Friday, November 6, 2009


In class today, we watched a section of a television show about parenting methods. Two mothers switch households (to some degree) for two weeks, and the viewing public watches the highlights. The experience literally turned my stomach - I felt physically ill after the first ten minutes, when we stopped watching.

First, the parents presented as extremes - a family of "pirates" (I honestly wish I was joking) that never cleans, and a family in which everything in the house is labeled, efficient, and clean, assaults the Gospel ideal of parenting. Organization is not the opposite of laziness - they're only obliquely correlated - nor is organization and order the opposite of love. The presentation of the two "extremes" was what I found distasteful, as if living in a structured environment is as distasteful as living in one where the people catch fleas from their dog. Dante described it better perhaps than I have - pandemonium is a characteristic of hell; to add to that, order does not require oppression.

What of freedom? What of creativity? Try working in an environment of instability and disorder, and tell me that you are more creative and at greater inner peace. Karl Marx made that argument with his choice of living conditions and lifestyle, and lost three children as a result of it. (Note: Not all who lost children at the time, nor all who currently live in squalor, choose to do so; Marx had the resources not to, and chose to anyway. At least that's my judgment, you call it as you like.) He described losing his children as some of the worst experiences of his life - is that worth a few extra minutes each day of creative expression? Again to Marx - the price he paid in time lost to depression associated with losing his children while writing his seminal works was far greater than would have been the time to, say, make a budget or find a new home, or to give his children needed medical care, or even to earn the money to make those options possible.

Another argument, from the class discussion: organization isn't worth the few minutes you save. Here is the counter: neither is laziness. Being lazy is trading a few minutes of one activity for the few minutes required for a better one - three minutes of sleep versus three minutes of cleaning your bedroom. It's the same false doctrine as "we're not going to force our children to be like us." As if parents could! But whether they accept it or not, parents encourage their children one way or another; far better to encourage the freedom of self control and self development than to encouragement the oppression of sloth, filth, and the self-appeasement of the senses.

A related, infernal line of reasoning is that, "I choose to go my own way, rather than God's way." The lie is that we are going our own way; we are not, but instead choose to follow the devil. Our own way is whichever way we choose, but we cannot cut our own path; we can choose our actions, but not the consequences of our actions.

Perhaps, most disturbing: why would I ever seek this out as entertainment? Why would I ever tolerate this in my home? I don't watch tv very often, and now I am very glad of it. What depravity, what excess would lead me to enjoy watching two people be subjected to others choices; to enjoy seeing people inflict upon each other intense social and emotional pain; to not only encourage that suffering through the creation of the show, but to revel in it, to enjoy it, and to laugh at it?

Maybe I'm taking this too seriously, but I don't approve of this type of "emotional Colosseum."

Quite frankly, it makes me sick.