Tuesday, October 31, 2023

A Halloween First

Not since 1995, when our oldest was a mere 2 weeks old, have we not gone tricks or treating.  Then it was my wife briefly taking him around to other apartments in the stairwell of the seminary housing we lived  in. The next year he was old enough to be taken about to houses that were just down the street, since by then we were at the first church I pastored.  It was in the country, and a string of late built houses were around, enough for our oldest to get a nice batch of goodies.  But since 1995, we've gone out somehow with tricks or treats - until now.  Old youngest is in high school, and announced last year that we were at the end of the run.  

Odd.  We're not quite sure what to do. Owing to not a few reasons, we've not done as much this year as we have historically, perhaps because we know the kids are moving on.  Jobs and obligations mean the boys and our daughter-in-law won't be around during the tricks or treats hours anyway.  They said they'd be by tonight afterwards.  I guess they're going to bring some movie I've not seen before that has something to do with spooky.  We'll see.  Sounds interesting.

We'll still hand out candy.  Though not as much this year, times being what they are.  I suppose we'll still watch old silent films during the actual tricks or treats time.  That's holdover from when my sister, her husband and my parents would come down on Halloween once we moved to Ohio.  My mom would go out with my wife and the boys.  The rest would stay and talk.  Hence silent movies.  It had the atmosphere, but didn't interfere with conversations. 

We'll still have cider, pumpkin donuts, pumpkin seeds, and nibbling off some of the candies.  But as I get older, I have to be mindful of my dad's diabetes there.  On the whole, we'll see how it goes.  Funny how things change in life.  Anyhoo, when it comes to Halloween, I wrote on my thoughts back in the day.  You can read that old post here.  My thoughts are pretty much the same, only more so.  

And with that, a very Happy Halloween to all! 

Thursday, October 26, 2023

David Gushee and damage control

 So I saw this:

Hmmm.  I thought that was pretty tough for Dr. Gushee.  Sure, he avoids like the plague the universal support that Hamas has received from various leftwing activists, Palestinian protesters, and various Muslim and Arab pro-Palestinian advocates.  He doesn't get near the signs with calls to continue the slaughter of Jewish people because they are Jewish.  But at least he says it's bad, no excuses, no qualifiers, no appeals to context or moral equivalency.       

But that made me wonder.  I don't have Twitter, so I'm a bit hamstrung with looking at various Twitter accounts.  Usually I go with what people send me in copied images.  But sometimes I can dig and find recent Twitter posts.  So after some fenagling, I got to the farthest back of his account I could, and saw this:

Wow.  Note the date.  Two days after the single worst slaughter of Jews since the Holocaust. And this is Mr. "Righteous Gentiles of the Holocaust"! You know, his book that cites those gentiles who rescued Jews from the Nazis while using that to hammer the majority of Christians who didn't.  And what does he do within two days of the most horrible genocidal assault against Israeli Jews in recent memory?  He goes after white nationalists who apparently don't believe in the right to vote? 

What we're witnessing is a mental breakdown among the modern progressive revolution.  That slick and careful and asinine narrative that is the basis for tearing down the Western tradition and its Christian roots has been shaken.  That narrative exists by forever focusing on isolated molehills of facts while ignoring mountain range sized piles of qualifying and contradictory facts.  By doing that, we have the oily Oppressor v. the Oppressed template that is being used now to, well, call for the extermination of Israel and everyone (Jewish) in it. 

As a disclaimer, I should note that I was once a big fan of Gushee.  Even when I could tell he tacked left of center, I saw in him someone trying to be sincere and courageous in standing his ground.  Even though I could detect his sympathies, in a class filled with many liberal Christians, he admitted that for the Bible, homosexuality is typically presented as the ultimate deviancy from sexual morality.  

When he wrote an article defining history as being between the Left (good guys) vs. the Right (bad guys), however, my admiration was shaken to be sure.  That level of ignorance is hard to overcome in the matter or respect. 

But when he wrote, in light of the legalization of gay marriage, that it's time for all to bow before the new dogma or get what they have coming to them, I suddenly realized whoever he was writing his book for, it wasn't himself.  Someone who rose to prominence by brutally eviscerating those Germans who didn't stand up and risk death to oppose the Nazis - who now says get in line with the Left or pay the piper.  Oh, and slaughtering Jews is bad, but let's not lose track of the really bad people who dare buck the Leftist State. 

Once more, I'll repeat my oldest son's observation: With each passing day, it becomes easier and easier to sympathize with those Germans in the 1930s.  And Dr. Gushee is about as good a case study for why this is true as I can imagine. 

Perhaps Dr. Gushee can be reached - if he's paying attention

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

I have officially seen my favorite Halloween costume ever

It replaces the old picture I saw ages ago of a mom with triplets who dressed them as Thing 1, Thing 2, and Thing 3 from The Cat in the Hat.  

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Like the lost tales from another world

Is what I thought of when I saw the tragic story of a woman stabbed to death in Detroit.  She was Jewish, and was Synagogue president.  From the beginning, the police have stated there is no clear motive behind the killing.  This latest article, from the Detroit Free Press, reports that the police are still saying there is no evidence that antisemitism was behind the attack.  

