Friday, January 31, 2014

Aesthetic Preferences are Value Neutral

I love the way that God keeps me humble about this...

I have two children.  My older child likes to listen to classical music and read classic books.  He's 13yo, and his New Year's Resolution was to read more great literature.  He got a nook for Christmas - I asked him what he wanted to load, he said, "Treasure Island".

My younger child likes everything popular.  Pop music (or electronica), popular TV shows, and she finally stopped reading the Wimpy Kids when I downloaded Percy Jackson onto *her* nook.  She's nine.

What does that tell you about their characters?  Not a lot.  It's just what they like.  Now, I'll not argue that the content of the books or the lyrics of the music don't matter - they certainly do.  But the arrangement of words or notes?  Not really.  It's just aesthetic preference.  They make Christian death metal these days...

Aesthetic preferences can be revelatory, but we put too much stock in them.  When I grew up, a straight man could still wear pink.  Really, I swear!  Now there are boys who feel like they have to choose between their love of personal ornamentation (unless that ornamentation involves tattoos, skulls, or black) and heterosexuality.  And if you're a girl who likes to fix things and wear plain clothing, someone is sure to call you a [derogative name for a lesbian].

Celibacy or heterosexuality are requirements in the Bible.  Aesthetic conformity *is not*.    Why are we loading up our kids with burdens they weren't meant to bear?

Why do we fight one another about this stuff?  Yes, I adore lingerie, fluffy things, and yes - I like pink.  So?  That has very little to do with my character.  I've taken my fluffy floral skirt and laced up my boots and hopped around on the jetty picking up trash.  Doesn't slow me down a trice.

The fact that I *like this stuff* doesn't make me a better person.  Just makes me the sort of person who likes pintucks.  The fact that I read quickly and easily doesn't make me a better person - when was the last time that scholarship was a virtue that I really needed?  Not a lot, in everyday life.  Is it bad or worthless?  Nope.  Just doesn't make me better that someone who doesn't like to stick their nose in a book and come back out on Tuesday.  (They probably don't try to chop vegetables while getting in just one more chapter,probably safer).

I hear a lot of talk about how we want to move away from "everyone goes to college" and back to a more varied set of life-choices.  We can't get there until we stop telling people what to choose in areas of their lives that are value neutral.  My son seems to be a natural scholar - but he's not a STEM nerd.  My daughter doesn't like rote anything... but I wonder what I can do if I help her to be more project oriented?  She's never going to get a PhD in anything that starts with the word "theoretical" - but practical?  Might get out of the way.  My niece just announced on FB that she's trying out to become a farrier.  Why not?  She's amazing with large animals and she's willing to get her hands dirty.  We need more people who are willing to get their hands dirty and work hard.

Honesty, kindness, hard-work, love, courage, honor - THOSE are Biblical values.  "I work with my brain, not my hands, and I like butterflies" is *not*.  It's just a thing.

We need to differentiate between the Truth of what the Bible *really says* about our lives and what the World calls success.  And where the Word is silent, let's try to withhold judgement.

In the meantime, if you really like wearing denim and studs and I come to do a closet makeover - fear not.  I am not there to force you to wear ribbons in your hair.


  1. Brilliant, sweetie. Love how you bounced off into the land of the phone conversation we were having the other day. It's amazing how many young people allow the outside to dictate their insides. If you're gorgeous and have a quick wit? Certainly you must be a "mean girl" because you fit that mold so nicely. Daddy have a lot of money? Trust fund baby with an attitude. Not necessarily because you like being that person or feel comfortable that way, but because that is who you *should* be.

    <3 from your friend whose sartorial choices are typically very far away from the land of flowers, ribbons and frilly petticoats. <3

    1. <3 Thanks for the comment and for coming 'round. Ah, could they only see the fabulous that is you! -squish-


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