Thursday, January 30, 2020

I have been going to Intellectual Takeout

And enjoying the experience.  I admit, I found this in the most unlikely place.  An individual I friended on FB, and who continues to do the dirty work of keeping one eye on Mark Shea and company, linked to a post about Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  Being a Bonhoeffer fanboy, I couldn't resist going to see what Mark had to say about him.

Turns out, it was a post by one Annie Homquist.  She took a quote by Bonhoeffer about the idiocy needed to allow such things as the Nazi regime to take place.  She then finished her post by pointing to the obvious fact that we live in an age where both parties seem mighty interested in consolidating power for themselves.  In my own opinion, the Democrats are the ones to watch since the media and other supposed guardians of the little people are firmly in the camp of the Democrats and liberalism.  Nonetheless, I think it's safe to say that concern for anything other than more power is something neither side can fully deny.

Mark, of course, took this as a clear and obvious smack down of Trump, Trump supporters and all white skin conservatives who are white.  He missed the point entirely.  It reminded me why I avoid going to Mark's sites anymore.  Despite Dave Armstrong's instance that Mark is an excellent Catholic apologist, I see in Mark and his followers nothing other than vitriol, hatred, rage and political partisanship.  So what's the use?

Nonetheless, I did stumble on this new site which, as this little snippet demonstrates, is willing to look at things outside the usual paradigms and even bother to challenge some of the base assumptions our nation has glommed onto in recent years.  They are usually short posts, quick reads, and food for thought. So take a trip over there and see if you like what you find.  The emphasis is on mature and thoughtful discourse.  That I discovered it at Mark's blog is all the irony you'll need for the day.  It almost made it worth going back to CAEI.  Almost. 

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Why deifying MLK mattered

MLK as used by the modern Left
In the late 70s, when I was in elementary school, Jimmy Carter floated the idea of making the late civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. a national hero by declaring his birthday a federal holiday.  It didn't sit well with everyone.  In some cases, the reasons could be expected.  After all, racism was real in America.  In other cases the question was why this one person should get such an honor when there were other Americans who did great things who don't.  Others thought it should be simple: we give federal holidays for presidents and that's that.

When they began passing the day as a holiday it was shoehorned into the school schedules.   In our case, it replaced Presidents' Day, on which we then had to go to school.  Again, it didn't sit well.  But it was hard to resist.  Because some resisted due to racist reasons, any who didn't approve of the holiday were lumped in with that group and suspected of racism.  Any attempts to resist the holiday were met with boycotts, school walk outs, threats of financial repercussions for the respective states and so on.

By the mid 80s it was over and we had a new federal holiday.  Eventually most schools adjusted their schedules so MLK and U.S. presidents each had their own vacation day.  Beyond a day off, however, it was also important because it was in the 70s and 80s that the first fruits of what we now call Political Correctness and Woke Cancel Culture and such things were taking mainstream and Main Street root.

One of the things emerging at that time was a singular emphasis on the sins of America and, more broadly, the Christian Western tradition.   With that development it was increasingly considered polite manners not to do things that might trigger those (not a phrase we used, but what was meant) who were victims of the sins of America and the West's history.  One of the first things I remember was the idea that the mere mention of Jesus Christ (religiously, not as an expletive), was problematic. By the mid to late 80s, it was common to notice requests that Christians not invoke Jesus loosely, that it was no longer one choice of many when it comes to Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays, and even Christian leaders praying in public were quietly asked to pray in a more vague way than the Name of Jesus.

By the time I entered vocational ministry in the early 90s, that was actually quite the thing.  There was a dividing line between those ministers willing to pray in Jesus' name publicly, and those who wouldn't, owing to current social sensitivities.

At the same time, however, I notice that MLK began to emerge as more than just a figure in America's history who is worthy of celebration. He was becoming almost a holy figure, a demigod, a religious icon for a post-religious age.  In some ways, he was becoming a discount Jesus for Christians to quote and invoke in a country that was increasingly intolerant of any other figure Christians might name.  He was that safe name to drop, that person to reference, that name that Americans could unite behind when increasingly we would allow no other name before which all knees should bow.

It didn't hurt that the literature, history, specials, textbooks, college lectures and general rhetoric increasingly lifted MLK up to levels near that of Jesus.  Along with Gandhi, who had received similar treatment in the public eye by such means as Attenborough's hagiographical film Gandhi, MLK was becoming, in place of Jesus, or Moses, or heck the Buddha, the religious icon before which all Americans could worship.

