Category Archives: Philosophy and Psychology

The Case for Christ (book and film–spoilers)

I was sent this book a few years ago by someone who thought it’d convince me of the divinity of Jesus. I felt that the book didn’t prove it’s point. I saw that the film is now on Netflix, so I figured I’d better watch it to see what points are emphasized (since the film can’t hope to bring in as many arguments and evidence as the book did).

Since it’s been a couple years since I read the book, I have decided to A) not re-read my previous review and B) look back at the book as I feel is appropriate.

In watching this film (currently paused at exactly 29 minutes), I am struck by his outward hostility to Christianity. I view Lee Strobel as a very passionate person. Passionate people tend to be all or nothing. So, while it seems like he’s a “devout” atheist, I’m more inclined to believe that he’s just the kind of person who views the world as black or white. There is no grey for him. So he either believes or he doesn’t believe; nothing else matters.

I got this from the book, too, I think. For him, he’s able to drum down the truth of Christianity to just the Resurrection. I find it ironic that he got this idea not from his own investigations but (by film-lore) by his editor, I think. This strikes me because, well, what if his editor had told him that all of Christianity revolves around the Virgin Birth? Or the Literal Interpretation of the Bible?

There are a lot of atheists who come to the conclusion that there is no god after years of studying the Bible. Here’s an excellent example.  These are people who know the Bible inside and out and have many, many reasons why they don’t believe it. Yet, Strobel, a “devout” atheist has no clue what even the basic tenants of Christianity are. He’s saying he doesn’t believe in something he knows absolutely nothing about. It’s then not a surprise that when given a glossy bit of the faith, he believes that there must be something there and since the world for him is black and white, he now must do everything in his power to prove it correct.

Which brings me to why I just hopped off the couch and grabbed my copy of the book. I don’t read bibliographies very often. Mostly I just look at them to see if they exist and to what length research was done. In this first 29 minutes of the film, I realized that Strobel is the kind of journalist who likes to talk to experts and read their books, but I wasn’t sure if he’d spend much time in a library looking at the primary sources.

Guess what? Out of about 140 citations, 4 seem to come from primary sources. All the rest appear to be secondary sources or not contemporary to Jesus sources (depending on the nature of the source).

I’m not saying that this is a bad way to do academics, but one of the things that I recall from the book was the chapter on how immediate to the Resurrection the sources were. What I mean is, Strobel spent some time discussing when the Gospels were written and other sources and concluded that most were written 30 to 80 years after the Resurrection. But, every subsequent mention of this dating used the low end of the spectrum. Since I was reading this like a regular book and not as an academic challenge, I wasn’t paying a lot of attention to what sources he was directly referencing when talking about a particular date, so maybe he was always using evidence from an earlier source rather than a later one, so claiming it was written 30 years after the Resurrection was appropriate, but my memory has him speaking very generically about all his sources, yet using the earlier date.

By the way, shortly before the 29 minute mark, Strobel is talking to a scholar who claims that some sources are from mere months after the Resurrection seeing Jesus walking around. Strange, that sounds like what the Gospels say but these weren’t actually written down for that 30 to 80 years. Plus, I don’t recall Strobel writing about such a short time frame. The way it’s presented in the film, you’d think you can go to an archive and pull out a bunch of bound diaries where folks wrote:

3 June 0001

Today I saw Jesus walking around the market place, buying some sugar. Funny, I swear he was crucified 2 months ago!

Okay, the film is resumed. I don’t know if I like the way it’s focusing on his family life and “transformation” from atheist to Christian. I guess it’s because I don’t buy him as being particularly strong in his atheism (he seems to not know why he’s atheist, since he doesn’t even know what it is that he doesn’t believe in). It seems fake and I’m not sure how many people can really identify with him. I mean, I know that there are plenty of people like him, but I think that there are a vast majority more who are atheists because they know the Bible and other religions well, are agnostic because they’ve never had an interest one way or the other and don’t care about what they don’t know, are “spiritual” because they don’t know about theism, or are deist because they don’t believe in the power of prayer.

Ooh…We’ve hit the first bit of historical flubbery in the film. Comparing the Iliad to the Bible for historical authenticity. Yes, we believe that copies of the Iliad are accurate to what was originally written by Homer. But this doesn’t prove that Hera and Zeus actually had the conversations that are written there. Or, since I know the Odyssey better than the Iliad, Odysseus didn’t actually fight a cyclops or deal with Circe. Just because it’s a reliable copy doesn’t make the subject matter as written true. Supernatural events are probably made up.

Ugh. Lee is an asshole. Telling his wife that she’s “cheating on him with Jesus” while he’s staying up all night and obsessing about disproving Christianity.

Ooh! He’s actually discussing the evidence. Yes, the questions are good and the answers probable. But, they still miss a certain bit. When a Biblical scholar asks an atheist if they want the truth or just want to prove what they already believe, ding, ding, ding! That’s exactly what Biblical scholars are doing! If they’re Christian, then they’d be hard pressed to come up with an explanation that doesn’t lead to their Christian faith.

And boom! The scene ends with a hanging issue: sure, it’s reasonable that the 4 gospels would have varying accessory details about the main story of “a group (or single) woman visits Jesus tomb and found it empty”–cool! I can believe this. Except: where’s the evidence that no one removed the body during the 3 days?

Answer: I remember that he’ll get to this in a little bit, and the answer is that there was a guard and moving the stone and other stuff that’s a great argument if we knew for certain that there’s no evidence of tampering. Except, I’ll refer you back to the Iliad: a work of fiction that is taken as a very reliable source for what it says about historical facts. It’s still full of conversations between the gods that are obviously made up, unless they were divinely inspired, of course. There are plenty of contemporary sources that aren’t included in the New Testament. Why? Because of tradition and because they alter the story a bit (don’t do anything to prove the supernatural bits).

Power: what’s the agenda. It’s not a new thing.

Ugh. Why is the wife getting advice that she’s supposed to listen to Lee? She tries to talk and he shuts her down, but she’s supposed to just listen to him and take his abuse while he gets away with abusing her?

I guess I wasn’t paying much attention in the book about his story of the cop shooting gang informant (I don’t remember this). But wow. What a way to seriously prove my hypothesis about him seeing the world as black and white. All he cared about was telling the world about how the police were protecting their informant. He didn’t think twice about exposing the truth (as he saw it) without considering the consequences. He didn’t wonder why the cop got shot (since the cop and the informant had a history, there’s definitely a motive that needs to be addressed, especially with the history of abuses in the Chicago PD) or consider what information the informant was giving police. Was it worth keeping quiet about? In Lee’s world, shooting a cop is a black and white event and the guy deserves to go to jail for life without any consideration of extenuating circumstances.

