When I worked at the major bank corporation back in the day, I handled investments for retirement. Nothing will ever match the whimsical joy I experienced when the paperwork for one of the city officials of Sleepy Hollow came across my desk.
Saturday, October 31, 2020
Friday, October 30, 2020
All things must pass
None of life's strings can last
So I must be on my way
And face another day.
All things must pass. I wrote some years ago on the inevitable decline of traditions. It's true. In the long haul, the ball of history is always in the court of liberalism, or progressives, or anyone dedicated to fixing - and changing - things. Those who seek to conserve are fighting a long, losing battle. The most they can do is hope that a skeletal framework of the most important things last as the skin and muscles and sinew of each age and era gets built up and ultimately torn down.
That's some lofty, big stage reflections on what is ultimately a reality of life that we see all too often today, in the year 2020. I've written on my love for autumn, for the fall season, for the holidays and the festivities that accompany these things. Even as the years have faded, the boys have grown, and the family has changed, there was always something we could take from the yearly seasons to keep us rooted.
This year is no exception to that, though just what we take and hold onto has definitely changed this year compared to previous. Likewise, it's clear that some of those traditions are on life support owing, not only to 2020, but simply to those seasons in the sun that will inevitably be done.
Take one tradition we see that is quickly fading. It was years and years ago, when my oldest was in late elementary school. When we moved up to Ohio in 2000, I began taking my sons back to see my old high school football games. Each year we would pick one Friday night, drive about an hour north, stop at an old restaurant in the small town of Cardington that was along the way, and then watch the game. Mostly it was seeing old faces for me, and them just taking in the sights, smells and sounds of Midwestern football.
Eventually we added going up with my wife and watching the homecoming parade, visiting a nearby state park, and having hot dogs at the old 'hangout' that has changed hands a million times since I was a kid. That, plus going to the annual football game, was a routine for several of our early years in Ohio.
Then it began to end. My wife taught at a private Evangelical school, and my two oldest attended there. When we became Catholic, she was dismissed and my boys were thrown back into public school. It was quite a shock all the way around. Beyond both my wife and I losing our incomes, and me no longer being my boys' pastor, they were thrown into the public school system.
|Where once Al's diner was found |
So that's one tradition that came and quickly went. Anyway, the first year we went to the boys' own local football game I decided to take the three boys to Pizza Hut. My oldest by then was in band and was asked to be there that night to support the High School band at the game. We waited at Pizza Hut for our food and were stuck waiting, and waiting, and waiting. The service was, shall we say, wanting. It took over an hour just to get our food. We were in a panic, scarfed down our meal, and had to book it to the football game where there was almost no parking and my boy missed the chance to do whatever it was with the high school band.
Next year, we did the same thing. On the night he was asked to be there for the kid band activity, we went to Pizza Hut again. This time, being clever people, we went way early. Just to make sure. After all, the Hut is never known for speedy service anyway, and this would give us plenty of time on a Friday afternoon to get our food, eat and have extra to spare.
Well, that afternoon things were working well at the restaurant, because we ordered, got our food, and were done in barely over half an hour. We had almost two hours before the gates at the stadium even opened. So what to do? We could have gone home, but it was October, the leaves were changing, the crisp autumn air was all around. Because their Mom stayed home (letting this be a 'boys' time'), we felt remaining out and not troubling her was the thing to do.
|My boys call these 'Dad's Treets'|
Anyway, since I was familiar with the cemetery, I thought I would drive the boys through and take a look. My Mom and my recently passed Aunt Dorth used to enjoy walking through cemeteries when I was a lad, so I guess I get some of it from them.
I drove my boys around, and we went to the part of the cemetery that dates back to the late 1700s and early 1800s. Then we went to an old mausoleum that supposedly houses the remains of a local Revolutionary War veteran. We then noticed something I hadn't noticed before, and that's a mausoleum that sits way back in a hillside - no names, no plaques, no anything. Rather than the usual metal door, it's entirely bricked up, with only a small hole in the bricks to see the darkness beyond.
In any event, that began what we came to call our annual 'Halloween Season Ghost Runs'. Each year after would find us returning to that cemetery, and then adding others. Since my Mom and Dad still lived north of my old hometown, we began stopping at the old cemetery near where I grew up. We had already visited while attending the homecoming parades. Now we went by to investigate some of those old mausoleums that look straight out of a Roger Corman movie.
We did other cemeteries as well, near my parents' home, in old towns from my childhood, or just in cemeteries we would see driving hither and yon. We would take pictures, read tombstones, and see what sights we would see. Sometimes an oddity would raise its head. Sometimes we would read something interesting from a gravestone two hundred years old. The odd occurrence, such as a tool barn that had been moved about six feet, or a light reflecting in a photo where there was no light or flash, made for fun stories. It was quite a time for memories and even a little learning.
One of the funniest moments came after our youngest was born. By then the older boys were growing out of the whole 'ghost run' thing, but like visiting Santa and Tricks or Treating, they continued on for their youngest brother's sake. We had stopped at the old Gilead Rivercliff cemetery and were looking about the old mausoleums with their iron fences and rough stone facades. This time, we noticed one of the iron doors was opened, the gate unlocked, and we thought about looking - and maybe going - in. We wondered if it was sacrilegious or not, but my third oldest decided nothing is worth more than exploring.
Once we were out, the wind died down and the leaves settled back on the ground. We looked about and noticed it was a fair day, a clear day, a still day with no other winds or no other trees rustling. The boys were shocked and began to yammer about the fact that this happened on such a clear and fine day, and except for the sudden whirlwind just as one was ready to go into the crypt, the rest of the day continued on the same calm way.
I'll admit, it's a strange one, in a fun way. I'm sure if we lived two hundred years ago we'd have no problem explaining why it happened. In our modern STEM era, we have to leave it with coincidence, meaning we can't accept a more obvious supernatural explanation, so we'll leave it with 'no clue, but we're sure it doesn't mean anything.'
But that was years ago. Now our youngest is one year away from middle school. Even now, owing to 2020, he doesn't plan on doing many of the things he's done. Perhaps he's just ready to move on. The older boys will be happy with at least some of this. I think they're more than glad to put being on Santa's lap in the rearview mirror.
Will he tricks or treat? Dunno. He might, just for old times' sake. The last year I went out for Tricks or Treats was my sixth grade year. Our town had banned the yearly ritual for reasons I still don't know. After three years, however, they brought it all back, much to us kids' joy. Even though Halloween was on a Tuesday or Wednesday I believe, we still made time to go out one more time that night. I dressed as a hobo - in other words, minimal effort.
|A montage of their 2019 efforts|
Next year? By then, who knows. The boys are stuck here a little longer owing to Covid when this was going to be their year to move on as they transferred to The Ohio State University, main campus. Will they remain, move on, something in between? It's hard to say. I just know that when you're a conservative, you fight a long defeat since change is not just inevitable, but it seems to be built into the DNA of all Creation. Like it or no, things change. Sometimes quickly, sometimes over endless age, but change they do.
