Monday, September 30, 2013

If you have ever wondered what the Proto-Indo-European language sounded like

Wonder no more!  In one of those 'cooler than accurate' scholarly projects, we have a recording of what the best and brightest think might possibly have been the sounds of that eons old language.  Of course, like most things, I have a feeling if someone from that period heard the recording, their first response would be 'what the hell did he say?'  In PIE of course.  Still, fun stuff.  And the stuff that makes you ponder all that historical studies have to offer. 

Comments have no place in science

Popular, the internet extension of one of the older scientific magazines, says so.  Really.
Comments can be bad for science. That's why, here at, we're shutting them off.
Yep.  Concluding that Pure Science (TM) has been hijacked by politics and other vile things, the articles will no longer have a place for comments and debate. I know, it's the Internet and sometimes the comments sections can get nasty.  But welcome to one more result of scientific and technological breakthroughs.  Like everything, there is good and bad.  In fact, in an unintentional bit of irony, PS might be missing the obvious lesson.  When it comes to scientific breakthroughs, you seldom get anything good without opening a whole new box of bad.  Welcome to Popular Science.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Climate Scientists who cried wolf

In another story picking up the latest Climate Change news, we have scientists rushing to do what they've been doing for twenty years:  Warn us all of impending upheaval and chaos if the climate continues to change.  The good news?  Folks seem to smell a collective rat.  Even those on the side of MMGW are quick to admit there have been issues, but we need to get past those to the problem.  Increasingly rare today are those who act as if there is no reason a sane person would ignore the science.  More and more, I notice supporters of MMGW who, while continuing to press for action, admit that for the longest time, the Scientific community suffered from some serious boy-who-cried-wolf syndrome.

Our trip to Williamsburg

An intro.  I hope to have more thoughts (and pics) in the coming days and weeks.  But I couldn't resist these. Most are of my always awesome family.  The last one is, well, a pic I'm proud of as I caught the exact second of ignition of a revolutionary mortar.  Others will follow as I unpack a few things that made this the best of trips, and the worst of trips.  And a stunning realization of just how true is the adage that America, as well as the Christian West, may well passed their better days. 

The family, coming through a trail from the Jamestown Glasshouse (which was out of commission, alas)

Our youngest dons a vintage helm much like his oldest brothers did when they were that age

Our oldest, his hair tossed about in the breeze, contemplates something

Our ninth grader, in a perpetual growth spurt, looks over the side of a replica of the Susan Constance

Our eighth grader, striking an unusually pensive pose overlooking the James River

He carries a stick, and isn't afraid to use it - peers be warned

The oldest three, they've been through a lot together and despite it all, remain (for the most part) close

World's cutest wife with two of the boys, who seem to be wrestling with 18th century fashion

Usually I'm the picture taker, but every now and then one gets by me

Awesome, what can I say

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Climate Change has become a religion

Man will worship something.  And in lieu of traditional religious beliefs, he can come up with some doozies.  Take climate change.  I have no doubt that Industrialization has not been healthy for the environment.  Or for humans.  The lesson being that just because we can do something doesn't mean we should.  Also, don't put blind faith in the latest lab coat saying the new invention will end death and align the planets.  Even if it does, the paybacks could be a witch with a 'b'.

But those aren't the lessons we want to learn.  In fact, we ignore those as we move the power of science and technology away from factories and industry to re-imagining the human person and plugging human existence into a digital socket.  The lesson instead is 'how can we change Western Civilization and use this as the latest in many post-Cold War scare tactics to keep the sheep in the circle?'.

Now in this story, and this story, we have two different perspectives, based on the ideologies involved.  Behind the 'we're going to freaking die'! hysteria is the Liberal revolution.  So CNN has a story in which the UN has all but proven MMGW is a fact that is going to doom the world unless the last vestiges of the Christian West tear down their livelihoods and let the rest of the world catch up.  Oh, and we have to vote for liberal Democrats and embrace socialist style control of our lives.

Fox, on the other hand, represents that skeptical notion that industrial progress couldn't have caused anything bad, after all look at the billions we've made and we all have air conditioning and the latest app that's helping to make more millionaires and billionaires.  Climate Change?  Hardly.

Me?  I figure, again, that the bold and blind leap humanity took with industrialization was like a giant party from which we are now beginning to wake with quite the hangover.  The world became a giant prostitute to be, well you know, and now we're paying the bill in money and disease control.  I seriously doubt the decision to wrench people from living within the natural world and setting artificial contaminants and cancer causing pollution between us and nature was a brilliant move, no matter how nice our big screen TVs look.

But with that said, I seriously doubt that it's all 'we're going to die!'.  My guess is, we're dying already.  But not in the 'vote Democrat or the Polar Bears don't have a chance' sense.  I'm  especially skeptical because of the obvious twisting and manipulating of data and evidence that we see.  So things like Hurricane Sandy are pointed to, even though such hurricanes have happened in the past.  And yet the fact that we were supposed to have season after season filled with hurricane Sandies is not mentioned at all, even though that was the prediction fifteen years ago based on MMGW.

Same with eroded shorelines.  Those seafront metropolises were supposed to have been submerged by now, according to a plea by scientists in the late 90s.  If we didn't get radical, it would happen in ten years!  Well, they're still there.  So are polar bears.  Plus, while parts of the world have been hotter, others have been mild.  In our part of the world, it was a rather mild and wet summer, but nothing stunning either way.

Of course that's when it gets crazy, and we're told it doesn't count because it's weather, even though they appeal to such weather based events to build their cases.  Whenever someone tells me that something is always never sometimes, I'm suspicious.  When it goes from Global Warming to Global Climate Change to Global Climate Disruption back to Global Warming based on what is convenient for the argument, count me a skeptic.

So climate change?  Yeah.  Always has happened.  Blank check to science and technology and invention?  Bad idea.  Just because we can doesn't always mean we should.  But humans are a pox upon the world and only by accepting some - ahem - political and social reconstructing of society can we save the world from blowing up?  Sorry.  Fool me once.  Fool me for twenty years?  You get the picture.

One of the powers of Liberalism

Has been in the warped and twisted perversion of the age old Christian adage that confession is good for the soul.  So we have white, European and American heterosexual Christian men admitting that those in their lineage have, at divers times, done bad things.  Like genocide, imperialism, slavery, persecution, bigotry - all the things that most cultures and civilizations and beliefs have, to some degree or another, struggled with.

Problem?  We keep emphasizing it.  Over.  And over.  And over.  And because of this, there is a tendency within that aforesaid grouping to jump on board and demonstrate our righteousness by pounding our shoes on the table and affirming the eternal sinfulness of 'Us.'  That is, of White European American Heterosexual Christian Men.

