teleology & ethics

The word ‘teleology’ (from Greek τελος ‘telos’ – meaning ‘goal’, ‘end’, ‘purpose’ or ‘that toward which things tend’) is not a street-level term.  However, the concept of a purpose, goal, function or ‘end’ to things most certainly is.  It’s a common as anything.  Teleology is blindingly relevant.

Continue reading “teleology & ethics”

the power and fragility of the imagination

The effects and pervasiveness advertising is a good example of both the power and fragility of the imagination.

We are (almost always subconciously!) actually affected by some hyper-loud voice telling us something in the ad-breaks of whatever TV show we’re watching or by some image we see on a billboard, in a magazine, etc., etc. ad infinitum…  That is how fragile our imaginations are.

And we act, behave, decide, spend-time/money, choose, etc. ‘out of’ our imagination.  We buy ‘this’ or ‘that’ product based (often) on nothing but our imaginitive affection for it…  That is how powerful our imaginations are.

This is a double edged sword.  Great strides in medicine, architecture, physics, art, education, etc., etc. have been made because someone ‘imagined’ a different way.  Also great pain has been caused in marriages, families, communities and nations because one or more people ‘imagined’ that that woman, experience, possession, ideology or whatever would be desirable, fun, cool or powerful.

Take an affair for example.  They don’t just ‘happen’.  A man/woman must first enjoy the company of someone other than their spouse.  Imaginitive step after imaginitive step are taken.  And boom – there you have it – an affair.

This appreciation of (and respect for) the power and fragility of the imagination is what should drive all concerns about things like pornography, boobs-on-bikes parades and modesty, etc., etc.  Sooooo often, they are often driven by what seems like an assumption that if we could just get the laws sorted out to how we think they should be, people will behave like we think they ought…

…leaving the power and fragility of the imagination (the heart of the issue) untouched, un-dealt-with, un-appreciated… and not solving any problems whatsoever.

stinking stimulus

Anyone who has a knee jerk (i.e. less than critical) reaction to political events in general and the recent U.S. stimulus package in particular, should shut up and think before ranting.

That said, I just don’t like the thought (much less the passing) of the new stimulus package (and I’m not at all anti-Obama – to be crystal clear).  $US838 BILLION – on what I can’t help but see as a kind of massively over-sized whallop to a horse that is eventually going to die.  Yes, I’m aware of the complexity to all this, and No, I don’t think there are any quick fixes.  But I still cannot understand or begin to support spending nearly a trillion dollars on trying to preserve the “American Way of Life” ™.

What kind of precedent are we setting for future generations?  What are we saying to the rest of the world – much of which is living in some mild or severe form of poverty; a different kind of poverty indeed to the ‘poverty’ some are facing in ‘developed’ nations around the world.

Some may think, “Oh, but financial prosperity for the ‘rich west’ will enable them to be generous to the ‘poor rest’…”  That kind of capitalistic mentality (a.k.a. ‘the rising tide will lift many small boats’) is utter Bull.  Greed does not engender generosity.

Instead of our bank account levels needing to go ‘up’, we need our standard of living to go ‘down’ to a realistic and sustainable place.  And as long as ‘going out and spending money to stimulate the economy’ is part of doing your ‘patriotic duty’, then I think I want to be unpatriotic.

shortland street publicity costs

I’d absolutely love (or maybe hate?  or both?) to know how much the huge (several ‘windows’ wide and several stories high) ads for shortland street (which I saw today in Auckland city-centre) cost to make, install, display and dispose-of…  It’s a freekin’ TV show…

(on a different tack, the two ‘by-lines’ I remember from the ads were: 1) “Trust no one”, and 2) ‘Lust makes fools of us all”.  Yawn…)

why the “economic stimulus” is a load of bull…

The US of A just spent $168 billion…

(or 152, depending on sources)

Might wanna read that again…

What did they spend it on?

Shopping… that’s right, shopping…

This makes me want to release a torrent of various expletives…

Each tax-paying American recently received hundreds of dollars to –yes– go shopping. The ridiculous rhetoric used for this was that of (as seen in the picture) ‘boosting our economy’. Why are they all smiling? Because you can rest assured, they all got rewarded (i.e. paid-off) wonderfully well by the various corporations that no doubt pushed this one through. Continue reading “why the “economic stimulus” is a load of bull…”

what’s the problem with porn?

There are a few, perhaps, who would answer this question with a casual (or insistent) “None. Get over it”, but most, I suspect, would agree: porn (obviously only for societies that have it) is a problem.

Some better questions would be ‘what kind of problem is it?’, ‘where does it come from?’ and ‘how do people deal with it?’

Jason Byassee has written an interesting article over at ‘First Things’ website. He refers to a book by Pamela Paul, ‘Pornified: How Pornography Is Transforming Our Lives, Our Relationships, and Our Families’, whose Times article titled ‘The Porn Factor’ begins with this synopsis of a ‘Friends’ episode: Continue reading “what’s the problem with porn?”

sex: taboo or tapu?