There is nothing at all wrong with this.  In a sane, pre-insanity of the Obama era world, this is how the press and the police handle it.  Before the dark ages of the Hate Crime era.  A human being has been slain.  We leave it at mourning, regret, prayers for the victim and family, and hope for justice. We are still gathering information and not leaping to conclusions.  Motives are not know, and are not speculated about.  Nothing else is being linked to it.  Nothing about antisemitism on a national stage, or even across Detroit.  No groups of people are suspect.  Again, like a time capsule from the age of sanity.

Of course we know why.  Multiple attacks and crimes against the Jewish community have happened since the beginning of the Israeli-Hamas war.  Twice Hamas has called upon global outrage and demonstrations.  Protests erupted immediately after the worst slaughter of Jews since the Holocaust.  While some were fine and peaceful, a staggering number - including around college campuses across the West - cheered what Hamas did, with some calling for more (that is, slaughter of Israelis).  And some Palestinian and pro-Palestinian protesters, along with BLM outlets and leftwing socialists, made it clear seeing more of what Hamas did in that first attack was wanted and demanded.  A few went so far as adding variations on 'Gas the Jews' to make sure we see it's not just because of Israel or Israelis, but because of Jew hate.  And all from not white, not MAGA, not GOP, not Red State, not Christian, not conservative types. 

Hence the sudden wave of 'let's not be hasty' where attacks on synagogues, Jewish individuals, and even murderers of Jews are concerned.  Again, absolutely nothing wrong with this level of restraint from law enforcement, the Jewish community, the ADL, and the press.  It's how it should be done.  There is, however, everything wrong with why they are suddenly doing it this way, and not the way we've seen for the last too many years.  

That is, immediately implying hate crime, saturating the press with stories of increased hate crimes against the Jewish community and all minorities, impugning rightwing and conservative types as antisemitic white nationalists who are to blame, and making sure to drudge up yet another wave of stories bringing up Nazis, Germany, antisemitism in the West, the Church's history, bigotry among white Christians, America as a 400 year slave state, and virtually anything to do with the sins of the last thousand years of Western civilization. 

The worst thing is, it isn't just the worst slaughter of Jews since the Holocaust that is causing this sudden shift in coverage.  It's because of who slaughtered the Jews and who has made it clear they're willing to support more of the same.  That's the bad part.  It breaks the sacred narrative of the modern Left.  And no amount of slaughtering or protecting Jews will ever be more important to modern progressivism than defending that all important - and demonstrably false - narrative. 

Saturday, October 21, 2023

Dawn Eden gets schooled

About something I wrote on many moons ago.  That is, the idea that for the Left there is no humanity, only demographic groups.  And your value, your believability, your suffering, your place on the pyramid depends on if your demographic group is the group du jour or not.  Which means is it the one, at this moment, most able to shoot holes in the heritage of the Western Tradition?  I wrote about this little development within the Left some years ago.  You can read it here

Ms. Eden appears shocked that so many would accuse Israel of the hospital bombing.  Heck, I'm shocked so few did.  Jews are important for trotting out endless stories of antisemitism and Jewish hate throughout Western and American history.  Ms. Eden herself has embarked on a crusade to focus on antisemitism in the Church, in our leaders, in our forebears, in anyone White, Christian, preferably male.  To the Left, people like Ms. Eden, who are willing to keep the focus the West's sins, are the good Jews.  Just like blacks who go all BLM or radical anti-patriarchal feminists.  Anyone who helps tear down the foundations of the Christian Western Democratic tradition is A-OK. 

Ah, but sticky point.  Israel is seen as a love child of that vile imperialistic, colonizing West.  In the minds of a growing number on the Left, the State of Israel is as bad as the Nazi Confederacy.  Plus, being not Western means innocent, pure, virtuous, victim.  Hence even our president is careful to say 'Bad boys you Hamas people' and insist Palestinians are not the problem.  Despite Palestinian protests at best fully supporting and sanctioning what Hamas has done.  At worst, they have made it clear they want to see more of it, with at least a couple such protests sporting signs along the lines of 'gas the Jews.'  How many times that happened I don't know.  The press has quickly stopped mentioning such things. Compare that to Charlottesville, which is still trotted out by the press at least every couple months as proof that defenders of America's heritage equal White Nationalist. 

Of course it isn't as easy as 'bad Hamas, bad Israel, beautiful Palestinians'.  A sane non-21st Century thinker would realize this taps into that ages old rift between Arabs and Jews that saw its own brand of bigotry and racism long before Bismarck decided to make Germany a thing.  Instead, it's an inconvenient challenge to the narrative that, as bad as Hamas is, Israel and everyone in it is worse  because of the evil West. 

That is part of the overall narrative that Ms. Eden clearly accepts.  If not about Israel, then about the unique and singular evils of anything west of the Urals.  Despite accepting these narratives, she appears shocked that they are applied even when you think they shouldn't be.  Like when more Jews were killed in a single day than any time since the Holocaust, yet let's just have a polite discussion and not jump to conclusions.  Unless it's assuming Israel is the bad guy of course.  If you live by the leftwing sword, be prepared to die by it when you or what you cherish is no longer convenient. 

BTW, I was going to post a photo from one of the protests where the horrible 'gas the Jews' signs were held up.  You know what?  I searched hundreds of images in various news outlets and on Google, and could find none.  The closest I came to anything suggesting it happened at all was this:

I should have copied the pictures when I saw them.  Our ministry of censorship and propaganda at work.  

