dobson, Ronald Reagan, and Saint Paul. At Grove City College he was viewed with such veneration that hagiography would be an understatement. Few realize that Schaeffer was a mover and shaker in the hippie movement until Roe v. Wade caused what might have been akin to a breakdown. Schaeffer transformed into what he once despised, the ultra-conservative trying to protect the unborn. While Catholic groups had been unsuccessful at capturing Jerry Falwell’s sympathy for fetuses, Schaeffer would win. His book, A Christian Manifesto, published the year I started college, was required reading for religion majors. Abortion had now been taken on as an “evangelical” issue.

Fast forward a few decades. Karen Handel, erstwhile Georgia gubernatorial hopeful, becomes senior vice-president for Susan G. Komen’s The Cure. Handel ran for governor on a pro-life platform. The Cure (temporarily) withdraws funding from Planned Parenthood—the idea that every child should be loved and esteemed is less important than every child should be born. With those little tiny feet. And as it turns out, hopefully with little tiny penises as well. Divide and conquer. Women against women. The Margaret Thatcher syndrome. Call it what you will, but abortion as a religio-political issue revolves around women’s rights. Anti-female legislation has had a long and sordid affair with Christian theology, reaching back to medieval witch-hunts and Catholic sacerdotal declarations. What is sometimes excused as ignorance in less developed societies where women are routinely brutalized is given a Gospel air brush job and called “anti-abortion” in the United States. The real issue, the literal elephant in the room, is women’s rights.

The evidence on this is incontrovertible for anyone who is willing to open their eyes. In order for our culture—men hurling themselves at each other during the Superbowl while women are preparing food in the kitchen—to survive, outmoded gender expectations must be kept firmly in place. Even if you want to cure breast cancer—largely a plague against females—you do it so they can live to produce more males. Being raised with an absentee father, I learned very early that women had every right to equal treatment with men, but I also learned that it did not happen. The trick has been to get women on board to vote against their own best interests. Raise them up to think their religion, their God, demands them to be subservient. And if a man wants sex, it is a woman’s duty to comply. And abortion undoes all a man’s hard work in the bedroom, or backseat, or dark alleyway. Yes, these issues are complex and myriad aspects play into them. I say we call a quorum on the debate until one-half of the human race is truly given a chance to find its voice.

What does he have that half the human race doesn't?