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Volume 14, Issue 2: Sharpening Iron

From Us:

Yes, it is we, predicate nominative. We have snapped under the pressure and given in. We are taking off the gloves. Finally, we will speak our uninihibited minds, and do as we feel. Until now we have been restricted by the stifling flea and tick collar of social convention. We have been adding water to our wine. Now that collar lies unused in the alley where we scratched it off. We were born free, free as the wind blows. Now we will act like it. No more will we hold our peace in the name of convention. We are coming down off of our sunny rock where we once basked. It is time to chase kids around the park. It is time for play.


From You:

Dear Editors,
After reading "Raising Poofters" [C/A, 13/5] and getting all fired up about it and making the decision to compose a reply, I had two main fears: one was that Nathan Wilson wasn't writing a serious article, but was merely throwing out a sort of ludicrously-colored bait, hoping to reel in some fun letters to the editor—and I was swallowing it, hook, line, and sinker. My other fear was that he was serious, and that there was actually a group of people somewhere that considered that piece of writing to be cogent, thoughtful, and worthy of publication (that is, worthy of public consumption). Whichever the case may be, I decided to go for it anyway.

Nathan begins by stating that "Everything in our culture" is at war with boys. Fine. I can handle this in an opening paragraph—obviously, however, I'll expect some evidence. But in vain, as Nathan doesn't even pretend to address the culture as a whole, but goes straight for that part of it which, I assume, he knows least about: the public education system. (Or perhaps I'm wrong in assuming Nathan hasn't regularly attended public school?) But OK, so maybe he really wanted to talk only about education and not the entire culture. I guess that's fine, just let me know first next time. Onward. . . .
Rules cannot be equated with those who happen to be the enforcers of them. Indeed, rules transcend their enforcers and if they are valid should be obeyed regardless of outside personality conflicts. And I know very few budding young fourth-graders who resist authority on the basis of conscience. School rules are often designed to prevent injury and misbehavior, and those other things which disrupt the educational process. Schools are not designed to turn boys into men, they are designed to teach children "reading, writing, and arithmetic."
Perhaps boys do have a natural desire to get knocked down, but it seems the more prevalent desire is to knock someone else down; to, in fact, be the last one standing. The emotional need seems to be to rule, not to lead (this is broadly true of much of humanity, not just boys). And this happens everywhere, including schools: it's called bullying. This is a need that doesn't necessarily need to be encouraged, and certainly not at school.
Nathan now begins to bring us to the climax, the real problem. It goes something like this: Christian boys are taught to obey authority. Authority in schools (again, are we to assume this is the only authority in a boy's life?) tells boys to behave like girls (that is, as we've previously noted, to obey the rules). Strong boys can't behave like girls. So they come to despise authority. Then they come to despise Christianity for telling them to obey authority. Weak boys (ah, finally, we learn what the mysterious "poofter" is) obey the rules, and are thus weak. The solution: for the strong boy, change the rules so he can be as violent as he is inclined to be (and strong boys are inclined to be violent because when violence rules, strength is power). For the weak boy, let him get beat up, make sure he's in situations where he'll get hurt if he doesn't hurt someone else first (and he will get hurt because he's, well, weak), show him that physical weakness is for losers and girls. It won't take long before you'll have to stop him from doing anything that pops into his head to keep from being stepped on, including playing dirty, using weapons, gunning down his classmates.
Quite the opposite of what you assert, Nathan, there seems to be no lack of testosterone in our culture. Turn the TV on at any time and you'll see men battling each other in sports, often violent sports. Athletes' obscene salaries betray the importance our culture lends them. . . . Popular music includes profane celebrations of violence by men against both other men and women. You know—men satisfying God-given emotional needs. Enough pop culture. What about us common folks and our own lives? High school heroes aren't ballerina stars, they're the best athletes, and those who won't let an insult lie but beat the other SOB up for it. . . . Our culture is awash in masculinity and always has been. Certainly there are radical fringe elements—perhaps even the intelligentsia—who are preaching the opposite, but they will always be fringe. Because in our fallen world, power always rules.The strongest win. We may root for the underdog, but we bow to the winner.
Fortunately for us, Nathan, you're not a leader, you're a follower. A daddy's boy, still hanging on to Pop's belt loops and repeating his words. . . . God may be masculine and all-powerful, but He tempers his power with wisdom, and wisdom is a woman.