I’m not saying that the informant doesn’t deserve to go to prison, but depending on what information he gave and why the shooting occurred, he doesn’t deserve to have any “friends” in prison knowing that he’s a snitch and killing him for it. The world is a very gray place!

God. Lee is such a misogynistic asshole. He’s decided that his wife is incapable of deciding for herself what she believes and that she’s being manipulated. Excuse me, but she’s a grown woman who can decide for herself what she thinks. She doesn’t need a husband to tell her what her opinion is. Strange, he sounds like most Evangelical Christians who buy the whole “Umbrella of Protection” crap and that women need a keeper.

Why do I expect he won’t change a bit once he becomes a Christian? Oh wait, he doesn’t have to!

Wow! “She’s different”–like, she’s her own person with her own mind and her own thoughts! Why is this so baffling to assholes? Oh yeah. Because they’re assholes!

Ya know, I don’t recall being this upset with Strobel while reading the book. I mean, I disagreed with his arguments, but I didn’t judge his character. But with this film, his character disgusts me!

Sigh, I wish that Lee had gotten a tougher lecture when it came out how crappy a journalist he’d been with the Hicks trial. Oh yay, he got to go get drunk and have his own pity party. Because he’s the smartest man in the world! Grr.

Sigh. And of course, the film ends at the exact same place the book does: he still has questions and doubts, but can’t deny what evidence he’s gathered. There still isn’t any proof, but there’s enough probable cause to get him to become a Christian.

That’s probably the thing that makes me mad at Christians like Strobel. They claim to have all the answers (or rather that all the evidence points to where they want it to) and declare that to believe otherwise is wrong. Here’s the thing! A lot of people are presented with every bit of evidence that Strobel was and they have decided that it’s just not enough proof. Or rather, there is plenty of room to doubt.

Like I said, the Iliad and the Odyssey are a good example because they show how easily fact and fiction can be intertwined together. It doesn’t really matter that the Bible had multiple authors because there was always the one narrative: the one that Jesus wanted publicized.

Erm…Hmm…

Okay. So, here was my thought process as I wrote the above paragraph about Jesus’ end-game. “Huh. I wonder if the author’s were present at the Loaves and Fishes Miracle (since it’s one that I happen to remember).” So, I went and pulled up the Loaves and Fishes and read the Wikipedia Article. Which led me to take the link to a chapter of Mark that talks about Jesus feeding 5000 and then 4000 in two separate miracles.

This is a chapter written by “Mark”. I’m not a theologian, but a quick Google search led me to another Wikipedia article that says that historians believe that Mark is actually written by an unknown person. Which is fine for the point I will be making here.

2Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, 3and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. 4And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. 5Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 6He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. 7Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” 8Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus.

–Mark 9: 2-8

 The author of this is using a third person omniscient perspective. They know all, yet weren’t actually there. In this case, the only people on the mountain were Jesus, Peter, James, and John. So,unless one of these men is the anonymous author of Mark who writes of themselves in third person, the author wasn’t there and this is a bit of he said, he said. John, who apparently is the same John that authored a gospel, doesn’t seem to mention this event, but if he did mention it in passing (debatable) he’s very vague on details. If God had spoken so blatantly to me, I’d definitely write all about it! So, did it happen? I’m dubious. If the 4 did go to the top of the mountain and decide that Jesus would be labeled the Son of God, but didn’t decide on the details, then yes, artistic license 30 to 80 years later is very probable. The exaggerator and the circumspect.This makes as much sense as any explanation.

Which is why The Case for Christ doesn’t make as strong an argument as it claims to.

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I nag, my tween complains — how do we end the struggle over chores? – The Washington Post

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/on-parenting/help-my-12-year-old-wont-complete-chores/2017/02/21/582a1992-f553-11e6-8d72-263470bf0401_story.html?tid=a_inl&utm_term=.00fb79b0ac9d

On tying chores to allowance, here is how I would do it:

Once the kid grasps the concept of money (needing money to buy things), they are old enough for their chores to be linked to their allowance. Since they should have already been doing age appropriate chores°, they will love getting paid to do what they’re already doing and will probably not realize over the years that an increase in the number and type of chores they’re doing is related to their age and development not an increase in allowance.

Let me explain. At 5 years old, the kid learns about the importance of money. They want money, so you say, “okay, if you complete all your chores this week, I’ll give you X dollars on Friday”. The kid thinks, “Sweet! I already do all my chores every week, so this is easy money!!”

As the kid gets older, they will want more money and you know they need to do more chores. They will gladly consent to doing more chores for more money. But, you were already planning to increase their allowance because you know a 10 year old probably can’t survive on $5/week. They think they’re getting the payraise for doing more work, when in reality, the payraise and work is unrelated… sort of.

You see, there’s a big problem that can arise with tying chores to allowance: what do you do when the kid doesn’t do their work? The simplest strategy I’ve thought of is that the kid loses money for every chore not done. $1/chore, depending on how the numbers crunch?

Since I believe that kids should be given reasonable choice as much as possible, I think that they should be allowed to choose their chores as much as possible.For younger kids, they may pick their daily chores for a given block of time* while older kids, have a master chore list^ for them to check off that let’s them choose the chores that fits their mood on a given day.

Any overlap between younger and older kids chore charts should be hashed out at the ~monthly meeting when the younger kids pick their chores for the month. Younger kids should be given first dibs on chores that are age appropriate, but be allowed to take on more responsibility if appropriate (like, they want to scrub the shower every week or help cook dinner).
°Note: There is a difference between chores and good habits.Chores are things that need to be done regardless of whose doing it. Habits are personal responsibilities that everyone has to do to be considered a responsible adult (brushing teeth, picking up their toys, etc). Chores can be mixed and matched depending on one’s roommates, spouse, or children. When a person lives alone, all the chores fall onto their shoulders. When living in a group, chores can be spread around (you don’t need 3 people washing dishes every night), but everyone, no matter their living situation, needs to automatically take care of their personal hygiene and pick up after themselves; teaching good habits is different from teaching how and when to do chores!
*So, every month or so, the younger kids decide on what they’re chore list is for every day: feed the dog, set the table, wipe up the bathroom, etc. When they get bored with these chores, they can choose a new set of chores. Younger kids take longer for their interests to change and they do better with a strict daily list of tasks.

