Tuesday, February 27, 2007

My guest post on Alastair's blog is up now. Feel free to read and write over there as you choose.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

I finished reading Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickled and Dimed last night. I know, I'm like the 75 millionth person to read it. Just hold on a sec. Kust wanted to mention one particular point of interest. In one portion of her project Ms Ehrenreich was working with a maid service cleaning houses. She found herself learning to resent the home owners she was working for. This isn't terribly surprising, nor do I blame her at all for that. Here's the interesting bit--just as she was getting ready to quit and move on to her next city, she told her coworkers that she was really only there to research her book. In the ensuing discussion Ms E asked about her coworkers attitudes towards the wealthy homeowners. She was surprised to find that none of them felt any resentment or hostility towards them. The said that they were hoping to someday be in such a position themselves.

Leaving aside the likelihood, or lack thereof, of middle aged house cleaners to attain the resources to someday hire out there own help, I think there is another interesting thing at work here. In his seminal work Envy: A Theory of Social Behavior, Helmut Schoeck points out that envy is much more likely to occur between near equals. Ms. Ehrenreich several times made mention of the fact that she was "only visiting" the world of the working poor, that she always knew she had her other, upper-middle class life to go back to. I would suggest that her problem with her clients probably stemmed from the fact that although she was not one to use a maid service, she was of the class of people who COULD do so. Probably some of her friends and neighbors used such services.

A twelve-year-old boy on the outdoor basketball court does not envy the success of the NBA star. The recent college star who failed to make a pro team might. That's not a comment on Ms Ehrenreich's character, just one on human nature.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

It's really not worth noting the controversy which led up to this, but Peter Leithart's post here on vulgar language exactly echoes my own sentiments. As a baptist youngster I certainly bought into the idea of prohibited words, but through college and beyond I began to reason out many of these same ideas Peter mentions. I think there must be some sort of Aristotelian mean here. One should not be the sort of person who is known for telling dirty jokes, but one should not be a prude either.

Working with high school students over the last few years has made me both more sensitive to this question and more convinced of the general position. Also, being pastored by David Bowen, one who is not the least afraid to either mention a vulgar word in a sermon or to preach on sexual passages in the scriptures, has been helpful. I can't say often enough that I have the best pastor in the world :)

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Worth reading: Po Bronson on recent research on the effects of praise on children. We had discussed this in a general way in my ESL teaching program, but I was unaware of this research.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

For your edification, here are the 10 worst drivers ever caught on video. Don't laugh, it could be you next.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

I wonder how many profs from the conservative presbyterian seminaries will be attending this? I don't mean that as accusatory, since I don't know ANY profs at these seminaries myself except through casual introduction or by reputation. It frankly looks like it would be a good conference for anyone seriously interested in reformation history.