Culture

30 Bad Ideas Men Should Embrace if They Want to Destroy Themselves

See the previous parts of this ongoing series exploring culture, relationships, and religion through books:

April 11: Men Should Read Lisa De Pasquale’s Sexy Memoir

Lisa’s book provokes many questions and this post is the beginning of a series to host and encourage a discussion about them. Lisa organizes her book around 7 different men — Chris the Atheist, Joe the Catholic, John the Evangelical, Preston the Quaker, Ryan the Preacher, Adam the Jew, and Brandon the Nondenominational Believer — and how her pursuit of them shaped her own religious journey. I’m going to give each one at least one blog post excerpting from her book and raising a question for debate…. Lisa’s memoir is an inspiring journey through her own struggles with the idols she’s worshiped. In future posts I’ll consider an idol-based reading of her book in juxtaposition with other texts and the stories of the day. Recognizing the idol we’re worshiping that’s keeping us enslaved is the first step to picking it up, smashing it, and finding the free life God wants us to have. Lisa’s book collects the fragments of seven of her smashed idols and there’s much we can learn from her. Stay tuned, in future posts I’ll also consider Lisa’s insights alongside two related books I’ve read recently, Kathy Shaidle’s Confessions of a Failed Slut (which Ed Driscoll interviewed her about here today) and Dr. Helen Smith’s Men On Strike

April 17: The Normal Way Godless Men Treat Women (A discussion of Chris the Atheist’s sexual violence against Lisa and its ancient cultural roots.)

June 26 at the PJ Tatler: 30 Books For Defeating Valerie Jarrett’s Cult of Political Criminals.

That Sunday, June 29, excerpting a section of it at PJ Lifestyle: 5 Deep Books For Overcoming Our Addiction to Idol Worship

Here are links to round 1 of a debate at PJ inspired by the “spreadsheet husband” that ran July 20-24:

This extended list article (see the original publication of the 3 parts here, here, and here) draws from the debate’s comments and juxtaposes them with excerpts from Finding Mr. Righteous, 3 of the 5 books on idolatry, and a few more related titles.

This can be understood as opening up Round 2 and and inviting others to participate. Send submissions in response to these subjects to DaveSwindlePJM {@} gmail.com or please leave comments below or feel free to get in touch on Twitter: @DaveSwindle (We should start featuring more Twitter discussions at PJ Lifestyle…)

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Dear Lisa,

I hope your last few months have been less tumultuous than mine. After almost a month in our new apartment in South L.A., April and I are starting to get comfortable and settled — we finally tested out the pool yesterday. (Siberian Husky Maura remained skeptical and chose not to go in even though our landlord said she could. Someday we hope to get her swimming. She does enjoy going to the beach.) Here’s a picture of her exploring the new town, I’m going to try to collect more sunrise pictures of her:

After the first two posts in the series on your book I ran into a writer’s block, a challenge that I’ve now at last overcome: how best to explain the difference between Judeo-Christians and pagan Christians, one of the phenomena your book illustrates so vividly. This is my way of trying to contribute to understanding the wide range of religious relationship experiences you had over the years and why they varied so much amongst men who were supposedly committed to the same holy book, worshipping the same God. Illustrating the paganism of your first failed Mr. Righteous, Chris the Atheist, was easy enough. Camille Paglia is probably the most perceptive writer today analyzing the cultural blend of secularism and amoral neopagan values.

But in analyzing the varieties of Christianity in the context of their ratio of pagan to Jewish influences, there’s another writer — who’s exhibited an even stronger influence on my views the last three years — who I want to encourage you to consider both for future writings and for his insights on life in general.

David P. Goldman is a PJ columnist with a diverse background and a knowledge base ranging from economics and finance to history, philosophy, art, music and culture, to religion and theology. I read his book How Civilizations Die (And Why Islam is Dying Too) a few years ago and make it a point to try and edit as many of his pieces here at PJ as I can. I’ve just recently acquired and read his essay collection It’s Not the End of the World, It’s Just the End of You: The Great Extinction of the Nations.

Among Goldman’s unique insights is to apply the theological writings of Jewish philosopher Franz Rosenzweig and his magnum opus The Star of Redemption to understand demographic and cultural trends today, particularly why it is that so many nations and people around the world choose to destroy themselves. Goldman’s answer: secularism produces hopelessness and does not inspire people to marry and reproduce. There is a big link between religiosity, family size, and happiness. Goldman lays out the data to both show that it’s there and then, through explaining Rosenzweig’s analysis of pagan, Jewish, and Christian cultures, explain how to fix it.

And it starts with applying it to our own lives — his ideas are just as useful at the macro level as they are for understanding ourselves and interpersonal relationships. The same techniques the West needs to use for defeating the sex-and-murder worshipping barbarians on the global stage we can use for overcoming these challenges in their smaller manifestations in the people around us and in our own unruly, jealous hearts.

