The Lion in my House

Category: Culture

March for Our Lives

Time will tell if the March for Our Lives will have lasting impact, either on society at large or on the students who participated. I hope it will. I hope…

Time will tell if the March for Our Lives will have lasting impact, either on society at large or on the students who participated. I hope it will. I hope that impact will be positive. I hope we can all learn something from it.

The largely partisan responses to the whole affair leave me disappointingly cynical, however, about the chances for something meaningful to come of it. Yet, the students involved seem to be coming from a place I can understand and even empathize with.

By now you’ve probably seen the sentiment rolling through Facebook. I’m not sure if it’s originally attributable to Ron Paul, former Congressman from Texas’ 22nd district and presidential candidate, but he’s as good as any to have shared it (which he did on his Facebook page):

“As some Americans curiously march for the government *to take away* their rights, the 2nd Amendment is still crystal clear.”

There are other versions of it making the rotation and, I suppose on its face, it has some wisdom.

Unfortunately, it’s also an easy cudgel to whack some politically motivated teenagers with and, as long as their politics are contrary to the whackers, any tool will do.

But what if we, as Christians, look a little closer? What if we are, instead of looking for an opportunity to do some whacking, instead look for an opportunity to connect with these motivated teens looking for some safety and someone or something to trust?

Because here’s the rub: for those of us who claim to be *slaves* of Christ, how ridiculous of us is it to scoff at the sentiment that giving up our rights is in fact a way to find true freedom and abundance?

Aren’t we slaves to the One who said, in His darkest hour, “Not my will, but your will be done?”

The sentiment that giving up freedom is part of the path to God is exactly what the Law teaches. And Christ came to fulfill that law, after all.

The students are expressing a sensation that God has implanted in all of us.

The struggle is real (to borrow from this generation): we aren’t trustworthy. We are poor wielders of power. We kill, as they have seen (perhaps better than many of us judging them), when given the freedom to choose it.

So why give ourselves freedom?

Because we must be free to know our faults; and freer still to trust him who is without fault. For He is doing a good work in us, and even further set before us good works of our own.

I’d give up my free will in a second if I could give it to the Father. But even the Son couldn’t do that. We were designed to submit, not give up our ability to defy.

So the question is: will I submit to men (or a government of them) or to a trustworthy God who works all things for the good of those who love Him?

So we shouldn’t be surprised that our children, in suffering, seek to give up freedom for safety. We all do. We claim the wisdom that we’ve found the only trustworthy One to whom we wield our wills, but it sure doesn’t seem like it.

Instead of taking on this trite partisan attitude of dismissiveness and, if you’ll excuse me, total bullshit, empathize.

Then show them to whom we ought to look for the rest we all seek.  Show them that men disappoint, but God does not.  Show them that you know it in your belly because you’ve submitted to Him and you’ve seen it.  Don’t show them that you don’t know what submission is, or that you think salvation is in the same Government you argue your guns protect you from.  Show them you’re not a raging bloody idiot.

We ought to know this on this side of a Friday made Good by the struggle of will to submit.

If all you have is a pithy one-liner, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they’ll choose more government of men than the God you sometimes talk about but rarely represent.

You’re showing them, instead, that you aren’t safe, either. You’re just part of the same old status quo. You’re a dirty picture of a Gospel that you don’t deserve, but you’re willing to take it and unwilling to get off your high horse and show it.

I hope the teens that marched for their lives learn that more government is often an obstacle to the trustworthy God that they really need.

I hope the rest of us get our heads out of our rears and start recognizing that no impediment and no obstacle is enough to stop our God from doing His Good work, but he expects more from those of us who call ourselves His *slaves* than this kind of Σκύβαλον.

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Part Two: Belief and the Spider

Rukh was standing before a cage that contained nothing but a small brown spider weaving a modest web across the bars. “Arachne of Lydia,” he told the crowd. “Guaranteed the…

Rukh was standing before a cage that contained nothing but a small brown spider weaving a modest web across the bars. “Arachne of Lydia,” he told the crowd. “Guaranteed the greatest weaver in the world — her fate’s the proof of it. She had the bad luck to defeat the goddess Athena in a weaving contest. Athena was a sore loser, and Arachne is now a spider, creating only for Mommy Fortuna’s Midnight Carnival, by special arrangement. Warp of snow and woof of flame, never any two of the same.”

