What is interesting about Pantsuit Nation is the collective pastoral care taking place there. It brings the empowering practices of the support group ethos to a mass scale. It brings consolation, and builds courage.
It is not a raging against the dying of the night. And it will be all the more effective for it.
The right question isn’t “Are you outraged yet?” The correct question is “Are you afraid yet?”
‘Fascist ideology’ is not taken seriously even by its promoters; its status is purely instrumental, and ultimately relies on coercion.
—Zizek in the intro to Mapping Ideology in 1994
It’s uninteresting to me whether Trump or Bannon or Conway believe their rather unveiled dog whistles of the past few months.
But I am even less interested in liberal denunciations of their rhetoric, especially the scoldy schoolmarm variety. Whether Trump is a racist or sexist or any other -ist is completely beside the point. Shaming him for his rhetoric on Facebook means nothing.
What actually matters is the actual exercise of actual power to actually defeat him and throw him out of power, or else to render him ineffective while he retains the office. Facebook posts scolding him do nothing. It seems today only the good people of Standing Rock have what it takes to exercise power, however you view their protest’s cause.
Did you take a water cannon to the face in freezing weather today?
To go back to the Zizek quote, if it comes to Trump exercising coercive power, do you think scolding him on Facebook will change his mind? Do you think if you cry “Shame!” online that Bannon will listen? Do you think you can call them to repentance from your small corner of the web?
From here on out, I’ll be unfollowing people who shout “Shame!” into the wind and then marvel that the weather does not change. To use a biblical term, it is ‘hebel’—a meaningless chasing after the wind.
Tell me what you’re doing to defeat the darkness, or else just shut the hell up. The din is going to wake the cat, and he’s worked harder today at defeating the darkness than you have with your Facebook posts.
I’m thinking of writing a series of posts on some off the beaten path practices I have. I’ve decided to give myself credit for them being “spiritual,” whether they are or not. So there.
What do I have in mind? Here’s a starter list:
- Speaking Your Mind Behind Closed Doors
- Assuming Best Intentions
- Reading Something Challenging
- Not Thinking in a Straight Line
- Blazing a Trail Between the Center and the Margins
What’s so off the beaten path about these? Let’s just say they aren’t traditional Christian practices, like the Ignatian Exercises, lectio divina, or even speaking in tongues. But still, I’m giving myself credit for them.
Why should these count? Foucault had a little thing going just before he died on “technologies of the self.” Self-tech, or “selfcraft” as I prefer, is something you do (more or less) regularly to change who you are.
Engaging in selfcraft works. The trick is picking selfcraft that helps you become who you need to become at this point in your life. Don’t pick up some selfcraft just because someone thinks you’re supposed to. If it’s not shaping you in the way you need to be shaped, why are you doing it?
I’m not going to say that you should pick up the practices I find helpful. You can, if you like. But the spiritual practices I used when I was younger don’t work for me anymore. I’m giving myself credit for what works now. Even if there aren’t books about them on seminary library bookshelves.
More later. What off the beaten path spiritual practices are you going to give yourself credit for?
One of my part-time jobs in high school was working for a Christian book and office supply store (yes, it was both), so this post about the unreal safety of Christian books brought a smile to my face. Though he doesn’t mention the End Times shelf at the Christian bookstore, which might be the most dangerous place on earth this side of the pages of World War Z.
I still have fond memories of talking faith, books and Bible with the bookstore staff. I’m still grateful for the advice the old, burned out former Baptist preacher who ran the Bible department gave me. He said, “Son, if you’re gonna go into the ministry, you need to find yourself a hobby like woodworking, something where you finish things. Because in the ministry, you never finish anything.”
And I’ve almost finished leveling up my now level 46 dark/cold heroic corruptor in City of Heroes to level 50. I don’t think that’s quite what he had in mind, but it doesn’t have to be woodworking to count, right?