drive-by blogging

Main Entry: big·ot
Pronunciation: \ˈbi-gət\
Function: noun
Etymology: French, hypocrite, bigot
Date: 1660
1: a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance

2: (slang) a title assigned to a point of view with which once cannot be reconciled; usually, for the sake of gaining the moral high ground.

— big·ot·ed \-gə-təd\ adjective

— big·ot·ed·ly adverb
Busy week this week; unlikely to blog much. Use your feed readers to find out more about bad art.

Rap and Bad Art (2)

OK -- we left off this topic with a question last time:
All fiction is not bad. All art is not bad. But there is bad fiction and bad art, as described above.

And in this, we need to think about this carefully: is there, therefore, bad music?
And in the tumult which ensued, we really got to the heart of the question because you are the smartest readers in the blogosphere. Logan crashed through the brick wall when he posted this:
Here's the deal-breaker for me.

The definitions.

Frankly, Frank, if we all go by the definition of "bad music" as being morally wrong rather than aesthetically wrong; you will have us standing up and cheering you on more than Pelosi whenever Obama utters a syllable.

I was actually reading through Blackaby's book on spiritual leadership for a small group and because he doesn't define stuff, the philosophy major (who'd been reading Locke, who is an avid definer of terms, just before he started reading Blackaby) had a horrible time drudging through the lack of definitions and vagueness.

let us define.
To which I provided the following definition:
    Main Entry: aesthetic
    Variant(s): also esthetic
    Function: noun
    Date: 1822
    1 plural but sing or plural in constr : a branch of philosophy dealing with the nature of beauty, art, and taste and with the creation and appreciation of beauty

    2 : a particular theory or conception of beauty or art : a particular taste for or approach to what is pleasing to the senses and especially sight [modernist aesthetics] [staging new ballets which reflected the aesthetic of the new nation — Mary Clarke & Clement Crisp]

    3 plural : a pleasing appearance or effect : beauty [appreciated the aesthetics of the gemstones]

See: when we talk about bad art, the dilettante thinks in terms of definition [3], the artist may be thinking in terms of [2] or [1] (depending on his own objectives), but the Christian who has a world-view which is frankly seeking to overcome idols and declare truth has to be talking about [1] when he talks about art.

So the answer to the question "is there bad music?" must be YES if you are a Christian. It "must be" because, as William Lane Craig points out, beauty is not defined by scientific means, nor strictly or primarily by means of consensus. It is something like "Truth" which has, at its root, God as its source. Disconnecting Beauty from God is, simply another kind of idolatry.

So the next question is this:

Is all bad art a moral offense?

You work on that and we'll take it up later.

Free Stuff

Tony Kummer is trolling for readers for his newest edition to his Kummeropolis empire, and he's started Devotional Christian.

And he's giving books away. Go get some.

4 hours of sleep a night

Yeah, look: I don't need more than 4 hours of sleep a night. That's why I accepted the responsibility of owning the hallowed URL

I am accepting suggestions at this time, btw, for how to fill the bandwidth.

Trent Session 4

Regarding the Sacred Scriptures:
But if any one receive not, as sacred and canonical, the said books entire with all their parts, as they have been used to be read in the Catholic Church, and as they are contained in the old Latin vulgate edition; and knowingly and deliberately contemn the traditions aforesaid; let him be anathema.
It's going to come up. Keep this available for future review.

another example of bad art

Steyn of Beck's

Mark Steyn explains why Glenn Beck is the only sane person in the national discourse.


A brief moment of Nostalgia

I have no idea how this video stumbled across my desktop today, but here it is:

The only reason I'm sharing it is that it is my favorite memory of college. It also relates to the idea of good art vs. bad art.

So you enjoy that while I get my life caught up and I can blog like I mean it.

sparkhouse: fail

Before you hit play, he says a naughty word in the middle -- the bad word for "backside". It makes him far more transparent, I am sure.