Hosannah Valentine
Seattle, WA

Dear Editor,
I appreciate and have benefited from many of your written efforts to take every thought captive, and to encourage the saints in not being conformed to the world. Your "Sex and the Reformation" issue contains several helpful articles addressing a topic that is worthy of serious (but reverently joyful) consideration. Particularly trenchant is Douglas Wilson's "Modest Daughters" piece that opens with this statement: "Let's be frank. Immodesty is a very common problem in the Church today." This is sadly a very true statement that was commendably addressed by Mr. Wilson. After reading this article, however, I had to pause and take a second look at the cover of this issue. And there before my eyes was a picture that can only be described as provocatively erotic. This cover is not designed to provoke modesty within the Church! (I showed this to my excellent wife and she agrees with my assessment). I for one would not want my wife or daughter posing in such a titillating manner. Sure, we don't see the model's face, but the effect is still the same, particularly on male viewers who may have a problem with their eyes. So keep up the good articles, but please consider a bit more soberly the material pasted on the cover. We are to provoke one another, but only in a righteous direction!

David Kincaid
Raytown, MO

Douglas Wilson replies: I guess this situation reveals the importance of context, and I suspect we agree more than we differ. We believe in the importance of modesty, as argued in that issue. But we also believe that the Bible teaches that a certain measure of "eroticism" is appropriate, so long as it follows the patterns set by Scripture. We do not believe that it is right to be erotically provocative. At the same time, what constitutes "provocative" must be defined scripturally, and not by the Victorians, the Muslims or the neo-Amish. Perhaps the whole photograph of my daughter Bekah will provide the needed context.

Dear Editor,
I am writing in to suggest a problem with Nathan Wilson's "Flotsam: PoE" (C/A, 13/6). Wilson has taken a heavy apologetic wallop to what he names "the problem of evil, " and has leveled the strong charge of rebellion and foolishness to those who see the problem of evil as any real problem at all. Although this kind of approach is many times appropriate, in "PoE" Wilson has attacked unbelief just where sincere belief struggles and becomes perplexed. This communicates a bit of simplistic apologetic smugness over an issue that is usually handled in a more pastoral fashion. Wilson does not indicate any struggle with evil or perplexity over the unbeliever's traditional argument regarding the "problem of evil;" but he should, for not only has he not taken in consideration the problem that the "problem of evil" posses for our true belief, he has not sufficiently answered the arguments furthered from unbelief in at least two basic ways.

First, his reasoning that the argument from evil does not take sufficient account of the fall is irrelevant. The fall itself falls into the problem for the unbeliever, not merely the consequences of it. Dungeons are sure proofs of a king as long as our story does not speak of a king who must make evil men to throw in them. The problem is not that God responds appropriately to evil men, but that evil men are. The problem is the very possibility of a fall. Second, Wilson's examples of "evil" are insufficient. He speaks of war, civilian casualties, and the World Trade Centers. There is a sense of dignity to this sort of suffering and a possible feel of the "justice involving evil in the world." But what if I run over my baby's head on the way to church? Shall we see with believing eyes the authority and justice? No, that is not obedience; obedience is believing despite such things that God is good.
But Wilson thinks that all evil will make sense to us if only "we were to use the heads He gave us." This is false. God did not make our noetic faculties for the purpose of intellectually "making sense" of dead babies. He "made us" pre-fall. We are rationally perplexed, but we love Him anyways. This is not to say that the problem of evil rationally defeats our Christian Belief, but we are being dishonest if we don't admit that it is quite an argument.

Michael Metzler
Moscow, ID

Nathan Wilson replies: I appreciate Mr. Metzler's repsonse, but feel that there is very little real disagreement between us. To begin, I do not think that the Fall in any way dismisses the problem of evil. I do find it amusing that pagans everywhere attempt to use the p.o.e. to prove that God lacks existence. There is no king because he tossed me in the dungeon. I do believe Mr. Metzler and I disagree when it comes to my refusal to take the problem seriously. I don't think it is a serious problem, or any problem at all really, and I'm not being dishonest. It all makes complete sense, but not logic. We do not need to know why God does a thing to know that His authority allows for it. He rains on us, and in the end He kills every one of us. I am not puzzled, nor do I see a problem. If we embrace Him, then we embrace mystery, and mystery in the transcendant makes sense.

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