Wednesday, September 30, 2009


My Senior Seminar paper assignment for Prof. Dobski:

Allan Bloom claims in The Closing of the American mind that "Openness, as currently conceived, is a way of making surrender to whatever is most powerful, or worship of vulgar success, look principled....If openness means to 'go with the flow,' it is necessarily an accommodation to the present. That present is closed to doubt about so many things impeding the progress of its principles that unqualified openeness to it would mean forgetting the despised alternatives to it, knowledge of which makes ups aware of what is doubtful in it. True openness means closedness to all the charms that make us comfortable with the present."

Please write a paper defending this position using any of the readings that we discussed in the first part of the course to support your case...paper is to be 5 to 6 pages in length.

And Coworker Joe's response:

Openness as Closedness
by Josie Brown

Thing X is Opposite-Of-Thing-X [Orwell,1948]. QED.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Makeup Is Easy: Makeup of Biblical Proportions

I took this picture in the early morning today and I like it for two reasons. First, because I think I look like I am peering into the future and secondly because you can see the full awesomeness of the Givenchy Phenomen'Eyes mascara I'm always on about (the eye on the right particularly.

I would also like to make an announcement in light of this photograph - I have zits today.
I want to start the world campaign against concealer, which I know sounds insane. For those of you who do not believe that we can all live fuller, happier lives without concealer, I note that I have zits on my left cheek, under my lip on the left side, under my nose on the right side, and one kind of smooshed into my right eyebrow. They are not insignificant but they have been handled properly, by which I mean that I didn't slather greasy concealer sticks all over them.

Concealers tend to come in two varieties - greasy and drying. The downfalls of the greasy variety should be obvious. Additional oil on an oily area will encourage more zits to crop up because they can't breathe; your skin is waterbased and the concealer is oil-based, so the concealer will just float over the top and smother the zit, encouraging it to fester and get truly gross. The drying types get held up as medicated solutions, but realistically they also encourage breakout because the skin doesn't have ENOUGH moisture. You get blemishes when your skin is unbalanced, not necessarily because of oil alone.

So here's what you do. First, clean your face every day. This can mean cleanser, it can mean toner. Just clean it. Then you go out and you get yourself an extractor - I use this one from Sephora and it's great. When you get a zit, steam the bejesus out of your face using a washcloth soaked in hot hot hot water, then apply pressure with your extractor when your pores are nice and open. The beauty of the above-linked extractor is that it has a narrow end and a thick end, so you can apply different kinds of pressure to get all the junk out of there. You want to do this routine at night because your face will likely freak out a little and get red. This is worth it. Clean your face again and moisturize.

In the morning, put a little dot of foundation on your finger and TAP the foundation onto the zit. This will let it work its way into any little crevices without getting all chunked up around any raised skin (you can do the same if you just use powder; the tapping and lack of greasy concealer are the important parts). After you've paid this special attention to the blemishes themselves, go ahead and apply your normal foundation or powder. For me, this requires some concerted effort towards abandoning my more OCDesque tendencies. Yes, you will be able to see the zits, but you will be able to see them because you are looking for them and because you know where they are. Go forth and stop worrying about it and I promise you that no one will ever take note of them.
I went with a slightly more toned down version of my favorite pink/gold combo of late. I still used Bandits in Bras but topped it with the more brown Necessary Morality for a smokier feel. Used the usual Givenchy Phenomen'Eyes which is regrettably drying up, so I am considering trying some new, but it's SO GOOD. One of my Life Projects of late is being less stuck in my ways, but does that have to apply if the way I am stuck in is awesome? Decisionmaking process to follow!
This is a closeup of my lipgloss, which is Get Rich Quick Dazzleglass from M.A.C., which I bought upon a recommendation from Apocalypstick Now. I will note, as she did, that it looks horrifying in the tube. It's brown goo with Eighties colored sparkles in it but somehow when you put it on it turns into a great nude. I don't know how or why, but I assume physics factors in heavily.
I actually think I could have used some blush here. Ah, the passing of summer. From pastiness I came, and to pastiness I shall return. On a side note, were you perhaps wondering about my necklace? The one that basically sums up about 90% of my personality in one piece of jewelry?
This is a piece called "The Cimmerian Library," made by Margaux Kent of The Black Spot Books. I found Margaux's work on Etsy, and she is just amazing. She has a sublime old world sensibility that informs all of her work. This necklace is comprised of eleven books held together by three chains.
Margaux mostly works with reclaimed leather, so all of these covers have a back story. I put the card away but will be detailing them later - they include an old baseball glove, a doctor's bag and a vintage handbag, amongst others. I LOVE it and would wear it all the time if I could. You should go by Margaux's site and take a look. She has some fantastic handmade items and gorgeous prints. Here's one more shot of the library, on Margaux for her Etsy listing - much better quality than with my cameraphone!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

I Have A Question

And that question is..."why?"
Everywhere I go, I get this same half freaking inch of sugar at the bottom of an iced coffee. What is that about?? This happens to be a Honey Dew creation but they are far from the only perpetrators. I am convinced that people aren't jacked up on caffeine, but on sugar. Why is this necessary?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Makeup is Easy: Vampires in RoMa

Apparently I am having either a mischievious day or a surly day because I took about nine zillion pictures today in the process of documenting this makeup and in ALL of them I look either homicidal or like I am up to no good. Even this one, if we're honest, is weird.
What is that? It's somewhere between "I'm picking your pocket RIGHT NOW" and "you're shittin' me." I don't know. I had gotten caffiene in my system by this point, too. Probably not a good sign for anyone in the office

So okay tonight I am going out to The Citizen with my friend Rose for her birthday. Rose is awesome and writes books about vampires and likes her coffee like she likes her men...covered in bees. I tend to have fairly pensive showers in which I consider everything that I am doing that day, but since I am going out with Rose I was kind of like "heh, vampires" and apparently this is what happens when I think "heh, vampires." I was also thinking of the new Sephora catalog in which they announced the arrival of...pretty much exactly the same trends from last fall, to wit - dark lips, grey shadow, etc.

I covered my whole lid right up to the brow with First Class Con, then gave the lid a dusting of Moonlight Whimsy. I threw out my black-black liner in a fit of pique a while back, so I used this charcoaly-black mineral liner (can't remember the brand, but I'll check and post it in the comments when I get home) and a skinny brush. (Sorry if this is gross for you but)I usually just dampen the brush with my tongue to give the powder more definition and me more control when I am using it as liner. To get a good catlike line, you have to work against your intuition; when your eye is closed, line straight across the lashline and continue STRAIGHT out from the eye. Don't curve it up or you'll look crazy. The main thing is getting an even narrowing of the line, and if you botch that you can dampen a Q-Tip and pull it firmly and carefully on a diagonal from below the line to above to sharpen the edge.

