Friday, May 18, 2007

Dave Sim's blogandmail #249 (May 18th, 2007)


Fifteen Impossible Things to Believe Before Breakfast That Make You a Good Feminist

1. A mother who works a full-time job and delegates to strangers the raising of her children eight hours a day, five days a week does just as good a job as a mother who hand-rears her children full time.

2. It makes great sense for the government to pay 10 to 15,000 dollars a year to fund a daycare space for a child so its mother - who pays perhaps 2,000 dollars in taxes - can be a contributing member of society.

3. A woman's doctor has more of a valid claim to participate in the decision to abort a fetus than does the father of that fetus.

4. So long as a woman makes a decision after consulting with her doctor, she is incapable of making an unethical choice.

5. A car with two steering wheels, two gas pedals and two brakes drives more efficiently than a car with one steering wheel, one gas pedal and one brake which is why marriage should always be an equal partnership.

6. It is absolutely necessary for women to be allowed to join or participate fully in any gathering place for men, just as it is absolutely necessary that there be women only environments from which men are excluded.

7. Because it involves taking jobs away from men and giving them to women, affirmative action makes for a fairer and more just society.

8. It is important to have lower physical standards for women firepersons and women policepersons so that, one day, half of all firepersons and policepersons will be women, thus more effectively protecting the safety of the public.

9. Affirmative action at colleges and universities needs to be maintained now that more women than men are being enrolled, in order to keep from giving men an unfair advantage academically.

10. Having ensured that there is no environment for men where women don't belong (see no.6) it is important to have zero tolerance of any expression or action which any woman might regard as sexist to ensure greater freedom for everyone.

11. Only in a society which maintains a level of 95% of alimony and child support being paid by men to women can men and women be considered as equals.

12. An airline stewardess who earned $20,000 a year at the time that she married a baseball player earning $6 million a year is entitled, in the event of a divorce, to $3 million for each year of the marriage and probably more.

13. A man's opinions on how to rear and/or raise a child are invalid because he is not the child's mother. However, his financial obligation is greater because no woman gets pregnant by herself.

14. Disagreeing with any of these statements makes you anti-woman and/or a misogynist.

15. Legislature Seats must be allocated to women and women must be allowed to bypass the democratic winnowing process in order to guarantee female representation and, thereby, make democracy fairer.




Oh, uh, sorry. Didn't mean to scare you by yelling like that. Mike Moore continues:

My background is, as I've said, the opposite of yours. Perhaps this is why our life foci are different. Perhaps our approaches to life should be opposite, as we are in very different places, and converged on a common point would mean us pointing and moving in opposite directions to arrive there. Your focus seems to be all about not doing wrong things, about eliminating them one by one. My focus seems to be about starting to do good things instead of a lot of empty, pious, ritualistic nothing.

If what you are referring to is fasting in Ramadan, acknowledging God's sovereignty and prayer when you say "empty, pious, ritualistic nothing" then obviously we have a fundamental disagreement. On my part observance of four of the five pillars of Islam is an inherent good and the foundation for further good. Nothing good happens without God's permission and I don't think God is philosophical about things like prayer and fasting.

In my opinion, if you get your life messed up, then remove every single wrong thing from your life (perhaps through things like prayer and fasting) you have fought your way up from, say, minus 257 and achieved a stunning score of "zero, but also with points off for lateness." Nobody passed my courses by doing stupid things for the first term, and then not doing any stupid or smart things in the second term, even if they were most apologetic and focused very hard upon not doing any more stupid things. I liked your "exam" analogy, but as a teacher I can tell you that I really think God has worse marks to hand out than zero. I know I do. Things can go from "zero on this test. Did not demonstrate what you were required to show," right down to "expelled from all mainstream Ontario high schools." It's all failure in the end. If one wants to be rewarded, I believe, one has to count upon getting with it and doing actual good things, and perhaps upon the teacher extending one the present grace of being willing to ignore past indiscretions in light of more recent acumen, even to the extent of allowing one back into the classroom to write today's test.