And you have a strange, almost historically unprecedented, phenomenon, in which we stumble over ourselves to agree with the absolute suckness of our own demographic.  Think on it.  In most - not all, but most - cases, the most anti-male sexists are men.  In most - not all, but most - cases, the most anti-White racists are whites.  In most - not all, but most - the harshest critics of American history are Americans.  Same for Europe, though Europeans will default toward trashing America as a first priority.  Something Americans are increasingly happy to join.  Only in sexual orientation does this crumble, since many of the most zealous gay rights militants are LGBT, though the rise of Dan Savage styled sympathizers is gaining momentum.

So it's really tough to look back at anything associated with this heritage since so many who are part of it take such glee in standing up among the crowd, grabbing the megaphone, and trying to out-trash anyone else in the almost morally masochistic hyper-criticism of our own ancestors and their accomplishments.

I say this because we just returned from a family vacation from Williamsburg, VA.  Thanks to a large tax return from last year that some might say was spent frivolously on such a thing when our family is in such straights, we learned a few things about how this little distinctive of the Modern West has settled into the common consciousness of society, and is much enjoyed by forces of the revolution known as Liberalism (or progressivism, Left, whatever).  I'll say more about it, and our trip and why we took it and what we saw in the days to come.

But never have I realized more just how that tendency that has settled into the minds of the Christian West has become a tool for destroying every fabric of the Christian West.  Thomas McDonald touches on it in this wonderful post.  It is a truth deep down at the heart of the crumbling away of the Civilization, if not the Faith, that the Church Built. And also, if I may be so bold, at the heart of the struggle that the Church, and all of Christianity, finds itself engaged in today.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Autumn time is here

My Dad would have loved running a train down this scene.  I still miss him.
Happiness and cheer. Fun for all what Dave G. calls his favorite time of year!  That's right.  Autumn has finally arrived.  We are trying, really trying, to put cheer and good family times into the fall, this being the last fall before our oldest moves on from that part of his life concerned with public education.  Even if that education is in the form of home schooling his last year and a half.

It's at this time of year that I look back and realize wow!  It has been eight years since we came into the Catholic Church.  We started in 2005, in September no less.  From that point on, there was really no going back.  And what a ride it's been.  I feel at ease within the Catholic tradition, as it answers the gnawing problems I always had as a Protestant.  Especially that problem that is behind so many clergy who become Catholic: exactly where does the Bible say it is the sole authority, at least without an outside authority interpreting it that way?  Logical loop there.

Still, it's also been eight years of utter, living hell.  I mean, really.  Nothing has gone right.  We've lost tens of thousands of dollars, virtually all we had saved.  My Dad has passed, my Mom has moved in with us.  My brother in law has been diagnosed with inoperable cancer after having lost all of his wealth due to a business partner swindling him, leaving my sister to hold together her life on a thread.  That doesn't count the problems with her son.  And on my Wife's said, her sister's marriage fell apart, she's struggling to get by.

We've had auto accidents, broken appliances, household problems, trees crashing in windstorms (though not hurting anything).  My wife and I both got jobs after we left ministry (she was also a minister in some ways, being a teacher in a Christian school none to friendly to Catholicism, hence her lost job).  I left that job to work for a Catholic apostolate, which I wish I hadn't.  I then was let go on the eve of the economic collapse due to funding (I learned non-profits are a good gauge for predicting impending economic troubles); also due to our inability to relocate.  After getting by, having to help watch my Dad as Alzheimer's ravaged his mind, I finally took a new turn in life, that of insurance sales.   I had done sales in my life and wasn't bad.  It would take a few years they said, but my wife had a solid job and with a little extra, we could at least get by.

Then she lost her job.  We lost benefits, another round of savings, and I had to take a steady, albeit low paying, job just to have some income.  And one that has a schedule none-too accommodating to the needs of a family.  Were it  not for my angel of a supervisor, I don't know how we'd manage.  That's where I am now.  My wife is trying to find some income, even part time.  Work at home would be best.  But anything.  My Mom and Sister have both had several significant health problems hit this year, and of course we had a warning shot fired over our heads with my oldest boy and his health scare this summer.

That's been our Catholic existence.  I've been shut out of the diocese, unable to find any employment in a ministry capacity - even as a janitor.  My services as a former protestant minster not being a big deal in most parts.  And truth be told, I don't know that this doesn't extend to more of the Church now than simply our neck of the woods.  So ministry days are a thing of the past.  Truth be told, it's been so long, most of my skills I had have begun to deteriorate.

Complements of Google Maps; the orchard was the first
field trip I took in the fall when I was in Kindergarten
What money we had for the kids for college has long gone the way of the empty cistern.  Our oldest has chosen to live at home his first year out of school just to accumulate money for college, since I've warned him about just going into debt for an education.  Our house needs repairs badly.  I mean, it isn't Green Acres yet, but it suffers.

And in it all, we try, try very hard to do two things.  First, keep food on the table and what roof is left over our heads.  And two, keep our kids from associating becoming Catholic as that moment when our life went to hell in a hand basket.   To that end, we do plenty of things with the boys whenever possible.  We play games, go when we can to where it's free.  We take them to parks and find things locally that are little to nothing.  The Columbus Museum of Art, no threat to the Guggenheim, still has free admission on Sundays.  And we managed to get dirt cheap tickets for the Nutcracker again (bought those months ago).

And of course fall.  Even if we can't get the big fall festivities and feasts we used to, we still manage some Cider and some pumpkin pie for a round of Castle Ghosts of Ireland.  On a thread about the economic woes of our time, a commenter mentioned dwindling Social Security and retirement plans.  He wondered what it must be like for people who don't even make 25.00/hour!  I'd like to tell him.  Oh, was a time when my overall compensation package was around there, and my wife's job was a very good paying job as well.

But those years seem so long ago.  Clothes are now threadbare.  Jackets torn.  Shoes worn.  We have food to eat, and we're good enough shoppers to make it look better than it is.  No real end in sight.  Heading toward 50 is a tough time to learn a new career, especially in this economy.  Having two in the marriage needing to do the same thing is almost impossible to imagine without a wealthy benefactor stepping in and footing the bill.  We keep praying that at some point God is going to open that door we hear so much about and finally bring things around.  If not through material comforts, at least in pointing us in the direction we need to go.

In the meantime, we're going to lift a glass of cider, and if not rejoice in a harvest that fizzled, we'll reminisce about the olden days.  We'll remember old times and trips.  We'll remember when the boys were young and all the fun and remind ourselves that we have another young one coming around the corner who has every right to have as many wonderful memories and fun ghost trips as his brothers.  Will things turn around?  Will something come our way?  We don't know.  I'm not a soothsayer.  But we can do what we can do, and not much more.  As I tell our boys, control what you can control, because there will be plenty in life you can't.

