Thursday, April 30, 2020

Is Star Wars the most overrated movie franchise ever?

The movie poster seen round the world
My sons brought that up to me.  Think on it.  If you are anywhere close to objective, the most you can say is that out of multiple movies stretched over decades, there are only about 2 1/2 to 3 good movies out of the mix.

You have the original, an out of the box cultural phenomenon that fundamentally altered the film industry (for better or worse).  It was a dominant force for three years until after the second movie.  It continued to be a significant presence in popular culture well after that.  The second movie, The Empire Strikes Back, was arguably better than the first.  At least it was better as a film, with deeper characters, more development, a tighter story arc.

Nonetheless, as I tell my boys, it might be hard to believe but the sequel did get push-back.  Many were upset at the dangling ending - the age of the prefabricated movie franchise being far away.  And yes, many rejected the 'Father' claim by Vader.  They saw the first movie enough times to know that's not what happened.  Perhaps because of that, Empire fell short of the original at the box office, as well as with some fan reaction.

As a result of that, and because many of those involved were wanting to go their separate ways (Harrison Ford being the most famous), Lucas had to scrap his much publicized plans of multiple sequels.  What we got in The Return of the Jedi was a condensed amalgamation of several movie ideas Lucas had crammed into one final hurrah.  And it looked it. Reviews were mixed and most fans, having already grown up and moved beyond Star Wars, were 'eh' at best.  There were some great moments, but also some that were decidedly under par.

The prequels barely look like the originals, and enough has been written about the varying levels of celluloid trash heap that they became it's not worth repeating.  Which was the worst is up for debate, though most give the third - The Revenge of the Sith - a nod for being the best of a bad lot.  If nothing else, the last minutes have a few scenes that connect it to the originals.

As far as the Disney reboot?  The first was OK, and tapped into some nostalgia for the originals in a way the prequels dearly missed.  Some argue that it was simply a PC retelling of the original story line.  That is fair as far as it goes.  But the subsequent movies seem to be, with a few exceptions, films that take the worst of everything that came before and repeat it all over and over again.  Much of the problem being it's 21st Century Disney, and everything is beholden to the creativity killing political correctness and identity politics of the modern Left.

So think on that.  Out of how many movies, only two deserve to be considered in any way 'great'.  The third is about two or three hits for every miss.  Later ones are everywhere from mostly bad to entirely bad to atrocious.  How does that rank on the franchise scale?  Perhaps compared to most franchises - whether prefab or simply the result of endless sequels - that might still put it near the top.  Think Death Wish.  But then, perhaps that says volumes about how good film franchises are to begin with.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

When memes are true

I'm not a big fan of memes, at least for commentary purposes.  For humor they do just fine.  But when trying to make a point, they are like late night comedians on acid.  They can often ignore mountains of facts to score a false point, often with contempt and smugness.  Nonetheless, sometimes they score.  I guess broken clocks and all.  This would be one:

The Left has played two great trump cards that have entered into our bloodstream and show the decadence and wickedness of the Left's America. 

First is the here today/gone later today approach to principles.  Censorship, judging based on skin color, sexism, judgmentalism, proselytizing, imposing values on others, violence when opposing unacceptable opinions - why the list goes on and on of things the Left once called good it now calls evil, and vice versa.  That makes it a tough nut to crack.  Operating on the ideal of perpetual progress, it's free to insist the old ideas are inferior by virtue of being old, and change them on a daily basis when convenient.  Even if those ideals are days old.  Imagine playing a game with someone who changes the rules on turn by turn basis. 

The second is no less bad, if not worse: exploiting and caring about the suffering of human beings and the least of these only when convenient.  You can see this in the sudden dismissal of the plight of the poor during our extreme measures used to fight Covid-19.  You can see it in the silence  when racist or sexist rhetoric is aimed at people who dare stray from the Left's reservation.  You can see it in the dropping like a hot potato of people, like Jazmine Barnes, when it turns out a young black girl was in fact murdered by two blacks involved in a drug deal rather than a white racist in a pickup truck with a MAGA bumper sticker.  You can see it now in the Left's naked reshuffling and repackaging of the #MeToo Movement's radical feminism and sexism now that such is baneful to the Left's purposes.

