3.27.2008

Review- Stuff White People Like.com

It nailed me! It really did. My eyes ran through the entire list and again, and again I sighed and thought that’s me. That’s me. Dang. Me. Me. Me.

I felt exposed and typical—a feeling no one, me included, likes to experience. We think we are each special, and then here comes Mister Satirical Blogger to shoot our authenticity out of the water.

A couple weeks ago, I was referred to stuffwhitepeoplelike.com by a friend, a white friend, who thinks the site is endlessly witty. He checks it everyday for updates. It is witty, no doubt. This humorous new blog is ragingly popular. Rumors have been running for the past few days about a $350,000 deal that the author of the website was offered to make a book of the same name. The Canadian blogger behind the site says that the essence of the blog is a scientific study of white people and the things that they enjoy. Hardly. Though I’m not on the up-and-up about the scientific community and its breaking news, I feel confident that the idea of this blog being scientific is as satirical as the content.

The blog has almost one hundred entries so far. One gets churned out every other day or so. The topics are decently well-written and hip-- Whole Foods, Not Having a TV, Gondry films, and T-shirts are a few. Posts range from things white people like to wear, like shorts on the first warmish day after winter, to things they like to do, like raising multi-lingual children or going to law school, to objects and people groups that they value and covet, like Asians girls and vintage anything.

Right off the bat, after having read a handful of posts or having scanned the full list, one realizes that this blog does not “study” all white people, at all. It primarily exposes typical young, upper-middle-class white people, the kind of people who care about things like organic cotton clothing, or getting graduate degrees in the arts for no efficient reason, the kind of people who would read this blog… and check it everyday.

Is it racist? That is the easiest question to raise about SWPL. And the easiest answer? No.

The blog, though written with an utter disdain for the consumerism and pseudo-intellectualism exhibited by this group of people, which is revealed in the praise of the topic-of-the-day and the bit of faux-advice about how to talk to white people about said topic in order to get in good with them, reveals a culture rather than spreads hate. It is a semi-outside look into their current obsessions. It hints at what these things mean about white people, but never casts an absolute judgment on them. For all of its eye-rolling, and the eye-rolling it causes its greater community of readers, it is thought-provoking. It causes one to reconsider the lifestyle choices one has made, through the eyes of someone less conditioned to think that those were necessary and important choices. Is organic worth the extra money? Is the good execution of an elaborate dinner party a matter of life and death? Are lawyers really a necessity for everyone?

In the wake of the increase of the conversation about race, much has been speculated about SWPL.com and its contributions to the discussion, and its effect on the way race is perceived. Little will be added to those ideas in this review, suffice to say that putting white people at the brunt of a type of joke usually aimed at minorities is only as fulfilling as the level at which the content is taken as humor. Extending the meaning to overly-transcendent levels is ridiculous and a waste of time. The content is not hateful to white, nor hateful to other ethnicities by way of drawing a contrast. There is not anything inherently racist about the blog, nor is it intended to follow in Senator Obama’s recent footsteps of showing whites to be in similar shoes as other minorities—whether by revealing their immigration hardships, or putting them at the mercy of a punch line, a place almost every other people group has been relegated to at some time or another.

The bottom and most simple line is that it is entertaining to consider how alike most young, Caucasian people with money are, when what it appears that they most want, is to be unique. We all push forward through life with a deepening understanding of our own capability to reason and hope that all of the choices we make separate us from the unreasoned paths of life that we could have been on. Realizing that one’s life is, to put it plainly, common, and that one can easily be typified into a group is startling, but beneficial. After a long consideration of this blog and a few laughs, the man who benefits from it the most will be the reflective man, who realizes with humility that he cannot escape his culture, and that his struggle to do so only intertwines him with his culture more and more deeply. Maybe that is not so bad. It can’t be if it’s inevitable. We cannot separate ourselves from the world we are born into. We work with it, laugh about it, and get on with our living.

3.19.2008

How I Wish I Knew More

Sitting in a class at Incarnation, my church, tonight, I found myself falling suddenly and swiftly with the most obnoxious slurp into a quagmire of questions and the overwhelming feeling of utter ignorance. I despaired.

The class is for "Inquirer's". Many might wonder what business I have Inquiring into Christianity, having been a believer for quite sometime. However, it is imperative to remind myself in true humility that I know nothing. What I thought I knew is little.