So with that, and autumn's timely arrival, we'll hopefully have much cheer.  After all, in the wider scope of history, many have suffered far more in a day than we have in a thousand days.  We have healthy boys who are pretty darn good when the dust settles, and my Mom living with us and a good marriage.  If you think of worth in those terms, that's not bad at all.  It's almost worth lifting a tankard of cider and drinking a toast to what God, in the overall scheme of things, has actually given us.

The State Park of my hometown.  Maybe we'll go back there with the boys this year.
For old times' sake

Friday, September 20, 2013

Seasonal movies are up and running

As I said a while back, we caught an early and rather nonseasonal showing of Hammer Films' take on the old werewolf story, Curse of the Werewolf.  We then watched The Mummy (Hammer), as well as the rather captivating remake staring Brendan Fraser.  We saw some Simpsons Treehouse of Horrors, and kicked off the "official" scary movie portion of the year with Universal's Dracula.   This last weekend, we decided the next appropriate turn was Universal's The Wolf Man.  Enough fog and atmosphere to fill a gypsy tent.

And that got me to thinking.  Call me a sissy, call me a coward, call me Al.  But when I was growing up, it was werewolves that scared the bejeesus out of me.  I mean, like any kid in those pre-VCR/Call of Gorefest Auto XIII days, I was scared of plenty of things.  Not all.  Some monster movies, even in the 70s, seemed silly.  Though we didn't usually get to see the "Classics" that often.  Apart from King Kong, I never saw Dracula or Frankenstein until the age of home video recorders.  Unless they were chasing Abbot and Costello around.

But despite some things scaring me and others not, it was until I was a bit older that my fear of werewolves finally went the way of the tooth fairy.  I won't say how old.  Trust me, I was *cough* older.  Don't know why really.  I was always a bit arachnophobic and I trace that back to living in the country when I was a tot in a house my Dad built by his own wit and industry.  As good a house as it was, you just can't do anything about spiders in the country.

Maybe it was a 'traumatized as a kid' thing.  It was back then that I remember first seeing a 'werewolf' movie.  On an old black and white TV we had, my sister and a friend had some monster movie matinee going.  And to this day I don't know the movie, but it had a fellow who rolled down a wooded hill, and when he popped up - Bang!  He was a werewolf.  Meaning he had hair on his face and fangs.  But when you're no more than 5 years old (we moved right after my 5th birthday), that's all it takes.  So that's probably why it took years to shake the shakes when it came to the legendary shapeshifters.  Thank goodness my wife was there to protect me!

So in the spirit of my somewhat well received and popular Movies to Scare Kids By post, I thought I'd do my favorite howl-at-the-moon movies!  Just what everyone who comes to a Catholic blogger expects.

1. The Wolf Man (1941)
What can I say, the movie that many people think captures the various legends about werewolves in fact invented many of them.  Autumn moons, silver bullets, pentagrams, the perpetual need for gypsies, all of
these come from the mind of Curt Siodmac.   Lon Chaney, Jr. is strangely cast against a diminutive, but always impressive, Claude Rains as his father.  Most of the cast is there for filler, but does a good enough job.  Maria Ouspenskaya, as the mysterious gypsy woman, and Bela Lugosi as her ill-fated son, also steal their respective scenes.

But like most Universal movies, the real star is the build up to the monster, and the heavy-enough-to-crush-you atmosphere.  Never is it not foggy in the world of Larry Talbot.  Towering trees, fog-choked woods, an imposing castle, an androgynous European-styled village (supposedly in Wales), all give an extra level of depth.  True, by now WWII was well under way, and America's final days of youthful innocence are winding down.  I can't help but think that, by then, audiences were not quite as terrorized as we sometimes think.  Oh, they may have been scared, having nothing to compare it to.  But even then, the real horrors of what non-shape-shifting men are capable of was all too real, and too common in that mid-industrial era of history.

2. The Curse of the Werewolf
Hammer Films made its mark by taking the classic monsters of Universal days and colorizing them.  By then, most of the cast of legendary monsters had been reduced to fodder for the high jinks of an aging Abbot and
Costello team.  Fun stuff.  But in the wake of the mushroom cloud and the likelihood of space travel around the corner, somehow those old fog draped villages just didn't hold the terror, or even the atmosphere.  If some movies still thrived with the possibilities of black and white, the old monsters didn't.  Replaced by a growing repertoire of giant insects and reptiles and space aliens, werewolves and vampires just didn't seem to fit.

Enter Hammer Films.  With Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing leading the way, they repackaged and resold the classics in new, vibrant and brooding ways.  The literary inspiration was as often as not tossed out the window even more than the Universal versions.  Sometimes the very heart and soul of the stories were changed.  But there was always a shard, something keeping them connected to the source materials and folklore, even if bright blood and colorful sets were now the norm.

Unlike most of the Hammer catalog, The Curse of the Werewolf has neither Cushing nor Lee, but instead turns to up and coming Oliver Reed to show his inner animal.  Not content with simply rehashing the made-up legends of The Wolf Man, Curse of the Werewolf actually taps into ancient folklore and Christian superstition, and spends a great deal of the movie building up characters we should care about.  An important thing in classic horror, since in almost all cases, they are meant to be tragic.

3. The Werewolf of London
Overlooked were it not for Landis's pseudo-remake and Warren Zevon's addictively awesome song.
 Released shortly after Fredrick March nailed the Oscar for his turn as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, many saw Werewolf of London as simply J&H with fangs and more hair. As a result, critics dismissed it and it more or less floundered in the box office.

Over the years, a slow but steady respect has grown for the movie.  It suffers from wanting to do many things, and never quite getting around to focusing on what.  But the concept of traveling to Tibet, being attacked by an Asian Werewolf (where foxes or possibly tigers might have substituted), of a werewolf with hat and cape, all seem to be enough to make the watching enjoyable.  Performances are solid enough, and in the tradition of J&H that finds itself played out in werewolf legends of later years, the wolf part becomes more pronounced with each change.

Send the kiddies to be with these next two:

4. An American Werewolf in London
As a keen interpreter of social and philosophical movements, John Landis is a decent filmmaker.  Made famous by Animal House, and culminating with his work on Michael Jackson's Thriller, Landis had a knack for producing better products than his rather shallow commentary on events suggests he should.  Oh, none of them are deeper than an average mud puddle.  But he had a certain something, and worked well with the first generation of SNL alumni who tried with varying levels of success to make it to the big screen.