There should be three fundamental laws when it comes to understanding the modern progressive movement that every American needs to realize and confess: 1) The press is dead and is now a propaganda organ for the secular Left; 2) the Left has no core principles beyond the acquisition of power; and finally 3) the Left doesn't give a rip about the poor, the minority, the woman, or anyone but that it can exploit their plight for gain.  And again, it isn't that these things are unique to the Left or any group in history.  It's that with the Left's monopoly of culture, media and education, these terrible things are becoming the acceptable norm.  The norm, that is, when it benefits the Left. 

If you don't realize these things, then you belong to the ignorant masses of history that all too often become the enablers of history's great tragedies and evils.  Be warned.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Time to say goodbye to Hollywood?

Why do traditional Christians and Conservatives patronize Hollywood when it is largely a propaganda organ for the  radical paganism of modern secular agnosticism?  Even the award shows are nothing but hate and contempt fests in which the powers that be spew their loathing on things that the conservative and the traditional Christian hold dear.  Maybe it's time to say enough.

It's been asked how modern Christians could align with the political Left when so much of the Left is centered on eradicating historical Christianity.  Setting aside that some modern Christians would happily do the same, it's a question worth asking.  But no less a question is why Christians of any traditional stripe continue to pour money into the coffers of an industry almost entirely centered on the destruction of their most cherished beliefs and values.  Not only that, but these consumers will actually pay money for the very shows, songs, and movies that are made for the sole purpose of accomplishing that goal.

So food for thought.  I've often wondered why Hollywood, back in the glory days of my youth, seemed to hate and deride the simpler pastimes, or those family moments, or the gathering of friends for a good game or two around the table.  I realize now that Hollywood exists on the back of the populace's dead creativity and inability to self-entertain.  Only when we are creatively dead zombies glued to the screen or headphone are we truly fulfilled since only losers would try to find creative ways to entertain themselves.  So says the underlying entertainment industry narrative.

So break the addiction.  Learn to tell stories or play board games or cards, or spend time among nature, or anything that doesn't require taking your hard earned cash and handing it to an industry that I believe could easily say in return, "Thanks chump, we still hate you and hope you convert or die soon, but we'll take your cash all the same.'

Friday, April 24, 2020

How about that

So yesterday was the late, great Roy Orbison's birthday.  A FB page I follow had this picture up to celebrate:

That is the first picture of him without his glasses I've ever seen.  And it's not what I thought he would look like.  I can't picture in my mind now what I thought he would look like, but not that.  Not bad or anything, just different than I expected. 

Nonetheless, an awesome songwriter and musician who was respected by almost anyone who played music from the 60s through the 90s.  And given the variety of music styles in that spread, that's not bad.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Christ is Risen!

To which the Orthodox respond: Truly He is Risen!

In Orthodox tradition, Christ descending to Hades is a primary focus on Resurrection Sunday

Yep, it's Easter, Part Deux in our house.  In a show of solidarity, we have celebrated both Easter celebrations this year.  Meaning that last night, we were up to about 2:30 AM.  Our Orthodox church live streamed the Pascha service with his family doing the heavy lifting through the 3.5 hour service.

To show his support, our oldest then cooked up a nice buffet for the family since the Orthodox tradition is to have a massive feast following the services (remember, Orthodox fasting is brutal, and people are usually on the floor by the time the service wraps up).  So after the service ended, we gathered around the table and feasted. 

So He is Risen!  A reminder that Christians don't venerate the day, we venerate the event.  Today's secular age, which rests heavily on ignorance about anything not focused on me and now, might fall for the silliness that Internet critics throw out about the Resurrection.  But we Christians know. 

So whether Eastern or Western tradition, we all celebrate the same crucial event.   And so again, Happy Pascha.  He is Risen!

Friday, April 17, 2020

RIP Brian Dennehy

I just learned that Brian Dennehy passed.  That is sad news.  Mr. Dennehy was someone who seemed to be everywhere when I was growing up.  Equally adept at playing comedy, villains or good guys, he just seemed to love the camera.  And the feeling was mutual.

A massive man, at 6' 3" and the size of an NFL center, he just dominated whenever he was on the screen.  Even if he was never cut out to be  a leading man, there were few leading men who could hold their own when they shared the screen with Dennehy.  Even against someone like Sylvester Stallone in First Blood, he almost out-shined a character meant to outshine them all.  It's also worth noting that, accordingly Stallone, Dennehy (an actual vet) ironically schooled Stallone on some finer points of being a veteran.

