Archive for the ‘My Life’ Category

Obvious Child

July 11, 2014

Obvious Child is the name of a new film which seems to be a romantic comedy exploring the lighter side of abortion. Apparently some critics like the idea while most conservatives hate it, along with the audience, whose opinion should matter most considering they are the ones who are expected to buy tickets to see the movie. Jonah Goldberg has some things to say about the wider implications of this film’s failure at the box office which I caught in his column at Real Clear Politics.

In the film Obvious Child, Jenny Slate plays Donna Stern, a stand-up comedian who specializes in making jokes about her private parts, with the occasional foray into fart humor. She is about to go onstage. Her friend offers her some encouragement: “You are going to kill it out there!”

Donna replies: “I actually have an appointment to do that tomorrow.”

Donna’s talking about her abortion appointment.

Get it? It’s funny because it’s true. Or if you’re like me, you think it’s not funny because it’s true.

Many critics think it’s funny. One dubbed it “far and away the most winning abortion-themed comedy ever made.” Of course, as an artistic genre, that’s setting the bar pretty low, like serving the best gas-station sushi in the state of Oklahoma.

Since it opened last month, the film has grossed less than $2 million. Compare that to 2007’s Juno, a brilliant film widely seen as pro-life (at least among pro-lifers), or Knocked Up, a raunchier romantic comedy also hailed by abortion foes, both of which grossed more than $140 million domestically. Obvious Child, then, seems less like the cultural watershed its friends and foes make it out to be and more like a barely successful art-house flick.

 

My late friend Andrew Breitbart liked to say that politics is downstream of culture, meaning that any truly successful political turnaround needs to start by changing popular attitudes. Adam Bellow, a storied editor of conservative books, has a similar conviction and is trying to launch a conservative revolt in the world of fiction.

I wish them great success. Still, I think there’s something missing in this ancient conversation on the right (conservatives have been making such arguments since the 1950s — if not the 1450s, with the publication of the Gutenberg Bible). Conservatives refuse to celebrate, or even notice, how much of the popular culture is on their side.

Sure, Hollywood is generally very liberal, but America isn’t. Judging by their campaign donations, Hollywood liberals are very supportive of abortion rights. But there’s a reason why sitcoms since Maude haven’t had a lot of storylines about abortion. Indeed, nearly every pregnant TV character treats her unborn child as if it’s already a human being.

The Left may be anti-military, but such movies tend to do poorly, which is why we see more pro-military films. Similarly, it’s a safe bet that Hollywood liberals loathe guns. But you wouldn’t know that by what they produce. Not many action stars save the day by quoting a poem. Most Hollywood liberals probably oppose the death penalty, yet they make lots of movies where the bad guy meets a grisly death to the cheers of the audience. The Left rolls its eyes at “family values,” but family values are at the heart of most successful sitcoms and dramas.

I think he is right, as far as it goes and certainly Hollywood is missing opportunities for profit by taking up such a position of opposition to the values of so many mainstream Americans, but I think there is a more fundamental reason why Obvious Child is not doing better at the box office. Abortion is not funny.

Abortion is a serious matter. As with most matters of life and death, it is not a subject that can be taken lightly. For people on the pro-life side, abortion is murder on a large scale and a comedy about abortion is in as much poor taste as a comedy about the Holocaust. People on the pro-choice side may not feel quite the same way about abortion, but except for a few extremists, the sort that Rush Limbaugh used to call “feminazis”, they are aware that it is a serious and controversial subject. Thus, a movie like Obvious Child which seems to treat abortion as of no greater significance then getting a pedicure, is going to offend everyone but those few extremists.

I am glad that Obvious Child is not doing well. The degeneration of our popular culture seems to be accelerating at an ever faster pace and I am glad for any sign that there are still limits to  what we are willing to watch.

Ignorance is Bliss

July 10, 2014

Two recent e-mails I have received prove this old saying true. First there is one from Moveon.org.

Dear MoveOn member,

If you thought House Republicans couldn’t get worse, I’ve got bad news. Speaker John Boehner is now threatening to sue President Obama because House Republicans are mad that President Obama is using his executive authority to get things done where Congress won’t act.1

Such a ridiculous lawsuit would be a wasteful and inappropriate use of taxpayer dollars for political purposes, and we’ve hatched a plan to fight back.