Again Ms. Eden, get used to it.  You matter when your various group identities can bring down the Western tradition, including its democratic and Judeo-Christian roots.  As long as you do that, you're good.  Most valuable player and all.  But the minute you don't, as we see here, people who are about aiding in the destruction of the West will be given carte blanche over your interests in a fast heartbeat.  If they chant 'gas the Jews', we'll do our best to  insist to cover our ears and just move on.  And we'll do it because you have no more worth for the Left as a Jewish woman than you would as a woman opposing sharing the bathroom with Trans men, or if you were black, being a black conservative.  It's the side you've chosen.  Get used to it. 


Wow.  So I was informed that the comments at the link to Mark's blog tell the tale:

Note that.  Nothing at all about the Palestinians who chanted support for Hamas, or called for more of what Hamas gave.  We won't even discuss the explicit calls in pro-Palestine rallies for more slaughter because the victims were Jewish.  Just ignore the slaughter and the hatred of Jews, and attack Trump/MAGA.  All of this is as good as saying it's not the slaughter of Jews we mind so much, but that their slaughter can be exploited to attack our hated political enemies.  

This is the result of that evil tendency of only caring about human misery when it can be exploited that I've been pounding the pulpit about all these years.  And it isn't just at Mark's site.  Send me examples of politicians, pundits, journalists or even Christian leaders who have called out those Palestinians who cheered on the slaughter and demonstrated hatred of Jews, as opposed to simply framing it as 'bad Israel/bad Hamas/beautiful Palestinians.'  The narrative is already that deep. 

BTW, the video Mark links to is an Al Jazeera affiliated video that explains it's only MAGA Trump supporters who are a threat to Jews.  In a sane world that is the last thing I'd link to after the horrific slaughter of innocent Israeli Jews.  But sanity is one of the first casualties of the anti-Western Left. 

Friday, October 20, 2023

Thursday, October 19, 2023

What if C-A-T spelled Dog?

That's what comes to mind when progressives and the press struggle with counter narrative events.  Take this.  It's a lengthy article that is written because what happened in Israel, and the subsequent reaction around the world, hit like a boxer the dominant leftwing narrative of the day.

That narrative says the problems and dominant evils of history are the result of white, European and American heterosexual Christian men.  Period. They're the baddies.  The racists.  The sexists.  The homophobic bigots.  Their history, heritage and heroes are all worthy of the chopping block because anything and everything they produced was draped in blood, oppression, slavery, genocide, imperialism, colonialism and injustice.  And these things are the motivating factor for anyone to the West of the Urals.  

When something happens that fits the equation of WASC v. non-WASC, then the reactions are swift, the coverage simplistic, the propaganda clear.  Consider Ferguson or George Floyd.  Consider the January 6th riots.  Heck, consider the anti-Asian hate crimes that were discovered to be driven more by black Americans than anyone.  It didn't take progressives long to say that's still the fault of white American racists.  So racist is our country, and so much the fault of white Americans, that when non-whites do racist things it's still the fault of WASCs (I'll assume you get that stands for White Anglo-Saxon Christian). 

You don't find nuance or complex ramblings in journalism.  You don't have professors or advocates come out and speak of context or nuance when George Floyd is dead.  You don't have articles where people call for restraint, or a broader understanding of all parties, or trying to see what might or might not be true given this or that contextual qualifier.  Nope.  Floyd was killed because racism.  All American police were indicted.  All white Americans indicted.  The history of America was indicted.  All of Western Civilization was indicted.  Period.  Let's start tearing down those statues. 

But now, you have decidedly not-WASC people doing something staggeringly heinous.  And going out of their way to make it as bad as it can be, in a way that would make Nazis in the 1940s proud.  And not only that, but around the world you had both non-WASC and leftwing activists sing the praises of Hamas for its enlightened actions.  And even worse, some of the protests and demonstrations have made it clear it's not just the state of Israel they are hating.  You can, in some broad sense, oppose Israel and not be antisemitic (a sin most comfortably placed at the feat of anyone west of the Danube).  But some of these protests have sported signs and rhetoric that make clear they're not just cheering the slaughter of Israeli men, women and children.  They're pining for their deaths for the precise reason that they are Jews.  Gas the Jews is a tough slogan to explain away. 

Of course we know the world was waiting with bated breath for Israel to respond.  For it to respond any way possible.  As soon as it did, and any civilians in Palestine were killed, the moral equivalency would be invoked.  We could call down barbarism on both sides, accuse both of being equally culpable, and bring back the condemnation of Israel as the main perpetrator in this ages old conflict.  

But you still have those damned 'Gas the Jews' signs. And not from white men with Jesus t-shirts wearing MAGA hats.  Darn it anyway.  So that's why you'll see endless articles, posts, homilies and others making it broadly about hate and racism in the most abstract form.  Or pondering endlessly on the complexity of the details, the nuanced appeal to context, and just the basic question of what we should do, if we should, when we can do, what can we know, and can CAT spell dog?  

Not like George Floyd.  Heck, not like Russia invading Ukraine.  Ah, that was nice.  It was the first time in my lifetime I remember us going full Pearl Harbor on someone in a war.  Up until then, any conflict (the two I recall both occurred in the Middle East) was weighed down with endless appeals to love our enemies, say nothing bad about our enemies, never make it about any people but the ones with the guns, understand the complex histories, see where we might be at fault, and on and on.

But we had no problem calling hellfire down on Russia, Russian soldiers, Russian culture, Russian products, Russian history.  Boycotting Russian.  Erasing Russian names.  Boy oh boy that was fun.  A small dose of what it must have been like in December, 1941.  That's because Russia, on the surface, is White, European and Christian.  