So here are some of the bad ideas that your book does a great job of exposing — warning signs for both men and women — and some related ideas too that will yield further insights into the challenge of overcoming the stumbling blocks preventing us from being the righteous people our friends and family need us to be.

For this compilation I’ve assembled an index for easier browsing:

1. Drunken, Chain-Smoking Cynicism

2. Racial Nationalism

3. Pauline Christian Apocalypticist Paganism

4. Catholic Paganism

5. Theological Idolatry

6. Secularist Sex-Worship

7. Evangelical Idolatry

8. Secularist Nature-Worshipping Paganism

9. Right-Left Political Idolatry

10. Technology addiction

11. Internet Porn Idolatry… and its coming Spawn of Virtual Reality Sex Addiction

12. Christian Protestant Pagan Sadomasochism

13. Worshipping Our Own Ugliness

14. Apollonian Radical Pagan Materialism

15. Buying Love Through Excessive Gift Giving

16. The Jesus Wannabes

17. Atheist Anarcho-Capitalist “Libertarianism”

18. Catholic Christian Objectivism

19. Arminian Christian Paganism

20. The Idol of Self-Reinvention

21. Hedonism

22. Obama Worship

23. Blatant Ignorance of Female Nature

24. Political Science Idolatry

25. Politically Correct, Man-Child Cowardice

26. Permanent Adolescence

27. Workaholism

28. “Marriage is the only voluntary relationship that is fundamentally about sex.”

29. Nihilism: The worship of nothing

30. Narcissism

1. Drunken, Chain-Smoking Cynicism

As embodied by Chris the Atheist on page 14 of Finding Mr. Righteous:

If he couldn’t do that, he couldn’t control his other impulses either. His impulse to drink. His impulse to be so cynical about the world. His impulse to leave me because I wasn’t thin.

Lisa, did you choose to give the fake name “Chris” for the atheist boyfriend after Christopher Hitchens? Am I the only one who sees some parallels between the two with their pronounced atheism, addictions, and the wild mood swings?

It’s rarely stated this simply and basically but much of what religion produces is a sense of discipline to learn how to control one’s moods and correct bad habits. To really practice a religion one needs to develop the discipline to be able to read, study and debate the Bible. And the process of doing that allows one to gradually gain the strength to conquer the ups and downs of our moods.

2. Racial Nationalism: aka “Ethnic Self-Adoration” aka Pagan Tribalism

As described in David P. “Spengler” Goldman’s It’s Not the End of the World, It’s Just the End of You, on page 28:

Idolatry in the form of ethnic self-adoration never waned among the European peoples, despite their centuries of Christian Tutelage.

Lisa, like you I’ve had an on-again, off-again relationship with Christianity over the years. But it was never God or Jesus that was the problem for me. It hasn’t been a question of “Does God exist?” but rather, “Which understanding of God is most accurate? And what does He require of me?” I’ve wandered in the theological wilderness, weighing one doctrine against another, perpetually trying to find theologians, books, and philosophers who can illuminate the path forward.

Goldman in his books provides a history lesson of what it took for Christianity to dominate Europe, how this compromise inspired the creation of America, and the deadly impact it has today. Christianity has evolved and grown since the beginning through a process of syncretism, taking the customs of and cultures of neighboring peoples and reinventing and adapting them to the faith. Sometimes this works well and other times it doesn’t. At root Christianity functions through combining the traditions of the Jews with those of pagan (nature-worshipping) tribes. (“Where do chocolate bunnies on Easter and Evergreen trees and magic elves on Christmas come from?” the snarky atheist activist of today likes to point out as though he’s discovered something new and radical.)

I think what inspired me to flee the Christianity of my teen years was that the balance was off — it was too pagan, too New Testament-focused, and deeply lacking in an understanding of the Old Testament and the Jewish tradition. What was most missing? A real deep understanding of the 2nd Commandment and what it’s designed to defeat: idolatry. Without an understanding of what idols are and how they work then the Christian creates idols without even realizing it. And then the emotional satisfaction he receives from it he mistakes for an authentic spiritual experience.

That was one of my big angers from my young Christian days, when I came to accept that emotional experiences had been sold to me as Godly encounters, when really my emotions were just being manipulated by skilled preachers who knew what buttons to push.

“Rosenzweig contends that it is the Jewish mission to guard Christianity against idolatry.” – page 89 of Leora Batnitzky’s Idolatry and Representation: the Philosophy of Franz Rosenzweig Reconsidered.

3. Pauline Christian Apocalypticist Paganism: Believing that wives should be whores, serving their husband whatever he wants on command, and then, worse, using the Apostle Paul as Biblical justification.

