Tag Archives: Hope

The Traveler’s Eye

Well, that is the title to my new ebook story. The Traveler’s Eye is long for a short story (though certainly short for a long story). I would excerpt it, but Amazon does that for me, so if you follow the link to Amazon, you can read the first bit previewing the book. It is only on Amazon kindle, but if you don’t have a device like that, and you want a $1.29 story for the afternoon (It’s less than a cup of coffee 🙂 ) you can read it on your computer too.  The story is in format rather like ‘The Arabian Nights’ or ‘Tales From the White Hart’ (fun to put those two side by side.) It is a story of an interesting character who is telling a story. If you want to read a story (though nothing like this one in tone) that I have written, you can visit the post ‘The Frame Shop‘ which is a short story that is short :). Here is the link with the cover I made too (I have begun playing with Adobe Illustrator).

Also, I just realized I really couldn’t categorize the genre… Fun, and, I hope, perhaps a little bit brave as well.

A Letter of Encouragement

I wasn’t going to write anything about the election, I much prefer writing about pumpkin pie and poetry. Last night was rough for half the country, just as 12 years ago was rough for the other half the country. In many ways last night was a disaster for limited government, the rule of law, and Freedom. Ronald Reagan correctly said that freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. I even have a T-shirt that says that that I bought from the Romney campaign and a bumper sticker too now…. The point is, I think many, if not most, Americans who value freedom over security (or at least promises thereof, which I will address in a minute.) are frightened that this generation has allowed freedom to go extinct, that this election was the last and only chance of preserving liberty for our children. We look at England where people get in trouble for defending themselves, we think about $16,000,000,000,000 or $1.6 x 10^13 of debt with untold more trillions hidden by accounting gimmicks and know that sooner or later the piper will be paid. While the people who voted for Obama, the most profligate spender in all history, are responsible, all of us will suffer when the country defaults. And we don’t really see any future anymore that does not entail default, bankruptcy, inflation, economic disaster. At the same time the vile, tyrannical Obama administration is actively assaulting religious liberty and freedom of conscience, by forcing those who believe that abortion is murder to fund it. We see the handwriting, and we see that this administration will not stop there, it will try to force pastors and priests to marry homosexuals, and this and that, they are never content. This is how the world looks to us, the world is very dark, and the future appears very grim. ‘The sky grows darker yet, and the sea rises higher.’ And what, you all ask, is the comfort in that? Where is the encouragement? Well, here!

The world is very evil,
The times are waxing late;
Be sober and keep vigil,
The Judge is at the gate;
The Judge that comes in mercy,
The Judge that comes with might,
To terminate the evil,
To diadem the right.

That was written in the 12th century by Bernard of Morlas. Americans are spoiled; we have forgotten that the world is hard, that God does not promise earthly victory, nor earthly reward. God does not promise us easy lives with easy choices. He expects us to make the right choices despite the combined efforts of the World, the Devil, and our own flesh, and while we always fail, we are always expected to keep trying. Does that mean we should give up on trying to revive Idea of America? Not at all! What that means is we have to realize that the fight is not just in the national election. In fact, the real fight, the one that counts, is for the culture. And this is where I point fingers, and lay blame.

Many people will blame Romney, the Hurricane, Christie, Bush…. The real blame lies on the shoulders of Christians who decided to stop influencing the culture. On those who kept mum when the government decided that infanticide should be legal as long as it happened before birth (or even worse, before complete birth). The blame lies on those who, under the guise of picking their battles to win some and lose some, surrendered every battle one by one.

These major battles were lost so very long ago, even my parents’ generation came mostly after the major battles were lost. So here is the encouragement, we have been fighting a losing cause for generations, and we will always be fighting a losing cause. The cultural war is not a blitzkrieg and though we all wanted it to be a Romney blowout last night, Obama won, and the trench warfare for the hearts, minds and souls, for the culture of this country, goes on. We suffered severe losses, but we are not conquered. We are not in any position to pick our battles; we have to fight them all. Each one of us does not have to fight every battle, but if we want to stem the moral dark age, and have the strength to survive the fiscal nightmare that is likely to come, we collectively have to be fighting every battle. We have to fight for limited government in the state houses, in the towns, in the counties. That is where the real battle is. We have to fight in schools, in universities, in the media, in Hollywood. Only when we start winning more of these will the federal government’s problems be fixable. And that is a tall order, but one in which this election is a temporary setback. Our ideological enemies are determined and scrappy; we have to be even more determined and even scrappier. Fight for every little inch of land. For us, surrounded on all sides, there is no such thing as tactical retreat there is only fighting or surrender.