As a Conservative, all you can do is to cling to that small, bare skeletal framework of the most essential realities and imperatives, and hunker down as all the frills and decorations around that framework invariably come to dust. So that's all she wrote for that tradition, correct?
No. Not yet. Not just yet. Maybe it's not that simple. Just when I imagined that the boys had punched the timecard, done their duty, put in their five cemetery minutes and were ready to move on, they decided it was time to return to the scene of the crime. Since last week they all had a day off school, and work, for old times' and our youngest's sake, they suggested my wife watch over my Mom and 'the boys' go to a few of the old local stomping grounds. We went to our local state park and revisited an old, dilapidated fenced in pool removed from the main visitor's areas, complete with massive buzzards nests all around. Then we went to the old cemetery and saw that mausoleum again, checked out the oldest parts of the cemetery, and did a bit of the old ghost run - despite it being a wet, damp, grey autumn day (or possibly because).
Sure, they're home now due to Covid. Perhaps next year things will be back to normal and they'll spring forward. But while home, they decided to recapture a bit of the old memories with their youngest, and their old man, and go out for some good old adventuring. All is right with the world.
|Exploring again, as my youngest said, "Just like D&D"|
Thursday, October 29, 2020
Eh. That's the approach to history that says 'How Napoleon's hemorrhoids changed history!' Nonetheless, I'm sure if the two cartoons in question didn't single handedly save tricks or treats, they both reflected the spirit of the age and the fads and trends that were sweeping the country at that time.
Tricks or Treats, like Halloween itself, is one of those things that everyone insists has a 'real' origin story that nobody seems to agree upon. That's because like Easter and Christmas, people have vested interests in seeing the historical paper trail a certain way. True, Halloween has less importance than the other two holidays. Nonetheless, every year you see something about how Halloween was the result of the evil Catholic Church stealing holidays from beautiful pagans, or that trick or treat was what evil Catholic types used to use to persecute true believing Christians (yeah, I actually saw a tract that said that).
My parents mentioned the existence of tricks or treats when they were young. But it was the Great Depression, and so people with extra funds to divvy out candies and treats were rare. I think in their age the Halloween season seemed more the time to play jokes and tricks on people. If their stories of the tricks they played were any indicator, the creativity that went into their endeavors dwarfed the efforts behind the most elaborate decoration displays today. People must have been more tolerant of such shenanigans back then.
In any even, by the 1950s, tricks or treats was definitely all the rage. Buoyed by the post-war economic boon and the explosion of a wealthy middle class, most of the tropes and traditions we think of came from that period.
It continued to be well beyond my childhood, and hasn't really stopped. It has hit some bumps to be sure. In the 1970s, you had all the stories about people killing kids with poisoned candy or razor blades in apples. You also had older Americans becoming less and less tolerant of those troublesome kids, as the kids themselves become less and less respectful and more destructive.
But it's still lasted, and even this year in 2020, it may still happen. In our house, of course, these two cartoons are standard fare, marking the beginning of our last quarter Holiday Season. So just for fun, and in keeping with the tradition of old blog posts of mine where I give my utterly valueless and amateur appraisal of this or that, here's a few things I like about these two particular specials.
Wednesday, October 28, 2020
|Farm land as I remember it|
Later on in life, when autumn meant football and girls and new friends in the new school year, I know fall began to pick up speed as a yearly favorite. I think in terms of autumn, it was my first year of college - perhaps one of the highlights of my youthful life - that the whole 'autumn matters!' finally came together.
It's odd, but even as an eighteen year old, I was already developing a sense of nostalgia. Truth be told, I always had a certain nostalgic bent about me. I think that comes from the abrupt move my family made when I was five years old. Suddenly, the only home I could remember was gone, and we were thrown into an entirely different house in a rough neighborhood. I remember then feeling nostalgic for those bygone days of my pre-five year old youth.
|The house my Dad built by hand|
But Halloween? I'm sure from my earliest years it was a fun time. Back when I was a toddler, candy was something you still only got as a rare treat. Chips and pop (that's soda to you non-Midwesterners) were also treats. Heck, going to McDonald's was a twice a year special treat. Most days were the meat and potato regulars, with milk or water to drink. So a night in which you brought an entire bag of goodies home had to be special.
And those goodies then were more than just candy. You could get money, fruit, a popcorn ball, perhaps a little toy of sorts, or just about anything. My sister once even got a skinless wiener. I'll assume that last one was under the category of 'tricks.'
One of the earliest memories I have was of Halloween. We had moved out into the country. It was the house my Dad built. Next to the house, on the other side of the gravel driveway and past a line of trees, was a large open part of our yard. Dad turned that whole acre plot of land into one big garden. While most of the fare was veggies for the table, he also grew several pumpkin plants. There were enough that it looked like a very sincere pumpkin patch by Halloween. We picked our own pumpkins and carved them. Then we drove into town and ate at the old Copper Kettle diner before embarking on the first jaunt of tricks or treating I remember.
But I think the time in which Halloween emerged as a candidate for 'a key time of the year' was in sixth grade. In the 1970s, you could see the rot beginning to emerge in our nation. On one hand, I remember the adults talking about one story after another of people wanting this or that banned or made illegal. Get kids out of abandoned lots, no more unseemly basketball hoops in pristine housing developments, stop letting kids pester people once a year on Halloween. On the other hand, crime rates were soaring, and violence was taking on its 'random for randomness sake' that we've grown accustomed to over the years.
In our little town, the mayor and town council took all these outcriers at their word, and my third grade year saw our town ban tricks or treats. It was quite a downer. Ostensibly it was because you had all the urban tales about kids being poisoned or killed by razor blades in their candy. But skuttlebutt had it that it was really because of adults tired of being bothered by all those rascally youngsters.
The next couple years saw All Hallow's Eve come and go without incident, or much fun. In fourth grade, I actually plucked up the courage and, with a friend in tow, went to our city hall (a modest structure) and asked to talk to the mayor about why this holiday was off the list. If I remember correctly, he listened politely and respectfully, and probably told me a bunch of this or that. I don't think it made much of a difference.
For reasons I don't know, however, a year later they announced that the next October, we would once more have tricks or treats! Woohoo! Or I guess. Truth be told, I don't even remember when it was announced. I just know that by sixth grade, I was aware we were having tricks or treats.
Because of that, there seemed to be a bit more 'buzz' about Halloween that year. This was even as my classmates and I pondered our age and going out tricks or treating again. After all, most of us were only a year shy of teenager, and we didn't want to do anything that could cramp our style. Nonetheless, when it finally came about I think many of us ended up going. I went at the last minute, throwing together a 'bum/hobo' costume and sticking only to the street we lived on.
When it was done, I went home, scoured the bag for loot - by then, mostly candy. There was a made for TV movie called Devil Dog: Hound of Hell that was on. Campy and silly now, but when you're still only in elementary and it's 1978, it was scary enough. And that was it. It was during the week - on a Tuesday I think - so bed and school the next day.
