Trump is…. Batman?

Every conservative wants a hero, a Reagan reincarnated, a principled, constitutional president who can usher in a new era of limited federal government. Apparently they ran out of unicorn farts at the wish store. I’ve long thought that the true focus for conservative reform must be state and local first: because what we really need is a re-engagement of normal people into the world of politics. We have too many Law students, too many natural born politicians working in think tanks and running newspapers… even on the conservative side. We need more regular random people on school boards, in village government and in the statehouse. It is as if, when conservatives think about reclaiming our limited government heritage, they forget that America is in reality 50 semi-sovereign entities… I personally expect that the best we can do with the federal government and bureaucracies is to hold the line while we get our states in order. Wisconsin is becoming saner and saner by the week. That’s what really needs to happen.

And so, I present to you our much maligned hero, Trump. The rap on Trump is that he is not a conservative. National Review unloaded all the cannons at him. The entire conservative elite (and there is one, no mistake) is more intent on beating Trump than on winning in 2016. Because he is not conservative. And the general reply of Trump supporters is, I suspect… ‘Duh.’

So, Trump is not the hero we want… what if he is perhaps the hero we deserve? The hero we need?

What if Trump is Batman? (He’s a billionaire… so step one is complete)

Consider this: America is no longer lying to itself about Bill Clinton. And, as John Nolte put it at Brietbart:

…(W)hat did the serial losers in the GOP Establishment do when the media declared Bill’s past off-limits?  Even though Hillary and the DC Media were already laying the groundwork to War on Women them to death, these spineless cowards couldn’t wait to surrender. In other words, they agreed to play by the DC Media’s rules — rules specifically designed to destroy Republican candidates.

And then along came The Donald.

In less than a week, Trump performed a bona fide miracle. In less than a week, Trump did what no other Republican has been able to do in 25 years. In less than a week, Trump lifted his middle finger to the corrupt media and went on a truth-telling terror about an alleged serial-abuser and his enabler wife.

The clouds parted.

The sun rose.

A rainbow formed.

And after 25 long years, the truth finally stuck to Slick Willy.

America is currently choked, the very air that America breathes has been sucked out of the country by the political and educational elites. Where are our 1st amendment crusaders? The NRA and others do a fine job advancing the 2nd, but the 1st embodies the right to think and say and act on what you believe. The right to say what you think is the air that freedom breathes. And currently Donald J. Trump is doing CPR. He is breaking down the system that limits what you can say, what you can think. And at the same time he is taking not insignificant personal damage.

If Trump continues to smash the ‘Overton Windows‘ he will be (though largely derided and unacknowledged) a great American hero. A hero for leading a revolution against the tyrants of the mind. We can only hope that irrespective of the results of the 2016 campaigns, that this revolution is successful.

(I say all this as a Walker supporter :(, who now is generally agnostic about the race since the WI primary will be irrelevant.)

Ain’t No Grave: A Triptych

I hope you enjoy this story, at least as an entertaining diversion from all the news.

Ain’t No Grave: A Triptych.

It was just before dawn on Sunday –it was a lazy, chilly, midsummer morning; one of those times where the damp of the heavy pre-dawn dew makes rheumatics of us all. The fog lay sluggardly in the little valleys, while the little hills of the local terrain barley poked through the fog to observe the allegedly rosy fingers of the dawn. On every other foggy morning, the people of the little town in the little valley knew by experience that it would take the sun a number of hours to bake all the fog off and clear up the day. Nevertheless, Rudy pulled his mower (the one of the older riding kinds) off his trailer and into the town cemetery. The grass needed mowing, and he’d put it off and put it off, though it was his job and he got paid for it, and now there was a funeral today, so it had to be done.

He started it up just as the dim twilight of dawn shifted and the shadows appeared on the hilltops. Here in the cemetery, not quite at the bottom of the valley, but still below the fog, the visibility was low. Rudy put on his headphones and cranked the music so he could hear it over the mower. As he mowed, a shadow moved. It was just in the corner of his eye. Then he felt a bump and knew that something like a big stick had gone through the mower. It couldn’t have been a stick though, as there were no trees in or near the boneyard. He kept mowing and jumped: he’d jumped at one of the grave marker obelisks. It had crept up on him. Crunch! Just as his heart slowed back down, he hit another big stick, a little rotten too, if the sound said anything.

Rudy got down from his mower, and that’s when they got him. They swarmed out of the fog. They ate him alive. Two of them were missing a hand.

*********************************

By midday in middle America on that Sunday, everyone everywhere knew what was happening. If scientists somewhere had an explanation, there was no way of finding out. The dead were not as dead as they had been and (in some people’s mind) seemed to be getting less and less dead by the minute. The useless wags pointed out that ‘Zombie’ was a particular thing, the creation of a Voodoo master not the general reemergence of all the dead bodies. The slightly less useless clucking hens said that the movies would call them zombies, zombies they were. The bold useless people discovered that removing the head or destroying the brain was not effective in stopping these zombies. A small group of the latter category of useless people were holding a defensive position on the south side of a street. The panic of the zombie appearances had led to looting, pillage and burning of the cities by a great number of panicked but otherwise totally normal people. Buildings were burning, and women who were sane this morning were walking out into the street to hack other woman to death: or to set a man on fire. It seemed though, as the little group watched, that none of the victims died: they walked (or dragged themselves) away from the scene of their murder to commit atrocities of their own.

The little group looked into the street. In the midst of this screaming frenzy and the smell of burnt hair, a man of nondescript age sat, reading a book of poems. And around him swirled the chaos and the crimes of the day.

Hallo!!!’ Called the de facto leader of the small group, ‘Why don’t you come over here with us, it’s safer here!’

Is it?’ the man said.

Nevertheless he walked over to where they huddled together. He walked slowly, deliberately over, still reading for a moment when he arrived.

He looked up and said ‘Why do you think so?’

The leader said: ‘What? What are you talking about?’

You said it was safer over here.’

Of course it is, we all still have our minds and we have some weapons too.’

You’ve seen someone get killed today?’

Yes’

What happened next?’

They didn’t actually die’ He admitted grudgingly.

The man shrugged.

What were you reading?’

Donne: would you like to hear some?’

The man did not give them a chance to say anything: he immediately began reading:

At the round earth’s imagin’d corners, blow

Your trumpets, angels, and arise, arise

From death, you numberless infinities

Of souls, and to your scatter’d bodies go;

All whom the flood did, and fire shall o’erthrow,

All whom war, dearth, age, agues, tyrannies,

Despair, law, chance hath slain, and you whose eyes

Shall behold God and never taste death’s woe.

But let them sleep, Lord, and me mourn a space,

For if above all these my sins abound,

‘Tis late to ask abundance of thy grace

When we are there; here on this lowly ground

Teach me how to repent; for that’s as good

As if thou’hadst seal’d my pardon with thy blood.

They all decided that the poetry enthusiast was just as crazed as the woman who had lit herself and her family on fire in the street, just a different insanity.

At that moment, the undead and the maddened living seemed to have run out of other victims and they began to draw nearer and nearer. The zombies approached nearer and nearer. The group fired their guns into the ever larger crowd of zombies, but not even shooting them in the head stopped them for long. Their heads healed. Well, they didn’t really heal. The zombies were clearly in agony and their agony clearly increased when you hurt them. And when you blew off their head with a shotgun, the bits of it seemed to reassemble themselves somewhat where they belonged. Not quite the right way, though. And the agony of the zombie-person was apparently increased. Certainly their rage was. So the fight became a shoving contest, one small group of (fairly) sane people against an ever growing horde of furious, pain filled, zombies.

The poetry man was fighting back too, with all his strength (which seemed to be greater than theirs). He shouted encouragement and exhorted them to stand and fight, and to not lay down on the ground with the hopeless ones. When they had nearly fallen: when their hearts had nearly broken: a man leapt off the roof above them and landed right in the middle of their nearly crushed group. He laughed, a deep chest-ful laugh, and he stepped to the front of the group. He was a walking anachronism. He had on blue jeans and a leather coat, but rather incongruously, he carried a spear. He said (again in his voice full of chest) ‘Stand back, my brothers, and rest: for your battle is over and has been won.’ The battle between the spearman and the zombies was short lived. During the battle it seemed to their eyes that those pierced by the spear dissipated rather than lived on. At some point, the zombies fled.

*********************************

There didn’t seem to be much worth doing, so going for a country drive made sense. The late afternoon sun burned warmly through his window. He smiled when the opening beats of ‘Ain’t No Grave’ came from his truck speakers. The cities burned and everything was happening too fast to really affect the countryside yet. There really wasn’t time for swarms of people to leave the cities: they probably got devoured instead. Eventually, he supposed, the zombies would pour out of the cities… but maybe not. Anyway, on he drove. ‘Ain’t no grave can hold their bodies down…’ Johnny sang. He thought, and drove on.

Have you ever driven through the vast seemingly empty rural America? If you have you’ve seen the churches in the middle of nowhere. They were for the farmers: the farmers would form the congregation and there wasn’t any real reason that a church had to be in a town, the town would be too far. (There used to be a lot of schools like that too, sitting alone on a hilltop, waiting for the farmer kids who no longer come.)

Well, the road he was on came to a T, and at the other side sat a big brick church. As he stopped at the intersection the bells began to ring. Each time it rang, he felt it shake him to his soul more and more. Perhaps it was the emotion of the day, the apocalyptic feel, but he could not resist getting out of his truck and walking, slowly, to the church doors.

He stepped inside. The smell of an old country church is nearly unique. It smells of old (but not rotting) woodwork and stale candle smoke perhaps. It is a hard smell to pin down, but if you have ever stepped into an old country church, whether it be Lutheran (for the Germans) or Catholic (for the Poles), they smell the same. It’s a good smell, though an old smell. Perhaps they always have smelled like that, perhaps that is the smell of the ancient faith swirling around the sanctuary and spilling over into the rest of the church. The carpet was red and the floors creaked. It was a little cooler than the just barely warm summer day outside, and as he walked further into the church he felt a slope in the floor. He stopped: suddenly realizing that, while hymn singing in church was very normal, what was not normal was the number of voices considering that there were no cars outside. They must have all walked in from somewhere, he thought.

He walked further into the church. As he entered the narthex, he looked through the doors into the sanctuary. The sanctuary was completely full. In fact, they were standing and there did not appear to be any more room whatsoever. And they all sang.

O Savior rend the heavens wide

Come down, come down with mighty stride

Unlock the gates, the doors break down

Unbar the way to heaven’s crown.

He turned. He went back. He opened the door, and looked out. The appearance on the horizon of a number of shuffling figures answered his first question: yes, the zombies will come out of the cities. And he turned to go back inside. If it were possible, there were more people in the church. In fact now there were a few in the narthex as well. One of them handed him a hymnal, and just before he started singing with them;

When I hear that trumpet sound
I’m gonna rise right out of the ground
Ain’t no grave
Can hold my body down

Ran right through his head and he looked around. He expected to be shocked, but was at ease, and sang with them.

(For an interesting, and not unrelated, take on the Zombie, see Spengler’s essay on Eternal Youth and the Living Dead.)

Also, I have two other short stories on this blog for free: The Final Crate and The Frame Shop. You can also buy for kindle a small collection or a long short story, The Magic Mirror and Other stories, and The Traveler’s Eye respectively.

 

 

An Offensive Weapon.

I’d like to start this post with a stanza of one of my favorite hymns: Water, Blood, and Spirit Crying, by Stephen P. Starke.

 Though around us death is seething,
    God, His two-edged sword unsheathing,
    By His Spirit life is breathing
       Through the living, active Word.

And now: The Church of Christ Wields an Offensive Weapon.

There is an image of a warrior that resides in the back (or sometimes the front) of everyone’s mind. There is another image that, though usually pushed much further back in the mind, also takes its residence in everyone’s mind: A man dying on his knees. The warrior is tall, he is strong, his grip is iron, his eyes are bright. He may be ruthless and wicked, or kind, a shield to the weak: but he is strong. His enemies fear encountering him. The man dying on his knees is weak, pathetic even. He is bound and has been tortured. His head is shaved and he is thin from being a prisoner. In the mind’s eye, this man is broken into pieces: he is not a man; he is a heap of the fragments of a man. And yet he sings. This man, this broken and dying man, is a witness: a martyr. His blood is spilled because he refuses to deny his Lord Jesus.

Strange, how the mind’s vision is so poor. We ought to look again at the two men before us. It is a paradox that confronts us. When Christ came into this world, everything went inside-out and topsy-turvy. In reality, everything went right-side-up: but if everyone else is upside down, the one who sees the world right side up is ‘topsy-turvy’. When the people of God sing ‘The white robed army of martyr’s praises you’, we confess that these saints, who died ‘poorly’, in truth, died well; that these who were slaughtered with their hands tied, fought and even triumphed in the war.

In today’s world, the church spends most of its time defending itself. It defends its doctrine. It defends its right to speak about what it believes. It defends the lives of the old and the unborn. All this good, yet something of a shame. It is a shame because the church is fundamentally made and equipped for offence. It does not primarily exist to defend its values, or its doctrines or its people. The Holy Church wields, despite appearances, a sharp and well-made sword. It is made to ‘go and make disciples of all nations.’ It sends its warriors out, and often, they die, and the church grows. The strange paradox that slaughter has never annihilated the Christian faith is explained by the fact that in death, the martyr’s victory over the devil is won for him, and the sword of the church strikes true.

And again, the many in the church spend their time doing their best to sound good. The most charitable construction of this is that they are trying to not be misunderstood: so let us think that. Yet, it is a travesty that the church cares overmuch if it offends people. It is not a coincidence that offensive (the technical term for attacking in a fight) and offensive (as in someone was offended) are the same word. The church has been literally guaranteed to offend people. Are people offended when they are told they are sinning? Yes. Are they offended when they are told that this thing, that the church ought to call a favorite sin, that makes them feel so happy, is going to damn them to hell? Yes! Do people loathe it when they are told that even nice people, people they liked a lot, will go to eternal damnation (which is torment) if they do not have faith? Obviously!

And yet: those who engage in sexual perversion need to be told that they are committing sins, that they are perverted. Likewise, people who gossip need to hear that their gossip is also a vile sin that must be repented of. People within, and especially without, the church must hear the conviction of the Law of God. Without the condemnation of the Law, the Gospel has no impact.

The church must be offensive and call evil, evil; and good: good. The Devil, the world and one’s own flesh will scream. People will take you to court, they will close down your businesses with lawsuits, they will threaten you and may one day again make martyrs in the streets. But consider this: the Church is filled with warriors intended to be specialists in offensive combat, and the most potent weapon in her armaments is the witness of the lifeblood of the saints.

I opened with a great hymn, now I will close with a great comic… If you haven’t spent time reading through at Adam4d, you ought to. Click through for the whole strip.

What kind though, Todd? [silence]

A Short Defense of Mysticism

Here is the introduction for the ‘Essays in Lutheran Mysticism’.

In our heavily scientized society, it is tempting to forget, in our great human arrogance, that God is not understandable. We as Christians confess that God is beyond our understanding, yet we often treat Him and His works as if this misunderstanding is one that is just barely out of the reach of Human reason. In fact, the only real difference effectively between the scientism of the modern world and the modern Christian is this: The secularist believes that all things which are currently out of reach will be eventually within reach, while the modern Christian often behaves as though the Nature and Mind of God are barely out of reach and will always remain ever so slightly out of reach. In reality the Godhead is infinitely out of reach. We have forgotten the Mystery (and in a real sense also the Majesty) of God.

In nearly every case this abandonment of the mystery of God is tied to intellectual arrogance as if the creator could ever be understood by the creation. Instead I propose a return to the appreciation of mysticism – not a mysticism that claiming that everything and every attribute of God is unknowable – rather a mysticism of humility. This mysticism recognizes that, while in the Holy Writ, God provides precise detail and clear language in all things necessary to salvation, the human mind is not capable of assimilating the whole (or even a fraction) of the infinite knowledge and wisdom and character and emotion of the Godhead. Thus, in many cases, we are therefore dependent on catching glimpses of God – and be as Moses who turned aside his face upon hearing the whisper of God.

There is a second reason I believe that a return to mysticism is important. This reason is about the state of the unbeliever in today’s Post-modern world. Every age has its own particular virtues and vices: often the latter is indeed a perversion of the former. That these virtues are warped does not negate the ability of the Word of God to sanctify them, and use them to great ends. I believe that the when the underlying virtue of an era’s vice is employed it can have a profound impact upon the lost of that time. St. Paul did not tell the Athenians to stop being so logical and feel more. Consider this: personal belief is a powerful component of the post-modern world, while one of the most distinguishable parts of Christian doctrine is that our relationship to God is a personal, intimate one: that of children with their father. Again, consider the pervasive lie of ‘what is true for you’, and consider the uncorrupted reality of the paradox. Lastly, the post-modern man feels as though his very soul is withered by the arid heat of impersonal science. The post-modern wanders in search of wonder, and ‘their very sins are sad’. In this world, I contend that it is the role of the Christian to be the last rationalist, the last empiricist, the last mystic, and the last hedonist all combined.

So here is my recommendation which may  feel like a paradox: intellectually rigorous mysticism.

Blog announcment

Hello, this is to kick off a series of posts (of indefinite length) in which I attempt to do some constructive philosophy. (Most philosophy these days is either learning what someone else said, parsing, or tearing down people’s worldviews… This will be none of those.)

I thought about writing essays for a little book or something, but I’d rather post them for people to read; it seems to me that if you think you have something interesting to say, you shouldn’t try to charge anyone for it. One ought to at least write enough to convince people that what one says is interesting.

And that brings us to this; what, if it was a book would be ‘Essays in Lutheran Mysticism’. The reason I want to do this will become plain as the essays roll out. But in general, I think the many do not realize that while Luke 2 was written by a scientist and historian, John 1 was written by a mystic.

You can expect a real intro essay (largely to delineate why I think orthodox mysticism is important) in the next day or two… I hope you enjoy it… I have this (probably lost cause) hope that  there may be entertaining arguments in the comments…

 

 

The Korean Kid Hypothesis

Just today, I gave my final exam. I certainly hope that my students knew at least some of the answers. Over the last few days I had a number of office hours and a decent number of my students showed up. It doesn’t really matter how it came up, but I ended up sharing with 5-6 students one of my favorite maxims. It is a proverb of mine. I know that sounds pretentious, but stick with me… its a good one. I told them this:

‘No matter how good you are at something, there is always a Korean 9-year old who is better than you.’

It is a reminder to anyone who is the best in their geographical area, or their school, or their set of acquaintances, that the ocean of possible talent is huge. It is also a reminder of how one becomes excellent at something: hard work, lots and lots of hard work. Starting with some talent is helpful, but at the end of the day, it is hard work and nothing else that makes someone excellent at something.

And that is the Korean Kid Hypothesis.

Putin Dreaming

A while ago I hazarded a prediction on the future of ISIS — one based solely on telling a story. It was from a mind adept at predicting plot-lines and surprises in stories. (Here) Today I will venture again into the world of predicting the future. Or, at the very least, the future that I believe with almost certainty figures in the daydreams of one Vladimir Putin.

wink31

The daydream starts with the Kurds. See, the Kurds have always been somewhat close to Russia since Turkey was NATO and the Kurds and the Turks don’t get along (to say the least). Russia has certainly supported Kurdish separatists ( or terrorists, depending on who you ask) In fact, I would say that Putin already veiws the Kurds as a trump card to be played against Turkey.  I believe that the imminence of a Turkish intervention in northern Syria to ‘establish a safe zone’ but in reality to eliminate a budding Kurdish state on the Turkish border was the real cause of the recent Russian intervention in Syria. With the Russians running around and particularly bombing northern Syria, how would the Turkish army move in? Today, that would almost certainly involve going to war against Russia.

Since there are no ethnic Russians in Turkey, I have seen it assumed that Putin could not pull off in Turkey what he did in Ukraine. But, there are somewhere around 10 million Kurds in Tukey. Putin could put advisers in Syrian Kurdistan and send in Kurds. I think, under this hypothesis, that Ukraine (while part necessity from Putin’s point of view) was also a dress rehearsal for Putin’s plan for Turkey.

So Putin (who has probably long dreamed the daydream that I will get to) wakes up one day and realizes that it might (oh so infinitesimally small odds) be possible. (Due in some large degree to Erdogan.) The daydream requires a knockdown dragged out Turkish civil war. So Putin dreams thus:

The Syrian civil war and the Turkish unrest whirl together. The Turkish border (in the Kurdish regions at least) is currently well secured. But in the event of even a large scale uprising, the border would become more porous. Putin continues to dream. He dreams of massive civil unrest. The different pieces of the Turkish state finally tears themselves apart. The Kurds are only one piece of a messy puzzle. The Alevi are considered Heterodox and Shia. There are roughly as many of them as there are Kurds. They certainly know what happened to the Assyrian, Armenian and Greek Christians in Turkey. There are the strict, zealous Sunni Turks and there are fairly Westernized almost European Turks… No country is even remotely as monolithic as it seems from across the sea. So Putin dreams of a civil war in Turkey like that on Syria. A mess with no on in charge. (And you would have to be very sheltered to think that Putin would not happily assist Turkey down this road of self destruction.)

And then, for two reasons, one altruistic and one practical, he would intervene. Both reasons are such that the international community would have a hard time condemning,.the Russians seize the Bosporus and the strait of Dardanelles. The practical reason is to protect international commerce and Russian military and civilian access to the Mediterranean.

2000px-Turkish_Strait_disambig.svg

Does anyone know what is right by the Bosporus?

That’s right… Istanbul… also known at one point as Constantinople. What is there? That is where Putin’s dream lives. The Patriarchate is there, also the Hagia Sophia is there. (The Hagia Sophia is the oldest Cathedral in Christendom, and it is currently owned by the Turks. ) Why, someone must protect the few Christians left in Turkey… Someone must be a shield to the Patriarchate. If that someone liberated the patriarchate from the Turks….

istmap

And so, Putin dreams on. He dreams of Charlemagne. The one who liberates the Patriarchate (so long as they at least pretend to Orthodoxy)  could be crowned Emperor. Not just any Emperor, but Roman Emperor — something the Russians have always been keen on. And Putin would be crowned in a renovated Hagia Sophia which would again become the seat of the Patriarchate.

Oddly enough, the world might be better off with an Emperor. Less pretense all around (since the Russians already basically are an empire, as are the Chinese, and Iran…)  It would be ironic, or poetic depending on how you look at it if this had the result I would write into a novel. I suspect that having an Orthodox emperor, and a free Patriarchate of Constantinople would breathe fresh life back into the some of the very countries whose souls were slaughtered by the Soviets (Bulgaria springs to mind).

———————————————————-

What would Putin do if he had this in mind? What would have to happen in a novel to make this even slightly believable?

  1. Prop up the Kurds
  2. Get Assad (or at least the Alawites… Assad is technically disposable) on the same page as the Kurds
  3. Generally provoke the Turks 
  4. Giggle about Erdogan 
  5. Start making noises about the Hagia Sophia (To signal to the Patriarchate that he was looking out for them)
  6. Set international precedent that seizing territory to protect military assets is something that everyone just complains about (no one actually does anything).
  7. Establish Russian presence  in the Alawite region of Syria (soon to be part of the Empire)… and invite all the oppressed Christian and Shia communities to relocate to there… that practically makes him a good guy
  8. Get seen in churches a lot
  9. ?

Well, that’s all for now… What does a powerful man dream of? More power and more prestige… maybe more on the topic later… such as Putin the intelligent and cautious… :)