Monthly Archives: September 2014

Mother God as Oedipus Complex

So this is going to be a very psychoanalytical post and I apologize to my few readers who have any sort of expectations regarding the content of this blog for the diversion away from the typical topics.
In the mid-1800s, a philosopher named Ludwig Feuerbach suggested that “God springs out of the feeling of a want” (Michaud, 1994, para. 28), that is, that God (specifically, the Christian God) is a projection of human nature that is meant to fill a need, such as comfort or security. Of course, there are many issues with his theory, not the least of which is the question that if God is truly nothing more than a projection of human nature, as Feuerbach teaches, why is the Christian God all good and not evil? (Michaud, 1994). In fact, it puts me in mind of other gods and goddesses of mythology, who more closely fit this description of gods as projections of human nature. For example, there is “The Judgement [sic] of Paris,” the famous myth of three Greek goddesses (Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite) descending to the earth and asking a human man named Paris to judge which of them is the most beautiful, a tale of the goddesses’ vanity and pettiness. Or, for example, how all Japanese gods (神 “kami”) are a combination of good and evil—so much so that one of the greatest hindrances for Japanese coming to Christianity is the hurdle of belief in a God who is wholly good and not at all evil. But, I digress. Tackling all the issues with Feuerbach’s theory is not the aim of this post.
Sigmund Freud, called the Father of Psychoanalysis, greatly revered Feuerbach and expanded on Feuerbach’s theory of God as a human projection designed to meet a want or need (Holt, 2008). Freud taught that God is basically an exalted father and that children lose their religious faith as soon as the father’s authority breaks down. This belief may not come as a surprise given that Freud’s father was (according to Freud) a coward who would not speak against anti-Semitism (the Freuds were Jews) and who had a sexual perversion that harmed his children, but who developed an interest in Jewish religion (Gleghorn, 2014); I should think anyone with a father like that would develop an aversion toward that father’s religious leanings or toward any religious leanings at all.
Freud famously took the ancient Greek myth of Oedipus as an example of his perspectives regarding sexuality and relationships with parents. In case you’ve forgotten it or never heard of it, briefly explained, the myth of Oedipus runs like this: The king and queen of Thebes have a son and the Oracle of Delphi predicts that this son will grow up to kill his father, the king. To prevent this from happening, the king and queen abandon their son on a hill to die, but a shepherd finds him, takes him in, names him Oedipus, and raises him as his own son. After growing to adulthood, Oedipus meets the king of Thebes (who he is unaware is his father), has an argument with him, and kills him. Then, to save Thebes from a rampaging sphynx, Oedipus takes over Thebes, marrying the queen (who he is unaware is his mother) and having children by her.
Freud used this ancient Greek myth to exemplify his belief that boys have a sexual attraction to or desire for their mothers and therefore hate their fathers and want to kill them in order to take their place. If God is nothing more than a projection of one’s father, it has been suggested that perhaps rejection of God specifically or of religion more generally is little more than a rejection of one’s father (Gleghorn, 2014). Perhaps the “cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things” that “choke the Word” (Mark 4:19) is the mother figure, falsely viewed by people who consider success “nurturing” like a mother, whereas God’s sometimes harsh discipline meant to help and save us but which is often falsely viewed as mean-spirited, hateful, and/or spiteful represents the Father.
A relatively new religious movement found in the U.S. and elsewhere today rejects God as Father and reveres God as Mother. Even some Christian groups have recently attempted to erase any reference to gender for God or make Him either genderless or female, as most infamously demonstrated in a newer “gender-neutral” revision of the NIV. My suggestion is that perhaps this younger belief in Mother God is a religious Oedipus Complex, a psychoanalytical attack on the Father God as a further reaction against the earthly human father. If Feuerbach’s and Freud’s theories, which have many issues and are largely rejected today, have any grain of truth in them, perhaps that truth is exemplified in humans’ rejection of Father God and replacement of Him with “Mother God.”
What do you think?
じゃあまたね!