My first experience with him was a short lived sitcom called Star of the Family.  It didn't last long.  I don't think it made it through the first season.  I only remember watching it because the girl on the show was cute.  Nonetheless, I also remember thinking that there was something about the fellow who played the dad.  He had a charisma, a strange magnetism despite the fact that he was built like an armoire.

And that was Dennehy.  In later years, he stepped out of movies, citing a dislike for the way movies were being made.  For those who had the chance, they say he became quite the staple of theater, and found new respect and accolades as a thespian in that realm.

Nonetheless, for me, I remember him as a sort of later day Charles Durning.  He was better as a support actor than a star, but when he was there, he dominated the shot.   I always liked him and he always seemed to play parts that demanded a certain level of respect.  Perhaps it's because, as he said, he played heroes like they were villains, and villains like they were heroes.

In any event, he will be missed. RIP and God bless and keep those loved ones he left behind.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

My former Patheos editor speaks

To the growing push back against encroachments on liberty and freedom in the Covid-19 era.  He
has a point.  To a point.  Grandstanding and using God to make political points isn't right.  Likewise, caring more about fishing or going to the ballgame than the health and well-being of our neighbors isn't Christian.  I do believe that caring for others and looking out for those most vulnerable is a noble and Christian ideal.

With that said, it's not hard to see that while there are extremes on the much mocked "Freedom!" side, there is also a growing abuse on the other.   While concern about our neighbors is a noble venture, and there's nothing wrong with being concerned about our own health, exploiting those things because we're scared of losing our life more than anything in the world isn't noble or Christian.

The sudden silence across much of the modern Left regarding the plight of the poor in this time is telling.  Oh, the press mentions it in the vaguest terms.  We hear people say how it's a shame.  But if the progressive narrative that poverty leads to death has any merit, then all we're doing is kicking death and suffering down the road in order to stop this now. 

Those who poopoo the idea that any freedom or liberty matters, for whatever reason they would do so, are selling birthrights for bowls of stew.  It's proof that we live in an era so spoiled by unrestrained freedom, and perhaps injected with some generational arrogance, that we can't imagine losing our freedoms, or think of what that would mean if it happened.

So yes.  Those saying they don't care, they want their ballgames and fishing trips whatever else be damned, are not right. But those who have said there is nothing but Covid-19, and they will sell anyone and anything to save ourselves - even if it means the deaths and suffering of millions of others down the road who had to suffer that we might live - are no better.  They might be worse. 

I'll leave you with this. A seminary professor of mine once said that those who don't worry about losing their freedoms are those who have never lived without them.  After all, losing your freedom isn't like getting a bad haircut.  If you decide you don't like it, it won't just grow back.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Governor Cuomo preaches the gospel of secular agnosticism

Secular agnosticism has become the civil religion of the 21st Century.  It is embraced by the powers that be.   It is certainly the official religion of our schools, our popular culture, our higher education, our news media and not a few courts and corporate entities.  Atheism is popular, too.  But for most, it's that vague atheistic model of reality infused with an abstract agnosticism that sometimes spills into a sort of deistic clock-maker god on the best of days.  Usually Sundays.

In the dying West, the origin of this modern secular faith, even Christians are susceptible, and we've seen plenty of that church of STEM and the gospel of medicine since Covid-19 exploded onto our television screens.  Sure, there is theology and doctrine behind missing church and sacraments and finding God where we are.  But most of the reasons giving are reactionary, excuse making for the fact that we're scared, this life is what matters, and we'll give up anything to keep it as long as possible.

Death is better than bondage, or so they kept saying in the 1956 classic The Ten Commandments.  Today, we'll happily embrace bondage to stay alive though any means possible.

So it shouldn't be surprising to hear a national stage politician say that we need to ditch this laughable notion that Covid-19 is being beaten by anything but the power of the people guided by STEM and medicine.  The scientists spoke, the people acted, and we beat it.  Not God.  Not Faith.  That's laughable.  It's only people and science and medicine.  Its' our Babel that did it right.
“The number is down because we brought the number down,” he told the press. “God did not do that. Faith did not do that. Destiny did not do that. A lot of pain and suffering did that…That’s how it works. It’s math. And if you don’t continue to do that, you’re going to see that number go back up. And that will be a tragedy if that number goes back up.”
I give him credit.  He admits where no doubt a great many people who fill churches in a given Sunday happen to be.