To link it to the fall season, it was in sixth grade that we went for our first 'school field trip' away from home. For three days we went to a nearby Lutheran Memorial Camp for lessons in nature, walking through woods at night by yourself, and dealing with other kids in a cabin. It was a very 'fallish' time, and the woods and camp had all that late autumn feel of mostly bare trees, leaf covered ground and chill in the air. Given that it happened right after such a clear focus on Halloween again, the two probably began to merge in my thinking around that time, too.
Therefore it was after that I began putting it all together, and seeing Halloween as 'a season', one that was somehow linked to that overall 'autumn' season I was growing fond of as well. In fact, the one great thing about it, as I began to reflect, was that autumn meant the beginning of the great season of all kiddom, which is of course Christmas. Back then, it was Christmas, Christmas season, and Christmas break.
By middle school, these were all beginning to merge, and I know by high school I was starting to become aware of this, and see not only fall, but Halloween especially, as a right fun high point of the year. That love has multiplied over the years as I made sure the family, and especially the boys, partook in a host of rituals and celebrations that they now almost demand as part of our yearly traditions. So I suppose that's that. Like most things in life, it's not a single here or there or this or that. It's many things over many years that end up making a memory, or even a season of which we become particularly fond.
Tuesday, October 27, 2020
|"How deeply the perverse Jewish spirit has |
penetrated German cultural life"
Let that sink in. Really. Just for a minute don't scoff, but consider those words and the ease with which they are stated. Pretend for a minute that it isn't an actress. Remember that such an attitude is being taught as a matter of course today - in our schools, colleges, media, popular culture. It's even talked about by political leaders, corporate interests and, yes, religious, Christian and even Catholic leaders.
Imagine saying any other society should be done with the influence of any other ethnic group. Or that we're done with matriarchy here or women there. Heaven forfend we say we're done with homosexual this or transgender that. You'd be fired where you sat. If you were a celebrity you'd be finished. Any high profile individual saying the same thing about any other groups would pay the ultimate price for even musing on such thing. And yet this can be said about White men with the ease Joseph Goebbels had when speaking of the problem of Jewishness.
I find it interesting that Caucasians from Europe and in America have no right ot have a civilization. I often say that was the turning point in America. At some point the Supreme Court ruled that America as founded doesn't have a right to exist as a singular culture. That either started, or reflected, the growing idea that America, as founded by a largely European and Christian culture, was not allowed to exist.
In the decades that followed, the Left seized this and ran with it. Today they speak of the problem of Whiteness the same way Nazis spoke of the problem of Jewishness. Any other culture can, of course, exist. Chinese civilization can be Chinese, as can Japanese culture be dominant in Japan. Indian culture in India is fine, and not an Arabic nation has a problem being dominated by Arabic culture. We bemoan African cultures not being able to be African, and celebrate when Latin American nations embrace their Latin American or, even better, Native American cultural roots to the exclusion of all others.
But 'White' in America - or Europe - has no right to exist. Increasingly, and with blinding speed, we see that European and American civilization, dominated by Caucasians with Christian roots, have no right to be. If it's white, it's bad. If it's male, it's bad. If it's white male, it's almost unforgivable. And we won't even get into the Christian angle of it all. Just consider Ms. Paltrow's easy statement and its acceptance in our modern discourse.
Again, that's straight out of the Nazi playbook, as so much of the modern Left increasingly appears. We get all obsessed with the Left being Marxist this or Communist that. But it isn't that simple. The Left has spent decades dumbing society down, and to that end, any appeal to the lowest, the worst, the basest is up for grabs. It's worked to turn Americans into drugged up, sexxed up, godless narcissists. It's also begun to add to the list of lowest common attitudes. That includes race hate, sexism, and even genocide in its purest sense. Not genocide in the sense of rounding people up and sending them to gas chambers. But genocide in singling out an entire ethnic group, declaring it unclean and a pox upon society, and openly calling for its eradication for the betterment of the beautiful people.
It is not only the ease with which this has happened that is stunning. But it's the demand that we embrace such attitudes about the designated genders, ethnic group, or culture that shows the effectiveness of advancing evil when you have all the cards in a given culture. I know this seems almost hyperbolic, but it isn't. This is pure genocide, the desire to eradicate a culture, an ethnic group, a civilization. And it isn't just condoned or allowed by the powers that be, increasingly it's mandated.
"Abolishing whiteness has never been more urgent", Mark LeVine, writing for Aljazeera
|From Merriam-Webster. Note the lack of the words 'kill' or 'murder'|
Saturday, October 24, 2020
So the latest parochial report from the Episcopal Church shows what everyone already knew: it will be dead within a generation or so. That is keeping pace with most mainline Protestant denominations. It's also keeping pace with most Protestant Evangelical traditions as well, though not all.
Southern Baptists have been in a serious tailspin, but that could be bad timing. Contrary to pop culture narratives, the Southern Baptists weren't 'the pro-slavery ones.' The main fight was over accepting money for missions from slave holders. Some felt that the slave issue was sin, and accepting funds from those who bought and sold in the slave trade were therefore providing 'dirty money.' On the other hand, others felt money was money, that most could be traced to ill-gotten gain, and so why set one batch apart? That would be the Southern Baptists.
Not that there weren't zealously pro-slavery Southern Baptists, just as there were likely non-Southern Baptists who by our standards were quite racist. It's just that it was more simple than merely 'Southern Baptists supported slavery.' But then, that requires a nuance and an examination of facts and details that has long passed its sell by date in our nation today. Southern Baptists, South, Slavery, Nazi, America as Nazi, that's it. With that around their necks, there isn't much hope. Add to that the emerging leadership of some like Russell Moore, who clearly want to take it closer to the side of the Episcopalians and the United Church of Christ types, and it's hurting.
Of course this news from the Episcopal Church means Gene Robinson was wrong. It also once more shows that Ross Douthat was correct. Robinson famously told Matt Lauer that by ordaining an openly gay man, the Episcopal Church would be swamped by the tidal waves of eager converts just itching to join such an open and tolerant church. Well, no. It didn't. What Douthat observed once more proved true: you can't combine the traditional monotheistic faiths with modern liberalism. You can't bake kosher ham. Try as they might, each time a tradition tries, it dies. That's because the two are antithetical at the most foundational levels. And in an already secular, atheistic, non-believing world, the ball is in the court of the godless liberal to come out ahead of the conflict.
Which is why I can't figure out Catholics and their eagerness to copy what has failed so many times in other traditions. Then again, Orthodox are now beginning to fight that fight too. After a couple decades of being free of Communist terror and oppression, many are beginning to echo the old mantras that the remnant faithful have heard all too many times: reexamine ages of sexism, open ourselves to our LGBTQ brothers and sisters, reach out and embrace other religious beliefs. Each one sounds good on the surface. And yet, each one became a nail in an ever enlarging coffin that seems destined to cover those Christian traditions that attempt to play both sides of the modern street.