Be skeptical about marriage advice from a celibate guy who wishes fewer people would get married — just like him — and who believes the world is coming to an end.

As described in this very first comment exchange from “Would You Want a Husband This Incompetent at Turning You On?” on July 21, the passage from me that inspired the response (which is necessary to reprint in full so one can see how only half of a sentence was chopped out by the commenter responding):

Because it’s not a wife’s responsibility to be her husband’s happy whore, eagerly providing him with his orgasms on demand.

Dissatisfied husbands, want to know the secret to having sex with your wife whenever you want? It is not your wife’s responsibility to be ready to go on command, it’s YOUR responsibility to know your wife so well that you are capable of seducing her anytime. When you want to have sex with her you don’t ask her, you put her in the mood yourself. It’s really that simple: know you wife well enough so you can push the right buttons, say the right things, and create an environment where sex just naturally happens.

Unfortunately, that’s more work than most men are used to for getting orgasms. Twenty or thirty minutes of close attention, massage, and foreplay first? Taking the effort to really get to know your wife’s unique preferences and turn-ons? Learning how to read her moods? That’s effort — and energy.

The very first response, from a commenter who has been trolling me at every occasion for months (when did anonymous internet trolling become an approach to Christian Evangelism?):

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Lisa, here’s a question to consider as you continue your explorations in Christianity; it’s the one that ultimately drove me out of it: what does one have to believe — or do — in order to qualify as a Christian? By many Christians’ definitions I’m still a Christian — I have faith that Jesus rose from the dead and the Bible is the most Divine book ever written and should serve as the moral basis for everyone’s lives. There is an afterlife and some kind of transcendent reality beyond nature (calling it “heaven” is fine) and we can get glimpses of it through mystical practices. Is that enough? Or am I only a Christian if I go to the right church and believe X, Y, Z, about Mary, the virgin birth, Paul and who gets into heaven and who doesn’t? Who gets the authority to make that judgment?

I guess I’ve moved in the direction of understanding religion more as something one does rather than just a set of correct beliefs one holds in their heads. This is a more Jewish than a Christian attitude, I’ve come to understand. 

4. Catholic Paganism: An emotion-based faith fixated on the sadomasochistic imagery of the crucifixion in which the believer projects his own sexual guilt onto the picture of Christ being tortured for it in his place.

As embodied by Joe the Catholic’s response to the brutality of The Passion of the Christ — a memory rightly paralleled with his strange decision to give up premarital sex for Lent — and also illuminated through a passage from page 29 of Catholic Pagan Camille Paglia’s Sex, Art and American Culture:

“He knew he would always be forgiven.” — from page 39 of  Finding Mr. Righteousdescribing Joe’s spirituality:

“Catholic crucifixes and gory depictions of the martyrdom of ecstatic saints preserve the pagan intuition that our lives in the body are submerged in the Dionysian continuum of pleasure-pain.” – Camille Paglia, page 29 of Sex, Art and American Culture

Lisa, in making this point about the latent paganism within Catholicism it’s most definitely not a critique of all Catholics — just those who base their faith in the emotional experience of their God being tortured. Many throughout history and the world today I admire and characterize as Judeo-Christians rather than pagans, their faith based in reason and the 10 Commandments rather than the raw emotion of perpetually reliving the gore of Christ’s execution.

One great example is in an author and her book that I’ll be exploring later on in this list. Elizabeth “The Anchoress” Scalia’s Strange Gods: Unmasking the Idols in Everyday Life offers an accessible, Catholic approach to idolatry that I very much endorse.

5. Theological Idolatry: Being obsessed with finding the single, right doctrine and then enforcing that all others embrace it too.

As critiqued on Page 43 of It’s Not the End of the World, It’s Just the End of You, with America named as an antidote:

How does this sound: there isn’t a correct theology. The American way of worship is to treat the spiritual territory the same as our ancestors treated the land: to continually explore further, always move to a better place when the opportunity presents itself, and never stop trying to improve how we approach the world.

The universal Judeo-Christian values inspired by the Bible should be the basis for everyone, regardless of whether they embrace a Catholic, Jewish, Protestant, Buddhist, Secular, or occult theology.

6. Secularist Sex-Worship: “If I can expect that sex becoming close to non-existent once I’m married, what possible reason do I have to ever get married. Both the fact that this guy was pushed to this point, and attitude of people like you in response to it, just reinforce the fact that men have no reason to get married.”

As embodied in commenters at Dr. Helen Smith’s “A Classic Example of White Knighting” responding to me (worse ones coming later in the list…)

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Lisa, something that I’d encourage you to think about as you continue exploring the intersection of the religious and the secular: often I really do think that religious people should actually accept atheist arguments instead of argue against them.

