Alright, what do I have to do to summon a skeptic or whatever they’re called on short notice? We’re talking Brené Brown at the church I’ve been visiting lately and her “”discoveries”” have been driving me up the wall.
Tag Archives: ideology
I don’t know if I’ve said it here before but I’m saying it now: I don’t adhere to or support any guideline for How You Should Live Life that’s based on feeling the correct feelings, whether that means feeling others’ feelings (“empathy” as a prerequisite for correct morality); disallowing yourself unhappiness (“staying positive” as a virtue); or pushing discomfort, risk, and unease as self-justifying mandates (in praise for “vulnerability” and “getting out of your comfort zone”). Dogmas of feelings have always been useless at best for me, outright detrimental more often than not, and I don’t want any part in them.
In healthism, healthy behavior has become the paradigm for good living. Healthy men and women become model men and women. A kind of reductionism or one-dimensionalization seems to occur among healthists: more and more experiences are collapsed into health experience, more and more values into health values. Health, or its supreme — “super health” — subsumes a panoply of values: “a sense of happiness and purpose,” “a high level of self-esteem,” “work satisfaction,” “ability to engage in creative expression,” “capacity to function effectively under stress,” “having confidence in the future,” “a commitment to living in the world,” the ability “to celebrate one’s life,” or even “cosmic affirmation.” “Health is more than the absence of disease…,” writes one of the new pulpiteers (49, p. x), “it includes a fully productive, self-realized, expanded life of joy, happiness, and love in and for whatever one is doing.” In the “high level of wellness” ethic, “health is freedom in the truest sense — freedom from aimlessness, being able to express a range of emotions freely, a zest for living.” (67) In short, health has become not only a preoccupation; it has also become a pan-value or standard by which an expanding number of behaviors and social phenomena are judged. Less a means toward the achievement of other fundamental values, health takes on the quality of an end in itself.
Crawford, Robert. “Healthism and the medicalization of everyday life.” International journal of health services 10, no. 3 (1980): 365-388.
I want to ask why this isn’t considered a religion, but then again, we know why.
For the most part, I can operate within the bounds of the conventional definition of religion; I can use the word in the same way that most people use it and navigate within the framework that use implies (the “Just Religion” category on this blog is so-named on the basis of such an understanding). From my perspective, however, the conventional methods of religious/nonreligious demarcation always seem to fall apart under close scrutiny (sometimes for different reasons,* but the end result is the same), which is why, for my own internal purposes, I subscribe to an altogether different definition.
Because I’m pretty sure I don’t have it.
And that’s not to say that I’m a pessimist who thinks no good is possible and everything is doomed — that would be defining the potential of humanity according to a status-oriented model of morality, which is a framework I don’t use. So, no, I’m not that cynical, but I do have a lot of confusion and skepticism around this term and how it’s employed.
I have a lot of disdain for this distinction. While it may not be inherently wrong — it may even useful, in some cases, theoretically — it still gives me a negative first impression of any who uses it to the tune of “I’m spiritual, but not religious,” because I assume their intended meaning is relying on a distinction between “spiritual” and “religious” that goes something like this…
Whenever moral evaluations take place, the two models I’ve frequently seen employed in discussion are these:
- a status-oriented, “being”-centered morality of personal characteristics and fixed natures (that which takes for granted the existence of “bad people”, as a division from the rest of the population, which commentators then use to sort people on the basis of whether or not they go in that category)
- and, less frequently, an adaption of the former that emphasizes “shades of gray” and that “everyone has some good and bad in them” (which always devolves into a rather frustrating and defeatist brand of moral relativism that, in attempting to acknowledge complexity, prevents acknowledgement of anything by undermining any productive discourse, deeming the whole discussion a pointless exercise and thinking itself enlightened for it).
Neither of these models jive with my understanding of reality and human nature, and out of frustration with their ubiquity, I want to share with y’all an alternate model that I find far more useful in practice.
This post was brought to you in part by the encouraging comments on this post and in part by sheer bitterness. Enjoy.