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Of husbands and grocery lists

23 Dec

The Husband and the Grocery List
The husband and the grocery list have a peculiar and dynamic relationship. Consciously or unconsciously, wives send husbands to grocery stores with grocery lists like popes send sinners to purgatory. It’s an attempt to have husbands work off past sins and earn the reward of reentry into the home. And don’t try to refuse the trip. The use of the word “no” here will come back to haunt you in myriad ways. Don’t bother saying you’re busy either. No excuse will satisfy her, since nothing you could possibly be doing will be considered important when you aren’t physically at work (unless you are on the roof in the rain repairing a gaping hole or under the house drowning from broken pipes, it’s all just “tinkering” or “piddling” to wives). But husbands needn’t fear. It’s a crazy deadly maze, but if played right, you can survive and extend time away from purgatory. The key is to do well enough to avoid a woman’s scorn but poorly enough to avoid making it a common occurrence. Here’s some things to remember.
First, if the grocery list is roughly five items or less, by all means, get it right the first time. Returning with the wrong or forgotten items will be considered inexcusable since “it was only five things; seriously? Five things? You can’t get just five things right? I swear…” and so on. While you are going back to fix it, she’ll be making another list that’s even worse out of spite. Getting a five-item list right will maybe get you a kiss on the cheek, but don’t worry, she won’t think it means you are competent to handle the scroll-down or fold-over variety on a regular basis.
But if she gives you a longer list — more than five things — the rules, expectations, and strategy changes considerably. With more than five things, you are certain to forget one item or get an item or two wrong. Just accept it. You are going back. You are going to forget an item because carefully and exhaustively checking a long grocery list before leaving is boring and will strike you as inefficient. You are going to get an item wrong because precisely matching items on the grocery list (which will be far too vague for husbands to understand) with the actual products on the shelves (or freezers, or bins, or endcaps or wherever) is an impossibly confusing test that Einstein would fail because his male brain isn’t wired to pass it. And that’s fine. Hopefully, you’ll end up with just enough of the list wrong or forgotten to keep her natural pity from turning into anger. To be sure, having to “go back” with your tail tucked between your legs will be bothersome but it’s better than doing so well that she becomes confident in you. Wives are different and so individual results may vary, but you should operate according to a 10-15% list-error rate. Above it, woman’s scorn. Below it, she’ll be too proud and send you more often.
Now when you get to the grocery store things are often not what they appear to be. The list will say “pork sausage” but you’ll come home with “links” when you were supposed to get “patties.” Milk, for instance, seems simple enough, but it turns out that grocers do science experiments on milk so that some milk is “evaporated” and others “condensed.” If you are lucky enough to find these chemicals, you won’t be lucky enough to get the right size. Sometimes your item will be literally buried in a sea of the same species. Beans. They’ll have 27 flavors; baked, kidney, northern (must we import everything from yankees?), butter, etc.. Oh, and “peas” are not simply the green version of beans. In fact, some beans are green, but are cut in different ways (ways that she won’t specify on the list). Or you will find that “ranch dip” is not simply ranch dressing used for dipping, but is in fact a pack filled with powder and comes in bacon, buttermilk, onion, and so on. None will say plain or original, but that’s probably the one you were supposed to get. Ground beef is actually measured out in body fat percentages. You will be scolded for buying off-brand cereal or cookies but also scolded for buying name-brand dairy products. In fact, remember that. On any given item, there is a 50% chance that getting the off-brand was the wrong choice. Yet, spending too much money is as wrong to her as spending too little. If she tells you to buy “snacks,” be aware that there is no such thing. Snacks are abstractions, a category of food, not an actual item, although it will appear as such on the list. The snack error rate is astronomical. Bread. Just go ahead and buy a loaf, it will be wrong. But remember, you are only shooting for 10%.
Often you will find yourself simply overwhelmed and lost; kinda like when a child gets lost and just stops walking altogether. You will literally come to a complete stop in the middle of an aisle and find yourself just staring at nothing in particular. If you end up doing this, whatever you do, don’t stop. And don’t bother calling or texting your wife for clarification if possible. Every call/text results in a husband demerit. Besides, help is on the way. One of these motherly-mother types, usually with an empty nest, will inevitably find you in your pitiful state (remember, they aren’t like us, they are multi-taskers seeing hearing and sensing not only what is directly in front of them but also beside and behind as well). Motherly-mother types know where absolutely every food thingy is down to the centimeter. And you are no waste of time for them; motherly-mother types live for this kind of stuff. You’ll see the desire to nurture on their faces. Just stand there with your mouth partially opened looking classically confused, and their natural compassion for helpless husbands will guide them to you. Soon you’ll hear “Honey are you lost?” or “You look really confused, what are you looking for?” or “Just show me your list and I’ll save you a trip back.” She’ll feel good about helping a stray and you’ll get all the credit. It’s really a win-win.
Don’t stay gone too long because that will mean you wanted time away from her. And don’t make the trip too short because you just rushed it, not taking her cooking seriously. Should you add stuff to the list? Yes, as a personal reward, but eat it before you get home. If she gave you a written list, accidentally lose it. If it was texted to you, don’t.
With these things in mind, a husband will not be able to avoid grocery list failures completely. It’s science or something. But he can avoid the extreme sufferings that wives are by nature entitled to bestow upon foolish husbands. “Honey, I need you to get a few items from the grocery store.” “Sure babe. How many?” And so it begins.