Strut on the loom of iron bars, the web was very simple and almost colorless, except for an occasional rainbow shiver when the spider scuttled out on it to put a thread right. But it drew the onlookers’ eyes as well — back and forth and steadily deeper, until they seemed to be looking down into great rifts in the world, black fissures that widened remorselessly and yet would not fall into pieces as long as Arachn’s web held the world together. The Unicorn shook herself free with a sigh, and saw the real web again. It was very simple, and almost colorless.

“It isn’t like the others,” she said.

“No,” Schmendrick agreed grudgingly. “But, there’s no credit due to Mommy Fortuna for that. You see, the spider believes. She sees those cat’s-cradles herself and thinks them her own work. Belief makes all the difference to magic like Mommy Fortuna’s. Why, if that troop of willing withdrew their wonder, there’d be nothing left of all her witchery but the sound of a spider weeping. And no one would hear it.”

Excerpts from “The Last Unicorn,” by Peter S. Beagle

. . .

So much for the promises of this world. So much investment in the world’s guarantees to result in nothing; empty vanity. But the power seems to be in our belief in them, and this isn’t so far removed from Christ’s promises to believers:

“For I assure you: If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will tell this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

Close enough to promote lies and obfuscate truth. False horns are made of such as this.

But here is the work of faith, and a question for believers and nonbelievers:

If faith has the power to produce a false horn on Unicorns and white mares alike, which is better?

[The crowd] wondered at Arachne’s new web, which was like a fisherman’s net with the dripping moon in it. Each of them took it for a real web, but only the spider believed that it held the real moon.

So much for the love of the crowd. Even if it were the real moon in poor Arachne’s web, hanging tenuously by her silken thread but pulling waves from the tides, would the crowd know any better?

I suppose it depends upon your crowd. For whom does the weaver weave?

Perhaps a danger of the false horn is in its reflection and the cage that comes with it.

Only the spider paid no mind when the Unicorn called softly to her through the open door. Arachne was busy with a web which looked to her as though the Milky Way had begun to fall like snow. The Unicorn whispered, “Weaver, freedom is better, freedom is better,” but the spider fled unhearing up and down her iron loom. She never stopped for a moment, even when the Unicorn cried, “It’s really very attractive, Arachne, but it’s not art.” The new web drifted down the bars like snow.

Have you invested in a false horn? Are you ready to give it up? Are you able?

So they fled across the night together, step by step, the tall man in black and the horned white beast. The magician crept as close to the Unicorn’s light as he dared, for beyond it moved hungry shadows, the shadows of the sounds that the harpy made as she destroyed the little there was to destroy of the Midnight Carnival. But another sound followed them long after these had faded, followed them into morning on a strange road — the tiny, dry sound of a spider weeping.

When the break is made and freedom opens its maw, will you give up on the work you’ve invested in the false horn? Will you leave it behind for something better?

That is the work of faith. The kind that moves mountains.

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Manufacturing Culture

Here we find ourselves in ‘No Man’s Land.’ It is no longer an active battlefield. The war is over, but I am not sure if anyone ever really won or…

Here we find ourselves in ‘No Man’s Land.’ It is no longer an active battlefield. The war is over, but I am not sure if anyone ever really won or if It was all lost. And, perhaps it is because we are now a bit removed from much of the fighting (though there is still fighting, perhaps not for this war, however), but I’m not really convinced there ever was a war at all. We talked about it then as if it was a war, and we still refer to it as such, but I think we might have been wrong about that. We have been wrong about so much.

I’m referring to the “Culture War.” I’m not really sure how to characterize this War, but to frame it as its framers framed it.

