Showing posts with label power. Show all posts
Showing posts with label power. Show all posts


Reflection on Authority, Power, Gods, Teaching, Mothers, Sons, and Acceptance

Before you read: In this teacher's journal I do a quick reflection on my old friend who once told me he tells his students: "You may call me sir, or God."
Greig Roselli stands next to a bust of Zeus at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Greek and Roman wing.
"You may call me sir, or God."
I had an older teacher friend who said he would tell his students, "You may call me sir, or God." I thought it was funny. I get the either/or. Either you respect me or you respect me. You get it? Disregarding the tautology, all this talk about divine authority makes me think about my mother. I have been prone to talking to my mother on the phone a lot lately. She likes it because it is uncharacteristic of our relationship. We have gotten closer over the years but it has been the last few years that our mother/son relationship has gone to new levels. We are both adults and even though I am still her son we parlay at the level of related adults. You hear me? It is gratifying to reach that level of intimacy with a parent. Not that I let it all hang out. Mind you. I am civil. But I am more honest and less afraid of reprisal. When you are a kid you are rather incompetent compared to your parents who lord it over you. It is the way of the familial structure. But as you grow older you either do three things. You drift away. You stay at the level of infantile / parent  — where mom and dad are always in charge — or you coalesce into something new and different. So. This is why I am more open — and — I think why I am more confident in general. It probably helped that I came out to my mom a few years ago. That helped to even the playing field. And that openness has made me more pliable to the cascading nature of power. It comes in waves — and like a wave — it plunges you into the deep with a secret; but, once the secret is revealed the power of the secret is lost and I am able to be made new again. Do you see the connection? So that is the way of mortals — neither animals or gods. Something in between. But you may call me sir, or God.


Why do people despise religion because it is, “man-made”?

In this post, I think about why religion is often disparaged because "it is man-made" — a claim often made by evangelicals who espouse their own brands of religion that typically vilifies mainstream faiths to bolster their own belief systems.
Saint Peter's Square, Vatican City image: bbc news
Why do people despise religion because it is “man-made”? Does this presuppose a form of worship that is not man-made? Doesn't it sound odd to you that someone would tout this idea that their religious practice is not religious at all but is protected from man-made shenanigans?
Conversation With a Fundamentalist Christian
I was in the Safeway the other day. Someone was talking about the Catholics next to the $1.00 jug of Sweeeeet Tea for sale.

“I pray my rosary.”

“The rosary is idolatry. It's man-made.”

“So, what isn't man-made?”

“But, it is religion. Not true Christianity.”

“Throw out that statue of Mary in your room; that's man-made and not of God.”
Is Christianity Man-made?
It seems that the crux of the conversation revolved around getting rid of 2000 years of Christian history because it is all man-made.

Don't people realize that religion, no matter what package it comes in: non-denominational, Pentecostal, Wiccan, Zeus, Anansi, Sikh, Tao it is all man's approach to the concept of God?
Religion Is More Pervasive Than You Think
As far as I know God has not torn apart the skies and told us how she thinks. So, even if you believe your holy writ is God's word it does not place you in a nice cocoon of impunity. You're man-made like the rest of us even if you pray to God in the comfort of your room and eschew organized religion like most people eschew post-dated dairy products.
Religion and Power
Religion is about power. By religion I mean a body of knowledge that supports belief in some form of theism. Religious people bristle at the claim that religion is about power. “Religion? Sure,” they say, “religion is about power. But I'm spiritual. Religion is man-made.”


Report from the Schoolyard: Joy to the World the Teacher's Dead

The Hidden Banter of the Schoolyard
    Inside the inner circle of school-talk lies an entire world closed off – for the most part – to the outside, adult world. In elementary school, we used to say that if we could find the person who invented school, “we’d kill ‘em.” At recess, huddled in our peer circles, after gossiping, the banter became indictment of school in all of its ugly designs. That’s what we thought. Partly because that is the way school children are supposed to think about school, at least amongst themselves. Adults were horrified when they caught us singing the maladaptation of the Christmas carol "Joy to the World."
Joy to the world!
The teacher's dead!
We bar-b-que'd her head.
What happened to her body?
We flushed it down the potty!
Heaven and nature sing!
Heaven and nature sing!
Magistricide Horrors
    Adults were horrified that we would fantasize about magistricide.
    Now that I am a teacher myself I understand the latent aggression towards teachers (and how it sometimes flare up and becomes less than latent).
    Students respond to their teachers as figures of authorities. As a student there is a low level of power; at every level there is someone in a higher position, a pecking order. Teachers represent the upper echelon of the order (even though we don't get paid much).

To fantasize about killing your teacher is a fantasy about control.    We sang the song because we wanted to hold onto some sense of control. In middle school, a child is at the mercy of bigger kids, janitors with mops, nasty lunch ladies, assistant principals, bullies, school food, bus drivers: there is seldom a moment of absolute freedom from authority.
    Except at recess. And that is where we sang our lilting dirge.
Joy to the world the teacher's dead.
    I don't think we meant that literally. If our teacher did, in fact die, I am sure we would have felt guilty. Just like the little kid who wishes privately his parents were dead — and they do in fact die — has to go through a lot of therapy afterward.
    Perhaps what underlies all of this is the education of power. Is growing up the education of using and balancing power?
    Even as middle-schoolers we understood power structures even though we had never picked up Michel Foucault's book Discipline and Punish.