Newtonian Game in a Lorentzian world

April 6, 2013 § 7 Comments

Simplicity can be both a strength and a weakness.   Static models can be helpful in getting a picture of the world that remains fairly consistent from the perspective of a particular  person.  But they are only a starting place, a way of grasping concepts without having to take in everything all at once.

Consider the ideas of “alpha” and “beta”.  The hypergamy model predisposes us to think of them as absolute categories; but most of the time this is not really the case.  For example, there are likely many men who seem “alpha” to less attractive women and, at the same time and in the same man, are “beta” orbiters of more attractive women.  Most people find themselves dissatisfied because they know that something “better” is on offer — they can see it, right there, just beyond their grasp.

The trashy cafeteria approach is a consequence of the universalization of our modern, atomized, self-centered consumer society.  Instead of going to a mechanic we go to an oil change place, a brake place, and a tire place; and that is fine in itself, applied to automotive needs.  But then instead of courting a whole human being on a track to marriage, modern amoral people get their sexual needs[1] fulfilled through a composite of different “products” offered by different “providers”.  The reductionist approach has become totalizing, and the world has become a cafeteria.

Christendom took a cafeteria approach to God a few centuries ago, during the Protestant Revolt, laying Him out on a buffet table where everyone gets to take what they find appetizing in the Christian religion while rejecting the rest.  So is it really any surprise that we find ourselves simmering over a can of sterno?


[1] I use the term “sexual needs” very broadly here to include all of the wants and needs traditionally fulfilled through courtship and marriage.

§ 7 Responses to Newtonian Game in a Lorentzian world

  • Chris says:

    The Reformers and serious protestants rant about cafeteria Christianity as much as you do. The issue of freedom of conscience exists. The plain teaching of the gospel exists.

    I think in the very long thread Hearthie did an informal survey of the women who went to her church and 90% were not there as beleivers but using the church as a cafeteria. To be fair, that does not happen in NZ: only the remnant remain. Protestant or Catholic.

    And yes, there has been a heresy trial, in my church, in my nation, and in my lifetime.

  • Prinz Eugen says:

    This is an excellent post. The sexual realm has followed the larger economic/social realm in raising individual autonomy over any intermediary body. For most of human history, the community, religion and the extended family tightly regulated such interactions. But in the modern world all of those institutions have been basically destroyed or at least made ill relevant.

    Multiculturalism is another manifestation of this. Cultures have ceased to have any real binding meaning, and so they are now like different courses in a cafeteria, one can sample a little bit of everything. Far from being some kind of modern liberalism we are now experiencing the rotting corpse of the classical liberalism of the Enlightenment.

    Much of the social angst today is a result of the destroying of old bonds but not offering anything meaningful in their place. The supreme irony is that most liberal moderns only fall back on communal notions when something goes wrong. Whether the bank bailouts or Sandra Fluke, modern liberals are still all too happy to socialize the costs of modern individualism gone awry.

  • ChesterPoe says:

    A noticeable part of the problem is ignorance mixed in with pride. For example, if I was to introduce the concepts of alpha and beta to a person completely ignorant of their meaning how would I first go about getting him to understand? I would explain the core concept and/or provide examples. After first learning of these terms and what they mean he will gradually be able to appreciate not only their simplicity but also their complexity. He would be able to clearly define what it means, but also know it is fairly broad.

    That is the problem with most with a cafeteria approach. They are ignorant of the simple concept, so they reach for the easiest part to comprehend. People are ignorant of the core principles of Christianity, what C.S. Lewis called Mere Christianity, which leads them into becoming attached to whatever they can grasp. Instead of admitting ignorance, their pride assures them what they do not know or refuse to accept is really unimportant. Applying this to every aspect of one’s life is like putting on mismatched clothes and calling it an outfit.

  • Elspeth says:

    I wonder how this post was so ignored? It’s good stuff, Zippy.

    I have to agree with Chris that the Cafeteria approach to Christianity is hardly limited to Protestants. The notion is deeply ingrained in the American way of approaching religion across the board.

    But your overall post, and how it relates to the “Sexual market place” (I really hate that phrase even though it fits perfectly with this post) is spot on.

    Alpha and beta offer some generalized idea of what is attractive or not in a man, but over dependence on those terms- which is standard online- handicaps both a man’s and a woman’s ability to appreciate the complexities of sexual relationships.

  • Zippy says:

    I have to agree with Chris that the Cafeteria approach to Christianity is hardly limited to Protestants. The notion is deeply ingrained in the American way of approaching religion across the board.

    I don’t disagree. For that matter, Mahomet was quite the cafeteria religionist when he pieced Islam together from bits and pieces of what he admired about Judaism and Catholic Christianity, shunning what he didn’t like. So the cafeteria approach to God has been around for a long time. And since God literally can’t be diced up and objectified that way, we are the ones who end up diced up and objectified.

  • thebigpappy says:

    This whole alpha and beta concept is further destroying our society. Now everyone wants to be alpha. Everyone wants to be Batman, nobody wants to be Robin. The guys who would best be beta assistants are now trying to compete with alphas instead. They lose, and everyone loses, because alphas need betas and betas need alpha to function optimally.

  • […] has to abolish politics, has to produce a vast homogeneous bureaucratized managed cafeteria of degenerate, trivial, dehumanizing troughs of slop into which atomized autonomous free and […]

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