Wednesday, October 21, 2020
So the news has broken that Pope Francis is "indicating" support for Civil Unions for gay couples. Like the word 'inadmissible' where the death penalty is concerned, that word 'indicate' could fill a baker's rack in terms of what it might mean. If he is voicing support for gay civil unions, then he's about four decades behind most mainline Protestant denominations that ended up embracing the abortion/gay/transgender/post-Christian world of Marxist atheism after they had said 'Gays, we don't support it technically, but we want to be nice.' (c. 1978).
Now, there are a few possibilities here that I can tell:
1. The most obvious is that this is being taken grossly out of context by a media itching to convert the world to its secular, leftist gospel. It's not the first time the "press" has rushed forth proclaiming some new thing that inevitably points to the glories of an atheistic, Marxist, secular leftist global vision ... only to see it walked back a few days or weeks later. More than that, the stories seem to be referring to a 'documentary', which in our post-Michael Moore era, have all the credibility of a Reality TV Show rehearsal. Not that Pope Francis shouldn't be more careful. But let's face it, if the propaganda organs have you in their crosshairs, it's tough to always be on guard.
2. We'll have the inevitable walk-back by the multi million dollar 'We're here to explain what Pope Francis really said' industry. It will turn out he was misunderstood, mistranslated, or twisted by a cadre of Francis-haters, and who knows what. We'll be left not knowing who said what, if Pope Francis meant anything, but everyone sure they know how wrong everyone is else about what Pope Francis really meant.
3. He doesn't care if gays, lesbians, bisexuals or anyone else burns in Hell, since these are ultimately mortal sins and those who knowingly and willfully indulge in mortal sins without repenting had best stock up on their sunscreen for eternity. Or at least that's back when there was such a thing as sin below the waistline.
4. Like mainline Protestants, he sees 'development of doctrine' as a 'get out of jail free card' for changing the faith to conform to any of the latest, hippest fads and trends in modernist, liberal culture and society. After all, we don't have to abstain from pork or get hung up on women's menstrual cycles, so why not one more change along the way?
5. There's the last one. He just doesn't believe anymore. Any more than do many mainline Protestants I knew who were much more open about the fact that they no longer put stock in ancient myths and desert prophets and made up fairy tales about God in mangers and stone tablets and all. At best it's a metaphorical canvas upon which to paint our ever evolving and infinitely superior morality. At worst, it's been a tool of oppression, hate, evil and everything we need to eradicate. Either/or, religion and religious doctrine is generally wrong and of no particular value anyway, so tossing this or that teaching in the corner like an old shoe is the logical course of action in most cases.
That's about it. Maybe there's another possibility. Maybe one of these is right. But I'm not seeing anything that says 'It's completely accurate, Pope Francis said just that, and he is merely repeating the clear and obvious doctrine of the Church that was once for all delivered to the saints.' Of all the possibilities, that one simply doesn't make the grade in terms of reality or common sense.
Well, two twitter folk seem to think Pope Francis said what he said and has openly endorsed, celebrated, and supported the glories of gay sex, legal recognition of gay sex, and raising children to affirm and celebrate all things orgasmic where gay sex is concerned (hundreds of millions of aborted and dead innocents in the wake of the sexual revolution being, of course, of no consequence):
It's looking less and less likely that Numbers 1 and 2 are the answer. Given his track record of being high on Marxist inspired liberation theology and universalism (but for Capitalists and mafia types), I'm guessing 3 is unlikely as well.
Again, I'll wait. But this could be full blown heresy and the "Pope Changes Catholicism!" that Catholics have dreaded for ages. NPL Catholics, liberals, leftists, and most unbelievers will rejoice and follow the Pope anywhere. The faithful will be between a rock and hard place if this is true. If the Pope can change this fundamental teaching about humanity so flagrantly, where does Catholic teaching stand, but the same as Protestant teaching, which is ultimately just worldly teaching with great wedding receptions and fun wine auctions ... and not much more.
UPDATE II: Even our local news stations broke the evening news with the story: A giant leap forward for equality! Pope Francis has given his blessings for Gay Civil Unions; that is, Pope Francis has given his blessings for gay sex. That is, Pope Francis has officially changed Church teaching!
Perhaps, again, the news agencies, liberal Catholics, leftists and non-believers, and the various LGBTQ activists already interviewed who are praising this development are, in fact, wrong. If they are, damage has already been done by yet another of Pope Francis's 'interviews from Hell.' If not, then the Catholic Church is, after 2000 long years, in the biggest pickle it's ever been in.
Either the Pope can in fact change Church teaching, meaning Church teaching can be changed as much as any Protestant denomination (if not a tad slower), or the Pope cannot be trusted to be the shepherd, not just because of bad behavior, but because a rogue, wildcard pope could come out and change the next doctrine he doesn't find pleasing. Making Catholicism just a big, lumbering, large version of any other Protestant denomination.
Unless this is all wrong, and Pope Francis needs to apologize for yet another disastrous interview, then I see only one way out for the Church, it's credibility, and its identity. And personally, I don't see the leaders of the Church able to take such a step.
UPDATE III: OK, so a local priest (not ours, but one I've known for years) posted what he says Pope Francis actually said. According to him, Pope Francis said nothing of the kind. According to the statement he posted, Pope Francis merely said what he's said before, and that's if parents have a child who embraces a same sex preference, you can't trash them, hash them, beat them or any such thing. According to him, Pope Francis said nothing about celebrating gay sex, gay weddings or any such thing. So again, we'll have to wait and see. We're seeing news saying he's all but sanctioned gay weddings, and not a few leftist Catholics seeming to also celebrate the good news. But that is no more reliable than the news. So once again, let's wait and see.
UPDATE IV: Oh boy. All over the place news outlets are proclaiming the news: Pope Francis calls to change Catholic teaching to accept and support gay unions! Meantime, Catholics seem split. As above, more liberal and leftist Catholics are joining the news in cheering for this momentous event in which Catholicism joins liberal Protestantism as seeing development of doctrine as a blank check to change all that old religion stuff in order to conform to the world. On the other hand, you have those insisting Pope Francis said no such thing, is completely within the context of historical Church teaching, and all is right with the world. What a mess. Once again, Pope Francis is interviewed and all hell breaks loose.
As opposed to slavish thralls of the majority establishment? Yeah, so do I. A little word of insight here. If you are on the side of vast national and global, multi-billion dollar corporate interests, you have half of our government and governments around the world on your side, you have the bulk of the billion dollar entertainment industry, national and international news organizations, no small number of leaders of the world's great religions, and almost all educational and academic institutions saying the same thing you're saying, you're as button down conformist as they come.
Turns out, therefore, that most of the bold pop culture rebels of the day were not rebels at all. They were thralls of this new movement to dismantle the heritage of the Judeo-Christian West, and convince Americans that freedom and equality should be things of the past. What they wanted to replace it with is anyone's guess, though it's becoming easier to see with each passing day. Given the lack of deep thinking that emerged since the post-war era, I doubt they gave it much thought. Lots of drugs, lots of sex, money to buy stuff - that was what a godless life is about, and whatever got more of it was good enough for us.