Not all secular marriages are doomed to failure. Many of them work quite well and both husband and wife live happy, productive lives loving one another, perhaps even having a child or two. The important thing is that husband and wife are aligned in their values. The primary problem with the couple in the silly viral story of the husband keeping the spreadsheet of times his wife turned him down for sex is just that they have different priorities and their lives are more oriented on their own pleasures and pursuits instead of striving to maximize the other’s happiness and well-being.

But framing the issue from the position of the single, totally secularist male transforms the moral calculus of the universe. If there’s no heaven and hell, if all human life is going to someday be erased when the sun turns into a red giant (or if the Apocalypse is right around the corner…) then why should a man self-sacrifice and live like a family man raising children when he could choose the Donald Sterling/Larry Flynt/Charlie Sheen/Bill Clinton/Bill Maher modern-day polygamy lifestyle? Paraphrasing Lady Clinton, what difference does it make?

7. Evangelical Idolatry: Being more concerned about saving as many souls as possible by converting them to an Evangelical, Born Again theology than living life and raising a family. Imitating Paul and ignoring the Jewish tradition again.

As hinted at in John the Evangelical, from page 159 of Finding Mr. Righteous:

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Lisa, if it wasn’t for your book, I don’t know if I’d have ever seen the parallel between the radical secularist and the intense Evangelical worldview: in both very different ideologies marriage and a family are not a high priority. I speak of this from experience. During my high school Evangelical years, I just assumed that my future would be a single, childless one.

The world was filled with billions of souls who were doomed to spend eternity in hell. How did it make sense to take years off to raise a family and give a wife adequate attention?

Embracing Evangelism as a value above all others meant I could let God use me to save as many people from hell as possible and ignore everything else. How could I possibly weigh the joy and pleasure I’d get from married life against the hundreds or thousands of lives that might potentially be saved from hell by more dedicated Evangelism? Well, the answer was right on my wrist of course: WWJD, What Would Jesus Do? (Too bad I wasn’t smart enough to realize real Biblical-living would require many more bracelets to weigh what Moses and other figures would do…) And the answer to me then was obvious, Matthew 16:24:

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”

8. Secularist Nature-Worshiping Paganism: Those who get their emotional fulfillment from taking in the beauty of the natural world and attaching more value to it than human life.

As defined on page 85 of It’s Not the End of the World, It’s Just the End of You:

After rejecting revealed religion, modern people seek a sense of exultation in nature.

I think part of the reason why paganism is often so difficult to see and understand is because it wears so many masks and finds so many diverse expressions depending on which aspects of the natural world adherents focus on worshipping.

9. Right-Left Political Idolatry: Seeing everything almost exclusively in terms of the fight between those who believe in “Left-wing” ideologies and those who believe in “Right-wing” ideologies.

An example from the comments on A Classic Example of White Knighting

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Click the image to see volume 1 of Susan L.M. Goldberg’s greatest hits collection, from May.

I’ve grown really burnt out on Right-Left political warfare over the years. It’s a useful rhetorical shorthand to use sometimes when everyone can agree on what it means, but a really lousy place to choose to live, regarding oneself primarily as “on the Right” or a “leftist” or “us” fighting “them.” The causes and ideas need to be framed beyond the stereotypes of baby boomer liberals vs conservatives. Finding Mr. Righteous does a wonderful job of that.

10. Technology addiction

Page 67 of Elizabeth Scalia’s Strange Gods: Unmasking the Idols in Everyday Life:

Here’s an idol that I remain enthralled to, as I imagine a good number of us do. Achieving greater discipline to overcome the phone, iPad, and laptop’s electric pull remains a challenge. Scalia shows the deeper dimensions to it as well — the way that our need to have our opinion and views affirmed through out social media networks can also become the most subtle of idols.

Throughout her book Scalia is so very perceptive at pointing out the shining and reflective quality of idols to send back to us what we put into them, in a distorted form. Remember that next time you look at the phone, screen, or iPad. Or think of it now… Hello Screwtape, can you hear me? How are you, today?

See also, Douglas Rushkoff’s Present Shock, reviewed and summarized by Chris Yogerst here at PJ Lifestyle: 5 Secrets For Thriving In A World When Everything Happens NOW

11. Internet Porn Idolatry… and its coming Spawn of Virtual Reality Sex Addiction: Men who expect real-life women to behave as their porn star goddesses do, that is, if they’re still interested in flesh and blood women at all.… As noted in Kathy Shaidle’s must-read e-book culture critique Confessions of a Failed Slut, a compelling exploration of the last four decades’ sexual confusions:

That porn could warp young men’s sexual expectations was a commonplace talking point during the feminist ‘porn wars’ of the Eighties. The notion was roundly dismissed, but now it looks like the ‘anti-s’ were onto something.