And worship we did.  Even though from the beginning vague tidbits began to emerge that he was not always the boy scout in those hotel rooms, or that his academic career might have had a checkered past, it mattered not.  In fact, researchers or academics brought up such things at their own risk. MLK was becoming the one god character Americans were allowed to invoke, and that was that.

By the late 90s, his holiday began to take on cultic trappings.  The day was celebrated with purposeful ritual and celebrations.  Feasts and decorum were beginning to be systematized, and leaders of all stripes - including vocational ministers - were expected to drop what they were doing (like tending to church needs) and attend the respective local traditions and pomp in MLK's name.  Good works were done in his, not Jesus' or God's, name.  It was nothing to hear sermons with MLK quoted more than Jesus, especially within African American messages.

Around 2004, I was VP of a regional ecumenical council in Ohio.  In the January meeting (first Thursday), several of the clergy asked what special events for MLK everyone was attending.  I shrugged and said I didn't get into the whole MLK holiday thing.  You could have heard a pin drop.  I get the feeling - especially given some of the denominations there represented - that I could have denied the existence of God and received less push-back.  I had to explain I didn't mind him and thought he did great things, I just felt we had pushed past that limit of merely honoring the man to coming near to worshiping him.  It went as well as you can imagine.

For his part, MLK played the important role of keeping America's sins great again. And again.  And again.  Each late December through February (Black History Month) is just ripe for thrice-daily stories reminding us of American racism yesterday, today and forever.  And with MLK, who was railing against real expressions of American racism and racist policy at the time, it became a legitimate reason to keep up that focus.

Eventually, we elected our first black president, in which racism reemerged on all sides - from those racists upset at a black man being president to the Left eager to find ways to continue using racism as the prime club with with to browbeat America.  With Hate Crime legislation doing its part, we were becoming a post-human society and world in which we no longer felt we couldn't judge people based on skin color, but rather that we should first and foremost judge based on skin color and a growing list of demographic label identities.

Which brings us to today's post-human era celebrating a man who worked to put such divisions away and judge all humans on the content of character.  Of course it's all part of the modern hypocrisy.  We know it.  We know MLK is nothing but an old banner we drag out of mothball to wave around and check our yearly to-do list.   In an age where people think nothing of judging, condemning and even crowing over the misfortunes of someone based purely on skin color, I think it's fair to say we honor MLK more in a shallow than a meaningful way.

In fact, last year I blogged over how recent FBI documents suggest that MLK went well beyond mere sexual exploits (now almost universally accepted) in those hotel rooms, but that they also included sexual assault.  Now, that's not enough for me to say guilty as charged.  And evidence from something so long ago would be tough to pin down.  Nonetheless, in our #MeToo era you would think this would have created at least a stir within the media.  I mean, this is #MeToo, when even telling a woman to smile is akin to full out sexual harassment.

And yet nothing.  A couple news outlets mentioned it.  A few pointed out that the currently heroic FBI was, like all things then, a racist organization filled with white racists.  Some mentioned it somewhere behind the grocery ads.  On the whole it was ignored.  And why not?  Do we think that the same movement insisting we judge people based on skin color while deifying MLK is any more concerned about women's rights, protection or safety?

Hardly. I remember years ago that Mark Shea wrote there would be a time when MLK Day would be reduced to Presidents' Day, where the only thing important would be the latest furniture sales.  I don't know if it's even going to be that.  In fact, I saw that Mark used his celebration of King's legacy this year to let fly his typical broadside, spewing hatred and unhinged rage at white conservative Trump supporters who don't vote the way Mark votes.  Those, that is, who are white, since Mark has nothing to say about various minority groups who seem to support President Trump.  This he does while tipping a hat to that precious legacy of MLK.

So there you have it.  Christians, who long ago lost the nerve and courage to keep being Christians in the face of the emerging Left, replaced Jesus with Martin Luther King, Jr., because that's who we were allowed to name publicly without push-back.  Eventually the nation deifying him and worshiping him chose to do what worshipers often do, and that is use the name and destroy the message.  MLK had served his useful purpose.

And nothing shows that better than Mark's screed of partisan and fanatical rage all in the name of MLK's messages of peace and unity.  The only thing worse is celebrating him in an age in which protesting the idea that people should be judged based on skin color is called a form of racism.  I would say at this point, it's fair to concede that MLK has passed his sell-by date in terms of a meaningful figure, at least for the present age.  Perhaps future generations will sift through the good, bad and human of the man and place him in his proper role as an important historical figure who did great things despite his human imperfections, foibles and sins.