Again, and again.  None of this is to say we should do nothing during this pandemic.  We could find ways to maintain a faith centered focus within the Christian family without presenting religion as a non-essential.  We certainly should do what we can to protect the vulnerable and least of these.   And we don't need to play God as a tool in order to score points against Caesar even when Caesar gets out of line. In some ways, that's no less secular than Gov. Cuomo's remarks.

But at the end of the day, we are in an age that has been brutally evangelized by secular agnosticism. This has been going on for generations.  Every week there are no doubt many who fill pews across the West struggling to really believe in Moses or Abraham or David or even Jesus.  Miracles and angels just seem far fetched.  There is probably some afterlife or some divine energy field, but it's nothing to do with one religion or another. 

How dare you speak of evil, it said, or mention the name of Jesus, try to convert others and say people are sinners and wrong.  And suddenly, we were told because you are evil, you will renounce Jesus, you will change and convert to our morals and values, and you will condemn the growing number of people who are evil, stupid, and unforgivable.

The ironic thing in all of this is that never since the scientific and industrial revolutions has the time been more ripe to point out the flaws and fallibility in pure, unfiltered, unrestrained reliance on science and technology.  Never have we had more evidence of the myriad mistakes and failings of the experts, scholars and scientists of the world.  When depression, suicide, hopelessness, emptiness and hollowness are at all time highs, as we watch the civilization that brought equality, dignity of human life and freedom to the world collapse, this was when the Faith could have struck.

Instead, we have been converted by secular agnosticism.  The skeptics discovered the magician's trick and convinced the world that there was never a magician.  They used methods both quick and cunning to sell a lie, and monopolized STEM so that we increasingly believed you could only have one or the other.

Now we're seeing the results.  Covid-19 is all about the science, the math, the medicine.  It's about doctors and nurses who alone matter.  It's about those who take care of the here and now because that's really all there is.  And when all is done and the dust settles, we can do God stuff as a great way to kill a Sunday morning - when we're not too tired.  Because the only reason the world is better is because of science and invention, and economics and politics.  Take your God to the church where he belongs.  And Christians said yep.

I can't emphasize how critical this development is in the 2000 year history of the Faith.  Never before have so many been openly apostatizing and abandoning the teachings of the Gospel.  And now we must ask ourselves how many who aren't doing this nonetheless actually believe any of it.  Soon the dividing line will not be between Catholic or Orthodox or Protestant.  It won't be between Jew or Christian or Muslim.  It won't even be between liberal and conservative. It will be between secular believers and the believers holding to the traditional model of the traditional Faiths.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Happy Easter

To those of the Western Traditions, Happy Easter and rejoice in the glory of the Resurrection!

Thursday, April 9, 2020

What secular Christianity looks like

It looks like a time in which Christians poopoo the idea that God has anything to do with the spread of Covid-19, or even its cure, but the current pope joins millions in suggesting that the pandemic is instead the result of Nature sending us signs and wonders.  It's a model of the universe in which everything is material with material explanations, where Nature becomes a cognitive force for us to appease - and when that doesn't work, then God. 

I've been coming to the realization that we live in a secular age.  Agnosticism is the civil religion of our time, and secularism is the model through which we understand reality.  I've also realized that, like it or not, many Christians - especially in the dying West - are as secular, if not more, than they are Christian.  Oh, there's God and miracles and prayer and demons and angels and all.  On Sundays.  Or when someone is sick or we need a job promotion.  When push comes to shove, however, when it all hits the fan, many Christians today sound no different than the unbelievers, the atheists and the secularists we attend ballgames with or who work next to us Monday through Friday.

Our response to the Covid-19 pandemic has, in many ways, shown modern atheists just how secular Christians are.  Christians have no problem dismissing religious services, church, sacraments and anything else.  Oh, there's a ton of theology and precedent.  People run about saying that churches have closed in the past, and people often don't get the sacraments, and you can get to God pinned under a car on a back road as easily as in a worship service.