According to Landis, he got the idea for American Werewolf while working the crew of Kelly's Heroes.  He noticed an old time funeral and was taken by the fact that, as late as the 1960s, there were still places in the world untouched by modern thinking.  Thank goodness.  He took that and spun it into a delightful, and sometimes frightening, and sometimes shocking film that repackaged long forgotten tricks of the terror trade.  The earliest part of the movie, with David Naughton and Griffin Dunne traversing the moors and running into the famous "Slaughtered Lamb" pub, is the high point.  Being the early 80s, Landis can't resist copious amounts of gratuitous sex, just like so many filmmakers of the period.  Like children who found the key to the liquor cabinet, it was almost as if to say 'look Ma!  We can show sex in movies!!'  A shame.  Because there was a decent amount of humor, suspense, drama and even some character development in a movie otherwise weighed down by some typical over doing in on Landis's part.

It's also worth noting, BTW, that many see this as one of the turning points in movies in which killing and violence begin to mix with humor in such a way that eventually they become indistinguishable.

5. The Howling
Following in the 'werewolf as porn metaphor' , The Howling uses the same groundbreaking effects that Landis has at his disposal, but on a tighter budget.  In hindsight, it's easy to see that this had less of a budget to work with.

The story of a community of werewolves living behind the scenes, attempting to fit in with modernity, has an almost psychological element.  The screenplay was, in fact, written by a man not with a degree in screenwriting, but with a background in psychology.  Long and short, he wanted the movie to rebel against the idea that the way to civilization was eliminating repression.  He wanted to take the opposite view: get rid of repression, and what you get is animals. Given the last couple hundred years of teaching man is nothing but a glorified animal, I'm inclined to agree.

Despite its shoestring budget, it manages to stir up some pretty hefty suspense, and some pretty terrorizing werewolves.  It still suffers from the 80s 'look at our glorious porn culture!' mentality.  Beyond that, the concept, as well as the 'don't show more of the monster than you need to' approach to film making, reminds us that usually our minds conjure up worse images than anything Hollywood can imagine.  Usually.  Though I'm not so sure that applies here. Seeing this film on our large screen TV for the first  time, I actually shrunk down in the couch.  Those are some pretty horrifying looking werewolves if you think about it.  The camera work, the eerie music, the right amount of supernatural flare, and just a touch of humor and homage, makes this almost a competitor for the better movies in any lycanthrope list.

Honorable Mention: Dog Solders
Saw this one on TV years ago.  Didn't know what it was.  At first I thought it was Rambo goes to Scotland.  But as I watched, I had to admit, it was fun.  It wasn't really scary, but by now, I probably
have enough to be scared of that doesn't involved wolves on two legs. The idea is that a crack special forces troupe is dropped in the desolate woodlands of Scotland.  While there, they discover that they've been sent on a secret mission.  Turns out people in these woods keep disappearing.  OK, like you don't know what happens next.

It's a bit like Night of the Living Dead meets Aliens meets The Howling.  I can't account for the budget since I don't know British movie financial comparisons.  It makes due with what it has, but contains a bit too much gore and guts for my taste.  Still, the acting is solid enough, since to my Yankee ears, any actor with a British accent is one step off Olivier.  I wouldn't go about recommending this for an Oscar.  But it's one of those movies that set out to do something, and in the end, did it.  For that, and just the general creepy 'what would I do in that situation' feeling of it all, it gets a nod.

The Winner: The Wolf Man
In the end, I still default to the great one.  Perhaps because so many people assume the things this movie invented are rooted in the ancient past.  Given our grasp of history, that's not hard to imagine.  In any event, the movie has so many classic tropes of the Gothic Horror genre that you just can't imagine any other movie that doesn't end up being measured against this version.  There are only four screen deaths, and only one is actually shown.  One - the woman - is not shown at all, and the deaths of the two lycanthropes are hidden by camerawork and well placed trees.

The acting helps.  Claude Rains is his usual awesome, and the encounter between him and the omnipresent gypsy woman is a clash of powerful personalities.  The rest of the cast does as well as they need to given the premise. The movie also, like so many movies at that time, explores the scientific and rational explanations and their limitations.  It also gives at least a couple positive bows to religion and its usefulness in a troubled world.  But let's face it.  Science or not, we know all the psychobabble is wrong - he's a werewolf plain and simple.  And it ends up turning on that underlying story thread of all Gothic Horror: the tragedy.  Larry Talbot did nothing wrong.  He was doomed by a fate beyond his control.  People died for no other reason than being fated by powers they did not understand.  In the end, the father who is resisting belief in such nonsense is forced to bring down the final blows and end the reign of terror, and at the same time come crashing headfirst into the realization that he was wrong and his son, alas, was right.  Powerful stuff if you think about it, and more powerful than much of the modern violence and gore laden productions we see today.

Special note.  It had long puzzled us why the first werewolf is shown as a full blown wolf, while Larry Talbot is famously a man with wolf like features.  My boys figured it out this year.  As mentioned above, and maybe this was intentional, maybe not - the longer you're a werewolf, the more wolf like you become.  Mystery solved.

Papal firestorm to commence at three

So the news broke that Pope Francis has said it's time to get over the whole abortion, contraception and gay marriage rigmarole and get to the universal embrace of all people without question.  At least the versions I've read speak as though that's what he wrote. According to the stories I've seen, liberal Catholics, liberals in general, non-Christians and various abortion, gay and contraception friendly groups have commenced with dancing in the streets.  Meanwhile more conservative or traditional minded Catholics are everything from disappointing to crushed.

Me?  Don't know.  I've read what quotes I've found in what context I could put together.  Like many things, I don't think it's what he's saying that's the issue. I would like to read it as he's saying we have to get to the heart of the disease and not worry about the symptoms for now, but get there later.  But if that's the case, then at some point he needs to speak to the disease and point out the symptoms are part of it, not just optional opinions for a world increasingly focused on me. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

A final warning about bad apologetics

Not to beat a dead horse, but I went back one last time to the post about Mark's blog I from the other day.  I answered briefly a late commenter who, following the liberal Protestant objection, asked why homosexuality is wrong if Jesus didn't specifically mention it?  Never mind he defined marriage as between a man and a woman.  We won't even get into the laughable exegesis that insists the Bible never condemns homosexuality except where it calls for homosexuals to be killed in Leviticus.  

While answering her as best I could, I brushed through to see if anyone answered any of my last comments.  I do love having the last word.  While there, I noticed that, as I said, several had come to the post to cheer on Mark's observation that what the CoC did was nothing less than hate filled homophobic bigotry and evil.  That was not an issue, since that's mostly what Mark said; the Church of Christ had compromised Unconditional Love.  

Then, as anyone with more brains than a sea sponge could guess, a couple people jump on the fact that a second Catholic - that's C-A-T-H-O-L-I-C - school had fired an openly gay teacher.  Pretty darn hateful wouldn't you say?  Clearly compromising the clear teaching about unconditional love, right?  