Until then, pardon me if I walk away from the hypocrisy and the somewhat disturbing use of MLK for those not courageous enough to invoke Jesus' name in an orthodox manner.  His deification was useful in convincing us that the whole of the Christian West, especially the American experiment, was a great evil defined only by its racism.  He also was a salve, an ointment that Christians could use to be acceptable to the modern, post-Christian nation while maintaining a sense of religion and religious devotion.  But all for naught.  Since those forces calling for the eradication of the West are not far from doing the same for the Christian religion as well.

So rather than join in the hypocrisy, if not heresy and violence against the heritage of the Christian faith and its contributions to Western civilization, I chose to do something different that day.  I chose to set out a cheese plate in honor of  National Cheese Lovers Day.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

An impeachment observation

From my oldest son.  He is majoring in Constitutional Law at this point.  So this is something he is following fairly closely.

He noticed that in the first two hundred years of our country, we had two presidents brought before the possibility of impeachment.  In the last twenty years, we've had two presidents brought before the possibility of impeachment.

Food for thought. I don't think President Trump, or even Congress, is on trial here. I think our country is.  We wouldn't be here if our country hadn't brought us here.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

RIP Christopher Tolkien

Christopher Tolkien, the great J.R.R. Tolkien's son and prime architect of the vast Tolkien fictional universe, has died.

Words can't begin to express the gratitude I and millions around the world have for the work he did.  It was he who took the fragments of his dad's unending imagination and labors and put them together in a meaningful way.  He kept the publications churning, and over the later years we were treated to many works and ideals of Tolkien that fans have wanted to see for decades.

In the early 2000s, he came in for some heavy criticism by fanboys, who will always embrace the latest as the bestest, when he failed to give proper deference to Peter Jackson's vision for Middle Earth.   Many felt he was holding back a right proper take on his dad's works that would endear Middle Earth to all new generations.

Perhaps.  But by the time Jackson had mauled and vomited out the appalling Hobbit trilogy, it was mused by some that he had actually hurt the Tolkien franchise.  Many younger people, beyond the woke crusades against Tolkien one could expect, were simply tired of hobbits and dwarves and elves.  More than that, many who knew nothing but Jackson's cinematic dung heap concluded nothing that those movies could come from could possibly be good.

So in hindsight, Christopher was correct in being wary of turning everything over to Jackson, or even modern Hollywood in general.  He wasn't always that way of course.  Under his guidance, the Tolkien estate had given its blessings before, and of course signed deals with other production companies for early attempts to put Tolkien's vast universe into motion.

But it was always Christopher's goal to respect and give proper credit to all that his dad had created.  Watch dog and guardian of his dad's legacy, and passionately loyal to his memory, Christopher took the legendary works and their foundations and kept it in the public eye in his own way.   And it was his work that showed the world that beyond Tolkien's story telling and wit and wisdom, there was a deep and broad creation that we could spend our lives exploring, and still never discover it all.

God bless and may your soul join that father whose legacy you defended, preserved and maintained for the rest of us to enjoy. 

Does religion have anything to do with salvation?

A question.  In our society at least, it doesn't.   We are long removed from any Christian roots as a nation.  Our schools, when they mention religion at all, do so from a secular, anthropological point of view.  That is, Christianity, like all myths and legends, was invented by ancient humans trying to make sense of the universe.  One of hundreds.  Nothing more.

As for religion, it's seen increasingly as a negative by up and comings, and many fools in the Christian faith have, for decades, helped this trend by pulling the stupid 'I'm with Jesus, not Religion' rubbish.  But on the whole, religion is generally seen as a bad, a negative, a detriment to whatever spiritual course a person claims.

Now, within Christianity, what of it?  Is Christianity in any way linked to salvation?  What traditions still say that you reject Christ at your own peril?  Which ones put everything - including those precious seamless garment, social justice issues - as merely means to help people achieve the ultimate end of eternal salvation?

I'm not seeing many.  Outside of your usual fundamentalist types, most seem to have broadened the meaning of faith and religion to more or less be anything for anyone.  Even if they don't say it that way, it appears there is no real 'umph' behind getting people to confess Christ, or enter this or that tradition, lest their eternal destinies be compromised.

