Archive for the 'Society' Category

22
Jul
07

Required Reading: Steal this Book

Steal this Book is Abbie Hoffman‘s guide to surviving outside the accepted norms of society (alternatively, one could think of it as a handbook for dirty hippies, if one were of a more conservative political persuasion.) It has information on how to feed, clothe and shelter yourself without buying into the everyday rat race. Of course, some of the actions which the book recommends is of questionable legality; one section of the book deals with growing your own marijuana, while another section explains how to shoplift effectively. In keeping with the anti-authority spirit of the book, the entirety of the text can be read online in various places. This is just one of them.

25
Jun
07

Required Reading: A Practical Guide to Suicide

A Practical Guide to Suicide, a publication of The Order of Kaos Under Satan, will tell you everything you ever wanted to know about suicide, and most likely a lot more. It contains an exhaustive list of common and uncommon methods of suicide, as well as an analysis of the mental preparation that goes into the act. It should be noted, however, that the guide does not go out of it’s way to justify or promote suicide. It is, nevertheless, quite a morbid read, but then again I have a tendency to be quite a morbid person.

17
Jun
07

…In the Eye of the Beholder

Many times after seeing advertisements for the fashion industry or for beauty products, I’ve found it hard to believe that anybody really looks like the perfect, plastic women shown in the ads. This confirms my suspicions.

18
May
07

Mickey Mouse Jihad

About a month ago, Al Aqsa TV, a television network with alleged ties to Hamas, began airing segments in which an off-brand Mickey Mouse instructed the impressionable youth of Palestine in the ways of radical Islam. On the one hand it’s strangely amusing, if only for the surrealism of seeing Mickey Mouse denounce Zionism, but on the other hand the fact that this sort of thing is likely instrumental in the indoctrination of children is also somewhat disconcerting. In light of this, I can’t help but wonder what it would be like if there were a VeggieTales episode which advocated the bombing of abortion clinics.

20
Apr
07

It’s That Day…

Today is the 20th of April. In other words, 4/20. Today is an unofficial holiday for all proponents and aficionados of marijuana. The smell of cannabis is likely permeate the air tomorrow, especially where I live, since not only will I be on a college campus, but a college campus in the Northwest, at that.

For whatever reason, the number 420 has become iconic for those members of cannabis culture. This perhaps began with the notion that 4:20 in the afternoon was the optimal time to get high. It is to the extent that 420 has become a commonplace euphemism for smoking marijuana.

the silent killer.

Personally, I’ve never had much interest in smoking marijuana; alcohol has always been my drug of choice, as it has the advantages of being legal and not filling my clothes with an unpleasant telltale aroma. I don’t particularly support the use of marijuana, but at the same time I don’t oppose it. Nor do I see why there is such a fierce backlash against the drug, particularly here in the United States. In fact, I once wrote a paper in which I argued for the legalization of marijuana )I’m not sure whether or not my teacher agreed with me or not, but in any case he seemed to like the paper).

Not surprisingly, 4/20 usually sees a fair amount of protesting or demonstration in favor of legalizing marijuana. This has not been in vain, apparently, as some progress has been made, particularly in Canada, and more recently in Denver. Rather progressive for a red-state city, I must say.

While I myself won’t be partaking in any of the 4/20 festivities, I know there are many out there who will. I may, however, just have to eat a few bowls of Captain Crunch.

31
Mar
07

The Christian Alternative

In contemporary America, one would be hard pressed to find a group so omnipresent and so inextricably linked to the nation’s global image as Christians. Yet despite their prevalence in American culture, there is a tendency among some Christians in the United States to see themselves as separate from the popular culture; in some cases, certain Christian groups have taken this notion so far as to think of themselves as a moral minority, defending the true Christian and American traditional values against an evil society.

To that end, there are countless Christian alternatives to just about any secular thing one might imagine. There is an entire Christian recording industry, Christian coffee houses and Christian bookstores. There is even a Christian alternative to Youtube. This is a phenomenon with which I am truly fascinated. What is the reasoning behind the self-imposed segregation among Evangelical Christians? I have one theory.

The Christian alternative mindset perhaps hearkens back to the early days of Christianity in the Roman Empire. In those days, Christians truly were in the minority and were very much separate from the culture of the day, though whether or not they held any sort of moral high ground is really a matter of opinion. It is also true that the Christians of antiquity were oppressed, oftentimes used as scapegoats for whatever problems faced the empire at the time. Yet those Christians proved unshakable in their faith, unwilling to recant their faith in the face of death. Such devotion is admirable, and indeed that devotion proved important in the spread of Christianity.

The now iconic image of Christains and lions.

If we jump forward a few centuries to the present day, we see contemporary American society split between largely urban liberalism and largely rural conservatism. Evangelical Christians are quite firmly within the latter faction, and since the mainstream media caters primarily to the former group, the Evangelical Christians may feel alienated from that culture, which they see as sinful and corrupt.

Therefore, on the one hand inspired by their estrangement from popular culture and on the other by the piety of the Christians of the religion’s fledgling years, Evangelicals have tried to establish an identity for themselves as the defenders of a besieged morality. In effect, there is now something of a crusader mentality, evinced by the fact that one can now buy clothing with the following less-than-politically correct image:

As though Christians were being tread upon. And I seem to recall the Crusades not ending well for the Christians…

In any case, the Christian alternative culture is one that is spreading very quickly throughout the nation, particularly in the Midwest and in the South. Nor is this a purely adult phenomeon; the documentary Jesus Camp chronicles the Christian alternative culture in the context of children (albeit from a somewhat slanted perspective). As the movement continues to grow, it will be interesting to see where it goes, and how it affects the split in American culture.