Post-show wrap ups A case for why we need the Humanities

Future dragon trainer?
Future dragon trainer?

Last night was the 5th season premier of Game of Thrones. No, don’t worry. This isn’t a recap or review of the show. Nor will there be spoilers. I use this as a reminder as to why we need to keep the study of the Humanities in our classrooms.

Humanities, at least in America, are being pushed aside for more STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) classes .We apparently want our children to learn how to make technological advances, but not ask questions about these advances like, “is this a good thing to do? And, how will it benefit mankind?

The Humanities teaches us critical thinking skills and asks us to search our worldview and ourselves. What does it mean to be human? is a question posed not just by science alone but by the Humanities as well.

A lot of students find these classes boring and whine because they are asked to read and consider the Classics. What they don’t realize is that humanity expresses itself through words, art, drama, architecture, and religious worship. These symbolic gestures form our world. To know what it means to be human is to study and understand these very same symbolic gestures.

Once upon a time (really not that long ago) one of the foundation stones of a college education was acquiring critical thinking skills. This meant that one was not easily swayed by bullshit. A measure of one’s education was knowing when to ask questions and look beyond whatever was being presented. “Does that make sense? Is there more than what meets the eye? How do I know this is true?” Those who mastered these skills were equipped to view the world without the use of cultural and gut-feeling filters. They were able to draw upon their education when faced with symbolic gestures and could easily place them in proper context. Humanities majors made good use of these skills, with many becoming novelists and journalists. These were the people who knew what it meant to be human and could translate world events through storytelling or news reporting.

Today there is a push for specialized fields. My son was a journalist major for three years and never once did he have to take a Humanities course. Rather than focusing on learning why things happen, and then learning to write about it, the focus is on how to get the story out. This is disheartening to me, as the first question should always be, “is this true?”, not, “how do I get my Twitter followers to read my news article?”

We have yet to see the full ramifications of this new breed of journalists, but we are starting to get an idea of how this type of approach can be damning. One has to look no further than the recent Rolling Stone article about a campus rape. The story went viral and caused public outcry as well as damage to the University of Virginia (where the rape allegedly took place). The story started to unravel as more experienced journalists started asking questions. A review into the story led to the conclusion that Rolling Stone failed its readers by not asking the right questions. Most of what the young girl claimed turned out to be false. You can read a great analysis of the review here.

Rolling Stone made a lot of mistakes, and many people are to blame, yet all of them could have been avoided by first, asking one simple question: how do I know this is true?

Another example of this new breed of “journalists” can be found on social media. There is a growing trend of podcasts on YouTube and iTunes that call themselves “After Show wrap ups”. Afterbuzz TV, a very popular collection of these shows says this: “For decades, sports fans have been treated to post-game wrap up shows after watching games. Thanks to AfterBuzz TV, at long last, TV fans can do the same”. What they fail to realize is that sport post-game wrap up shows are hosted by former players and sports journalists who know what in the hell they are talking about. This new breed, not so much.

I like to watch Game of Thrones, but because most of my friends do not I have no one to talk to discuss it with. I decided to download an episode of one of these post-show wrap ups. I thought I would be offered some insight into things that I might have missed as I stared dreamily at Peter Dinklage. What I got instead was a train wreck.

I looked at the bio of the hosts for clues as to their stupidity. I won’t name them, as I do not want to cause them embarrassment. They do this to themselves just by opening their mouths.

Would it surprise you to learn they all claimed to have college degrees? Would it be equally surprising to learn that these are specialized degrees? I doubt one of them took a Humanities course or if they did, slept through it and dreamed about being famous.

It would appear obvious that in order to successfully talk about storytelling, one would have to possess a good understanding of the medium. Since the Game of Thrones is primarily about the human condition, one should have a solid foundation for this too. These hosts do not.

Picture yourself watching a scene in which a very large religious statue is being pulled from atop of a pyramid by an army who had just conquered the city. The statue crashes down in spectacular CGI fashion and breaks a part upon impact. You my dear readers do not need to be told what the breaking of the statue represents. Yet here are the hosts talking about it:

Female Host: “ I don’t get it. Why did they pull the statue down?”


Male Host: “I guess to show them who is in charge?”

WTF? They just watched an army conquer a city and then systemically destroy the religious icons and yet, the female host cannot figure out why. You don’t need a college education to understand the meaning behind this destruction. It’s happening right now in the Middle East, and yet this young woman is clueless. She can no more understand this than she can understand why Daenerys (a young queen with pet dragons) would need Tyrion’s (a politically savvy outcast) help. But sadly, neither do the other hosts. As they talk about this possible alliance one of the hosts says this:

Well, he has read a lot of books. Maybe Tyrion can teach Daenerys how to train her dragons”. I bet he’s read a book about it”. The hosts then go on to discuss the possibility that this is how Tryion comes to help Daenerys. Not by teaching her the game of politics, but how to keep her dragons from eating innocent people. At this point I turned the podcast off. So much for an insightful discussion. Should have just talked to myself as I watched the show. Okay, I would have a least looked at the cat when commenting.

These hosts could have benefited from a few Humanities courses. They would have learned the fine art of storytelling, what symbolic gestures mean, and how politics, not dragon training, is crucial to nation building.

