Things To Learn Before You Finish High School

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I wrote this guide based on my experiences in high school and college as well as my observations as a Sunday school teacher and high school math teacher.

Each post covers a different topic. If you wish to use the advice on this, I recommend that you talk to your parents and have them read the post with you to help you put what it says into practice.

Anything else that comes to mind or recommendations you have for a post, I will use to add a new page or to update an existing page.

Note: I wrote this from a religious perspective, but I recommend reading it anyway because most of the tips are quite universal and not sugarcoated or based on the self-esteem notion that challenging things are bad because you might fail.

  1. Learn to study
  2. Learn to be alone without feeling lonely
  3. Learn to have a morning routine
  4. Learn to write basic computer programs
  5. Learn to do basic vehicular repairs and upkeep
  6. Learn to cook
  7. Learn to budget
  8. Learn to read for pleasure

Youth Science Projects and American Aspirations

I came across an archived usenet post linked on social media:

How come the heros of our movies are no longer Micky Rooney or Spencer Tracy playing Thomas Edison, or Paul Muni playing Erlich or Pasteur, instead Val Kilmer playing Jim Morrison and Woody Harrelson playing Larry Flint? And movies whose heros are lawyers.

 

Paperwork and lawyering. Fixing and improving and advancing society by talk-talk, not building. A lawyer president and his lawyer wife. Crises of power that don’t involve spy planes and sputniks, but incredibly complicated and desceptive word defintions and complicated tax frauds. You think we’re not preparing to go to Mars because SF is too optimistic? Sure. But it was optimistic about whether or not the can-do engineering of the 40’s and 50’s, done by the kids who’d grown up playing with radios and mechanics in the 20’s, was going to continue. Needless to say, it didn’t. I’ve seen a late 1950’s book of science fair projects for teenagers that include things like building your own X-ray machine and cyclotron (no, I’m not kidding– it can be done). There are rockets in there, and cloud chambers, and all kinds of wonderful electronics stuff. But we didn’t go that way. Instead, we turned our children into little Clintons, and our society into a bunch of people sitting at PCs, entering data about social  engineering, not mechanical engineering. So instead of going to Mars, we went instead to beaurocratic Hell. Enjoy, everybody. It really could have been different. Nature didn’t stop us– WE stopped us.

I’m not opposed to lawyers, we need them. I even that a few of them read this blog. But the idea that the aspirations of American culture were transformed by entertainment focusing on paperwork fields and the actual content of education are obvious. My wife and I intend to home school our children. And I suspect that we’ll be buying some of those old science books.

I think our young simply feel that the world handed to them is either good enough or impossible to bend toward their own success. So their aspirations end at “make enough money to chill.”

Effort Habit: Keep the Faculty of Effort Alive in You

William James on the Effort Habit

One of my favorite selections from James’ psychology text book is about developing an effort habit:

Keep the faculty of effort alive in you by a little gratuitous exercise every day. That is, be systematically ascetic or heroic in little unnecessary points, do every day or two something for no other reason than that you would rather not do it, so that when the hour of dire need draws nigh, it may find you not unnerved and untrained to stand the test. Asceticism of this sort is like the insurance which a man pays on his house and goods. The tax does him no good at the time, and possibly may never bring him a return. But if the fire does come, his having paid it will be his salvation from ruin. So it is with the man who has daily inured himself with habits of concentrated attention, energetic volition, and self-denial in unnecessary things. He will stand like a tower when everything rocks around him, and when his softer fellow-mortals are winnowed like chaff in the blast. – William James, The Principals of Psychology, (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1983), 130.

William James

William James, his self-mastery was developed by the effort habit of not shaving.

That little paragraph has been very helpful to me. James makes the excellent point that exercising yourself in self-denial until it becomes a habit for you to handle discomfort is an an incredible down payment on handling trials. I agree. Self-mastery of this sort is practically a super power.