Most I see, in and out of Catholicism - and that includes Orthodoxy in many cases - have the 'Jesus is just alright, but whatever, be a swell person' and that's that.  Others go more radical, with a sort of 'Love Jesus, hate Jesus, piss on Jesus, it matters not' attitude.  In those cases, what matters is being a swell person, especially as defined by the latest today (which increasingly means accepting progressive and politically Left narratives and policies and values).

But even among those who don't go so far in aligning the Faith's promises to modern progressive ideals, you don't have that sense of urgency anymore.  In Protestant and Evangelical churches alike, even some Orthodox - we won't even discuss modern Catholicism - they seem to have taken the 'you never know who God will save' exception and made it the rule.

I just don't hear it mentioned, talked about, or referenced in sermons I've heard.  I just don't.  Kudos to the priest of our Orthodox church in that he at least points out there are eternal consequences to our lives and decisions.  Though he most often couches it with some version of 'but you never know what happens if you don't believe' qualifier.   That's a bit, to my ears, like saying while smoking is clearly not good for you, it's a fact that some will smoke their whole lives and never be hurt by it, so let's focus on those exceptions.

So I wonder, how many people believe that religion or faith in general has any bearing on our eternal destinies?  How many think much about eternity at all anymore?  Heck, how many think eternity has any bearing on reality at all?  And I'm talking those who show up every Sunday and sit in the pews of traditions that, at least as of now, have on their books that these things are inherently connected and are of the utmost, primary importance.

Personally, I don't think we'll see the pews filled again until the answer to the question is yes, your religion and confession of religious faith are crucial for the most important thing in all of Creation, and that's your eternal destiny.  Food, water, oxygen and even sex have their place, but don't be fooled.  There is an eternal destiny that dwarfs our brief moment on this plane, and if you gain all of those things but lose your soul, you've lost it all.  Until we say it, believe it, and mean it, and connect it to what we say and where we are on a Sunday morning, I foresee emptier and emptier churches in the future.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Changing times

Quoth my second oldest son (in reference to a conversation with our youngest about what the parental guidance rating and other movie ratings mean):
"Remember, JAWS and Frozen have the same rating."  
Yep.  Amazing what difference a few decades make.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Will there be a Catholic Church to return to?

No such Catholic church exists within our area
So we went with my oldest - who has remained in the Catholic Church - over the course of the Christmas season to our old Catholic stomping grounds.  Their parish has a new priest, from Africa.  Like many priests from Africa he's a firebrand.  I don't know if the parish is reacting as some Catholic parishes, where good white liberals seem to prefer their darker skinned counterparts to conform or stay at the card table.  For now he seems well received.

With things there finally stabilizing, it was nice to take in the old familiar carols and liturgy.  Since the Orthodox don't hold to getting over past divisions as much as some Catholics think, we are instructed not to take communion at a Catholic Church, whatever the Catholics might say.  So we were away from Holy Communion during this time, but I must admit, it was nice being back.

The Orthodox are sometimes a tough nut to crack.  Antiochene Orthodoxy is our particular church, though it it peopled as much by Evangelical and Protestant converts as cradle Orthodox.  Plus, owing to the scarcity of Orthodox churches in the area, there are many from a variety of ethnic Orthodox traditions.  The Liturgy is in English, but it is based on that of St. Basil and St. Chrysostom.  It's a long one, averaging two hours for the Divine Liturgy alone.  If you attend Matins beforehand, it can add an extra hour.  After each Sunday Liturgy, there is a fellowship meal in the classic 'breaking bread' manner.  In recent years it has slowed down, but for a while, each Sunday was a veritable feast - except during one of the million fasts the Orthodox have over the year.  So expect a four or five hour commitment each Sunday.

While there is much to commend the Orthodox for, they are not without problems.  Like all of Christendom, it has its share of up and comings who are asking to finally shuffle off this Gospel coil in preference for a good old Animal House approach to living.  Plus when there are legit issues, the Orthodox make Ents look like Speedy Gonzales in terms of solving the problems.  They still won't budge on the calendars, even though most Orthodox would happily see them modified to fit with the rest of the Christian world.

Then you have the Orthodox Monastic-philia.  In Catholic tradition, monastic life holds a special place that Protestants have a tough time grasping.  Orthodox, however, place Monasteries almost to the level that the Eucharist enjoys in Catholicism.  They are almost the Alpha and Omega of all Church reality.  Drop a quote, and there's a 99% chance it's from an abbot somewhere.  Read a book or see a devotion, and you can bet it's from a monk or some hermit.  Most of the Orthodox spiritual disciplines are based upon life in a monastic community.  In terms of the near impossibility of living up to such rigors beyond the cloister, most believers are told to do their best.