In the previous part I already highlighted how some New Testament-centric theologies provided rather inadequate answers to questions of love, marriage, and sex. In the Evangelical Christian youth culture of my teen years it was abstinence until marriage and each lustful thought was morally equivalent to actually cheating on your future spouse. Jesus supposedly knew every bad thought that popped into our heads and each one was responsible for pounding those nails into his innocent flesh.

Just as I showed in point 3 how some Christians snip out a verse from Paul like some kind of biblical bandage to justify their demands for a wifely hooker performing on demand, the end of the sex discussion for those not yet married was Matthew 5:27-30:

27 You have heard that it was said, “You shall not commit adultery.”[a] 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

Is it any wonder that sex and violence seem so joined at the hip when it’s ingrained in so many Christians that lustful thoughts should be banished with thoughts of self-mutilation?

None of the commenters responding to my posts even bothered to acknowledge the alternative solution to the Pauline Christian approach to sex that I’d put up in the beginning:

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Just as Christians and secularists would feel better physically by adopting a food diet closer to Kosher, so too the ideals and approach toward a Kosher sexuality in marriage is also the attitude to pursue.

And part of that comes in recognizing what junk food and porn sex have in common: they’re both the products of an emotional, feelings-based pagan culture that we indulge in because of our inability to develop self-control through finding a higher pleasure than the escape of orgasm and the endorphin rush of the tasty food.

This great video of John Piper that Walter Hudson shared in his article “10 Barriers to Healthy Relationships Explored in Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Don Jon” is worth considering again:

12. Christian Protestant Pagan Sadomasochism: The recurring phenomenon of wildly charismatic, emotional preachers who proclaim the need for public purity but who in private pursue their primitive urges with abandon.

It’s not just some Catholics who take their obsession with Christ’s suffering into strange places as we explored with Joe the Catholic in point 4. As captured on page 159 of Finding Mr. Righteous, the ongoing “relationship” with “Ryan the Preacher” who pursued a media career and had a habit of seeking out women for phone sex. “I also want to give you some orders,” he said…

Lisa, what you’ve captured in your book is important. Compare and contrast Ryan the Preacher and Chris the Atheist and the same disturbing pattern of sex and dominance reasserts itself. Why is that? The answer is what few want to consider: absent a moral value system pushing males to strive toward a higher level, THAT’S JUST THE WAY WE ARE. Teenage boys who learn to think of sex primarily as a recreational activity and stress reliever will stay that way. There isn’t some biological impulse in men toward monogamy.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nad6dNA_0Ro

13. Worshipping Our Own Ugliness: Why a man would rather pursue women for phone sex instead of make one of them his beloved wife.

As captured on David P. “Spengler” Goldman, page 123 of It’s Not the End of the World, It’s Just the End of You:

But we willfully choose what is ugly over what is beautiful because we are ugly, and we prefer to worship our own ugliness rather than the beauty created by an inspired few. That is not merely execrable bad taste. Ultimately it is a form of idolatry.

“Apollonianism is objectification…” – Camille Paglia, page 513 of Sexual Personae, revealing the dark truth about Oscar Wilde and the West’s hiding-in-plain-site neopagan popular culture…

14. Apollonian Radical Pagan Materialism: “The novel’s major premise is Dorian’s repudiation of the Christian inner world for the pagan outer world.”

When I read these descriptions of the way Oscar Wilde’s plays and novels’ late decadence was a form of amoral, literary neopaganism, for some reason it reminds me of Barack Obama and his fictional foil Frank Underwood.

Lisa, I’m afraid that in a literary sense I’ve grown somewhat radical in a way also. I’ve come to really resent the amoral critical valueless art value system in which I learned to critique books and literature. I was taught — and most critics believe and are supposed to practice — that aesthetics is what really matters. We shouldn’t let our own personal biases or judgments affect our emotional appreciation of cinematic or literary beauty.

This is dangerous BS, poisoning our culture. I no longer believe a work’s moral content can be separate from its aesthetics. We need to promote art and culture that lifts us up and inspires us to try to be better instead of wallowing in depressing, dark fictions.


15. Buying Love Through Excessive Gift Giving: Going way overboard with trying to buy the love of someone who isn’t in as good of a financial situation as you… often culminating in Trophy Wife status…

As described on page 140 of Finding Mr. Righteous, one of the major problems with Preston the Quaker:

The glee that came from Preston’s flowers and gifts was short-lived. Not because of guilt, but because it didn’t represent anything real.

Lisa, with Preston the Quaker we see another example of how philosophies in the personal and political realms can mirror. The same root attitudes that underlie the man who tries to buy a woman’s affections with gifts mirror the political demagogues who rile up the emotions of their constituents with fearmongering about the need for new healthcare legislation and other big-government goodies to be passed immediately.

16. The Jesus Wannabes: Believing that it’s your responsibility to try to save individuals and cultures who are trying to destroy themselves. This applies both to the macro world of nation states and our own personal lives.