The phrase, itself, is borrowed from the 19th century struggles of European empires against the role of the Roman Catholic Church in the formation of new constitutional and democratic nation states, preceding the first World War. Economist Iván Berend said of this Kulturkampf, the appropriation by the secular government to include the moralization of the governed away from the Church, “the struggle against the ancien régime, its remnants, or its restoration was necessarily a struggle against the church.”

In its more modern context, it isn’t much differently described, though it is subtly and insidiously and truly different in an important way. The so-called ‘Evangelicals’ are now often the warriors against the Social Progressives. The difference here is that these are purely political categories (much to my small-e-evangelical dismay).

Perhaps, then, if the modern ‘Culture Wars’ ever were a war to begin with, they were more of a civil war: insider factions of the same monolith fighting for fame, though all the time marching toward the same inevitable conclusion.

That left the rest of us much like sports fans who cheer on “our” victory and “our” team without ever setting foot on the field. “We” lost or “we” won, they say, when their greatest contribution to the victory was the uninterrupted stream of dollars at the merchandise counters.

Some of the best spectators helped turn us onto the ‘War.’

Kirkegaard in, “The Present Age.” And Spengler in, “The Decline of the West.” And G. K. Chesterton, who wrote almost 100 years ago that, “The next great heresy is going to be simply an attack on morality, and especially on sexual morality. And the madness of tomorrow will come not from Moscow but from Manhattan.”

And Aldous Huxley in, “Brave New World.” And C. S. Lewis in, “The Abolition of Man.” And David Reisman in, “The Lonely Crowd.” And Alexander Solzhenitsyn in 1978 in his Harvard commencement address titled, “ A World Split Apart.”

But, it was the return of the Catholic empire under John Paul the Great who put the title to the Culture in which we live; the punch that stuck. He condemned the American “Culture of Death” in his 1995 papal encyclical.

But, Culture and even American Culture didn’t blink and the wheel of time ground on and, now, over 20 years on, we absolve ourselves and do that great American thing that, along with death, gilded the 20th century as “The American Century.”

We commoditized culture. It is no longer a sobering reflection of the huddled masses and their warts and spirit. Instead, it is something packaged and sold.

At my office, ‘culture’ dominates the executive discussion. It is a ‘thing’ to be marketed to the staff, as though it is not a reflection of us as people, but instead the fuel for our work output; the gasoline of productivity. It not only shapes our work, but our interactions with one another and somehow aligns with the expectations of our ownership.

“We have a culture of humility,” yet we “crush” our competition and seek to outpace our year over year earnings and we crow about our wins and extoll our operational excellence.

We are being sold that culture isn’t a product of us, but a product we consume. It even comes with packaging and buzzwords.

The same seems to be true of our national Culture.

It is peddled by talking heads that just won’t shut up and now, they have found new spectators to ‘fight’ in this ‘field of battle,’ while never setting foot on the ground, but still calling it “our” team and glowing over “our” wins and “our” losses. And yes, the merchandise tables are still flush with cash.

But here’s the sober truth:

America has the most just and most moral and most wise and most Biblical historical and constitutional foundation in the world. Yes. The same was true of ancient Israel. And America is one of the most religious countries in the world. Yes, just like ancient Israel. And the Church is big and rich and free in America. Yes, just like ancient Israel.

And if God still loves His church in America, he will soon make it small and poor and persecuted just as He did to ancient Israel—so that He can keep it alive by pruning it. If He loves us, He will cut the dead wood away. And we will bleed. And the blood of the martyrs will be the seed of the Church again and a second spring will come and new buds—but not without blood. It never happens without blood, without sacrifice, without suffering. Christ’s work, if it is really Christ’s work and not a comfortable counterfeit, never happens without the cross. Whatever happens without the cross may be good work, but it is not Christ’s work. For Christ’s work is bloody. Christ’s work is a blood transfusion. That is how salvation happens.

That is our Culture, and only because He invites us to be a part of it. Without his extended hand and the grace of His offering, we’re just spectators.

I’ll leave you with these words from an American cultural icon, who doesn’t get enough respect these days. He walked onto a battlefield once and gave his most famous speech, the “Gettysburg Address.” This speech isn’t that. This speech is the one he gave when the war was over; when the war was won. Just as ours has been, for us, by the bloody Son of God.

“Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said ‘the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.’

“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

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American Gospel

This ain’t no American Gospel. It isn’t secured by the troops, represented by the flag, or born on the 4th of July. It isn’t written into the 1st amendment, or…

This ain’t no American Gospel.

It isn’t secured by the troops, represented by the flag, or born on the 4th of July.

It isn’t written into the 1st amendment, or protected by the 2nd. It wasn’t emancipated by the 13th.

It isn’t negotiated on the floor of the House of the People, voted on by the electorate, or implemented by the Executive. It isn’t adjudicated by the Courts, and it doesn’t have a Party.

It doesn’t guarantee the right to remain silent, but One is appointed to speak for us, because we can’t afford to on our own. It isn’t the boys in blue. It isn’t the #resistance. It isn’t the Tea Party. It isn’t the revolution and it isn’t the establishment.

This ain’t no American Gospel. It didn’t land on Plymouth Rock or take Attica. It didn’t speak on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, and it doesn’t take a knee at the games. The life it gives is the one that matters.

It didn’t come home in body cavities from Vietnam and it isn’t sold on the streets of South Central, funding illegal wars in South America and extorting families, stealing husbands and fathers. It isn’t decimating middle America, destroying bodies and families for a quick hit. It doesn’t have a Czar, and a budget and black money.

It doesn’t have a SuperPAC. It doesn’t lobby for influence and trade soul for soul and mammon for mammon. It doesn’t lie and cheat and steal and corrupt and corrode. It doesn’t care who gets elected or which bills get passed. It isn’t pork-barrel spending.

It isn’t technological innovation. It isn’t the next big thing or the next bubble to burst. It isn’t a new app or a new show to binge. It isn’t bread and circuses. This ain’t no American Gospel.

It isn’t amber waves of grain or the hard work and rugged hands pulling tight on boot straps about to snap under the pressure. It isn’t traditional values or the nuclear family. It isn’t progressivism and it isn’t gender identity studies. It isn’t conservatism and tax cuts. It isn’t just for the poor and it isn’t just for the wealthy. It isn’t about the middle class and the Silent Majority.

It isn’t in drone strikes or Nuclear Treaties or Climate Change action. It isn’t on a major network. It isn’t in grandma’s apple pie and they don’t serve it at McDonald’s.

No, this ain’t no American Gospel.

Because now there ain’t no Jew nor Greek, no White nor Black, no Rich nor Poor, no Native nor Immigrant, no Straight nor Gay, no Slave nor Free.

There is Christ, and there are those apart from Christ.

His Gospel puts the lost before the found. It puts the last before the first. It doesn’t need to be respected, protected, or elected to save. His Gospel stands and it cannot be shaken.

His Gospel is a blood transfusion. His Gospel is flesh and blood; spit upon and dragged through the dirt and killed and it showed that neither blood, nor dirt, nor spit, nor death could hold it down. Neither can politics. Neither can elected officials. Neither can constitutional amendments, Planned Parenthood, tax cuts for the rich, election fraud, Presidents, twitter feeds, football players, Tea Partiers, #resisters, college professors, conceal and carriers, or any other nonsense America can throw at it.

His Gospel frees us from the demands of all that nonsense. It gives us truth. It gives us Him, and the price He already paid. His Gospel doesn’t need you to be right. It doesn’t need you to be Left. It doesn’t need your Facebook wall, and it doesn’t need your protest signs.

His Gospel gives you Him.

This ain’t no American Gospel.

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The Old Hunter

It has been a few weeks since I’ve posted, but I haven’t been ignoring the site. I made some cosmetic updates over the last week, and, more importantly, I’ve been…

It has been a few weeks since I’ve posted, but I haven’t been ignoring the site. I made some cosmetic updates over the last week, and, more importantly, I’ve been reading through Ezekiel, with an eye and an ear to whatever God has to tell me through that old prophet for today.

He has shown me, thus far, that iniquity is no new phenomenon, and that He is not ignoring it Himself.