Our legal team is investigating options to hold Speaker Boehner accountable if he moves forward—from launching a lawsuit of our own, to filing a formal complaint in Congress, to other responses. And we are planning protests outside of Republicans’ district offices and other tactics that can break into the news. Together, we can help expose the lawsuit for the cynical political ploy that it is and generate press coverage that holds Republicans accountable as the November elections loom.

Because MoveOn is its members, we want to know what you think before we decide whether to proceed. Do you think we should move forward—or do you want us focused on other things? Click to let us know:

Yes, MoveOn should fight to hold Speaker Boehner and House Republicans accountable if they use taxpayer dollars to sue President Obama.

No, I’d prefer for MoveOn to focus on other things (and tell us which other things).

Thanks for all you do.

–Anna, Bobby, Matt, Amy, and the rest of the team

Checks and balances? What’s that. As it happens, I don’t think Speaker of the House Boehner should sue the president either. There are other options Congress can use to rein in an over bearing president. The House of Representatives, in particular, has the power of the purse. I think it would be better if John Boehner worked as hard as he could to get as many Republicans elected as possible. With a majority in both houses of Congress, they have a much better chance of stopping Obama. Suing him will only fire up the liberal base. I could say something similar about calling for impeachment. The Republicans have a good chance of winning big this year, but both of these tactics could ruin things.

I wish, though, that the people at Moveon.org, and elsewhere, would think very carefully about the statement that the President must act by executive authority because Congress won’t. What exactly do we have a Congress for? If the only legitimate role of Congress is to rubber stamp everything the president decrees,than why bother to have a Congress at all? Why not just make the President a dictator who we elect every four years? They seem to think we should have a system like the old Soviet Union or some banana republic in which there is a phony legislature that pretends to be passing the laws while the Leader is calling all the shots. Haven’t any of these people stopped to think that there may come a time when someone they thoroughly detest becomes president and enacts policies they oppose over the will of Congress, maybe we might even get another Republican as president? When that time comes, they may wish we still had the checks and balances they worked so hard to eviscerate.

The other e-mail is from Organizing for Action.

Friend –

Big news in the fight to raise the minimum wage:

In the last few months, four states have passed laws to raise the wage, and several cities and local governments are following suit.

That’s how we make progress, even if a minority in Congress is blocking it.

OFA’s petition to lawmakers already has nearly half a million signatures on it — yours belongs on it, too. Add your name to the petition today.

A higher minimum wage isn’t just good for workers, it’s the right idea for our economy.

More money in minimum wage earners’ pockets means more money to spend at area businesses.

That’s why governors and legislators on both sides of the aisle are working to raise the wage. Just since May, we’ve seen Maryland, Michigan, Hawaii, and Massachusetts pass higher state minimum wage laws.

This fight is also happening on the local level. Seattle, Philadelphia, and Richmond, California, have all taken steps forward to raise the wage for thousands of workers in their cities.

In Las Cruces, New Mexico, supporters delivered more than 6,000 petition signatures to put a minimum wage increase measure on the ballot this fall.

That’s grassroots energy, and it’s proof that when we make our voices heard, progress is possible — with or without Congress.

This petition is how we’re going to send a message that the other side can’t ignore. We’ve got hundreds of thousands of signatures.

Right now, it looks like your name is missing, but that’s alright.

You can add your voice today, and tell lawmakers it’s time to raise the minimum wage:

http://my.barackobama.com/Raise-the-Wage-Petition

Thanks,

Lindsay

Lindsay Siler
National Director of Issue Campaigns
Organizing for Action

Raising the minimum wage helps the economy because people have more money to spend in area businesses. There is something that doesn’t add up here. I have dealt some of the problems with raising the minimum wage before. Yes, the people who work at or slightly above minimum wage will have more money to spend at area businesses. But the increase in labor costs caused by the mandated increased in wages will mean that the area businesses will have a lower profit. You might think, “So what. The greedy capitalists shouldn’t be making such a large profit”. Remember that for a small business owner, that profit is their wage. That is what they are trying to live on. Even for a large corporation that profit is what they use to expand their business and pay put dividends to their stockholders. In order to maintain their profits in the face of rising labor costs, businesses, both small and large, will be forced to consider ways of cutting costs, making do with fewer employees, and increasing income, raising prices. In terms of purchasing power, many of those people who received a raise will eventually find themselves back where they were before.