But now, we have inconvenient evidence that challenges that leftwing framework.  Whenever that happens, expect death by a million nuanced ponderings. 

Saturday, October 14, 2023

A good point

Like so many around the world, we have prayed for peace in Israel and the now forgotten Ukrainian war. We pray for the victims and the families.  We pray for the families of the hostages.  I have no clue how the families of the hostages could be managing themselves at this point.  I'd be curled up in the bathroom picking flowers off the toilet paper on the verge of a meltdown.  I suppose God grants strength when needed, perhaps even when we don't know to ask.

We have also been talking about what is happening.  My youngest pointed out something.  He said [Hamas] did it on purpose for a reason.  That is, there is a reason Hamas has done this horrible thing.  There is a plan.  

In recent years, over the last decade or so, we've seen how these things work out.  Hamas or some radical Islamic group launches a random attack against Israel.  Israel responds.  The world piles on Israel. 

This time, it's as if Hamas went out of its way to make it impossible to be that simple.  In literally the worst massacre of Jews since WWII, Hamas immediately made themselves the villains in the eyes of the world.  A world that has made it clear it's wanting to, waiting to, and willing to make Israel ever and always the villain.

Why?  My son is right, bless his heart.  You can't just say savages, barbarians, bronze age thugs.  There is a method to this.  What is the end goal here?   When you think of how the 9/11 attacks brought America down a notch, increased divisions, and left us far worse in the world than we were to begin with, what is this about?  I've said the 9/11 attacks were what Japan wanted Pearl Harbor to be but it wasn't.  

So why did Hamas do this?  Why did they purposefully go out and commit atrocities so heinous that many who normally wait to trounce Israel have been forced to start with condemning Hamas?  What's the game plan here?  Does it involve America, the world, China?  It's worth pondering.  I just hope our best and brightest in Washington are already working on solving what my youngest son was able to figure out. 

Thursday, October 12, 2023

What happened?

When we lost corporate America, we lost the West
As I muse on this year's Columbus Day and/or Indigenous Peoples Day, I have to ask what happened and when did it happen?   In 1992, down in Florida, there was a big Columbus celebration marking the 500th Anniversary of his sailing that famous ocean blue.  There were replicas of the three ships. There was an exhibit in a nearby building.  Lots of information, I purchased some books and paraphernalia I still have.  Dad was with me at that time, so good memories. 

I realize that, by then, Columbus was already a lightning rod for debate.  In fifth grade, the first time I remember learning anything past that little ditty about 1492, we learned Columbus more or less died a broken man and a failure.  We also learned that if he didn't personally do everything evil in the world, his journey did unleash what would be the end of the peoples native to the Americas.  By then that was mostly a negative thing, but we still believed he brought some positives as well. 

In high school it was more of the same.  He did some impressive things, but was also a failure in the end.  The slave trade and the overall persecution of native populations was becoming more and more the focus.  But we still believed the West brought some positives to the world, so it balanced out to a net positive, if we could just find ways to right the wrongs of the past.

By college the debates were clearly swinging more and more to the negative.  The West was still seen as a net boon for the world, and despite increasing focus on the sins, the evils, the slavery, the genocide even, it was capped off with a generic 'but there were still some good things.'  I'd say by college, the appraisal of Columbus was as a man overrated, who unleashed horrible things on a beautiful civilization.  Nonetheless, the courage was still there, and the general benefits of the Western tradition.  So despite the increasing focus on the bad, there was still a thumbs up at the end of the day. 

That was certainly true by 1992.  Partly this was because we were still awash in 'thou shalt not ever judge', and presentism was always a no-no.  Yet now, consider it.  Columbus is not even mentioned in most cases.  Here in Columbus, it's officially Indigenous Peoples Day.  When Columbus is mentioned at all, it is in the same manner in which one speaks of Hitler, or Himmler, or Thomas Jefferson.  Naturally we're also reminded of the growing push to rename our state's capital. 

So what happened?  And when did it happen?  When we first moved to Ohio, there was a replica of the Santa Maria in the Scioto River in downtown Columbus.  I took the three older boys and the family there a few times.  It was a pretty impressive exhibit.  It was there until the later part of the 2000s.  Then it was removed, ostensibly for repairs and improvements.  But it was never seen again.  That reminds me of the statues of Columbus that have been removed, supposedly to be relocated to museums or educational venues. Last I heard they've been disassembled and the parts are in a warehouse.  Or the statues of Robert E Lee that were supposed to be relocated but some say have been destroyed. 

When did we turn that corner of no going back?  Because what is happening to Columbus is merely a small example of what is being done to the West as a whole.  In 1993, Columbus, for all his criticisms, was still seen as a hero to be admired.  A man who did great things and was courageous and bold and took the world to the next chapter in its history, in an overall positive way.  That was 1993.  By 2023, Columbus, when mentioned at all, is spoken of as an irredeemable villain to be eliminated; to be erased from history. So what happened?    

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Blessed are the peacemakers

And they are desperately needed now.  The massacre in Israel and Israel's response is the latest in a wave of reminders that, no, we haven't 'gamed war.'  That is, we aren't the first generation of awesomeness that finally put that dumb war stuff behind us unlike all the losers who came before.  Sadly, I fear much of what we are seeing, and may see in the future, will be partly a result of that hubris we allowed ourselves to believe. 

