Monday, October 03, 2011

Puritans never die

A clever Brit agrees with me that the religious and puritan instinct is behind the obsession with health (and safety) in the West these days.

I live in a city where a man can walk stark naked down the street, smoking weed, and he will be unmolested by the police, but where I, dared I, if I smoked a cigar, fully clothed, in the sylvan realms of Golden Gate Park --a space larger than Central Park for a population 1/10 NYC's size--, I would be fined. $100, then $200, then $500 each time after that. Ah, free wheeling open-minded Frisco.

And the aforementioned puritans' agenda includes both fines for smoking in a car with your own child AND presumed consent for organ donation!  You can't smoke in your own car with your own child, but unless you formally opt out, the State can use your body for organ harvesting!

There are days when a cabin in Idaho looks pretty good.


Anonymous said...

Ah, but consider how SAFE this "puritan" religion is, compared with real puritan Christianity, which, I have heard, threaten'd to sanctify this world via a doctrine into the world not unconnected with the Old Testament. Oh no! ...

Lookt at through the lenses of contextualization vis-a-vis alterantives, surely activists against smoking and so on are hardly worth complaining of. After all, there could be activists who use Heidegger to improve America so as to correct naturers in Europe and this world in general.

Calvin, the father of the Puritans: »Guilt is from nature, whereas sanctification is from supernatural grace.«

Calvin even quotes favourably Isaiah 12:8 which proposes that the Lord of Hosts be prophesy'd into holiness. Is that the sort of activism you want in place of simply having to opt out of organ donation?

Anonymous said...

Considering this posting from another angle: "puritan" is used simplistically even by this 'clever' Brit who knows of 'the long parliament.' I wonder whether this trope is ultimately preferable to a simplistic association of puritans with witch hunts.

Better to simplistically understand the puritans as related to the daimonic than as related to health warnings on cigarette packages.

(Perhaps a time may soon come when Catholics will regret that they eagerly embraced the flattery that they are superior in "culture" to Protestants and superior in worldly wisdom to secularists. ... Not that Prots have or should have "culture".)

In any case, the "use [of] the power and authority of the state to control pleasures of which they disapprove" seems too trivial to complain of. Surely we should prefer to see modern police power busybodies trying to liquidate second-hand smoke rather than counter-revolutionary tendencies, Christian belief, kulak attitudes, etc.

Anonymous said...

But lest you fear I have lost my sense of humour, voilĂ  a couple additional psychology refresher courses you ought to take.

»PSY 525 Ecology and the Arts
For millennia [if not even longer] humans have expressed their relationship to nature through the arts. The 12,000 to 30,000 year-old images in the caves of Lascaux and Chauvet as well as the 100,000 year-old painted walls of Arnhem Land are a staggering testimony to this.

»Civilization, and in particular the modern world, have profoundly disturbed our connectedness to this prior mode of dwelling in embedded balance. Human cultures have gone from embeddedness in nature to alienation from nature.

»The traditions suggest that the psyche is not inside us, but rather that we dwell in psyche. The arts can cultivate the ecological imagination and can help restore an engaged, respectful, and animated dwelling. This course explores the psychological significance of rekindling our participation in nature through the arts.«

»PSY 545 Modern Consciousness and Indigenous Wisdoms
The stories of indigenous peoples provide inspiration for a mythic imagination that attempts to address the crises of modern consciousness.

»This course explores how indigenous wisdom can appear differently, depending on the particular self-construction in which we happen to be engaged. Understanding the history of the self [via Freud, Jung, et al, not e.g. pre-Christian Celtic or Anglo-Saxon mumbo-jumbo] gives us access to a relationship with native knowing that does not appropriate, but instead engages in a moral discourse which seeks healing through integrative states of consciousness, including the painful awareness of collective shadow material.