Once I had finished the line, I wasn't really happy with the look. I felt like the line was kind of just sitting there pointlessly and didn't cohere with the rest of my face. I decided to skim some of the darker grey from my NARS Paris eyeshadow duo over the lid, and then top it with a little more Moonlight Whimsy to blend everything in since the dark grey is matte and everything else was sparkly. I then lined my lips with CoverGirl Outlast Smoothwear lipliner in Burgundy and applied the Buxom Lips in Vanessa that I mentioned in a previous makeup note. The effect was ALMOST there but not quite, so I pulled the Moonlight Whimsy a little further into the hollow beside my tear duct and around to under the lower lash line, then lined my waterline and the logical line between lower and upper lid. THAT worked out, because the eye was one unified whole and the lighter Moonlight Whimsy opened up my eyes a little bit.

Makeup Is Easy: Petsitting is No Excuse for A Drop in Fabulousity

I was geriatric-animal-sitting this weekend for my parents and for some reason my act is never together when I prepare to bivouack at their house ten minutes from my own, so today we will be having a lesson on how you can survive with nothing but a random assortment of cosmetics that you snatched out of your bathroom in a strangely panicky fog of haste.

On my face is Prescriptives foundation and Cashmere Stockings powder from The She Space, as well as the mascara that I slept in because as we have discussed before, I have poor cosmetics removal habits.

If I just relied on good face coverage and slept-in mascara, my makeup would be boring as hell, so I applied Bare Escentuals Buxom Lips (full color, not gloss) in Vanessa. I put it on over Lemon Head Lip Balm from Stella Marie Soap Company because it does get a little feathery and vampirey without a good foundation.

Cannonball Read #46: The Feminine Mystique, by Betty Friedan

It's interesting to read The Definitive Texts of political and social movements that have either decayed or evolved since the time said texts were written. Usually, you find a strange mix of unrelatability and startling current fact, and that is the case here. Feminism has become controversial again simply as a result of its divisions - people feel a need to define what kind of feminist they are as a result of some more extreme permutations. Sarah Bunting has a terrific article about feminism called "Yes, You Are" which reminds us that feminism isn't about bra-burning or wearing lots of flannel or being humorless or any thing else besides believing in "the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes." It's exactly that simple, but the journey towards anything approaching a majority embrace of the idea has been a long and complicated one.

The Feminine Mystique explores the idea that women are forced by society into an unfulfilling existence wherein their worth is contingent solely on marriage and child-bearing. It is the new feminism - less clear than the lack of suffrage, less obvious than forced prostitution, less dramatic than the assembly of harems - but is equally important. When TFM was published, women had political rights but still were often subject to oppression of their souls. Friedan runs through a variety of doctrines that she thinks have contributed to the Mystique, and her points follow logically. I found it somewhat difficult to evaluate these arguments from a modern day standpoint, because the landscape has changed so dramatically for women since groundbreaking writers like Friedan were revolutionary. Do Freudian interpretations of the psyche still shape our gender attitudes? Maybe. If nothing else, I think the effect is significantly

Whether or not the specifics of Friedan's work are still actively applicable, many of the phenomena that she describes still exist. I think the Mystique has mutated rather than vanished. Many women still feel pressure to be that perfect housewife, but many others feel pressure to be a full-time career woman as well. The real problem seems to be the call for women to decide and declare themselves early on in life. (This is not to say that men get off the hook - in fact, men have even fewer options, as it's generally assumed that they will work and be primary breadwinners.) There is a very serious question to be answered in regard to whether a person can be an active, engaged parent AND a serious businessperson, but that women are routinely pressed to declare themselves as one or the other without dedicated public discourse on the matter is supremely unfair. That happiness rarely factors into this forced decision is even more tragic...both genders should have joy in their lives, and the current expectations from society - whatever their cause - limits this possibility.

The Feminine Mystique is a fascinating read and is worth a look for anyone interested in gender dynamics or social structure. I will warn you that the prose is excellent but not necessarily light, so be prepared to read actively and be able to dedicate some serious concentration to it.

384 pages

Cannonball Read #45: Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe

"Only letters which have come down from the founders can make it possible for the founders to speak directly to the latest heirs. It is then self-contradictory to wish to return to illiteracy. We are compelled to live with books. But life is too short to live with any but the greatest books." Leo Strauss, "What Is Liberal Education" (1959)

There are many variations on the above theme, but Strauss' here is particularly relevant since it comes in the context of educational development. I have had to read this book no less than five times in the course of my meandering college education, and I have to tell you, I do not understand what the hell academics respond so enthusiastically to in this damn book. It's not a bad book, and it's not a hard book, and it's not an uninteresting book. It's just overused...pointlessly. Not ONE of the five professors who assigned the book have come up with a concrete statement on its relevance. Some books defy concrete definition of their "point" - philosophical texts in particular are more likely to be discussion which teach us methods of thinking rather than solid proofs - but still have value. This isn't a waste of time, but its only prevailing point seems to be "Ethics can be tough to navigate, morals are hard to express concretely, and sometimes white people and religion are bad," and that is simply not enough to justify the damned tonguebath that this book routinely gets. The reviews on the cover and inside page sound like they were pulled from the jacket of the Republic. This is not the Republic.

Things Fall Apart is the story of Okonkwo, who is a villager of Umuofia. He is kind of a jackass and is largely insensible to the virtue of everything that is not power and war. He has built a grand life, but has done so largely at the expense of healthy family life (even by the standards of his village) and his own moral sensibility. He winds up in exile ostensibly for a horrible accident but more likely because of his involvement in the death of Ikemafuna. The story then turns to his son, who rebels against this life much as Okonkwo rebelled against his own father's example. The whole tale works in the shades of grey that one encounters in the course of ethical discussion, and provides an excellent examination of varying theories of relativism.

The problem is that those relativist themes are pretty much it for Things Fall Apart, and it routinely gets held up as this all-encompassing statement on ethical thought. Examining one dusty corner of philosophical thinking on ethics isn't enough for the level of cachet afforded this novel, particularly if said corner is bullshit (sorry, there are absolutes). There was a time when I liked this book, but that time passed three readings ago and I don't think this is one of the great books one should spend time with if he wants to obtain a deep working understanding of ethical theory. If professors and publishers alike could stop promoting the book as such, it would be much easier to appreciate what it DOES offer - an engaging story that presents interesting questions about ethical behavior to be considered - and judge it on its own merits.

224 pages

Cannonball Read #44: Empire Falls, by Richard Russo

My Dad really likes diners. Genetics are strong in our family. That's pretty much all of what brought me to pick up Empire Falls, and MAN am I glad I did.

