complaining

Everybody Complains

Everything is problematic, including this post.

And it’s about fking time you all realized it.

I give the transgression of everything being problematic four problematics. Now we can start making change happen.

-Delilah S. Dawson
Everything’s A Problem

Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf made an appearance on evangelist Paula White’s Instagram, much to the chagrin of her followers.

“Little Red Riding Hood with the Big Bad Wolf (emojis)️ #love #marriage #life #fun #makingmemories” the newlywed posted.

The post has more than 1,500 likes and hundreds of comments.

“By dressing up for Satan’s holiday, you are praising him. This is righteous judgment, not pointing a finger. The enemy needs to be exposed openly,” one commenter posted.

Another wrote: “Dressing Up in a Costume…(Costume Parties-Fall Festival-Family Day,…) There is NOTHING WRONG with that…”

The back-and-forth is similar to conversations Christians have had in recent weeks regarding celebrating Halloween.

-Jessilyn Justice
“Paula White Halloween Photo Stirs Religious Controversy”
CharismaNews.com

This morning (Friday as I write this), on our commute into work together, I was talking with my son about how news and social media has seemingly lost their collective minds. It’s like people take offense at just about anything anymore. Further, it looks like our universities are actively teaching young people when, how, and by what they should be offended.

We’re raising a nation of complainers and victims.

paula white
Paula White and Jonathan Cain

I usually leave these sorts of rants to Facebook and for the most part, they go little to nowhere, but then I saw something in my twitter feed, a link to Everything’s A Problem. The specific comment on twitter was that all the members of Monty Python are white and male. I couldn’t find the specific complaint on the “Everything’s” blog, but I found plenty else that sounded just as silly.

At first, I thought it was all parody, but the little articles seemed to lack that kind of “eye twinkle” that tells the reader “I’m being ridiculous to illustrate how complaining about these things is ridiculous” (such as the film The Martian promoting, among other things, colonialism). The Tumblr site appears to be an extreme example of how a certain social and political perspective has turned “majoring in the minors” into a fine and highly prolific art.

But then, I also saw the CharismaNews.com article about Paula White (I had to “Google” her to find out she’s a Christian televangelist) dressing up as Little Red Riding Hood and her husband donning a Wolf costume so they could pose for a photo together and then post it to instagram.

Going back to “Everything’s” for a bit, here are some sample “problematic” complaints.

About Colonizing Mars

Short answer: without a rigorous regimen of social justice, they can’t. Space will be white and male and sexist and probably cisnorm and filled with aliens attempting to gain “dubious consent” (i.e., space rape culture). SMDH [Shaking My Damn Head].

I have to be honest, the most horrifying aspect of this whole Mars obsession is the glorification of colonization. I was “lucky” enough to attend an early screening of “The Martian,” and there’s a minutes-long monologue in which Matt Damon (who is terribly problematic already) goes on and on about how one is technically a “colonizer” after one successfully plants a crop.

AYFKM? This is a good thing? Did Hollywood even think about how this speech would trigger colonized peoples? Does no one out there read Aura Bogado? What is this, the 16th century? Why not just release this movie on Columbus Day while punching an indigenous person in the face? I can’t. I just can’t.

Oh yeah. I forgot about triggers. I had to “Google” Aura Bogado, to find out who she is, although it seems that Bogado can also be problematic from time to time.

the martian

About the film “The Martian”

This is so nuts. Some might think it’s silly to suggest that a tossed off line in a novel about the activities of two kids represents massive levels of sexism in society. These people don’t understand that everything must be examined with a critical lens. Problems must be denounced, and harshly.

It’s bad enough that The Martian praises colonialism like it’s a great thing and stars an actor who has Bad Thoughts on diversity and said that it’s hard in Hollywood for gay actors. That it is also an actively sexist production that has no love for lady-geeks is the hardest blow of all. SMDH, The Martian. SMDH. And SMDH at all you lady-nerds who thought this movie was okay after seeing it this weekend. You know who you are.

I give the transgression of having female characters but not having them be female enough or something except when they’re being too female or whatever four problematics.

About Spooning

Some people think it’s cute when people lay in bed with their loved ones, holding each other in their arms. This act is commonly referred to as “spooning.”

