The Thursday Three #35

1. Thomas Sowell, the renowned economist and conservative thinker, has retired from column writing.* He also turned 87 not too long ago, as did Harold Bloom,** who is one of the greatest literary critics of all time. As the years pass, I keep wondering who will replace these brilliant minds.

Reading well is one of the great pleasures that solitude can afford you. —Harold Bloom

Much of the social history of the Western world, over the past three decades, has been a history of replacing what worked with what sounded good. —Thomas Sowell

2. Three songs I’m obsessed with: Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida” because I was daydreaming and came up with an awesome idea for a music video for it, Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar On Me” because all of a sudden the radio started playing it a lot and I don’t think I had ever heard it before, and Julia Michaels’s “Issues” because it describes a nice mix of dysfunction and commitment.

3. Here’s a picture of a double rainbow (although you can barely see the outer one). Trust me… there were two.

*I highly recommend Sowell’s The Vision of the Anointed (1995).

**I highly recommend Bloom’s How to Read and Why (2000).

The World’s Pain, the Enemy’s Triumph

I’m sure everyone has heard about the terrorist attack at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester. These attacks no longer surprise me, and I find myself experiencing the same feeling of ennui that I got after hearing about what seemed like the millionth school shooting.

This has, sadly enough, become commonplace. It is and it will continue to be the new state of affairs for as long as our world leaders vacillate and talk and take no action against what is undeniably a threat. I have no words of anti-terrorism wisdom, just sadness because of the fact that nowhere is safe and a hint of disgust at how the enemy managed to win twice.

Ariana Grande is a children’s TV actress turned pop star, much like Selena Gomez and Miley Cyrus before her. As such, she fell into the same downward spiral and became an icon of self-centeredness, coquettishly singing about sex and dancing and parties.

I heard that 9- and 10-year-old children were at her concert… children who never should have been there in the first place, because this is what they were listening to:

From the song “Love Me Harder”:

And if in the moment you bite your lip
When I get you moaning you know it’s real
Can you feel the pressure between your hips?
I’ll make it feel like the first time

From the song “Bang Bang”:

Bang bang there goes your heart (I know ya want it)
Back, back seat of my car (I’ll let ya have it)
Wait a minute lemme take you there (ah)
Wait a minute till ya (ah)

From the song “Side to Side”:

I’m talkin’ to ya
See you standing over there with your body
Feeling like I wanna rock with your body
And we don’t gotta think ’bout nothin’ (‘Bout nothin’)

We live in a strange world. It is sad and distressing that the terrorist may have focused on the Ariana Grande concert because perhaps he knew that children, the most innocent ones, would be there. But it is also sad that children’s parents allow them to listen to this kind of music with these lyrics.

I am praying for the victims, for the survivors, and for the world to come to its senses. We can’t let the enemy keep winning.

More Reasons I Give Up Music: Sacrifice and Love

Lent is almost over, and I’ve done what I’ve been doing for the past 15 years or so: giving up music. (I also gave up caffeine, so if any of this post is incoherent, that’s why.) The ultimate goal of this annual Lenten sacrifice is to get myself to the point where I cease to listen to popular music at all. I did pretty well at that for about nine months last year, but the silence got to me, and I had to fill my head with something that wasn’t useless worries. Nature abhors a vacuum, as they say. So the music turned on and my brain turned off.

Anyway, as I’ve said on here before, the point of making small sacrifices for Lent is to train yourself to become more self-disciplined and to get more used to making sacrifices, so that if the opportunity to make a huge sacrifice comes, it will be second nature to be selfless. This may be a profoundly negative outlook on life (or maybe just a product of me reading far too many books about World War II), but I always think about what would happen in a pre-apocalyptic scenario where food and water are scarce and the world as we know it essentially shuts down because of a great war or natural disaster. Would I be able to sacrifice for the people I love (or even the people I dislike or just tolerate), or would I become bitter and angry over the loss of modern conveniences and necessities?

The other, less dramatic reason I give up music is because most popular music is, objectively speaking, garbage. Much of it talks about “love,” but it’s a manufactured, clean, processed, idealistic, happy-go-lucky, purely hormonal infatuation that makes no effort to get through hard times and does not last. Many “love” songs are about the honeymoon phase of a relationship, before reality sets in and both partners become visible for who they actually are. Young people mistakenly believe that infatuation is love and that the type of “love” that is portrayed in music and movies and TV shows is real and lasting.

I, being more sheltered and naïve than most teenagers, used to believe this. That if you loved a person, you would constantly be infatuated with them, that my relationships would never be like the “bland,” “stale,” unsmiling, everyday thing that exists between my parents or my friends’ parents. Music got into my head, and to this day, I believe that I subconsciously absorbed the message that love is superficial.

Now I think that love, more than anything, is perseverance. It’s getting up in the morning and choosing to love your partner. As the cliché goes, it’s a marathon, not a sprint, and it takes time and practice. Love involves sacrifice for the greater good of the relationship or for the greater good of the other person. It is hard to sacrifice when you have been single and done things your own way for many years, but one can train oneself in sacrifice. There is hope.