About eighty percent of Empire Falls is a still life. It tells the story of a town rooted in grand industrialism eventually brought down by hubris and some deep brokenness in the family that founded it, and of the life that has flourished in the ruin of the old factories. The people who wander in and out of life at the Empire Grill are superbly average. You know all of them; it's the Office Space of small towns. Miles Roby runs the Empire Grill and the Grill runs him, and he spends his days allowing people to run over him again and again. No matter how easygoing you are, you can't take abuse from everyone in your life forever. Miles adores his teenage daughter, and when she is threatened both by the idea of staying in Empire Falls forever and by a shocking event in town, Miles is pressed into drastic action that will rework his entire life.

Richard Russo is a masterful writer. His descriptions just sing of the glories of dirty, grimy small town life. Were it not for his lovely prose, this approach to this story would drag horribly. Instead, we are left to enjoy richly developed characters and brilliant little details that make the setting tangible and real. The best part of this slow, skillful development is that the eventual shock of the book's climax feels just as crisis in a small town truly does. Russo banks on real emotion here, and that is damn hard to do in a long novel that spends much of its time without movement.

I read this in summer, and much of the story takes place in summer, but for some reason I feel like it would be a wonderful read for Christmastime. It's full of the warmth of family and the way community makes us who we are for better or for worse. All the things that the holidays are about are in this book. That being said, it really should be on your Must Read List regardless of when you get to it.

496 pages

Cannonball Read #43: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

I find gender politics fascination, perhaps nowhere more so than in South and Latin America. I think there's a great push to define them as good or bad and I think in the end it's simply affecting. Men can suffer just as women do in cultures where social power is skewed to one gender or the other. (Obviously this is not true of all cases of uneven gender dynamics; don't email me.) This is beautifully presented in Junot Diaz's Pulitzer Prize winning The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.

Oscar is a geek. I relate! The problem is that beyond simply being a geek, he's a Dominican geek, and this makes all the difference in the world. In the world of Dominican power politics, there's no room for a man so invested in science fiction and writing. There's no room for a man without that outsized Latin swagger, or for one who can't even fake it. The story follows Oscar's life, but it also traces his history and all the small victories and massive failures that his ancestors have endured in the process of arriving at his tortured Dominican-American life. Oscar is a disaster with women, and this feeds on itself until it brings about his early end.

Oscar is a disaster with women, and this plagues him throughout - his friends leave him behind, his family mocks him or pities him, women never rise above friendship. This tale of woe is interwoven with his family history. Said history is full of mysticism and the same tragedy that plagues Oscar, and Diaz does a beautiful job pulling all of the strands of the family along through time and into the modern day. I feel like giving more detail would be a mistake, because the minutae of the family story and Oscar's life are what make reading the book such a joy.

Discussion is due of Diaz's superb writing. This book won the Pulitzer Prize in 2007 and the award is well deserved. Writing is more than just stringing words together, though Diaz is terrific at that part of it. The inclusion of political commentary, geek lore and both Dominican and immigrant culture is seamless and adds incredible depth to the whole novel. This is all the more remarkable given the complete disaster that these topics are for lesser writers; I find that political commentary in particular frequently feels forced, and it absolutely sings here.

This is a great and more importantly unique book. A hearty recommendation for this one!

352 pages

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Project Runway Episode One

The Josie's All Star Commentary
A couple brief notes on the All Star favorite collection was actually Chris', but more importantly, I was NOT that shot in the ass with Daniel V's collection at ALL. Perhaps it's not fair to judge it on this basis but when I saw the link to his new collection on BPR I kind of went "...ah, I see." It's more or less the same as what he threw down on the ASE. I was kind of dissatisfied because I felt like it was a forced redemptive arc for Daniel V's shitty attitude post-Runway, but now I kind of feel like I was presented with an ad for his collection and that pisses me off. His collection wasn't my particular thing.

Other things that bug about the ASE is this letter from Uli where she talks about how she and Sweet P were NOT mortal enemies. I can accept that we don't see real time footage and these folks are edited into story arcs, but I think they made Uli look mega bitchy ("I'm so happy to meet you!" "...mmm.") and that seems unfair. I agree with her comments on feeling written off by the judges for it not being Uli PrintMania despite the ASE ostensibly being about how these designers have grown post-Runway. At the same time, I beg her...don't stop working those amazing prints!!! She has such a gift for them.

Blogging Project Runway and their readers are serious fucking business and I love them for it because they were able to tell me where Sweet P got her lovely necklace which I was totally coveting. It's called the Stormy Sea necklace and it's from Anthropologie AND not insanely priced (?!?! probably a mistake on Anthro's part) so I bought the shit out of it. While we're discussing Sweet P and her attendant stuff, I loved the dress she was working on in her "Here's Sweet P now!" clip, in white with the bright flowers that were kind of dripping like paint?? So cute.

Finally, I don't know about you, but I was super worried about Chris March. I know sleeping was always his thing, but it seemed like something BAD was going down. He wrote a note to BPR (they have the inside track like whoa, I can't believe the stuff they get/find) saying basically that there were a ton of factors, from actual lack of sleep to medication to diabetes, and that's all without mentioning editing. I am glad to hear that there was a reason for all the sleeping.
The Lucy's All Star Commentary
I particularly like Korto's and Chris'...I really wanted to wear the hell out of the piece Chris made with the hood. I thought it was freakin' gorgeous and that is was dramatic, but not over the top. Daniel V. was one of my favorites in his season but I am not feeling his current aesthetic. I also hate the bias they have toward him (it's obviously that Tim loves him and all the judges think he can do no wrong). I think that if Korto made a better red carpet look she would have won. I am a big fan of her clothing and I think that she really understands how to dress a woman that isn't pin straight.

I did miss seeing Uli work her magic with printed fabric. There is something not right about an Uli collection being devoid of prints...but I also agree that it was important for them to show that they grew since being on the show. I also felt like the Uli/Sweet P showdown was kind of contrived. I hate that they try to make drama out of nothing, but honestly, who needs to inject drama onto PR when Santino fucking Rice is in the room?

I will have to check out the clip of Sweet P, but since we're talking about amazing necklaces, check out this seller on etsy: StudioRona I got my mom the large silver willow branch asymmetrical necklace for her birthday and I grabbed this one in a different color scheme. They are absolutely gorgeous.

I'm also glad this Chris is doing well. I've read that the schedules they're forced to keep on these shows is absolutely ridiculous and for someone with health problems, rest is very important to keep you functioning. I can't imagine having a bunch of health problems and then not being allowed to rest after having gone through a stressful and busy day. I hope that he can get himself on track. He's a total sweetheart.
Okay, finally.

Challenge: Design a red carpet dress, nature of red carpet flexible.

Josie: How cool was the design of this? I loved what the capelet added to both the look overall and to the back of the dress. Just a little bit of volume and some sparkly it! I think the design was also a real testament to Shirin's constructive abilities. The capelet doesn't look tacked on or added clumsily. The whole thing is an organic, well ordered look. Well done!

