Saturday, April 23, 2016

Why I Am Not Broken Up By the Death of Several Popular Musicians

I am a bit out of step with my peers in not being especially moved by the death of some prominent musicians.  My Boomer friends were torn up about David Bowie, and now my Gen X friends are torn up about Prince.  And some of each were strongly affected by Michael Jackson's death.

A.J. Hartley has a good piece about why people who grew up before the internet might be more affected by the loss of favorite musicians than young people with easy access to music. I feel that some - I am old enough (I am on the Boomer/Gen X cusp) to remember listening carefully and memorizing whole albums.

Still, it is hard for me to think of a singer whose death would feel like a huge personal and social loss.  Springsteen has been my clear favorite since the '70s, and I appreciate his ongoing production of great songs. Nonetheless, if he died tomorrow, I would appreciate what he had made, but not feel a part of me had gone.

I am not sure why. Perhaps I am not as affected by music as others (though I don't think so).  Perhaps it is just these artists (though my Springsteen reflection makes me think not).

My best two best guesses are these:
1) As a sociologist, I see even exceptional artists as types, rather than as uniquely irreplaceable figures;
2) As a bourgeois, I feel at arms length from artists as people, even if I appreciate their work.

I am puzzled.  I would welcome your thoughts.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Why the White Suicide Rate is Up

Less educated white men have a rising suicide rate.

White women's suicide rate has gone up significantly.  Women are much less likely to kill themselves than men, but their suicide rate has gone up more than twice as fast as men's.

I am speculating here well beyond the data, so I hold this idea only loosely.

It makes sense to me that less educated white people would be more despairing.  They have suffered the most from the decline of low-education jobs, with no affirmative-action benefit.  They have been the most surprised at the increasing diversity and integration of American society, and the consequent decline of the power of white privilege.  They are the group most likely to support a demagogue who promises to "take the country back" from imagined nefarious forces, and make it great "again" compared to a vaguely specified past.

In the big picture, America is getting better.  However, low-education white people are the least likely to experience that improvement.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

We happy, busy Calvinists are blessed beyond measure.

It was my turn to offer a Prayer of the People in our Presbyterian church today.

We happy, busy Calvinists are blessed beyond measure.

If we are not grateful, we have no excuse.

If we look at our blessings and think we have earned them all we are blind to our privilege and the hard work of others.

If we look at all that people are making better in the world, yet only complain about what is still not right, we are unjust.

If we look at all that is still not right in the world and do not get to work, we miss our calling.

God gave us a good world.  God gave us a vocation to work for its betterment.  God gave us the teaching that we cannot do this without God.

We are the happiest people in America.  We are the most trusting of people in general.  We are the most willing to teach our children to be trusting before experience.

We are not driven by fear.

Be happy.  Get busy.