Your Bad Habits are a Hell on Earth

He also notes later that “the physiological study of mental conditions is thus the most powerful ally in hortatory ethics. The hell to be endured hereafter, of which theology tells, is no worse than the hell we make for ourselves in this world by habitually fashioning our characters in the wrong way. Could the young but realize how soon they will become mere walking bundles of habits, they would give more heed to themselves while in the plastic state (James, 130).”

In the Christian conception hell is an experience in life and post-mortem. Even if you reject the existence of God and of eternal judgment, you cannot reject the existence of hell if you’ve seen the state people get into because of their own awful habits.

You must develop good, challenging, creative habits in for your mind, body, spirit, career, and relationships and you’ve got to do it little by little every day. And if you don’t want to, imagine for a moment the hell you’ll be in if you let yourself continue down the path of your worst possible self.

Develop Christian Habits

Thanks be to God that in Christ we have available forgiveness of sins. Not only so, but we have spiritual disciples, graciously given by the Lord: Lord’s supper, weekly worship, prayer, fasting, giving our possessions, memorizing Jesus’ teachings, meditating upon the Scripture, etc to transform us. And on top of that, we have help from God’s Spirit to supply what lacks in our character as we go.

A Parting Quote

As we become permanent drunkards by so many separate drinks, so we become saints in the moral, and authorities and experts in the scientific and practical spheres, by so many separate acts and hours of work. Let no youth have any anxiety about the upshot of his education…If he keep faithfully busy each hour of the working day, he may safely leave the result to itself. He can with perfect certainty count of waking up some fine morning, to find himself one of the competent ones of his generation in whatever pursuit he may have singled out ( James, 131).”

Education is Necessarily Religious

Jordan Peterson on religion as knowledge of “shouldness.”

Jordan Peterson below explains how he, as a scientist, reconciles science and religion from a Darwinian point of view. Whether you accept Darwinism or not, his claims are important for how we define, pursue, and reflect on education.

He says that science is trying to explain what things are and religious claims, when they are true, are true things about how we should live:

“You should act…so that things are good for you, like they would be for someone you’re taking care of. But they have to be good for you in a way that’s also good for your family. And they have to be good for you and your family in a way that’s also good for society, and maybe even also good for the broader environment, if you can manage that. So it’s balanced at all those level. That has to be good for you and your family, and society, and the world right now and next week and next month and a year from now and ten years from now…Christ is a meta-hero and that sits at the bottom of western civilization. His archetypal mode of being is true speech. That’s the fundamental idea of western civilization. And it’s right.”

Peterson’s explanation of what religion is/does above is what education in the United States attempts to do. Therefore, it is religious. But alas dear reader, I’m never so brief.

Christ as the archetypal foundation of Western Civilization

I think Peterson is absolutely right about what he says about Jesus and his relationship to Western Civilization at its best. The argument to demonstrate it is labyrinthine, but I’ll summarize it:

  1. In western civilization, rule of law and the scientific method developed to the point of themselves becoming dogmas or the culture.
  2. Cultural dogmas arise from human behavior.
  3. Human behavior arises from foundational myths which survive by natural selection.
  4. The foundational myth of western civilization is Jesus Christ, crucified for truth-telling and resurrected to function as the Truth about humanity.

What is education?

Now, education is mirrors propaganda in that it propagates ideas, institutions, practices, temperaments, and goals. But it is distinct from propaganda in western civilization because everybody is called to speak the truth at any cost by virtue of the founding myth (though many are ignorant of this). But not only does the transitioning process contain the archetype of truth-telling, it also includes the archetype of question asking, thanks to our lionizing of the first social media troll, Socrates.

What this means is that the educational process, insofar as it seeks to inculcate a deep concern to speak the truth as the individual sees it so that what he speaks might be understood, criticized, reformulated, and actualized by the will is religious. Why? Very little is appealing about Aristotle’s understanding of speech as a faculty best suited to telling the truth. Why? Because people know that they can use words to get what they want all the time, truth be damned!

But the idea that truth-speaking, though it cause chaos, is an act of rebellion against chaos for its own sake and oppressive levels of order is a powerful motivating force. And not only so, but the idea that Christ himself did it so that you would do it too and so that you might have contact with ultimate reality when you engage in the same is even more motivating, because it happened in history!