This, btw, is why "emerg*" is a failure: this may be the dumbest 55 seconds of video ever produced (including all the rest of YouTube) regarding the state and future of human history, and yet it's been published as a way to spark new life into the "church".

Blah blah blah indeed. Honestly: how do you parody this?
I'd post something else on bad art today, but blogger is not cooperating.

My Brother's Keeper

Back in the olden days of blogging, I had some stuff to say to and about Derek Webb because frankly he was shooting his mouth off calling the kettle black from inside his pot.

Of course, he ignored me because back then I was just a blogger, and of course I am still just a blogger; sadly, he is still shooting his mouth off. You can see how over at youTube. I'd embed the video, but it would be 3 minutes of your life that you'll never get back. Here are, instead, the lyrics to that song:
You say you always treat people like you like to be
I guess you love being hated for your sexuality
You love when people put words in your mouth
'Bout what you believe, make you sound like a freak

'Cause if you really believe what you say you believe
You wouldn't be so damn reckless with the words you speak
Wouldn't silently conceal when the liars speak
Denyin' all the dyin' of the remedy

Tell me, brother, what matters more to you?
Tell me, sister, what matters more to you?

If I can tell what's in your heart by what comes out of your mouth
Then it sure looks to me like being straight is all it's about
It looks like being hated for all the wrong things
Like chasin' the wind while the pendulum swings

'Cause we can talk and debate until we're blue in the face
About the language and tradition that he's comin' to save
Meanwhile we sit just like we don't give a s---
About 50,000 people who are dyin' today

Tell me, brother, what matters more to you?
Tell me, sister, what matters more to you?
Because of course: cursing at people -- especially traditionally-religious people -- is how to get them to listen to you.

Now obviously: this is a song about the socially-conservative approach to the matter of homosexuality in the world, and especially in the US. And it's supposed to be about how we deny the Gospel by hating people who are homosexuals. We are, of course, very bad people -- because we argue when someone says something we disagree with.

But the underlying problem for Derek Webb's point is that it is factually bunk. Let's keep in mind as I spell this out that I'm the guy who wrote this post regarding our approach to the question of homosexuality.

As I read Webb's lyrics, here's what I think he's saying: we are more worried about winning an argument about some theological point than we are about saving the lives of 50,000 people every day. Fair enough: I have said something like this recently myself.

Well, just from the place of finding a fact to agree on, about 6800 people die in the US every day (about 19 per hour); about 146,000 die globally every day (about 17 per hour). Relative to the AIDS pandemic, the UN says about 5500 people die every day of AIDs globally.

And I say that not to win an argument -- and therefore fall into the "like ministry" trap Webb has laid out for his listener (you know: you have better things to do than think about my complaint, like ministry -- which I will therefore define for you) -- but in fact to point out that Webb has a history of playing it fast and loose with what is actually happening in the world -- especially the Christian world, and the English-speaking Christian sub-culture. It cuts into his credibility as a critic when he can't actually frame up his fusses with something that looks like what is actually happening.

But that said, it's more than a little cheeky to blame Christians for people dying since it is a well-documented fact that we do more for the world than any other sociological group in terms of charitable giving and service (check the links about in my old comments about Webb; the links to stats are there). And it is way more than cheeky to say that the reason gay people die of AIDS is that Christians hate them.

But these two things are completely related: they assume that Christians are the problem. Now, I'll be the first to affirm that we are our own worst enemy, and that amateur apologists do more to hard the cause of Christ than help it. I've said it myself that 80% of Christian apologetics needs to take a permanent holiday. But when someone like Derek Webb wants to hammer the Church for somehow not caring about people who are dying, he's simply wrong -- he's simply blathering slander against his own brothers and sisters.

BTW, I enjoyed the tweet today from someone who said, "I know nothing re: @derekwebb or @phil_johnson_ I DO know God would rather you cuss than be a prick". Let me suggest to that person that when you cuss to make a slanderous point for the sake of allegedly convicting someone of sin, you have become the prick you think you hate.

And this does actually relate to the question of bad art and bad songs. It is, however, an excursus. I’ll try to get back to the real thing tomorrow.