Page 249 of How Civilizations Die (And Why Islam is Dying Too), Goldman’s follow-up:

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Spengler’s Universal Law #23: The Best thing you can do for zombie cultures is, don’t be one of them.

Two of the great things about Spengler’s approach to foreign policy — what he calls Augustinian Realism and that I’ve described here — is that it transcends both left and right and also applies to one’s personal life dealings in relationships of all sorts. A hard lesson that it looks like we’ve both learned: we aren’t capable of saving other people when they’re intent on destroying themselves. Rational arguments bounce off minds that have grown addicted to following the twists of their emotions.

17. Atheist Anarcho-Capitalist “Libertarianism” Intellectualized Through the Personality Cults of Ayn Rand and/or Murray Rothbard

From an exchange on Deeply Religious Marriages Are Better Than Secularist Civil Unions and a follow-up with the same commenter on the later post “‘Man Is More Inclined to Do Evil Than to Do Good’ – Machiavelli”:

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Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 3.57.50 PMScreen Shot 2014-07-28 at 3.58.11 PM(Click the image of the comment above or here to see my post about my futurist-inspired “realizations” on turning 30.)

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Later our differences were made more clear in his response to my follow-up ‘Man Is More Inclined to Do Evil Than to Do Good’ – Machiavelli:

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I’m not opposed to all varieties of Objectivism, just as I’m not opposed to all Protestantisms and Catholicisms. There are many Objectivists with strong Zionist and hawkish influences that offset the naiveté of their movement’s “sheeple,” to borrow one of their terms. It is possible to combine Objectivism with Biblically-based philosophies. The next on the list is an example of a talented thinker (and slick prose stylist) but one with whom I maintain respectful differences.

18. Catholic Christian Objectivism That Misunderstands Machiavelli (and thus Moses) and Therefore Assumes a Too Sunny View of Human Nature: “It would surprise me to learn that Judaism teaches that Man is inherently evil or predisposed to evil. That would render Judaism inherently incompatible with Christianity.”

Fran Porretto and I dialogued on our differences. I responded to his post “Some Thoughts on Sex and the Bonded Couple” with “‘Man Is More Inclined to Do Evil Than to Do Good’ – Machiavelli” where this exchange occurred, another example of how Christianities centered around the New Testament can conflict with those based in the Old:

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I’m planning to start digging into Machiavelli more soon

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19. Arminian Christian Paganism that also assumes a sunnier view of human nature and dismisses the most evil as “reprobate,” aberrations from the norm: “Hedonism is not the natural state of man… it is not a desire for regular pleasure, but a warped moral state… Every man is inclined to evil, all are born sinners and unworthy of salvation. but that does not mean each man is oriented to evil the same degree. Some are indeed ‘reprobate’ or turned over to the full measure of their wickedness such that they are absolute sales to it. It doesn’t follow that this is the normal state of fallen man.”

As captured in this fascinating comment exchange from ‘Man Is More Inclined to Do Evil Than to Do Good’ – Machiavelli:

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I do think that sometimes it can be very important to keep nudging and pushing in these theological debates until you get to some kind of concrete disagreement that illuminates where the value disagreement lies. Sometimes if you dig deep enough and keep asking questions and responding then there are some interesting things to learn.

20. The Idol of Self-Reinvention: “A man has only one escape from his old self: to see a different self in the mirror of some woman’s eyes.” – from Clare Boothe Luce’s The Women, as quoted on page 185 of Finding Mr. Righteous in reflections on what motivated Adam the Jew to cheat:

On point 10 in part 1 I highlighted how Elizabeth Scalia emphasized in Strange Gods the way that all too often idols are shiny and reflective, all the better to bounce the images of ourselves back to us that make us feel good.

And in this point we see a parallel with #18 when Fran Porretto defined love in this fashion and I dissented:

You assert that “To love is to transcend the self.” In one sense, that is true, for love requires the elevation of the beloved, her well-being, and her happiness to a plane equal to one’s own, that the two may create something greater than either self. But in another sense it’s misleading, for the self does not vanish, nor does it become irrelevant. You might say it’s there when it’s needed, and yields to the couple when the couple should take precedence.

What does it mean to love someone? How do we learn to do it?

I feel like such a geek and a loser continually having to just go back to Bible-thumpery. I tried really hard to avoid it for so long. It’s just the alternative is so much worse.

21. Hedonism: “It is perfectly possible for entire peoples to live only for their own pleasure and feel nothing for their prospective obliteration.” – David P. “Spengler” Goldman, page 351 of It’s Not the End of the World, It’s Just the End of You: The Great Extinction of the Nations.