Other people—enlightened people—realize that spooning is a deeply problematic way that power structures propagate themselves. Fortunately, such enlightened people are dominant in the media and can explain to us how we should be Good

Now for the other side of the coin, so to speak. What did some of the readers over at CharismaNews.com have to say about Paula White and her husband?

David K

Umm… Dressing up for Halloween is the least of Paula’s problems. Discerning Christians have seen through Ms. White’s brand of heresy for years now.

I think what is really sad is that there are “Christians” who actually can’t see through her. The lady is not a Christian, folks. Wake up and measure her actions according God’s word. While we are not to judge the world, we are absolutely mean’t to measure those who claim to be one of us by the word of God, and Paula White fails the test (John 10:10-13).

cross pumpkinWanda K

WWJD????? Would JESUS celebrate this worldly pagan holiday? Should Christians celebrate it? It has NOTHING to do with JESUS, nothing do with Christianity. What do right and wrong have in common? What do the saved and the unsaved have in common? Is there anything GODLY about Halloween? What about ghosts, goblins, graveyards, bats, witches and brooms, plus skeletons and tombstones, have to do with anything Christian? GO figure that one out? It’s not just innocent fun. I’m sure many of her supporters are disappointed. The word of GOD says in the last days there will be many false prophets.
Christians (real ones that is) are to be children of the light, and not the dark. There is no light in Halloween. It’s all dark like a chamber, or a dungeon, just dark and black and dreary…
JESUS was the light of the world and we were to imitate JESUS, and not satan.

Phil H

Some people have no problem with adultery and false teaching. But put on a costume on Halloween, and they go bonkers

And the beat goes on.

I’m not attempting to defend or criticize White and her husband Jonathan Cain, nor making a commentary on Halloween in specific or secular and religious holidays in general (so please don’t start).

I am saying that we’re a complaining lot and being able to blog or comment on news and social media so easily has just made things worse. It used to take some effort to type a Letter to the Editor and then mail it to the local newspaper in the hopes it might actually be printed, but now, anyone can say anything and gain an instant audience.

I did find something enlightening on the web that I’d like to pass along (with the knowledge that I’m obviously not following its sage advice).

“Silence is a fence around wisdom.”

-Talmud

I don’t expect the secular media or those who communicate through it to acknowledge that bit of wisdom, but those of us who call ourselves disciples of Rav Yeshua (Jesus) should hold ourselves to a higher standard. I really don’t care if Paula White or whoever dresses up as a fairy tale character for Halloween or any other day of the year (I wonder what the folks commenting at Charisma News would think of Jewish kids in Israel dressing up in costume and going door-to-door on Purim?).

click baitI did give into temptation and made my own comment in response to the White article:

I never comment here since these discussions are rarely productive, and I had to Google “Paula White” to find out who she is, but with all of the real woes in this world, all of the unanswered prayers that we, as believers, could answer and fulfill (feeding the poor, visiting the sick, pick a need…there are plenty out there), why is Paula White and her husband choosing to dress up in costume an issue? I know I’ll probably get blasted for even asking, but it seems that we Christians are just as guilty of complaining on social media over the tiniest things we find offensive as our atheist counterparts. Perhaps someone should tell us to “get a (Christian) life” and then *do* our faith.

So far, no one has “flamed” me, but I believe it’ll happen fairly soon. Religious people can be a mouthy bunch, and those (including me, alas) who responded to that bit of cheap click bait aren’t living up to the highest standards of our teacher and King.

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22 thoughts on “Everybody Complains”

  1. My favorite comment from the Charisma Article…quoted Ghost Busters…” Cats and dogs living together…mass hysteria!!” That commenter summed perfectly for me at least the “hysteria” of the other comments…

  2. This Halloween thing comes up every year, and did long before social media. I’m surprised your surprised. But it has nothing to do with Purim or “kids in Israel” (unless they’ve begun to copy Halloween when it’s not Halloween). When I was a member of a Messianic congregation, the policy was not to dress ghoulish for Purim (I didn’t make that policy, but I was happy with it ). As for Paula White, my guess is the people complaining about her were already complaining about her* as she is in the category of celebrity leaders who have done things like tell you to look for (actual) gems in church or on your front porch because angels will put them there as proof of the [Holy] [S]pirit.