“Uh, I’m, like, a Christian, but I…” (If I had a nickel)

23 Sep

More Lutheran Satire:

Postmodern Privilege

12 Jun

From Peter Johnson:

Inspired by Peggy McIntosh’s “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack,” which has become required reading on college campuses across the country: “I was taught to see oppression in every human act and artifact, not in the occasional individual acts of meanness.”

Daily Effects of Postmodern Privilege
I decided to try to improve myself by identifying some of the effects of postmodern privilege in my daily life. I have chosen to explore the most popular categories of personhood (race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexual orientation), rather than those factors that might complicate my postmodern worldview (reason, truth, beauty, virtue, free will). As far as I can tell, my rational and religious acquaintances with whom I come into frequent contact cannot count on most of these conditions:
I am not told that my deepest moral convictions must be relegated to my home.
I can be pretty sure that an argument with a colleague of another ideology won’t result in an organized campaign of harassment that threatens my livelihood.
I can avoid spending time with people who openly disagree with me because those who harbor divergent opinions are often labeled rapists, homophobes, and bigots.
I can go shopping without fear that a sanctimonious hipster will harass me for not buying fair trade or certified organic products.
I can turn on the television or look at the front page of the paper and be sure to find praise for people who think like me and unabashed disdain for those who don’t.
When I am told about our national heritage or about “civilization,” I can be fairly sure that most scholars agree with me that these are pejorative terms, synonymous with colonization, exploitation, and oppression.
If I want, I can be sure to find a publisher for this piece on postmodern privilege, especially if I reference Jacques Derrida.
I can be casual about whether to listen to dissenting opinions because it is easy to label other ideas as microagressions.
I can go into a music shop and count on the most popular musicians being as elitist as me.
I can be influenced by artists and scholars from diverse backgrounds without people saying I am engaging in cultural appropriation.
I can criticize free enterprise while still benefitting from said economic system without the fear of being seen as a hypocrite.
I do not have to teach my children how to talk about religious principles in secular language in order to avoid public ridicule.
I can use sophisticated language and wear a suit and tie without derision because it is assumed I do so only ironically.
I can speak in public to powerful government agents without having my tax-exempt status put on trial.
I can do well in a challenging situation without people saying I ought to “check my privilege.”
I am never asked by reporters to speak to whether everyone in my particular religious group might hypothetically be open to providing goods or services at a gay wedding.
I can be pretty sure that if I ask to talk to a government official she or he will share my ideological convictions.
I can easily see people in sitcoms, movies, news programs, and public-school textbooks who share my guilt for living in a prosperous nation.
If I declare there is a racial issue at hand, or not, my ideological affiliation will lend me more credibility than someone who believes in “evidence” and “proof.”
Major media outlets do not falsely accuse me or my children of fostering rape culture for simply engaging in traditional courtship rituals at wealthy southern schools.
I can seek wealth without being seen as greedy or self-serving, especially if said wealth is accumulated by means of redistribution.
I can take a private jet across the country to attend a conference of environmental activists without fear of my colleagues branding me a fraud.
If a day, week, or year is going badly, I need not ask if it is my fault; I know it is someone else’s.
I can think of many options—regarding my gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation—without being bound to reason, tradition, or nature.
I can be late to a meeting without it reflecting poorly on me because it is assumed that I commute by bike so as to reduce my carbon footprint.
If I cannot rely on the power of influence, I can be relatively certain that government coercion is an option for me to get my way.
I can easily find academic courses and institutions that are slavishly devoted to my nihilistic, neo-Marxist philosophy.
I can expect figurative language and imagery in all postmodern art and literature to be either opaque or so exceedingly obscure as to advance my status as a highly sophisticated member of the intelligentsia.
I have no difficulty fomenting discontent in neighborhoods where people have traditionally been largely satisfied with their lives.
I will feel welcomed and “normal” wherever vehement expression of sentimentality triumphs over “reason.”
Peter Johnson studied postmodernism in both the English and philosophy departments of New York University. His deep understanding of what George Will described as the “degenerate egalitarianism of the intelligentsia” made him an exceptional candidate for the Peace Corps, where he taught beekeeping to subsistence farmers in rural Paraguay, despite having no previous experience keeping bees.