So it should come as no surprise that as this establishment begins to coalesce around an open call for socialism, a slight dash of communism, a bit of the old Nazi inspired ethnic hate and elimination of inconvenient humans, and the hope for a global corporate entity that will pour unprecedented amounts of money into fewer and fewer bank accounts, that theses "brave rebels" are increasingly sounding like obedient mouthpieces for this very movement of power and oppression.
They were always thralls of the establishment, button down and otherwise. We just confused those who only advocated getting high and getting laid with being a rebel. Turns out, they were the establishment all along.
Tuesday, October 20, 2020
|The Jesus Indians of Ohio by Craig Atwood|
Despite their little verbal sleight of hand, however, many modern atheists are rather zealous and fanatical about their belief that no non-material explanation exists for what atheism can't tell us. So much so, that in most cases today, atheism is calling the shots about how we understand reality, God, religion, morality, humanity, history, and almost any other subject under the sun.
So yesterday was the memorial of Isaac Jogues and John de Brebeuf, priests and martyrs and companions in this, the New World. That's back when we remembered both sides in historical conflicts typically give as good as they get. Here is that ursine blogger St. Corbinian's Bear, reminding us that if you have time to read this, you have time to pray the hours (and if you have to give up reading me to do so, I'd say you should choose the more important thing - and it ain't reading me).
But I thought of their martyrdom. I thought of the fact that Christians in America, including the Catholic Church, have adopted the very atheistic understanding of events from that period. For the push to eradicate the heritage of the Christian West and the United States is predicated on two fundamental beliefs: 1) that through the prism of multiculturalism, there is no culture or civilization that is in any way inferior to the West, and the West brought nothing particularly special to the world table (if, in fact, it wasn't the true and sole cause of all evil and suffering in the world), and 2) Religions are false. They aren't real. They are lies. There is no God or eternity to speak of. Perhaps there is some parallel universe or some extra-material energy field when we die, but none of the world religions are right, nor did they happen. They are false.
Therefore, the two reasons why we could mourn the atrocities of the past while still celebrating the best of those who brought the civilization of Western Christendom to the new world have now been dashed on the rocks of a post-Christian, atheist worldview. The Western colonizers, immigrants and pioneers brought nothing, zero, nada to the new world. Anything we could call good - notions of democracy or freedom or equality or liberty, however poorly lived out - were probably here all along anyway. Some argue that we even stole our ideas of democracy and equality from the
Indians Native Americans.
Certainly appeals to the indigenous practices of human sacrifice, child sacrifice, matricide, patricide and infanticide, in addition to slavery, war and even genocide, don't cut it. Only white Europeans can be racists and therefore guilty of genocide. Slavery is only bad when done by Europeans. And in a country where our womenfolk have aborted over 50 million unborn children in barely four decades, I don't think we'll sweat the pre-Columbian practice of human sacrifice and infanticide.
But then, most Indian activists have no problem unqualifiedly praising their ancestors and cultures. No apologies for anything their ancestors did, or any practices we might condemn today. Heck, they can actually come out and say they oppose open borders and end up being quoted with respect, not as obvious racist supremacists that are usually the type who oppose open borders. But then, I can watch a PBS series about the history of Africa, and see Muslim scholars praise the history of Islamic conquests of other people because of the boon their superior Islamic culture brought to the conquered. See? That's a true believer.
Likewise, to the second point, since religions are obviously false anyway, there was absolutely no reason to think there was a net positive for the indigenousness peoples where their contact with Christianity was concerned. Since Christianity is no different, and no more true, than indigenous religious beliefs, there was nothing gained by us coming here, and nothing that could possibly outshine the atrocities and evils that did occur. After all, nothing they did in their own cultures was bad anyway (multiculturalism), so tearing down those cultures for a lie and a falsehood was altogether a net-negative.
And the Catholic Church, with recent apologies, grovelings and even removing the celebration of martyrs and saints who ministered to the native populations, appears to agree. Once again it accepts the premise of the non-believer, the ungodly, and the secularists, and then turns around on a Sunday and says 'but show up to Mass and give to the Bishop's annual appeal!'. You can see the disconnect here, can't you?
That's because the true believer always beats out non- or un-believers. Those with no belief, or no real investment in their beliefs, will lose to the zealot, the fanatic, the true believer every time. As we watch the secular, the Marxist, the leftist, the atheist, the non-Christian, the anti-Westerner, the anti-American, and every other force score one victory after another, and see those who proclaim faith in the God of history revealed through the Gospel of Christ surrender one hill after another, it makes you wonder which ones really believe, and which ones became unbelievers long ago.
Do our religious beliefs have any bearing on our salvation?
Just in my first glance - and admittedly, it's only a glance - of his new encyclical, I'm just not seeing anything that suggests my religious beliefs hold any importance for my eternal destiny. In fact, I'm seeing little that suggests what I do on a day to day basis is all that important. The same goes for his call for a global brotherhood of man.
What seems to be important is where I stand on vast geopolitical and socioeconomic philosophies and theories and policies meant to make this life better. It's as if Jesus said, "Many will come to me and say, 'Lord, Lord', but I say screw you, I'm not interested in what you did, but which political policies and socioeconomic movements you supported.'"
Perhaps that's unfair, and a more careful reading will lead to a different conclusion. I'm sure there will be some good things in his latest encyclical. Most things ever presented in history had at least some good things, or nobody would follow them. But on my first perusal, I'm seeing scant differences between the words of his encyclical and the words of this:
Except Lennon sings for no religion, and Pope Francis seems to embrace all religions, I'm not catching much difference. Living for today perhaps? I dunno. And yet this is how the Church has been orienting itself for some time. Given that the only thing that makes the unprecedented number of Catholics abandoning their Catholic Faith look good is that it's better than those who remain but no longer believe the Catholic Faith, I can't imagine why we still think this is the correct approach.
I'll admit I admire those who can continue promoting losing strategies and game plans as much as the next person. But when failure has eternal consequences, it's no longer funny. Unless, of course, we no longer believe that what religion we do or do not embrace has eternal consequences, which brings me back to my initial question for Pope Francis: Does religion have any bearing on our eternal destinies, or is being good as laid out by the encyclical, or most things he says, good enough?
Monday, October 19, 2020
Which is high mountain to ascend, is the charge that Prolife Christians who insist abortion is the preeminent evil of the age can therefore only care about abortion and nothing else. And more than that, any time spent doing anything else is therefore some betrayal of their emphasis on abortion. Therefore, either you join the NPL Catholics and lower abortion to somewhere in the bottom 700 list of things with which we can lovingly and respectfully disagree, or you can only care about abortion and nothing else.
Yeah. Right. As one comment said, the saddest part is that he and his followers think it's clever. It's not. It's stupid, as is so many of the arguments trying to elevate modernist thinking to the level of Catholic doctrine.
The fact is, traditional prolife Christians are capable of walking and chewing gum at the same time. On one hand they can actually say abortion is the ultimate scandal of our age, and the fifty million unborn lives aborted by American women in merely a few decades surpasses the body count of almost any single moment in human history. On the other hand, they can feed the hungry, disagree with socialist economic policies, cloth the naked, not vote Democrat, pay the bills, mow the lawn, watch the game, and partake in a host of things fun and trivial. It's not either/or, which any sane mature person would understand.
