King James is awesome and we should all listen to him

In King James’ On the Divine Right of Kings, the topics of a king’s power and sovereignty are discussed. King James argues that because kings are “God’s lieutenants[,]” that they should not be questioned or opposed by their subjects. The text is not dissimilar to when one may hear a parent telling a child “because I said so,” in that James is arguing that he is handpicked by God to be leader, so his decisions cannot logically be questioned. King James was the monarch of Britain during what one could call the calm before the storm of the Enlightenment, which one can only assume had some sort of a forewarning as the monarchs of the world began to feel their omnipotence evaporating.

It is this time period (the text was written in 1609), in which the grip of the church and its fear-tactics began to loosen on the world. Towards the tail-end of the Reformation, one can certainly understand why the King (whose only authority comes from his claims of divine right) would want to flex his God-muscle. Britain itself had been greatly affected by this shift in power, as they had started their own church roughly three and a half scores (note to Mrs. Whitley- going for it) prior to James’ penning of this document. It is a legitimate point that the people of England might not have been feeling too confident in the sovereignty of God after their leader had decided he disliked the religion, as once one begins changing their mind on religion it is hard to tie oneself down again. The uprooting of the church may have led people to take the time to actually think about if all (or any) of what they had been taught from birth was true, and King James was more than happy to remind them that God was real, all-powerful, and his best friend:

“God hath power to create or destrov make or unmake at his pleasure, to give life or send death, to judge all and to be judged nor accountable to none; to raise low things and to make high things low at his pleasure, and to God are both souls and body due. And the like power have kings: they make and unmake their subjects, thev have power of raising and casting down, of life and of death, judges over all their subjects and in all causes and yet accountable to none but God only. . . .”

So with the thought in mind that the King is getting antsy, the people are getting smarter, and information is being freely spread for the first time in history, what is there to learn? The first is that humans are all relatively aware of the fact that no human is “better” or “more-divine” than any other human, and because of this the first-world (and even most other countries) do not have a single person in power. People now understand the faults of a one-wing leadership body. Major corporations have boards that vote on items, governments have congresses/parliaments, school systems have school boards. The idea of a singularity in power is now realized as suboptimal, and King James was coming to that realization in 1609, when decided to try and put a stop to it. In order to win the proverbial space race with information, he tried to publish an easy-to-read bible to accompany his thoughts on the power of the monarch.  King James’s arguments are absurd because they are not arguments based in fact. His argument is that God will be angry if the people question his power, which has no response because it is not an argument. One can point to nearly any event and spin it to be God doing whatever it is they want God to be doing. God’s influence is not something that can be argued, because when it is the proprietor of the argument can just say that only God understands his own ways. If King James were to point to his higher IQ, and other objective neurological traits that make him a better leader than anyone else (even though he could/should still be questioned), then perhaps he would have an argument. He would have to back it up with some studies that suggest whatever traits he possessed definitively lead to a better leader, but it is unlikely that he would be able to do that. So I will ask the king myself: Why is it that the supreme leader and knower of all things chose you as the king?

“[Y]ou know I will never give a plausible answer; for it is an undutiful part in subjects to press their king, wherein they know beforehand he will refuse them.”

Oh, okay. My bad.

The Wave at baseball games needs to stop

The Wave is a horrible tradition that has spread throughout baseball stadiums in the US, and it needs to stop. There is nothing more annoying than when you are sitting at a baseball game, and then all of a sudden every single fan sitting around you decides to stand up and start screaming with their hands in the air.

When you are at a baseball game, you are there to enjoy the game of baseball. The game of baseball is a very intricate one that includes roughly 4-5 moments per game that one can not miss. The wave makes it possible for one to miss a moment that they do not want to miss, or else it would ruin the enjoyment of the sport one is there to watch.

One may say that is it simply fun tradition, and that ultimately baseball is just a form of entertainment. My rebuttal to that is while baseball is entertainment, standing up and screaming is not something you do at random during a baseball game. There are other appropriate settings in which one can do that, without taking away from the enjoyment of the sport by others.

The wave is pointless, as it is simply just a bunch of people standing up and sitting down in order, which really is not good enough for me to risk missing a can’t-miss play from the sport I love.

Who (or what?) is at fault in Macbeth?

The issue of fault is always an interesting one, as one can ultimately blame a wide assortment of people for something if they dig deep enough. How can anything bad be a human’s fault when God created humans? Who created God? Isn’t anything and everything God’s fault?

In the story of Macbeth, the issue of fault is made extremely unclear by murky circumstances surrounding his motivation to become power-hungry. The argument of fate vs. free will (which is ultimately what this is) is on that comes with many misconceptions. Free will is chaos theory- everything in the universe is random, and we can try and project what will happen, but that will always come with a degree of uncertainty. Nothing has a purpose, nothing affects anything else, and everything is random when you break it down far enough.

Fate is a more interesting angle. Fate would say that one could predict most of what will happen, but to be able to do that one would have to be some sort of an all-knowing being outside of the universe. The idea being that people will follow certain patterns throughout life that will make them quite predictable, and that man is preconditioned to behave in a certain way in certain situations.

I would call Macbeth a victim of fate, as he at no point did anything “wrong.” Told by three mysterious witches that he would become the kind, Macbeth is uneasy with this idea at first, as he is a normal person that is simply responding like anyone would to that given situation. As events begin to unfold that make it clear it will not be a clean ascent to king, Macbeth becomes conflicted. As a conscious human being, he is wary at the thought of killing other people for his own personal gain. It is his intrinsic need to become more powerful, held by most men, that ultimately causes him to run amok with greed and power. Walter White started out simply trying to provide for his family, but ultimately that oh-so-predictable greed kicked in, and the next thing we knew, Ozymandias’ statue had crumbled.