    You recently referenced a discernment site. There are people who research cults and false teachings and that kind of thing. And some of the organisations (however good at this they are) existed before the internet was really a thing, at least for most people. However, now that there is social media, such conversations are sort of a spin off or outcome of the information getting out. That Dake guy, for instance, “is problematic” to an extent. Two days ago?

    I was glad you said you’d thought it was all parody after the Monty Python gripe. That sounded exactly like what Month Python IS (while you were talking about more than Monty Python, I get that). Some of your subsequent quotations functioned as spoof to me, even if the writers didn’t mean them that way.

    * Another possibility, of course, is people who go along naively until they discover something about their celebrity preacher. Or any preacher; we know this happens every day.

  3. I went to the microagressions article. I think it’s good to know what is meant by the term. I wouldn’t, for instance, want to be called on (uninvited as to relevance or willingness) in class to “explain arranged marriage” because of a head covering (an example there).

    On the other hand, there were some examples that show it would be hard to impossible anticipating all the actions or words that could bother somebody (like offering help to a person with a wheelchair, as long as you don’t impose yourself instead of listen).

  4. @Tony: I must have missed that one. Seems appropriate.

    @Marleen: I’m not surprised. Christians complain about Halloween every year. I agree that some of the people commenting at Charisma were more out to criticize White than Halloween as such. On the other hand, I still believe we’ve got a lot bigger issues to confront than the ones illustrated in that article. I also believe that the Charisma article was deliberately written to get a rise out of their readership rather than to genuinely inform on a topic important to believers. Like I said, “click bait”.

  5. OBTW — about Purim, particularly in Israel — I haven’t seen anything like the American door-to-door solicitation of treats. What I *have* seen is school-age kids in costume for school-based parties, as well as all sorts of parties in other venues, including or especially in synagogues — where the essential observances of Purim are enacted to read the biblical story and/or to playact it (often with humorous variations). Consequently, one may well observe a flock of children, including adolescents, wandering the streets in costume. Adults may do so also, though more likely in the evening. I suppose that’s a bit more like Mardi-Gras than Halloween. The parties, of course, are fully supplied with treats, of both healthy and unhealthy kinds, no doubt.

    Regarding the problem of proliferating complainers and nonsensical complaints, it may be helpful to take a step back to view them with a bit of perspective: I’m reminded of a story that originates in the period when it was rare for a Jew to be released from the Soviet Union to make aliyah. One of these was being interviewed about his experience in Israel as compared with his former life in the USSR. When asked about his job there, he said: “I couldn’t complain.” When asked about the cost of living or the availability of consumer goods or the quality of housing or public utilities, his answer was the same. So, finally, almost in exasperation, the interviewer asked: “Then why did you go through all the difficulties involved in getting out, such as being imprisoned and losing family and possessions, to come to Israel?”. His answer was: “Here, I can complain!” [:)]

    Shavua Tov!

  6. I have an old friend (who I met in a home Bible study, along with his wife) who is the kind of person who thinks government is terrible and gunliness is next to godliness. One of our most recent conversations, when this couple passed through town on their way to visit their one and only child in a state farther along, was this man asking me what I would do if a man was following me in a parking lot when I was going back to my car. The parking lot he brought up was one he knows I frequent, but which also is always busy. I said something about people going down the same line because that’s how the cars are parked. But he persisted. “Yeah, but you don’t really know.” So, he goes on; he says I should have a gun and turn facing the man to say, “Halt!” If he’s not a bad person, he will change his course. I said, he will wonder why I think I have a right to yell at him and tell him what to do. I can see what my friend was talking about, but my take on the whole thing is I figure things are going to be fine. I don’t want to threaten people out of paranoia where I shop. Well, anyway, I can see where someone who thinks like him would be bothered if he even more frequently had people not only following in the same line but directly approaching him due to a disability.