Please try not to take this personally, Mike, but I really don't think of you in the same way that I think of God. Nor do I think of prayer and fasting as simply a means of eliminating wrong things from my life. Prayer and fasting are my means of acknowledging God's sovereignty, as are paying the zakat, observing a Sabbath, reading Scripture, writing commentaries on scripture and so on. Once those are accomplished and maintained, in my view, wrong things just start dropping away on their own. I repented roughly nine years ago and I continue to repent. I turned to God and now I participate in Him to the best of my abilities. It's certainly true that I might be completely wrong in all of my choices, but it's equally true that you might be wrong in all of your choices. I would assume that I get zero on many of my tests and I acknowledge that I might be, metaphorically, "expelled from all mainstream Ontario high schools". I always have acknowledged that. One thing that I haven't done, as you seem to have done is to decide that I am directly analogous to God and that therefore the way I conduct my life in this world directly mirrors the way God makes His own choices. Personally, I don't think seeing one's self as being analogous to God is an intelligent or wise approach. In fact, personally, I consider it blasphemous. However, you to your religion and me to mine, as it says in the Koran.

You did pretty much whatever you wanted, I take it, in your youth (drugs, sex, prostitutes, strip clubs, fights, alcohol, etc?)

Depends on what you mean by "youth". I certainly didn't do any of those things when I was living at my parents' house and I lived there until I was nearly 21. I bought Playboy and Penthouse magazines while I was living there and started smoking marijuana the last year I was living there. But virtually all of my time was spent in the basement with my comic-book collection, to be honest. I got into marijuana pretty heavily when I was living with and then married to Deni (both of which would qualify as fornication since we were married in a civil ceremony) less heavily into alcohol. Deni and I divorced when I was 27 and that was when I got into sin in a big way. That lasted until I was 40.

Because of a strict religious background, I grew up not being allowed to do much of anything at all (including read comic books or novels with supernatural or horrific elements or anything with philosophy or thinking in it). I wasn't allowed pop music, dancing, alcohol, swearing, birthday parties, television, movies, Halloween, Christmas, stuff like that. These things seem pretty trivial, unless you get a proper understanding of how joyless and sterile a life like that is, and how unhealthy. There are many religions whose adherents raise kids this way. I grew up with a deeply-ingrained habit of, whenever I suddenly felt a surge of delight, immediately (inevitably, habitually) feeling a flood of guilt and an icy chill up my spine, and taking a quick glance at my father to see how long it took before whatever I was doing (playing with a cousin's new toy, laughing and being silly, as kids tend to do, or whatever) was stopped. For people like the man he was back then, piety is about sacrificing anything REALLY good or nice or fun. If you like ANYTHING more than with a smidgeon of lukewarm appreciation, it is then an idol, and you need to give it up. Thing is, now passion for ANYTHING has been unthinkingly equated with idolatry, which is pretty simple-minded and limiting. You can imagine how much I related to the effect of the Cirinists running things in Cerebus (get a nasty haircut, wear a suit, sit still, listen to the sermons, eat your vegetables, don't question our teaching. Nothing wrong with those things taken individually, in and of themselves, yet taken together they add up to quite an unliveable situation, all the potentially best bits of which have been removed.) I no longer believe that there is any inherent good in merely denying one's self things, any more than there is some inherent good in always getting what you want and having unlimited freedom. It's not about that, I don't think. Obedience is better than sacrifice, and informed, excellent "proactive" service is better than mere obedience of the "not doing wrong things" variety.

See, this doesn't really "bang a gong" with me given that starting in my forties I started not allowing myself pop music, dancing, alcohol, swearing, birthday parties, television, movies, Halloween (in its conventional observance—apart from handing out candy at the door), Christmas (in its conventional observance—apart from reading John's Gospel aloud to myself), and I experienced an exponential improvement as a result.


Yeah, I guess. There are deeper forms of joy, though, in my experience than bouncing up and down with a big grin on my face.


It depends on how you look at it. You can call it "sterile" or you can call it "not diseased".