The Lucy: I really loved this and think that Shirin is going to be a contender. She has a great eye and I think this dress was the best of the bunch. Soooo pretty! I love the color, the design, everything!
Josie: What a stunning, interesting dress. Loved the shoulder asymmetry, the square train, the patches of pleating. Gorgeous, sophisticated dress in a really interesting color...lest we forget, I basically swathe my life in navy, and this still was different for me. Something about the tone of the fabric was just really striking. Can't wait to see more from him.

The Lucy: I really liked this too, although for some reason I found it boring even though it's not? I don't know. The shoulder thing was kind of distracting too. Ehhh...I don't know.
Josie: This print is SO 90s...90s Dentist Waiting Room Valance. I think my orthodontist actually HAD valances in this pattern. There are some lovely things going on here - the back is gorgeous and flowy - but the ruching and its connection to the purple side is just so crappy looking. If I could see whether she intended the dividing line to be swervy or straight then I could better direct my ennui, but as it is, the front looks a hot mess and obstructs the appreciation of the back. I thought it was funny that she was all "Heidi was writing when the good part happened!" If you don't want the judges to miss the back of your dress, don't let the front be so distracting! I also suspect that Qristal has some issues with judging her audience. When she said she could see this on Miley Cyrus or Lindsay Lohan???? Honey, no. Just no.

The Lucy: This is total BET awards, and that's ok. It is really 90s. Seriously, I can see someone like Queen Latifah wearing this to receive her award for Living Single. If she made this 15 years ago it would have been highly coveted. Today, not so much.
Josie: More wack styling...this might have awesome, interesting straps, but I have no idea, because her creepy, creepy hair is covering them. I like the idea of this, but I would have liked to see the very interesting detailing stand out more. I don't even think it needs to change in color, but maybe just a change in texture? I'd also like to see it long. As it is it's a pretty standard cocktail dress and not super red-carpety, even for a less formal one. I like it and am glad its safe, but there is room for improvement.

The Lucy: Definitely cocktailish and cute, but not good enough for the red carpet. I really like the color and the idea, but I'm not sure what red carpet he was designer for. It's ok, I guess.
Josie: Mitchell clearly thinks he is super charming, and I disagree. This was...insane. If you have fabric that sheer, you need to be doubling up on that shit and giving the poor girl some coverage. Why he went to the caftan place is beyond me. I thought that the original garment was interesting...the ombre fabric kept it from being too old fashioned, but I wanted to see more. Why this fool who doesn't even have the sense to not cover his poor model's boobs outlasted Adi's strong point of view is beyond me. (Side note: Am I the only one who listened to him getting off on being the first jackass to send someone down the runway half naked and thought - or in my case yelled - "how about Wendy Pepper's grocery store challenge, fuckhead?" Yes? Okay.)

The Lucy: *sigh* Ari went home....and he got to stay...for this. Once again, something I can do and probably better too. At least the boobies would have been covered.
Josie: I think the combination of somewhat casual styling and the neutral color without anything to pop it set this a bit far afield of red carpet wear (though I have an odd hankering to see it on Tilda Swinton despite her tendencies for long, vaguely Isadora Duncanish stuff). That being said, it came from a very strong design sense and was very well made. I loved the kicky back of the skirt and the softness of the bottom half as a whole in contrast to the kind of armor-inspired, structured top. I personally would want more color but I appreciated this.

The Lucy: This is cute but not what I was expecting from him. I think it's a little too casual for the red carpet but I think it would be kickin' for a cocktail party. He is definitely talented and can construct like no one's business.
Josie: It's too bad the two-tone coloring didn't come out as strongly on this! I thought it was really lovely, and I love, love, love the shoulder detailing. It gives the dress a really light, flowery feel, in contrast with the heavier and more sophisticated feel of the color palette. I'm still undecided on the gathering at the sides - I am going to say it feeds into the playful detail on the shoulder. I just don't really want any part of it myself. I am very interested in Louise generally...I expect some cool stuff out of her.

The Lucy: I'm not such a fan of the vintage chicks (KENLEY?) so I had no idea what to expect from her. I was pleasantly surprised. I loved the color pallete and I think this is a very pretty look. I wouldn't wear it though. The shoulder detail is gorgeous and I'll give Louise a chance simply for that!
Josie: Total snooze, and in need of a pressing job. It's not bad, per se, it's just very off-the-rack and not very creative. It certainly doesn't fit the red carpet's too in-between.

The Lucy: A little snoozy but not ugly. I like the two tone look and I love gray, but this is pretty conservative and I think he should have amped it up. Nicholas is the other designer I like.
Josie: I am kind of sad that I liked this as much as I did, because MAN was Johnny irritating. I know that he's coming from substance abuse and I certainly have sympathy for him there but...maybe if you're such a wreck about the first contest (which amounted to "make something you want" if we're honest about it), you are not in a very good place re: your recovery. He did seem to pull out of it, but I hope he stays there or his schtick is going to get tired real fast. I thought this was a really interesting, cool dress. I still don't understand the physics of it, but the drapey front and that inSANE back were such an interesting combination. I liked the asymmetrical hem, too. I hope he keeps up this level of work.

The Lucy: As soon as he started whinging I was like oh no, here we go. I was glad to see him pull his shit together. Honestly, I didn't get this at all. I kind of feel like I could come up with this if given the time, which is not a compliment toward him. I like weird shit but the drapey thing in the front is bizarre and I don't think that it does anything for a woman's body. Can't imagine who would want to wear this.
Josie: The tailoring on this is impeccable. I loved the multiple fabrics in the skirt! The whole thing had great movement and a truly sophisticated feel. I didn't LOVE the color but then again the nude family of fabrics is not one I gravitate towards.

The Lucy: I think this is really pretty and feminine. It's not for everyone but I think she did an awesome job on the cut and the tailoring. It seems like something you'd be able to find in an upscale department store.
Josie: Not to cling to that origami collection from Dior in Spring 07 but DAMN DUDE DIOR SPRING 07. Very cool fabric work up top, and I really liked the colors. I love the sheer hem. As so often happens, I want to grab the top of it and yank upwards, but I think this is just my lot in life so I won't deduct points. Very sophisticated look.

The Lucy: This was one of my favorites for many reasons: the origami, the color, the fit. It feels airy and structured at the same time. I think she did an awesome job.
Josie: From the waist up, I am totally intrigued. From the waist down, unfortunately, it is Jessica McClintock Prom on clearance, i.e. not the good kind. The length is weird (and the shoes don't help) and that tulle looks weirdly like fur, which isn't bad per se but makes zero sense with the rest of the dress. The skirt was also fairly stiff, which I didn't like.