Amongst my book piles, I stumbled across this excerpt from page 141 of A Mystical Key to the English Language by Robert M. Hoffstein which points to the linguistic similarities between LIVE, LOVE and LEAVE as a clue:

I think the concept of what it means to “worship” someone, something, or God is no longer understood by most people. Do you think there’s a significant difference between love and worship? Are the series of patterns that you identify throughout the men in your book indicative of links between the way humans’ interpersonal relationships mirror their intellectual relationship with transcendence? Does the way in which we try to love others mirror the way in which we have learned to love God? Is worship a kind of training for loving others?

22. Obama Worship: the pop culture personality cult created by Valerie Jarrett, the woman who’s actually been running the country all these years.

Lisa, among the strengths of your book is the degree which you assess your relationship failures as not just the shortcomings of the various men, but also your own mistakes. Both sexes are to blame in playing their roles to foment unhappiness both in most interpersonal conflicts and in the larger cultural picture.

For example, in the dialogue about the spreadsheet husband upset that his requests for sex were turned down too frequently, it was not uncommon for many of the men’s rights commenters to accuse me of holding men to different standards than women and even naively believing women to be somehow men’s superior. I addressed that by reminding everyone of my primary political preoccupation all year, the woman I’ve concluded is actually her generation’s most successful political operative:

 

A comment from “A Classic Example of White Knighting” on another idol dragging down too many men and women today:

Lisa, what do you think of this thesis: the primary problem of the Obama administration — and also its political victories and continued cultural esteem — has been the oversized influence of Valerie Jarrett. Thus amidst all this back and forth about impeachment or suing the president or perhaps Eric Holder, I still assert that in a practical sense the best path forward is to rather try and remove the one who actually gets stuff done behind the scenes. Jarrett seems to be both the decision-maker and the enforcer. If she was forced to resign who could step in to replace her with both the same Cloward-Piven across-the-board agenda and the political intimidation to push it through?

23. Blatant Ignorance of Female Nature: “And why did he feel like he had to tell me the hurtful things people said?”

As captured on page 213 of Finding Mr. Righteous is the bad habit of Brandon the Nondenominational believer to frequently say what’s on his mind or what he’s found out without considering the emotional impact on others, particularly the woman he’s dating:

While a big piece of it is just Brandon being an inconsiderate person — there are other incidents of him being overly vocal about disappointments — his failing here has a more universal quality too. Men and women don’t process information the same way. A comment or idea that many men would observe quickly and file away, often times women will ruminate on more deeply and emotionally. This is both good and bad — sometimes the feminine ruminations yield more significant insights into emotions, other times they’re just reading in too much to something that isn’t worth their time and energy. This Prager University video on male and female differences comes to mind:

Being married for five years now I think I’m starting to piece together — just barely, after much trial-and-error — how marriage is supposed to balance out these temperaments. Sometimes thinking that I don’t take far enough my wife can often discover more significance. Likewise there have been times where she’ll come to me to ask if she’s reading into something too deeply.

24. Political Science Idolatry: those who think that converting people and governments to the one right secular political ideology (theirs) will save the world.

David P. “Spengler” Goldman, page 208 of It’s Not the End of the World, It’s Just the End of You: The Great Extinction of the Nations:

Goldman critiques not just the left and the neoconservative, nation-building Right but the root assumptions of secular political ideology that fail to factor in the natural state of humans: Babylon. The sunny view of human nature leads to both un-winnable wars and unsalvageable personal relationships: “…the great danger is in forgetting that America, too, is Babylon.”

What this means in a day-to-day, practical sense is that political ideology just isn’t enough on its own to overcome the world’s problems. Ideological movements and political causes are just two tools for reshaping ourselves and the world — culture, technology, the nuclear family and religion are others. Many instruments can come to play in harmony:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pYDOP8xgwVw

25. Politically Correct, Man-Child Cowardice: “Though it is terrible, can you really blame him for walking away? Some people did, mostly women, but they should try living in a man’s shoes for a while and they also might go on strike where interactions with minors are concerned.” -Page 98 of Dr. Helen Smith’s important book Men on Strike: Why Men Are Boycotting Marriage, Fatherhood, and the American Dream – and Why It Matters 

Lisa, Dr. Helen’s book Men On Strike is one that I think is very useful for both men and women to comprehend some of the effects on the culture as masculinity has been challenged, devalued, misunderstood, and even redefined, often through the prodding of new laws and a lawsuit-eager legal culture. Both second and third wave feminism have been mixed bags for men and Dr. Helen does an extraordinary job of showing the new double standards and barriers men have often run up against, prompting some to “Go Galt” in many ways, dropping out of traditional masculine roles and expectations. In the excerpt above she highlights one of the most disturbing real world manifestations of what happens when men drop out from the world: children are not protected and more of them end up dead.