^Older kids are capable of doing just about everything moms and dads can, which means they, like moms and dads, can decide what needs to be done and when. Someone needs to figure out dinner every night; who’s in the mood to cook? I’d suggest making the agreement = the total number of chores per week×/the number of people covered by that chore list @the amount of allowance that is appropriate. The teen is going to look at the list of everything that needs to get done in a week (7 dinners, 7 dish washings, etc, etc, etc) and pick the things they like best, based on their ever changing mood. If there’s more than one older kid, there will be competition over the choiciest chores, which seems like a good problem to have! Moms and dads, as members of the household, should also be included in the chores equation. School=Work, so none of this “I have a job and you don’t” argument (truthfully, school is more work than most jobs because of homework).

×However, it’s important to remember that not all chores are created equal. I’d suggest ranking chores by difficulty and making a hard chore like washing clothes count for more than an easy chore like feeding the dog. To adjust the equation, simply add together the rankings rather than the base number.

Here’s an example of a partial master chore list:

Family members: 2 parents, 2 teens = 4 participants

Dinner (7×2 (ranking)) = 14 points

Feeding dog (7×1) = 7 points

Washing clothes (includes washing, drying, folding, sorting/putting away) (3 or 4 (or however often as necessary) ×4) = 12 or 16 points

Dishes (7×2 (4 in my real house because we don’t have a dishwasher) = 14 or 28 points

Take the number of points (47 or 61) and divide it by the number of people responsible (4) so, each person is responsible for about 11 or 15 points worth of work. The ranking score above is how many points you earn for doing a chore once. A person who primarily feeds the dog will have to cook or wash dishes a couple days while that cook/dishwasher gets the day off.

Of course, your milage will vary.

Christianity Is Just A Better Religion Than I | The Daily Caller–A Rebuttal

http://dailycaller.com/2017/11/02/christianity-is-just-a-better-religion-than-islam/

“But the ‘renaissance’ injected into western man an absurd inferiority complex in regard to pagan antiquity and then the ‘Enlightenment’ insisted on eliminating from public policy and public law the very Christian revelation which defined and ennobled western man. “

Except, the Renaissance and Enlightenment literally brought Christians out of the dark ages. Education was quite stagnant in Christendom during the dark ages. There was minimal innovation and little exploration. Then, Christians invaded the right places in the Islamic world and REDISCOVERED the philosophical works of the Greeks and Romans. Art, Literature, Science,Mathematics were REBORN in Western Culture. 

Excerpt, this wasn’t pure Greek and Roman. 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9 and possibly 0 are known as ARABIC numerals (as opposed to Roman numerals: I, II, III, etc). You see, while Christians were busy planning invasions of the Holy Lands (the Crusades), the Islamic world was translating and expanding on the philosophical works they were protecting, probably stolen, but that’s okay in 1000CE, because they were stolen manuscripts depicting educational materials. Would you think a manuscript with Pathagorius’ (sorry about spelling!) notes on triangles valuable enough to steal in a world where Christians were looking for the Holy Grail?

I’m not sure when Islamic scholars decided that the Earth circled the Sun, instead of the Sun circling the Earth, but Copernicus sat on his research until his deathbed, some 20 years after he more or less figured it out (1543), because he was certain he’d be jailed or killed for his heresy. Galileo WAS placed under house arrest ~70 years later when he proved Copernicus’ theoretical mathematics correct after building his own version of the telescope.

What is most telling about Fimister’s complete ignorance of history is this:

 The ‘Enlightenment’ is a parasite, it will not survive the death of its host. But it is strong enough to weaken the West to the point where its traditional external enemy the Islamic Ummah can strike the killer blow. Deep down the liberals know this is case, as they contracept and abort and legislate our civilisation into extinction, but in the end they don’t care. Their ultimate motive was always less the love of ‘liberty’ and more the hatred of Christ.

Without the Enlightenment, and it’s emphasis on the intelligence of man, there would not have been a Reformation!

Martin Luther is as much a child of the Renaissance and Nicholas Copernicus! They wereboth seeking answers outside of the monopoly that was the Roman Catholic Church. They both were heretics with ideas that threatened Church Doctrine. Both men show that anyone, not just Catholic Priests, are capable of making discoveries on their own.

Probably the stickiest part argument in favor of Christianity (which I assume is modern Evangelical Christianity) is that the most important person other that Luther for the spread of Protestantism is King Henry viii, who changed England from Catholic to Protestant solely so he could divorce Catherine of Aragon. After 6 marriages and 3 divorces, the Tudor line started many started many religious wars, but didn’t extend their reign. Had Henry stayed Catholic, America would probably be a more Catholic nation where divorce and birth control are taboo.

Of course, America would still be ruled by Britain because Democracy? Freedom of Speech? These are totally Enlightenment things.

Mansplaining Amongst Men

I just watched a pressman mansplain how ink looks differently on different paper to the general manager.

They’re both men.

It was sadly hilarious as I’m sure neither think mansplaining is a real thing.

From my experience, there are three reasons for mansplaining and none are limited to a single gender.

  1. For any number of reasons, the mansplainer assumes the victim has no prior knowledge of the topic in question and doesn’t bother to inquire before mansplaining.
  2. The mansplainer has a pathological need to show how smart they are by reciting what they know.
  3. The mansplainer’s brain needs to complete the thought before it can move on to the next topic.

All 3 of these are definitely mansplaining rather than simply explaining because the victim is usually saying “yup, I know all this stuff” or if they’re polite, they have a very pained smile on their face. Other non verbal cues include rolling eyes, disinterested nodding, fake yawning, real yawning, checking phone, squinty eyes of death, etc, etc, etc.

Only in the case of the 3rd type is mansplaining “okay” IF the mansplainer immediately apologizes and explains that their brain sometimes threatens to “Blue Screen of Death” if interrupted, because then we know that the mansplainer is speaking more for themselves than the victim.

I have tried to stop my hubby from telling me things I already know and have nearly caused him to Blue Screen with my interruptions. I didn’t realize how big an issue it is until I started mansplaining to him about something and he kept interrupting me and I realized it wasn’t about me teaching/telling him the story/thought, but was me organizing my thoughts out loud and his interruptions were literally interrupting my thought process. 

So now when hubby starts telling me things I already know, I give him a quick “yup, I know this” and if he continues, I ignore him. It’s better for both of us this way since I know he’s talking to appease his brain and not because he thinks I’m stupid.

John Kelly calls Robert E. Lee an ‘honorable man’ and says ‘lack of compromise’ caused the Civil War – The Washington Post

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2017/10/31/john-kelly-calls-robert-e-lee-an-honorable-man-and-says-lack-of-compromise-caused-the-civil-war/?utm_term=.1c65c92b487c

“Lack of compromise”… Hmm.

