Monday, October 20, 2008

The Birth of Post Modernism

The following post from Mr. Christopher Orr's Blog - Orrologion describes adequately and succinctly the philosophy that gave birth to literary criticism / theory and ultimately post modernism. The text is an excerpt from "The Death of Theory" by Michael Cook, an article appearing in Salvo magazine.

Literary Theory (always with a capital T, like the G in God)

...Since the 1980s, literary Theory (always written with a capital T, like the G in God) has captured English department after English department in universities throughout the English-speaking world....

Theory resists definition. It is not monolithic but fissured and fractured into scores of squabbling schools. But here are ideas that nearly all of them share:

  • All reality is constructed. That is, since we cannot, with any certainty, know what exists outside our own experience, we cope by constructing frameworks that we project upon reality. Consequently, a text does not contain the author’s meaning; it merely reflects the reader’s prejudices.
  • There is no such thing as truth; all opinions are relative. Living in a world with no fixed boundaries, no absolute definitions, and no ultimate truths could be a fearful burden. The ingenuity and playfulness of Theory teaches us to cope.
  • The job of the reader-critic is to identify the prejudices inherent in a text. The task of analyzing a text in this way is called "deconstruction." The critic’s job is to dismantle it and show what it really means—which may be a far cry from the author’s intention.
  • Everything is a text, from Shakespeare and the Bible to "South Park" and Harry Potter to billboards in Las Vegas and the New York skyline. One of the best-known shibboleths of Theory is the French phrase "il n'y a pas de hors-texte": there is nothing outside of the text.
  • Theory’s usefulness is not exhausted by literature. Since everything is a text, it can be deployed to analyze everything in our culture. Ultimately, it is a political commitment.
  • The author’s intention is irrelevant. In its most radical form, Theory proclaims the death of the author. Persons literally disappear, becoming merely relations of intersecting texts in a vast cultural conversation. Most theory is resolutely anti-humanist.
  • No doubt the accuracy of my account would be described as bumptious ignorance by an academic Theorist. But it’s close enough, especially for a theory in which it is axiomatic that there are no definitions.

The roots of Theory stretch back to Friedrich Nietzsche, the German philosopher who demolished the stifling rationalism of great 18th- and 19th-century thinkers like Kant, Mill, and Hegel. He defied what he regarded as their smug confidence that all of reality could be ordered and grasped by the human mind and asserted that there are no truths, just interpretations. "Truths are illusions which we have forgotten are illusions, worn-out metaphors now impotent to stir the senses, coins which have lost their faces and are considered now as metal rather than currency," he wrote.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

John Rosemond's Bill of Rights for Children

  1. Because it is the most character-building, two-letter word in the English language, children have the right to hear their parents say "NO" at least three times a day.
  2. Children have the right to find out early in their lives that their parents don't exist to make them happy, but to offer them the opportunity to learn the skills they - children - will need to eventually make themselves happy.
  3. Children have a right to scream all they want over the decisions their parents make, albeit their parents have the right to confine said screaming to certain areas of their homes.
  4. Children have the right to find out early that their parents care deeply for them, but don't give a hoot what their children think about them at any given moment in time.
  5. Because it is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, children have the right to hear their parents say "Because I said so" on a regular and frequent basis.
  6. Because it is the most character-building activity a child can engage in, children have the right to share significantly in the doing of household chores.
  7. Every child has the right to discover early in life that he isn't the center of the universe (or his family or his parents' lives), that he isn't a big fish in a small pond, that he isn't the Second Coming, and that he's not ever - in the total scheme of things - very important at all, no one is, so as to prevent him from becoming an insufferable brat.
  8. Children have the right to learn to be grateful for what they receive; therefore, they have the right to receive all of what they truly need and very little of what they simply want.
  9. Children have the right to learn early in their lives that obedience to legitimate authority is not optional, that there are consequences for disobedience, and that said consequences are memorable and, therefore, persuasive.
  10. Every child has the right to parents who love him/her enough to make sure he/she enjoys all of the above rights.
Dr. John Rosemond is a parenting specialist and has a regular column in the Living Section of the Sunday newspaper. His Bill of Rights For Children is taken from his website:

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Restoring the Center (Part Two)

Back in August I wrote concerning the problem of risky behavior amongst the youth of our community. At the root of the problem, I posited, lay the breakdown of the traditional family consisting of a husband and a wife (one man and one woman united for life) at the center with children as orbiting satellites. This breakdown has resulted in a fundamental restructuring of the family where the children have become the nucleus and the parents the satellites, with Husband (father) and Wife (mother) existing in entirely separate and increasingly distanced orbits.