“In a free society, there has to be a happy medium between burqas and boobs on bikes.”

Tapu Misa has just written another great article discussing popular culture, advertising, sex and all that… Have a read of it here.

She’s in touch with both research and public opinion, and wonderfully expresses her own convictions without losing touch with those who may disagree with her.

Topical… Provocative… Well-informed…

That’s good journalism.

Keep it up, Tapu.

(the Title, ‘sex: taboo or tapu?’ was inspired by the coincidence that ‘tapu’ is not only the author’s name, but means ‘sacred’ [according to the concerned Tongan lady quoted in the article]…)

(EDIT: The video below shows a song by ‘Flight of the Conchords’ called ‘Business Time’ which is quite an interesting [and hilarious in my opinion!] parody of the difference between ‘real’ sex and the false notions seen in advertising, etc. – In my judgment, the song is actually making a good point, and not in an explicit way, so I think it’s safe for most people, but don’t watch if you’re easily offended…)

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGOohBytKTU]

pure imagination

I try to limit how often I quote individual bible-verses out of context, but this one is quite a hard one to twist into meaning something else…

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” – Phillipians 4:8 NASB

Your imagination is under attack.

No, this is not some silly alarmism or ‘boy that cried wolf’ nonsense. It’s true. If you live in a place where billboards, magazines, internet, shopping malls and television are the norm – in other words, if you are a Westerner – you are being influenced. You might as well be aware of it.

What we think about matters.

Now, most of us would agree without hesitation, but I wonder if we give much thought to it.

Whether we realise it or not, many decisions we make are the result of carefully planned attempts to ‘capture our imagination’.(1) Advertising works hard to capture our imagination. One of the main ways it does this is to try to get you to identify with the product/service being advertised. Once this is accomplished, when it comes time to make a purchase, you are much more likely to buy their brand, etc.

What I’d like us to notice, however, is that there is a ‘macro’ (large) reality to the ‘micro’ (small) example I just gave. For Westerners, there are so many products being offerred to us, so much hi-jacking of our thoughts, that we get de-sensitised to it. I once knew a missionary couple that came back from years of service in a so-called ‘developing country’ (developing into what, may I ask?), and went to ‘Wal-mart’ to get groceries. Upon entering the beverage aisle, they were stopped in their tracks. There were so many drink choices in front of them, they quite literally didn’t know what to do.

But we’re used to it, aren’t we?

The ‘macro’ reality for far too many of us is this: We are enslaved to a the Western standard of living.(2) Like it or not, you are simply expected to ‘have’ what ‘everyone else’ has.(3) You are expected to be an average Westerner. Complain, argue or disagree with the system, and you’ll get funny looks.

What I’m trying to suggest is simply that we are more influenced than we are ready to admit. I’ve been fond of saying – as I’ve heard from many others – that the best way to tell what you value is to look at your time/calendar and your money/spending. Another interesting value-indicator is this: what you talk about with your friends.

A friend recently vented to me how frustrated he was that basically ALL his conversations were about no more than 2 things. Everywhere I go, I over-hear conversations about TV shows, movies, video-games and fashion. Do we not have other things to talk about?

For crying out loud, I’m NOT saying these things are the devil incarnate. I am saying, however (with no hesitation at all), that they occupy too much of our time, money and discussions. They affect our imaginations!

Here’s the point. Instead of making some ridiculous list of ‘things’ that are OK to think about or not, we are told to think about things that are good, pure, praise-worthy, etc. (above verse). We are instructed by Jesus Himself to pray for God’s will to be done “on earth as it is in heaven.” Unfortunately, we only think about that when we are at our churches.

Our imaginations are being sold to the highest bidder, and programmed to be more and more concerned with getting what we want in life. God’s kingdom is about a different mindset than that. Philippians 2:4 (and the verses before and after it) is beautiful – ‘Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.

This will not make you ‘famous’ or ‘successful’.

This is not entertaining or fashionable.

But it is God’s will (a.k.a. His ‘desire’ – what He wants.).(4)

So, be aware of the attempts to capture your imagination. It’s one of the most valuable things for you to protect.

Blessings,

Dale

1. I dare you to read “Colossians Remixed: Subverting the Empire” by Brian J Walsh and Sylvia C Keesmaat. It will scare you – in a good way.
2. ‘Enslaved’ too strong a word? OK, then… Just try to stop living the Western lifestyle and see how easy it is.
3. Though the result is indeed, being clones of everyone else, the language advertisers use is that of ‘diversity’, ‘choice’ and ‘uniqueness’.
4. Though time forbids me from fully explaining, the best catalyst for staying committed to God’s will is community (true community) with others who want to do the same.