But most people know better.  What we've done isn't because of some deep, theological reflection.  This is because Christians were scared.  Scared to lose their lives as much as the atheists.  And, quite frankly, scared to look like some ignorant yokels clinging to their fairy tales about miracles and angels and demons when everyone knows it's science and medicine that call the shots.  God have anything to do with this?  Bah.  It's nature, son.  It's viruses and vaccinations and PPE that are the real deal.  We live in a material universe, a material world with material answers to material problems.  Perhaps when that's all said and done, then maybe God stuff.  But we know the deal.  We know what this author at Freethought realized:
Wash your hands or say a prayer? Social distancing or Sunday mass? Cancel public events or give out coronavirus communion wafers to the credulous? 
Many believers face these choices as the coronavirus spreads. There is no religious response to the pandemic, unless we count abandoning religious rules in favor of science and medicine. Faced with these choices, most people accept that religion is pointless, at best, and harmful, at worst. Most are making decisions that appear to be motivated by science and medicine, not scripture and sacred doctrine. 
Yep.  For all the world to see.  Covid-19 has shown modern Christianity's true colors.  We no more believe there is anything holy about water than the skeptic believes.  We no more believe that being together in a church service has any objective benefit than the None believes.   We no more believe that sacraments are something we have to have than an atheist believes.  Sure, nobody - including the most frothing cynic - would say Christians should do nothing, or that Christians have no business trying to stay alive.  As Billy Graham used to say, he believed he would go to heaven when he died, but he didn't want to get there from an airplane.   Likewise doing what we can for those most vulnerable is a fine demonstration of loving your neighbor.

With that said, this isn't what happened.  Christians have shown no balance in this.  We caved in every way we could cave to a secular model of a secular age, and then tried to spread a ton of theological manure on our actions in the hopes that something beautiful will grow.  It won't.  Not just with the unbeliever.  It will not work with those faithful who have been suppressing, or entertaining, doubts for years.  I fear in the months and years to come, they will doubt no more.

Perhaps the funniest comedy routine I ever heard on radio

Just to bring some levity to these times. 

I can't account for the picture, but the routine came from the Bob and Tom radio show that I used to listen to on my 2 hour drive to work at the Coming Home Network.  This one got me laughing so hard I actually had to pull off to the side of the road to compose myself.  Enjoy

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Why is Covid-19 different?

So why is this all of this?  Why do I feel Americans would vote to make religion illegal and set us up as a police state if it means beating the Coronavirus?  I'm not saying Covid-19 isn't a serious ailment.  Its ease of infection and severity of symptoms is worth attention to be sure.   I don't pretend I'm not concerned for my loved ones, especially my elderly Mom, as well as my sons working in the grocery and restaurant fields.  I understand it is something that needs addressed and, to a point, we should do what we can to help mitigate its impact.

But I also think we've gone well beyond that point.  I do believe that if the US declared all rights and liberties to be null, a great many Americans would happily don a set of leg irons and hop to the Gulags if it meant saving us from this virus.  They would be the happy informants, turning in neighbors and calling for any deviants to be shipped to the prisons.  Why?  Happily the numbers are nowhere near as bad as they initially predicted when the news first broke of a mystery strain in China.  Back then it was deaths by the tens of millions and billions infected in days.  We now see it isn't that at all.  Nonetheless, the hysterics and fear seem worse now than back then when the predictions were more dire.  So why?

Granted, for the average Joe and Jane populace, it's because news is constantly focused on the Covid-19 outbreak, often with stories taking the most negative spin on the worst statistics and barely mentioning, if mentioning at all, anything positive.   Constant stories showing the worst predictions and most heart wrenching cases are the norm.  Worst weeks around the corner and endless talk of death stats are around the clock headlines.  So I get why the average person is scared.  As much as I try to keep my feet on the ground, it gets to me.  But why?  Why is it like this?

It's been pointed out that suicides have been spiking for years.  Teen suicide rates are at an all time high.  Suicide among children as young as ten years old are at never before seen levels.  But we didn't do anything major there.  Human trafficking continues to keep slavery alive, but we don't do much more than have occasional awareness specials on a newscast.   HIV/AIDS and recreational drugs continue to kill people by the tens of thousands each year in our country alone.  The only reaction to that, however, is to broaden the acceptable engagement in a variety of sexual activities while pushing to legalize and normalize recreational drug use.  So clearly there isn't some 'deaths means snap to radical action' standard that defines our modern principles. Heck, on a good year, twenty thousand will still die of the flu, but we don't do much more than have the occasional 'Get your Flu Shot' PSA.  What's different here?