So you have permission to be depressed today, tomorrow, pick up your ideas, your vocations, and as American citizens get back in the trenches. We may be drinking our own urine for water before the end of this, but the war is not lost.

“But you and all the kind of Christ
Are ignorant and brave,
And you have wars you hardly win
And souls you hardly save.

“I tell you naught for your comfort,
Yea, naught for your desire,
Save that the sky grows darker yet
And the sea rises higher.

“Night shall be thrice night over you,
And heaven an iron cope.
Do you have joy without a cause,
Yea, faith without a hope?”

And as my sister used to say ‘Always remember and never forget’ that heaven on earth, that utopia, that is their ideal, their dream. Since Mankind itself is sinful and broken, we hope not for earthly victory, which is fleeting, but in Salvation, and the end of all things. By that I mean that even if we win this trench war, another will shortly follow, and another and another and another, and yet we struggle on and on because our hope is on Eternity, and our vocation is war. So I go back to writing my manuscript, because despite the fact that Obama is our president until 2016 I still have a PhD to obtain, I have a family to love, and very soon a son to raise. And with all that, working in my vocation, unabashedly believing in limited government and the rule of law, I will work to influence those around me, and the future, it is in the hands of the Lord. We get to vote again in 2014, meantime fight all the fights, and keep in mind that politics, like all earthly things, is fleeting like a flower (or weed) in a field.

(For a more secular pep talk, see Joel B. Pollak over at Breitbart Courage for the Long War Ahead)

Eliot and Moral Decay

Where to lay the blame for moral decay? Over at Penllyn Studio there is an excellent article, Fidelity and the Cultural Shift, but I wanted to disagree a bit on the location of the blame 🙂  Whenever people have desired to have consequence free sex, they have found a way. And (at least according to my new favorite exposition on culture: How Civilizations Die: (And Why Islam Is Dying Too)) People desire to have sex and no kids when their culture has arrived at despair. This feeling is really evinced in T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land. Here is a portion: (long portion… but worth reading and thinking about.)