Then there is the anti-Westernism.  Much of the Orthodox Church still clings to the old sentiment that they would rather see the Muslim turban in the city than the Catholic mitre. For some Americans - present company included - it's easy to see the Orthodox's heavy critique of the West, including America, as some ethereal, spiritual, otherworldly insight gleaned from a closer walk with Jesus.  Certainly criticism for the West, just like any civilization, can be warranted.  But after a bit, if you pay attention, you begin realizing that some of the vitriol and venom that can make it's way from Eastern roots is as much cultural and societal as anything a Protestant waving the American flag could muster.

In fact, if I might make an observation, it's that the Orthodox seem to have scant interest in actually 'evangelizing' America, or the West.  At least America.  Some, particularly those associated with the Greek and 'American' Orthodox, tend to swing left as it is.  The rest seem content with being Orthodox the way a Buddhist is Buddhist or a Oldsmobile man is an Oldsmobile man.  There is no real effort to accommodate.  There is almost pride in saying we do it our way, or there's the door.  If the Orthodox fast is centered around the cultural diets of those in the Eastern and Middle Eastern worlds, so be it.  If that makes it a massive burden on those in the West?  So be it.  It's the same mentality as those old stereotypical Protestant missionaries arriving in Africa, declaring all Africa as a great evil, and insisting Africa adopt all of Protestant norms, including those with decidedly cultural rather than religious roots.

So it's not all peaches and cream.  I do tend to side with the Orthodox where doctrinal development is concerned.  And now that the Catholics have Pope Francis, I'm reminded of the difficulties that the ascension of Papal supremacy is now playing in the Catholic Church versus the lack of such problems in the Orthodox Church.  There simply is no single figure to call the shots or mess with doctrine.  Heck, if the bishops all got together and changed the Faith now, the people could just say 'dumb bishops' and wait for the next flock.

Which brings me back to the Catholics.  At this time of year, especially the Fall and Christmas, I admit the cultural and social disconnect with the Orthodox is tough.  I find myself yearning for the good old Faith of the kindly West, whose liturgy and theology is more familiar to my Western ears, and whose culture and community reminds me more of the world I inherited and the traditions I cherish.

And yet, just when I begin tossing about ideas of swimming back across the Tiber, I run into something like this:

What?  Why?  Ms. Eden hasn't exactly been a milquetoast when it comes to blasting Catholics who criticize Pope Francis, or support more traditional ideals of faith and social norms.  But then, this is par for the course.  I've said already there is almost a collapse happening across the Catholic world, at least in the Dying West.  It's like Moses parting the Red Sea - the Left lifts up its arms and immediately Christians split between those who will bow before it and those who won't.  Catholics who even a couple years ago had issues with Pope Francis, or realized Feminism is not compatible with the historical faith, much less the growing use of Gay as the mark all must wear to buy and sell, or the broadening abortion culture, are suddenly throwing their hands up and apologizing for being mean and bad and wrong to anything left of center.  Meanwhile they are turning the vitriol and rancor back on those still not convinced that post-Christian modernity is the answer for true Catholic living.

Or there was this:

What?  No clue who that was.  But Fr. James Martin, the leading advocate to push Catholicism into the world of the Episcopal Church and United Church of Christ and other dying denominations that put fealty to the Sexual Revolution over the Faith?  A man not known for his coy humility when it comes to blasting those who dare point to the suffering and body count in and out of the gay community in the wake of this human disaster called the Sexual Revolution?

None of this is to say we should use insults, or accusations, or calumny, or any such things to attack people.  But I'm seeing a whole lot of vitriol being aimed at those who still think the Western tradition is part of the unfolding guidance of the Holy Spirit throughout the story of mankind.  Those who think God created our little universe, man and woman, and sent Christ to become the sole avenue of eternal salvation are now the targets of rhetoric not too far from that which these good Catholics are apologizing for.  At the same time, those advocating for the heresies and blasphemies, slaughter and tyranny and persecution of Christ's church emerging in the modern Left are the ones before whom we must grovel.

If it were just these couple instances, I'd take them as similar to those leaders in Protestant circles who are following the St. Saruman approach to throwing down the spiritual weapons and aligning with the emergent Left.  But it's a growing swath of the Catholic faith in general, in the pews and behind the altar and in the halls of leadership.  Most Catholics no longer believe the Faith as it was known for the first 2000 years.  They deny the Real Presence, they deny salvation through Christ, they implicitly - if not explicitly - accept a universalist soteriology, they may or may not have an opinion about the Trinity or anything historical related to the Biblical witness; they sure as hell don't give a rip about the Church's teachings about morality and sexual ethics.