In any event, like all such tragedies in human history, it's the little ones who suffer the most.  The helpless, the innocent.  Those who, if we are to set aside modern templates, have no culpability in what is happening.  For those of us wishing to learn from history, we should be bending our prayers and our hopes to those who can bring peace to this conflict.  Even among the belligerents let there be found a glimmer of peace. 

After all, with each additional conflict we see breaking out now, this quote from a history of the Second World War keeps coming to my mind:

What were the origins of the Second World War?  German dissatisfaction with the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, certainly, and the economic disaster brought on by the depression.  The Japanese desire for growth in the Far East and subsequent American pressure were other factors, as were expansionist policies by Russia and Italy.  But no one could have foreseen that three separate wars caused by these factors - the German-Polish war, the Sino-Japanese war, and the Russo-Finnish war - would mushroom, overlap and turn nearly the entire world into a battlefield. (emphasis mine)

Yep. Regional conflicts in Ukraine and Israel now.  What will it be in four more years?  

Monday, October 9, 2023

Rudolf Bultmann, Pope Francis and a little story

Why?  That is the million dollar question
When I was in seminary back in the 1990s, one of my professors told a story about a theology student from way back in the day that I took, put in the back of my memory, and largely forgot about.  Until I saw someone defending Pope Francis as nothing less than 100% in line with historical Catholic teaching in light of the whole synod going on.  

According to my professor, the student was studying in Germany over Easter one year.  That year, word came to him that none other than Rudolf Bultmann would be delivering the Easter sermon at a local church.  The student thought, in his best Grinchy way, that this was something he simply must hear.  So he made sure to be there and see what would surely be a wacked out, far out Easter message.  

That's because Bultmann, of course, was one of the most popular advocates of de-mythologizing the New Testament.  What's that mean?  It means stop taking the New Testament, or the Bible in general, seriously.  At least literally.  At least historically.  In a world of planes, trains and automobiles, computers, air-conditioning and television, there simply is no more room for talking donkeys and people walking about on water or raising from the dead. It's time to admit the Bible for what it is: myth (in the 'didn't really happen' sense). 

Of course this was before the rise of the liberation movements and the growing scrutiny of the Bible as a cultural relic of bigotry, sexism, homophobic and transphobic prejudice, barbarism and savagery.  It was just saying we need to look at the Jesus story the same way we see Apollo or Thor or Luke Skywalker.  None of it was real, none of it happened.  Or at least as much as you feel uncomfortable clinging to.  You certainly could believe, but you didn't have to.  Bultmann was on record as saying that belief in an actual physical Resurrection was entirely unnecessary for Christian faith. 

That's why an Easter sermon from him had to be worth the ticket.  So the student went.   And there was Dr. Bultmann. And then came the sermon.  And the student was stunned.  

Why was he stunned?  Because he heard that morning an Easter sermon that wouldn't shame Billy Graham.  It was all there:  the nail pierced hands, the arms stretched out on the cross in love for mankind, the spear in the side, the dead rising, the earthquake, the empty tomb, the risen Lord.  All of it.  He said Bultmann even did the famous trick of holding out his own arms when he described Christ's arms on the cross spread out for our salvation.  And this was the great de-mythologizer!  

So what's my point kiddies?  My point is, just because someone prattles on with orthodox Christian language doesn't mean they believe it.  And I typically assume those who say you don't have to believe it don't believe it.  While I understand that the Gospel, including teachings such as the Resurrection, are matters of faith, I also know the Church didn't evangelize the world by approaching the pagans with a 'take or leave it' attitude.  Most movements and causes don't accomplish much if that is their approach. 

I admit that I have no clue how much of the Bible, the Gospel or Christ Bultmann didn't actually believe in, beyond them being myths and tales and little white lies.  I know he didn't seem to care how much anyone did believe.  If you thought they were nothing but ancient folklore from a bygone, pre-industrial age, no problem.  I also know he was heavily influential among those - Protestants at least - who followed his lead and began rejecting anything and everything from the Bible as fables and nothing more (think The Jesus Seminar).  It was a great way to reject pretty much anything of the Faith you choose, once you no longer believe it was real. 

But when called upon to give an Easter morning sermon in a German church, you'd never have known a bit of it.  No Baptist preacher in a tent revival was ever more serious, or literal, about the crucified and risen Christ as Bultmann was that Sunday morning. 

And so?   And so, just because we see people running about saying Jesus this and Resurrection that or Risen Lord here or Savior Jesus or Heaven and Hell there doesn't mean in the depths of their minds they believe it actually happened, or that anything from the Gospel or the historical Faith has any real basis in fact or reality.  To them, it might be like gleaning inspiration from a few Harry Potter tales, but not really believing you can go to London and get a train to Hogwarts.  

It should be mentioned that Bultmann, to his credit, was open about his views.  How many, I wonder, aren't.  As we see so many leaders buckle and throw values, doctrines, teachings, customs, rituals, social norms and common sense out the window under the slightest pinky-pushback, it makes you wonder. 

 After all, even the most cynical non-believer can catch the warmth and fuzziness in the distilled Jesus story even if you think it was all fake.  I know as an agnostic I did.  But that warm and fuzzy comes to a screeching halt if someone puts a gun to your head, or even threatens to compromise your middle class living, if you don't think in your gut of guts it ever happened.   After all, will I go to the mattresses over freedom?  I'd like to think.  Will I go to the mattresses over the story about Washington cutting down a cherry tree?  Nope. 