References
Gleghorn, M. (2014). “Sunday Evening Series – Atheism Part 2.” [Podcast] Frisco Bible Church. Retrieved from <http://www.friscobible.com/sermons&gt;
Holt, T. (2008). “Sigmund Freud: Religion as wish-fulfillment.” Philosophy of Religion. Retrieved from <http://www.philosophyofreligion.info/arguments-for-atheism/the-psychogenesis-of-religion/sigmund-freud-religion-as-wish-fulfilment/&gt;
Michaud, D. (Ed.) (1994). “Ludwig Feuerbach (1804-1872).” Boston Collaborative Encyclopedia of Western Theology. Retrieved from <http://people.bu.edu/wwildman/bce/feuerbach.htm&gt;

Braided Knitting

Today, I’m going to present instructions on how to knit a braid–or rather, how to cable braid. The prerequisite for learning how to cable braid is knowing how to cable front and cable back. If you’re not sure how to do these, you can find great videos on how to cable with a cable needle here or without a cable needle here; and on how to cable front here, and how to cable back here. I even found a couple videos on how to create a cable braid here and here.

cable braid

 

But to knit the specific cable braid pictured on the cardigan at left, and if you know how to cable already, follow the instructions below. These directions are a variation on the Cable Cardigan in Venezia Sport by Vera Sanon from Cascade Yarns.

Stitch multiple: 9 plus 8

Row 1 (RS): P4, K9, P4

Row 2 (WS): K4, P9, K4

Row 3 (RS): P4, C6F, K3, P4

Row 4 (WS): K4, P9, K4

Row 5 (RS): P4, K9, P4

Row 6 (WS): K4, P9, K4

Row 7 (RS): P4, K3, C6B, P4

Row 8 (WS): K4, P9, K4

Rep Rows 1-8 to desired length

Have fun cabling!

じゃあまたね!

5 Things I Hate About Japan

Since no one ever seems to write on what they “hate” about Japan, I thought I’d break the mold and do so, but found it surprisingly difficult to come up with five things. Furthermore, I found a couple things that I “hate” about Japan or, more specifically, Tokyo (where I live), are not actually things I hate so much as things I find amusing or slightly irritating. Nevertheless, I did my best to come up with a “hate” list. 🙂

1. The Sewage System. It stinks. Literally. It’s not well-sealed, and so in places where they have sewer access, such as alleyways and little-used streets, you can smell the sewage of the largest city on earth. It’s not great.

2. The Plumbing. This is one thing the Romans figured out a long time ago, but which the smartest people on the planet, God bless them, haven’t quite figured out yet. When we first arrived, our bathtub wouldn’t drain. Later, my husband opened up the plumbing system, found a hair trap and emptied it, and put it all back together. Now it drains… mostly… but even perfectly clean, there’s a part of the plumbing that doesn’t quite drain right—that is, there is always a certain amount of standing water in the plumbing under the tub drain.

"please don't get your hand caught in the elevator door"

“please don’t get your hand caught in the elevator door”

3. Nanny State Signage. I guess I don’t hate it so much as I roll my eyes and laugh at it, but I thought I’d include it in the list of negatives since it can be annoying on occasion, more as an insult to my intelligence than anything else. For example, there are signs telling people to be considerate of other passengers on the train by not forcing your way in ahead of them. Well, duh. But the kind of person who is enough of a jerk to do that is not the kind of person to be halted by a sign telling them not to. There are also signs on the train warning that groping women is a crime. Well, duh. But the kind of person who would do something so completely unacceptable or break such a law is not going to be stopped by a sign telling them something is unacceptable and/or a crime (like laws making it more difficult to purchase guns when we all know the majority of criminals obtain their guns illegally anyway, so such laws only serve to disarm law-abiding citizens). The balcony on our 11th floor apartment has a sign saying, “Please don’t drop anything.” Well, duh. But the kind of person who needs to be told not to drop things off of balconies is either too young to read the sign or both old enough to know better and enough of a jerk not to care; therefore, people who might drop something off the balcony are not going to be stopped by a sign.

4. Polite Language. There are two basic forms of language: polite/formal and casual/informal. However, there are a bazillion degrees of each. Furthermore, you may have learned the casual version one verb, such as “to eat” (食べる “taberu”), but the restaurant worker will ask whether you’re dining in or taking out by using the polite form (召し上がる “meshiagaru”), which sounds nothing like the casual form! Some Japanese teachers will recommend learning the polite form first so that if you mess up, you do so by accidentally using a politer word than you needed to, rather than accidentally using a less polite form than you should have. Other Japanese teachers recommend learning the casual form first because that’s the form you’ll actually use in everyday conversation with friends. Either way, for a while, you’ll sound like you don’t know what you’re saying, which is true in every language but seems to be more true in Japanese.