And so, education that self-consciously encourages truth-speaking for the purpose of caring for the elements Peterson mentioned above (self, family, society, the world) is not only religious but distinctly Christian, even without explicit Christian content. The big question is this: when education has other aims, what sort of religion lay underneath?

Concluding Educational Necessities

Education is actually necessarily:

  1. Religious
  2. Philosophical
  3. Social
  4. Economic
  5. Psychological
  6. Personal

It is religious for the reasons above, it is philosophical because religion always entails metaphysics, it is social because religion is about being a part of society in a way that is a win/win for everybody, economic, because society is a resource allocation game, psychological because existence is traumatic and being a self is difficult, and personal insofar as there is no ‘one size fits all,’ which is implied by the previous layers or strata of education.

William James, God’s Word, and James’ Mirror

William James and the Four Selves

In Principles of Psychology, William James outlines four aspects of the self:

  • The material Self; (this is constituted by your physical body, clothes, property, and family)
  • The social Self; (this your perception of the recognition you get from your fellows)
  • The spiritual Self; (our estimation of ourselves as active players in reality)
  • The pure Ego. (over all sense of I-ness)

I’m interested in the first three.

We usually put tremendous effort into maintaining our material and social selves. Some maintain the body by seeking to perfect it and others through giving it as much pleasure as they can without killing it, but it is maintained. We do the same w/property, clothes, etc.

The social selves are selves we put a great deal of effort into maintaining. We won’t tell the truth to keep from being criticized, we don’t do what we perceive to be right, we’ll buy things we cannot afford, and so-on to maintain our various social selves.

And for both of these selves we use, rightly, a mirror. The mirror tells us of what’s wrong wrong, how to hide it, or how to fix it. Some of us avoid mirrors because we either fear the effort it would take to change and some of us obsess over the mirror to cover up what’s wrong so we don’t have to change. But all of that is to say that we use the mirror to clean our various selves.

Hiding from the Spiritual Self

But what of our spiritual self? The Bible makes a point rather early on about the embarrassment of an unclean spiritual self:

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. (Genesis 3:6-7 ESV)

Sometimes when we see what our real self is like, it gets the better of us and we hide. Just like the people who avoid the mirror, refuse to look at their bank statements, or won’t go into a messy room in their home. Other times, we go into hiding mode. We don’t just avoid the mirror. We, like Adam and Eve cover up! Imagine the examples earlier, except the person who looks in the mirror, buys baggier clothes. The woman who looks at the her bank statements, buys pricier items to look rich. Or the depressed father uses the messy room for “storage” instead of cleaning it. In other words, we hurt ourselves to maintain an illusory self. In Adam and Eve’s case, they hurt themselves by lying to God and hiding from him. When we do this to our spiritual self, we call it hypocrisy.

James’ Mirror and God’s Word

Another James, the brother of Jesus, wrote of this very issue, but proposed a solution:

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. (James 1:19-27 ESV)

Observe the connection between the mirror and the spiritual self. We can remain defiled, stained, filthy, and even deceive ourselves if we just walk away from the mirror! Similarly, our moral self might be in fairly shabby condition. In response we might avoid the mirror (in this case the Scriptures) to avoid seeing our true selves. Or we, like the Pharisees, use the mirror to hide our stains rather than clean them.

James’ solution is so simple it beggars belief! Like the person who notices a stain on their face in the mirror and washes it, so expose yourself to the word of God and practice it. We can theologize all we want about how justification, election, atonement, faith, and so-on fit into the equation, but James says to hear the word [which implies thoughtful understanding] and to do it.

 

 

 

 

Virtue Lists in the New Testament

Virtue Lists?

In the Bible there are several famous virtue lists. A virtue list is exactly what is sounds like, a list of positive traits in sequence as a description of the good life.

As a part of Scripture, the New Testament virtue lists are easy to overlook and if you misunderstand God’s grace, they can seem overly moralistic.