The Lucy: I agree with everything you have to say here. The top is cool but the bottom is a hot mess. That fur looks so bad. Yech.
Josie: I loved this and I love Christopher. He just seems so earnest and sweet. I particularly like how open he is about the fact that he's not trained up the wazoo but he's going to bust ass to compensate and to learn what he doesn't know. That latter part is the section that really impresses me...I mean, how many dipshits have we seen on PR who were sooooo proud of their lack of knowledge? Loved the texture, thought the length of ruffle was fine where it was (wouldn't hate it shorter but I don't think it's a requirement). Nice subduded but truly interesting colors!

The Lucy: I absolutely ADORED this dress. It can be funky or really chic with different styling which I always love. Christopher is one of my favorites and I hope that he can keep up this kind of creativity throughout the competition. He is truly not a douche and he seems like someone who just wants to get better and better.
Carol Hannah
Josie: I thought this toed the line between floaty-fairy and funky structure really well. Lots of Updated Gaultier vibe on this...ragging the edges of the piping, etc. Cool. I didn't really care for the color but preferred it to Irina's nude satin because of the golden tone. I did like the variety of textures and layers though. I think this would definitely be at home on a fancier red carpet, particularly for a younger, funkier actress (Zooey Deschanel?) Neat concept well executed; I could have used a different color but I think I just have to accept that my yen for bright color is not universal or necessary to every design.

The Lucy: I actually don't even remember this dress. I actually think it looks a little messy, but I can see a younger starlet pulling this off. The color is all right. Maybe in a different color scheme I'd like it better.
Josie: I actually would have liked to see more from Ari. She appears to be actively nutty but I thought there were some neat ideas in here and would have preferred that she stick around. I thought this was coming from a very strong point of view and I got it; I also disagree with the judges' whole "well come on, where would you wear that?" thing. VMAs anyone? Even some of the younger people at the Country Music Awards would rock this. Now, that being said, there were problems, starting with the WACK styling. This thing had a funky hood and detailing around the shoulders...why is her crazy ass hair obstructing my view of all that? It should have been pulled back at least, and I personally would have done a funky knot on top of her head to give it a slightly more I Am From Space vibe. I just think of Jay in the first season talking to one of the stylists and his model - "You look like a fuckin' alien! I love it!" I also feel like if you're going to use those hexagonal patterns on anything, particularly with quilting, it had better be PERFECT or people are going to the soccer ball place and you can't do anything about it. Overall I just thought this was strong, interesting and a bad aufing. Sad! (Can we take a moment for some RESPEK for this model's legs? DANG, YO.)

The Lucy: I really thought this outfit was as cool as hell. I loved everything about it, how she took it out of the box and didn't do an easy evening look. What I can't stand is how they constant tell the designers to think outside of the box and when they do, they punish them for it! I was really annoyed by her aufing and I think it has to do with the Lifetime Crowd. The two really batshit designers got kicked off in the first two shows. Coincidence? I think not. I think better styling would have helped. I think it would have looked good with something slick and off the face. I really think Ari got screwed. And yeah, the model definitely pumps some iron. Yikes.
Josie: I thought this was WAY too tight in the hip region. The satin was pulling badly and puckering. The idea was nice enough but I think if this appeared on an actual red carpet it would be a yawn. I didn't really like the hoohah on the bodice, but I get what she was going for. Not awful, some tailoring problems, not great.

The Lucy: I agree that the concept is nice but it's really boring. I feel like this is something you can buy in any department store. Nothing really innovative here.

Makeup Is Easy: Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy in the Circus

Today I ran late at Frankercize because I was talking with Frank about rap, politeness and organization, and to Diane about pants and why jeans are every woman's nemesis, so I shot home, took a ten minute shower (scrubscrubsscrubscrubscrub) and then whipped this action together over the course of Britney Spears' "Circus," a commercial break, and Big & Rich's "Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy."
Here's how the sequence went.
In shower, wash face with Mario Badescu Enzyme Cleanser.
Once out of shower and towelled off, remove remaining stubborn mascara with Yes To Carrots makeup remover (sounds insane, works really well).
Slather on a couple pumps of Bliss The Youth As We Know It and apply Garnier eye thinger, which helps with the blue under my eyes.
Blow dry hair.
Put on perfume, Prescriptives foundation, and Cashmere Stockings.
Tease section of hair midway back on head.
Tease front section, twist and bouf, and secure with two bobby pins.
Spray newly created hair bouf with hairspray.
Get overzealous with hairspray, choke.
Recover, put Bandits in Bras on lid up into crease, top with Glee Club Dropout.
Apply Givenchy Phenomen'Eyes mascara.
Spray whole she-bang with Skindinavia makeup freezing spray.
Run out door, forget lipstick.


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

O Say, Can You See?

When I was a kid, I harassed Presidents Bush I and Clinton with a million mostly trivial letters about things that worried me. I didn't care what political party they belonged to, and I'm not even sure I would have know that Bush was a Republican if you had asked me. I wrote to them about the things that might not be a big deal to all grownups, but that matter deeply to children because they are rooted in that black-and-white morality that rules the playground. I wasn't reacting to the person in office, you see...I was reacting to the Office of the President.

Kids like the President because for many of them, it seems like the awesomest job you could possibly get. The title rings with responsibility and power, and that's something that appeals to children. If a child is aware and the parents willing to talk with them, the first time that child connects with a President can be the dawn of a political consciousness and a great respect for the people that work to make this country go. Depending on the type of contact, this first experience with Presidential power can also be the beginning exercise of a lifetime of vetting political opinion. It can be the genesis of active political thought.

Every election brings with it concerns that uneducated voters will flood the ballot boxes and sway the vote in the interest of misguided politics. Very little concern is reserved for those who research their opinions and can argue their positions. It is the uninformed masses that bear the brunt of our concern, because we know that they are buying into baseless propaganda, often without the knowledge that they are doing so. This is the type of citizen we risk creating if we keep children hidden from the reach of the views we oppose.

John Locke explained in his Letter Concerning Toleration that no one could obtain salvation unless they believed in the path thereto. John Locke's a big name in politics, but everyone recognizes the idea - when you learn something for yourself, come to a conclusion in the course of your own study, you form an enduring and informed opinion. Experience - broad experience - breeds opinion. We have a duty to our children to expose them to opposing and even uncomfortable views. We owe them discussion and exploration, and we owe them engagement with the political process, because whether or not you "are into" politics, they drive our lives. Allowing children to begin thinking that politics and language do not matter is to sentence them to a life of ignorance and ambivalence about the very process that allows them any measure of control over their lives.