The German church in the 1930s often catches flak for having sold out to the Nazis.  That so many German Lutheran leaders happily draped the Swastika over the altar, and Germans in those churches gladly goose-stepped down the naves, has been endlessly condemned since I can remember.  But consider.  Bultmann was hardly alone, and by the 20th Century, Germany was leading the charge in endless new philosophies and theories for the secular world.  Was a time that if you wanted a PhD in philosophy, you had to know German.  

Therefore, it shouldn't be shocking that many of those people and leaders in that Church, as much as anywhere, had accepted a secular take on religion: As something invented by ancient man, embellished, and changed accordingly depending on the latest, hippest.  Not that the Scriptures were worthless, they simply weren't true.  At least in terms of reality and history.  Therefore, anything within the pages could be suspect, or discarded when no longer up to the latest modern perfection that progress always yields.  

That's why theologians point out that, though he would appear a theological liberal to us Americans, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in the context of the German church in the 1930s, was practically a fundamentalist.  But so many weren't, and had accepted the idea that a 'God without wrath brought men without sin into a Kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a Cross' (official Niebuhr quote).  

So when the Nazis rose to power, do you think they were going to take a bullet for the cause?  Do you think people who learned that Jesus was as much a myth as Odin or Robin Goodfellow were going to stand up to the Nazis because of their faith in Christ, even though their faith was on nothing other than good thinking? Heck no!

Does that mean everyone we see throwing over old Christian values and teachings and priorities, tossing aside the exclusivity of the Gospel, warming up to forces once consider antithetical to God's revelation, are all people who no longer believe the Gospel story historically happened?  No.  I'm sure more than once a favorite believing disciple denied Jesus when the heat was on.

Nonetheless, I also bet that there's more cynicism about the historical Faith than we might know, or care to know, even among many leaders today, no matter what they say.  These are people who didn't sweat their doubts, because for many generations in America and the West you could still be a good Christian on Sunday and play with a secular world through the rest of the week.  After all, that hipster non-Christian world was honor bound to live according to its lofty post-war promises of tolerance, diversity, kindness, openness, inclusion and respect for all different beliefs and opinions and expressions. 

Now, as we witness the emergence of this post-diversity revolution and its diminishing tolerance for those who won't bend a knee to the new progressive movement, expect more and more to drape over the altars whatever flags the new way demands. And no matter how evil - up to, and including, mutilating the bodies of adolescents in the name of post-genderism - you can bet the best we'll get from many is a good old Rodney Dangerfield collar tug.  At worst, they will actively promote the evil and join in.  After all, if the thing you see before your eyes demands conformity, do you think you'll say no in the name of something you no longer believe?

I can't believe it. I'm ignoring the mutilation of adolescents

Friday, October 6, 2023

One reason I could not vote for Trump

Among many, but I'll admit this is a less 'objective' reason to withhold my vote.  There are many reasons I can imagine for not supporting Trump this time around.  But one reason that keeps buzzing about my mind comes to the front when I recall this scene from the movie A Knight's Tale.

As a movie, it's  one of those rare cases where I agree with Deacon Greydanus' review.  At the end of the day, the two least interesting characters were the leads.  Everyone else, villain included, was infinitely more interesting.  Sorry Mr. Ledger.  Plus the whole theme of 'what is so big about nobility' was lost when the main character ignores every beautiful common maiden in Europe to obsess over a rather cardboard, one dimensional noblewoman. 

Nonetheless, the scene above, whenever I think on it, brings me right back to Trump. Did you catch what Edward the Black Prince says?  He says 'Your men love you.  If I knew nothing else about you, that would be enough.' 

Well, guess what.  Almost none of Trump's men - or women - love him.  In fact, one of the fastest growing demographics nowadays is 'former members of Trump's staff willing to shaft Trump.'   It isn't hard to see why. 

After all, Trump thinks nothing of trashing and hashing anyone who doesn't lick his boots on command.  Even a loyal supporter who dares deviate just once can become the target of his verbal assaults. The minute - the second - anyone, including his supporters, deviates from Trumpspeak, he's all over them like a bad suit.  It's as if nothing matters but total obedience to The Man. 

Hence why finding former aids and staff who are willing to testify to the eternal yuckiness and vile evil of Trump is like finding football fans in Ohio State Stadium.  A man who seems to encourage betrayal and turncoats and hatred from his associates rather than anything close to love and loyalty is telling.  To quote the Black Prince, if I knew nothing else about Trump, that would be enough. 

Thursday, October 5, 2023

Abby normal? Not so fast

If you've seen Mel Brooks' beloved horror spoof Young Frankenstein, I'm sure you remember this scene:

It is Igor explaining that the genius brain he was supposed to collect met with an unfortunate accident.  So he improvised by grabbing another brain - that of Abby Normal.  Or, if you missed it, abnormal.  

That is a trope in most movie renderings of the Frankenstein story.  Perhaps it's based on some other source material than the novel, like a play.   But whether Dwight Frye, or Marty Feldman, or a fight between Peter Cushing and Robert Urquhart, somehow the correct brain is always lost, damaged, or replaced by a defective specimen.  And it's from that unintentionally inferior brain that the monster's savagery and violence arises.   

Yet my sons noticed, as we were chatting about books and horror and Halloween, that this isn't what happens in the book.  In the movies, everything goes wrong because the design of the scientist is thwarted somehow.  Usually because of a meddling assistant.  