The country elected a Republican, a party recently established with abolitionist roots. Shortly after Lincoln’s election (by December) South Carolina seceded the Union and joined the newly established Confederacy (in February) since other Southern states had followed S. Carolina’s lead. VA didn’t secede until April, with ladies fainting in Portsmouth as they were certain Fort Monroe would turn it’s guns against them.

So, “lack of compromise”? Yep! S. Carolina and the rest of the southern states that seceded didn’t even give Lincoln a chance to limit the expansion of slavery (which was the actual bullet point of the Republican Party Platform).

After the states started seceding, what was the Union supposed to do? Let it happen?!?!

Actually, based on my own research for my bachelor’s thesis in history (I believe it still exists as a “note/blog post” on my Facebook page), what was passed in Congress during the Civil War WERE the compromises. While most citizens were hearing the most extremist views, the bills actually being signed by Lincoln were very moderate.

Take the Emancipation Proclamation, famous for not actually freeing anyone! It only freed slaves in states that were actively rebelling (so it couldn’t be enforced), not slaves still in the Union.

For a modern perspective, take Obamacare, which still guaranteed health insurance companies their profits in order to make the program work (that was the compromise). Every problem associated with Obamacare can be directly related to the promise that insurance companies get their profit as opposed to just breaking even or mandating that they reinvest any profits back into the system to lower costs.

To look at 2017, Trump keeps running his mouth about all the “great stuff” he’s going to do (would LOVE to have a more specific list to offer as example, but Trump refuses to be less vague), but Congress keeps thwarting him. It may not be a huge part of Congress that is keeping “his agenda” (actually, it’s those members of Congress willing to write and stump for their legislation’s agenda) from passing, but it is enough to ensure that the bills that land on Trump’s desk don’t do too much harm. Of course, there are his Executive Orders to contend with, but the Courts seem to be doing a pretty good job declaring them unconstitutional.

It wasn’t until 1892 that the Pledge of Allegiance was adopted, but it has “indivisible” as an important clause. For perspective, “the United States of America” wasn’t added until 1923 and “under God” wasn’t added until 1954.

The government of Spain is currently facing the same dilemma as the Lincoln Administration: whether to let Catalonia go or force it to stay. Despite my deep abhorrence of the nature of the Confederacy and conviction that it does NOT deserve reverence because it existed for the sole purpose of perpetuating slavery, truthfully, I believe that secession should have been allowed. I think that the Confederacy would have suffered severely economically IF the US had placed a trade embargo on it as deeply as we have done for other countries, if the Union was so against slavery as Southerners continue to teach. However, this extreme option would have probably hit the pocketbooks of Unionists hard, too.

Slave labor still exists, perpetuated by the need for cheap goods. I suspect that despite extremist rhetoric in 1860, if the Confederacy had been allowed to secede, slavery would have continued there until….ERM…huh. It took 100 years after the formal end of slavery for the country to come together and more or less decide that people should be treated equally despite the color of their skin. We’re still working on that in practice. On it’s own, without outside intervention, the South would probably still own slaves.

So, let me clarify one thing from earlier: I said that I support secession. This is true! BUT I DO NOT SUPPORT SLAVERY! A war was necessary, I agree! But the war that should have been fought was to end slavery, NOT to preserve the Union. Despite modern interpretation of the “War of Northern Aggression”, ending slavery was not at the top of the agenda, which is horrible! 

Everything about Reconstruction was about making secessionists feel welcome again. There were no jail sentences. There were no fines. Property was not seized. Well, slaves were officially freed, given citizenship, and the right to vote, so I guess some property was “seized”, but Southern plantation owners seemed more than capable of coming out on top of a sharecropping contract until the Agrarian Model was completely overthrown by Industrialization. Jim Crow very capably kept “colored folks” in their place. For awhile at least.

Lee claimed that he was against slavery, but believed that it should be allowed to run it’s own course, even if that meant another 1000 years. Considering that the slave trade still exists it would seem that there are a lot of people who still think that slavery is a “necessary evil” (and please do not be deluded into thinking that “modern slavery” is fundamentally different from 1850s slavery, it’s not (though 1850s slavery WAS different from it’s predecessors)). Vulnerable people are taken and held captive, abused, while the owner tries to convince the captive that they are better off in captivity than free (Stockholm Syndrome) while the rest of the world turns a blind eye, or otherwise thinks it’s okay (“at least they have a job and get paid $1/day; who cares about working conditions”).

The Joy of Christian Manhood and Womanhood–Chapter 4

The Feminine Focus is the name of this chapter.

There’s not much in this chapter except to reiterate that being female is more than physical appearance. Apparently women are also created in the image of God…but since God is always portrayed as masculine in Christianity, I’m not sure what this image is supposed to be and why God is suddenly a hermaphrodite. I mean, I can understand that “in his image” can lead to different designs of men (like they come with a different options package or paint scheme), but I’m not sure how “in his image”leads to differences between men and women that is meaningful (like the difference between a Ford and a Toyota? or is it like the difference between a pickup truck and a sedan?).

Mmkay…I’m a woman who doesn’t really like to cook fancy things. I’d much rather use my money to have someone else cook for me. But, I do enjoy watching cooking shows for tips to make cooking what I don’t mind cooking easier.

I know, vaguely, how to make Beef Wellington. While reading this description of how making Beef Wellington went so wrong, I wondered why on Earth they were willing to buy an expensive beef tenderloin, but didn’t want to purchase pre-made puff pastry?!?! Erm…There are two cooking shows that I very much enjoy: Hell’s Kitchen and The Great British Baking Show. I’m 99% sure that Gordon Ramsey makes his famous Beef Wellington with store bought puff pastry and I know that Mary Berry never bothers to make puff pastry (and she’s a famous baker!). I have watched the home cooks struggle with making puff pastry (GBBS) and seen Paul Hollywood demonstrate how it’s not really that hard. In truth, I’m relatively confident that I could make puff pastry if I really wanted to. It’s just a matter of making sure that the pastry gets plenty of time to chill between turns. Two hours is how long it’d take an experienced baker to make puff pastry. If I were making it for the first time, I’d give myself at least 4 hours.

And this particular wording really concerned me about this anecdote: “The ingredients included some pricey tenderloin and other specialities that were supposed to form into a beautiful dough that wrapped around the meat” (my emphasis). Erm. The “other specialties” are brown mustard and the ingredients that go into the mushroom “filling” (for lack of a better term). The puff pastry is just flour, water, and a bit of salt to form the dough and I believe enough (nearly frozen) butter to cover a third of the dough (it could be more butter) that gets laminated into the dough through the process of turning. The wording here makes me think that they put the mustard and/or the ingredients for the mushroom filling into the puff pastry dough. That would lead to a mess!