It must be nice not to have to think things through, to just go with whatever feels good at the moment. You can support all sorts of foolish policies that may ultimately harm the people you intend to help, but if you never stop to consider the unintended consequences of such policies that  thought will never cross your mind. Ignorance is bliss.

 

Merhaba

June 30, 2014

I found an e-mail in my spam filter written in an unfamiliar language.

Merhaba,
Memnun oldum,
Benim adım i kişiyi gördüm ve seni bilmek ilgilenmeye başladı Evelyn, ve, sizinle kalıcı bir ilişki kurmak benim için arzu varsa ben göndermek böylece benim e-posta adresine(evelynedgard2009@yahoo.com) yoluyla bana ulaşın benim senin ve benim hakkımda daha sizeanlatmak için resim,
Teşekkür ve Tanrı sizi korusun,
Evelyn.

It doesn’t look like any language that I have ever seen. I have, at various times, studied German, Spanish, Koine Greek, and Latin, and while I am far from proficient in any of these languages I can sometimes make out the general meaning of a text written in these languages. This text doesn’t seem to be related to any of them. It is written in the Latin Alphabet, which narrows down the possibilities, but none of the words seem to be familiar. There was a translation written below.

Hello,
Nice meeting you,
My name is Evelyn i saw your contact and became interested to know you, and establish a lasting relationship with you, if you have the desire for me Please contact me through my email address (evelynedgard2009@yahoo.com) so that i can send my pictures to you and tell you more about me,
Thanks and God bless you,
Evelyn.

I don’t think I will take Evelyn up on her offer. I decided to run the foreign text through Google Translate in detect language mode and see if that would identify the language. It turns out that it is Turkish. I don’t think I have ever seen written Turkish before.

Linguists classify Turkish in the Turkic family which is considered part of the Altaic group, though this is controversial. This would make Turkish related to various Central Asian languages, mostly spoken in the Asian Republics of the former Soviet Union like Khazakhstan, Uzbekistan, etc. It is more distantly related to Mongolian and various languages spoken in Siberia. Korean and Japanese may be still more distantly related, but this is uncertain. What is certain is that Turkish is not an Indo-European language like English, or the other languages that I am familiar with, which would account for the way in which I could not decipher a single word of the message.

Turkish used to be written in the Ottoman-Turkish Script which was based on the Arabic alphabet. This alphabet was not particularly well suited for the Turkish language, most notably for the absence of short vowels. Arabic is a Semitic language, in which it is not all that important to distinguish vowels in writing. Turkish has more vowels than Arabic and fewer distinctions between certain consonant sounds. Therefore, as part of the reforms that Kemal Ataturk enacted with the establishment of the Republic of Turkey, after the fall of the Ottoman Empire, a new alphabet based on the Latin Alphabet was created for Turkish. The new alphabet had 29 letters, mostly the same as other European languages but with q,x, and w omitted and six added. They are:

a, b, c, ç, d, e, f, g, ğ, h, ı, i, j, k, l, m, n, o, ö, p, r, s, ş, t, u, ü, v, y, and z

The letters sound about the same as in English, with some exceptions, and I suppose that if I tried to read that message aloud a Turk might understand me. I wouldn’t know what I was saying, though.

English: Mustafa Kemal Atatürk introducing the...

English: Mustafa Kemal Atatürk introducing the new Turkish alphabet to the people of Kayseri. September 20, 1928 Türkçe: Mustafa Kemal Atatürk 20 Eylül 1928’de, Kayseri’deki Cumhuriyet Halk Fırkası önünde, halka yeni Türk harflerini öğretirken (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Turkish is what linguists call a agglutinative language. Turkish speakers pile affixes onto a base, resulting in long words that in English might be expressed by a phrase, or even a sentence. Here is an example from Wikipedia on how this works.

Avrupa                                                                  Europe
Avrupalı                                                              of Europe
Avrupalılaş                                                         become of Europe
Avrupalılaştır                                                   to make become of Europe
Avrupalılaştırama                                           be unable to Europeanize
Avrupalılaştıramadık                                   we were unable to Europeanize
Avrupalılaştıramadık                                   that we were unable to Europeanize
Avrupalılaştıramadık                                   one that we were unable to Europeanize
Avrupalılaştıramadıklar                             those that we were unable to Europeanize
Avrupalılaştıramadıklarımız                    our those that we were unable to Europeanize
Avrupalılaştıramadıklarımızdan            of our those that we were unable to Europeanize
Avrupalılaştıramadıklarımızdanmış     is reportedly of our those that we were unable to Europeanize
Avrupalılaştıramadıklarımızdanmışsınız you are reportedly of our those that we were unable to Europeanize
Avrupalılaştıramadıklarımızdanmışsınızcasına as if you are reportedly of our those that we were unable to Europeanize