No, that hasn't been my experience. Eliminating all of those things made me a much healthier person. It eliminated virtually all of my anxiety, as an example, which I had previously had no awareness was pretty much the core of my being. The complete absence of anxiety has more than compensated for whatever appetites I've had to suppress. I think you're mistaking what is ACTUALLY "good or nice or fun" for what just FEELS "good or nice or fun." Lots of things feel good, feel nice and feel like fun which are actually the complete opposite. Take my word for it—that was the source of my core nature of overwhelming anxiety. I was up to my eyeballs in things that felt good, felt nice and felt like fun but which, I can now see, were driving me to hell in a handcart. When you talk about "a smidgeon of lukewarm appreciation" I think you're missing the point (so far as I see the point): which is that anything that interposes itself between you and God or between you and doing what you conceive to be right constitutes idolatry. I spend a lot of time studying the art of Al Williamson, Neal Adams, Stan Drake and others—devotedly—but when it's time to pray, it's time to pray. "I'll just look at these comic strips for another hour or two and pray whenever that ends up being instead of right at 12 noon." To me, that would be to get my own life into a seriously disordered state, disordered in the sense that I would have moved a lesser priority—my professional abilities and professional aspirations—ahead of a much higher priority: acknowledging God's sovereignty and enunciating through prayer my side of what I conceive to be my "Contract with God". I appreciate a lot of things but I know what things are temporary and what things are permanent. The Mona Lisa is a spectacular work of art but someday it will be incinerated along with everything else on earth when the sun goes supernova.

You keep mixing things together that I don't see as belonging in the same category. A nasty haircut is just a nasty haircut. Hair grows. Cut it differently after it's grown back out. Wear a suit. Well, I wear a suit sometimes and sometimes I don't. Sit still. Sitting still is a very good thing. Children rebel at it, of course, but I don't think our society has experienced any kind of exponential improvement now that "sitting still" has become as alien a concept to teach to children as flying around the room. I think you can measure the erosion of society by the yardstick of the extent to which telling a child to "sit still" and making it stick is deemed to be child abuse. There is very little that is worthwhile that any human being can accomplish until he or she learns to sit still. Listen to the sermons. Well, I tried that and my personal view was that the sermons, while they were very nice and aspired to direct people into good forms of behaviour, they largely constituted a misconstruction of what the Gospels actually say owing to mistranslation. The misconstrued mistranslations which form the basis of Christian belief are very good lessons but, in my view, they have very little to do with what the Gospels contain. I would never counsel anyone to just sit and listen to sermons uncritically or to read translations of the Gospels without finding out what the original Gospels actually say (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, I mean, not the Apocrypha), nor would I recommend raising children that way. But, after you stop being a child and leave your father's house you can make your own choices. And applying critical thinking to religious observance I would recommend as a good idea to have at the top of anyone's list. Eat your vegetables. It is well worth finding some means of eating more vegetables whatever age you are. I was turned against vegetables because my mother never did anything interesting or flavourful with them. I eat a lot of jalapeno and basil coleslaw that I get from Sobey's deli counter. It's pretty fattening because it has mayo in it but the jalapeno means that it tastes good and is too hot to eat too much of it in one sitting which means I have four or five small meals of it during the course of the day. Don't question our teaching. Well, again, if you're in your father's house you really shouldn't question whatever teaching you are being taught if your father doesn't want you to. You might have to wait until you're out on your own until you do that, at least openly. But you can always question teachings to yourself. I questioned feminism mentally for a long time before I actually said anything out loud, as an example.

I just don't see all those elements as constituting an "unliveable" situation. Auschwitz or the Bataan Death March. Those are unliveable situations. What you see as an unliveable situation I just see as (sorry to be so abrupt about it) an inflated sense of self-importance and a core adherence to self-pity. Poor me, I didn't get to do whatever I wanted when I was growing up. Poor me, forced to adhere to a strict moral code. I've said it before and I'll say it again, if you allow your own bad experiences with nuns and priests and your family to drive you away from God, in my opinion, that just makes you a too easily discouraged idiot. Human beings are human beings, God is God.

You don't attach any specifics to "informed, excellent `proactive' service" but on the assumption that what you are discussing is volunteerism, in my own context here in Canada, a Marxist country, that usually means capitulation to or having to pay lip service to Marxism which is something I'm not prepared to do. I give money to the Food Bank and to St. John's Kitchen to feed the poor, but I have no real interest in going in and volunteering and having to listen to anti-American, anti-religion, pro-Marxist, pro-feminist, pro-Kyoto cant while trying to feed the poor. If you have another suggestion, I'd be glad to hear it but I'm pretty confident at this point in my life that writing about these things on the Blog & Mail and in Collected Letters as well as keeping my business functional so I don't have to use the Food Bank or St. John's Kitchen myself represents a reasonably full plate.

Tomorrow: Mike Moore Continues!




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