II. A Game of Chess

The Chair she sat in, like a burnished throne, 77
Glowed on the marble, where the glass
Held up by standards wrought with fruited vines
From which a golden Cupidon peeped out
(Another hid his eyes behind his wing)
Doubled the flames of sevenbranched candelabra
Reflecting light upon the table as
The glitter of her jewels rose to meet it,
From satin cases poured in rich profusion.
In vials of ivory and coloured glass
Unstoppered, lurked her strange synthetic perfumes,
Unguent, powdered, or liquid – troubled, confused
And drowned the sense in odours; stirred by the air
That freshened from the window, these ascended
In fattening the prolonged candle-flames,
Flung their smoke into the laquearia, 92
Stirring the pattern on the coffered ceiling.
Huge sea-wood fed with copper
Burned green and orange, framed by the coloured stone,
In which sad light a carvèd dolphin swam.
Above the antique mantel was displayed
As though a window gave upon the sylvan scene 98
The change of Philomel, by the barbarous king 99
So rudely forced; yet there the nightingale 100
Filled all the desert with inviolable voice
And still she cried, and still the world pursues,
‘Jug Jug’ to dirty ears.
And other withered stumps of time
Were told upon the walls; staring forms
Leaned out, leaning, hushing the room enclosed.
Footsteps shuffled on the stair.
Under the firelight, under the brush, her hair
Spread out in fiery points
Glowed into words, then would be savagely still.
‘My nerves are bad to-night. Yes, bad. Stay with me.
‘Speak to me. Why do you never speak. Speak.
‘What are you thinking of? What thinking? What?
‘I never know what you are thinking. Think.’
I think we are in rats’ alley 115
Where the dead men lost their bones.
‘What it that noise?’
The wind under the door. 118
‘What is that noise now? What is the wind doing?’
Nothing again nothing.
‘Do
‘You know nothing? Do you see nothing? Do you remember
‘Nothing?’
I remember
Those are pearls that were his eyes.
‘Are you alive, or not? Is there nothing in your head?’ 126
But
O O O O that Shakespeherian Rag – 128
It’s so elegant
So intelligent
‘What shall I do now? What shall I do?’
‘I shall rush out as I am, and walk the street
‘With my hair down, so. What shall we do tomorrow?
‘What shall we ever do?’
The hot water at ten.
And if it rains, a closed car at four.
And we shall play a game of chess, 138
Pressing lidless eyes and waiting for a knock upon the door.
When Lil’s husband got demobbed, I said –
I didn’t mince my words, I said to her myself,
HURRY UP PLEASE IT’S TIME
Now Albert’s coming back, make yourself a bit smart.
He’ll want to know what you done with that money he gave you
To get herself some teeth. He did, I was there.
You have them all out, Lil, and get a nice set,
He said, I swear, I can’t bear to look at you.
And no more can’t I, I said, and think of poor Albert,
He’s been in the army for four years, he wants a good time,
And if you don’t give it him, there’s others will, I said.
Oh is there, she said. Something o’ that, I said.
Then I’ll know who to thank, she said, and give me a straight look.
HURRY UP PLEASE IT’S TIME
If you don’t like it you can get on with it, I said.
Others can pick and choose if you can’t.
But if Albert makes off, it won’t be for a lack of telling.
You ought to be ashamed, I said, to look so antique.
(And her only thirty-one.)
I can’t help it, she said, pulling a long face,
It’s them pills I took, to bring it off, she said.
(She’s had five already, and nearly died of young George.)
The chemist said it would be all right, but I’ve never been the same.
You are a proper fool, I said.
Well, if Albert won’t leave you alone, there it is, I said,
What you get married for if you don’t want children?
HURRY UP PLEASE IT’S TIME
Well, that Sunday Albert was home, they had a hot gammon,
And they asked me in to dinner, to get the beauty of it hot –
HURRY UP PLEASE IT’S TIME
HURRY UP PLEASE IT’S TIME
Goonight Bill. Goonight Lou. Goonight May. Goonight.
Ta ta. Goonight. Goonight.
Good night, ladies, good night, sweet ladies, good night, good night.

From: http://eliotswasteland.tripod.com/

Now that was a lot of quote, but the direction of the current is clear, even though the poetry is dense and often intentionally inscrutable. From the opulence of the room to the woman who has withered herself in order to avoid having more children to the ADHD-like interruptions at the end; whenever a culture makes the Ecclesiastes discovery – that everything is meaningless, a chasing after the wind – they throw out their morals and they discard their hope for the future, the latter of which is most visible in childbearing. Without God, as I touched upon last post about the Higgs Boson, everything is meaningless, hopeless and nothing: so why have to deal with children just to experience a few years of sexual activity? So I think that the Pill, the laws, the media: it all sells a nihilistic culture what it wants.

Update: When you go over to read the Penllyn Studio article, do look at the artwork for sale: a fantastic example of artwork as a physical visual presentation of wholesome and true philosophy (and it is quite beautiful too…).

Higgs Boson

This brief article over at NRO discusses why most people are uninterested in the potential discovery of the Higgs Boson (e.g. why everything has mass). (Read it here.)

They found the “God particle.”

That was the headline splashed all over America’s news media. It turns out that the name actually derives from substituting “God particle” for “goddamn particle,” the original name some scientists had given the elusive particle. But the media adopted the former nomenclature.

Why?

Because otherwise the bulk of humanity would not pay attention.

It obliquely strikes a sore nerve for science, especially science done without any belief in God, science done by hard-bitten atheists for hard-bitten atheists.

The discovery of the Higgs boson brings us no closer to understanding why there is a universe, not to mention whether life has meaning.

That, I think is the problem. Physics (in the Aristotelian sense) today has lost its metaphysics, and the scientists try to make up the metaphysics as they go. Frequently they are horribly bad at it too… They also seem to not be aware of how amateurish their attempts are since they suffer from impressive feelings of self-worth and educatedness… but in a lot of ways a scientist attempting philosophy today is much like a philosopher attempting science. That this is the case is a terrible shame. Science needs philosophy in order to provide a reason to do science, and philosophy needs science to winnow theories down to those plausible in the world we live in (rather than hypothetical worlds in their heads.)