»Healing our contemporary pathologies and suffering in ways that transcend individualistic paradigms, without romanticizing native people, will be considered. The intent is to narrate ourselves freely in the face of historical dissociations and denied aspects of ourselves and our communities.«

I simply think you and your blogging at Ex Cathedra could benefit not only from gaining an embedded balance through the arts, but also from learning how to narrate yourself via indigenous wisdoms (which I notice demand a collectivized psyche -- no damn "individualistic paradigms"!).

Also, your professional practice could be enrich'd. For instance, you could say to your patient, "Do you think that dream was speaking to you with a fork'd tongue?" or "My need for wampum doesn't permit my sliding scale to accept a fee lower than __ per sesssion." "Don't judge your shadow until you have walk'd a mile in its hob-nail'd moccasins.")

... Again, though, much SAFER to have educated-class palefaces dismiss the Bible and Christianity, and take up "indigenous wisdoms" -- however ridiculously, and in however 'romanticized' or Boasised [Nietzsche-suppressing] versions. ...

Recently a photo in the news of a white Australian woman who evidently claims to have an aborigine identity giving a black power salute after the human rights tribunal hearing at which a journalist was found guilty of hate speech for questioning the aboriginalness of such whites. We whites can be so contemptible and nauseating!

But surely far preferable for us to be totally contemptible and nauseating rather than Nietzschean genealogists -- even though Boas et al arrange for the military-industrial complex to go its way [sc including Bush-Cheney, Nixon-Kissinger, and even the rather murderous Clinton sanctions which resulted in far more deaths than Bush's occupation of Iraq has] and not be replaced by war of spirit in the seculum!

Unless nausea, contemptibility, and safety from Nietzsche and the Old Testament really isn't doable indefinitely. ...

er, author of "Flaubert and Flubber: the military-industrial use of anti-bourgeois idealism in American culture."

Anonymous said...

I see that the clever Brit blames 'puritans' even when he faults them for not attributing obesity to dereliction of "personal responsibility." ... In a way, one could say this is accurate of Calvinism, which denies freedom of the will in terms of election or reprobation (once one has sin'd, and thus needs to be elect); but one is still 'personally responsible' for having sin'd and not being able to stop sinning.

But I take it that Calvin proposes that external good deeds (if he does say 'external' then he means in the world, not in this world) can express sanctification of one's self narrative (as they say at Meridian U.).

Circa 1984, Calvin's diaconate (who dispense relief to the destitute) was consider'd THE achievement of Calvin by Calvinist scholars. This made no change in the cultural meaning of Calvinism (anti-joy, anti-life, in contrast with the vibrant sensory richness and life affirmation foster'd by Trindentine Catholicism). Along this line, then, I mean that the clever Brit still reproaches "puritans" for failing to blame obesity on bad personal decisions. ... I suppose Ex Cath would not feel much erotic joy were he an obese androphile. Accordingly, he is a 'puritan' in gym regimen.

Anonymous said...

Another intriguing item re alcohol within puritanism. C.S. Lewis remarks that the original puritans were opposed to bishops, not to beer. I have seen one mention in a history book that abstaining from alcohol began among puritans in America -- under governor Winthrop, if I recall correctly. Until that time, puritans drank seriously, even at every meal during the day -- if they could afford it, I guess.

Then the (crypto-islamic?) shift to abstention began. Must have been a tremendous cultural shift. Because whether one approves or not, an extensively routinely alcohol using population cannot remain psychically the same when suddenly everyone isn't drinking at every meal, and no doubt at other times as well. This whether the previous drinking were moderate for almost all the population or excessive for a large proportion.

Consider if suddenly the North American population had to do without caffein, and caffein is a one-dimensional stimulant, in contrast to alcohol which has apparently many different effects and different with different persons and population groups. (I don't say that alcohol is in every way unsuitable as a culturally establish'd 'substance.' Actually its effects seem very interesting, though I prefer music.)

I haven't seen a discussion by a historian of how the New England population changed as they went through this transition. Seems like it should be quite important a 'case study' if neo-Islam imposes a new teetotalism in North America, western Europe etc. ...

Admittedly, it won't be abstention imposed by a nanny state, merely by an Islamic caliphate.

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