But, it was through a different sort of prophet — a truth-teller of the sort with which I am more familiar, the writer H. Rider Haggard – that God revealed something about the nature of man in this season of apparent racial disharmony. Perhaps it is ironic that Haggard and his hero Allan Quatermain have been branded as racist themselves by the more modern intelligentsia, though perhaps it is a more primitive brand of racism than the kind decried today. Maybe not.

For whatever it is worth (and I am gathering lately that my opinion on the matter is not worth much), I never found the books racist. Unseemly, perhaps, in language to the modern reader, and a tad too brash in it’s Anglophilia, but the man who wrote, “…I say that as the savage is, so is the white man, only the latter is more inventive…but in all essentials, the savage and the child of civilization are identical,” saw more to the human heart than base racism.

So, looking to the New Thing breaching the frontier of tomorrow that is here and yet coming, I’ll leave this old thing recounting the adventures of a white man challenging the frontier of a dark continent and finding kinship among the natives. Here is to the hope that we will find kinship among the sinners on this dark continent and they will come to receive the inheritance that a Heavenly civilization has wrought and is working among us through the blood of our King.

“It seems to me very desirable that we should sometimes try to understand the limitations of our nature, so that we may not be carried away by the pride of knowledge. Man’s cleverness is almost infinite, and stretches like an elastic band, but human nature is like an iron ring. You can go round and round it, you can polish it highly, you can even flatten it a little on one side, whereby you will make it bulge out on the other, but you will never, while the world endures and man is man, increase its total circumference. It is the one fixed, unchangeable thing — fixed as the stars, more enduring than the mountains, as unalterable as the way of the Eternal. Human nature is God’s kaleidoscope, and the little bits of coloured glass which represent our passions, hopes, fears, joys, aspirations towards good and evil and what not, are turned in His mighty hand as surely and certainly as it turns the stars, and continually fallk into new patters and combinations. But the composing elements remain the same, nor will there be one more bit of coloured glass nor one less forever and ever.”

“Allan Quatermain,” H. Riger Haggard

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The Older Brother

Andrew W. K., musician known for his songs, “Party Hard” and “We Want Fun,” writes an advice column for “The Village Voice,” America’s first alternative “newsweekly” founded by, among others,…

Andrew W. K., musician known for his songs, “Party Hard” and “We Want Fun,” writes an advice column for “The Village Voice,” America’s first alternative “newsweekly” founded by, among others, Norman Mailer in 1955.

I ran across a posting from Andrew W. K.’s column in the Voice from August 2014, an article published just after the news broke of the death of Michael Brown at the hands of police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, MO. And, it was just a few months ahead of the thumping of President Obama’s Democratic Senate in the 2014 mid-term elections. No doubt, a high-point in political and cultural fever.

The article is in response to what must have been then and what continues to be a common sentiment: the politics of a son are not the politics of his father, and the result is a soured relationship.

I won’t copy the whole article, but I’d encourage you to read it here.

Though the bulk of the article, in my opinion, turns a tad trite, rife with the ill-defined, though tenderhearted “love trumps all” language of the day, W. K. caught my attention with the insight and thoughtfulness of the first paragraph of his response:

Go back and read the opening sentences of your letter. Read them again. Then read the rest of your letter. Then read it again. Try to find a single instance where you referred to your dad as a human being, a person, or a man. There isn’t one. You’ve reduced your father — the person who created you — to a set of beliefs and political views and how it relates to you.

Setting aside ‘the person who created you’ and taking it only for what the author most likely meant (that is, not a reference to the Creator, which is perhaps a deeper metaphor in the context of what this evoked in me), I couldn’t help but see the parallels in this part of W. K.’s response to the Older Brother of Jesus’ parable on the Prodigal Son. The full text of the parable can be found in Luke 15:11-32.

Upon learning that his wayward younger brother had returned and his father had begun the expensive measures of celebration, the Prodigal’s older brother was angry:

“Then [the Older Brother] became angry and didn’t want to go in. So his father came out and pleaded with him. But he replied to his father, ‘Look, I have been slaving many years for you, and I have never disobeyed your orders, yet you never gave me a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your assets with prostitutes, you slaughtered the fattened calf for him.”