And that's tough.  For all the Orthodox have that needs serious improvement, they are - perhaps because culturally - more grounded in historical ethics and have a more simplistic acceptance of the Christian Faith and its doctrines as understood for thousands of years.  Their faithful and their leaders really believe in miracles, and don't have to think twice about their acceptance of the sacraments or Holy Communion or the actual existence of angels and demons.  Accepting things like universalism, homosexuality, abortion or even feminist ideals isn't worth discussing.

Again, there are strains in Eastern Orthodoxy, like everywhere, that are seeing the faithful abandon ship and join with the modern, post-Christian age.   And yes, there have been some high profile leaders over the last year pull the old 'shame on us for being Christian, let's be nice to those kindly LGBTQ activists'.  But here's the thing.  In each case, the Orthodox around them have swept in and made it clear that those individuals are breaking from Orthodox teaching and should not be listened to.  When a priest in the Antiochene church pulled the 'Open arms to Gays' shtick, the Bishop stepped in and issued a cease and desist.  That suggests an overall fealty to the historical faith that is simply evaporating in so many traditions west of the Danube.

Compare this to someone like Fr. James Martin, who rampages across the fruited plains to the cheers of more and more Catholics and the turned heads of more and more Catholic leaders.  That Orthodox tend to believe in their own traditions more than most modern Christian traditions (save fundamentalists and those always rascally Pentecostals), is a serious feather in their caps.  This is especially true of the leadership, which is at best limp and impotent throughout so many Western Christian traditions today, if not in complete surrender mode.

I think the times are going to be more difficult than many Orthodox think.  Having survived the Ottomans, the Tsars and the Communists, some appear to think they can take on anything.  But this is different.  Never in the Church's history has there been such a formidable movement dedicated to the Faith's eradication that has caused so many to jump ship.  Nonetheless, I feel Orthodoxy is possibly the most likely to weather the storms that are hovering over the faithful even as I type.

I pray for the Catholic Church, if for no other reason than my oldest boy is still active within its ministries.  But I also pray for it because of the storms that are beginning to water log the old Barque.  Somewhere the Church went left when it should have gone right, or at least it should have stayed on the narrow road.  But it chose to appeal to the broad majority and development of the latest progressive thought.  Now it's paying the price.

It might be that the manner of its future will be clearer when the next pope is chosen.  If it's another in the manner of Pope Francis, then there's a good chance that the bulk of the Church will continue down its path toward the graveyard of Mainline Liberal Protestant denominations.  If not, if it's someone like Cardinal Sarah - despised and dismissed by so many good, white liberal Catholics - then there could be hope for the short term.  I have no fear that the Church will altogether die.  I believe that the Orthodox and Catholics are two estranged brothers from the same parent, who will be protected if but seven thousand faithful remain.  But its problems may become so bad that it turns into a stumbling block encouraging people to abandon the historical Faith, rather than being an avenue for the coming close to the same.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Partisan hatred

Of the type that leads to 9/11s, mass killings, atrocities and terror regimes.  Here (apparently in reference to President Trump's speech following last nights rocket attacks):

Enough said.

Other than that I, too, praise God for peace.  I hope and pray all leaders have their hearts softened and are guided by the Spirit away from the hatred and blind rage that can so easily propel the world into conflicts and violence.

FWIW, anyone forgetting this:

You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.

Is not a person worth listening to where the call for peace and loving of one's neighbor is concerned. I would rather listen to the Iranian leadership discuss human rights.  Instead, I look for those who are serious about pursuing this:

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Justice is being done for Nick Sandmann

Nick Sandmann, who committed the sin of white skin color and a MAGA hat, has settled with CNN for an undisclosed amount.  This is in response to his lawsuit against CNN, as well as other media outlets, for the outright lies they hoisted on him based on his race and politics, and the cover up they then engaged in rather than admit they were wrong (and racist and biased).

This was just one of many high profile cases in recent years being caught up in the logical, and much warned against, side effects of hate crime legislation and mentality.  It didn't take long for hate crimes to spawn a new way of seeing people post-human.  Instead of a person, or a person's character, we now judge based on skin color, gender, gender identity, ideals about gender identity, national origins, religion, politics, sexual desires, and any one of a hundred other categories.  These labels are affixed by our progressive betters, and we stand judged or vindicated, exonerated or condemned, based on where our particular label combinations happen to measure against another's respective label combination.