Here are some examples:

  1. 2 Peter 1:5-7
  2. Galatians 5:22-23
  3. James 3:17-18

Helpful Theses:

I have some theses that might help us interpret the virtue lists in the New Testament.

  1. The virtue lists are meant to be over-interpreted
    There is a time and a place for lengthy ethical argument, and in several places the New Testament engages in this (with respect to items of ritual usually in Hebrews, Romans, Galatians, and 1 Corinthians).But usually, in the New Testament, general ethical principles are usually assumed rather than explained. This makes sense because the people to whom the New Testament was written would have been taught Christian ethics at length in other settings. The letters were meant to convince the audiences of particular ideas or at least to revive consciousness amongst the churches of the love the apostles had for them. Because the lists are examples of rhetoric and not dialectic (in Aristotle’s parlance), they are almost certainly meant to be “hooked-in” to more direct teaching about Christian character which happened orally. In other words: the virtue lists are meant to be over-interpreted, insofar as a minimal possible meaning is not sufficient for lists appearing in such a context.
  1. There are limits to this over interpretation or, look for part of the “why” this virtue appeared around the place it appeared.
    The virtue lists are limited in meaning by the context in which they appear and the apparent milieu of the author/original audience of the letter. But that doesn’t mean that the individual words are limited to one technical meaning.
  1. The lists are hooks for hanging Biblical festoons
    In early Christianity, there was a great deal of oral tradition at work. Think about it. There were Old Testament quotations, Jesus stories, Jesus sayings, apostolic sayings, second temple rabbinic sayings and so-on. If it is true that this was the case (it is) and that the teaching efforts of early Christian leaders were as in-depth as Acts 20:7-9 indicates, then it would appear that all of the above Biblical background is intentionally being called to mind with virtue lists of this sort. We cannot always know, with certainty, which stories, Proverbs, or extended themes are being called to mind. But the more familiar we are with the Old Testament, the Deuterocanonical books (they’re in the Old Testament if you’re not Protestant), and the four gospels, then the more the lists can do their duty by calling to mind moral exemplars and failures in the Bible.
  1. Mediterranean moralists matter
    Similarly, the background of some words in these lists is best found in the works of Aristotle, Plato, Seneca, Cicero, Quintilian, and so-on. Such ancient moralists and rhetoricians often explained the virtues in exacting detail in terms of individual psychological states and social ramifications. While the apostles or their churches may not have been thinking explicitly in such terms, they were part of the culture that these writers were trying to describe and that these authors influenced.
  1. Such lists are hooks for contemporary application
    Finally, these lists are meant to be explained and recalled not only in terms of the fullness of their meaning, but in terms of their contemporary application. If somebody memorized the fruit of the Spirit, they would almost certainly have thought of that list in terms of the character of Jesus, the teachings of Jesus about love, the importance of being peaceable amongst brothers, and the cruciality of self-denial. But they also would have thought of the list in terms of how to behave today and tomorrow and how to plan ahead to have such character traits.

Example: Self-Control (Galatians 5:23)

  1. Paul encourages self-control to people who are confused about the nature of the Old Testament Law and its relationship to the gospel message. Ultimately, Paul says that the highest part of the Old Testament Law (love your neighbor) is a central part of gospel teaching and therefore Christians who do not obey the other Old Testament laws regarding food, ceremony, and civil jurisprudence still can be said to fulfill the law. So, Paul points out that one of the results of living in line with the gospel message (fruit of the Spirit) is self-control. Paul does this for two reasons:
    1. He really thinks that living in line with his teaching and with a group of believers will/does result in self-control.
    2. He wishes to remind them that self-control is worthy to be sought and obtained.
  2. In terms of the Old Testament and later traditions, self-control goes all the way back to the story of Cain and Abel, wherein the Lord tells Cain that he must master sin, lest it consume him. King David was both a paragon of self-control in his dealings with Saul and a failure in his dealings with Uriah and Bathsheba. Solomon, Ecclesiastes, and the later wisdom tradition all give encomiums to the self-controlled individual. Here is an example, “…greater is he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city. (Proverbs 16:23)”
  3. It goes without saying that a great deal of Stoic writing was about the importance of self-control, the only source was one’s mind and will and the only goals were personal contentment and city-state harmony. For the Christian, the ground and goal are God, but this does not mean that the Stoic reflections have nothing instructive within them. In fact, Aristotle makes self-control itself the central trait for becoming a functional person.
  4. Next, when thinking through all of these angles, start thinking through the contemporary ramifications of having no self-control (look up statistics on hours spent watching Television, calories eaten, pornography watched, and so-on). One might also think of which Old Testament persona he or she wishes to emulate in the face of these temptations. Similarly, one might imagine a community in which everybody exhibited a behavior and ask whether or not that community would be pleasing to God’s Spirit. We might even then begin to think about which circumstances to avoid in order to prevent temptation due to weak self-control and what exercises of self-denial, prayer, and confession might help us to increase in this most central of virtues.