It's almost like how New Prolife Catholics can insist we need to focus on economic justice since the more money people have, the less they sin. And yet while doing this they are obviously capable of watching movies, reading Harry Potter, talking about the joy of Clown Mass, condemning white conservative Christians who have white skin, or any one of a million other things.
It's like all of reality doesn't have to be boiled down to a single this or that and no other option. Today's dose of the obvious, courtesy of yours truly.
Saturday, October 17, 2020
Shame on me. I was informed that in my flowing tributes to the late Eddie Van Halen, I failed to post the most iconic, and one of the most popular, music videos of all time:
Yep. Contrary to Roth's insistence, it was not a performance with a 'light bulb and a $500.00 camera.' It was well choreographed, had excellent lighting (their concerts were known for their lighting displays), involved multiple takes (note Roth's change in outfits), and was carefully edited and framed camerawork. In short, it was a professional undertaking meant to look cheap and simple (they don't even pretend not to be lip synching). This was especially in light of the sudden video craze, as musicians were increasingly stumbling over themselves to make the bigger, more extravagant super-video. The pinnacle of which was, of course, Michael Jackson's fifteen minute long Thriller mini-movie.
In typical Van Halen style, it was as much sleight of hand as anything. It was also a big bridge, for it brought the usually adult level escapades of a hard rock band to a much toned down, even 'family friendly', performance that took the video watching world by storm. Understand, until MTV and videos, it wasn't easy seeing your favorite performers actually perform. You might catch them on a Solid Gold episode, or on the Midnight Special (remember that?) if you could stay up that late. But seeing them cut loose and perform? Unless you could afford tickets to a concert, it was album covers, magazine pictures (often cut out and hung on bedroom walls), and that was that.
So Eddie and the gang did the logical thing. In the spirit of their stage shows, they set aside the production, the sets, the crazy Hollywood costume productions, and just did what made them famous. Eddie looked almost self-conscious while faking his guitar work, Anthony and Alex mugged up the camera work the best they could, and of course Roth hogged the camera and jumped.
In doing this, they broke that barrier between hard rock/heavy metal and top 40 pop music. They paved the way for Bon Jovi, Poison, Metallica and other hard rock bands of the 80s and 90s, and helped make hard rock mainstream. It was one of the last leveling of musical genres in which anyone and everyone could end up on the top of the charts, despite your particular style.
So there you go. I righted the wrong of not posting this video. Though in fairness, despite so many stations and football games playing the song in tribute last week, it's fitting that I posted Eruption instead. After all, this might be their most famous song, but it is keyboards and synthesizers instead of guitar. And what was Eddie best known for?
Friday, October 16, 2020
This is the sort of thing that isn't worth dwelling on. It's San Francisco. Like many metropolitan centers run by the Left, it pines for a communist totalitarian state and will promise endless sex and drugs to the hoi polloi to get us there. It need only eradicate the heritage that brought freedom, equality, democracy and the striving for human dignity to the world. With what we're seeing, we now understand how so many could goosestep around Berlin in the day. I think it's the speed with which the annihilation of the United States is occurring that is shocking. That it's happening or was inevitable is not the issue. That it took barely a generation to embrace the evils of the last century and use them to destroy America and the Western Tradition, all while being fully embraced by a growing number of Americans (Christians, too), is the shocking part.
Thursday, October 15, 2020
So it's everywhere: Decidedly non-leftist Catholic historian and founder of Christendom College Warren H. Carroll called Christopher Columbus out for the genocidal slave conquering racist that he was. I've seen this now on a dozen different sites and outlets.
Here's the Catholic film Critic Deacon Steven Greydanus shocked that such an obviously true view was held by a conservative:
The fact is, history is like movies and music: there are seldom 100% unanimous views on anything. Long before Charlottesville, conservative historians questioned the veneration of Robert E. Lee or the government's display of the Confederate flag. For that matter, some liberals I know have pondered if our god-worship of Martin Luther King, Jr., may have crossed a line. For my whole life the sins of the Founding Fathers - including Lincoln - have been open for debate. And that doesn't count non-Catholic historians of certain Fundamentalist leanings who loved America, but weren't happy with celebrating such a prominently Catholic hero as Columbus.
The idea that 100% of Americans worshipped Columbus (or anything American) as a god is what I call that 'Myth of Myths'. Just like the myth that before the 1960s nobody thought war was bad or sex was fun, or Americans never admitted America's sins. Those simply aren't true, but they become a myth which we can then use to overemphasize the sins of the past in order to destroy America, the Western Tradition, and Christian heritage and values.
Now I admit I have not read Mr. Carroll's six volume history of Christendom. So I can't really give an informed opinion. But let me throw out a possibility. The quotes of his that I've seen these last couple days suggest - suggest mind you, without having the full context of all his writings on the subject - that he paints Queen Isabella in a positive light. His trashing of Columbus could be the result of scapegoating Columbus in order to lift up the often equally maligned Isabella. Maybe not, but that sort of thing happens.
I'm reading a history of the Battle of Hastings. The author in question makes it clear he would have loved Harold Godwinson, hated Edward the Confessor, and would have been scared crapless of William the Conqueror. And his history makes it obvious. In order for Harold to increase, therefore, almost anyone else must decrease - especially Edward who bears the sins of 1066 on his shoulders, along with William. Is that fair? No. But historians will do such things. And that includes doing it to FDR, Kennedy, Robert E. Lee, Jefferson, or any historical figure outside of America. It could also include doing it to Columbus that the sun shine all the brighter on Isabella.
Perhaps this isn't what Carroll was doing. Again, I don't know and the above is pure and uninformed speculation on my part. My point is that history is never as clear cut and cut and dry as the Myth of Myths likes to suggest. What is likely, however, is that Carroll wouldn't have embraced the idea that Columbus bears the sins of every white person as every white person bears the sins of Columbus, and these sins are unforgivable and all defeining for not only Columbus, but the Christian Faith, Catholicism, Western Civilization, the United States and every Caucasian who ever lived. All of which is not only implied, but increasingly stated by those who would obliterate Columbus Day in order to celebrate cultures and civilizations that did the very same things for which they condemn Columbus.
If you think that isn't happening, read the comments in this article that Deacon Greydanus linked to. Condemning Columbus isn't enough. Until the Cross and the Swastika are one and the same, we will not stop. Ever. Until the West is dead.
Which is why this is sort of a useless post if you think on it. The question is why Warren thinks what he thinks, at least based on the selected quotes making their rounds. What is the context? What is his primary thesis? What is the framework in which he establishes his historical narrative? But do we think any of this matters?
No. Someone who clearly does not have the reputation of a boilerplate 2020 liberal is quoted as saying bad things about Columbus. The Global Left would have the heroes and towering figures of Western Civilization destroyed, along with their contributions to world history. Someone who is siding with this movement, even if only a few short years ago would have defended Columbus both on Catholic and historical grounds, must now scramble to find any reason to obey the master they have chosen to follow. So to that end, it's enough that 1) Warren is no liberal historian, 2) critical of Columbus quotes. Nothing else matters. Now we can support the eradication of Columbus, the celebration of anything non-Western, and all will be right with the world.