  7. James,
    I completely understand where you’re coming from with these specific examples.

    However, one thing that might be helpful is to examine who is doing the complaining and what the specific complaint is. For example, the woman who finds everything problematic, based on what you shared, appears to be a ‘splainer/agitator. Someone for whom the activism is a form of self-serving, self-promotion. At least when she’s refering to “colonized peoples.” However, as a woman, when she sees sexism and calls it out as problematic, even if she’s going about it all wrong, her experience is likely valid because systemic sexism is just as real as systemic racism. Even if the people being called out for ther ‘ism-like behaviors, words, and unconscious attitudes don’t recognize or believe they are sexist or racist themselves.

    I only bring this up because, as a half-Mexican woman, who has experienced prejudice and with family members who are the antithesis of stereotypes which are the foundation of a lot of jokes, but who may resemble the stereotypes with their external features and accents, I saw a meme posted by someone who had never, personally, experienced that form of prejudice. It was mocking the accent of a Mexican who speaks English as a second language. Sure, it was humorous, on the surface. However, it was humor borne out of laughing at someone who doesn’t look or sound like the societal ideal, for reasons over which they have no control or choice. Jokes like this about someone who sounds and looks different due to a developmental or physical disability are no longer seen as acceptable. Similar jokes about African American/Black people, based on their urban cultural identies, are acceptable if they are the owners of the jokes, but not if they come from people who have no personal context understanding everything those subcultural norms for them represent. Yet, when I shared that image and why I found it offensive and hurtful, citing my own personal experiences and context, an extended family member on the non-hispanic side, countered with arguments similar to yours, and other friends who also did not share those cultural experiences I’d had, agreed with her and continued to justify why my finding offense in the meme was wrong.

    I don’t believe we have to harshly denounce the things we find problematic. We do have the responsibility to examine WHY we find it problematic and follow Jesus’ example of expressions of genuinely righteous anger or if it’s a self-serving effort to be seen as righteous. Then, we have to express it in ways which it can be heard instead of in ways which will shut the ears of listeners before they’re even opened.

  8. I believe, Lillian, that your reply touched upon the very essence of offences, which is fear. It may or may not be an obvious fear such as a threat to life or property, but a more subtle fear of not being respected or accepted for who we are, which includes a fear of being mistreated or disdained as a result. We can see the difference, in references to ethnic characteristics (or other group characteristics) when noted by people within that ethnicity (or alternative group identity), who can recognize that they are merely exaggerating stereotypical characteristics of their own “family” which are therefore harmless, as against similar references by “outsiders”, who cannot be trusted to mean what they say as harmless rather than as insulting.

    In a context of love and acceptance, references to such differences are not threatening, much as in the biblical passage that says (1Jn.4:18): “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.” Of course, some of the offences in current cultural climates are not based on unchangeable personal characteristics or acceptable behaviors, but on unacceptable ones that certain subgroups insist on defending and promoting. Tolerance of diversity must nonetheless draw a firm line against evil or societally-destructive behavior. Some behaviors, and even some beliefs, are unavoidably offensive, and must be so; and the fear of their non-acceptance must be included in the arsenal of weaponry that discourages and deters such behaviors. Note, however, that such offence is not to be based on personal whim or feeling, but rather on objective (even measurable) standards of personal or societal destructiveness or edification.

  9. Hi, Lillian. It’s nice to hear from you. I think you expressed yourself very well. And you look rather young, so that’s encouraging — I enjoy courageous hope for the future.

  10. Well, if one believes in a hell of eternal conscious torment, then really G-d upkeeps a place where everyday is Halloween.

    I don’t see the big deal.

  11. My, my, Drake — What was *your* childhood like? Was Halloween really such a hellish experience for you? I can understand how it might provoke nightmares for dentists, or for mothers whose children become a bit hyperactive due to the increased intake of refined sugars and the caffeine found in chocolate, but I must say that I never pictured chocolate in hell. Some might suggest that a *lack* of chocolate can be an ongoing and very conscious torment.

    Moreover, I’ve never pictured funny, odd, outlandish or outrageous costumes in any version of hell that I’ve ever heard described — unless you want to count one character in red tights, with horns and a pitchfork. But, then, I suppose most folks don’t really think about or understand the reality of what all that caricaturing was trying to represent symbolically.