5. Handicap and Children’s Access. So far, of the dozens of restaurants I’ve visited, I’ve found one that offered high chairs. One. (To be fair, the food court at the mall also had high chairs, but without any sort of restraint, so Ada kept slipping off.) Also, you’re not supposed to take a stroller on an escalator, but there are plenty of cases when there are no elevators. Some crosswalks/bridges, train stations, restaurants, stores, and even police stations have absolutely no handicap access (which also means no stroller access). (By “handicap,” I mean “wheelchair”—see my previous post regarding things I love about Japan on access for the blind.)

Well, that wasn’t so bad, was it? Now for the poisonous comments about how I’m such a horrible person for “hating on” such a kind and generous people…

じゃあまたね!

5 Things I Love-Hate About Japan

I once had a friend who liked to describe her relationship with another mutual friend as “a love-hate relationship—we love to hate each other!”

You may have already read my list of 5 Things I Love About Japan. But there are many things where you may love one aspect and hate another aspect, or cases where there are both pros and cons to the same situation. This is true of every country, including my own home country. For example, the U.S. Constitution grants the right to “bear arms,” which was understood from the foundation of the country to mean guns, for the purpose of defending ourselves from a totalitarian government (since our entire purpose in fighting the Revolutionary War was to separate ourselves from the totalitarian government that was the British Empire), but we also have more gun-related violence than any other country. So we’re (relatively) safe from our government but not necessarily safe from ourselves. Anyway, Japan is no stranger to situations or aspects that have both pros and cons. This is just a short list of some that bothered me.

DSC050031. “Engrish” Translations. I’m sure you’ve seen those photos of “Engrish” signs from Asian countries warning people not to “sh– or pi– on the sidewalk.” I haven’t seen any Japanese signs that unintentionally used inappropriate language, but there have been many times I’ve seen signs that didn’t make much sense the way they translated it. For example, I saw a sign outside a grocery store warning, “Please leave your cart here. It’s very danger if cart move alone to the road.” A website offered English translation for ticket prices divided into two categories: Adult and Dwarf. Other times, you can’t understand the translation at all; in those cases, there is occasionally no Japanese, either, so you can’t ask your fluent spouse/friends to translate what it really means. And sometimes, as with Shinbashi/Shimbashi Station, there was once a particular Roomaji (English letters) spelling for a certain name, but they now use the more appropriate spelling, and the end result is that searching for one version of the name will get you certain results and searching for the other version will get you a different set of results. On the one hand, it’s very helpful to have so much English because one such as I who barely speaks any Japanese at all is able to get around and usually can make sense of the poorly translated “Engrish” text. Furthermore, when it’s poorly translated but understandable, it’s very amusing. But on the other hand, when it’s so poorly translated as to be incomprehensible and no original Japanese text is present, it’s quite annoying because you know they put it in English for a reason, but you can’t figure out why they thought it was so important because you can’t understand it.

2. Japanese Hospitality. The Japanese people are so generous and so hospitable. It works to your favor quite frequently. For example, when we first arrived in Japan and presented ourselves to the Ward Office, a woman guided us to a table, showed us what form to fill out, stood there while we filled it out (which felt very awkward), pulled a number for us, guided us to the seats, and then, when our number was called, guided us to the desk. We could probably have done it on our own, but—especially if you don’t know what you’re doing and/or don’t know the language—it was very nice. In the U.S., when you go to a government building for something, there’s usually someone at the front desk to tell you which hallway to walk down, but otherwise, it’s pretty much up to you. The clerks are often irritated at you if you couldn’t find the form online to fill it out ahead of time (even though it’s no inconvenience for them since all they do is point you to the wall with all the forms and tell you to find the right one). If you have to pull a number, no one tells you to do so. You figure it out for yourself when you hear “Now serving number 151” or something to that effect. If you forgot (or didn’t know) to grab a number, you’re left waiting for a very long time until you figure it out. So Japanese hospitality can be a breath of fresh air compared to American hospitality.

On the other hand, there are times when it can be annoying. If I ask you what chiropractors you recommend, assuming you like chiropractors, you might look through your phone and text me the appropriate contacts, leaving it to me to actually call them, which conveniently means I don’t have to wait for you to do anything other than text me the contacts and you don’t have to go out of your way to help me. Win-win! Not so with the Japanese. If you ask someone for some business recommendations, they have to call each business contact, discuss the situation with them, set up a time to meet both you and the business contact, meet you at your house, take the train with you to the business contact, introduce you, and then sit back and wait (awkwardly) while you conduct your business. The hospitable person, then, is inconvenienced by having to set up and attend (including train tickets) meetings between him/herself, you, and the various contacts; and you’ve been inconvenienced by having to wait. But to their thinking, it would be rude to just tell you where to go or who to talk to and give you the contact information, leaving it up to you.