Conclusion:

This post got a bit out of hand, but it could be helpful to somebody. I meant it to be practical, but I think I made it just academic enough to to be practical and just practical enough to be of no interest to academics.

Abraham’s Virtues

Yoram Hazony makes the case that in Genesis, Abraham is painted as a paradigmatically virtuous character because while not perfect, God has confidence that Abraham will “command his children and his house after him, and they will keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and right.”[1] His case is bolstered by Genesis 24:1, “And the Lord had blessed Abraham in all things.”

Hazony gives a list of Abrahams most apparent virtues (paraphrased below):

  1. He can be generous to strangers.
  2. He is troubled by injustice to the point of taking great risks to obstruct it (he even argues with God).
  3. He insists on only taking what is his and paying for what he gets.
  4. He is pious.
  5. He is concerned to safeguard his own interests and his family’s.

Without looking at Hazony’s list, I made my own based on the Abraham story. It nearly matches:

  1. Abraham’s willingness to enter covenants is both altruistic (bless the earth) and self-interested (make a great name, you’ll be blessed, etc)
  2. Abraham rejects human sacrifice (see Genesis 22).[2]
  3. Abraham believes in right and wrong as absolute categories and challenges God’s actions on their basis.
  4. Abraham doesn’t fear conflict, or rather, shows great courage in the face of battle (when it comes to the power of giant cities, he has a harder time, but in his defense fighting tribal kings is a different animal that opposing the might of emperors in their walled megacities).
  5. Abraham insists on hospitality.
  6. Abraham trusts God (Genesis 15:6).

Anyway, the problem with virtues is that they are mean between extremes and can easily devolve without circumspection. And in Abraham’s story, we see time and again where his self-interest conflicts with the well-being of his wife (letting her into a royal harem!) and his trust in God (having a child with Hagar). Hazony makes these exact observations as well.[3]

I think that for many, particularly in academic Biblical studies, we tend so much to focus on the apparent evil committed by this or that Biblical character that we can fundamentally miss the idea that the authors are trying to paint portraits of the good life. Because of this, they highlight the necessarily difficult task of making wise and just decisions in light of a hierarchy of goods which are often in conflict.

The idea that Abraham was virtuous despite nearly killing his son and that he was deeply concerned with his family’s riches and reputation is intellectually difficult. While I take the story of Isaac as a rejection of human sacrifice, most people I know think Abraham was really going to do it. With those to caveats, I still anybody could read back through the Abrahamic narrative (Genesis 12:1-24:1) asking, “what does this say about being happy or blessed in the Biblical sense?” I think the food for thought that the story provides will be well worth it.

References

[1] This is Hazony’s translation of Genesis 18:19. The Philosophy of the Hebrew Bible, 112.

[2] In my mind, Genesis 22 makes it clear that Abraham, never for a second, was going to submit to the demand to kill Isaac. The New Testament has readings of the story implying that perhaps God could raise Isaac from the dead if Abraham did it. That may be true, but in the story, Abraham tells Isaac that God would provide an offering for the sacrifice.