Apparently this anecdote about a couple of women not really doing enough research into the dish that they were making is supposed to convince me that God didn’t make any mistakes while creating humans. I feel that there are enough differences in people to illustrate that there isn’t one kind of perfect human and while, yes, I can agree that we shouldn’t try to change who we are, I think that the writers of this book have misunderstood that when women like me want more power in our relationships and in life, we’re not rebelling against God, but are merely trying to be the people that God has meant us to be. To tell a woman that she doesn’t belong in a corporate boardroom (or as President of the United States) because she was born with a vagina, only goes to say that when God gave her the ambition and the ability to take these jobs, he made a mistake.

“Something about our femininity is saying something about God.”

I wish that this author had actually explained what this means.

I guess it’s supposed to be that women are and equal and opposite reaction to men. But that doesn’t explain why women have so far been described as the inferior sex that is dependent on the protection and provision of men and incapable of providing enough of anything to reduce their husband’s stress.

Oh my goodness. This author just punched men on the nose and I’m sure she doesn’t even realize it:

“The heart is the focus of our femininity–and that’s good news because that’s where God works.”

If what sets women apart from men is our heart and God primarily works through the heart, then it would seem that God works primarily through women rather than men. This, I would think, would mean that a woman’s opinion is more valuable than a mans because a man is more than likely making decisions with his head rather than his heart (whereas a woman makes decisions more with her heart than her head) and therefore the woman is making a decision with the organ that God works through primarily.

Personally, I think both men and women are more than capable of making decisions utilizing all parts of their brains (since the heart isn’t really involved in the decision making process), which includes having compassion for others. If men claim to be making rational decisions that don’t involve any compassion and sympathy for others, I’d run for the hills!

Good: The Joy of Christian Manhood and Womanhood–Chapter 3

A ha. This is the chapter that I knew would piss me off. The title of this chapter is The Happy Call to Holistic Provision.

First of all, I am the primary “breadwinner” in our family. I have a full time job at a print shop and am now in school to become an elementary teacher. My husband is on disability and works part time as a tow truck driver. He would love to work more, but is physically unable to return to his preferred profession (OTR truck driving; he cannot pass the DOT physical with a defibrillator in his chest) and is physically unable to drive a tow truck full time (he gets easily overheated especially in summer months and between the vertigo and nerve damage on his left side, standing upright for long periods of time is nearly impossible). When we crunch the numbers for him pushing himself beyond his limits in order to work more, he’d have the choice between paying bills or paying for his health insurance. At least with disability, the health insurance is paid for, even if the bills are usually more than he can afford.

He fully supports me working because it is something that I enjoy. He fully supports me being considered the breadwinner because I am the one with the 8-5 job even though between the disability check and his part time work, we make about the same amount. Being the one with the regular work hours means that he has to take my schedule into consideration and he understands that he needs to pick up more of the slack around the house just because he’s home and I’m not.

We have an egalitarian marriage. He is not the head of me and I’m not the head of him. We make decisions together. Why these Christian men (and unfortunately women) cannot seem to understand that partners can work together without someone having to be in charge is beyond me, especially when I’ve read numerous blog posts by Christian women who seem perfectly willing to explain that their husbands are more or less clueless about the duties that are in the wife’s domain!

I guess that’s what gets to me. In our egalitarian marriage, we do have different roles and duties. I work all day and am in charge of most meals. He works when he gets called and is in charge of dishes, trash disposal, lawn mowing, and he’s supposed to wash clothes. I fold clothes, put dishes away, and run the weed wacker, because of the nerve damage in his left hand that makes these tasks uncomfortable. He’s also in charge of most of the major house cleaning because a) he’s great at it when he gets the ambition and b) because it’s mostly his mess.

All egalitarian marriages have some version of this compromise. But it depends on what the individuals in the couple enjoy doing chores-wise and what they’re good at.

In a Christian complementary marriage, it’s not so about what an individual is good at, but what they were born with between their legs that determines what their chores are. I’ve read at least one woman’s blog posts about how amazed she is by her husbands ability and willingness to cook! Like, it took a few years of marriage for her to feel comfortable with him doing such “women’s work” especially after he’s been at work all day. I can only assume that she had kept her boy children out of the kitchen because it’s pointless for them to be there since boys aren’t capable of cooking or would even enjoy cooking, but once her husband finally got into the kitchen, maybe she’ll realize that boys can be interested in cooking without damaging their masculinity.

What truly baffles me is how willingly these complementary wives are to give their husbands all the credit for the work that they are obviously expert at. I mean, since he’s the head of the household, obviously he must have been the ringleader that got all the kid’s schoolwork done (because more often than not the kids are homeschooled), got the housework done, and all the errands completed. While I realize that this “headship” isn’t supposed to take credit and is supposed to graciously praise his wife for all the work that she does, in a “marriage” where the head is an asshole, he can all to easily come home and disrupt every aspect of the wife’s hard work (send the kids outside when they’re supposed to be doing their school work; decide to go out for dinner even as supper is on the table; tell her that he’s spent the grocery money on a new boat) and she’s supposed to smile and say “Thank You, Dear”.

If my husband did any of these things, I’d be a single woman so fast he’d get whiplash. Especially the last one since I take our finances very seriously.

The United States was founded on the principles of “checks and balances”; that’s why we have 3 branches of government. This complementary marriage has no checks or balances. A wife is supposed to just accept whatever her husband does as law and can’t voice any opinions which question his authority.

This chapter talks a big game about how a husband is supposed to “serve and give his life for another” (i.e. his wife), but with a wife who isn’t supposed to question his judgement, how can he know that he’s really serving her when she feels like he’s undermining everything that she’s trying to do. To go back to those three examples from earlier:

  • He comes home and sends the kids outside and feels so proud of himself for giving her some free time with her husband. She’s upset because she had finally gotten them all to work after fighting all day.
  • He decides to take everyone out for dinner so she doesn’t have to cook. Except, she’s already cooked the meal and suddenly has 4 kids who are begging for pizza instead of being happy to eat the rice and beans she made. To keep the peace, she consents to save the meal she cooked for the next night. She can’t lecture him on the importance of calling when there’s a change of plans.
  • He thinks he’s buying a memory creating object when he buys a boat. Depending on the family’s finances and who controls the checkbook (I think these women are more often than not in charge of paying bills to save their husband’s the headache), that money might have been earmarked for any number of things. Because he made a unilateral decision without consulting her, there’s no telling what sacrifices she may have to make in order to make up the difference. She’s forbidden from questioning his judgment and lecturing him on frivolous spending.