If that sounds stupid, given what we witnessed in the last century, then you're doing well.  It is stupid.  Evil stupid.  And yet it's all the rage.  In barely a generation, we went from judge not by skin color but by character, to insisting that if you don't judge and condemn by skin color, you're a racist.  So when an American Indian activist set up young Mr. Sandmann, nobody dared assume anything other than that the Indian activist (not white) would tell the truth and the accused (white) would obviously be guilty of racism.

With that stellar logic and acquiescence to the New Bigotry at hand, a tidal surge of witch hunters and mobs descended on this young man, his classmates and his school.  The Catholic hierarchy jumped in, assumed you can judge based on skin color and politics, and threatened expulsion.  Celebrities and pundits dove in, suggesting all colleges ban him forever from their campuses and even offering oral sex to anyone willing to beat him within an inch of his life.  Legitimate death threats prompted police protection and their school closing.  Joe McCarthy never did it so good.

Even when it became clear that he had been set up and falsely accused (and the real provokers were a group of Black radicals spewing Anti-Semitic and racist bilge who recently have been linked to recent fatal attacks against Jews in New York) many continued to drag their feet.  A few threw out some very limp acknowledgements that he may not deserve to be ruined for life.  Some held on and said his MAGA hat was enough to offset all appeals to innocence and mercy (including at least one Catholic bishop). David Hogg, Harvard scholar par excellence, poo pooed Sandmann's concerns about having half of a movement rise up and wish him dead.  And of course some hard left activists didn't give a rip if he was accused falsely or not.  He had blasphemed the true god of the Leftist State, and that was enough for them.

So in the wake of all this evil, racism and fascist style threats and assaults on non-conformity, it was good to see at least a shred of justice being done.  I have no clue about these things and their sticking power, how it will impact other lawsuits against other "media" outlets, and what will happen to him in the end.  Being a white conservative today is about on par with being a Communist in the early 1950s.  I pray he will be able to move forward and live a fulfilling and healthy and safe life. 

Oh, I know I've said I won't just post on this or that story anymore.  I won't let the latest news buzz be what motivates a blog post - unless i think it is significant or of extreme importance.  This is just that important. 

Monday, January 6, 2020

When my predictions come true

As I've said before, every now and then some old post will show up with a zillion hits.  No clue why.  But this one popped up the other day.  It's a reflection on the Roy Moore kerfuffle.  Remember him?  The weird cowboy hat wearing, horse riding, revolver wielding caricature of a southern conservative who ran for office?  The same who was accused of statutory rape when we suddenly learned that the Sexual Revolution's 'if she's just seventeen, you know what we mean' principle was now tantamount to rape?

Yeah.  So I read through it, cringing at missed spelling or bad grammar as I often do when I read earlier posts.  But then I came to this:
If [Roy Moore] loses, however, and in a year nothing more is said, no further accusations come out, and nothing is pursued, then I fear we will have seen a McCarthy like character assassination endorsed and supported by our press, our political establishment and, yes, even our religious institutions.  And that cannot be good for our future.
That was my wrap up, if you don't care to stumble through the post itself.  Think on that.  I said if there was no follow up - and there really wasn't - to all these manifold accusations of statutory rape and sex perversion, that it would bode ill.  After all, that would embolden those who wish to use the Kangaroo Court of Appeals as their primary weapon for taking out political opponents in our nation.

What happened after this?   Think Brett Kavanaugh.  A man I don't hold any particular affection for, who nonetheless was subject to the most egregious witch hunt in America since Salem.  And how the press, Trump opponents, pundits, white liberal Catholics, and a host of activists jumped on board!  A single woman making a thirty year old accusation with conflicting memories of the scene and no corroborating evidence except four friendly witnesses who all denied the crime, and on that a swath of our country screamed at Kavanaugh 'burn witch, burn!'.

Now we have a president impeached with no clear evidence of a crime committed.  I'm no presidential historian, but I think this is the first time a president has been impeached or tried for impeachment without being accused of committing an actual crime.  Nonetheless, that same swath of our country says that's good.  That's real good.

Things like evidence, accusation of actual crimes, burden of proof, due process, presumption of innocence?  They died within the first 24 hours after The Washington Post published its story about Roy Moore's alleged sex crimes.  Two years later, we're even farther away from caring about anything but the destruction of our opponents through any means possible.  And that never bodes well for anything under the sun.

