All posts by Dan

Profanity

pro·fan·i·ty/prəˈfanədē

  1. blasphemous or obscene language.
  2. Similar: idolatry sacrilege irreligiousness ungodliness impiety unholiness

Einstein really was a genius. Everything IS relative. Something is moving “fast” only compared to a slower background. “Light” only appears so against darkness and the profane is only recognized in front of the backdrop of the sacred.

I tend to use “profane” language with a freedom that is not typical among other pastors I know. I try very hard to be judicious about it, however; being conscious of whether I’m building someone else up, or tearing them down with words (Ephesians 4:29)

But this morning, the idea of “The Profane” settled on me in a new way. It’s Monday, about 6:30AM and I sit in my usual spot near the front window in my morning routine. But due to the corona virus, I notice there is little, I mean very little traffic outside. The silence it;sekf gets my attnetion.

So I opened up the windows and listened.

Birds. So many birds.

Stillness.

My own heart beat.

This was not a foreign experience. I have sought and enjoyed this kind of quiet many times: in the wilderness. But in 17 years, it’s never occurred in my home, just a block from a major thoroughfare. I have become accustomed to the background noise.

In the midst of these few, strange and serene moments, a lone vehicle purred past. I could discern the differenc ebetween the noise the tires made on the pavement, the engine, even the air moving around it. The noise stoof out like…well like a swear word in church. It was profane.

It violated the quiet.

A rush of thoughts followed: “Oh, how I long for this silence and the simplicity and peace it represents! How right it feels! How it slakes a thirst I sense in our world for peace! We are slaves to a bigger/better/faster/more Master!”

Then, “Who am I to judge us? Are we really supposed to reject all the progress we have made? I sit in a seat of judgment that rests on top of hundreds of years of advancement and “noise”! I’m cutting off the branch upon which I sit! Fool.”

I don’t know what to do with all of this. I just know that against the backdrop of wind in the trees, the songs of the Chickadees, the Grossbeaks and the Crows even the sound of my own heart, the sound of…pursuit is a profanity. And I am a swear word. God have mercy on me, a poor sinner.

Values Bundling

My cursory Google search for “Values Bundling” produced nothing but a few pages of articles regarding the profitability and effectiveness of selling goods or services “bundled together” in a package, e.g. a computer AND printer “bundled” together and sold as a unit, telephone AND internet service “bundled” together.

I’m a little surprised that the phrase “Values Bundling” has not made it’s way to the top of search results because, from my point of view, the practice is at least as wide-spread as product bundling. What do I mean by “Values Bundling”?

“The practice, effect or result of uncritically embracing otherwise unrelated values because they have been artificially linked (or “bundled”) with a singular value that an individual or group has authentically embraced.” – Me

Here are two examples from contemporary American politics:

A young, college-educated woman living in a large city, finds herself deeply moved by the racial injustices she observed. As she grew up the value of racial justice and reconciliation were foremost in her heart and mind. As she explored these topics, sought allies and resources to give expression to this authentically held value, she inevitably encountered individuals and institutions (like her liberal arts university) which shared this value. However, she was subtly (and sometimes very directly) maneuvered into adopting a set of other values that are unrelated to the original value of racial justice, but which overtime, coalesced into a “bundle” of values that she must adopt and reflect in order to maintain membership and acceptance in what has become her community. She finds that she “must” embrace strict gun-control, single-payer health care and a pro-choice stance or she will suffer suspicion, ridicule or even exclusion or violence from her peers. Yes, an argument can be made that these secondary values have links to her authentically held “original” value, but she has not adopted them based on that or their intrinsic value – but simply because they are “bundled”.

A blue collar guy living in the rural mid-west finds himself disabled and living on a fixed income, but taxes are taking more than he can afford, and environmental regulations have rendered his land unusable. He has become convinced that the government is his adversary. He connected with people in town meetings and on the internet who share this value. However, he was subtly (and sometimes very directly) maneuvered into adopting a set of others values that are unrelated to the original value of limited government but which overtime, coalesced into a “bundle” of values that he must adopt and reflect in order to maintain membership and acceptance in what has become his community. He finds that he “must” embrace pro-military, anti-immigrant and pro-oil stance or he will suffer suspicion, ridicule or even exclusion or violence from his peers. Yes, an argument can be made that these secondary values have links to his authentically held “original” value, but he has not adopted them based on that or their intrinsic value – but simply because they are “bundled”.

This is not limited to politics. I can speak with first hand knowledge that it occurs in theological / doctrinal circles too. If you choose a church because it has an authentic, vibrant and charismatic worship service – odds are you will experience pressure to speak in tongues or “prophesy”. If you choose a different church because of their dynamic benevolence and compassion programs, there’s a chance your literal view of Genesis will be a problem.

A form of Values Bundling extends to art, fashion, sports…almost any area of human endeavor. In many of these settings it’s harmless. We experience it as a mechanism which builds a sense of unity, belonging and bonding. The consequences of uncritically adopting a favorite band or sports team are limited. The same cannot be said for morality, a world view or a foreign policy.

As we watch the world continue to polarize and each pole doubles down on their defining values, be very cautious about the values they bundle together. Don’t forget that the goal of the bundling strategy is to manipulate a hapless consumer into buying products they didn’t really want or need.