 

Good grief. Every suffix has a meaning or conveys grammatical information. Some other agglutinative languages are Japanese, Eskimo, Sumerian, and Klingon. English is, by the way, somewhere between a synthetic language, one that uses inflections like German or Latin, and an isolating language, like Chinese. We used to have many inflections but have lost most of them over the centuries.

Well, even though I have no intention of contacting Evelyn or sharing pictures with her, I should thank her for giving me the excuse to learn a little about the Turkish language. It has been interesting.

 

German 419 Scam

May 27, 2014

I have become used to receiving emails from people around the world who want to send me a share of money that they have obtained in various shady ways, if only I will help them. I have gotten such messages, usually in broken English supposedly coming  from Burkina Faso, Libya, and Portugal. Who knows where they have really been sent from? I have also been  informed that there is an agent with a package waiting for me at an international airport. Now I have received such a message written in German.

Attn: Bitte
 
Ich bin Herr Kofi Bentum, der Leiter der Revisionsabteilung in meiner Bank hier in Ghana, Wir hatten einen auslдndischen Kunden, der eine Gold-Hдndler ist und er hinterlegt eine groЯe Summe Geld in der Bank, schlieЯlich starb bei einem Autounfall ohne nдchsten kin, mцchte ich Sie auf meiner Bank als die nдchsten Angehцrigen einzufьhren, so dass dieses Geld auf Ihr Bankkonto ьberwiesen, dann teilen wir das Geld je 50% 50% werden.
 
Wenn Sie sich bitte mir zu helfen, dieses Geld kontaktieren Sie mich unter meiner E-Mail sind: (kofibentum2014@yahoo.co.jp) fьr weitere Informationen.
 
GrьЯe,
Mr.Kofi Bentum
I happen to know a little German, at least enough to understand the general meaning of the message but I ran it through Google Translate to learn the details.

Attn: PleaseI am Mr. Kofi Bentum, the head of the audit department in my bank here in Ghana, we had a auslдndischen customer who is a Gold Hдndler and he deposited a groЯe sum of money in the bank, schlieЯlich died in a car accident without nдchsten kin, mцchte I will einzufьhren on my bench as the nдchsten Angehцrigen, so that this money ьberwiesen to your bank account, then we share the money 50% 50%.

If you please to help me this money are contact me at my e-mail: (kofibentum2014@yahoo.co.jp) closed for more information.

GrьЯe,
Mr.Kofi Bentum

The untranslated words were  those which have umlauts or that double s, ß that is sometimes used in German. Mr. Kofi Bentum apparently did not use a German keyboard and the ß  and the vowels with umlauts look like Cyrillic letters. I am not sure if the mistakes or oddities in wording are the result of Google Translate or Mr. Bentum’s unfamiliarity with German. Perhaps I can improve the translation by using a German dictionary.
I am Mr. Kofi Bentum, the head of the audit department of my bank here in Ghana. We had a foreign customer who was a gold dealer and he deposited a large sum of money in the bank, then died in a car accident without next of kin. I would like you to withdraw it  from my bank as the next of kin, so that this money is transferred to your bank account, then we share the money 50-50.
If you would like to help me get this money, please contact me at my email… for more information.
Regards,
Maybe I should travel to Nigeria or Ghana and get work polishing up the emails they send out.  Maybe not.
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Koch-topus

May 12, 2014

I got this email from Moveon.org.

Dear MoveOn member,

If you’re concerned about the power of the Koch brothers, you’ve got to hear this new podcast.

It’s the inside story of the documentary Citizen Koch, which was supposed to air on PBS—before executives yanked the film out of fear of upsetting the billionaire Koch brothers. (By the way: It turned out David Koch had donated $23 million to PBS.1)

As you might expect from a couple of documentary producers who helped Michael Moore make Fahrenheit 9/11, the directors ofCitizen Koch didn’t take this lying down. The story of how it all happened, and what happened next, will inspire you.

Thanks for all you do.