It isn’t clear whether Jesus told this as the third in a string of parables (all found in Luke 15) about the value of the lost, or if the author of the gospel account recorded them together in this way to demonstrate the values of the lost among us to our God. But it makes sense that Jesus would have told them all together in this way, culminating with this story about a father whose younger son took his inheritance early (signaling to the father that the son saw no further value in him; that the son wished the father were dead) and spent it on whores and wild living. When the son has squandered it all and saw he had nowhere to turn, he came home empty-handed, expecting to be treated like a slave, rather than a son. After all, he had dismissed his relationship with his father, why would he not expect the same in return?

But, it wasn’t the father who held the greatest resentment. It wasn’t the father who felt injured at the younger son’s return — and even felt injured at the celebration of it. It was the older brother. The older son of the father. It was the son who had not run off, but had worked diligently for his father and kept the rules of the household. It was “the Pharisees and scribes” (from Luke 15:1, to whom Jesus was speaking when he told these parables of the lost) who “were complaining, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them!”

Imagine welcoming a sinner! Imagine eating with a sinner, as this boy must eat dinner with his father whose political views are so offensive! Imagine a good Jesus, eating with sinners.. and talking with them, and enjoying them.

So it is with us.

We call those who disagree with us “non-human,” because we consider ourselves better. “This son of yours..” “This father of yours..” “This friend of yours..”

I do it. You do it.

But, we would be wise to not call for the kind of love our world has to offer. Look to the love of the Father in Jesus’ parable. This is the image of God that we are left with. It isn’t the image that many of us, right-meaning and well-intentioned, leave with our neighbors. It isn’t the kind that the Older Brother has to give. It is the kind that the Father has to give.

And, thankfully, we know He gives it, because we can trust the word of Jesus. And Jesus deigns to eat with us sinners, even those who sin like Pharisees, following rules that do, in the end, matter to the Father, but forgetting the humanity of our neighbors.

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The Four Horsemen of Calumny

On June 1, 1950, the Republican junior United States Senator from Maine, a 53-year old-woman named Margaret Madeline Chase Smith, the granddaughter of French-Canadian immigrants (immigrants from Quebec who fled…

On June 1, 1950, the Republican junior United States Senator from Maine, a 53-year old-woman named Margaret Madeline Chase Smith, the granddaughter of French-Canadian immigrants (immigrants from Quebec who fled anti-French Canadian and anti-Catholic sentiments in 19th century Canada), made a speech that would become famous in the American annals for its courage and historical significance. Senator Smith, who would be remembered as the first woman to serve both houses of Congress and the first woman to serve the state of Maine in either house, would go on to be the first woman nominated by a major party in American life to the office of the presidency. That party was the Republican party, and the speech for which she is most famous was, in part, a speech recriminating the party to which she belonged.

It would be called the “Declaration of Conscience” and it was in response to the infamous Joe McCarthy, Republican Senator from the state of Wisconsin, who delivered his own famous speech, known as “The Wheeling Speech,” on a cold, wet Lincoln Day in February to the Republican Women’s Club of Wheeling, West Virginia. During the speech, which would mark the start of his meteoric rise to infamy, Senator McCarthy produced from his coat pocket a slip of paper on which he claimed to have 205 names of Communist Party members in positions of influence within the State Department. “The State Department is infested with communists,” he said. And he would go on to build his career identifying and publicly shaming them from their positions of power.

But, when McCarthy’s fellow senator and party member Smith spoke, she condemned McCarthy’s actions, even if she refused to name him directly.

“The Democratic administration has greatly lost the confidence of the American people by its complacency to the threat of communism and the leak of vital secrets to Russia through key officials of the Democratic administration. There are enough proved cases to make this point without diluting our criticism with unproved charges.

Surely these are sufficient reasons to make it clear to the American people that it is time for a change and that a Republican victory is necessary to the security of this country. Surely it is clear that this nation will continue to suffer as long as it is governed by the present ineffective Democratic Administration.

