Fear and Loathing: I’ll Have What She’s Having

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And it’s not just because she recalls her old debate coach instilling the fact that “the cheapest – and tackiest – shot you can take in an argument is comparing your opponent to Hitler.”  Well, ok, that is pretty much pure gold and applies to, oh, so many certain discussions in our circles that reach to the tired template for evil called The Third Reich (I won’t say it out loud, that would be vulgar). But the rest of it is a nice reprieve from the encroaching sense that few have much left these days:

Given the kinds of (technological, mediated, globalized) communications that increasingly dominate American life, a certain amount of fear and distrust in the culture is understandable. And to a certain degree, it’s not awful: in most human endeavors, a certain amount of skepticism is probably a healthy thing.

But too much skepticism – the kind that renders you incapable of trusting almost anyone, the kind that makes you hold onto your doubts and fears even in the face of contravening facts (since you believe the “facts” are probably manipulated) – is debilitating. It’s debilitating to you as an individual, since to think that way is to be anxious and angry all the time, to feel rageful and powerless and even paranoid. It’s also debilitating to social functioning, which requires at least some amount of social trust.

Too much skepticism is known as cynicism, and we Calvinists are often mistaken for being more cynical than skeptical. But just as total depravity isn’t the same as utter depravity, and to be realistic isn’t to be a pessimist, and to be a world-affirming pilgrim is not to be a world-flight monastic, and to accent grace over sin isn’t to be antinomian, true Calvinism really isn’t about thinking that sin goes all the way down such that we are the mercy of the fear mongers of the day. We may take our inspiration from Ecclesiates, but that doesn’t mean, well, what many seem to think it does.

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13 Responses to Fear and Loathing: I’ll Have What She’s Having

  1. Rana says:

    that same latte liberal bohemian city of Claremont has an Alternative Radio station I was listening to this morning or yesterday morning. Anyhow, a Cognitive Scientist was giving a lecture on Framework (no not the Klinean/ Genesis one) but the whole idea of World View/ Zeitgeist within certain socio-political spheres.

    His whole point was people who understand how powerful frameworks are intentionally re-frame and/ or de-frame people, ideas, movements, etc. to manipulate their agenda.

    Having come out of a more socially progressive atmosphere of Christians in GRusalem and at Calvin, to a much more conservative Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Libertarian world of Christians, and not feeling comfortable in either place, I clearly see that people live in parallel universes where some politics and some religious movements seek to re-frame and de-frame facts and sense into confusion, fear, and paranoia in order to forward an agenda.

    i don’t know what the answer is, spike your flavor of kool-aid with some scotch to keep you sober.

  2. Zrim says:

    You go, girl. Er, girls.

  3. Todd says:

    “I clearly see that people live in parallel universes where some politics and some religious movements seek to re-frame and de-frame facts and sense into confusion, fear, and paranoia in order to forward an agenda. ”

    When’s the book coming out – I’ll buy it.

  4. Rana says:

    i think the Cognitive Scientist probably has some book or published research, unfortunately i didn’t get his name. the radio station only had music programming online when i went back to check. i did get to listen to some Black Flag, which my dear husband mocked.

  5. sean says:

    Black Flag! Word

  6. Rana says:

    after some searching i found the guy and his book:

    his book has an obvious political agenda that is not what i thought was interesting though, rather his ideas on re-framing and de-framing cognitive input was interesting. i see this process with some of the scare-mongering going on now, watched an Alex Jones video on youtube lately? You’re probably better off not. Even Ron Paul, who i agree with on some issues, vids on youtube have numerous Y2K-esque comments.

  7. Renee says:

    Hey Zrim,

    I think you would appreciate this exchange.

  8. Zrim says:

    I feel Barn’s pain.

    Seriously, though, Renee, this is another example of how Americans moralize politics. The most insidious, as I have said before, revolves around certain legislation circa 1973.

  9. Rana says:

    i think that woman has watched way too many Alex Jones films/ zeitgeist films/ new world order, etc vids and the like on youtube.

  10. RubeRad says:

    the cheapest – and tackiest – shot you can take in an argument is comparing your opponent to Hitler

    That debate tactic has a wonderful name: it’s called Reductio ad Nazium

  11. RubeRad says:

    When’s the book coming out – I’ll buy it.

    Didn’t Vern Poythress already write it?

  12. Bruce S. says:

    It’s actually called Godwin’s Law:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin%27s_law

  13. RubeRad says:

    But that’s not funny like Ad Nazium! (Neither is Ad Hitleram)

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