Having a well functioning marriage depends on both partners being free to not only express opinions, but to put their foot down when someone wants to do something that is not in the best interest of the family unit. For the most part, I let my husband do what he wants with his money, but he’s not good at keeping money in his savings account and as it dwindles, I get more and more say about what he buys, since he’ll become more and more dependent on money that is in my account.

What is troubling about the section of “Taking Cues from Christ’s Self-Sacrifice”, is this emphasis on how a husband must sacrifice his life for that of his wife and children. Looking back at our three examples from earlier, it is way too easy for a husband to believe that he’s making personal sacrifices when he decides to send out the children (he could have gone into his mancave and ignored everyone instead of saving his wife from their constant presence), it’s his money that’s going towards paying for dinner (he could have used that to buy a new…book? probably not a video game), he feels like it’s his personal finances that is taking a hit when he buys a boat (since he’s the one slaving away for “the man” to make the money that pays for it).

Making the male headship’s life all about personal sacrifice gives him the perfect way to guilt trip his wife about anything and everything. He’s the one sacrificing his life in order to give her everything that she wants. He doesn’t want to work at his lame, boring, dead end, whatever job, but he can’t quit and pursue his dreams because he’s supposed to sacrifice his life’s ambitions to taking care of his wife and children. If he’s not sacrificing something, he’s not a very Christlike husband.

This chapter breaks a mans different types of “providing” into 4 types: physical (food, shelter, clothing, etc), emotional (….?), intellectual (education…), and spiritual (church).

Mmm kay….wow. So, apparently husbands and wives are similar in that they both want to ensure that all 4 of these types of provision happen. BUT, it’s specifically a husband who worries more about these things, especially for providing those physical aspects.

Yeah, I know that my husband is depressed because he feels like he can’t provide the physical things that I may want that he once was able to do (with his first wife, she stayed home while he made all the money that she did a great job spending (sarcasm)). However, as a working woman, I am more than capable of paying the bills that we have. In fact, because of our age and health difference, it is imperative that I be capable of keeping a roof over my head and food on the table in the event of his suddenly passing away. Knock on wood! The reason I worry less than he does about our finances is because I have the savings that I need in case of an emergency (he’s really bad at saving money). If I didn’t have these savings, I would be as worried and depressed as he is. The idea that a husband is supposed to worry more about finances that “the little woman” puts undue stress on men while disenfranchising women. Men don’t have more stress because they are born with a penis. They have more stress because society tells us that men are supposed to provide financially for their families.

Both my husband and the rest of the world need to lighten up and relax. We’ve got this!

As for the emotional provision…ummm…wow. This guy admits that his wife is much better at judging the emotions of the household. That she “better monitors and cultivates the emotional wellbeing” of the household. Apparently, he’s supposed to make himself pay more attention to what’s going on in the household, being more “emotionally present” after being “drained from a long day of breadwinning”, and that he’s supposed to resist the urge to come home to a house full of screaming children and a crying wife and want to tell everyone to sit down, shut up, and solve the problem (or as he words it: “resist the urge to manage behavior”).

Well, first of all, if a man needs to pray in order to realize that he shouldn’t give his wife and children the cold shoulder just because his job is “intellectually and emotionally draining”, he’s an asshole with very little (no) empathy.  I usually want to talk about my day at work, whereas my husband usually wants to brood about whatever is bothering him. There are plenty of women who prefer to brood and men who like to talk through their issues. My husband doesn’t have to pray in order to listen to me talk: he just knows what kind of person I am and listens with earnest when he can. And when the vertigo is kicking his ass and his left side is driving him insane and he’s feeling drained and all around miserable, he simply says “Cathy, I don’t feel like talking right now.” And do you know what happens then? I say “okay,” and I do my own thing. I wait for him to be in a chatty mood and talk then. That’s called respecting others. When he’s extra broody, I let it go as long as is normal, and then I try to get him to talk about what’s bothering him because he always feels better once it’s out on the table. He realizes that he’s being unfair when he doesn’t communicate with me and has been working on it.

Intellectual provision. Ooh. I love all the digs about people putting too much (or too little) faith in intelligence. Sarcasm.

Personally, I don’t think anyone can be too intelligent. Of course, people can be condescending when they think they know everything and hurtful when people admit ignorance, but I’ve found that most people who think that their intelligence makes them better than someone else are usually not very intelligent at all. They’re faking it to make themselves seem smarter than they really are (Trump). Intelligent people don’t have to brag about how intelligent they are; intelligent people usually just want to share their knowledge so that everyone else can benefit.

Wow: way to make husband’s seem extremely self-sacrificing dude! “Outside the home, for the wife (my emphasis), there is continuing education and community education and book clubs and friendships with thoughtful individuals–none of which will happen without the provision of the husband to have the kids and cover the home while mom is out engaging and sharpening her mind (again my emphasis). See, ladies! Your husband is completely incapable of pursuing his own intellectual ambitions because he’s too busy taking care of the children and the home so that you can pursue your interests. Sarcasm.

Believe it or not, husbands and wives can pursue whatever interests they want so long as they work together to plan a schedule. Only a husband would make himself seem like such a huge sacrifice to take command of the kids one evening a week so that mom can see her friends or join a book club.

Mmm… also love the dig about field trips for the kids and how “a curious dad with energy enough to ask and engage [the content of the trip]–or better, lead or join the trip himself.” Why oh why is it way too easy for me to picture the dad who comes on the public school field trip (with a female teacher) and spends most of the trip trying to lead it. How comes there’s no encouragement for mom to join field trips and maybe even try to butt in and lead them.

Oh wait. Most of these kids are homeschooled, so most field trips are mom-led, with a half-dozen kids in tow. This writer is mostly saying that dad’s should take the day off work to join the kids’ field trip and show mom how she could do it better his way!

Oh yay! There’s going to be a chapter on discipline in this book. I’m not sure how that relates to manhood and womanhood, but I guess we’ll see.

As for spiritual provision…make sure the kids and wife go to church, learn the bible, and don’t be too pushy because only God can change people. Mmkay. Well, at least it says that men shouldn’t try to push their wives into a certain belief system, but without knowing how a woman is supposed to react to this kind of disagreement, who knows what actually happens.

Oh shit.