The roar of discord that preempted President Obama's speech to schoolchildren is evidence of a disturbing trend, and should stand as a warning for all people. Practice makes permanent - if we teach children to block out and shout down anyone who opposes them (or who they suspect may disagree), they will hold on to this behavior for the rest of their lives. We cannot afford to have citizens who engage with the political world on these grounds. We have reached a point in our political discourse where people can sincerely avow - on cable TV no less, with massive audiences - that the President of the United States is so foolish that he would attempt to brainwash children with socialist drivel in an incredibly public address. This to me indicates a dangerous closemindedness, and quite frankly a dangerous ignorance. If children never hear viewpoints different from theirs, they can never learn to vet these arguments on their own. Simply telling them that something is wrong is not only immoral, it cheats them of their political development.

Children today suffer enough disregard. If a sitting President is willing and able to address them, they should hear it, in the hopes that it will create in them a desire to interact and critique the political landscape in which they live. To smother the possibility inherent in an address like Obama's, or Reagan's, or Bush's, is to do a great disservice to the future of our body politic and really, really screw our kids.

Friday, September 4, 2009


Several years I met a brilliant, phenomenal woman named Erin, and I got to live with her for a while (I KNOW!) and also get to know her, which was the best thing of all. She had this thing called The Sophisticate's Guide which was a guide to life. NOW IT IS A BLOG.

The Sophisticate's Guide

This is unequivocally the best thing in the history of blogging, barring a spontaneous resurrection, collaboration and publication of Churchill, Lincoln and Dag Hammarskjöld.

Required reading. Get to it.

Cannonball Read #42: Only Say The Word, by Niall Williams

Niall Williams writes about love.

It's that simple, but he manages to take his examination of the phenomenon so far beyond what most authors achieve that the simplicity of his catalog's overarching theme isn't even the beginning of what these books say about the human condition.
The first book of his that I read was Four Letters of Love, which I still consider one of the best books I have ever read. As of today, I have worn out two copies and the one I currently have was the one I chose to send around in my mailing book club. When we started that club, it was the only book in my mind. When I was in high school, something weird invariably happened to the seniors in upper-level English - they all got goofy about this one book. "Wait until you read Four Letters of Love," we'd hear, "wait until you read it." When it finally came our turn, it lived up to its reputation. Everyone loved that book. After our AP exams, we all waited out in the hall to find our teacher, Mrs. Kerrigan, to tell her that almost all of us had used Letters on the AP exam. I think for most people it was the first time literature had sounded that deep, low organ pipe in the middle of their guts, the one that shakes you and continues long after you've let your foot off the pedal.

I went on to read As It Is In Heaven, which focuses on the love in music where Letters looked at art. I am not really one for formulaic writing; if all of an author's work is approximately the same, I'm unlikely to want to continue with it. Williams understands the depths and differences in the human capacity for love, though, and I don't know that he will ever run out of ways to explore, portray and consider them. More importantly, I don't think he should, nor that we should. If you stop thinking about love, something of your humanity disappears. To steal from a very cute movie, "love really is all around." Love is more than the startling, epic love that we experience only a handful of times in our lives. For me it's the way Rich's arm always finds its way over to my side of the bed after I've gotten up in the morning, reaching even though I'm not there. It's the stupid cat zoning out in a patch of sunlight. It's my brother's one call in like, two years that was about absolutely nothing. It's about singing in a beautiful building.

I just had my first Senior Seminar class on Wednesday and we had a discussion about what a liberal education is truly about. This is nowhere near the complete purpose of it, nor the best description, but it's about engendering a desire to seek out the best, highest, most glorious bounds of human and natural achievement, and about giving you a rich sense of history from which to consider what you find. The professor told us about seeing the Duomo di Milano for the first time, and how he burst into tears. How the hunger he'd been so aware of moments before just vanished. That is love, and those experiences are what drive us. Finding the people who might be able to build that cathedral, finding the duomo's grandeur within the human soul, standing at the steps of the church crying the same tears. This is all love, it's all what makes us human.

Towards the end of class, we discussed where these experiences could be found. Niall Williams must have discussions like that all the time. In Letters, he talked about the nobility of art. In Heaven, music. In Only Say the Word, it's about just that...words, and books, and reading. It is gorgeous, and if you are a reader, you'll feel it deeply. I would say that if you read one Niall Williams book, make it Four Letters of Love. But if you are a bibliophile and if you're interested in exploring the canon, fire this one up. You won't regret it.

345 pages

Makeup Is Easy: Back to the Future

I forgot to take pictures yesterday, so of course about ninety seven people were all "I love your makeup!" I used the same colors today and DID take pictures so I could pass the intel along since this seems to be a winner.

I have a really hard time wearing blue eyeshadow, because I have some darker coloring under my eyes that tends to pop out when I wear blue. If that stuff smudges at ALL, I'm going to look dead, and no one wants that. Other skin issue dealt with in this episode of Makeup Is Easy...lip color. I used to have extremely strong lip color, and it seems to be fading, so now I need a little something just to get to the original color I had.

I have a couple nefarious zits this week, so I used a little bit of Prescriptives concealer and topped it with their mineral liquid foundation that I bought from the most irritating woman in the world at Macy's. Not a lot of boundaries, that woman, but she did hook me up with this foundation and the Strawberry lipstick from a previous post, so I guess I can't complain about the fact that she should DEFINITELY be telling fortunes and selling weird crystals out of her house. Concealer, foundation, and topped off with Body Shop Nature's Minerals powder. I can't remember if I have mentioned this before, but I also use a Prescriptives anti-redness lotion on my cheeks and across my brow line. I have just a sconch of rosacea in those areas, and it evens me right out. It's about $50 for a tube but it lasts forever and actually works, so if you have the same problem I would be comfortable recommending it.
I got a sample of Too Faced's Shadow Insurance from the nice peeps at Sephora with my last order, so I gave that a whirl today. So far it's hanging in there and I did notice better hold and smoother application as I was applying color. (I think a lot of people, if they use shadow primer, use the Urban Decay one in that little genie bottle, which is cool but is a bitch to get out of the tube. I understand that they have reworked the design of it, so I should probably give it another chance.) I would recommend this primer confidently as long as you know what you want to achieve. If you're just starting out with eyeshadows, give yourself a little time to figure out your own best techniques before you bring a primer into it. I know we're a society of convenience, but reapplication is not a big deal and if that's the worst thing you have to do in a day then you're way ahead of the game. The point of makeup is to look good, not be stuck all day with your early morning, uncaffienated boo-boos.
Can I take a brief side note here and call attention to the color of my eyes in this picture and like, every other closeup morning picture ever? I point this out particularly for Cindy, because every now and then I am all "HAH GREEN EYES TODAY, YOU SEE?" and she's like ", Jos." I just want to point out that there are in fact times when this happens, and that my eyes are jerks because by the time I try to prove that there is green in there, they have gone completely brown again. I don't know what the hell this is about but I do not like it.
What we have here is a blue mix that is sparkly and thus not as under-eye-color enhancing. I started with a base of First Class Con, then used Proud and Patriotic on the lid. The whole lid and right into the crease is covered, which you can only partly see because I am weirdly squinty today. I layered Magic Hats over it, blending just up over the orbital bone and into the hollow of my tear duct. To bring up the color a bit and lighten the whole affair, I swept this awesome pinky-orangey gold color called Glee Club Dropout over the top of the blues and into the browline.