    However, James specifically refrained from offering any analysis of Halloween or its cultural origins, its symbolisms that derived from the conflict between Catholicism and various strains of paganism, the forms by which such cultural developments passed into Protestant cultures as well, or its implicit doctrinal impacts. Nor did he invoke any discussion of the dark natural consequences of being isolated from HaShem’s enlightenment — the effects of states of mind or of conditions of existence that are enacted by human choices as distinct from a nasty place maintained by HaShem. Somehow I can’t envision either of these in the same context as the modern celebration of Halloween, no matter how many criticisms I may have for that particular cultural observance.

  12. And the social buzz is on to Starbucks cups and an imagined “war” on Christmas proven therein. Apparently, some folks don’t have anything better to focus on; this [supposed anti-Christmas universe] topic is worse than a waste of time (if the opening one was a waste). There is no war on Christmas. Debates, accommodations and navigation, in addition to celebrations (traditional, innovative and so on) and consumeration… but no actual war or ruination.

  13. So, I think I found the original article (click bait to which I don’t want to link). I’m seeing the trend; little RED Riding Hood and RED cups (with a centered green circle, as on the previous happy-making years pictured via cups). Textiles, fabric or paper, without designs, er, designed to obscure the plain red coloration is terribly anxiety inducing.

  14. @Marleen — Pardon me for not recognizing current American trends, but is this emphasis on a red and green motif an early lead-in to Christmas using the classic colors? How often does Starbucks print new cup designs? Are these intended to continue in use throughout the holiday season? Why are they presumed to imply an anti-xmas theme? Why do you find them anxiety-producing? To the best of my understanding, businesses have always *liked* xmas and all the increased consumerism it engenders. They are not noted for biting the hand that feeds them.

  15. Like I said, there is no war on Christmas. I think something is wrong with the people who enjoy harping on such a complaint every year. This opportunity to hate on Starbucks is an example. It makes me think of a snake eating its own tail (given, I don’t know what others take that symbol to mean, philosophicaly). It’s really stupid. The person who started the complaint was actually saying there was too much red on the cup (despite the fact red and green *are* the classic Christmas colors); this was the brat’s purported proof of a war.

    Certain news organizations [FOX news seems to me to have started it, though I could be mistaken — maybe they only carry on the perverse tradition] make this “war” theme part of their “charm” as it seems to be part of attracting people to stay tuned in. But this article was on Breitbart online first (known for other ridiculous news stories, but sadly taken seriously). Such people have become a parody of themselves, but they still influence large numbers of others.

    I was making fun of being anxious over the color red, PL. Starbucks comes out with their holiday/Christmas cup this time of year each year. Apparently, while the complainer’s excuse of an article hinted at red being communist, there is a cadre said author is part of that know how everything should be done and consider themselves to be those who should judge and demand things be some way that they prefer (sound rather authoritarian and harsh and despotic to me).

    The author didn’t say anything about the Starbucks symbol (the green part that is on their stores all year round and has always been in the center of the Christmas cup), although I’ve heard that symbol objected to in general (not in relation to Christmas). That part was fine just as it has always been to this person. The author wanted more pizzazz. Why no snow motif or pine tree branch ends or packages or what not? Just red (and green). If that isn’t a clear sign of war… [yeah, it isn’t].

  16. @PL: Actually, I was wondering how at least some Christians might interpret how Israelis celebrate Purim by dressing up in costume, that is, if they would see it as an extra-Biblical adaptation of the events depicted in the Book of Esther.

    You make a good point about the “right” to complain, but there are times when I feel as if the “petty slights of the hypersensitive” expect everyone to react as if they are major events.

    @Lillian: I’m not suggesting that there’s never a reason to complain, nor that racism or sexism are things that need to be called out and addressed. I was trying to communicate that it seems as if we are becoming a nation where literally every single slight, no matter how minor (if they exist at all) is supposed to be a cause for a major emotional eruption.

    It would be helpful if we, as a nation, could focus on those things that represent real injustice and left the “small stuff” slide.

    @Marleen: I’ve just become aware of the “issue” of Starbucks having their “holiday cups” as plain red rather than something more indicative of Christmas. I was reminded of a meme I saw on Facebook recently, a photo of an apparently Orthodox Jewish man with the words “Someone says ‘Merry Christmas’ to him. Doesn’t complain about the ‘war on Chanukah’.”