So tonight we learned about the Church-- universal, historic, and Anglican. Father Olver gave a fascinating lecture and at one point, speaking about the Roman Catholic belief in the transubstantiation in the Eucharist, he reminded of how much of the Church's logic was birthed out of Aristotle's metaphysics.

I departed from listening for awhile as I considered Aristotle, and how much I enjoy musing over his metaphysics, especially about how he emphasizes that every being is constantly moving, rushing, racing toward its telos, its final end. This fits so dynamically with Christianity, though I was reluctant to admit it. During my philosophy work at Austin Community College, I learned to have a great skepticism for how the Church has grafted Aristotle into their theology, as if A wrote it for them. Anyway, it does fit dynamically in with the telos of the Church, at least as far as we understand it. Consider how we pass through life with hope only in the final celebration at the end, when we are united together with our Lord. Consider our obsession with knowing God's purpose for our lives, or what potential he has laid into our essence. There are so many connections, most that I am unaware of for lack of study and concentration.

While I was happily pondering away, I realized that maybe one reason that I think that the two make so much sense together is that I was taught to read the Bible by the Christian culture that I was raised in that draws much of its foundational logic from Aristotle, and even recently I was persuaded that much of the New Testament, especially Paul's contributions, were all influenced by Aristotelian logic.

God! I just get so flummoxed when I begin to see all of my understanding about everything that I think I know as cultural conditioning! This is when I felt the squelching of the quagmire and my soul cried out, longing to know more, and purely.

No sucker when it comes to quicksand, though, I feel like I have returned to the stable shores of confidence in my ability to know. I realize that there is no way that I, nor the Church, nor the writers of the letters and books of the Bible can get away from our culture. We cannot be unconditioned. We cannot live in vacuums and void and think purely about anything. We cannot simply turn out the lights and begin at a Cartesian square one in our consciousness. There is no clean slate.

I cannot help my conditioning, but it can help me-- to relate to others, to understand much of what I experience. It gives me the power and tools to reflect. It gives me analogies by which to learn. It gives me patterns to mimic.

Surely God has made this a part of how we know what we know. Surely understanding our cultural influences and resting in our subjective cultural conditioning is a benefit that allows us to actually know him more, even when it seems that this convoluted way of knowing keeps me from knowing him and knowing what I know, at all.

3.17.2008

gone!

--on Cloud 9 till further notice!

3.10.2008

So Far

Mondays are an entire apple orchard stretching before me to be picked.

They are full, with so much work to do. So many apples to pick, notes to take, lessons to teach, songs to sing, games to make up, and kids to corral! Ahhh! I go to class, work two jobs, cook dinner, and try to do some school work. When that lazy Monday morning dawnlight streams into Katie and I's sleepy little room, I am pretty apprehensive about the coming day. It looms so long and rush-rush! I have no time in-between class, Brain Train, and La Petite. I look at the apple orchard and even though all the beautiful fruit pulls down on the limbs so charmingly, looking so plump and fresh, the work ahead of me always feels daunting. Do I really have to grab all of the ripe ones? Could I cut corners and skip a few? No. No, not at all. We have a responsibility to every day that we are given to not squander it, to not cheat it, to not stain it.

I do not always feel that way, especially when my first, or even my second, alarm goes off. However, I feel really good when I am driving home after work. The sun is setting in gloomy indigo or a sultry crimson. The wind blows in through the open windows of my little car, and National Public Radio is gently telling me about what has gone on in the world that day. The day is over and I just think, "Sara. You did it. You made it through the day and you did a good job. Congratulations. You did it." It is not cheesy. It's happy, and I remind myself to smile, and I do, and then the day is good. It was good all day, and at this time, I remember it.

On Thursday I turn 21 years old. I can't believe it. I am proud of my life, so far.


Mitch and I last weekend when he surprised me at the Paideia Conference!

3.04.2008

COME ON, OBAMA!

YES WE CAN PULL THROUGH, TONIGHT!

3.02.2008

first poem of march

This is my birthday month! Here is my first making of the month:

Three-Two
for Annie

On grey-skied days
when birds sing subdued
and flowers lament
When I'm apart from all
and stones groan in the path
on days mothers retreat
on pillows in the dark
When children sigh
and bitter is sweet
On heart-heavy days
when I am the island
and spiders rest from weaving
When he looks down
and longs for his little girl
----to come home
----to pick up the phone
----to send word
When what comes up the road is dust
and the rain grounds us
On brooding days in March
when my heart trembles
and sings like the cello
----Solace finds me
and I am home.

video