Weekend Reading: Rant Edition!

First Sunday of Lent

I am pleased to report that, after last night’s festivities, I thoroughly enjoyed myself, and I still hold out high hopes for mopping my kitchen floor. It hasn’t happened yet, but no doubt it will. Sometime.

I have a lot on my mind today as a result of my weekend reading:

  • Micah Bales’ critique of Peter Rollins’ program of “giving up God for Lent,” a critique I think hits its target. He is most on target, I think, with the elitism he senses in Rollins’s project. I would also add that experiencing “atheism” as “desolation,” as the Atheism for Lent campaign seems to suggest, only makes sense at the end of the day if you are a theist. Most of the atheists I know don’t experience their atheism as “desolation” and would find that characterization rather insulting. They would also find it insulting for their atheism to be co-opted as merely something Christians can try on for six weeks to make themselves better Christians. As Bales points out, it seems to be an attitude that comes from a place of privilege, of being able to slum like an expat in cool edgy FreudMarxNietzscheZizekGodIsDeadTown before going back to take over the family business in Jesusville. I am a philosophy Ph.D. and have my own issues with employing a rather elaborate academic idiom to make points that maybe could be expressed more directly. I may be throwing stones out of a glass house here. But I at least try to take it seriously when people call me on my privilege. Lord knows I have plenty of it to be called out.
  • Discussion of Emory University President James Wagner’s bizarre attempt to justify his shameful attempt to hold up the Three-Fifths Compromise as an exemplary model of political compromise. There has been a lot of great discussion from academic commenters and from grad students and alums of Emory University. Check out Roopika Risam here; Tressie McMillam Cottom here; a thought-provoking Marxist analysis from Chris Taylor here; Brekke here; Gerry Canavan here. Best tweet I have seen goes to Tressie (@tressiemcphd): “Wagner asks would “we” have voted for 3/5ths compromise. I look at my black woman self. Laughter.” Pretty well sums it up.
  • I also read the Sunday NYT Magazine piece by Robert Draper on young Republicans’ attempts to rescue their party from obsolescence. My general reaction to it was a bemused shrug– I am long past caring whether Republicans can claw out of the deep hole they dug themselves– but one passage stuck out:

To win, a reincarnated Reagan — or a Rubio or a Chris Christie or a Bobby Jindal — would still have to satisfy his base of hard-line conservatives and captivate a new generation of voters at the same time. I ran this quandary by Kristen Soltis Anderson. “It’s a big challenge,” she acknowledged. “But I think that if you can earn the trust of the people, there are ways you can say, ‘Here’s why I take this position.’ I don’t know that someone like Rubio, who may be young and attractive and well spoken, could attract young voters despite his views on gay marriage. I do think that in the absence of a very compelling reason to vote for a candidate, those social issues can be deal-breakers for young voters. The challenge is: Can you make a case that’s so compelling that you can overcome those deal-breaker issues? And I don’t know the answer to that question.”

Nice to see that young Republicans see the rights of LGBTQ folk as a bargaining chip in the ongoing political hostage negotiation they have been waging with the entire country over austerity and neoliberal economics. It makes me feel…important.

  • It’s not exactly reading, but I also watched this great YouTube video today, “So God Made a Banker”:

I sat down tonight with an idea to write about cooking, and recipes, and the bonds of community and trust that both form for me. But I am scatterbrained and tired. That will have to wait until tomorrow, I suppose. Think I’ll curl up and read Rumiko Takahashi’s Maison Ikkoku for, like, the millionth time. Later, friends.

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