–Ben Wikler

Actually, I am more concerned about the targeting of private citizens as public enemies by an entire political party and by senior officials on government.  I am not such that the presence of a couple of the producers who helped make Fahrenheit 9/11 is much of a recommendation considering the number of inaccuracies and outright lies found in that “documentary”. If Citizen Koch is similarly mendacious and libelous, then there is no great mystery why PBS would not care to broadcast it.

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Gleichschaltung

May 12, 2014

Gleichschaltung is a German word which means something like coordinating or bringing into line. This word was used by the Nazis to describe the process of bringing everything in Germany under the control of the Nazi Party. The ideology of the Nazis, or National Socialists, was socialist but unlike the socialism, or Communism of Marx and Lenin, the Nazis and Fascists emphasized national unity rather than the international class struggle. In this, Hitler and Mussolini were perhaps more shrewd observers of human nature than Marx or Lenin since it is more natural for human beings to identify according to nation or tribe than by class.

In any event, the whole idea of Gleichschaltung was that every German should be pulling together in the same direction. The whole German population should behave not as individuals with their own concerns but as the German nation with everyone cooperating toward the common goal of restoring German greatness. Every citizen should act and think as one. Naturally, there was little room for those Germans who happened to dissent from the common goal and still less for those people who weren’t really German, those Jews and others.

All of this may seem to belong to the past, yet I have noticed something very similar happening here, an American Gleichschaltung, albeit on a very small scale, so far. I have written before about people who have dared to dissent from politically correct orthodoxy and have paid the price. Recently these have included the president of Chick-Fil-A, Phil Robertson, Brendan Eich, and others. If you are a conservative Christian who believes in the rational definition of marriage, you can now expect to be silenced. Same sex marriage isn’t the only issue in which no dissent is permitted. Cliven Bundy dared to depart from the script on racial matters and was universally denounced as a racist, even though a transcript of his actual remarks shows that he did not advocate slavery for Blacks nor did he say that they were inherently inferior. He questioned the efficacy of many current liberal policies on the African American community. That was enough to ostracize him.

The latest victims of this American Gleichschaltung are the Benham brothers. These two men renovate homes and until recently were going to have a  show on HGTV. Their show has been cancelled because they proved to have extremely offensive beliefs that have no place on television or anywhere else in public. To learn about these extreme beliefs, read this article in the Washington Times. I warn you, you may be offended.

HGTV has decided to cancel an upcoming television series featuring twin brothers who renovate homes amid outcry from liberals about the brothers’ Christian, conservative views.

The series, “Flip it Forward,” has been the target of criticism ever since an article was published on a liberal activist website, Right Wing Watch, claiming hosts David and Jason Benham have a history of speaking out against gay marriage, abortion and divorce, the Daily Caller reported.

The article accused David of being a “right-wing activist in the mold of his father, Flip Benham,” an evangelical minister who heads the anti-abortion-clinic protest group Operation Save America.”

It also said that David Benham led a prayer rally in Charlotte during the Democratic National Convention and spoke out against gay marriage.

On Wednesday, HGTV tweeted: “HGTV is currently in process of reviewing all information about the Benhams and we will provide an update as soon as possible.”

On Thursday, the network tweeted: “HGTV has decided not to move forward with the Benham Brothers’ series.”

David and Jasonsaid in a statement that they are “saddened to hear HGTV’s decision.”

“With all of the grotesque things that can be seen and heard on television today you would think there would be room for two twin brothers who are faithful to our families, committed to biblical principles, and dedicated professionals,” the statement read. “If our faith costs us a television show then so be it.

“Anyone who suggests that we hate homosexuals or people of other faiths is either misinformed or lying,” they said. “Over the last decade, we’ve sold thousands of homes with the guiding principle of producing value and breathing life into each family that has crossed our path, and we do not, nor will we ever discriminate against people who do not share our views.”


That is not enough. It is not enough merely not to discriminate against people. Under the New Order you must fully and enthusiastically accept every aspect of correct left-wing ideology, or pay the price. Every American must think and act as one if we are to be free. 

There is more.

Slate magazine called the network’s move a “wise business decision.”

I suppose it is a wise business decision, in the same way that a shop owner who agrees to pay money to a gangster running a protection racket is making a wise business decision.

“Predictably, some conservative Christian sites are already crying persecution and ‘discrimination,’” J. Bryan Lowder wrote.

Maybe that is because there is persecution and discrimination here.