This example also illustrates where Dr. Helen and I respectfully begin to part ways. We agree on many of the causes of the problems she identifies in her book and on the importance of correcting them. Where we differ is more on a tactical level about what is necessary to increase masculinity’s prominence and respectability in society. (We kind of aim at different audiences…) Dr. Helen promotes the Men’s Right’s movement as a counter to the dominant strains of feminism. I promote Biblically-based religion and social conservatism and point to them as ways to inspire men to be more masculine. Mystically-based Biblical marriages create more manly men. The problem of Clive Peachey’s skewed value system is that his first instinct was to think of himself as a victim instead of recognizing his power to make sure others are not victimized. With a Biblical value system in place he would have treated each lost child in the same way he would want his own children treated in the same circumstances.

In my observations online over the years, absent these moral components too often the sentiments of the men’s right’s movement aren’t at the level of Dr. Helen or Warren Farrell and instead resemble overgrown teenagers raging against a diabolical feminist machine, eager to label any man who doesn’t go along with them a “beta” or a “gamma” or “pussy-whipped” or a “mangina” or some other playground taunt…

26. Permanent Adolescence: When Extreme Men’s Rights Movement Misogynists Talk Like Teenage Boys

One of the later comments on “A Classic Example of White Knighting,” perhaps the most disgusting: Screen Shot 2014-08-01 at 6.54.24 AM

And some of the responses to Part II of this list:

Screen Shot 2014-08-08 at 2.34.25 PM

I still remain amazed at the irony of my masculinity being questioned and challenged by guys who hide behind anonymity in comment section. The act of using a pseudonym is akin to castrating oneself to author as a eunuch. And it’s OK to do that — but it’s equivalent of turning in one’s man card for the round.

27. Workaholism: Among The Idols I Struggle With the Most Too

“… it’s only a matter of time until you start to put your work before God and create a genuine idol of it.” – Elizabeth Scalia, page 158 of Strange Gods: Unmasking the Idols In Everyday Life.

In the future I’m going to plan to research some lists exploring this bad habit and techniques to overcome it.

28. “Marriage is the only voluntary relationship that is fundamentally about sex.”

This comment exchange from  “‘Man Is More Inclined to Do Evil Than to Do Good’ – Machiavelli” and captured the difference between the religious and secular approaches to marriage but crystallized it better than others:

Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 3.17.42 PM

As the excerpt from Dr. Helen’s book in point 25 revealed, we’re now in an age in which many men are too terrified of being labeled a pervert to help a lost child. So too we’re in an age in which what men are also giving up on is aspiring toward fatherhood.

From my own personal experience, I can report that Goldman’s thesis plays out at the micro as well as the macro. My agnosticism about being a parent mirrored my agnosticism about God. Taking an Old Testament-approach to the Bible has the strange effect of inspiring men to want to be more like Biblical patriarchs, growing as large a family as possible and protecting it from those who would enslave them.

29. Nihilism: The worship of nothing. (Hint: we become what we worship.)

In Harvey C. Mansfield’s Manliness he has a whole chapter about nihilism’s effect on manliness:

The middle section of Allan Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind is devoted to the unique quality of America’s nihilism:

“Nihilism as a state of soul is revealed not so much in the lack of firm beliefs but in a chaos of the instincts or passions.”

The late Andrew Breitbart described his rejection of the dark, depressing ideologies of his extended adolescence, page 36 of his memoir Righteous Indignation: Excuse Me While I Save the World!:

Lisa, one of the ways to defeat an idol — Douglas Rushkoff writes about this in Nothing Sacred: The Truth About Judaism — is the process of giving it a name. When we don’t know what we worship or what we believe then that has a name — worship of nothing, belief in nothing — is nihilism. This is the more accurate, underlying name of Chris the Atheist’s religion. Or at least one of them…

“Worship yourself and you become the god that failed.” – David P. “Spengler” Goldman, the conclusion of It’s Not the End of the World, It’s Just the End of You, page 372:

30. Narcissism: What All of these ideas ultimately boil down to, the worship of the self and the things it creates instead of the Divine and the method through which God creates. “For it is only in the love of God, pouring into the rock of the Self that the flower of the soul begins to grow; before this, man was turned in on himself, mute and devoid of feeling. Only now is he–beloved soul.” – Franz Rosenzweig, page 183 of The Star of Redemption.

For a man to be able to really love other people he has to transcend his own love for himself. The only way I’ve figured out how to do this is, alas, the most un-cool, geeky, and embarrassing of all: returning to Biblical religion and values. The effect of doing this for me has meant learning to stop thinking primarily in terms of me, me, me and more in terms of being responsible for leading and building a new family.

Lisa, this of course applies to women too, and I’m so glad you’ve discovered it and done such a great job of illustrating it in your first book. I look forward to your sequel, in which you write about finally finding and marrying your Mr. Righteous– something I don’t doubt will happen sooner than perhaps you expect.

Best wishes in your journey,

David