After the Peace Corps, he lived in Senegal for a year, where he cavorted with a bunch of Fulbrighters who enjoyed a yearlong subsidized vacation abroad in return for writing obtuse academic papers reaffirming postmodern scholarship. He now works for the Acton Institute in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he is being vigorously deprogrammed by natural-law philosophers, theologians, and a Catholic priest. You can find him on Twitter @ActonPete.

Peter Johnson is an external relations officer for the Acton Institute. He has held various positions with the National Capital Area Council and Boy Scouts of America.

Do you really want to reduce inequality and social privilege? Then its time that married moms and dads stop being good parents!!!!

12 May

Great [Lutheran] satire, but a sad truth is embedded.  The greatest cause of inequality, of social (even ‘white privilege’), is differences in family structure (and yet though the it is the dominant factor it is the factor most ignored by so many on the left).

Some may define egalitarianism as “belief in the equality of all people, especially in political, social, or economic life,” but a more precise definition for the contemporary parlance would be “belief that every person should have equal access to every opportunity in every circumstance imaginable.” To provide such a society for our children, to build them a shining egalitarian city on a level playing field, one major progress-impeding super villain needs defeating.

Even more so than the misogynistic Christian church or the anti-gay GOP, the chief enemy of egalitarianism is nature. Historic Christianity only makes it hard for women to be pastors, but nature makes it hard for women to be soldiers, firefighters, lumberjacks, and anything else that requires masculine levels of upper body strength. Republicans may pass laws letting bakers deny service for gay weddings, but nature imposes laws denying two pairs of ovaries the power to procreate. But the greatest way that nature breeds inequality is by filling us with the desire to love the children that have resulted from our breeding.

Not all parents are equally adept at loving their children, as anyone who’s ever observed a crowded McDonald’s play place knows. And when those with superior nurturing skills unleash them on their offspring, the results are horrific, producing children with higher levels of happiness, education, and achievement than their contemporaries. One might argue that the solution to this problem is to encourage bad parents to work harder at loving their children, but such a heartless, radical notion can’t be taken any more seriously than the suggestion that a woman who can’t pass a physical fitness test should increase her bench-press regimen like other women have done instead of putting people at risk. Rather, the best way to achieve an egalitarian society is for those who can shoot the highest to quit showing off and start aiming lower.


Just as we should be willing to die of smoke inhalation to prevent a lady firefighter from feeling bad about not being able to carry us on her back, we should also be willing to abandon our children in order to make kids who have already been abandoned feel less socially ostracized.

Achieve equality, at all costs (funny, sad)

3 Apr

Well, that’s one way to achieve gender equality.

Presbyterian Proverbs

24 Feb

From the PresbyterianBlues blog.  Very insightful, based on years of experience:

An advantage of being in the same church for a long time is that you have an opportunity to see things play out.  You can observe parenting and then watch the “parented” children grow up.  You can see folks go from young parents to empty nesters.  You can see all sorts of people just passing through. In short, you’re around long enough for time to tell its story.  And if it told proverbs about Presbyterian church life, they might sound like this.

  1. One who speaketh in his first Sunday School class will evaporate like the morning dew.   It’s uncanny – visitors who enter by sharing their brilliance in their first Sunday School class won’t be around for long.  And, really, you don’t want them around for very long.
  2. Better an early grave than the sneer of an alpha church lady.  Thinking of confronting her? Just find something else to do.
  3.  Like an idol under a hammer is family legalism under actual parenting.  No kind of schooling or parental style is guaranteed to produce the child of your imagination.  A man is arrogant indeed if he is not humbled by parenting. A man is a moralist indeed if he rigidly insists upon all his preconceived family dogmas.
  4.  The fatted calf buys no loyalty.  You can go all out for a visitor or new member, but your sacrifice will be forgotten if his whim leads him elsewhere.
  5.  Sin happens.  Your church is not immune from the sin virus.  There will be ugly things to deal with.
  6.  Your gut speaketh truly but it matters not.  Yeah, you might have good hunches about people and situations but that doesn’t make you lord of them; usually all you can do is watch things play out. At least you have a front row seat.
  7.  Does a kangaroo stop hopping?  If your new members have been church hoppers, your church is a temporary landing spot. Use pencil when you write their names on the roll.
  8.  The heart knoweth not why it leaves a church.  Or at least it isn’t telling. Either they don’t really know or they don’t feel like telling, because departing members say some pretty weak things.


  9.  More welcome is a leper than a former elder.  Members who depart (when circumstances don’t demand it) draw devil horns on their former pastor and session.  Don’t say “see you later,” just say “goodbye.”
  10.  Better a morsel of faithfulness than a feast of victories.  Because you don’t really know what a victory is. Not yet.

Read the others

The mental balm of a spontaneous pillow fight

1 Feb



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