Saturday, April 3, 2010

Thoughts on Mean Girls

The story of Phoebe Prince, the Massachussetts 15 year-old immigrant from Ireland who was bullied and harassed to the extent that she took her life is heart-breakingly sad. The girls who drove her to suicide exhibited a phenomenon common enough to have been given a name, "mean girls," apparently after a movie by that title which was also about girls who behave abominably.

There's been a lot of talk about the culpability of the school officials in Prince's death, but the question we might better ponder is why girls behave like this in the first place? What kind of human beings would hound a girl to her death and then continue to mock her on Facebook afterward? Are packs of girl's pushing other girls to total desperation now a normal part of an already fetid and effete culture? Why were these girls so cruel, why did they have so little empathy, so little compassion or kindness in their hearts?

Of course it's human nature to be cruel and resentful of outsiders. Compassion and acceptance of others have to be taught. These virtues have to be instilled in our children as a duty, and a culture that has abandoned the basis for moral duty, i.e. a Christian understanding of the world, is generally going to do a poor job of teaching that we have any such obligations to others.

Courtesy, forgiveness, selflessness, generosity and magnanimity in giving the benefit of the doubt all require a conviction that this is the proper way to conduct oneself, but if someone asks the question why one should comport oneself this way our post-Christian culture can give them no answer other than to say that it's nice to do so. In other words, we should be nice, we try to convince our children, because it's nice. That's going to fail to persuade a lot of young people, but it's the best we can do without invoking socially proscribed religious sanctions.

Consequently, our young people absorb their ethics from their cultural role models, and these are often, though not always, foul-mouthed, slutty, selfish, materialistic and petty. Many young girls learn at an early age that the most important thing in life is to look good and be popular and the best way to be popular is to be hard, loose, and hot. Failing that, the best way to consolidate one's status in the social hierarchy is to display power over another, and the best way to do that is by showing that you can hurt them. Young women weaned on this Darwinian view of what life's all about have little warmth in their hearts and little room for compassion in their souls.

As tragic and disgusting as the behavior of the culprits in Massachussetts was, no one should be surprised by it. Simply look at how too many of their role models behave, look at who and what the entertainment media incessantly promote, consider that many kids grow up with no real moral instruction and no foundation for whatever instruction they do get, and the wonder is that more girls aren't as cruel and repellent as the South Hadley High School nine.


Clark Pinnock

Those readers with an interest in theology will be saddened by this news. Thomas Oord writes at his blog that:

Clark Pinnock is suffering from Alzheimer's disease. Clark sent John Sanders and me the following note:

Dear Tom and John:

I want to inform you that I am now middle stage Alzheimer's. I will not be able to do my writing etc. I am 73 years now, and I've enjoyed my biblical three score and ten. I am not bitter. I have had a good life. I'll meet you over Jordan if not before.

You are free to make this news known.

With love,


Clark Pinnock was an extremely influential theologian during the latter half of the twentieth century, especially among Evangelicals. He was most well-known, and most controversial, as a champion of the view called Open Theism or Open Theology.

Oord pens a splendid summary of Pinnock's view on this issue on the same page that he features his email. Those interested in the subject will find Oord's treatment very helpful.


Killing the American Dream

The Weekly Standard discerns a distinct hostility in the Obama administration toward business, wealth and achievement:

This animus toward accomplishment is producing significant political consequences. The February issue of Trends Magazine included an article titled, "The War on Achievement and its Building Backlash."

"For 250 years, America has been known throughout the world as the place where anyone could work hard, scrape together a little money and invest in a great idea," the Trends writers observe. "But a creeping kind of governmental interference has seriously threatened this ideal," they argue. In other words, the Trends writers continue, "the very bedrock concept underlying what's typically called 'the American Dream' is threatened by these measures."

Some specific pillars in the anti-achievement platform appear popular when polled - like raising taxes on the wealthy. Yet that's because higher taxes on the wealthy is never linked with any costs for the middle class in these surveys. Once voters understand there is a point at which taxing the rich or other perks produces negative economic consequences, the poll numbers would shift dramatically. Just ask the cocktail waitress in Vegas how Obama's tax and bonus rhetoric affects her economic prospects.

Rather than protecting the middle class, Obama's policies threaten their long-term ambitions through piling up unprecedented levels of debt justified by scorekeeping gimmicks. The president and his staff argued the health bill would reduce the deficit over the first ten years. But that's only because it includes ten years of taxes and spending cuts but only six years of benefits. Has Bernie Madoff become the Democrats' bookkeeper?

There's more at the link. Thanks to Jason for passing it along.

Actually the situation is even more dire than this article suggests. Keep checking back for more articles on the coming day of fiscal reckoning with which our government has put us on a collison course. We have to wonder why they're doing this. What is their justification for burying our children under mountains of debt?

All we get from the President are assurances that we've "turned the corner" on the recession even as his policies virtually guarantee that any recovery is going to be very short-lived. It's all very troubling.