Monday, May 25, 2015

Two unrelated lessons on this Memorial Day

Make sure you take time to remember what it is all about.  Giving honor to those who fought and those who died, and for the cause for which they did so.  For my money, declaring the US always and historically the Great Satan goes a long way toward saying you can't possibly honor what they stood for.  But for me and my house, Catholic though we are, we also love our country despite its sins.  After all, every culture and society in history has its sins, and most don't have the blessings we've enjoyed.  And for that alone, I thank those who gave the ultimate sacrifice so I can enjoy the blessings we currently have.

One way we do this is to visit local cemeteries and visit the graves of veterans.  Another way we do this, if the former isn't practical, is to watch war movies.  Not to be taken as real history (though most modern historical studies shouldn't be take that way either), they can at times bring to mind what war is, and why we owe those who fight them so much.

Because my oldest three boys all are working, we've not had the time we've had in previous years.  So our patriotic nods were confined to two movies dealing with war and America and those who fight and sometimes die.  Oddly, they were released the same year and were both hits, which says something about trying to shove Americans into easy media categories.

One movie was Patton, the other MASH.  You couldn't imagine two polar opposite takes on warfare.  MASH was a Vietnam war movie protest, heavy on anti-everything to do with traditional American values.  The other is one of the best war biopics ever made, precisely because it doesn't take sides.  It takes one of America's most colorful military leaders of all time, avoids the issues our modern PC world would obsesses about, and says 'here's this guy who was a general and was complex.'

Two things came to me as I watched them.  Since I've seen them many times over the years, I didn't expect any real revelations.  But two things hit me about the times we live in.  In Patton, the Americans are pretty slipshod and undisciplined.  When Patton arrives, the first thing he does is get in their face and discipline them.  In many cases with the basics.  Not sleeping in, no wearing soiled uniforms, always wearing helmets.  Little things, but the basics.  The fundamentals.

One thing as a Catholic I've noticed, Catholics seem to almost take pride in giving no consideration to the basics of Christian living.  Being polite.  Being considerate.  Restraining from behavior that might be offensive to others.  Not being stumbling blocks to others.  Actually acting with a minor amount of discipline in small things.  Oh, most Catholics, especially on the Internet, have all the answers to all of history's great scandals and tragedies.  Why there would be no war or poverty if only they ran the world.   But when it comes to small things, like not calling people raca and fool, or not treating others the way they aren't treated, many Catholics, and most on the Internet, aren't the least bit interested.

That's a little like telling Patton 'no general, we're not interested in the basics and the fundamentals.  Just give us our orders and we'll beat the Germans.'  Anyone who has been in the military, or in sports, knows you don't start with the first game.  You begin practice weeks and months before, and always with the basics.  I've often wondered if the reason so many Catholics are known for not following the actual teachings of the Church - all the teachings - is because they, and the Church, seem to spend so little time focusing on the nuts and bolts, the little things of what being a descent Christian, much less a descent person, mean.

The other thing that hit me was about our modern era of post-liberal PC multi-cultural intolerance and fundamentalism.  Ben Mankiewicz is the host of TCM's movie show, obviously preparing to replace the aging Robert Osborne.  He was the host who introduced MASH last night.  After the movie, he made an interesting 'apology'.  See, despite its popularity, the times have changed and clearly the way the doctors in the movie treated women was deplorable.  Thankfully, the TV series modified that and became an instant TV classic.

That got me to thinking.  MASH was middle finger to just about everything traditional America: the army, the war, religion, traditional values.  Having affairs, sleeping around while married, mocking religion, mocking the military - the whole movie was one giant slap against Americans who held to pre-Boomer values.

And so was the TV show.  Including sleeping around and treating women like sex objects. Sure, the language was modified.  It was early 70s television.  But the attitudes were still there, at least until the later seasons.  And it was a hit then.  And you know what?  Those who didn't like MASH were often the same ones who didn't like its drugs, its sex, its objectification of women.  The same ones who the liberals who loved MASH mocked and ridiculed along with Hawkeye, Trapper, Duke and the gang.

And yet who is it now that bemoans the movie, and its horrible treatment of women?  That would be the modern liberals of today.  Funny thing about liberalism.  It has a knack for saying 'ditch those stupid values or you're an idiot', only later to come about and say 'anyone who did what we said to do is now the idiot.  Or at least the misogynist.'  The lesson there?  Just because the latest liberal movement declares this way to behave, this attitude to have, or this viewpoint to hate and mock, don't be quick to listen.  It might just be another case of liberalism's 'here today gone later today' approach to unchanging values.  And if you listen today, you might just end up being that example of inexcusable hatred and idiocy tomorrow; and bemoaned by the same liberals you listened to today.


  1. There's some irony in there that the MASH show did have Father Mulcahy, which is one of the best portrayals of the Church on TV that I can recall.

    There is a brief period of time that I think the MASH show excelled, where Potter was in charge, Winchester had joined the camp, and Radar was still around (you can look at the character timeline, it's only about S6, 7, and 8) - then again maybe I should watch those episodes to be sure my memory isn't failing me. ;) But they were the ones where I remember different views getting a fair hearing and at least the acknowledgment that conservatives are people too.

    I really do need to watch Patton sometime. I hear recommendations for it from all the right people.

  2. I've often felt the last season of Stevenson, and up to the first couple with Winchester, was the high point (with a few dips along the way). Sometimes it was tough to get over Alda's unstoppable ego. And yes, William Christopher would have none of what the writers wanted for his character. Basically a stumbling, bumbling oaf in priest garb. At first his fighting was subtle, but over time he got several great episodes showing his character's awesomeness.

    There's a story he told about one episode early on. Frank and Margaret were caught in a tent together. Mulcahy was supposed to say something like 'what were they doing in there?' Christopher raised the roof. He said no priest is that stupid! So in the actual filming, he asks it because, at that point, the writers were still holding the 'screw religion' of the movie. But he rolls his eyes. You can see it briefly. That's how he got around it.

    As for Patton, what are you waiting for?! Watch that. It's one of the greatest movies and Scott's performance is among the top of all time. Patton's family endorsed the movie as did many who knew him. It doesn't take sides. And it's a great production on top of it. It's long, so book the better part of the evening.

  3. Well that's my problem, I need the better part of the evening. ;-)

    Maybe I'll be able to this weekend.


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