It would be ideal if STEM were to be changed to STEAM. We need the arts, and by arts I mean the Humanities. For without them we wouldn’t know why we do the things we do. Technology might allow us to build better dragons, but Humanities will have us ask: Do we really need them in the first place? I’ll take the guy who’s read a lot of books over the girl with the out of control pet dragons any day.

Jesus as a socialist & why Joe is an hypocrite


We’re going to talk about religion. I know, it’s been awhile, and I’ve since moved on to lighter subjects but this post is long overdue. We need to talk about Jesus.

Why Jesus and why now? A Twitter rant this morning by an ill- informed, angry “Hate everything but God,” Christian named Joe got me thinking about socialism and “Free Enterprise” (apparently Joe can’t spell capitalism) and how these two economic systems relate to those who profess to follow Jesus.

For people like Joe “Socialism is a failed system” while the Bible “ Is for “Free Enterprise” (by the way, I looked this quote up in the Bible, but cannot find it. Joe may have a very modern translation). To be fair to Joe, he is partly right, strict socialist economies are failing, but so are capitalistic (sorry, free enterprise) systems; it’s a wonder, given that Joe lives in America, he does not recognize this. But let’s back to the root of Joe’s rant.

As a Christian (I use this term loosely to describe Joe-who hates everything) Joe seems to be under the impression that Jesus wants us to be rich (and apparently white, going by his Twitter feed) but fails to take in consideration that the Biblical Jesus was very much against the wealthy and did what he could to change the social system of his day. Those who are truly Christians should know this.

I give you six reasons why Jesus was a socialist *Hippie.

*The love everyone kind, not the take drugs kind.


Jesus didn’t care for wealth

Jesus didn’t get pissed much, but when he did, he took his anger out on those seeking to make money off of other people. Remember the story of the moneychangers and his reaction to them? He over turned their tables in a fit of rage at the idea of making money in a temple (kinda makes you wonder if his head would explode on seeing how much TV evangelist make in their churches). Jesus said:

“Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!” John 2:13-22

I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” Matthew 19:23

We cannot serve God and money. Matthew 6:24

Asked his followers to give up worldly possessions

Not only did Jesus have some clear views on wealth, he tended to see possessions as obstacles of faith.

Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. Luke 12:33

If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” Matthew 19:21

Foolish is storing treasure for self; not being rich toward God. Luke 12-21

I could go on, but you get the idea. Jesus was not big on wealth or material goods; two things every capitalist (sorry again, free enterpriser) worships.

Talked some men into giving up their day jobs to work for free  (gasp) helping others

For those of you who do not know the story, here it is in a nutshell. One day while walking along the Sea of Galilee Jesus noticed two fishermen and called for them to follow him. Oddly enough, they shrugged their shoulders, put down their nets and followed him. It may have helped that a crowd was already following and they may have thought, “Why not, beats fishing”. Jesus saw two more men near boats and asked if could join them. He got on the boat, gave a quick sermon, waved his staff (sorry, that was Gandalf) and magically miraculously, filled the boat with fish. Now, if he was a free enterpriser, you’d think he’d of gotten off the boat and yelled at the two fishermen, “When you sells this haul, remember I get a cut of the profits”. But no, the two men got off the boat with him, never to return. As they walked Jesus said, “Don’t be afraid, now you will catch men” Luke 5:11. We have to assume the crowd ate the fish and the phrase “catch men” was explained more thoroughly later.

Fed people without paying a capitalists for food

Now, you’d think if Jesus was all for free enterprise, he’d cut some sort of deal with a local restaurant when he had crowds of hungry people gathered to hear him speak. This would have surely helped the local economy. After all, whenever there is a convention in town, the locals cash in.

Once again, Jesus ignores the capitalist tendencies to see a golden opportunity at every turn. Instead, he performs another trick, miracle and turns water to wine (you can start to understand why the local government may have been unhappy with him). No one pays for anything. In fact, the limited amount of food that is brought to the gathering is multiplied so that everyone has something to eat.

Lived in a commune

Actually, the Bible says nothing about where Jesus lived on a day-to-day basis. But we do know he always had at least 12 men with him, none of which had day jobs at this point. It is safe to assume he did not live a well-furnished house. We do know however, that well after his death, many followers of the faith lived and worked together, sharing what they had. Time and time again we see Christian sects living together as one big happy family. In fact, it could be argued that the Puritans, while not politically but socially, experimented with socialism. From leaving England to form their own society, to sharing material goods, the Puritans became examples for other later small American socialist societies.

Was for love, not hate.

Speaking of communes, remember the 60’s? A time when young people wanted to live together in peace and harmony? Well, they got a lot of that from Jesus. He has many things to say about the meek, loving your neighbor, turning the other check and not judging others. He was in all sense a true spiritual hippie on this point. People like Joe, tend to forget this. While I could call him out on this by giving you his Twitter handle I won’t. I am better than this. I don’t want anyone harassing the poor fool. He has enough problems. Joe hates the president: evolution: socialism: atheism and science. He is one big ball of anger. I almost feel sorry for him and those just like him. But the next time you run into a free enterprising loving yet hating everything else, Christian, remind them Jesus was a socialist hippie.


By the way, some of you may be offend or want to argue semantics. To you I say, Get over yourself. This is a humors approach to the very ugly topic of religious hypocrisy.


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