Monthly Archives: June 2014

How is Getting a Tattoo Like Facebook?

by admin

Maybe I am still on the delerious side from this recent flu/strep/something or other that took me down like a cowboy in a calf roping competition.

Anchors: not just for sailors anymore!

But consider this: the growing popularity of tattoos.  Why?  Tattoos are external.  Tattoos are often art, though some use them to commemorate people or events.  But even commemorations need to be artistic at worst, creative and beautiful preferably.  It has been striking me more and more as I look around my community and see more and more ink.  I’ll be honest: I am surprised when I don’t see a tattoo on someone now.

I personally don’t know if I’ll ever get a tattoo, for a number of reasons.

  1. I have never seen an image of anything I liked so much I wanted it on permanent display on my body.
  2. The whole trend seems to smack of high school: “I want to demonstrate my uniqueness… by doing what everyone else is doing!”
  3. I am not convinced that tattoos will look good at all as people age.
  4. There is something in the Bible’s Old Testament about not marking up your skin.  Yeah, it’s in the Levitical Law so it not perfectly clear that it would apply to Christians today, but then there is the whole “God gave you the body you have: who are you to try improving on it?” argument too.

But what occurred to me the other day was a wholly new thought for me.  Tattoos represent our culture’s growing emphasis on the external.  External beauty.  Yes, I said growing.  I know for years, probably decades people have tried to change that, telling people they are beautiful just the way they are, beauty is in your heart, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and a million other platitudes, but those that say those things are losing.  External beauty is still getting more and more weight and taking up more and more of people’s lives and money.

Of course, part of the problem is Hollywood the entertainment industry media who are convinced that the news, movies, and TV shows won’t sell unless attractive actors are used – even as extras.  This means that everyone’s entertainment choices continually reinforce our own imperfections to measure up to the normal “beautiful” people.  We continue to see ourselves as ugly and invest more and more money to fix that.  Tattoos are a piece of that.

Tattoos cross gender lines.  Yes, some metrosexuals and the new spornosexuals  may get into some low level makeup, but the vast majority of makeup users are still women.  Women work to achieve fitness and “lose fat” but men generally work to build muscle – women (and may I presume gay men) don’t find ultramarathoners attractive.  Personal attractiveness is key – do everything you can to look perfect.   Tattoos are a part of that – now equally popular on both genders.  They can not only bring attention to your skin, get people looking at you, but they also can tell your story.  And as an added bonus, for some they may be used as a distraction or concealer for something they don’t like about themselves.

But what do tattoos really do?  Youtubers Rhett and Link wrote a song about Facebook… it’s a little dated as Facebook has evolved substantially in the last 3 or 4 years, but think about these lyrics:

“If the internet crashed all across the land, or my Facebook account was deleted by the man I’d carry around a picture of my face and a summary of me typed out on a page…”

When I ask people why they have tattoos, they talk about how the tattoos speak about themselves, their passions, their feelings, their children, their loves, their losses.  their lives.  What are their tattoos then?  A summary of themselves typed out on their skin.

Which leads us to Facebook.  I’ve been on Facebook for a long time.  In the last few years I have been questioning my use of it more and more, and making this last connection may be enough to put me over the edge and take down my profile.  Facebook is completely about the external.  The whole internet is really about the external.  If you really write about something you feel passionate about, you guarantee someone on the internet thinks you are wrong and you are going to get blasted about it.  Which has led to the place where we are at now where you have to “like” or “share” every single thing to prove you’re “good”.

But both of these things, I have contended, are symptoms of the problem of superficiality.  And I don’t know how to stop these trends.  I know I don’t want to fall prey to them.  So add that reason to my list of why I am one of only a handful of people I know who don’t have a tattoo.  And add that to my list of why I am seriously considering stepping back from Facebook.


The Only Answer To Accusations of Hatred and Fear

by admin

I’ve written several blogs in the last few months, but they sit in my drafts, not quite making me happy enough to post.  Like that’s their job.

Onwards.  Today I have been thinking about love.  For years, I have struggled with too much emotional investment in political discussion.  I’ve allowed myself to get very upset when people have voiced opinions that I don’t just agree with, but are on their face nonsensical.  Full disclosure: I consider myself a rationalist, but I concede that I may not be right about everything.  There is a difference between disagreeing and being wrong.  Most times, disagreement is fine.  But when someone holds an opinion based on how they feel, and not on reason, I have a huge problem with that.

Anyways.

That wasn’t what I wanted to talk about.  What I wanted to talk about is that despite that emotional investment, the world still seems bent on sliding into irrationality and dysfunction.  Once again, the tides of public discourse seem to be turning judgmental and stereotypical.  The Twitter-like process of reducing everything to soundbites and 140 characters means little is given deep consideration by anyone.  Rarely do people think through the consequences of their thoughts, feelings, and actions anymore.  The results are predictable.  And the worse for us all.

My instinct is to ask the question, how to fight this rising tide of ignorance and, well, hatred?  And the answer was in Scripture all along.  Love.

There is no argument that will convince the BC Law Association that Christians are just as capable as anyone else in society in representing the legal profession, in fairly and competently working for their clients, as well as any atheist or any Muslim or any Buddhist.  There is no argument that will convince voters that a Christian candidate for political office will give as much consideration to constituents of other faiths as they would their own.  There is no argument that will convince the media that people who believe the Bible are not secretly waiting for their chance to seize the reins of power and herd everyone else of unlike mind into concentration camps.  The very irrational belief Christians are accused of having is held by those who hate them as well – regardless of proof to the contrary, people will fear what they do not know and hate what they fear.

There is only one answer that will be heard: love.  If we want to represent Christ fairly, we must simply love.  We must do good.  Not just when it’s convenient.  And not just to each other – which is something Christians all too easily slip into.  We must love our neighbours – and unless we live in communes, our neighbours are of every creed, race, gender, orientation, colour, and TV show preference.  We must love them so ridiculously, so disarmingly, that they look at us funny.  We must put that question mark in their mind: why are they being so nice to me?  We must keep it up, keep on, stay focused, until finally they give up and scream at us: “WHY ARE YOU SO KIND?”

And then… only then will they hear the truth about why.

1 Peter 3:15


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