Well, a few things I wonder about.  I might be right or way off course, but I have a feeling I'm not too far on most of them.

First, we're watching the experts make the sausage.  You know the old saying.  You may enjoy sausage, but you don't want to see how it's made.  Well, with this, we're seeing how the experts work things out when there is some new mystery they don't understand.   Often, by the time we hear of such things, much of the footwork has been done and the experts on camera already know at least some of, if not most of, what they think is going on.  That's not the case here.  From the beginning, we knew one thing, which is that we know almost nothing about this virus.  Every week it seems to change.  Who is most vulnerable?  How is it spread?  What can we do?  How serious is it?  What are the infection rates?  Sometimes we just don't have the numbers.  Sometimes it's how we spin the numbers.  Sometimes we're told one thing by one expert and a week later another expert is saying something else.  Masks or not?  Six feet or what?  Who knows?  After all, we've already changed the story many times already.  And that's because we all joined the doctors and heard about it at the same time from the beginning.  The only thing scarier than not knowing is knowing you don't know.  So just the fact that we have no clue what will happen or what has happened is enough to keep everyone on edge.  Especially in an age where the pop-culture narrative is that STEM knows almost everything, we know everything, and a thousand years from now there will be nothing else to know if we don't know it.  Such lack of knowledge runs afoul of our dogma of progress that brings comfort to so many.

Second, it does not discriminate based on income.  Fact is, many of the ailments I listed above tend to impact poorer people more than the rich and famous.  Flu is a good example.  It's well known that poorer people make up a much higher rate of deaths each year than those with money.  In some cases, like HIV, if you're rich you can afford all the drugs needed to keep a more or less unaltered life.  Think Magic Johnson.  If you're poor?  Well, you're not long for the world.  But with Covid-19, since we don't know everything about how it's transmitted, and you might not know you have it until the symptoms are hitting you and it's too late, there appears no clear distinction between the rich and poor.  You're as likely to wind up in the hospital - or worse - if you're a world leader, corporate CEO, or international superstar as if you're a janitor or truck driver.  And that scares everyone - including those rich and famous who are used to mitigating things with their bank accounts; who happen to be in charge of things like businesses, news outlets, entertainment and pop culture venues, policy decisions and establishing the popular narrative.  When those who divvy out the stew decide it's in their interest to take the birthrights, then that becomes what a nation must do.

Third, there's something about today and the speed with which we glom onto whatever media/social media wave is flowing.  Whether it's the power of mass media, a generation with no foundational values, or a combination is difficult to say.  Think on it.  Just a few years ago, we went from a 'grab'em if you want'em as long as they're seventeen - if you know what I mean' approach to sexuality to 'radical feminism is truth, all men are rapist and all history is the history of rapist men raping women - so touch at your own risk.'  Then we embraced the notion that such laughable ideas as due process, presumption of innocence and burden of proof have any value outside of old, dusty courtrooms.  Turns out men should apologize for Jesus being male, if there is any such a thing as boys and girls to begin with.  Because now we know there is no such thing as gender and procreation's connection to sexuality is a mystery.   And we all know the Constitution is just a racist slave document anyway, so why not ditch that as well as the Bill of Rights, since ideas like free speech, religious liberty and even forgiveness are just tools of the white supremacy imperialism.  We can do this while we move from destroying all Confederate memorabilia and begin taking down all those racist founding fathers statues.  All of this has suddenly become standard wisdom and common knowledge, and in only a handful of years.  That's a lot of essential foundational truths, values, ageless wisdom and common sense to just toss out the window overnight because it's all the viral rage on Facebook and the morning news shows.  And yet, it is.  It suggests with all of our access to unlimited information, we've become more, not less, susceptible to being swept away by the tides of all the latest rage.