But in the book, everything goes wrong because the scientific experiment succeeds.  There is no damaged brain.  There is no wrong specimen.  Dr. Frankenstein achieves his goals according to his plans.  He succeeds as he expected to succeed.  He played God and won. And in the book, that is the problem.

Through its rendering of the Frankenstein story, the movie industry has sort of conditioned us to think that science misfires only when lab assistants, or other mischief makers, interfere.  As if the the best thing we not-scientific experts can do is stay out of the way, lest we mess up everything.  Then scientists will get it right, because when things go their way, the results are always good.  

I'll leave it to others to figure if that is the lesson from history we should learn or not.  

Wednesday, October 4, 2023

RIP Mike Flynn

Mike Flynn, known to me through his website The TOF Spot, has died.  I can't say how sad that makes me.  Mr. Flynn was quite brilliant, and one of those people who seemed to approach every topic he wrote about with a zeal I seldom manage for a last minute clutch football game. 

I was first introduced to Mr. Flynn through Mark Shea from back in the 'Catholic and Enjoying It' days.  Mark was quite a fan, and it isn't difficult to see why.  Though writing fiction of the science sort was his passion, he was also a keen observer of the world, of media stats and fallacies. and human nature in general.

Ed Feser has a fine write up, and says what I would say but better.  I agree that the thing about Mr. Flynn was his ability to remain, well, a gentleman.  Even in the world of online discourse.  More than once I saw people invoke the usual internet variations of 'your mamma wears army boots' when arguing over something Mr. Flynn wrote.  Yet never did I see him do anything but calmly demonstrate that he was the one with the facts on his side. 

Over the years he spoke to various topics, from climate change to politics to history.  Always he seemed interested in upending the dominant narratives presented by our modern betters, and getting us to see past the slick veneers meant to cover the obvious.  Over the years he blogged less and less, but I still visited at least once a week to make sure I didn't miss anything.  One of the few old blogs that I continued to follow.  

So may God welcome him into the reward we hope for.  To use the old cliche, our loss is heaven's gain.  God's blessings on his family and friends, and all of use who will be a little less blessed in this world for his passing. 

Blinded by not science

I'm sure we all remember with fondness that famous tirade Bill Nye gave, in which he unwittingly used philosophical arguments to argue that philosophy is a waste of time. To be honest, I've not seen much of him in the MSM since then. Perhaps coincidence.

It looks like Neil DeGrasse Tyson is quickly stepping into Nye's shoes as the new pop-"scientist" to remind us what science isn't.  He is the latest scientist who speaks to anything because, well, lab coat.  In this article, he leans heavily on the infallibility of the latest progress to argue boys and girls are a thing of the past because we say so.  And today, we must be right.  As opposed to yesterday.  That seems to be his message in a nutshell. It's not a debate worth having.  Since proper science has declared it true - by ignoring or attacking dissenting views - it's true.  Therefore let's get those guys into girls' locker rooms  and girls' sports pronto.

The shocking point in all of this is that it doesn't seem to be helping the transgender cause.  I still see articles about how suicide is a scourge across the transgender community.  Naturally that is blamed on transphobic bigotry.  Just like the story I saw earlier in the year that reported on the most recent stats about HIV.   According to the CDC, the latest stats once again show that the overwhelming majority of new HIV cases are men who have sex with men. Why is this true? Why, because of homophobic bigotry, that's why.  What does that even mean in 2023?  I have no clue.  But Science!

It's quite amazing.  For generations we've been throwing out what Tyson calls 'the old view of the world.'  From human relations to gender roles to raising children to sexuality to moral priorities, we've gone through the conventional wisdom of the ages like a weed eater.  Tens of mullions dead from AIDS later, unprecedented suicide rates among our children, mass killings in our schools, tens of millions dead from drugs, unparalleled drug dependency, mental health problems, depression and staggering levels of physical unhealthiness, and yet we keep trotting along like a tripped out Pollyanna.  Look how much smarter we are. Look how better we are every day.  We're so right about everything.  Isn't it great that we are better than that old world and its old world views? 

In ages to come, ours will likely be the Age of Arrogance.  After all,  as one of my sons pointed out, when your generation has a noticeable dearth of lasting accomplishments, arrogance is all you have left.  Yet people will look back at us and shake their heads.  If we're remembered at all in centuries to come, it will be as a cautionary tale. 

Tuesday, October 3, 2023

When I read the translation of Pope Francis' response to the cardinals' dubia

 Why did this come to mind? 

I really, really hope and pray that what I think I'm seeing happen in the Catholic Church isn't what is happening.  

It was national Sons day and I missed it

Our latest birthday boy
Ooops.  That's OK.  I seldom keep up with those things.  I remember all birthdays of immediate family, and our anniversary. I will keep in my mind my sons' wedding anniversaries as well.  Other than that, I usually let such 'national such and such' days pass.  Personally I'm more interested in special holy days of the old world.  

Nonetheless, it's an excuse to catch up a bit.  With our second oldest moving out, and the older two busy with their lives and plans, we don't have the chance for the many family outings.  With that said, we recently had the chance for a little day trip to the north, around old Toledo.

The destination was Fort Meigs, a rather pleasant working museum and historical site that brings you back to the War of 1812.   A forgotten little war, it looms large in Ohio history classes because of the significant events that happened in our neck of the woods.  The fort is nice as a historical destination, because much of it hasn't changed over the decades, and you actually learn that Americans and Europeans did some decent things.   After a fun walk about and some interaction with reenactors, we went to Tony Packo's - a Toledo restaurant made famous by the character of Max Klinger in the TV show MASH.

