Two Pieces of Current Opinion From the Wall Street Journal
Rev. Steve Schlissel - November 20, 2018
Two articles in the Wall Street Journal (November 17-18, 2018) should cause considerable concern in people who assess the cost/benefit relationship of technology—that is, if they do so with full allowance for what the Bible and all human history say about man’s propensities. Together, these articles might hold insight into important questions, such as, what is the connection between our cultural moral decline and Hollywood? Do movies reflect or propel radical cultural changes, like those we’ve witnessed since the floodgates opened in the 60s? The two essays will also remind Calvinists of the worthlessness of weighing the directions technological advances are likely to take if the math applied to “the facts” has first been ripped from its connection to the humans feeding and reading the data. The calculator might be objective, but it is operated by someone whose heart—take God’s word for it—is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.
My purpose in this brief piece is really just to point. I’ll tell; you go read and figure. The first piece appears in the weekend Exchange section under the heading, Beauty and the Backlash. A careful reading of the subtitle, however, gives away the complete substance of the article. It does so in its choice of words. We are advised that we’ll be reading a report about a “debate at Disney” which “asks: How do you keep the princess franchise relevant without alienating fans of the classic characters?”
The word which popped off the page is, of course, “relevant.” The substance of more than one-and-a-half full tabloid pages of text, charts and pics, was revealed to discerning readers by that single word. As a delegate to the widest (some call it “highest,” but that’s inaccurate) assembly of a once-faithful Christian denomination, I was thrust into tooth and claw debates, the resolutions of which would determine the principles and policies to govern future denominational activities and programs.
That experience made me pretty sensitive to the appearance of that word if used to describe one side in a debate. In such circumstances, you’ll almost certainly find first-resort labels like “liberal” and “conservative” useful and ready for duty. Deciding which of the dueling parties deserves which name (but not necessarily which one deserves blame) does not require a Sherlock.
Consider: The hard work in reporting about what was at stake in the Disney debate—and which side had the reporter’s sympathy—had been revealed upfront. Really. Before we got to the text, the debate, the parties, and the weight we’d find assigned to each, had already been identified under the chosen code words: classic and relevant.
The strength of the word relevant in such debates is multi-fold. First, it appeals to what might safely be presupposed to be a serious concern of anyone interested in the well-being of the institution whose policies were up for revision. No one would want to be heard as if calling for the institution’s irrelevance! But second, there is an assumption that what makes or keeps an entity “relevant” is morally neutral, or at most¸ deals with a matter which, if popular, must be morally okay. Third, if there exists a moral compass external to the company and to the people who are appealed to as the standard of relevance, then appealing to relevance is a gigantic begging of the question most in need of an answer. Truth is, this tactic is worse still, for it relocates the focal point of discussion away from an objective “right” and onto whatever a significant demographic may find appealing at any given moment. Still worse—I should say, worst of all—policy is then going to be determined on an assumption that it is such a positive good (not merely a profitable choice, at least short-term) to be relevant that no consideration need be given to the social consequences likely to pile up or spread out as a result of the company’s uncritically buying into an unexamined trend.
When, early in the article, we are told that the debate is being framed as a choice between competing notions of “femininity,” you’d have to have a block of cement on your shoulders if you failed to anticipate where this would lead. And 22 paragraphs later, it did: Disney, we are told, faces an imminent test: “A sequel to ‘Frozen’ is slated for next year, and a small group of fans have called for a lesbian love interest for Elsa.” Well, if that’s a test, how can Disney prepare if it if polling and sampling are the only elements forming its moral backbone? If it can for a moment be assumed that lesbianism is not a choice most parents wish to have presented to their daughters as if an option every bit as right as “classic” marriage, what then? Does Disney take what it then claims is “the high road,” and embrace it anyway? Now who cares about the company? Apparently, there are things for which a company might indeed sacrifice itself. But isn’t any such thing a higher principle, i.e., something transcendent, something bigger than the company or any segment of its public. If it comes to that, what relevance has relevance? But you see, the entire matter has been framed to lead to the answer we all know has been predetermined, without opening a Bible.
One more word about method: the article paves the way for Disney’s damnable downstream choice among “competing notions of femininity” by restricting discussion of current application to indifferent matters of no weight either way (e.g., on-screen princesses shown in pajamas at princess pajama parties instead of in royal gowns throughout the film, wearing eyeglasses, etc.). The impression is permitted (encouraged) to group the heroes of relevance as simply grown up and the “classic” adherents as jerks.
But, before leaving this portion, let me remind you that homosexuals may now enter into fraudulent marriages in all 50 states, not because the people willed it. In fact, prior to the Supreme Court’s abominable, damnable contemptuous decision against God Almighty and all history and sanity, the people in state after state after state rejected the redefinition of marriage. Even the lunatics of California said NO! But it should be noted that Disney is preparing itself to play the same role as the Supremes. They rode a trend—instead of bucking it—and consequently propelled it forward, the immediate consequences of which included wider acceptance of the perversion, wider acceptance of a baseless theory of genetic predeterminism, as well as wide acceptance of false notions regarding the prevalence of homosexuality: all sound estimates demonstrate with certainty that it is less than 5% of the population; Supreme-influenced ignoramuses figure it’s as much as 25%. Surely Disney can help the Supremes move society to achieve the greater vision—and die at the hand of the Lord. Has anyone noticed that self-determined gender arose immediately and directly from the death wish of the Supremes? What is relevant now is being a complete idiot, out of touch with reality entirely.
Now, speaking of genetics, a quick glance at the second weekend piece treats of psychological applications of data mined and set in motion as a result of deepening knowledge of DNA and from genetics studies generally. “With polygenic scores, we can predict psychological traits from inherited differences in DNA…” The article is preparing readers to accept psychological interventions resulting from improved correlation between the study of individuals’ DNA and their future traits, characteristics, accomplishments and performance. Along the way we are given perfectly empty assurances that we have no need to worry about anything! For example: “No specific policy implications necessarily follow from finding that inherited DNA differences are by far the most important source of individual differences in school achievement and that (which) schools (are attended) make so little difference.”
Uh-huh. And that will always be the case. Right? Wanna buy a bridge?
Before the essay ends, the author shows how much he should be trusted by completely and flagrantly contradicting himself. He tells of the discovery that his DNA showed he would be tubby. He says knowing that at birth would have offered the “possibility of early intervention.” In fact, he soon concludes that learning of his “high polygenic risk for obesity” did not mean needing to resign himself to blubber. “To the contrary, I find it motivating to know that I am in a lifelong battle of the bulge.” Yet the very next paragraph finds him pleading for tolerance “for others and for ourselves” on this basis: “Rather than blaming people for being overweight, we should recognize and respect the huge impact of genetics on individual differences.” So, this is all good, right? Now we can ready ourselves for a lifelong battle we can at least be certain to lose. Not judging self or others for conditions bearing statistical connection to our genes sounds a lot more like resignation and acceptance of, well, evil, than it is a reason to shout “Excelsior!”
These two pieces provided two more reasons to be miserable, if their joined forecast of the days ahead are even likely, let alone done deals. But then again, perhaps the vision of both authors is controlled by a stupid gene, through no fault of their own, of course. Now that it’s mentioned, I think it’s sound. The Holy Bible does teach, after all, that the beginning of wisdom is the fear of the LORD.” And if there was one thing absent from both pieces, the fear of the Lord was it.
Boy, I don’t think Calvin ever entertained the notion of election through DNA. But what did he know?