Fourth, medical professionals are scared.  Really.  Never in my life have I heard doctors, nurses and other medical professionals complain, cry, shake with terror and bemoan their positions as front line fighters against a disease.  While they are being lifted up as the new priesthood for our secular age, declared warriors, heroes, demigods, saviors, messiahs, and the culmination of all things wonderful and glorious that have ever been done, they have acted indignant and terrified.  Why?  It's what they do.  It's why they get the big bucks. They are near serious diseases and infections all the time.  Why is this different?  Apparently, despite being in the front lines of any disease in the world, medical pros are rather low on the infection cases.  Doctors and nurses don't die disproportionately due to things like the flu or other infectious diseases. You'd think they do but, at least from what I've found, they don't.  Why, I don't know.  Access to all the meds, their financial status, a built up immunity from being around them all the time?  Whatever it is, this time it isn't.  And like those rich and famous (who most doctors tend to be closer to than the average short order cook) they are just as likely to get hit by this and even die as that janitor or truck driver they are treating.  Perhaps even more.  Since politicians have logically turned to the medical profession for guidance, it's not shocking that the result of the political decisions has sounded as hysterical and panic stricken as the hundreds of doctors and nurses I've seen interviewed.  Because when these gatekeepers of our secular priorities speak, the policy makers of our material world listen.

And Fifth, yes, there is some ideological exploitation here.  Almost immediately the cries went out that this would cause millions to die and it would be Trump's fault!  When the Stock Market dropped, you could almost detect glee in the voice of some as they reported we might be heading into a Depression.  If so, Trump's reelection was almost certainly toast.  Early on, pundits were calling this 'Trump's Katrina!', and making sure whatever happened would be around his neck.  Even now, you have politics involved, with partisans gerrymandering the facts to make sure their side is always awesome, and everything is the other side's fault.   Of course this happens all the time and with anything.  In our age, politics has long replaced religion as a source of meaning in a great swath of Americans' lives.  It makes sense that anything happening would be spun with the best political advantage in mind.  So early on, with the Democratic primary collapsing into parody, the always Democratically aligned media, along with various Left Wing pundits, saw the advantage of jumping on the worst things happening and emphasizing the worst predictions in the hope of pinning it on Trump.  Whether they still are doing so to the same degree or not, I don't know.  But in this case, it was enough to encourage Trump opponents and never Trumpers to embrace the worst apocalyptic predictions, hang it around Trump's neck, and put the fear into the populace in the meantime.

While there might be others, and I feel all of these have influenced where we are, I'm wagering reasons three and four are the big factors that set this apart.  The third observation is, sadly, merely part of the realization that what separates us from uneducated Medieval Peasants is toilet paper and digital coffee makers.  Like it or not, we're the generation that has finally put to rest the idea that an education is all you need.

But it's that this hit those who are used to weeping for the disproportionate suffering of the low income masses while going on as normal at the country clubs and penthouses.  This time, they're as threatened.  And since they hold the scepter, orb and crown for defining what's important in our modern age, they get to define the terms, the priorities, the sacrifices and the price to pay.

Bonus reason.  As I read over this, one of my sons mentioned another reason.  Why are we doing what we're doing?  Why are we going to all extremes?  Why are we seeing things comparing us to the WWII generation, or memes saying we are now 'The Greatest Generation'?   It could be in part, he says, that we are a loser generation that has been noting, done nothing, and accomplished nothing.  We haven't hit the beaches to liberate the world.  We haven't sacrificed everything and risked our lives for anything.  Our big accomplishment as a generation is watching the 2500 year old civilization we inherited disintegrate under our care.  The latest Netflix show and the next Smartphone dominates our age and our priorities.  No matter how bad things get with suicide, depression, drugs, AIDS - we don't care.  Let others die and we'll keep hoarding what we can.  The Covid-19 pandemic gives us a chance to act the brave part, to finally come close to that generation that beat the Nazis that cast such a long shadow over subsequent generations.  It's our chance to say 'we're now the heroes, celebrate us!'   It's certainly worth considering.  It's also interesting that my son would be the one to notice this. 

Monday, April 6, 2020

There were no adoring crowds for Palm Sunday

So who will be around to reject Christ on Good Friday?   I've received quite a lot of push-back from people - apologists, laity, and clergy - for my observation that our actions during the Covid-19 outbreak are going to hurt the Faith's witness in the long run.