We all know about color wheels, right? Here's a quick and dirty rundown of what to mix with what. Think of an empty pie chart and break it into six pieces. The three primary colors are red, yellow and blue, and those go in alternating sections. You have a pie with red, yellow and blue in three of six sections with white between them. Now fill in the mixes you would get by combining the colors...between red and yellow, you get orange. Yellow and blue, green. Blue and red, purple. Whatever color you pick will be complimented by the one directly opposing it in the pie you just drew in your head. Today's makeup combo pops because I accented the blue shadows with the orange tones of the gold. I have also done blue looks where I threw a little flame of orange in my tear duct hollow to bring up the color. Play around with this!

Clockwise from top left: Proud and Patriotic, Magic Hats, Glee Club Dropout and Lipstick Queen Medieval lipstick

For my lip problem as mentioned above, I used Lipstick Queen's Medieval lipstick. The color is based on the medieval tradition of coloring your lips with lemon because full color lipstick was taboo, and it really is a lovely light color that adapts to your skin tone. It's just enough to make your lip visible but not flashy and thus competitive with your eyeshadow. You really only want to highlight one feature unless you're doing huge show makeup, so this is a good compromise. If you think about it, your head is actually quite small, and your face even more so. That's why you want to limit yourself to one feature for day...any more and it gets very Mimi.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Just War Theory vs. the Quaker Peace Testimony

I am taking a course on Just War Theory this semester, which I always find both fascinating and troublesome. I have been (idly) checking out what has been said within the Quaker faith in argument or accord with Thomas Aquinas & Co.'s development of the theme and trying to figure out what place I believe Just War Theory has in the Quaker theology. I found one piece that I enjoyed, where the author behind Quaker Oats Live took a stab at the same topic in the form Thomas Aquinas used in his Summa Theologicae. They articulated their ideas well and I hope they will not mind if I start from their framework.

First, some notes. For the wholly uninitiated, Quakers hold pacifism as one of the major tenets of their faith. This is one of relatively few universal Quaker beliefs, though the level of concern varies (i.e. active or passive pacifism, Quakers do serve in the military but only as medics, and do have the ability to claim conscientious objector status), as does the prioritization of pacifism within the other beliefs in the faith. Quakers do not have a formal Creed; while there is Quaker leadership and accepted canon, we lack the universal and formal documents from which to draw. Each Yearly Meeting (larger regional bodies; similar to a diocese) produces rulings on Faith and Practice, and this is beyond the larger discrepancy between silent, "unprogrammed" Meetings which are more common and the pastoral "programmed" Meetings (largely of the Midwest).

Finally, George Fox, the founder of the Society of Friends, did not exhort his Friends to leave the military or give up their arms, even as he added pacifism to the core values of the religion. Military and public reaction to the addition of the Peace Testimony forced some definition of the peace testimony.

On we go. I am going to put Objections and Replies that correspond together and move one section of text that was placed between the former and the latter at the end of the argument for a little more clarity.

Whether a Christian can follow the Bible and be a just war proponent:

Objection 1. Many Christians say yes, we can and should be just war proponents because God desires justice, and as Christians we should always aid in bringing justice to the world.

Reply 1. God desires for justice to happen, but not through our violent actions. We are asked to bring about justice through bringing good news, sight to the blind, visiting people when sick and in prison, and proclaiming the year of the Lord's favor (Isaiah 61:1-2, Luke 4:18-19). Romans 12:17-21 says vengeance belongs to God alone, and to combat evil by staying firmly in the good.

The reply here presumes that the attacker is seeking vengeance or to punish their opponent. In that case, war is certainly unjust; vengeance does belong to God alone, to be meted out on either a temporal or ethereal basis. There is nothing in the Bible to indicate that we as Christians are meant to stand idly by in the face of injustice. Moreover, the examples of Good Christianship that the author provides are all positive - bringing good news, people, visiting those in need, proclaiming the year. In all of these cases, the Good Christian is to take his acts out into the world, not stand idly by nor simply consider the glory of the Lord and trust Him to assume care of all injustice in the world. We must further consider human autonomy if this is to be our view. If all moral issues and actions were the exclusive purview of God and the heavenly realm, then there would be no reason for the earthly plane, nor for the simple function of reason. We are not God's videotape - we are made to act, and this means that we MUST act. The concept of sin bears this out. Sin is our burden given to God, and it seems unlikely that God would wish this immense burden if He could avoid it through his own action. If we have a responsibility to atone for our sins, we must have an inverse responsibility to act in a way that redeems us and rights the sins of the world when we are afforded the opportunity.

There is an additional challenge to Friends here in our tradition of bearing witness. One could conceivably take this tradition to mean that we should in fact stand back and only watch the injustice before us to relay its tale to those who do not know. But as we saw above, there is no Biblical basis for this, and more importantly, Quakerism's activist vein runs deep. From the religion's very foundation Quakers actively sought to bring the world to their just view of the spiritual relationship. Neither the Quaker founders nor the religion's adherents have ever felt that they could ignore injustice in the world (take the example of their role in shaping the American penal system), and so it seems somewhat in congruent for them to refuse to take this ultimate step in extreme cases.

Objection 2. There is the case of ancient Israel, where God commanded the Israelites to go to war, and they were God's chosen people. Now that Christians are God's chosen people we should fight the wars God asks us to, namely, those that bring about God's desire for justice in the world.

Reply 2. Ancient Israel (whether taken at face value as historically accurate, or taken as a semi-myth meant to teach various truths) was a theocracy, ordered by God. The Israelites were a people chosen by God to enact God's justice in the world. No nation has been given that right today, except perhaps the nation of Israel if it was attempting to live as a theocracy, which it is not. Christians are God's chosen people, but Christ said, "You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,' but I say to you, 'Do not resist an evildoer.'" He said, "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" (Matthew 5). This cannot happen by going to war.

I agree that we cannot take the example of Biblical Israel as our model for Just War Theory. As the author points out, Israel has abandoned its theocratic roots and thus its claim to a mandate from God. Even if Israel still functioned as a theocracy today and retained this mandate, it would still not give then free rein to engage in war. Obviously, a nation in the service of God would be responsible to act justly, and such a nation could not be responsible for carrying out just wars on behalf of all wronged nations because those nations would have to subscribe to Christian theology for God to require his nation to defend them.

