Archive for April, 2012

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Where do little Timmy and Jimmy get there ideas about the proper way of thinking about physical intimacy in our culture?  Isn’t it from the world?  And in our Society today that means the Media.  Not long ago, as I was doing research, I ran across a story about a friend of mine who was going even further than most Christians I know in trying to help there children stay pure for marriage.  It has become almost a passé thing to ask one’s daughter to learn about sex and its many pitfalls when indulged in outside of marriage.  There is usually a purity ring given to the young lady and some kind of ceremony is involved, so that it’s a really special event in her life…but few think about doing the same for our boys.  Here’s the thing…my friend Julian did think about his sons.  What do you think the mainstream press thought about such laudable behavior?  Well, see for yourself…

‘I’d thought purity balls—dances when tween and teen girls pledge to their fathers that they’ll stay virgins until marriage—were paternalistic and super-creepy for the girls. But, apparently, they are equal-opportunity paternalistic and creepy. The Tennessean interviewed parents Julian and Valerie Head, of Franklin, Tennessee, who are hosting a purity ball at their home for their 9- and 6-year-old sons, where the boys will make a virginity pledge with their dad. Yeah, these poor boys are 9 and 6.

It’s never too early for parents to discuss the birds and the bees with their kids in an age-appropriate way, but that’s not what purity ball parents do—they push abstinence. Abstinence is safe and baby-free, of course. But like veganism, religion, or rooting for the Red Sox, it should be a choice, not something your parents indoctrinate you into believing is the best. It really boggles my mind that full-grown adults would actually expect older children to abide by a pledge they’d encouraged them to make as 6-year-olds. Oh, and never mind that niggling little fact that virginity pledges do not work.

Big problem I have with all this: Why are fathers charged with protecting their children’s virginity? That’s disrespectful to mothers whose kids are taught through this ritual to just not disappoint their dads by having sex before marriage. I’ve read about kids who make a virginity pledge to both their parents, but pledging to the father only seems more in line with fundamentalist beliefs about male headship of household. Blech. So many things wrong with all of this.”  [The Tennessean]  “The Frisky” (“Dads Are Talking To Their Sons About Balls—Purity Balls, That Is” Jessica Wakeman December 2009)

So there you have it.  The incredibly astute Miss Wakeman has with one fell swoop, relegated our sons to pointy-headed, creepy kids whose parents are completely out to lunch culturally, and even scientifically.  I mean after all she sites “a study”.  Oh well, goodness…she citing studies.  She must be very smart…or very prejudiced.  What she doesn’t say is that it is one extremely isolated study from Maryland, where fewer than a thousand young men and women were surveyed, and that it is very tricky to convey such subtle truths as slipping up once or whether or not the person was truly a person of faith, etc., etc., etc., ad nauseum.  Meanwhile, she completely ignores the studies done in Uganda and Sub-Sahara Africa on the effect abstinence is having on the over-all AIDS crisis…and this is in a sample of millions of people!  See, I tend to believe the studies, where if the people get it wrong, they die.  Call me cynical, but I tend to give less weight to the article and studies, where if wrong, the person gets a reprimand from their editor, or snarky comments left on their blogs by miffed readers.  Death tends to make you get it right, and make no mistake about it.  We are in many ways in a life and death struggle when it comes to this issue with our sons.  So, where on earth does one start to address such a hot, polarizing, loaded topic?  The only place to start then is at the beginning.

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I know that a lot of folk would say that ebooks have changed literature in a way that is fundamentally flawed. I, however, feel just the opposite. Having come out of the music business, after a career of 25 plus years, I feel uniquely qualified to make this assessment. Recording deals and record companies after all are little more than slave labor for mostly nameless faceless corporations.  When a record company signs an artist they are then requiring them to pay all production costs and ancillary expenses out of the 10-15% of the proceeds an album makes.  Those of you good with math will note that the record company retains 85-90% of the profits.  So if some poor schmuck is lucky enough to sell 100,000 records (believe me a huge success at any time but particularly these days) but he had spent $125,000 to make it, he would most likely never see a profit.  The record company, however, would make a six figure gain, and would claim it as a loss on their books…because the budgeted amount wasn’t made back at the artist’s 10-15%.  Far from being angry the artist now feels beholden to the company, because they have deigned to let him stay around and record again…though they act as if he’s actually “unable to move units”.  And for this grand gesture that the record company makes, the artists, rather than balking and running as he should, gives the company ownership of his work.  Mind you, the artist created, conceived, recorded and delivered the work of art…the content…to the company….and also payed for it completely!  That my friend at its best is share cropping, and at its worst its slave labor.

It has stuck me lately that almost no one really wants a normal record deal anymore…shock!  Also, it has stricken me how the advent of inexpensive recording gear in the music world (that led to the ability of the everyday artist to beat the companies at their game) is closely mirrored by the advent of the ebook in literature.  Essentially both allow anyone, at any level of skill, to submit their works to the public forum.

In publishing, as opposed to in music, the rights to the work of art remain with its creator.  They acknowledge that the costs of production have been recouped and, since the the work has been paid for, it should remain with the writer.

My main problem with ebooks is that I love real books.  But I can easily afford many more of the electronic ones, and that is a very tempting lure.  In fact, in an effort to make peace with my aesthetic self, I’ve had to promise myself that the books I truly love I will buy again in Hardcover form…so my ebooks have been come my nuevo-paperbacks. What I’m trying to say is I can’t decide what to read there is just so much out there!  Apparently this also happened in music.  For while the record companies would have the world believe that music is irreparably damaged an selling enormously less than it was before…the truth is over-all sales of music have  actually gone up!  But the more they can make us feel that those who stray from the company line will be responsible for the death of music, the more they can continue their nefarious business model.

I see a lot of parallels between record companies and book publishing companies but I see more dissimilarities. That’s because, seeing their cash cow being stolen away, record companies have dug in their heels like the Children of Israel before the golden calf, and blamed everyone but themselves.  Book publishers have by and large realized that they are going to have to rethink how they think about themselves in the context of makers of content versus distributors of content…and they are embracing it.

Most of you reading this are Christians.  When someone with a lot, cheated someone else who didn’t have a lot, and then took it to the nth degree, how did God react? Here’s the thing. When Jesus comes back… you saying, “Everybody else was doing it” is just not going to cut it.

As they exist, record companies are slave labor. Free my people.