Macbeth, Walter White, Ozymandias, and any other great man who ultimately fell victim to their own greed are not people who made poor choices. They are someone who was placed in a situation where their most basic animal-like instincts kicked in, and because we are simply well-evolved animals, they took over.

Why do we read old, stupid English literature?

“Why do we read Beowulf?” Mrs. Whitley asks towards the end of class one day. I hadn’t really been paying much attention, and I wasn’t going to write the blog post that night because I was instead going to put it off until the last possible day I could do it (now!). I have mulled that question over in my head for a good while now since she initially posed it, and I’m still not exactly sure what my answer is.

The best answer I can come up with is this: it creates an understanding of literature and how it has progressed throughout history. Instead of failing to understand the significance of certain literature in today’s world, we are able to process it and understand where it fits in the historical spectrum. It has helped us to understand that the time period, living conditions, and other human factors all play a heavy role in the literature that is published and read among the masses. People read Beowulf because it reminded them of what was important at the time, people read the Canterbury Tales because it was important at the time. We can read literature now and understand the significance of it, and do so without missing the larger point of whatever it may be that we just read.

We can understand why science fiction has boomed in recent years, because we understand that within the context of society it makes perfect sense. Literature is always a great view into the more casual aspects of any given time period, and an excellent indicator of what was important to those who lived at that time. Whether it be religion, sex, money, or technology, the literature of a day tells what was important to the people.

So in that sense, it’s not that it is particularly important to understand the specific time periods and the literature that accompanied them, as much as it is to understand the larger concept. It is important to understand that the downturn of the economy is not only going to affect us financially, but that we will also see a shift in literature. The incompetence of our government will be reflected not only in public opinion, but literature as well. Some of the most popular shows on TV look back to much better times in our country’s history (Mad Men to the 60s, Boardwalk Empire to the Roaring Twenties), because no one wants to look at America today. Much like how people only wanted to talk about God, and how great he was at everything back in the day.

The Pledge, why do we say it?

We had quite the lengthy debate in class on this, so I will just rehash that quickly.

Anti-pledge people argument(s):

1.) It is an infringement on your freedom of religion.

2.) It doesn’t even really represent American values.

3.) Even if it’s a sign of patriotism, how patriotic is it to stand up and say the pledge?

Pro-pledge argument(s):

1.) The people who are bringing this up in court are using their kids to push their own agenda

2.) Not mentioning God is an infringement on freedom of religion

I did my best to mention the pro-pledge arguments, because I can’t say that there were actually any coherent responses from that side. They simply resorted to personal attacks at those who were arguing them, spewing off one-liners about patriotism and things of that sort. I believe one person even said that there are soldiers who were fighting in wars in the United States army who lost their legs and can’t stand for the pledge, therefore we should.

The first pro argument is basically a non-response, and therefore it is nearly impossible to respond to. It does not matter where the argument is sourced from, as well as it is thought-out and logical, which it is. Personal attacks tend to be a sign of someone who realizes they are losing in an argument, as logos is the laziest form of persuasion.

The second pro argument is at least a coherent response, which means I can at least respond to that one. I would argue that the second point actually works in favor of the anti-pledge group, as it is correct in saying that removing God from the pledge could be an infringement on freedom of religion, which is why the pledge should not be said at all. If it can’t be said without infringing on freedom of religion, then it is a clear contradiction to the same American values it claims to be a symbol for. The pledge is just something we do every day because it is something we have been told is important to do since a young age. It is not a deep-rooted American tradition, as the pledge has only been around for roughly a hundred years.

And if you think that the pledge has even been done the same for that long, let me show you the old pledge salute, pre-hand over heart…


WIC Benefits and the Shutdown

In most situations, people would tend to pick the option where the pregnant women and their children get proper nutrition. The government shutdown created a dilemma in regard to the Women, Infants, and Children benefits, as the funding for their program was cut due to lack of funds stemming from the shutdown.

The issue when it comes to discussing the wisdom, or logic, of the shutdown, is that there really was not much of either behind it. It was caused by an entire branch of our government failing to do their jobs. If a teacher decided that they weren’t going to teach class anymore because they disagreed with common core standards, then they would be fired for not cooperating. If a congressman decides not to legislate because they disagree with the Affordable Care Act, then they are either a super-villain or a hero, depending on which side the coin landed on for a given individual. The shutdown is not something that was intended to happen by anyone involved, so giving thought to the cost and benefit of it is likely overkill.

As far as the impact on our economy goes, it is hard to see how this could help to improve the situation. People not having spending money means that they will be relying on aid from programs (especially government ones), and one does not have to be an economist to understand the blow that is to the United States’ economy. While this is not the intended topic, people miss the fact that the Affordable Care Act, in theory, will improve the United States economically in the long run. People will have more spending money to invest back into the economy, which could in turn help to stimulate it. It functions as a vicious cycle. Poor people have to eat bad food (the cheapest food is the worst for you!), bad food makes you sick, and if you’re sick and poor then there was not an abundance of aid pre-Affordable Care Act to help you pay for those bills.

The point here being- When you you are forcing people to pay for needs, they can not invest their money into wants. People need to be able to purchase wants in order for our economy to flourish, and the lack of funding for the WIC is going to cause people to have to spend more money on needs.