3. Trash Service. There are many things to love about it. People understand their responsibility to clean up after themselves and so generally don’t leave trash around. Furthermore, the government’s system is so effective at marking and separating recyclables from non-recyclables that I wouldn’t be surprised if this tiny country has the most efficient trash system on the planet. But learning how to separate trash—which is different in every ward/city/prefecture—is a real pain, especially if you’re new to it or your ward/city/prefecture doesn’t offer an English translation. For example, my ward (which provides a 23-page instruction manual on trash separation) requires separation into: (1) combustible non-recyclables; (2) noncombustible non-recyclables; recyclable papers further divided into stacks of (3) newspapers, (4) drink cartons, (5) books, (6) cardboard boxes, and (7) miscellaneous papers, each stack bound with twine; (8) recyclable plastics; (9) recyclable plastic bottles; (10) glass or metal jars and cans; (11) electronics; and (12) hazardous waste (such as aerosol cans). Each division is packaged in different ways and the trash must be put out the day of trash collection (not the night before), no later than 8:00 am. (Of course, our apartment building handles setting out the trash, but we still have to divide it ourselves.) You have to pay extra to have the trash service pick up certain things, such as a deceased pet or a piece of furniture. You also have to wash (yes, wash: scrub with soap and water) and drain anything that’s stained with food (for example, meat is always packaged in recyclable Styrofoam and recyclable plastic wrap, so you have to scrub by hand and hang-dry the plastic wrap and Styrofoam prior to throwing it away). Furthermore, because people are generally expected to clean up after themselves, there are very few public trash cans, so you end up carrying your trash all over kingdom come, searching for a trash can. Sometimes, you’ll find public trash cans, but they’re labeled appropriately (cans, bottles, newspapers, etc.) and there isn’t one for your kind of trash.

4. Limited Language Sounds. This is both good and bad. There are only 46 basic sounds in the Japanese language, which makes it easy to pronounce but also means there are a gazillion onomatopoeias—which is why they still use kanji. For example, “nose” and “flower” use the same sounds (はな “hana”). When spoken, you emphasize the first syllable for flower and the second syllable for nose. When written in hiragana, you can probably figure out the difference by context, but if it’s written in kanji (花 for flower and 鼻 for nose), you don’t have to worry about figuring it out in context because the kanji (symbol) used tells you which one is meant. A better example is alcohol (酒) and salmon (鮭), both of which are pronounced さけ “sake.” (To be fair, “salmon” can also be pronounced しゃけ “shake,” and so that’s usually how it’s pronounced—for example, when ordering food in a restaurant—in order to better differentiate between salmon and alcohol.) There are other better examples, but being a beginner in studying Japanese, I can’t think of any off the top of my head. Suffice it to say, there are lots of onomatopoeias where the kanji really helps you know which word is meant. However, the downside is that you have to learn the kanji. To be considered knowledgeable at the most basic (high school graduate) level, you have to learn over 2,000 kanji. It takes Japanese kids 12 years to master these… so imagine trying to learn them as a foreigner who doesn’t even know the words that the kanji represent, and trying to do so in just a few years. I figured out that if I memorize two new kanji every day, it would still take me about 4 years to learn just the basic kanji. 😦 *sigh* (By the way, the Koreans—by which I mean South Koreans—did away with their kanji equivalent, and it works to some degree for them since they have more sounds in their language than Japanese does, but Korean kids graduating from high school can’t read anything more than a few years old and there’s now no way beyond context to tell the difference between onomatopoeias in their written language, so there are ups and downs to doing away with kanji-like symbols.)

5. Parks. Weird, right? What’s wrong with parks? I come from Texas, a state with wide-open spaces and lots of grass and trees. There are lots of parks here, and most of them are very beautiful with landscaping to rival that of private enterprises the whole world over. On the other hand, most of the parks here are pretty small and don’t have grass. Some of the ones that do have grass do not permit you to walk on it. For a while, I was pretty depressed at the thought that Ada might not grow up knowing the feeling of grass between her toes, but I’ve just made a point of visiting the parks that both have grass and allow you to walk on it. Altogether, I’m very pleased with the parks, but the grass thing and lack of wide, open spaces bother me more than a little. I guess that’s what happens when you transplant a Texan who grew up on a farm to the largest city on the planet (Tokyo).

Next week, I’ll write about a slightly more controversial topic.

じゃあまたね!