[3] 113

Deadlift Race

I’ve gotten out of shape. It’s my fault, I responded poorly to some potentially terrible news for my wife and daughter (my wife is healthy, my daughter was born, and though born premature she can already roll over and seems to have decent motor control, which is good as the concern was her nervous system health). Anyway, I had figured out what was wrong with the pregnancy about a month before the doctors did and after losing a bunch of muscle mass training for an adventure race I then just sat around depressed and over eating like a fat loser as I waited for a firm diagnosis…and then when my wife was in the hospital I became even more sedentary. It was an embarrassing moment. So, I need to get into shape.

The Dungeon

And then, I was on Twitter and saw that Ed Latimore‘s deadlift numbers were similar to my own current numbers (255 for 6). Now, his sport (boxing) doesn’t require a strong pull, but I suspect that any extra strength helps. So if we both spur one another to greater strength, we’ll both win.

I thought it would be fun to challenge him to a race (he wants to do 315 for 3 sets of 6). He accepted. We set a time frame, we want to see if we can make it by October. My thought is that as long as both of us hit the lift in October, on any date, then it’s a draw.

Mirriam Seddiq (a civil liberties lawyer) will also be racing to 135.

I haven’t come up with any sort of incentive system other than bragging rights.

Anyway, we’ll post videos of PRs, which I’ll link here, leading up to our final attempt. If anybody else wants in, join up.

I’ll make and edited version of this as a page at the top.

Sting and the unbearable lightness of sorrow

I was born in the 80s. This means that I listened to a lot of the best music of the previous century as a child. But as you grow older, some music acquires new meaning, either because of your experiences or because you just finally became conscious enough to listen to the lyrics. When I was in junior high, I realized how creepy or sad his Sting’s lyrics were. Without fail, every song is filled with shades of the dark triad traits or utter remorse at unrequited love.

But what is so weird about Sting is that his songs sound so upbeat, pleasant, and even energizing that it’s difficult to associate them with negative emotions or immoral pursuits! He can sing about wanting to die, being the king of pain, having an affair, stalking a woman who ignores him, or being a creepy teacher with the same exuberant tone!

That being said, two songs from the current decade reminded me of the Police’s Can’t Stand Losing You (below). The first is Somebody that I Used to Know by Gotye and Kimbra.

Here are the most obvious lyrics, though both songs are about the same experience:

Gotye Sting
You didn’t have to cut me off
Make out like it never happened
And that we were nothing
And I don’t even need your love
But you treat me like a stranger
And that feels so rough…
You didn’t have to stoop so low,
Have your friends collect your records and then change your number…
I see youve sent my letters back
And my lp records and theyre all scratched
I cant see the point in another day
When nobody listens to a word I say
You can call it lack of confidence
But to carry on living doesnt make no sense

If you listen to them both, they Gotye sounds deeply troubled and sorrowful about getting his records back. Sting sounds overjoyed even though they’ve been destroyed and he’s contemplating suicide!

The next is Chalk Outline by Three Days Grace:

Three Days Grace Guy Sting
You’ll be sorry baby, someday
When you reach across the bed
Where my body used to lay
You left me here like a chalk outline, etc

 

I guess this is our last goodbye
And you dont care, so I wont cry
But youll be sorry when Im dead
And all this guilt will be on your head
I guess youd call it suicide
But I’m too full to swallow my pride

The similarities are striking. Both are using the spectre (as it hasn’t occurred) of their impending suicide to make the other feel sorry/guilty. The chief difference is, again, the character in the Three Days Grace song sounds angry and sorrowful, perhaps willing to end his life and just letting her know it’s connected to her. It’s a crappy thing to do, but obviously a call to help.

Sting sounds cheerful and pleasant like Moriarty or the Joker. [spoiler] In the Sherlock television show and in one of my favorite Batman comics of the 80s the villains commit suicide specifically to cause trauma to the protagonist (legal, emotional, existential, it doesn’t matter).[/spoiler] I think Sting’s character in the song above really would do it out of a sadistic need for revenge and a narcissistic desire to be a permanent fixture in the thought space of the other. In other words, the character in many of Stings songs is a villain on the level of Satan, the Joker, or Hannibal Lecter. And it is the case that the dark triad traits correlate with short term sexual success and those same traits correlate very highly with sadism. Now, I find the Police and Sting’s songs catchy and fun. On the other hand either Sting or the character he plays as he writes his music (he has a background in literature) is a dark triad expert, as this biography linked indicates he was a bad teacher.