This is also a chance for a shout out to my second oldest.  His birthday came and went this year, as he turned 25 years old.  Passing the one year mark of their bookstore, they're starting to look forward and plot out their future years.  Our oldest is prepping for continuing in school, his major of preference to be announced in the future.  Our third oldest continues on his path up the corporate ladder, waiting for that chance to take the next leap forward.  Our youngest is now in high school, if that doesn't make me feel old I don't know what will.  He's a tech junkie, and has recently become involved in our local theater group. 

Below are some pictures from the day.  Can't help but admit you get a little nostalgic for the olden days when such excursions were a regular event.  Much of that ended with Covid, and just the movement of years since then.  Still, it was a fun day, and our daughter-in-law ended up enjoying it as much as any of us.  All in all, happy times.  And the stuff of future memories. 

I love these little models you see at museums. I could look at them for hours.  This one is at the first stop once you enter the fort proper. 

If you're a reenactor or tour guide, you want our third oldest in the crowd.  He's the kind who will unload a boatload of questions and opinions about the topic at hand.  Though I can't help but think his sudden interest in early 19th Century American fashions was driven by the not unattractive young girl to the left.

Amazing.  He's a middle school science teacher.  Everything here was built by him. His main role is a traveling blacksmith, and that's his portable smithy behind him. He's showing us the plans for a wagon he plans on building in the old school way. 

My wife and the kiddos listening to Mr. Blacksmith.  It was fairly busy this day, probably the most crowded since we started visiting there when the boys were little. 

That's our third oldest giving a toss of the axe.  I think my second oldest might have broken something when he gave it a try.

Our youngest tends to cling pretty close to our son and daughter-in-law.  Naturally.  It's a big thing for him to see his first brother move out.  It comes as no surprise that he tends to follow closely when we are all together.

Don't know why, but they seemed especially interested in this particular cannon. 

I can think of a dozen captions for this.  I must say, the two compliment each other nicely.  We have been blessed by her coming into our family, and I think she is very good for our second oldest, who was always our quirkier and more enigmatic son.

Sometimes I like the pictures of them as they get ready to pose for a picture more than the picture they posed for.  Not sure what our youngest is doing.  Our oldest, no fan of heights, did not like the fact that this was on the edge of a hillside that dipped into the nearby river valley. 

Safely away from the edge, our oldest unintentionally strikes a pose that I managed to catch.  I've often said he was the best first child a parent could ask for.  While I love all my boys and enjoy my time with each of them, he has long been my right hand man when push comes to shove. Not as quick on his feet as his younger brothers, he's given to contemplation and spending a long time working things out. This picture seems to capture that. 

One of the reenactors who knew - everything.  His specialty was in leatherwork, but he seemed to be quite talented in a great many things. 

Speaking of wide range of knowledge.  Not only was this young woman a talented seamstress, she unloaded a history of Napoleonic era related to fashion trends in 19th Century America that impressed me. 

The obligatory drill exhibition.  They didn't do badly.  The all time best military reenactment still remains the Civil War demonstration we saw a few years ago at the Ohio Historical Center.

When we were there ages ago, I got a picture of him on a cannon, wearing what I used to call his 'cool baby sunglasses.'  Coming back I always try to get another picture of him on a cannon, just to compare.  He's changed in many ways, but his personality is still spot on the same.

Go West young man!  Or something like that.  I guess today it's go and embrace our Lebensraum.  Again, our youngest staying close to the young couple.  On the whole, they do well by him. 

Our youngest.  Try as we might, and despite the best efforts of his brothers, he still grew up nine years after the other three.  The world he grew up in was a universe away from that which his brothers knew.  As we have pointed out, my mom and dad used to help take care of the brothers when they were little, but when he was little he helped take care of my mom.  Something about this picture brought that to mind.

Speaking of liking the pictures of them getting in place for poses more than the pictures they posed for.  It looks like an album cover.   My son and daughter-in-law seem ready to make a bolt for it, while I'm not sure what the others are up to.  Something goofy.  My oldest is, perhaps, pestering his brother while our youngest is - cheering him on? But it's what fun memories are made of in any event. 

Finally it was off to Tony Packo's.  Our daughter-in-law's first visit. That's the famous 'Wall of Buns', in which hot dog buns are signed by patrons of all walks.  From Hillary Clinton to Charlton Heston to the entire rock group KISS to Leon Spinks and Alice Cooper, there are hundreds and hundreds to see.  A strange tradition started by Burt Reynolds, but fun just the same.  And good, filling food (even if the portions seemed to be smaller this time around).  

Monday, October 2, 2023

The things you find on the Internet

 Can be scary, but can also be interesting:

That's an old film by none other than Georges Melies, of A Trip to the Moon fame.  

I'm always interested in seeing the oldest films and movies I can find.  One thing I notice is how often either what we would call 'science fiction' or 'horror/occult' are the themes.  Granted, England especially was enthralled with the occult in the later part of the 19th Century and well into the 20th.  But not all films that focus on such storylines are from England. 

It says to me that, even as technology and industry were pushing us into our modern, secular, world focused age, there was still an appetite for the supernatural.  For the otherwordly.   And that's not a bad kickoff for that spooky month of October.