This time I intend to focus upon the traditional nucleus – Husband and Wife, mom & dad, the marriage covenant. After God created man and woman He established marriage: And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. Genesis 2:22-24. God instituted marriage that a man and a woman could share a one flesh union by each giving of themselves wholly, completely, and unconditionally to the other, thus mirroring God’s selfless and sacrificial love for humanity. God blessed marriage that it should be fruitful and life-giving, evidenced most completely in the birthing and rearing of children. But first comes marriage. And the one flesh union of husband and wife is not to be broken, diminished, or superseded by the subsequent gift of children.

Yet this is exactly what has happened. Child / Family Psychologist John Rosemond often asks attendees at his lectures (typically parents of young children) the following question: Of the time you spent in your family during the past week, what percentage was spent in the role of father or mother versus the percentage you spent in the role of husband or wife? He recounts that “the typical distribution is 90 percent parent versus 10 percent spouse” which, Rosemond says, “is the empirical definition of a child-centered family. […] That’s simply not the way God planned it.” To place children above the marriage covenant is akin to placing the creation above the Creator (which is idolatry; see The First Commandment). A man is Husband before father; a woman is Wife before mother – A Husband and a Wife are one in each other, one flesh. Children simply are not a part of the Husband-Wife relationship. The family instituted by God is marriage-centered, where husband and wife “parent from within” their marriage.

The center, the nucleus, is what holds a family together. The one flesh union of husband and wife is the command center of a family. Husband and wife share a love-bond in Christ that provides the strength, the discipline, and the single-mindedness necessary to parent. Rosemond summarizes, “For a family to work according to God’s design, the husband-wife relationship must be far more active than either parent’s relationship with any child. Husband and wife must be more involved with each other than either of them is with the children. Their lives must be centered on the bond of their marriage, not the children.”

“Nothing makes a child feel more insecure than the feeling that his parents’ marriage is tenuous, that it could fly apart at any second,” observes Rosemond. Rather, a strong marital bond is comforting to children. The consequences of an “inside-out, upside-down, and turned around backward family situation include,” says Rosemond:

· The children lack a model of what being truly married is all about. Therefore, when they grow up, they are likely to either avoid getting married (which more and more young people are doing) – running instead from one “fly by night” relationship to another – or enter into marriages for all the wrong reasons (e.g., sex, status, financial security, to legitimize children), in which case their marriages are likely to fail.

· The children develop a sense of entitlement as regards the disproportionate amount of attention and material things they receive from their parents. They become ever more demanding, disrespectful, petulant, and even outraged at the notion that they should actually lift a finger around the house. As adults, they are likely to bring this same expectation into relationships. Symptomatic of this is the self-centered answer many newly divorced young people give when asked what caused the divorce: “He/she wasn’t meeting my needs.”

· Because the parents are more concerned with having a relationship with than providing leadership to their children, the children do not receive adequate discipline. Behavioral problems develop, almost always involving one or more of the “three Big Ds”: disobedience, disruptiveness, and disrespect. Quite often, however, these parents have their heads so buried in the sands of a fourth “D” – denial – that they do not even see that their children are undisciplined. They think they’re “just being children” while other adults generally think they’re obnoxious.

· When the normal time for emancipation rolls around, the children do not have permission to leave home. Quite simply, a child cannot emancipate him- or her- self easily from the center of the family universe. The center is too cozy. Who would want to leave? Besides, the child in this situation knows that for as long as he can remember, he has been the glue holding his parents together (in psychological terms, this is called codependency). If he leaves, he knows they are likely to divorce.

Being marriage-centered is as important to the healthy rearing of children as being Christ-centered is to a healthy marriage. It is with the love of Christ that a husband and wife love each other; it is with the love of Christ that a husband and wife can be successful parents. This is because God has a blueprint for our lives, an order. The world denies this vehemently, the secular media says that you are ignorant, foolish, and uneducated to believe such, but it is nevertheless the truth. Rosemond states, “If you depart from God’s plan in any area of your life, you will experience more (and more seious) problems than you would have encountered otherwise.” And what Christian family, struggling to be faithful, has not experienced this truth? Further, Rosemond states, “If you adhere to God’s plan in your life, you will still experience sadness, pain, frustration, and heartache (since the Fall, there is no escaping this tribulation), but you will endure and you will eventually come out on top.”

One of the purposes for which God instituted marriage is so that through this covenantal relationship humanity might come to know better their God and the kind of relationship He wants to have with the pinnacle of His creation. The selfless and sacrificial love husband and wife have for each other is to mirror the selfless and sacrificial love of God for humanity. Likewise, the bearing and rearing of children is nothing less than a participation in the ongoing creative activity of God, bringing life and increasing love. Husbands and wives in a one flesh union also mirror their Creator in bringing forth new life. As humanity, the creation, is not above God, the Creator, so children are not above their parents, the marriage unit, one flesh, that is husband and wife.

All of the John Rosemond quotes above are taken from his latest book Parenting by The Book: Biblical wisdom for Raising Your Child (ISBN 1-4165-4484-4). I cannot recommend this book too highly. It is simply fabulous! I encourage you to read it.