Wait, tremendous government spending on contraceptive education doesn’t decrease risky teenage behaviour?

In an article published in 2015, David Paton and Sourafel Girma discovered that:

Our results have several policy implications. Our finding that promotion of LARCs is unable to explain much if any of the recent reduction in teenage pregnancy somewhat undermines the heavy emphasis on these forms of birth control by policy makers in recent years. In contrast, our results provide justification for policy approaches which seek to tackle underage pregnancy by focusing on more general issues such as deprivation and opportunity, particularly in regard to education. Our finding that demographic change may have played a role in reducing teenage pregnancy rates casts an interesting perspective on the immigration debate. Although rapid immigration may be associated with short term problems relating to integration and social change, our results are consistent with recent waves of immigrants providing an impetus for improvements in long term measures of deprivation.

As individuals from more conservative cultures move to England and enforce their “oppressive” understanding of sex as something not engage in, there is less teenage pregnancy. In other words, people who buy less into the stupid ideals of sexual liberation enjoy many of the protections those very traditions were developed to supply. Dalrymple wrote about this here:

And so if family life was less than blissful, with all its inevitable little prohibitions, frustrations, and hypocrisies, they called for the destruction of the family as an institution. The destigmatisation of illegitimacy went hand in hand with easy divorce, the extension of marital rights to other forms of association between adults, and the removal of all the fiscal advantages of marriage. Marriage melted as snow in sunshine. The destruction of the family was, of course, an important component and consequence of sexual liberation, whose utopian programme was to have increased the stock of innocent sensual pleasure, not least among the liberators themselves. It resulted instead in widespread violence consequent upon sexual insecurity and in the mass neglect of children, as people became ever more egotistical in their search for momentary pleasure.

Dalrymple, Theodore. Life At The Bottom (Kindle Locations 394-400). Monday Books. Kindle Edition.

And again:

The only criterion governing the acceptability of sexual relations was the mutual consent of those entering upon them: no thought of duty to others (one’s own children, for example) was to get in the way of the fulfilment of desire. Sexual frustration that resulted from artificial social obligations and restrictions was the enemy, and hypocrisy – the inevitable consequence of holding people to any standard of conduct whatsoever – was the worst sin. That the heart wants contradictory, incompatible things; that social conventions arose to resolve some of the conflicts of our own impulses; that eternal frustration is an inescapable concomitant of civilisation, as Freud had observed – all these recalcitrant truths fell beneath the notice of the proponents of sexual liberation, dooming their revolution to ultimate failure. The failure hit the underclass hardest. Not for a moment did the sexual liberators stop to consider the effects upon the poor of the destruction of the strong family ties that alone made emergence from poverty possible for large numbers of people. They were concerned only with the petty dramas of their own lives and dissatisfactions. But by obstinately overlooking the most obvious features of reality, as did my 17-year-old patient who thought that men’s superior physical strength was a socially constructed sexist myth, their efforts contributed in no small part to the intractability of poverty in modern cities, despite vast increases in the general wealth: for the sexual revolution has turned the poor from a class into a caste, from which escape is barred so long as that revolution continues.

Dalrymple, Theodore. Life At The Bottom (Kindle Locations 1023-1035). Monday Books. Kindle Edition.

Essentially, what sex education classes tend to do is to demoralize sex by disassociating it from any form of contractual agreement with society and with one another to become parents and net economic gains for civilization. In other words, be fruitful and multiply is replaced with, “have sex for fun, here’s some tools to decrease the chances for consequences.” The academic types who support the breaking of parental policing of child behavior and the liberation of sexual behavior from morality don’t tend to think of disassociating other elements of human endeavor from obligation: employment, education, and publishing. It’s a weird reality, people who felt left out in their youth use the academy to give an acid bath to the foundations of a happy life for the majority. Sad!