UPDATE: As usual, Donald McClarey at The American Catholic dips into his endless well of historical knowledge and finds what Carroll actually said about Columbus in a piece honoring the explorer. Read it here. I don't know if this is the context of the quotes that the good Deacon Greydanus references, or perhaps a later work where he has changed his views. Again, I've not read him, but that is something I should remedy in the near future. Suffice to say, the few quotes I've seen dropped by Catholics keeping up with the Left in order to prove Carroll would support the eradication of Columbus from our memories are not enough to believe Columbus should therefore be eradicated from our social memdores. Even if that's what they're hoping they can mean.
Tuesday, October 13, 2020
|America as defined by the modern Left|
Furthermore, the more you can claim victimhood of racial oppression, the more off the hook you are. And since we can tell racists by their skin color - owing to only one ethnic group capable of being racist in the first place - you had best find ways to redeem yourself of your inherent, genetic racism, which can't be forgiven if you are that skin color.
Because of this, there is no more reason not to see racism in all things and in all places than there was to see witchcraft everywhere in the 17th Century American colonies. In fact, it's likely we see racism more than they saw witches. And we all know about their obsession with witches back then.
Which brings me to something I may or may not have written about. I looked in the archive but couldn't find it. It was sensitive at the time, and for a long time I thought of writing on what happened, but chose not to. I do think I finally blogged about it but since I didn't use actual names, I can't find a way of going back and locating it. So because much has changed since then, I thought I'd bring it up again.
This will be an abridged version, just in case. It came about around 2016 that an old high school classmate of mine, two years my junior, posted on Facebook of the unbridled horror he went through in our racist, all white village in Ohio. Turns out he was hated by everyone: teachers, students, cops, dogs, cats, you name it. He and his brother were pulled over by cops, spat on by kids, completely alone and discriminated against.
His Facebook post drew out dozens of other classmates wailing with great tears and repentance, begging forgiveness, and saying how brave he was for calling us out for the racists we were. Now I must say something here. By today's standards were we racist? Yes. By standards back then were we racists? Depends. Sometimes maybe. At least in terms of humor and jokes. It was a cool thing to do in a mostly white community.
And trashing people for a laundry list of things - including ethnic differences - was all the rage back then, even if one or two particular cases were becoming verboten (blacks and gays). Respect was for old timers. Being cutting edge and racy was the cool thing to be. Of course there were other things we talked trash about too: weight, height, being an outsider, being poor. The results of a fallen world I suppose. But it wasn't something we dwelt on. It isn't as if we woke up everyday thinking how racist we could be. I'm actually sure entire months went by when we didn't give ethnic minorities a second thought. And if we knew them personally, we were as likely to be friends as not.
Including with this kid who, by my and other classmates' recollections, was not hated. In fact, he was an excellent student, a good athlete, and he was one of two students in my school who could breakdance. In the early 80s, that was worth its weight in gold. He was extremely popular with the girls, and even dated some of the more popular ones. If he had a hard time nabbing a permanent relationship it could have been due to the fickleness of females in that he was rather diminutive of height - barely about 5' tall in high school.
But he was popular with the teachers, was on several sports teams, often varsity and first team. He did well in school. His older brother, on the other hand, was a hellion. He was a bully, too. Unlike his younger brother, he was big. Tall, lanky but strong. And he and several others terrorized us younger classmen. Did we pop off the odd racial slur when he was coming after us? Yeah. It was about all we had in our arsenal. If it didn't do much, it did something, and that meant quite a bit right before getting the hell beat out of us.
His older brother was also a trouble maker. In a small town like that, trouble makers are watched by the cops. It is entirely possible that the younger brother may have at times been mistaken by the police for his more troublesome older brother, especially while driving. And it isn't because 'they all look alike'. Truth be told, I have four boys who look as different as night and day to my wife and me. But time and again people will say 'Gee, they look like those Russian dolls, just bigger and smaller versions of the same kid.' So if the cops thought the same thing, it might not have been racism at all.
That was about all I could remember of him. I'm not saying he encountered no racism. But I remember he could also be loud mouthed and rather caustic too. And he wouldn't have been the only one to be on the receiving end of cruel barbs, and he may have delivered a few of his own. As I said, ugly kids, fat kids, poor kids (we were a relatively wealthy little town), outsider kids, lanky kids, non-athletic kids, dumb kids, kids that play on rocks - you name it, everyone had something that could make them targets if they weren't in that rather elite upper Varsity and Cheerleader club in the school. And oddly enough, he was closer to that club than most.
So I was taken by not only his recollection of things, but how many others practically groveled at his feet and begged forgiveness. Again, unless there was some big part of his life I missed, he was generally liked, overall popular, ran with some of the more popular kids, got on well with the teachers and the school administration in general, and that was that. The Jim Crow horror story he wrote of was something I don't recall.
I thought of that when I saw a quickly circulating story in which Alex Van Halen, brother of the late Eddie Van Halen, laments the unbridled evil and racism they endured when they were in school - something I never heard mentioned all the years I was a fan. And I thought of a couple years ago when some Hollywood leading lady spoke of the horror of her days in school, outcast, hated, mocked because of racism. Only in her case, her classmates came forward with yearbooks (boy are those becoming important), showing her as a member of the homecoming court, cheerleader, among most popular and in all the cool clubs and organizations, hanging with friends and classmates, at the top of the school's popularity ladder. In short, she was wrong. Perhaps even lying.
And I wonder then, are the Van Halen brothers telling the truth? Are they right? Is this a case of some form of social hypnosis or suggestion, planting memories in people's minds? That actress (whose name I can't remember) was obviously wrong. My former classmate wove a story completely opposite of what I and other classmates I know remembered.
And if that is the case, how about the millions of others now out marching, screaming discrimination, howling about racism here and racism there. Are they right? Are they telling the truth? Were they bullies and while beating someone up, the only thing that someone could think to do was toss a racial slur in retaliation? Are they just lying?
It makes you wonder. Don't think I don't. We know from Salem that people are quite prepared to believe whatever. We know from cases of false accusations of child abuse back in the 80s and 90s that memories can be implanted. We know from the Nick Sandmann debacle that ethnic minorities can seize upon the current mentality and make false accusations against white Americans (in the case of Sandmann the American Indian activists was actually guilty of what he accused Sandmann of doing, yet the press, pundits and even Catholic leaders believed the activist based purely on ethnic grounds). Given that our society has all but said if you can claim discriminated-against-minority status you are exonerated of all responsibility, are a hero and martyr and can enjoy almost carte blanche, with no proof necessary but your claim, is it too difficult to think there could be recollections that are a bit wide of the reality?
This isn't to say there was never racism. Or that there isn't racism. It isn't even to challenge the modern notion of racism as the only all defining unforgivable sin. But just because it exists, does that mean some can't invent it? After all, if you asked almost any German in the 1930s who was to blame for their problems, they would have told you, whether it was true or not. I'm sure for many of them, they would have believed it.
