Ignorant Young’un: “So, you’re majoring in English and philosophy, what are you going to do with that?”
Padawan: “Save the fucking world? Duh.”

This is the typical route of conversation being an English and philosophy major. There are a bunch of spin-offs of this as well. Some are nastier than others but they all conclude in the condemnation of English and philosophy as useless majors.

It’s not a surprise. English has no intrinsic job-market appeal and neither does philosophy, of course, unless you want to be an English teacher or a philosophy professor. This is where the conversation usually gets to: Ignorant Young’un“I mean… do you want to be an English teacher?” They usually cannot conceive the idea that someone might want to teach philosophy, so this is the end of the conversation.

Today, however, I will retort Ignorant Young’un‘s claims about my majors and about all of the other English, philosophy, arts and humanities majors. First and foremost, Ignorant Young’un‘s view is narrow and basic. It’s as though by majoring in anything that the only thing you can then do with that degree must have the title of your major in the job description. This isn’t true. Aside from the countless journalistic jobs, the multitude of companies needing social media experts, the expansive amount of people needing documents to be edited by a keen eye and the endless amount of companies that need people that can organize large amounts of information, read them coherently, and then summarize them effectively there is even a more basic point.

And that’s what this entire post is about. Yesterday, I thought about my majors and what they mean to me. So, without further ado, if you take English and break it down into what it is all about you could generate a rather extensive list, but for the sake of the post I will say it’s about this: expressing your thoughts effectively. Philosophy, in this same vain, is about acquiring the ability to effectively think. Therefore, when you combine the two majors, the pursuit of a double major in English and philosophy is really about this: acquiring the ability to effectively think and then being able to express these effective thoughts, effectively.


Thus, I have a question for Ignorant Young’un – what else is this world about, than making your imagination tangible?

Finally, I just wanted to bring this in as a meter of analogy, we hear this nursery rhyme as kids:

“Sticks and stones will break my bones,
But words will never harm me.”

Words, while they say never harm them, are the largest source of hatred but also the largest source of love: because words are a transmission of message. Words may not break bones but words can shatter spirits. And shattering spirits is a way to control but also to liberate. I’m here for the latter.

The story begins with two chaps debating: one has atheistic tendencies, the other has theistic tendencies. For the sake of simplicity we will acknowledge the atheistic person as, “A” and the theistic person as, “T”. The following is an example of the type of conversation that may happen.

  • They begin to talk about their beliefs and T says that he follows the Bible. A decides to interject T and say that the Bible is filled with awful ideas. T quickly rejects this claim and says that A is taking the Bible too literally.

Generally, this is the way many theists escape from criticism. The usual route that A would take is arguing that it’s ridiculous to take some things literally and some things figuratively. But, it’s not. And I’ll grant T that there can be passages taken literally and passages that can be taken figuratively. That’s fine. However, when it comes to an overwhelming amount of passages, the switch to figurative does no better than interpreting it literally and in some cases makes it worse. Such as,

  • If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable.They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.” – Leviticus 20:13

I know, I know, it’s from the Old Testament so it doesn’t count. But, it does. At least, Timothy, Peter and Luke think so:

  •  All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” – Timothy 3:16
  • “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” – Peter 20-21
  • But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one dot of the Law to become void.” – Luke 16:17

So, this refutation of the Old Testament is rendered invalid. Now, referring to the Leviticus quotation from earlier, the literal interpretation of it is that we kill homosexuals. “They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.” I don’t think this is disputable. Nobody wants to own up to this claim though and so the blame falls on the person interpreting the quote as taking it “too literally.” Let’s interpret this quote figuratively, then!

  • If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable.They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.” – Leviticus 20:13

We’ll break it down so it’s easier to follow.

  • “If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable.”

Okay. So, figuratively (or, metaphorically) Leviticus is saying that if a man has sexual relations. Er, rather… we’ll just say that this passage means that if a man is very close, (but not actually having sex) just terribly intimate friends, then they’ve done an awful thing. We’ve avoided the claim that we’re against homosexuals, yeah!

  • “They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.”

This one seems tricky, but we can make it work. Instead of “put to death,” the Bible really only meant to say that they should be psychically alienated and scrutinized mentally to the point that they feel as though they’re dead, not physically dead. “Their blood will be on their own heads,” just means that they need to own up to their ugliness eventually.

Voila! The new, figurative passage would read something like this:

  • If a man has a terribly close friendship with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be psychically alienated and scrutinized mentally to the point that they feel as though they’re dead. Their feelings about themselves should be in accordance with this deranged mental state.” – Leviticus 20:13 (reworked, figuratively!)

Perfect! Instead of the Bible being against gay men and thinking that we should kill them, we should just think of every guy who is close friends with another guy as an oddity and treat them as such until they treat themselves the same way!

And, there are endless other passages that operate the same way. Switching the language of the Bible from literal to figurative doesn’t help its case. In fact, in this situation, I’d say it makes it worse: don’t kill someone, just make them live out their entire life mentally tortured and wish that they were dead. As one of my friends aptly put it, “It’s like those people who say, ‘I don’t mean to offend you, but you’re fucking stupid!'”

when planes met twins
melancholy, horror, and fear
sadness, angst, and shock
twins collapsed on that historic mark
people were falling in love
as a result of the architecture
newspaper, debris flooded
streets, ground and people
trapped.
sparks, excited, ignited, danced
in a display of destruction,
most sank, depressed, bewildered
sept the embers

-n.v.

learning every day to be perfect,
learning every day their virtues,
advice-given morals not lessons,
weaken the value; the mind lessens.
following these blind rules to pursue
a “faithful” lifestyle, not to be true
sitting in their perch, they sit still,
against everything: fight genetics, kill free will,
obstinate and stagnant, they reprieve,
depressed and anxious, they believe

-n.v.

 

their castle is knit with wire
our castle is wit and fire
they protect and destroy
we elect and elicit joy
theirs is to believe and to blame
ours is to discover and accept shame
they raise him to demolish us
we deny him and promote us
visit the castles each and see
the ‘grandeur’ view of the heavenly, or
one of personhood and humanity

- n.v.

oh, how we splendour in such short sight
so all of creation becomes a blight
when the King of Kings is the only light
and the thinker remains a parasite
please, allow that crafter of thought allude
to the grandeur of humankind, not some great Dude
because to craft a thought is a fine deed
and should not be discarded as a dead seed
thought is from the finite but creates the infinity
to show us ‘parasites’ we are the Divinity
its operation is humble but only to subdue
yet in grand ignorance seen as something to eschew
allow the power in Imagination to be found
therefore be renowned; Humankind be crowned

- n.v.