Also read:

School-based interventions for preventing HIV, sexually transmitted infections, and pregnancy in adolescents

In which the authors conclude:

There is a continued need to provide health services that cater for the sexual and reproductive health needs of adolescents by providing a range of contraceptive choices and condoms and to include them in decision-making around services that can most fully meet their needs. Schools may be a good place in which to provide sexual and reproductive health services, but there is little evidence that curriculum-based educational programmes alone, as they are currently configured and without the provision of contraception and condoms, are effective in reducing risk behaviours for adolescents and improving their health outcomes. It is likely that the wider role of health service provision and availability, gender norms, sexual exploitation and intimate partner violence, poverty and inequality also need to be acknowledged and addressed and that programmes for girls and boys might need to be configured differently.

Of course, as is typical among researchers of this sort, there is nothing mentioned about parental involvement because, as far as I can tell, parental oversight is barely extant in the contemporary lifeworld of such researchers.

A Medievalist’s Take on Milo

Over at Fencing Bear at Prayer, Dr. Rachel Brown comments on Milo Yiannopoulos:

But people like Sarsour’s supporters are not willing to debate Milo with facts, reason, and logic, as the protestors who showed up to protest his talk this afternoon proved by blowing whistles and yelling throughout his remarks. Milo is not going to change anybody’s mind with his arguments if his audiences are already provoked.

So what does he think he is doing? I think I know. He is embodying a myth. More precisely, he is embodying the myth at the heart of Western civilization: the myth by which, as Professor Peterson puts it, articulated truth brings the world into being. He is embodying the Word.

Milo describes his campus talks not just as speaking, but as doing something. Other conservatives, he insists, think that they can change people’s minds by writing a column or publishing a book, but that isn’t doing anything. And yet, it would seem, all Milo does is talk. (Or, occasionally, sing.)

Why give the talks on college campuses? Partly, because Milo cares about education. And partly, because college campuses are the place where students are introduced to the arguments Milo is trying to expose in their most articulated form. But mainly because college campuses are the one place in our contemporary culture (other than places of worship) where people come together to speak in person….

Milo understands this [that one must risk the attacks of chaos to speak into it and make order]. Seriously, it is why he wears a cross. Every word that we say matters because every word we speak either moves us closer to the truth or entangles us further in lies. Truths about the basis of our civilization, whether in the divinity of the individual or in the submission of the individual to God. Truths about the proper relations between women and men. Truths about speech and its effect on the world. We can choose not to speak and become, as Professor Peterson puts it, miserable worms. Or we can choose to speak, take the consequences, and bring a better world into being.

Now, Milo represents himself as a moral degenerate along several domains, he particularly enjoys attempting to trigger the disgust response of the very conservatives on whose behalf he argues. Nevertheless, viewing him as intentionally appropriating the archetype of Christ as one who speaks the truth or an approximation of it at personal risk is an interesting interpretation from a university professor, since most professors appear to endorse the violent student responses to him. In other words, professors view Milo as so dangerous as to justify the destruction of campus property to prevent his presence (look up the Berkeley riots).

Of course, I doubt that in the case of anybody who knows about Milo there is any chance of moving your picture of him from negative to positive or positive to negative. He’s an example of Scot Adamstwo movies theory of reality. It’s as if we were watching the Dark Knight and one group of individuals was primed to think of it as a movie in which a clown, disfigured by a totalitarian vigilante is seeking revenge through a series of games meant to psychologically break with narcissistic and megalomaniacal figure. And the others just heard it was a sequel to Batman Begins.  The contrast in analyses of the film would be stark.

But an important question is this, can a non-Christian figure with admittedly degenerate moral tendencies be an archetype of Christ for the world? I don’t know. Paul would seem to say, “No.” (Romans 1:31) But is that final or is it just generally true? Or does it matter if you’re approving of the person for his sins or for his virtues? And is Milo virtuous, self-serving, both, just a disagreeable jester who loves trouble?