I do find the choice of quote problematic. There are many kinds of "evildoers," and not all of them are unjust. I feel that there is an argument to be made that Christ is specifically referring to secular law when he uses the phraseology found in Hammurabi's Code, leaving some of the care of evildoers to the legal system, and that "not resisting an evildoer" is quite unclear. We could interpret this as either not offering resistance to said evildoer and allowing them to go on with their unjust acts with the understanding that God will exact retributive justice on our behalf. We could also read it in the sense of "I just couldn't resist," which produces an opposite understanding of the phrase. If we choose the latter, Jesus is instead telling us that we must zealously pursue evildoers. Given the first section of the quote, it seems likely that this second reading is correct, meaning that Christ is instead saying "the legal system covers certain criteria, but you must also pursue the unjust."

The relevance of the last quote from Matthew depends on your acceptance of Augustinian and Thomastic Just War; if you believe these teachings, you can in fact see war as an expression of love in the form of salvation from one's immensely evil deeds. If you do not subscribe to these teachings, you are more likely to be persuaded by this quote.

Objection 3. In Roman 13 Paul says Christians should follow our government, and sometimes our government demands us to go to war.

Reply 3. Paul, who wrote Romans 13, is known to have disobeyed his government when it went against his understanding of what God was asking him to do. He was thrown in prison several times for preaching the good news. He submitted to the civil magistrate in that he went to prison without using violence to escape, but he did not follow the magistrate in doing things against God's command. Civil disobedience is, therefore, an important part of being a Christian, and this undoubtedly reaches to the problem of war. The first 300 years of Christians understood Jesus & Paul this way and lived as pacifists.

Civil disobedience alone cannot negate the just war argument. Frankly, I feel it's a somewhat weak argument for or against war, but it's worth discussing. Politics shape our lives, and the decisions that we make in shaping that government and the law that we create must result in a form and practice of government that we are comfortable with as a manifestation of our society. Civil disobedience is a noble tool for restoring this balance when the government strays; it is violation of law for the sake of a larger goal as pertains to the government.

We must understand civil disobedience properly here, as relevant to domestic politics exclusively. In order to disobey civil laws, one must be a citizen of the political community to which they belong. Citizenship is an agreement to abide by the laws of a nation (amongst other things), and if one is not a citizen of a nation then they have not agreed either tacitly or explicitly to abide by the laws of that nation. Therefore, disobeying laws of a foreign nation is morally neutral, though of course it is common courtesy to abide by them when in their jurisdiction. War is by its very nature a matter of foreign policy, though it must be rooted in domestic policy. This renders the matter of civil disobedience mostly irrelevant to the discussion at hand. Of course, a political community is the sum of its political inhabitants and thus civil dissidents play a role in the discussion concerning whether or not to go to war in the first place, but ultimately will have little effect on the actual engagement once war has begun.

This also calls back to the evildoers of the previous section. There a different degrees of evil, and if a war is truly just it will not be over frivolities. True justice is beyond personal or cultural perception and speaks to the heart of every man. If war is taken up in defense of this universal principle, it is unlikely to engender much dissent in the first place, and more importantly, such dissent would be unjust in and of itself because it would in fact be supporting the original injustice.

Of course, Quakers do serve in the military even though they have the right to claim Conscientious Objector Status in the US Armed Forces. They serve only as medical personnel, dedicating themselves to healing the wounded instead of inflicting wounds. This seems a worthy compromise in the event that a Christian feels obligated to the cause of a just war but is unwilling to inflict harm on a fellow human being. Most Quakers will tell you that they are pacifist because we are all God's creation and it is wrong to destroy any of said creation. This conflicts with the previous idea that dissent against a just war would in fact go against God's highest principles of justice and come around to being unjust itself. It is worth considering whether serving as a medic is enough for a participant in a just war.

Objection 4. There will always be “wars & rumors of wars,” so we must have a way of choosing which wars to be involved in.

Reply 4. There will always be “wars & rumors of wars,” but this does not mean Christians must be involved in fighting them. This is like saying, “There will always be people who cheat on the spouses, so I have to decide what is the most justifiable way to cheat on my spouse.” We are instructed to overcome evil by staying firmly grounded in the good (Romans 12:21). If we become evil ourselves, we have been defeated as Christians.

We can discount "rumors of wars" immediately, as our commentator suggests. Rumors of war remain in the realm of diplomacy and passivity because as mere threats they cannot be unjust. War that comes to our doorstep, however, must be vetted for justice and approached accordingly. If we are people of God, we must not allow ourselves and the gift of God's presence to be unjustly attacked, and if we see injustice we must come against it. Preemption is not justifiable, but certainly wars which are brought to us must be taken on to defend justice, and we as the custodians of the world must be willing to stand in the defense of justice .

On the contrary, John Howard Yoder (pacifist) & Reinhold Niebuhr (Christian realist) say the Christian Scriptures clearly state that Jesus wants us to always be nonresistant toward evil people. Yoder says we should never be involved in war or the use of violent force, while R. Niebuhr says the Bible is not meant to be taken literally on these matters, because Jesus lived in a different time and place than we do, and so sometimes we will be called to war as the most realistic solution, whether it follows "just war" theory or not.

I cannot speak to Yoder's theories, but I contend that this is an incorrect reading of Niebuhr. Niebuhr is a tricky writer - his gorgeous writing makes full use of the English language's capacity for nuance - and his theories are not immediately clear. The reading taken here accounts for the Christian aspect of Niebuhr's writings, but not for the realism. Niebuhr wants us to take a fuller understanding of the meaning of sin (not unlike the evildoers we have discussed and their various grades of evil) and allow Christian teaching to inform our foreign policy, not dictate it at all times. Niebuhr demands that we pursue justice as we are inspired by Christian teachings, and thus would be more likely to be a proponent of just war. Niebuhr would not sign off on a war for the sake of simple expediency with no regard for the justice of the act.

I reply that it is not possible to follow the Bible and be a just war proponent. The just war theory is not in the Bible and is not based on the Bible--Jesus didn't say, "Turn the other cheek, unless you're being treated unjustly, in which case you can hit back, but only with the amount of force you were hit with..." Pacifism is based on the Christian Scriptures, and if we believe God asks us to follow the Christian Scriptures we should be pacifists.

Many of these arguments lose their value when one considers the emphasis on personal responsibility inherent in the Quaker religion. Of course, pacifism is the preferred course - even the atheist will stand by this - but if one wishes to preserve their life and continue their life as an example of God's greatness, eventually the time will come to fight. If the fight is properly considered and taken on ONLY in the pursuit of justice and mercy, then neither Quakers nor Christians at large have true cause to deny it. The degree of their involvement may change, but a good Christian should indeed be willing to stand in the light of God and fight to preserve justice in the world.