But people are taught to expect everyone to be scientific or philosophical, to be artistic or mathematics. The one is supposedly the antithesis of the other. This division is poison for every discipline. When you observe how a violinist practices, read about how artists like van Eyck painted, and look at the tedious research of a Noble Laureate in Chemistry, the focus the discipline and the occasional flashes of pure genius are the same. Even the mindset is the same. Science and art and philosophy have so much in common, and they support each other. Obviously not everyone can do all arts, philosophies, and sciences well, true genius in each one of these is almost a monomania. However, I think artists should at least dabble in science and mathematics, and absolutely know philosophy (another discussion for another time, but I think art is visible philosophy), scientists should learn philosophy and music or art, and philosophers… well I guess it would be a start if any existed. Real philosophy is almost extinct, rather what we mostly have is the study of philosophy, not philosophy itself.

The Death’s Head (or: Orual’s Song)

Faceless am I by natural effect
Groping through life, though merely mobile death.
My birthright, damnation, total defect
So potent, I live without slightest breath.
Can driest of bones quench perdition’s fire
To wat`ry redemption themselves dragging?
Escape ravaging flames hot and dire
While ligaments, flesh, and breath all lacking?
Cursed skull! Thou cannot hear the Word from the Tree
And with fright’ning, dark, forlorn, pits thou cannot see!
Yet a mighty, turbulent, crashing flood
With power crimson every bone laving
Skulls into faces, Omnipotent Blood.
Ears hear! Eyes see! Now a face, believing.

(See thali3’s First Sonnet here)

Consider the Gauntlet Picked Up!!!!!

The City and the Stars: Arthur C. Clarke

This is the story of a mankind that has given up. A human race dominated by a tyranny of immutability, of diversion, and of fear. Set in the future like most science fiction, The City and the Stars deals with the hollowness of modernity in the far reaches of time. Simply put, in the last remaining city, not only on earth but everywhere in the universe, (known as Diaspar) every human being is a re-fabrication of an existing person. The book presumes ‘eternity circuits’ in which the whole life and memories of each person who existed at the city’s founding is stored. The seemingly omniscient computer that runs the city, and all the people, ‘randomly’ remakes them at different times and in different combinations so that in theory society does not stagnate. These people are controlled and contained within the city by the two prongs of endless and stimulating diversions, and fear of the very idea outside put in their minds by the computer and vicariously, the cities designers eons in the past. The main character, Alvin, is the anomaly. Alvin is completely new, he longs for the outside, and the outside he finds.

He finds another human city on the planet called Lys wherein people are still born, live, and die. In a very real sense, Lys is a city run by philosophers, they work because it is good the human soul, they tame animals, the age (something that the people in Diaspar do not) and when they die, they are gone. Initially, it begins to feel like an over romantic vision of pastoral life. However, it soon becomes apparent, both to Alvin and the reader that here in the twin cities of Diaspar and Lys, are two pieces of Man. Diaspar, full of engineering and technological prowess, and Lys full of philosophy and mental ability, but even if they were combined they would lack for something; and the reader knows it, and Alvin knows it. I will not discuss the adventures of Alvin any further. I will say this, the story evokes such a strong longing, a weltschmerz, a wistfulness for earth, that defies the very smell of the grass and rain that came in my window while I read this book.

The story of the great receding of mankind from the furthest reaches of the universe all the way back to two cities on earth tells the tale of mankind without one thing: hope. And lacking hope, they lack youth (A similar theme is found in the Asimov book of the same name.), and vigor, and the desire to do better and be freer and create. This book shows the dead-end of society that has replaced its Raison d’être with diversions and pleasures. The book ends with hope for mankind, through man himself. Unfortunately, the putting mankind’s hope in man (or the super-man) is what has lead, in our own times, to the collective death of cultures Raison d’être.

This book sings the song of a man-made savior; it shows us not his doom, which is to fail. This adds another layer to the melancholy felt from reading the book. Because of all this, the book is certainly recommended to read, and discuss with any friends who have inclination for discussing ideas and their effects (philosophy).

Short stories with a similar theme: Youth, Isaac Asimov; A Discovery in the Woods, Graham Greene