Those trying to pour water on the firestorm that Mark ignited jumped in to remain consistent, and said that the school, like the Church of Christ in question, had a right to stand on their beliefs.  Mark, however, suddenly looked, well, what can I say?  He was pithy and didn't go into detail, but you can see the problem.  For no other reason than this was a C-A-T-H-O-L-I-C school it is OK.  The teacher could have, well, lied maybe?  I don't know what he meant.  But clearly the school was a mother-beautiful example of Christ like love and firm standing on clear teachings passed down from the apostles.  Not like that evil Church of Christ that, according to CNN (which is always true and trustworthy), asked a woman who openly opposed the church's teachings to leave.

That kiddies is what is known as "Superior-by-Catholic."  It's really a stereotype used by non-Catholics, but clearly there is a basis for it.  The idea is that if anyone else does it, even if it's the slightest deviation from holiness, it's just not good enough!  But if Catholics or the Catholic Church is a million times worse, well shucks, we're all just crazy sinners, and besides, those standards don't even apply to the Church since it's obviously right.  Again, for most Catholics, that's an unfair stereotype.  It's certainly not taught by the Church in any documents I've found.  And it shouldn't be the M.O. of a serious Catholic apologist.  But on the Internet, across the Catholic blogosphere, alas it's not hard to see where it came from.  And nothing demonstrates that bizarre expression of non-Traditionalist Catholic Fundamentalism than Mark's condemnation of a Church for doing 10 of what he gladly excuses a Catholic school for doing 10,000 of earlier in the year. 

Yes, I know someone could argue that this was different, it was only a school as opposed to an actual church, missing the obvious fact that a church in Evangelical Christianity might be different in form and nature than a Catholic Church.  But then you'd have to wonder what all the hubbub was about when it came to asking mere Catholic schools to pay for Sandra Fluke's birth control, correct?  Well, not so fast!  

See where bad apologetics gets you?  Bozo time, and just the kind of thing that makes critics of Christianity and Religion in general drool over what appears to be a clear inconsistency in standards and belief. 

DCS shows why we home school

Ten years ago we kicked around the idea of homeschooling.  But to be honest, back then it didn't have the best reputation.  Reading Mark Shea got me to kick it around more, since Mark seemed to have an almost idyllic setting with his homeschooled kids, stay at home wife, and his own domestic vocation.  As times evolved, and the public schools unraveled, I became concerned that my boys weren't being educated.  And there were many reasons we could pinpoint.  Problem was, I have a degree in Secondary Education, and have taught adults.  But I was not ready to teach elementary level, and at that time, I was the stay at home and my wife worked.

Even so, before her position was cut, we began seriously to consider homeschooling.  And the main catalyst, the primary issue, was the treatment our second son got by the schools, and the resulting conversations that took place.  Our boys always did well in school growing up, but he was designated as "gifted".  I never particularly liked that, because we felt all the boys, if not all kids, are gifted in some ways.  But we went with it.  From early on, he was set aside with a group of students of like capabilities. They went through several years together, being pulled out of class and given special instruction.

When they went to our intermediate school (itself with myriad problems), he was in a scheduled team along with the other gifted students.  He continued to impress, scoring high on his standardized tests and getting As straight across the board.  He particularly loved science, and talked of being a geologist.  We actually got him things revolving around geology and astronomy for his birthdays.  In 4th grade, he took a standardized test administered to high school freshmen, and outscored over 70% of 9th graders that took the same test.  He was good.  He was very good.

And then my Dad died.  During that time, they had another round of tests, called the Terra Nova tests.  Because of the stress and strain, he didn't do as well as he normally did.  He didn't do badly, just not as well as normal.  He stilled aced the science part, scoring 98%, and getting one of the highest scores in his grade.  But he still didn't do as well overall.  

Nonetheless, his scores were good enough to place him in the honors Math program when he advanced to 7th grade.  But he was booted from the Honors Science class, known as the Advanced Science Program for gifted students.  How could that be?  He did worse in his math and had one of the highest scores in his grade in science.   He had a better science grade than some of his friends who were in the class. My oldest had also gotten As in science and almost all As through school, but hadn't been able to be in the program because of his science score on the tests.  What was going on?

Well, we were told, it was because of metrics. You see, the Science program was part of a different state funded category, and required different standards than the Math, which was simply based on test scores and grades.  To get the state funding, the schools had to develop 'a plan', and that had to include a metric for evaluation.  The state didn't develop it, each school district did. But the district had to have one.  And Delaware's was that a particular score was required in both science and math.  He made the science, but missed the math, even if it was good enough for the Honors Math class.  And because no attention was given to grades, that was it.

The problem was, not only did he miss out on that class, but his schedule had to be recalculated, with him being pulled from those friends he had spent years with.  As they went on science field trips and special retreats, he was left behind.

I took it to the person in charge of the gifted program.  I took it to the principal of the school. I went to the members of the school board and superintendent.  But no dice.  I was told that's how the ball bounces, sometimes life depends on a single moment.  They offered him the chance to retake the tests, but he dug in his heels.  What about my grades?, he asked.  How about straight As my whole life?  Didn't matter they said.  When I objected that this suggests his grades in school didn't matter, the head of the gifted program told me they didn't.  That crushed my son.  I objected and told the superintendent what I'd been told.  And he more or less confirmed that they didn't.  According to him, if it wasn't for military academies, we'd do away with grades.  After all, he said, we don't think all those kids who are getting As are really getting As do we?  Because I was focused on the issue at hand, I didn't pursue what he meant by that. But I have a feeling I know.

So my boy was tossed out of the pack, left to stand on the sidelines and watch all his friends continue on together.  His grades unraveled.  So did the grades of my boys.  When I met with his teachers in the fall, they said they felt he was capable of more.  I told them the story.  Most of them hung their heads.  I said it was difficult to tell him to improve his grades since he would gleefully look back and me and say, "I'm sorry Dad, did someone say grades matter?"

The other boys lost their gumption as well. My oldest had already struggled in high school for other reasons.  But this just confirmed to them that it didn't matter.  Plus, our observation was that despite their getting As, they didn't seem to be as 'educated' as you would expect for all-A students.

So it was that, despite the complete upheaval in our lives, despite surviving on a thread, we decided to go all out and go for broke and give our sons an education better than they were getting, and one in which, hopefully, they will feel the reward for a job well done.   With that, I have to say, it comes with a little gloating to see on the local and Columbus news that, in light of an evaluation of the Delaware City School district, in addition to getting an overall grade that was lower than expected, the Gifted Program at DCS received a whopping - hold on for it - F!  Yep.  And F grade.  Now we know.  I just wish this would have happened years ago.  Part of me so wants to write to the schools and say 'told you so!'  It's too bad my boys  had to be thrown under the bus before they figured it out.