    I don’t use Starbucks products anymore. because their CEO supports BDS against Israel. Besides, they’re overpriced and I never found their coffee to be that superior. Even if I did frequent them, I don’t care about how they choose to decorate their cups. If I had any attachment to Christmas as a religious holiday (which I don’t,though I have no problems with people who do), that attachment would be in my heart and on a spiritual level, not dependent on commercialism.

  17. Actor Brent Spiner (who played Data on Star Trek the Next Generation and who is Jewish) just posted this to twitter:

    Starbucks new holiday cups for Hanukah,featuring the entire Macabee clan have arrived! Only available for eight days and nights.

    Given what was written about Starbucks above, I thought it was relevant satire.

  18. We are all on our own paths of learning. Some people find nothing wrong with Halloween and participate, some don’t participate but do think it’s okay for other people to, some don’t participate and think nobody should.

    I gave up supporting Halloween about 11 years ago. I do not see anything in the Bible to support it so I see no sense in supporting it. That is only my thinking/path though.

    I was asked to give out Halloween bags while I was working this year. I didn’t feel that great about it so I let them sit in the basket they were in for a little while, hoping people would just grab one or more if they wanted any while I could just focus on my work. Nobody was taking any and I wondered if I was going to get in trouble for not handing them out so I started telling families they could take some bags (leaving out the word Halloween) if they wanted any. People waved the suggestion off and I stopped asking soon after. Nobody took a bag that I remember that day and I was feeling relief that I didn’t have to ask people if they wanted any anymore when I had said I tried and nobody wanted any. I think more and more people are realizing that Halloween isn’t all that great in a lot of ways, which is why there seemed to no interest in the Halloween bags for the people I came across that day.

  19. Someone placed a small espresso machine (in box) on our porch one day last summer (meant for an address that wasn’t identifiable, and the delivery rep — a note on the box said but with no attached number — was supposed to call ahead and hand the item directly to the person [and presumably obtain a signature], which obviously didn’t happen). So I don’t go to coffee shops often, but do enjoy lattes. Now we might have something to argue about. The law (in the U.S.) says it’s not the receivers’ responsibility to track this down or even do anything about it, and the receivers can keep what was delivered to them with no obligation (the law is right). Having not gotten a signature, the failure is on the part of fedex/ups (whichever private service it was); I only remember it wasn’t the U.S. Postal Service (USPS).

    I do think it’s pretty myopic and self centered to act like everyone should be about Christmas. And it doesn’t stop there, it goes on to Santa “IS white” and Santa should or shouldn’t be part of it, and on and on. There was a time when my family wasn’t part of celebrating Halloween or Christmas [or Easter (still problematic, mixed)]. But we decided to go ahead and take part in Christmas as of our culture (both to touch on the social aspects and have fun and to differentiate it from Halloween in thrust of thought). Where Christmas is concerned, I’ve even had a person who didn’t like that I thought Christmas wasn’t mandatory pick at the voice of someone who I enjoyed (Sarah McLauchlin) with a particular Christmas song singing about Jesus and Mary. Sigh. I like the meme you shared about “war on Chanukah.”

  20. @James — It was particularly in consideration of “petty slights” that I told the story of the Soviet refusenik who considered it finally his privilege to complain, after all the real oppressions that he had long suffered previously in a place where he could not do so. The comparison between his true sufferings and mere “petty slights” ought to place pettiness into a proper perspective and mitigate the likelihood of someone expressing petty complaints.

    While I can’t properly guess at what misapprehensions some Christians might apply to Purim costumery, it ought to be recognized as a direct extension of methods used to tell and to celebrate the story, including the mitzvah of blotting out Haman’s name, which *is* a biblical requirement.

  21. Funny, I ignore most of this stuff. I consider it ‘beta testing’ the public on how easily manipulated people are through social media. However, many years ago, as I learned more, I chose not to participate in Halloween, Santa, Easter Bunny, etc…but I treated it as my choice. It always offended ‘the others’ about my choice. Oh, how they pressured!! and preached!! When I decided to homeshcool the first 6 grades! OY!!!It is never easy to swim against the flow, even if you do it quietly. ‘The others’ never leave you alone. It is called peer pressure and conformity. If you think about it, perhaps Abraham ran into this same problem.

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