So far, the American Gleichschaltung  has not been nearly as bad or pervasive as the Nazi version. It has been just a matter of bullying by interest groups and the government hasn’t yet taken a hand in it. Yet, how long before there is actual persecution and discrimination against dissidents, particularly conservative Christians? Recent revelations of the illegal and unconstitutional activities of such agencies as the NSA and IRS, and no doubt others suggest that the idea may not be so far-fetched or paranoid as it may seem.

Titus Andronicus

May 10, 2014

Most people today think of Shakespeare’s plays as the sort of thing that only the refined, intellectual highbrows could appreciate. They forget that Shakespeare was wildly popular with all classes of Elizabethan England. The Elizabethan audiences loved violence and gore as much as any modern audience and Shakespeare was always happy to give the theater goers what they wanted. Sometimes his plays are every bit as gory as anything made by Quentin Tarantino with bloody battles, eyes being gouged out, maidens raped, and worse. Shakespeare’s play Titus Andronicus is really in a class by itself as far as blood and gore on stage goes, as some patrons of the Globe Theater discovered recently, according to this account in the Telegraph.

With 14 deaths, brutal rape scenes, mutilation and cannibalism, Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus has never been one for the fainthearted.
But the gruesome scenes at the Globe Theatre’s latest revival have proved too much for even the most daring of theatre-goers.
Members of the audience have been fainting during the play’s most violent scenes, with others reporting feeling sick and warning of sleepless nights.
The play, a revival of Lucy Bailey’s 2006 production, is publicised with a warning that it is “grotesquely violent and daringly experimental”, with a “terrible cycle of mutilation, rape and murder”.
The play’s most famous scene sees Titus murder the sons of his rival Tamora, Queen of the Goths, later feeding their remains to her in a pie. A spokesman for the Globe confirmed five members of the audience fainted in a particularly gory five-minute scene, adding front of house staff are “very well trained to look after people”. It is understood all five fell while watching Lavinia emerge from being brutally raped, with her tongue cut out and holding bloodied stumps for arms. “Shakespeare definitely didn’t pull any punches when he was writing Titus – it is a brutally violent play and Lucy’s production is a bloody, exhilarating, incense-laden feast for the senses,” the spokesman added. “But not one for the squeamish!” One theatre-goer, who watched the show’s opening night, said there had been “quite a few droppers” in the audience, who fainted upon seeing so much blood. Another reported he had “almost puked” by the interval, while a third warned: “You will definitely need a strong stomach”. Others praised the “Brilliantly staged and flawlessly acted” production, but warned of “blood and violence galore”. “Can’t fall asleep after watching a great but gory performance of Titus Andronicus,” one ticket-holder wrote on Twitter. Sources at Shakespeare’s Globe confirmed trained first aiders were present for the show. The theatre is well-versed in fainting audience members, after visitors blanched at the blood and gore in the original 2006 production.
Titus-Andronicus_2896890b
And you thought Shakespeare was boring. Titus Andronicus is one of the best known examples of a revenge play along with Thomas Kyd’s The Spanish Tragedy. A revenge play is a tragedy in which the protagonist seeks revenge for some wrong committed by the villain, generally the murder of a kinsman. The genre was very popular in Shakespeare’s time but curiously, Shakespeare didn’t really use it much. Of his plays only Titus Andronicus and Hamlet could really be considered revenge plays, though there were elements in some of his other plays, such as Julius Caesar and Macbeth. Titus Andronicus was one of his earlier plays, his first tragedy,  and may have been a collaboration with George Peele. Perhaps as Shakespeare became more established and popular, he was less inclined to follow trends. After all, at the height of his career, he was the one setting the fashion in drama. I hope the promise of blood and gore will encourage people to investigate Shakespeare. Shakespeare really doesn’t belong to the intellectuals and the literature professors. He belongs to all of us.
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Earth Day

April 23, 2014

I meant to write this yesterday, during Earth Day and I did start it, but I was busy and didn’t finish it until the next day.

From celebrating the Risen Lord we come now to a day to celebrate His creation, Earth Day. I am not a big fan of either Earth Day or the environmentalist movement for a number of reasons but one reason in particular that comes to mind, perhaps because Easter was two days ago, is that it seems to me that environmentalism is a sort of neo-pagan religion that worships the creation to the detriment of the Creator. I think that the Apostle Paul described our modern Greens fairly well when he wrote of the pagans of his own day.