All bigotry is racial

In America at least.  Because of the terrible legacy of slavery that we inherited from the British, and more than that, the horrible screwing that we gave the Native Americans throughout the 19th century, Americans typically see evil in two ways: Racially or it isn't evil.   So it is that in America, homosexuality as a race issue is more common in the arguments than you will find in other parts of the world where folks are pushing for gay rights.  A few years back, when I still went to the Huffpost, I got into a debate with another fellow who was from England.  I brought up the idea that there was no proof whatsoever that homosexuals were the same as Blacks or Asians, and therefore it was ludicrous to base support for the cause on that argument.  The fellow responded that I was loony for even going that direction.  It was England, not America.  Though I wonder if, seeing its success in America, using 'Gay equals Race' will become more common internationally.  Don't know.

Anyway, Americans typically see evil as that which is racial.  So we are keenly aware of the Holocaust, but not overly knowledgeable about the slaughter of Ukrainians under Stalin.  We know all about African slavery, but sometimes are shocked to find out that Africans practiced slavery themselves.  When Bill Clinton said we had to go in and stop the ethnic slaughter of Bosnian Muslims by Serbian Christians, he got the world, and America, to support him.  When George Bush said we had to stop Saddam Hussein from terrorizing and slaughtering his own people, not so much.

We know of our decision to drop the atomic bombs on Japan, and many assume it's because of our racist hatred of those slant eyed types.  We also lament the rounding up of Japanese citizens in WWII.  Less well known is the xenophobic genocide visited upon the Asian peoples by Japan, and even less than that, the fact that we rounded up German and Italian citizens as well.  Forget the fact that while most Americans are aware that Americans rushed in and razed more than one Indian village, but are usually ignorant of, or don't care about, the fact that Indians did the same to American settlements with women and children just the same.

We don't even bother with mass butchery and killing over political, social or national ideology.  So again, we all know what those Nazis did in the Holocaust.  But that tens of millions have been killed or butchered under the Communist ideology elicits everything from denial to casual dismissal.  We are keenly aware of the atrocities committed by religious fanaticism, but usually only if that was done by Christians against people of other faiths.  If other faiths did it to Christians, or others, we assume it was particular or unique, or we just don't mention it.

With the exception of Christian atrocities visited on other people, for Americans, the only real sin is racial.  And that usually means White, Europeans oppressing non-White, non-Europeans.  Christians always get bonus points in the evil category if they're part of the mischief which, by default, they usually were.

So I'll bet your average American would be shocked to find out that Scotland has an anti-Catholic problem.  Really.  A newspaper from Scotland calls out the crisis here.  Think about that. America has a race problem we're told.   Deep in our culture there is still a racial injustice problem. Possibly.  But apparently, Scotland has a similar type of anti-Catholic problem.  Imagine that.  It's almost like all the evil in the world doesn't necessarily stop at America's shores.  Sometimes, other countries might be capable of things just as evil, even if they don't look like the American version.  Sometimes that might be true in America, too.  Whether Americans will ever care remains to be seen.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Yesterday was Roodmas

That's the Exaltation of the Holy Cross to you and me.  It's not easy being Catholic in a post-modern world, one which was inherited from a largely Protestant dominated society before it became decidedly secularized and increasingly hostile to all traditional faiths.  Because of this, one realizes that being Catholic today is a little like being Protestant.  You go to Church, you  take part in Church functions, you hang with fellow believers. But then you go to work, watch the game on TV, watch movies and TV shows, play video games, collect stamps, or whatever.

During Lent and Eastertide, things heat up and during that time of year, I think we're closer to what it would have been like growing up in a pre-modern Catholic culture as you're going to get.  The rest of the year, outside of the Church, your own faith doesn't stand out among people of other faiths and traditions trying to navigate the currents of a post-Christian, if not post-religious, age.

As a result of this, and this could be more common in our neck of the world than in other cultures, much of the "year round Catholic calendar" is lost, at least on a communal level.  Individually we may remember a particular Saint day, and there is always the odd Holy Day of Obligation or possibly a group that gathers around a certain spiritual discipline.  But it's not as if the entire national Church puts following the Saints and the Holy Days right up there in our common faces.  One might actually go days or weeks and be all but unaware that any of the days had any meaning at all.  If they do know, it's because they've done the footwork.  Someday I'll write about Catholicism as college classroom.

Maybe it was like that all those ages ago, but I don't think so.  Part of it has been the loss of a Christian common language, which results from the Christian common culture.  After all, up to a couple decades ago, you could reference Prodigal Son, the Burning Bush, the Patience of Job, or any one of a thousand off handed references to a biblical tale or individual, and most in your surroundings would get it.  Read literature from the 19th century and before.  References to other literary works abound, as do references to Christian and biblical terms and concepts.  Today?  When was the last time a person in casual conversation referenced such a thing?  If you did, half the audience would scratch its head.

As one travels farther back in time, the Christianization of Culture was no doubt more profound.  It's probably not an exaggeration to say that not every Medieval peasant was a devout follower of Jesus.  But the trappings of the faith, including biblical stories and heroes, saints, holy days, and others were like the federal holidays, shopping days, sports days, and Oscar nights of our nation today.  A day like Roodmas, if it was celebrated at all, would have been known about and anticipated, if not celebrated and spoken about for all to hear.  It would have been yet one more thing that bound all believers together.  Protestantism helped do away with that.  The Enlightenment and age of Reason tossed more of it aside.  Multiculturalism has played a part.  And our general secularized, materialized world has also had a say.  So that, like others, I'll bet I'm not the only Christian or Catholic who missed that yesterday was a day that once would have been lifted up, if not on the same level as Easter or Christmas in the olden days, then at least on the same level as a President's day furniture sale today.

An American Beauty paradise

I've told my boys if you want to understand liberalism, watch the movie American Beauty 10 times.  You'll have all you need to know.  It is the Triumph of the Will of the post-Christian manifestation of liberalism.  It has all the tropes.  The voyeuristic drug dealing dropout rebel who's kind and enlightened and brilliant.  The young sex charged daughter who dutifully hates her family and breaks the most important Commandment to break: the Fourth.  The hypocritical, shallow and laughable facade of a family in the suburban home, with a father who can't keep his hands off his own genitals, and a wife who runs the family and can't keep her hands off anyone else's genitals.  Dad is also slowly inspired to improve himself in order to live out his fantasies of sex with the underage cheerleader friend of his daughter.

