Friday, January 8, 2010

Little Old Lady Philosophy-

I have coined an awkward phrase. "Little Old Ladies of any Age and Gender." It needs the qualification, otherwise people will think I am speaking of literal little old ladies.

The phrase refers to the prissy and provincial little old ladies (literal) that we have probably all known. Women who have lived sheltered lives, for the most part, and who think that their own narrow little world is all the world there is. Anything else is false, offensive, and without value.

There are plenty of people like that who are not literally little old ladies. However, they think like little old ladies, and so earn the title. With the qualifier, of course.

I recall sitting under the teachings of Dr. John Mitchell of Multnomah School of the Bible. Dr. Mitchell was fond of cigars, but refrained from smoking them due to the prejudice of some Christians, who considered smoking sinful. Dr. Mitchell did not hold to this view, but for the sake of these little old ladies (literal and figurative) he refrained.

This was an admirable accommodation, but I don't believe that he extended this accommodation to church leadership or matters of doctrine. He was a powerful church leader and teacher for most of a century. Such an achievement could not have taken place in an atmosphere of accommodating little old ladies.

I have thought about these little old ladies, from time to time. I have wondered how accommodating Little Old Ladies of Any Age and Gender might have adversely affected churches, states and other institutions. Prissy thinking is not the exclusive realm of churchy little old ladies.

The term Politically Correct is linked with a political orthodoxy, not a religious one, and is generally secular. Hypersensitivity to words and phrases deemed "offensive" can be very Little Old Lady. The fear of offense can cripple creative thinking and affective action.

This is not to say that lighting up cigars (figuratively and literally) in the presence of genuine little old ladies is good practice. Giving offense on purpose is rude and generally counter-productive. Granted, an occasional shock can shake loose some people that need shaking, but for the most part such intentional offenses will work against ideas and the people associated with those ideas.

I have no idea how to fix this phrase in our language, other than to throw it out into the world and see what happens. Little Old Ladies of any Age and Gender. LOLAG? Hmm. Perhaps. Maybe not.

More important than the phrase is the awareness. Is my thinking LOLAG? Am I being prissy, provincial, and small in my thinking? Am I content with my thoughts going unchallenged?

For any (literal) Little Old Ladies who happen to be reading, I apologize for any offense. Really. Just don't be so LOLAG.


mac said...

Indeed, the condition you describe here does not confine itself to churches and religious institutions.

I think our trend towards political correctness has helped spur these LOLAGs along. That's not to say we offend for offense' sake.

However, political correctness is often times silly. Your cigar officianado, for example - No, he should not smoke that stinky thing at my house. But why not at his home, in his own private santuary?

I was corrected a few days ago when I appallingly said the word "reatrded". The actual response was, "Only ignorant people use that word!"
I let it go, but in my mind I thought, "Yeah, and only a moron would use that sentence". I believe there is nothing wrong with the word, I did not use it to denigrate or put someone down, merely as a description.

I like the term you've come coined here. It beats the old one I ws using. Puss...Oh well you get what I am meaning, I don't want to offend anyone ;-)

Jared said...

"Little Old Ladies of any Age and Gender"

I think this phrase itself could be considered offensive by real "little old ladies" that do not have such an attitude. Of course, living sheltered lives may have brought about the egocentrism we have come to associate with "little old ladies" while being little or old may have very little to do with it. Indeed, much can be said for a lack of experiences outside of one's comfort zone (or the comfort zone of one's parents). It seems those that are not allowed or choose not to stray far from the tight circle of activities approved by highly protective parents or restrictive religious practices will most often be those "offended" by opinions and behaviors which are outside of their comfort zone.

In any event, I find prodding the easily offended with a proverbial stick can be quite entertaining. It's like poking a megalomaniacal dragon that only thinks it can breathe fire. Spoiled little children whose narrow view of the world solidified into adulthood.