Friday, January 3, 2020

RIP Jack Sheldon

Jack Sheldon?  Who?  Like me, you might now know his name.  But I'm sure you know his work:

Yes, that's Mr. Sheldon, a respectable jazz musician, known more for providing words to one of the most educational songs ever written.  He passed away today at the age of eighty-eight.  God bless him.

Like the rest of the old Schoolhouse Rock mini-specials, his contributions were succinct, clear and, most of all, engaging.  Whether grammar and basic English, math, history or science, each topic dealt with was done in a way so that no kid watching it would fail to remember multiplication tables, nouns and verbs and, of course, how bills come about in our national government.

Generation after generation could name at least three conjunctions, explain Manifest Destiny (before it became America's Lebensraum), and rattle off that Preamble of the Constitution without much effort. 

Of course back then most Americans were on the same page regarding the basics, even if we disagreed over the details.  Now, it's no longer that, and more than one of these little gems has been taken to the woodshed for its failure to live up to our latest daily progressive standards.

Nonetheless, for a generation that grew up with those little treasures tucked between the children's programming of the day, they will not be forgotten.  So thank you Mr. Sheldon for doing such a wonderful, memorable job conveying to so many youngsters what we needed to learn.  If only we had more of the same today.  Nonetheless, peace and blessings on you, your loved ones, and all whose lives you so profoundly touched. 

Happy Birthday professor

One of my earliest memories of blogging is my stumbling on a post celebrating the late J.R.R. Tolkien.  It was a couple years after the last of Jackson's initial trilogy.  It was a fine piece if I remember, focusing on the splendor of his literary creation and the rather difficult life he had that may have laid the groundwork for much of the insights and wisdom that find their way all through his mythical Middle Earth.

Ah, that was so long ago.  Not that things weren't already changing.  We watched a National Geographic special on The Lord of the Rings that was released at the time of Jackson's first movie of the trilogy.  Among trivial and and interesting tidbits, it did include a brief nod to 'Tolkien as European Imperialist Racist', with a couple scholars admitting that his views clearly reflect that White Man's Burden worldview of old.  But it was just a bit part of the special.

Today, of course, entire reams of pixels have gone into lamenting Tolkien as a racist, sexist, misogynist, white nationalist, anti-Semite, imperialist, and colonial apologist.  Several years ago I was pointed to a web-page run by a professor of English in merry old England itself.  The debate he opened up on his blog was whether LoTR should be banned due to the obvious racism and bigotry and sexism of his works, or whether they should still be valued as literature.   IIRC, I think it was in response to some school in England saying it would be removing Tolkien's works for those reasons.

The good news is that, on his blog at least, the overwhelming consensus was that Tolkien's works should stand and be allowed to stay on the shelves.  The bad news is that Tolkien, even per the professor in question (who claims fanship of Tolkien's works) was deemed the racist, Nazi, woman hating white supremacist that he was.   McCarthy holds not a candle to the inquisitors and witch hunters of today.

Of course all of this is bunk.  Not that racism didn't or doesn't exist.  Not that clear and obvious sexism hasn't or doesn't exist.  Not that any evil hasn't or doesn't exist.  The idea that these are all defining, unforgivable sins that can be applied for the mere reason of failing to think as the latest manifestation of progressive thought thinks, however, is no more valid than the sweeping and contemptuous stereotypes that Europeans are accused of having participated in back in the day.

And the speed with which this has become accepted, is promoted in all of our cultural outlets, and is even being embraced by religious and Christian leaders, bodes ill for the near future.  There's a reason that, following WWII and the era of segregation, Americans were taught not to make one dimensional cardboard cutouts of even the worst villains of history.  Otherwise we might miss clues that could end up warning us of where we are going wrong.

But that's not now.  We're entering into a dark age, the kind that Tolkien himself would have lamented.  We've heard it all before, in Southern outlands from men in white hoods, from fanatics in rallies in central Germany in the 1930s.  We heard it from those swept up in the Red Scare, and in accounts we were forced to watch that gave fanciful versions of the Salem Witch Trials and the Scopes Trial. 

And now we're hearing it and seeing it all unfold again, only the purpose now is to tear down the very Western Tradition that brought forth the ideals used to condemn such evils in the first place.  How it will be at the end, I can't tell.  But I have a feeling it will be generations not yet born that will have to figure out how to fix it all. And such a lament for an inevitably long defeat is just the type of development Tolkien would have understood all too well.