Meanwhile, dear old Dad quits his job and goes for the fast food employment line while getting his only inspiration from the neighborhood homosexuals who are athletic, witty, kind, tolerant, fashionable, insightful and as close to perfection as you're going to get this side of the cross.

And the parents of our voyeuristic drug dealing hero?  Why, that Dad is a repressed homophobe who collects guns and venerates Hitler.  He's uneducated and boorish.  He beats his hapless wife and his son, but does it because he secretly desires hot, steamy sex with the fellow next door.  When this isn't realize, he must murder as all who suppress their homosexual desires must.

It's all you need to know about how modern liberals view liberalism and how they view those who don't conform. I say this because I'm in an ongoing discussion with a fellow on the thread I wrote about yesterday.  Nice enough fellow, but one who has made it clear that bigotry is defined by not accepting same sex relationships.  I've merely asked upon what authority or source he bases his claim that same sex relationships are entirely ethical.  After three comments, he has yet to answer that, appealing to the Golden Rule and a not-too-subtle 'cuz it's obviously true, duh' sort of fundamental assuredness.  And in the middle of it, he keeps throwing out some pretty humorous nods to the fact that the problem must be me: I might be ignorant, the victim of horrific relationships, in a marriage that might need an equal amount of condemnation (because nobody ever doubted that my marriage and gay marriage were on the same page).  It's amusing, in a sort of 'Big Brother on the March' sort of way.  Again, living out the American Beauty dream, with a little help from our friends and host at CAEI.

Why do I do it?

Why do I keep visiting CAEI?  Why do I insist on subjecting myself to the pain and misery? In light of my post yesterday, I was asked this question.  If Mark's site is so bad, why keep going there?  It's true that going to CAEI is not enjoyable at all.  When I'm done there, I'm usually ready to renounce my faith, kick puppies, and join a terrorist cell.  So why do it?

Because Mark's was the first Catholic site I found on my way to the Catholic Church.  His was the first blog I visited.  His was the first blog I ever commented on.  He was obviously a conservative Catholic who wasn't afraid to point out when the conservative approach was wrong.  He was willing to point to the sins of our country, but do so with balance and never at the expense of praising the greatness of America and its heritage.  He could get rough, but that was usually reserved for those who attacked the Church in particular, or Christianity as a whole.  He didn't allow personal insults or personal accusations on his blog.  You could trash someone's ideas or opinions, but don't get personal.  And he made it clear that those who did trash others in the name of the Gospel were among the biggest problems in the Church, whether Protestant Fundamentalist or Catholics.

In addition, his writing had a pleasing quality.  When my wife read his articles back then, she commented that he wrote the way I talk.  He could be a bit snippy, but it was usually with a wink and a nod.  He injected a heartfelt emotional quality into works about theology and doctrine that more than one theologian could learn from.  When trying to explain Catholicism to Protestants, he was able to do so with respect to the better parts of Protestant tradition, while taking the whimsical jab here and there at those who rejected Catholic teaching.  Even on his blog he retained this quality to a degree, reserving what vitriol existed for those who openly advocated something like abortion or sexual deviancy, or attacked the Church, Christianity, or even America.

But all that was. And is no more.  Sigh.  Mark has become, IMHO, the Jack Chick of the Catholic Blogosphere.  The good news it there are other blogs not like that.  The bad news is that others are following in his footsteps, tossing out an increasingly long list of things that separate the deplorable Christian or Catholic goats from us awesome Catholic sheep who should be embraced my the modern Age.  The biggest problem?  Success.  Mark is now being turned to by mainline news outlets for interviews.  Mark is flying about meeting with other celebrity Catholics and bloggers, wining, dining, fellowshipping.  Receiving praise and adoration from a growing number of fans and followers.  Recently Mark said he wanted to go to Europe for book research, he just needed folks to contribute.  They did.  It's hard to tell someone to turn aside when their current course of action it getting them trips to Europe and the accolades of a media culture.

Still, I always hope.  Every now and then, he pops one off in the manner of olden times and ancient rhymes.  True, I doubt he'll ever go back.  He insists he's just a conservative Catholic calling out other conservatives.  But whether he is speaking falsely, or simply isn't aware of the obvious, he's not.  That would be like Limbaugh saying he's just a liberal Democrats at heart.  Mark's loathing and hatred for any and all who would be associated with American conservatism is beyond palpable. You can't miss it. Even if he's a gifted enough writer to allow wiggle room in his own mind, anyone with half a brain following his blog knows otherwise.  And many following his blog seem more than happy to join the trend.

Likewise he, like a growing number of other Catholic bloggers, are warming up to most things modern-liberal.  Perhaps that's where the Church is going after all.  Some say so.  Some say that with the exception of issues revolving around sexuality, most of the modern Church is following the same path as your average mainline Protestant denomination.  To be brutally honest, I don't know.  But I wouldn't condemn as stupid a person who made the observation.  And that has been said by more than just your radical pre-Vatican II traditionalists I might add.  Looking at the Church's take on homosexuality, women and men, social justice, war and death penalty, economics, immigration, biblical studies, science and evolution - it's not hard to draw parallels between it and many mainline Protestant denominations I know that are commonly called 'liberal.'  Perhaps it is going there.  If it is, it wouldn't surprise me.  I'm not a pie-in-the-sky Catholic.  I believe that historically the Church has zigged more than once when it should have zagged.  I doubt those days are all in the past.

And since Mark is zealous about his total and complete obedience to the Church here and now (at least in theory), it wouldn't be shocking to see him drift to  the Left, overlooking abortion rights Colbert while spewing rage and contempt for Paul Ryan.  Loving Jon Stewart and loathing Rush Limbaugh.  Pointing out that the Democrats who support abortion and Obama's war policies are wrong, but as a party there is much good while giving no credit to the GOP for anything positive no matter what.  Quoting CNN and Comedy Central as gospel while declaring that in FOX news there is none who aren't evil, no not one (literally, during the Kermit Gosnell story, Mark and others complained that mainline outlets weren't covering it.  Mark mentioned that FOX news had at least covered the story of murder and slaughter, but after being corrected by one of the growing number of more modern thinking commenters, he revised his story by pointing out that FOX couldn't care less about slaughtered babies; they no doubt did it for the ratings alone).

As a result of the changes, there's not much to see that's edifying or inspiring. And if I found his blog now, I'd conclude is was written by a passionate left leaning libertarian Ron Paul supporter who is pro-life and embraces most of the tropes of Woodstock liberalism.  And if someone else concluded that, I wouldn't condemn them.  I certainly wouldn't use it as a stepping stone to give up the world and enter the Church.