Yet to displace it with a Republican regime embracing a philosophy that lacks political integrity or intellectual honesty would prove equally disastrous to this nation. The nation sorely needs a Republican victory. But I don’t want to see the Republican Party ride to political victory on the Four Horsemen of Calumny — Fear, Ignorance, Bigotry and Smear.”

Senator Smith was right about that. Shew was right about it all the way up to the 21st century, when communism and socialism are still the talk of the day, and the Russians are still looking for secrets. These are not problems at the root of our Democratic system, but symptoms of greater, deeper, and more damaging poisons. Fear, ignorance, bigotry and smear continue to be the tools of a trade steeped in personal interest.

Smith concluded, “I doubt if the Republican Party could [ride to victory on these ‘Horsemen’] — simply because I don’t believe the American people will uphold any political party that puts political exploitation above national interest.”

Perhaps she held too high an opinion of her fellow Americans, or her fellow men in general.

The only response to these Horsemen are the horsemen of the Lord, yet to come and ride, and those horsemen — though deeply desired by so many — bring a kind of dread of their own.

But, in the meantime, we wait for heroes like Senator Smith who recognize the needs of men like ourselves, and we take a longer view of the history of America, and the history of mankind, and we do not give ourselves the credit for being more callous or degenerate than we rightfully deserve.

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Souvenirs of Hell

I ran across a chart recently that demonstrates a significant challenge of modern times. The title, “Everything we eat both causes and prevents cancer,” is laudatory for its clarity.  The…

I ran across a chart recently that demonstrates a significant challenge of modern times. The title, “Everything we eat both causes and prevents cancer,” is laudatory for its clarity. 

The world never quite seems very clear-cut. So, it would be easy to say that everyone’s experience must be different and those differences must then be existential qualifiers. In other words, your road is your own and mine is my own. Truth is not knowable; truth is flexible. “We’re all headed in the same direction.”

This is the familiar argument of smart people against postmodernism: If nothing is true, how can we be dogmatic about anything?

So, the postmoderns seem to have caught on and are filling the gap with their opinions du jour (or maybe that was the plan all along).  In the vacuum left, we’re plugging in new “truths.” New (old) sins and virtues are coming from new (old) places.

All of this seems like an attempt to convince us that reality never gives us a firm “either / or” set of options. And worse, we are convinced that, given enough time and patience, all options can ultimately be embraced.  It isn’t really “either / or” — it can be both, can’t it?  Isn’t this the famous power of “and?”

After enough consideration, we convince ourselves that we never really have to say “no” to anything; evil and good eventually blend together and we don’t need to reject anything.   We want – and are convinced we can have – both.

Racism is a high form of modern sin, unless it is the right kind of racism. Sexism is not to be tolerated, unless it is the kind of sexism that rejects the other sexism.

We are not living in a world where all roads are radii of a circle and where all, if followed long enough, will therefore draw gradually nearer and finally meet at the center.

We live in a world where every road, after a few miles, forks into two more roads and each of those roads forks into two again. At each fork, we have to make a decision.  “And” isn’t an option.

Our lives are driven by entropy. Life is less like a pool than like a tree. It doesn’t move towards unity, but away from it.

Yet, here we are: with no hope to know where we are headed or how to get there, and no conviction that the road we’re on is right or wrong.

And so, instead of the ripening of truth that helps to differentiate not only Good from Evil, but good from good and evil from evil, we end up with a distinct lack of clarity about what those things (good and evil) really are – and no conviction to dismiss those “souvenirs of Hell” that we’d prefer to keep.  We want Heaven with our favorite parts of Hell in hand.

I thought student loan debt was the biggest issue of this generation.

Choosing the wrong road is part of life. Knowing that it was wrong, turning around and heading back to the last fork helps make things right.

Turning around and changing direction is the solution to get to the right destination; never progressing forward without making a change.

Evil can be undone, but it cannot be developed into good.

All it takes is being lost to realize that not everything is good and not everywhere is Heaven.

Perhaps that’s why so much energy is spent convincing ourselves that we are not, after all, lost.

We are too often wrongly convinced that every road leads Home.

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