“Though holistic provision for women and children is a greater burden than a man can fully bear, he is not alone. Precisely in the most desperate moments, when having the masculine role feels most unfair, when we’re our most tired, running on fumes, and need to keep providing in all these aspects, this is when the provision of God (my emphasis) tastes the sweetest.”

As a wife, I feel like chopped liver! Apparently, women are such a huge part of the burden of men that they cannot help alleviate that burden. Only God can give that kind of comfort.

Well, I’ll be honest with you folks. If my husband told me that the stress of providing for our household was so much that he had to ask God for help, I’d tell him that then God can be the one who sucks his dick. I am a woman, but that does not make me an incapable mooch. If I’m taking up too much of my husband’s ability to provide financially, emotionally, intellectually, or spiritually to our relationship, and he’s not asking for MY help, he can leave.

The first thing a woman can do when her husband is feeling too much pressure to provide is get a job. This will bring in some income so that he doesn’t have to work so much. This will give him more time to pursue his personal interests, which will in turn relieve the stress that is keeping him from connecting emotionally, intellectually, or spiritually with the rest of the household. If money or the job isn’t the cause of his stress, then he’s an asshole who doesn’t have any ambition to connect emotionally, intellectually, or spiritually. In other words, him working less and playing more wouldn’t change his stress levels.

Now, I realize that my husband seems to be the poster-child for the case of when a working wife doesn’t solve a man’s stresses. This is both true and false. It’s true because there’s nothing I can do as a wife that will make him feel like he’s providing as much as he once did. I can only reassure him that we’re fine financially. He knows this and is fine with this but it doesn’t ease his own feelings on inadequacy. Except, that in some small way it does ease them.

We’ve come a long way from when we first started getting to know each other (as partners during a summer league) when we used to fight over who was going to pay for our bowling. I didn’t even know he liked me at the time, but I didn’t (and still don’t) like the idea of anyone paying my way. At that time, I’d just started working part time after 2 years of unemployment where I’d run through all my savings, so I was extremely emphatic that I was going to pay my way and the fact that I had enough left over that I could pay for him made me feel even better. It got to be a fierce competition between us over who would get there first to pay for bowling and I think by the end of it, I had been one week up. Sigh. I miss those days when he made a real effort to get to the bowling alley before me, haha.

When we first started dating, our argument over who would pay continued. To keep things simple for our waitresses, we’d go “double dutch” (a term I’m inventing here and now). We all know that “going dutch” is when the two parties pay for themselves; well, with us and “double dutch”, we would alternate who paid. If I paid last time, he could pay this time and vice versa. I highly recommend this system if you’re dating exclusively. If it’s a one-off date, go ahead and just pay for yourself.

As we continued dating, I realized just how tight his money was and started insisting on paying more often. He was slow to accept this, but eventually he didn’t see it as a weakness. Since then, he’s actually started asking me to pay for stuff. He just gave me the water bill to pay on a permanent basis! I’m trying to get him to split the bills evenly so that he can rely less on me for bailing him out at the end of the month.

His stress level has definitely decreased with every bill he gives to me to pay. Even as he feels bad about needing to rely on me, at least he doesn’t have to worry about how he’s going to pay back money he has borrowed. They are two different kinds of stress. And no, God isn’t going to miraculously put money into his bank account, but I, as his wife, can.

I can also support him emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually (which doesn’t really apply to us) in a way that God (which is to say, himself) cannot. God rarely (ever?) offers up new ideas to an individual. I’ve often heard men and women say how God works through people. Like, if one person can’t figure something out, they ask God, who apparently in turn, has someone come up and volunteer the answer that the first person needs. As a wife with a husband, I’d much rather cut out the middle man and have my husband directly ask me for help, a shoulder to cry on, an opinion, or for advice instead of him talking to God and hoping that I’m paying enough attention to give him what he needs (in secular circles, we call this kind of behavior passive aggressiveness; where one person has to infer what the other person wants based on the other person’s actions because the person doesn’t want to admit that there’s a problem).

 

Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning

11/1/15: I did not finish this book and right now I have no intention of picking it back up. It’s not a bad book, per se, but it’s not what I enjoy in a history book. I like social history, which to me means lots and lots of personal anecdotes that help describe why things happened the way that they did. I’ve never cared much for political history, which is (again to me) all the wheeling and dealing that goes on behind closed doors within governments that make for the “big” changes like war. Political histories tend to be full of analysis because I’m supposed to walk away with the same conclusions that the author did. This is a political history with, as far as I can tell, not very much social history included. It’s an interesting book, don’t get me wrong, but there are simply too many names to remember and places to keep straight to make it a “fun read” and since I’m no longer in school, I can afford to focus on the fun reads instead of trudging through books that don’t maintain their hold on my interest.

If you like dense political analysis, then you’ll like this book. If you like books that focus on regular people, like I do, you probably won’t make it very far in this book. My conclusion is that you’ll either like it or you won’t. There’s nothing wrong with the research or even the style–it’s just not my cup of tea.

10/10/15: I’ve been slow reading this one. It’s a fascinating book and what I consider to be my first real delve into the history of the Holocaust, but it’s dense. Like, really dense. So much information and detail. I guess I was hoping for something with more first hand accounts and less political discussion. I honestly find treaties to be dull reading, but leading up to WWII, that’s what it was. Still, there is a lot of really fascinating instances here, like how Britain and France handed Hitler Czechoslovakia and how Germany blamed the Kristallnaught on a displaced German (Polish? Russian?) Jew who killed a German minister in France.

Granted, this time was all about political intrigue and shifting border lines and it was complex and we have to really look it instead of making broad blanket statements like “Nazi gun control caused the Holocaust” (–Ben Carson), but what I want to know about the Holocaust is how could non-Jews have let it happen. And that, my friends, has been summed up on page 88: “Of course, it was possible for Germans not to wish to see violence inflicted upon Jews while at the same time not wishing to see Jews at all.” The one common thread between EVERY nation involved in this atrocity (to which I include every country that didn’t open their arms to the Jewish people) is that they didn’t want to have a Jewish population. There was the “Madagascar Plan”, which was the generic name for moving the Jewish people out of what they were currently calling “home” be it in Poland, Russia, or Germany and putting them either on the Island of Madagascar or in Palestine (the two leading destinations though the actual destination didn’t particularly matter). Britain considered going along with this plan (as the owners of Palestine), but decided that it’d be worse to anger the Arabs already living there than the Jews who would be moving there.