So why go back?  I always hope, that's why. Against hope, I go back every day thinking that this latest mea culpa will be a turning point, and we might get back to some of the balance and insight and feeling that Mark used to inject into his writings, and away from becoming another Jack Chick pretender in Catholic garb.  That's why I do it, in case anyone else is wondering.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Beowulf has been played

And found fun!  It took years, and I mean years, to finally get this game and figure out the rules.  One night my wife and I decided to go downstairs where the bulk of the homeschooling takes place.  We got out a couple games while the boys were upstairs watching a movie, and my Mom went to bed early (she's been having some issues lately, and has been resting more than normal).  We then decided to get out the same game I mentioned last Christmas.  It's the 'one we haven't played at all.'  Well, we played it and you know what? It was fun in a rather awesome yet simply way.

The myriad pieces and strange design of the game board was a bit daunting, and probably the reason I hadn't put it down on a table before now.  It's from the same company that made the equally enjoyable, but mightily frustrating, Lord of the Rings trivia game, based not on Jackson's' movie but on the actual book.  I know Lord of the Rings, but felt like an idiot with that game.

The artwork by the always impressive John Howe adds some weight to the product.  But basically, it's a card game romp through a series of minor challenges, typically involving cards and bluffing, based around the key events in Beowulf's fictional adventures.  The cards and challenges reflect this, getting a sword here or a blessing from Hrothgar there.  But it's all basically an elaborate card game with playing pieces.

Still, the artwork, the literary references, the attention to detail and clear desire by the game makers to be faithful to the story in theme, if not in substance, made it surprisingly enjoyable.  When we played it with the boys, they were overjoyed and came away with thumbs-up all around.  That could be because I got trounced, but I'd like to think it was because all those bedtime stories about Beowulf and Grendel that I used to tell them finally came back to life in a refreshing way.

As the liberal revolution grows in power

Expect those who would resist to start eating each other.  Case in point.  A CNN article written to remind us that we are fools if we think liberalism will stop at the doors of church, synagogue, temple or mosque.  A Church of Christ congregation asks a woman to leave because the woman defies church teaching by openly advocating The Issue on behalf of her lesbian daughter.  Now would I have handled it that way?  Assuming the story is even correct?  Probably not.  But I sympathize with their plight.  They are a skirmish in the future battle to finally eradicate the right to not be liberal from America, if not the world.

Mark dutifully jumps on CNN's side (it isn't FOX after all), and declares his contempt and horror at these shameful disgraces to the Christian name, explaining it's their example that validates the hatred for Christians that Jesus spoke of all those years ago.  Several jump on the thread to express their own contempt and hatred for such bigoted scum who blaspheme The Issue.  Some try to resist, most maybe, but the resistance is half-hearted.  Those spewing Jack Chick style loathing upon the congregation in question have absolute morality on their side, while those trying to balance the issue and look at all sides are steamrolled.

Expect more of the same. There are three ways one can deal with the rise perhaps the greatest threat to Orthodox Christianity since Arianism: we can resist, we can change our faith and accept it, or we can do this - throw each other to the wolves in the hope that we'll be the ones the New Order thinks is swell and awesome enough to leave alone.

"And listen, Gandalf, my old friend and helper!" he said, coming near and speaking new in a softer voice.  "I said we, for we it may be, if you will join with me.  A new Power is rising.  Against it the old allies and policies will not avail us at all.  There is no hope left in elves or dying Numenor.  This then is the one choice before you, before us.  We may join with that Power.  It would be wise, Gandalf.  There is hope that way.  Its victory is at hand, and there will be rich reward for those that aided it."
The Fellowship of the Ring

Friday, September 13, 2013

It was Friday 13th

And so we broke with our usual tradition of saving Halloween specials until October.  Given my work schedule, and other obligations, we won't have the time we've had in the past.  In recent years it's gotten tougher, but we knew we wouldn't get the full battery of specials, movies and excursions that mark the Griffey Fall Festivities if we waited.  We'll still hold off the official ones in order to make the kick off what it always is, but decided to cheat by showing the Simpson's awesome Treehouse of Horror series, two of them at least.  We will save the first Treehouse special (and the best) for October.  We didn't want to break too much of the tradition.  But since it was Friday 13th, we had to do something. I must wake so early I can't stay up for a full movie, and my oldest went to the local high school football game.  It was such a fall feel, he couldn't resist.  So not much time and we decided to take this approach.  Pumpkin donuts and apple cider and a fun romp through a couple hilarious takes on some old horror tropes.  The boys' favorite is the spoof of Kubrick's The Shining.

Speaking of, since it's getting that time of year, I thought I'd post this little gem, one of the most magnificently eerie openings to any movie in any time:

Thursday, September 12, 2013

For all your German Horror movie needs

A nifty little intro to some lost gems.  I'm sure we've all heard of Nosferatu, but there are some others here worth the watch.  I've seen some, would like to see others, and there are a couple I've never come across.  We recently purchased Der Golem, and I have to admit, it was pretty darn addictive.  But then, those silent classics can be.

Trivial note: I couldn't get to sleep the other night, up at 3 AM and never went back to sleep.  I ended up watching Erich von Stroheim's Greed.  At first I chuckled at the silliness of it.  But by halfway through, I was hooked.  I didn't watch the end because I missed the beginning.  But will catch it someday soon.  It was as good as the hype always said it was.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Atheists pine for the American Soviet

There's a refreshing honesty in modern atheism that is getting more and more brash about its desire to eradicate religion from public society.  Sure, most radical atheists will still deny that they yearn for a good old USSR style contempt for religion on an official, societal level.  But when it comes to their actions, you'd have to be a fool to miss the trends.  Harpo Marx once said that when he returned to Germany in the 1930s to visit his family's roots, he could just tell.  Walking down the streets, seeing people, watching things - he just felt it in the air that something horrible was going to happen.  We're not there yet.  But the modern atheists, like the radical groups of Central Europe in the 1920s, are more than happy to proclaim what they want to happen.  Now will Christians in particular and believers in general unite in time?  Or will we continue to demand a superiority and purity from every other believer that we ourselves could never provide before we join to stop the momentum?  Not all atheists are like this of course.  And this little piece picked up by Mark Shea shows that some, even if their overall dislike of religion remains, are honest enough to see the disturbing signs on the other side of the metaphysical aisle.

The lie that is liberalism

Or at least, its modern manifestation.  Jonah Goldberg says it better than I ever will.  Liberalism came to power with the promise of 'live and let live.'  Thought it should have been apparent, even decades ago, that grand ethic was lived out more in the breach than in the keeping.  At the same time we were told live and let live, radical progressive groups were seeking to impose their indisputable and unwavering moral supremacy on society, if not the world.  How did we miss the obvious?  I don't know.  But Mr. Goldberg, as usual, does an excellent job pointing out what should have always been known.

Peace to those who were lost

And prayers for those who remain.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4.6-7