I've never  said we should do nothing.  In fact, as a family, we were among the first I know to shut down and quarantine.  We did this because of my Mom living with us.  Though healthy for her age, she's still her age.  An abundance of caution seemed appropriate.

Nor have I said we shouldn't have taken action as the Church.  Regulating the services, adjusting, finding creative ways to administer the Sacraments or have services would have been fine.  It would have been acceptable to cancel services temporarily in order to find creative ways to accommodate the cautionary practices while still holding to the more important things. 

Instead, we said church is like a bowling alley or a museum: Non-essential.  Christians rush to Facebook to say churches are just buildings and don't mean anything.  Sacraments are denied and dismissed as optional.  A secular church for a secular age led by secular Christians.

So no need to worry for the Savior this year.  There will be no crowds yelling Crucify Him!  They have more important things to worry about now.

Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.  Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.  Matthew 10.28, from the Gospel as traditionally understood

We live in a material world in a material universe with material solutions to material problems, and value those who serve those very things.  And then God when all else fails.   The Gospel of Today.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Game over man

Game over! To quote the ever bleating Hudson from the excellent sci-fi sequel Aliens.  And I'm not talking about anything to do with Covid-19.  At least directly.  Basically, the game Empires in Arms that I began with my boys years ago has come to a close.  With them being home due to the Covid-19 shut downs, we've had extra time.

Called a flawed classic, Empires in Arms suffered from one obvious flaw: it took forever to play, and is best executed by as many players as possible.  Seven is the max, though the seventh would play the inferior Spain, and so six or five will do.  Getting that many together to play for such a long period of time was as likely as finding Bigfoot.  I played it once for a bit in college with six players.  This time the three oldest sons jumped in and we began to play when they were in high school/middle school.

Then things in life sped up, and at times months went by between sessions as they got older.  I know.  It's hard to believe they would rather be with friends or go out with girls than play a war game in the basement with their Dad.  Nonetheless, they still made time out for it when they could, and so we got a session in now and then over the last couple years.

Then it picked up greatly these last few weeks.  As a result, we were able to move forward by leaps and bounds until Wednesday night, when things finally came to a head.  My oldest, and likely more cautious by nature, had drawn France to play.  He probably wasn't the one to match the catch-me-if-you-can attitude of Napoleon.  More worried about avoiding a loss than seizing a gain, he often was outmatched by my third son and me, playing Russia and England respectfully.

Finally, feeling he was slipping behind his brother who had Russia, he unwisely declared war, and subsequently suffered a string of defeats.  In EiA, that translates to political losses at home, which further translates into Victory Points.  He had already lost Napoleon to England from a previous coalition.  My third son's aggressive style, mixed with England's willingness to funnel unlimited finances into Russia's coffers, allowed him and me to seize most of France.

Then my oldest did what he does in these games when faced with a dire situation: he made a strange, nonsensical maneuver.  He sent his best cavalry officer (Murat) along with one of his strongest forces to besiege Naples.  For no apparent reason.  Meanwhile he allowed what was left of his fleet to get bottled up.  My second son, playing Austria, decided it was time to extort territories from my oldest's diminishing holdings under threat of joining the war.

France on the last turn, England Red, France Blue, Russia Green, Austria White, Spain (under English control) Yellow

At that point, we realized two things.  First, Russia would likely win at this point, even if the game still had a few years left (a few dozen turns).  Second, we probably would have to pull punches and do what we could to keep our oldest in the game, which doesn't work well in a game centered around defeating Napoleon.  So, after all these years, we decided it was time to pull the plug.

They've talked about starting another game of it.  We'll see.  Right now, they have some time, though their college classes are a bit crazy since most were not designed to be online.  My two middle sons are also 'essential workers' in that they work in the grocery and food industries.  We're careful since on one hand they are essential, but on the other hand they aren't quite getting the love that the medical pros are when it comes to protection and even free perks.  Not many have said grocery workers will receive free gas or food.  Even their own stores haven't.

So they are still busy.  Once this settles when it settles, then they'll be back to normal, and probably more, since they'll be scrambling to make up for lost time.  But either way, it's been a fun time and a pleasant time.  I've appreciated the boys taking time out of their schedules over the years to keep the game going.  As they do with their youngest brother, so they did with ol'Dad.  And that's not bad, even if I didn't win.