UPDATE: Apparently DL Roth has jumped in and said the same. Again, do I doubt it happened? No. School can be cruel and kids can do and say all manner of nasty things. That the Left has declared racially tainted behavior to be the only one that matters doesn't change that. It does make us remember that perhaps Eddie and the gang were just as cruel to other kids for other reasons. Maybe not. Eddie and Alex were known to be rather brutal at times in their dealings, but that could be a factor of being rich and famous. As kids they may have been angels. Or not. But just like gays in the gay marriage debate, or women in #MeToo, racism is simply the only thing that matters now. It isn't really. Nor was it fifty years ago. But the purpose is, again, to divide people and strip away the idea that equality is a thing worth caring about, if not worth keeping.
Monday, October 12, 2020
You could do worse than take a look at this fine post at The American Catholic. I won't detract from remembering the good by focusing on the bad. Just let it be known that as far back as my third grade year - 1975 - we learned the bad, and even the bad regarding Columbus, just the same. We also celebrated the good. At that stage, multiculturalism had not taken hold and we still learned that for all its sins, the Christian West was a net boon for the world. Today we are told the opposite, and youngsters believe the opposite. Where that will go I don't know. But a sane and realistic - and dare I say, Christian - look back at Columbus and what he did might be a great way to stop the mental bleeding.
I will say something my boys pointed out, since in our neck of the woods our Democratic mayor and city council in Columbus have removed statues of Columbus. Especially regarding those who substitute Columbus Day with National Indigenous Persons Day - isn't it odd they celebrate entire cultures who openly did what they're blasting Columbus for doing? Clearly his problem wasn't slavery or imperialism or conquering people. That was done aplenty in the Americas long before Columbus. It must be because he helped bring Christianity and the West to these shores, both of which the modern Left is now against. Given the Left's zeal for abortion, it's obvious why those cultures' human sacrifice isn't something that keeps them from being celebrated, that's for sure.
Saturday, October 10, 2020
The moment when we realized Rock music had changed:
They say that Ted Templeman, their producer, was walking through the halls and heard Eddie playing around with this in the hallway and was impressed. So he suggested adding it to their upcoming debut album. And what a debut.
Not that such techniques had never been done with classical guitar, but they were foreign to rock guitar, and nobody had mastered that level of technique with such skill since Hendrix. But the speed with which Eddie played was beyond anything people had seen in rock music up to that point. This was especially true for the usually ponderous, heavy downbeat style of heavy metal that Van Halen first appeared in.
They soon shed that heavy metal image, with their second album already embracing a lighter, more pop music sound, settling into a more 'hard rock' genre that they would eventually leave again with their fifth album Diver Down - an LP that featured more cover songs than originals. And those songs were generally lighter, more pop and mainstream sounding than anything heavy or hard rock.
|Publicity pic for the US Festival|
When 1984 appeared, the first song released was Jump, often played over the airwaves with a synthesizer instrumental named 1984. In usual Van Halen ways, they captured the much talked about year made famous by Orwell without having anything to do with Orwell. If some of us wondered about this new song with its keyboards and synthesizer sound, Eddie's guitar work on Jump - and the rest of the album - left no mistake. Along with Prince, Jackson and the meteoric rise of Madonna, Van Halen defined that year for music.
Sadly, the breakup came soon after. Rumors that there was a breakup brewing dated as far back as early 1985, before the release of Roth's EP. Roth had clearly warmed up to the new Video craze, and was beginning to invest more of his time in unpacking the visual possibilities of that new promotional trick that had only recently been shunned by most mainstream artists (No, MSM, it was not a giant Racist Conspiracy that kept Michael Jackson away from MTV; that was what most artists did for the first year of MTV's existence). Eddie, on the other hand, wanted to branch off and pursue expanded musical forms. Roth - who was not the best singer, but a talented vocalist - preferred keeping it light and superficial requiring no more than his trademark quips and shrieks with occasional melodies.
Whatever caused it, or whoever was at fault, it marked the sudden end to a whirlwind ascension on the music scene. As Time Magazine wrote at the end of their biggest year, there would be two names forever connected with 1984: Orwell and Van Halen.
Some say that their first solo ventures were merely patchwork versions of what they had planned for their follow up to 1984. If you listen to 5150 (Van Halen's first album with singer Sammy Hagar), and Roth's Eat'Em and Smile, you can almost hear that. Shuffle the two together and divide by two, and you could have had a powerful and worthy follow up to their megahit two years previous.
Alas, it wasn't meant to be. Both albums are capable, but also lacking. Eddie and Alex (and to an extent, Michael Anthony) were technically capable, and among the best in their day. Eddie as guitarist was obviously a high point, and it's arguable that he's one of the greatest guitar players in rock history. Upon the canvas of their technical abilities was dropped in giant, paint globs the technicolor antics and showmanship of Roth, who seemed to have a bottomless haversack from which to pull in order to keep the crowds hopping. His humor and devil-may-care beach-bum-with-money personna was the perfect balance to Van Halen's technical prowess.
Both post-split albums showcase that to a degree. 5150 sounded more 'mature' and more mainstream, but was shallow and at times a bit like chewing on tinfoil. Roth's album had flair and color and humor, and his backup band was no shakes in its own right, but it lacked that connection to the superior talents of Van Halen.
Following their solo debuts, when comparisons and personality clashes dominated both tours and sales, it was clear that both would never live up to what they had when they were together. Roth's next album continued a long streak of forgettable - or wishing you could forget - albums that showed he desperately needed the musical virtuosity of the brothers Van Halen. Meanwhile, Van Halen became just another run of the mill rock group with guitars and graying hair, lacking the charm and color Roth brought to the stage and the albums.
Though like most people I have many different musical tastes, largely due to the influence of my Dad and his love of Frank Sinatra, Sinatra era balladeering, classical and jazz and big band, my goto group was The Beatles. But they were before my time. They had already broken up before I was old enough to know they existed. I discovered them due to the long shadow of influence they cast over the 1970s and beyond.
But Van Halen was my goto group in terms of my contemporaries (though they were in their early 30s by 1984). I enjoy The Beatles to this day, and likely listen to them more than Van Halen, or most artists from my youth. But Van Halen was from my time. Many memoires flood back over me when I hear that legendary guitar riff, or think of their video shenanigans, or the ornery boy party image that went like a glove with the 80s party atmosphere. With the Beatles, or other artists from before my time, there aren't really memories per se. With Van Halen and others of that age, however, they occupy a special place in my life story.
Like many cases in pop culture, it's surprising to look back and see how fleeting their time in the spotlight was. By the time I heard of them in middle school, it's as if they had been around for a century and I was a Johnny-come-lately to the party. Likewise, it seemed as though they had been around forever, and had been Van Halen for endless decades, as each day and week feels when you're young. Yet it was only about six years that they were together. But it was a fast and larger than life six years, and it captured my imagination all those years ago, and still brings back memories today.
|Indeed, all things must pass|