War is Peace

The BBC reports Cooling is warming.

Orwell turns over in grave.

Not For the Squeemish

or, Why Freedom of Speech is Important

For those not following closely, this also has to do with "Bad Art". I'll get back to that ASAP.

Rap and Bad Art (1)

Believe it or not – and I’m stunned here – my Twitter stream has broken out in a regular beat-down over the last 4 days over rap music.

And before we get started here: in your car, I can’t stop you from listening to whatever it is you want to listen to. I wouldn’t bother to try. You want to rock out with your frock out, or get your wizzle all fo-dizzle, or play Lawrence Welk or listen to books on CD – you live as Christ convicts you. I have been known to secretly listen to Thin Lizzy, Ben Folds and even Black Sheep on my iPod, so let’s not pretend that I’m being some kind of prude here, or worse: some kind of legalist/hypocrite.

But here’s the thing: the argument has been foisted out that “it’s not the tool, it’s how you use it” which has frankly poked me in the eye, so I’m going to drop in a few hundred words here on the subject and then let all comers do what they will.

In the first place, that maxim is simply a dodge. It seeks to escape all kinds of things – like whether or not something is inherently sinful. Not to be crass, but there is no good use for porn – not one moral credit to be made to porn in any circumstance. So we have at least one good example of a tool which is a bad tool. Here’s a short list of others before anyone gets the idea that we’re talking the exceptions and not the rules:
  • vigilantism
  • promiscuity
  • robbery
  • envy
There are no good uses for these things – and those who will foist up examples like, “well, what if you’re the last man on earth and you have to repopulate the world,” or “what if you’re Robin Hood,” need to ask themselves what has to happen for those things to be true – because those things are, plainly and at best, reasoning from the extremes and the unlikely rather than from the Bible and from the actual world you live in.

So plainly: some things are bad tools. But what about “art”? Seriously: am I going to here rationalize that Art is itself a bad tool?

Look at this blog, for crying out loud: I am all about Art as a tool.

The problem is that all Art is not created equal. For example, I would say plainly that propaganda is a form of art which is inherently bad – because it uses the truth-telling power of art to inspire confidence in falsehood. One should not participate in using art to promulgate lies or half-truths for the sake of manipulating people’s opinions or actions.

And in that, I can’t imagine anyone would deny such a thing – especially someone who’s positioning himself as a Christian or a “biblical thinker”. It’s simply a premise of revelation, or God's act of self-testimony: that somehow what is expressed must in its own right be representative of what is true. I’d list proof texts here, but how many times does the Bible have to forbid and condemn lying before we get the message that all violations of the truth are immoral?

Now, this creates a rabbit trail which we need to give a special treatment to: fiction. Is all fiction a lie? Some people think so – in fact, someone is bound to accuse me of such a stupid thing if I don’t chase this rabbit here and now. Here’s what I think: unless Psalm 1 is a description of a historical event, then the Bible has at least one clear case of drawing a hypothetical, metaphorical image which uses analogy as a tool for reasoning. And in that, the Bible demonstrates to us how fiction can be about something which never happened in history but points us to truth which is in history and among people and from God.

All fiction is not bad. All art is not bad. But there is bad fiction and bad art, as described above.

And in this, we need to think about this carefully: is there, therefore, bad music?

I’ll be back later in the week to discuss that. You see what you can come up with in the comments.


I read this story today about Katie Couric and Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and I loved it.

You know: the point here is not that somehow someone outsmarted Katie Couric. She's a bright and ambitious lady, and we should respect her. The point of this story is that CBS and Ms. Couric expected this guy to be an ignorant shlub. Somehow, they expected him to care what public opinion says about him.

This is a guy who publicly denies the existence of the Holocaust, and is trying to gain a place at the Nuclear weapons table.

She's lucky he didn't pull out a cane and beat her for dressing like that in public in defiance of Sharia Law.

He's the enemy, Katie: not a misunderstood and ignorant dupe.