This whole mentality of “out of sight, out of my way” disgusts me and as someone who has never been the biggest fan or Israel today, I’m starting to have even less respect for the way they constantly defy current boundaries in their own ambition to have “manifest destiny”. The idea that that is their “homeland” is a crock when in 1938 Jews were being forced out of the HOMES they’d established in Europe–HOMES that they’d hoped to live in for generations! Don’t get me wrong, first and foremost, I believe that EVERYONE has the right to live where ever they damn well please so long as the property is bought legally and doesn’t harm anyone else in the process. That is NOT what’s going on in Palestine where the land in question is under investigation to determine ownership. It’s like a Zombie House (one that the owner has left because they expected a foreclosure, but then the bank decides not to foreclose). It would not be legal to sell the house to a new owner without finalizing the paperwork to establish who the owner really is. Some may argue that the land in Palestine is unoccupied and therefore up for grabs, but when there’s global interest in establishing real boundaries, no one should live in the area until the paperwork is finalized. Otherwise, we should just say “screw it–if one side gets to live there then both sides do” and open the area to ALL migrants (much like the homesteads of the US). Be like, “you’re all one country now, congratulations”. You’d think that the Jews who were forced out of Europe would have more of a claim to those former homes and businesses that they’re family used to own instead of claiming “historic ownership” to land they personally have no tie to.

Anyway, I’m writing the above as I take a break on page 100. I’m hoping that once all the background information is done (and the war finally begins) this book will move faster. But we’ll see…

Heh. I just read a truly interesting view of the alliance between Germany and the Soviet Union. Apparently Evangelical Americans saw it as “the realization of a biblical prophecy (Ezekiel 38) of an alliance between Gog and Gomer that would attack the Land of Israel and thus fulfill on of the preconditions for the return of the messiah.” This is what I meant above about claiming Palestine as “the Land of Israel”–these Americans and probably most Jews as well didn’t view that land as their homeland then, why should they view it as such now?

Also along Biblical lines, aren’t there a couple of passages about how God mandates (or at least doesn’t frown upon) “his people” invading nearby towns and destroying them? That sounds a lot like the way Hitler believed it was his right to completely annihilate the countries around Germany because they weren’t German.

Unfair: The New Science of Criminal Injustice by Adam Benforado

“It is better one hundred guilty Persons should escape than one innocent Person should suffer”

–Benjamin Franklin

I first heard about Unfair via NPR (not sure which program the author was speaking on) and was amazed at the idea of using Avatars and recorded testimony to better present information to a jury at a trial. Turns out that this book is full of a lot more than just this idea for reforms.

This book looks into the science behind why people do what they do: the perpetrators, the judges, the lawyers, the witnesses, the jury, the public. While reading it, I started wondering which of my extended family members (a group that succumbs to many of the fallacies listed here) would most benefit by reading this. My conclusion was probably none. Even if they were able to finish reading it, they’d still probably label it “liberal rubbish”. What I find ironic is that these types are covered within: the ones who when presented with overwhelming evidence that their beliefs are misguided (at best) they will still find a reason to reject the evidence.

I don’t know if I’m simply more educated than the general public, but a lot of what I read in Unfair seemed to be common knowledge now. I thought people were aware that eye-witness accounts are more often than not limited if not completely incorrect. Benforado makes it seem like no one in the public sector knows this, but I can imagine that in especially a trial setting, lawyers will overstate the importance of eye-witnesses and other facts.

I certainly will forever question the validity of an eye-witness after reading about at 74 year old woman who identified the wrong man even though the actual rapist was also in the line-up (put there simply as filler by the police). Especially when you look at a photo of the line-up and only the real rapist looks like the original description, given 5 weeks prior.

In this era of what appears to be more police brutality, I thought that there were a few quotes that maybe some folks should take to heart.

The first comes during the chapter on why the public seeks to find someone to blame when a crime is committed, even if that means taking a pig or dog literally to court, or the public thinking it’s okay for a pitcher to hit an innocent player during a baseball game in retaliation for one of his own teammates getting hit. “[W]hen a harm has been committed, our desire to find a culprit and reset the moral scales by inflicting punishment may sometimes override out commitment to fair treatment.” I was immediately reminded of watching the latest video evidence of the shooting of Walter Scott. Officer Slager claimed that it was in self-defense or otherwise was in defense of the public, because they’d just emerged from a scuffle on the ground when they got up and Scott started running again so Slager used his gun. You see, when I hear that story (of a scuffle and the retaliation), I picture me acting in “hot blood” to hurt the person who just hurt me. Officer Slager had just (probably) gotten hit in the nose (or somewhere else that resulted in injury or at least insult) and in anger pulled out his weapon and fired. I suspect this “hot blooded” approach to justice occurs in more cases of police brutality than anything else (Unfair does touch on the Rodney King case, but only from the perspective of the expert witnesses).

The second quote that stuck out to me was “Numerous studies have shown that those who have murdered a white person are more likely to be sentenced to death than those who have murdered a black person.” Well, this is a statistic that the Black Lives Matter cause should pick up. Currently the debate seems to be centered on police brutality towards black suspects with opponents saying “well, what about Black on Black violence?” It seems to me that the Justice Department is making a statement that White Lives are more important than Black Lives simply because they go after harsher punishments when the victim is white rather than black.

The third quote is “In one recent experiment, researchers had two groups of participants read about a fourteen-year-old with seventeen prior juvenile convictions who raped an elderly woman. Participants were then asked to what extent, in general, they supported sentences of life without parole for juveniles in non-homicide cases. The texts given to the groups were identical, aside from one word: for the first group, the defendant was described as black; for the second group, he was described as white. Participants who had read about the black teenager expressed more support for the severe sentence and for the notion that kids are as blameworthy as adults.” I think this should give EVERYONE cause to stop and reflect on their own preconceptions. Of course, this is also discussed in Unfair: jurors are told repeatedly that they are completely capable of being impartial and most of us want to believe that even though there is mounting evidence that at least some amount of bias skews our judgments. People are so certain that they would never discriminate that they are blind to the fact that they do it daily.

I think this is one of those books that should be required reading. Even if it doesn’t have an effect on the Criminal Justice department, at least it will shed more light on the social issues that cause crime. Armchair politicians like to admit that lack of education and poverty contribute to the crime problem, but when it comes to saying where tax dollars should be spent, it’s usually on a bigger prison rather than a new school. I’ve heard more people talk about the waste of throwing money at education, but not the same about the waste of throwing money at jails. Except when some new jail can’t be used because of a wonkie law–then the complaint isn’t that the jail was built, but because it cannot be used.

I received this book for free via Blogging For Books, but as always the review/commentary is all mine.

You Just Look Guilty
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