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Saturday, October 5, 2019

Religious Violence as Hypocritical

In the movie, Boy Erased (2018), the director of a church’s conversion therapy program invites the immediate family members of one gay boy to hit him with a bible to drive out the underlying demon. The boy subsequently commits suicide. Lest this notion of using violence to remove a sin in the twenty-first century is assumed to lie in the realm of fiction, John Smyth, an Anglican, was accused in 2017 “of subjecting at least 22 teenage boys to savage beatings in his garden shed” at “an elite Christian camp for boys. His intent was “purging them of perceived sins such as masturbation and pride”[1] A Christian charity group oversaw the camp, yet I contend that the camp was not Christian.

The full essay is at "The Anti-Christian."



[1] Ceylon Yoginsu, “Doubt Cast on When the Archbishop Knew of Abuse,” The New York Times, October 15, 2017.

Goodwill Dismisses a Solid Societal Norm: A Mentality beyond Unethical Conduct

When managers of a business or non-profit interact with a societal norm by openly rejecting any obligation to act in accord with the norm, the reaction from stakeholders can be utter disbelief. The refusal to act in accordance with the norm as it impacts the organization can be beyond bad management and even unethical conduct. The refusal to acknowledge a societal norm even as its impact on the business and stakeholders has been arranged by the business is beyond, though it can include, unethical conduct. Norms are not in themselves ethical, for as David Hume wrote, you can’t get an ought from an is; rational justification by ethical principles must be added before we can get to, “You ought to do X” from “X is the practice.” Yet ethical principles can be in norms, in which case we can say, “You ought to act in accordance with the norm because it is ethical.” In some cases, the norm-business relationship (i.e., Business and Society) can be more salient than an ethical principle in the norm itself. A managerial practice at Goodwill, a non-profit retailer based on donations for the poor, serves as a case in point.



When Retail Marketing Goes Too Far

Marketing by retailers can go too far; this claim should be no surprise. That this has been so even when the marketing comes at the expense of existing customers may be less well-known and thus be in need of some elaboration. The underlying culprit, I submit, is psychological: difficulty with keeping within even societal and even self-imposed constraints. Put simply, the difficulty is with limits. The mentality is thus at the child-stage of development.

The full essay is at "When Retail Overreaches."

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Boy Erased

The film, Boy Erased (2018), is a drama that deals in a serious  way with the question of whether homosexuality is a choice, and thus whether conversion therapy is effective or an ideological ruse under the subterfuge of psychology and religion. Directed and adapted to the screen by Joel Edgerton, he could have dived deeper in writing the screenplay by making explicit the contending assumptions and ideas. Surprisingly, nowhere in the film do any of the biblically-oriented religionists quote the applicable verses in the Old Testament or in Paul's letters, or engage in a theological debate. The film could have gone further intellectually than the relatively superficial emphasis on the dramatic narrative.

The full essay is at "Boy Erased."


Tuesday, October 1, 2019

The European Commission as Political

The European Commission, the E.U.’s executive branch, has been known for being a technocratic institution. Yet in drafting regulations, imposing fines, and negotiating trade deals, the Commission is much like the U.S.’s executive branch. In fact, high-level appointments must secure the approval of the legislature through confirmation hearings. Yet the top of the U.S. executive branch, the White House, has been known for being ideological and definitely political. That that executive branch also promulgates and enforces regulations can be easily missed. That the E.U.’s executive branch is also political has definitely been missed or dismissed in the ideological illusion that the E.U. is merely a technocratic international organization rather than a federal system of governments. This illusion could finally be seen as such after the election of Ursula van der Leyen as President of the European Commission in 2019.

The full essay is at "The European Commission as Political."


Monday, September 30, 2019

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Sequel to The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011), The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2015) centers most of the dramatic tension on the hotel’s manager, Sonny Kapoor. In the first film, the tension is more evened out among the hotel customers and Sonny’s bid to make the run-down hotel a viable operation. The hurdles faced by the retirees in the first film are more gritty, or realistic, than are the challenges in the sequel. Indeed, the second film can come across to the viewer as excessively glitzy, especially at the end when the customers, Sonny, and his family and friends are on a dance floor positioned as if performing for an audience sitting out in front. It is unlikely, for instance, that Sonny could dance so well, particularly as he delayed practice to the disappointment of his fiancé, Sunaina. That film becomes a performance, and this can stretch a viewer’s suspension of disbelief because the screenwriter of both films, Ol Parker, stretches the characters too far beyond themselves. That they, along with Sunny and his wife and their families and friends go into a performance mode can remind the viewer that he or she is watching a performance—that the movie itself is a performance. So much for the suspension of disbelief, a psychological wonder that allows the human mind to forget that it is watching a movie and thus be able to “enter” the story-world.

The full essay is at "The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel."