Tag Archives: good

Special Treatment

A strange thought occurred  to me while I was reading this article at PJ Media on gendercide: the abominable practice of killing unborn children because they are girls.

Some estimates say the world is missing over 200 million girls thanks to the practice of gendercide. Most of those come from China and India where they eliminate more girls every year than America has births.

What occurred to me is this: it seems that every single victim group category that we are lectured must receive special treatment is also a category that we are told is acceptable as a reason for abortion. The same set of people who relentlessly force ADA type rules and laws upon everyone, proclaiming that the federal government MUST force people to build buildings etc. to accommodate those who have disabilities, tell us that we should abort babies because they will probably be disabled.

Today’s medical technology has given parents the ability to test and see if there is a strong likelihood that their baby may have some form of disability or special needs. The result of such technology has led to a startling number of abortions. We don’t have all the statistics, but where we do the numbers are startling. There is an 80-95% abortion rate of children who are predicted to have Down Syndrome.

The same feminists who march for special treatment rather than equality are shockingly silent or even supportive of the abortion of babies that happen to be female. Couple this with the oddly targeted nature of Planned Parenthood clinics in minority and poor neighborhoods, and a strange picture seems to appear. Why, it almost seems as if the proponents of abortion use it to facilitate the elimination of classes and categories of people that they publicly proclaim to support, but privately loathe. They say, and derive public support from saying, that they are champions of minorities, women, the disabled, the disadvantaged, the poor; but with abortion (and upcoming, euthanasia) they at the same time work to eliminate these people.

I would certainly start thinking about worrying if I heard this set of people start including a group to which I belonged to their list of people needing government ‘help’. Like, should we include ugly people in the ADA??? Will they start defending abortion if the genetic tests suggest the baby might be ugly? How about permitting euthanasia for people who find themselves irretrievably ugly? It brings to mind the real question: what are these government sanctioned murders for? In every case it is for population control of some subset of the human race. (Except for environmentalist greenies who want to eliminate all but a few of us; they include all of humanity other than themselves.)

What will this type of person, this group, this death-cult do if abortion on demand doesn’t control the population the way they want? Forced abortions and sterilizations? What about concentration camps? Which, true to Goodwin’s law, brings up in conclusion the very real connection between modern liberals and the early 20th century eugenicists. They gave up the name, but kept the ideology that if only we could eliminate the undesirable parts of the population, then we could achieve utopia. So yeah, Hitler….

Readers may say that I wildly exaggerate.  Considering, however that the world is missing 200 million women due to sex-selective abortion as well as untold minorities, poor, and potentially disabled,  the correlation between the Nazi philosophy, the modern liberal philosophy and the Nazi methods and the method of abortion are not overblown. Recall that Margret Sanger (planned parenthood founder) wanted abortion to be cheap and available to poor minorities so that the ‘human weeds’ would control their own population.

So, beware special treatment; also beware ‘free’ healthcare because once the government cannot afford to pass out free healthcare to all, the ‘unnecessary’ and ‘unproductive’ will be the ones to be denied treatment (first) on top of already being aborted at the highest rate. That is, the most inconvenient will be allowed, or forced, to die.

Potential Allies

The post-modern ‘proof’ of existence seems to me to be a truncated form of Descartes. Descartes started with what he knew you could know: that, in fact, some thing ‘I’ can think. He then proceeded to prove that I was an existence, and then that God must exist. Then since God exists, everything that ‘I’ observe exists at least somewhat like ‘I’ observe it. This framework is far more subjective than I would posit, however it is a usable framework for thinking and living. I made a graph after the nature of reaction profiles. (If you have had some chemistry, you may recognize the format.) As you proceed from left to right you are following the case for the worldview and as you go up, importance increases.Untitled-1Let us contrast that to a post-modern fully subjective worldview is like.Untitled-1aThis latter figure is the new worldview. This worldview has several repercussions. For now, though, I’ll only mention one. Everything includes ideas, thoughts, truth, good, evil, right, wrong, cowardice, and valor. Since existence is defined by the mind and thoughts of the one existing, it is not necessarily the case that something observed by one is true to the other. The only reason, in this scenario, for truth and reality to be agreed upon (such as everyone agreeing on what is green) is social conditioning and pressure. There is no ground for insisting that something is wrong outside of societal norms.

This worldview is antithetical in every way to two things: religions of revealed Truth (Specifically Christianity, but that is another topic for another time.) and science. That’s why I think scientists should swallow their anti-religion pride and make some common cultural cause with the strict traditionalists of the Church in the arena of absolute, knowable, transmittable and immutable truth.

You see, if truth is only a construct of the mind, then science cannot exist. Science depends upon the core belief that the truth is knowable and constant. Our knowledge of it is flawed and in constant flux, in constant need of study, experiment, update and thought. If truth is not timeless and knowable, then a consensus of quality minds actually would define truth and therefore science. If that were the case, then the sun did indeed revolve around the earth for Ptolemy, while much later, after some cataclysmic solar revolution, it now is orbited by the earth due in large part to Galileo.geocentric

Every scientist, and probably every person not fully committed to the conclusions of this worldview, would find this ridiculous. And yet one academic department after another has fallen to this worldview. Perhaps because they are not grounded in observation, or perhaps because scientists are a particular brand of curmudgeon, the humanities have fallen first, long ago. Now however, even the hard sciences are under attack. The global warming consensus is (although it mayn’t be a consensus after all) the only consistent argument in favor of the theory and people peddle it as fact. Man-made global warming may indeed be fact, but there is not one model made to predict the future warming that predicted the current pause. When all the models are wrong, it usually means something about the assumptions of the modelers.

Again, if truth is only a construct of the mind, objective religion cannot exist. Religion is demoted to ‘something that makes you feel better’ which puts it into the category of whiskey. woodford

If that is the case, then anything in the religion that makes you feel upset or threatened must not be true –for you. Maybe someone else feels better knowing that God condemns sexual immorality of all sorts, then this religious belief is true for them.  And if a large enough group of spiritual people agree that something is acceptable for god, then, it must be. That of course leads to the absurd idea that god was pleased by the Mayan human sacrifices. If that were the case, then you could very easily argue not just that societies make their own gods in the image that pleases them, but that god must also actually exist for their believing created it. I am sure this scenario sounds more plausible than the Ptolemy scenario above. That feeling is just the result of the overwhelming nature of the subjective worldview in every domain but the hard sciences.

So that is why I recommend not just a peace treaty between traditional Church leader and scientists but active cultural cooperation. The Church is not in any danger of being wiped out by a fleeting theory in the minds of men, but science may well have to come and take shelter inside the doors of the Church, running for sanctuary from those that scientists currently think are science’s friend.

If this happens, you can count on churchmen to preserve everything they can, just like last time the forces of nihilism swept the western world. But before that, why not pick up a sword and fight in the streets of civilization (the enemy is long through the walls) alongside the Church for Truth and civilization and life?

Lemon Blueberry Meringue Pie

Another pie? Well I was in the shower thinking about pie, and well, I wanted to try putting blueberries between the lemon and the meringue of a pie. So here is what I did (with pictures too).  Also, I did have some help from my sister, and since there were basically no mistakes, I won’t have to blame them on her.

First, the blueberries:
2 cups blueberries
1-2 Tbs sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
small amount of whiskey (It was, sort of on hand, photo-bombing the whole process)
DSCN0843
Heat in a small sauce pan until the berries begin to break down and juice. take a few tablespoons of the juice and put it in a lidded bin with 1.5 TBS corn starch and shake. Add back into the berries and stir on low heat until thick. Set aside for later.

The lemon, we put slightly more lemon than the consensus of online recipes called for….
1 cup water
1 1/2 cup sugar
5 TBS corn starch
Juice of 5 medium-small lemons
Some lemon peel

When it starts to thicken, added 2 TBS butter, then whisked about 1/2 cup of the thickening sauce into 4 egg yolks (whites for meringue) very slowly. Then this is added back into the lemon curd and stirred on warm until thick.
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(I have no idea what that little cup full of whiskey is doing there…)

Pour it into the baked pie shell…DSCN0851Top with blueberries…DSCN0852So that it looks awesome… DSCN0853Then make the meringue. This is accomplished carefully. First the 4 egg whites must be entirely free of yolk. Second they must be whipped on high while the 6 TBS of sugar are added slowly. (This pie is really a teamwork pie… I think it must be an old lady superpower to be able to make it alone… ‘Easy as Pie’ emphatically does not apply to Lemon Meringue pie…)DSCN0855Then you just put the meringue on top of the blueberries and bake at 350 until the meringue is golden brown (about 10 minutes.) DSCN0860

Chill for about 4 hours and then eat… the pie is awesome, like all my other pies!DSCN0875(As an interesting side note, the red pigments in the blueberries sink into the lemon curd slightly and the blue pigment seeps up into the meringue. Since I know that the lemon curd is polar (ingredients: water (polar), sugar (polar) and citric acid (polar) ) then I suppose that the red pigment is polar in nature and the blue is more non-polar… and hence the egg-white meringue must be more non-polar as well…. I could look it up probably, but… eh…. it is a lovely effect, and much better than if the blue had seeped into the yellow and I had gotten a green layer… 🙂

A couple of notes. First, the gluten free pie crust (recipe found in my post about the chocolate mousse pie…) is fairly fragile. It is not so bad when actually eating the pie, but when baking it is a bit touchy. That is why in the picture of the pie as a whole, the meringue pulled away from the crust in places upon cooling. you seal the meringue to the crust and normal crusts hold it in place. If you don’t need gluten free, refer to my pumpkin pie recipe for a good regular pie crust to avoid this issue. Well, that’s all for now… all I have to say is: Eat more pie! 🙂

Independence Day

On this July 4th, there ought to be a lot of somber reflection, on the state of or liberty, on the condition of our morals, on whether or not we remain actually independent.

1stnavyjack-01

Our president behaves like a king, a petty king at that. He truly believes he has the authority to  alter and enforce laws passed however he pleases. This clear capricious behavior is most apparent in his making up the ability to give just about any group he likes wavers to his health care act, and now, his belief that he has the authority to decide, in contradiction to the terms of the bill, when which parts are enforced. This style of actions clearly demonstrates that Obamacare and many other acts like it are merely tools with which out tyrannous president punishes his political and cultural enemies. I am very much afraid that we have already slipped so far down the slope into despotism that the options to clamber back out as a nation are grim and few. We are passing, what I wish to dub the Tocqueville critical mass… (This is lifted from Breitbart, but the quote is Tocqueville.)

Subjection in minor affairs breaks out every day, and is felt by the whole community indiscriminately. It does not drive men to resistance, but it crosses them at every turn, till they are led to surrender the exercise of their own will. Thus their spirit is gradually broken and their character enervated; whereas that obedience which is exacted on a few important but rare occasions, only exhibits servitude at certain intervals, and throws the burden of it upon a small number of men. It is vain to summon a people, who have been rendered so dependent on the central power, to choose from time to time the representatives of that power; this rare and brief exercise of their free choice, however important it may be, will not prevent them from gradually losing the faculties of thinking, feeling, and acting for themselves, and thus gradually falling below the level of humanity.

We also, as many probably have pointed out, are not living in a Christian nation, if that is defined by the majority of people and culture thinking and working under a Christian belief or at least a Christian Worldview. However,

… God did not need the U.S. Constitution to build His church. It began in the wicked Roman Empire and spread across the known world at the time, despite the severe persecution of Christians.

It is important to remember what our ancestors (ideological at least) did. This is from a speech from Rush Limbaugh’s father, and it is very good and you should go read it all.

The 56 signers of the Declaration Of Independence proved by their every deed that they made no idle boast when they composed the most magnificent curtain line in history. “And for the support of this Declaration with a firm reliance on the protection of divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”

Also, the battles of Gettysburg and Vicksburg ended 150 years ago, yesterday and today respectively.

Finally, since one of the things I think this country (and the world) needs more of is poetry, here is a hymn I wrote (sadly I don’t have much time for anything other than slightly mediocre) for this Independence Day. Theoretically the tune is ‘Savior of the Nations Come’ I invite you all to do better…

A Hymn of Supplication upon this Independence Day

O,Triune God the Almighty
Please suffer me to hear a plea
My land is filled with darkness
And night surrounds with blackness;

Yet though our land is filled with sin
And full of dross without, within
Yet there remain a faithful few
With hearts and souls redeemed by You

O Lord I know not if to pray
For justice swift and soon today,
Or if like Abraham, I plead
For yet more time and grace indeed!

You put us in this little land
To do Your work, to be Your hand
You blest us with great liberty
That should be free of tyrrany.

To our fathers in the past
You gave the stregth to fight at last
Though many fell, that all be free
Thus, you ended slavery.

And now in these sad later days
Send your Spirit to our lives
To give us strength for wate’er befall
and lead us to you after all.

For though America we love,
A resting place upon our way,
Our only rest is up above
With Thou for light and for our Day.

451px-Star_Spangled_Banner_Flag_on_display_at_the_Smithsonian's_National_Museum_of_History_and_Technology,_around_1964

With all that glumness… still, Happy Independence Day! Go read the Declaration… make it a July 4th tradition.

The Capricious Red Car: Tyranny

Well, it looks like it is busy season again with research, so red cars may be the only posts for a while.

So… what makes a tyrant? I think a lot of people would include in their definitions some concept of severity. For instance, Texas executes criminals, murderers and the like. That, in many people’s minds, constitutes tyranny. I do think this is a flawed  qualification. (But that is for another time)

Also, you certainly cannot have tyranny without power, hence why the founders of America did everything they could to de-claw, de-fang and neuter the government. However, I think a key distinction between tyranny and justice is consistency. Some fancy people call this the ‘rule of law’, where the more a law applies to everyone, in every situation, and every age, the more likely it is a just law. Obviously there are other qualifications, but this week’s red car is capriciousness and tyranny.

799px-Red_Corvette_Stingray_pic1

The Mob: Here is an interesting story: in Texas over 60% of the people support a law, the people’s elected representatives move to pass it, an opposing representative filibusters… so far, so good. So far in this story, the machinery of self-rule is working. You see, we all vote to decide who makes decisions for us, and the people who voted for the fillabusterette J would expect her to use every procedural method to stop this bill, this is a check to obstruct the tyranny of the majority (like in Turkey). Then tyranny happened. You see, when the filibuster ended, the crowd, the mob, shouted and shrieked to interfere with the process of lawmaking long enough for the lawmaking session to be over. Hence, the tyranny of the loudest and the most won the day. If this was the example of the system is supposed to work, this system would be tyrannical. The sheer capriciousness of who can get the most, the loudest and obnoxious people together get to stop whatever they want? How can you argue with a chanting shouting mob? You cannot; this is tyranny of the mob. Fortunately, Governor Perry is a resolute man, and he called another special session to thwart these mob tyrants.

Democratized Tyranny:  In case you didn’t recognize it, the subject of the law above was making abortion illegal after 20 weeks. Which brings up abortion. There was the article I saw recently about a woman who had her first abortion to save her volleyball career. This is a sort of ultimate tyranny. Feminists have succeeded in giving every women the opportunity to be a tyrant, and this isn’t just the ability to make other people miserable, nor is it the ability to fine people, or sue them: this is the ability to kill people just for being inconvenient. The only qualifications are that 1) only women can do it and 2) they can only murder their children if they happen to still be inside their bodies. This level of capricious power is perhaps the most evil thing in out world today or even ever. I think many of my readers will agree that to capriciously kill a baby in the womb is tyrannical as well as evil, but what about the babies that are kept, also on a whim. Imagine the implications of motherhood for the woman who kept her baby on a whim in the full knowledge that she could have (or almost) had it killed.

Standard Tyranny Hooray, Qatar has a new Emir. A new tyrant for a new age.

Those are the red cars today. Its been a busy day 🙂

Euphemism is just a nice way to say ‘Lie’

Euphemism: A Euphemism is a misguiding word or phrase used in place of another that the speaker fears will give offense. That’s my definition of a class of speaking that should really be expunged from the language. Everything from calling the rioters in Stockholm this last week youths, to calling a fat person overweight introduces deceit into everyday language; and like yeast, once lies, however innocuous, infect a person’s habits they become every day more a liar and less honest. In the first case, there are some people already making the arguments that society must give up cultural euphemisms and call evil what it is: people like Mark Steyn and this guy in the Boston Herald:

It shouldn’t have to be pointed out that entire groups are not responsible for barbarians in their midst, but it also should not be uncomfortable to call those barbarians by their names, whether it’s in response to placing bombs at the feet of unsuspecting innocents, or the beheading of a young British soldier in broad daylight on a London street.

I do think, though, that the second case of euphemisms is destructive as well. We have become accustomed to speaking around the truth; obfuscation is the habit and clarity the exception. How can you expect a society to speak the truth about the big important things when they cannot even be relied upon to tell the truth about little things? The habits made in the small everyday things are what dictate the response of a person to a sudden ‘big’ thing. What people say about, for instance, the Boston Bomber, is very much influenced by what they say about the badly behaved children at school, or their overweight friend, or the bad novel their friend made them read. (Note to those of my friends whose novels I have read, they aren’t bad enough to fall into this category.) If someone is willing to tell their friend that their novel is poorly executed, or poorly conceived, they are much more likely to be able to recognize that the Boston bombers were terrorists slaughtering innocent people in the name of Islam.

For example, there is an author community site that I went to once because one of the authors of the ACM novel contest was using it and referenced the feedback received there. People would post chapters and such (sometimes whole novels) and the other authors would comment. No matter how badly written, inane, sloppy, or driveling the section was, no one said anything critical. Everyone either was pretending to like it, or they were so practiced at lying through euphemism that they could not tell the truth. Everyone said ‘well done’ when in fact it would be more helpful, more caring, and more kind (and truthful) to say ‘That is terribly done; you should probably either practice a lot more, or find something else that you are good at.’

I know that many people will disagree and cry out about tact. To be truthful (which is what this is all about, so I should practice it myself here.) I certainly have some issues in the area of tact. My mother always taught me that if I didn’t have something nice to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. And, as it turns out, I was silent… a lot. Nowadays, my wife will sometimes ask what I think about something, and I will tell her that we should wait until we get home before I tell her. So my version of tact is usually silence.

So, I will concede that, perhaps, euphemisms were invented for tact: so that you could talk about things tactfully with people. However, like everything human, euphemisms have gone rotten. They have infected every part of our speech, like clichés (discussed briefly here: The War of the Cliche) and in every case the nice way of saying something is now a lie. And nowhere do I see it written that it is ok to lie as long as you are making other people feel better about themselves.

I think everyone should do this one little experiment to see just how far their thoughts and speech have been infected by euphemisms. Spend one day without them. Every time you are about to use a euphemism, stop, and say the truth, and think about the difference between the two, think about whether this euphemism was just a nice way to say something or if it was really deceit and a lie. This will not be a pretty thing, the truth is not pretty, because humans are evil, the truth is frequently ugly (Even the word abortion with all its emotional baggage is a euphemism, the reality is babies dismembered alive: tortured to death.)  But I do think it is worth the exercise. If anyone decides to give it a try, let us know in the comments. I think it would be an interesting follow-up conversation about which euphemisms people thought were harmless and which are disguised lies. (Also, I cannot do it, simply using euphemisms is difficult for me, so I am a terrible data point… 🙂 )

The War of The Cliche

There are so many cliches in our lives, idioms, and standard responses that go unconsidered; they are said without thought, and often they are evil. I know, it is perhaps considered incendiary to call something as simple as a cliche evil. But when good people repeat over and over little phrases or aphorisms that are kernels of bad thoughts and wicked philosophies, I think they are propagandizing themselves without even realizing it. They are teaching themselves to accept a certain set of ideas, that in its completion, is evil. For every evil saying however, I think there ought to be a good one. In many cases they already exist, it is just that in the modern world only a few old people still say the good ones. Here are the ones that brought this subject to mind.

Let us start with a stupid one: ‘That worked like a charm.’ Well, it just sat there making you feel psychologically better and perhaps a little smug? Did it have no effect, purpose or utility beyond merely placebo? Then it worked like a charm… as in, it did nothing. Even in this merely stupid idiom, there is a hint of the perverse. Superstition causes all manner of issues, and to speak as if charms work is for barbarians, not for either Christians nor atheists. Perhaps we could replace it with something like ‘Well that worked like gas chromatography!’…

220px-Gaschromatograph

Gas Chromatography… it really works!

Here is another questionable cliche: ‘Absence makes the heart grow fonder.’ I could make a double case for this. In the short term, the desire to see someone or something makes a person fonder of that someone. However, in actuality, absence leads to, well more absence. Separation generally tends to making people grow apart. So… absence makes the heart grow… absent?

Ok, I said evil before, and now I will deliver. The cliche ‘The ends justify the means.’ and all of its counterparts, variations and modulations should be cut out of the vocabulary of every person and sent to hell. The belief that is the end is good enough, or desirable enough that it can justify any means is perhaps the leading excuse of all evil ever. For instance, communism claims to have a way to building a utopia, an earthly paradise. They just have to reorganize society, by force. And if you happen to be a kulak, well, ‘you have to break some eggs to make an omelet’.  Or if you are a Maoist, recall the 18-45 (Wikipedia numbers) million people who died in the ‘Great Leap Forward‘ to reorganize society. Or perhaps another example would be good. ‘You should have wisdom and understand good and evil (desirable end) so rebel against God (unjustifiable means).’ The opposite side of this cliche battle is perhaps ‘The road to hell is paved with good intentions.’ However, no one really says that, and it isn’t a terribly pithy saying. I think something like ‘evil means breed evil ends’ is better… but I don’t get to just make up sayings, its not like I am Ben Franklin.

Another evil one is used mainly by simpering fools who have never either physically or intellectually encountered any real violence. They say that violence begets violence. (A plethora of variants exist like: ‘War is not the answer.’ ‘stop the cycle of violence’) The constant harping on this from shows like Dr. Who makes me almost ready to give up the show entirely. In the episode ‘A Town Called Mercy’ the Doctor almost realizes his tragic flaw: his simpering inability to be Just. For the few people who may stumble upon this and not know Dr. Who, the Doctor has several enemies but I will just mention the Master. Over and over the Doctor spares the Master’s life, and over and over the Master commits genocide, slaughter, and all sorts of wicked crimes. (Which in a TV show, the villain should do bad things, that’s not the problem.) The problem is that the Doctor is culpable for letting a pure evil entity go, simply because he thinks that violence breeds violence. In reality, human nature breeds violence. I read an article recently about the warring in Congo. The author seemed utterly at a loss as to why the roving bands of men committed such horrific rapes: they serve no tactical purpose… The answer is simply that they do such things because there is no one to stop them. In reality, the only thing ever proven to stop a violent evil man is a good one willing to also commit violence. Think of the Waynes. (Dr. Who, the Congo, and now Batman? Deal with it, it’s a blog 🙂 )

Bruce’s parents were murdered because his dad was either unwilling or incapable of anything other than talk. Violence (shooting the criminal or just attacking him physically) might or would have stopped this violent act.Compare that ‘Throw me your wallet’ scene with the one from The Shootist (about 0:45 into this clip)

The only way to stop the horrors in the Congo is if large numbers of decent men (preferable an army) hunt down the bands of barbaric wicked ones, and do violence. I think this cliche was invented to make cowardice fashionable. Something I seem to recall Lewis talking about in The Screwtape Letters, how they (the devils) had not yet succeeded in making cowardice acceptable. I think, though the world view that gives up such idioms as ‘violence begets violence’, they (the devils again) rather have. As for the other side in this little battle, there is the cliche often attributed to Edmund Burk. ‘All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.’ Again, not very pithy is it? I don’t have any suggestions for alternates though.

Well, my rant is over, and I only talked about four cliches. Oh well, feel free to bring up good or evil cliches in the comments.

More Culture

I am at least briefly back from the craziness of the last few weeks. I managed to accomplish stuff despite the fact that my body declared war on me and got me sick right in the middle of everything. So, enough complaining, just a few thoughts.

From Roger L. Simon at PJ Media first (then me next…)

People on the right spend a great deal of time and energy excoriating Hollywood, Broadway, and the music industry. Entertainment has become the province of the Left and is hugely biased.

True enough — but it’s been that way for some time. And with all the complaining by conservatives and libertarian-types it may even have gotten worse in recent years. Certainly, it hasn’t gotten better. Whining, it must be admitted, hasn’t helped.

As the late — and increasingly lamented — Andrew Breitbart pointed out repeatedly, “Politics is downstream from culture.”

I agree with him somewhat, although he doesn’t really hit any feasible plans for influencing the culture. Mostly he says ‘Stop whining’ and ‘get to work’.  So while I sit here, waiting for my kinetics experiments, I figured I’d throw down some ideas.

1. Do not self censor your beliefs to make them more acceptable to the world around you. We are called to be in the world but not of it. Of course our ideas such as sin, damnation, right and wrong, are not liked.

2. Euphemisms are evil. I will probably post just on this in the future: the point is that perhaps euphemisms started as tact: today they are disguises for evil and sin.

3. Buy and watch good movies/TV. Since most of us cannot make them, we can, at least, help make sure that those people who make a really worthwhile movie make lots of money too. On the flip side, don’t go see expensive trash like Avatar or popular bilge like ‘The Lorax’.

Speaking of good TV, I have been sick and grading recently and seen some of Justified. It probably deserves its own post as well. Its the story of a western style lawman in modern America, sent back to Kentucky. This is another show that frequently displays the moral difficulties of the world without trying to convince the audience that morality is ambiguous or relative. That and it is exciting, well made, struggles with important issues… and exciting 🙂 Also it has a strong streak of the pathos that inhabits the whole spirit of history.  The show has a similar feel to the song that closes the season (The Patty Loveless version is better, but this one is the one the show uses.)

The Postman and America

All of history is like a tangled mess of threads. You read about battles like Balaclava, or about the various intrigues of this or that king’s court, and it all feels rather pointless. It’s a mess of yarn a cat played with. I know all this sound nihilistic and fatalist, but it is often true about history. Sometimes, however, when reading a biography, or an original text or even sometimes a novel, a momentary glimmer appears of order in the chaos, of, perhaps, a plan in the mess: even a Divine plan. It is on those moments when history is transformed in the mind from ‘one damn thing after another’ to something with purpose, a beginning with an end, something whose order is so complex and huge that the mind cannot grasp it. It’s produces historical vertigo, and whenever it happens it is almost too bright for the mind.

Well I will get back to that thought, but about a week ago, our local library had its biannual book sale (last time I got ‘The End of the Affair’) and I bought this time a hardcover of The Postman by David Brin.

I had read it before a long while ago, and remembered really enjoying the story. This time, however, I was deeply impressed by the American-ness of the story.  And there was one moment, with a brief excursion to Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton and the nefarious Aaron Burr. The whole book explores really two themes, taking responsibility, and a sort of three way battle between the very strong who wish to dominate, the weak, and the strong who wish to live their lives for little things, like their farm and their friends, and yet go forth when called to fight for big things like Liberty and Justice. In Archetypes it would be a battle between Julius Caesar, the Roman general/farmer Cincinnatus, and common folk.

While the discussions of feminism, flaws with American culture, and the exploration of what would cause a society to tear itself apart are complex (as they should be) and interesting, there was one section that struck me with historical vertigo, a sudden, and temporary feeling of seeing more in the history than is generally seen. The moment is when the hero, the Postman, is being held captive by the Holnists (followers of the fictitious Nathan Holn) who were basically worshipers of the strong. Rule was by the strong, for the strong, and the only rule for advancement in their fledgling barbarism was that your strength determined your status. The specific passage was ‘by’ Nathan Holn.  He discusses about Aaron Burr’s attempt to seize the territory to the west of the 13 colonies and create an empire of the strong. He also talks about how Burr was thwarted by Hamilton, and Franklin and an idea.

The idea was the Order of Cincinnatus and while I dont know how much influence that had, something very different did indeed happen just after America’s revolution. And so, all of a sudden in my mind came how every so often in America the drive of powerful people towards Empire has been a core fight, perhaps the core fight of the American experiment. How, as he says in the book, Aaron Burr and those like him did not envision new states, they wanted little empires of territory to the west. How the Democrats from the antebellum south desperately wanted Cuba to be annexed to be added to their constellation of slave states. How it is entirely possible that the Mexican War was started for just this purpose, that, in the mind of these almost Holnists, the whole western hemisphere south of the Potomac would be a slave empire, and the world north could do as it wished. And again, in my mind came the fact that despite this, the American people, who as yet still have nearly unprecedented power over their leaders, have, through recurring times of quiet courage, incessantly refused empire. If you consider all the territory America could have held and ruled if she had had any stomach for empire: Cuba, all of Mexico, the Philippines,  Japan, Korea, and who knows but half of Europe too… We may joke that some of these places would be better off if we still ran them, but America would have ceased to be what it is, a Giant among giant countries, with almost no appetite for conquest, so little in fact, that when some actual conquest might be necessary we frequently balk.

All this brings me around to something that I think about rather often, just one little observation: the American Revolution is one of the few that really worked. Compare and contrast the American Revolution and the French one just a few years later. Americans are now 236 years into our experiment. The French went through a massive, bloody purge during the Reign of Terror (thank you French Enlightenment) which was part of the 1st Republic, then they had an Empire (Napoléon) , then more Kings (last of the Bourbons), the 2nd Republic, another Napoléon/Empire,  the 3rd Republic, a puppet state Vichy France, and I think they are in the 5th Republic… Not a successful revolution. And I think the difference was that Washington, Franklin, Hamilton won out against the Aaron Burr types. It makes me wonder, if Rome had the same struggles to keep from becoming and Empire, and if we can continue having the Cincinnatus/ Washington /George Powhatan (from The Postman) types beat the Holnists who are ever present in our midst emerging as they do from basic human nature. As Ronald Reagan said “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.” I think this is what he was referring to.

To return at the end to The Postman, it is a fun book, sometimes a deep book, and the author clearly loves America, yet sees it ‘warts and all’.

Congrats to Chris Morrow

Last year, I greatly enjoyed judging the second annual ACM novel contest. (This year is in its judging phase, but that means it is perfect time to plan to submit for next year. All you have to do is write one little tiny novel 🙂 ) This contest is quite unique in that the finalists have the opportunity to work with one of the judges and improve their novels before the final decision is made. That final decision is based solely on the new version of the novel. Of course, every change is finally at the discretion of the author, and the judge generally refrains entirely from basic editorial comments. We try to help people see how to make their work more meaningful, more exciting, and more True. (See my previous post The Right Story Told True for what I mean.)

Now, enough bragging about the contest, I am actually here to brag about one of the authors I worked with last year. Actually, the only one I actually worked with, the others were less interested in continuing work on their novels. However, new author Chris Morrow was amazing, and I am actually posting to brag, not about the man, but about the novel, The Devil’s Choir. This was last year’s 2nd place winner of our novel contest is is available from Amazon and a bunch of different places. (that link goes to Amazon)

I will not really try to review the work, but I will talk about some of the aspects I thought were very good. I, of course, will not do too much talking about the plot, so that good part is left out. One of the most important things to talk about is enjoyability. It is well paced, (which means fast) and has thoroughly likable characters, inscrutable characters, and vicious characters. You get a faint wisp of some levels of an ancient conspiracy theory, but only enough to be intriguing. Another part of the book, patently about spiritual warfare, (The title should be a clue, but the website gives that much away.) is that probably every possible level of spiritual warfare is explored, clashes of Good versus Evil on many scales, in many dimensions. In some ways it harkens to Perelandra where the battle of Good and Evil came down to one middle age professor boxing another. I could mention many other strengths of the book, but I would likely give too much away. You can go to either the website or Amazon and read an excerpt or two (I think they may be different) and get a feel for the book. I definitely recommend it and after all, its only $5 (Kindle edition).

(I suppose a real blogger would say something like: Full Disclosure… I worked on this some… but I will have to say this: It may be possible that I am enthused by this book because Chris Morrow took so much of my advice that I began to think it might be good advice after all. 🙂 ) Here is the link again, you should at least go read the excerpt. I hope you enjoy it.