21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. (Romans 1:21-25)

You see the parallel? Just as the pagans of ancient times worshiped trees, stones, and idols so do the modern pagans reverence nature and the Earth. There were many creation myths among the ancients. As far as I know none of them had the world created ex nihilo by an omnipotent deity. The creation of the world generally seems to predate the gods, either accomplished by an older generation of gods or by the same process that created the gods. The creation of the human race is generally something of an afterthought on the part of the gods. Humans are not very important. In like manner, our modern pagans believed that the Earth created itself. The Earth evolved. There is no need for a Creator. Some of the most mystical New Age Greens may reverence Gaia, but Gaia is not a creator.  Please don’t make the mistake of thinking that because these beliefs seem to resemble modern scientific theories on how the Earth developed that these beliefs are actually scientific. The environmentalists seek to use the mantle of science to advance their agenda. Their beliefs may be close to some scientific ideas but their methods of reasoning are not very scientific at all.

In Genesis, the creation of man is presented as the climax of God’s creative efforts. Human beings are creatures made in God’s own image and are set to rule over the Earth.

26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

27 So God created mankind in his own image,
    in the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them.

28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so. (Gen 1:26-29)

Human beings are distinct from the other animals. Only the first human can name the animals.

15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”

18 The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

19 Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals.

But for Adam no suitable helper was found. 21 So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. (Gen 2:15-22)

Human beings are something special in God’s eyes.

Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!

You have set your glory
    in the heavens.
Through the praise of children and infants
    you have established a stronghold against your enemies,
    to silence the foe and the avenger.
When I consider your heavens,
    the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
    which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
    human beings that you care for them?

You have made them a little lower than the angels
    and crowned them with glory and honor.
You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
    you put everything under their feet:
all flocks and herds,
    and the animals of the wild,
the birds in the sky,
    and the fish in the sea,
    all that swim the paths of the seas. (Psalms 8:1-8)

Even many pagans understood that there was something special about humanity. The Athenian dramatist Sophocles wrote in his play Antigone;

Numberless are the world’s wonders, but none
More wonderful than man; the storm-gray sea
Yields to his prows, the huge crests bear him high;
Earth, holy and inexhaustible, is graven
With shining furrows where his plows have gone
Year after year, the timeless labor of stallions.
The light-boned birds and beasts that cling to cover,
The lithe fish lighting their reaches of dim water,
All are taken, tamed in the net of his mind;
The lion on the hill, the wild horse windy-maned,
Resign to him; and his blunt yoke has broken
The sultry shoulders of the mountain bull.
Words also, and thought as rapid as air,
He fashions to his good use; statecraft is his
And his the skill that deflects the arrows of snow,
The spears of winter rain: from every wind
He has made himself secure – from all but one:
In the late wind of death he cannot stand.

The modern pagans, by contrast, don’t think that man is anything special at all. At best, we are just another animal. As Ingrid Newkirk of PETA has said;

Animal liberationists do not separate out the human animal, so there is no rational basis for saying that a human being has special rights. A rat is a pig is a dog is a boy. They are all mammals

At worst, human beings are vermin. We pollute the Earth, change the climate, drive numerous species to extinction. We are a cancer and a plague on the Earth. The fewer of us there are, the better.

It seems to me, then, that there is a choice between serving the Earth, as a modern pagan, or serving the Creator of the Earth as a Christian. You cannot do both. This does not mean, of course, that a Christian should deliberately pollute or damage the environment. If God has placed the human race over the Earth, then we are commanded to be good stewards and use the resources that God has given us with care and foresight. Part of being a good steward over creation is preserving the natural world and not wantonly destroying it. We must not worship the Earth, however, or subordinate the needs of our fellow human beings to any other needs. As Joshua might have put it, Choose for yourself this day whom you will serve, but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

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Out of the Silent Planet

April 7, 2014

Sometime in the 1930s, C. S. Lewis and his friend J. R. R. Tolkien were complaining about the state of contemporary English fiction. “Tollers, there is too little of what we really like in stories”, Lewis said to Tolkien, “I am afraid we shall have to write some ourselves”. After some discussion on the subject, the two writers agreed that Tolkien would write a time travel story while Lewis would try his hand at a space travel story.

The results were typical of the very different styles and personalities of the two men. Tolkien was a perfectionist who was never satisfied with anything he wrote and his proposed story was never finished. Lewis was more energetic and managed to write the three novels that make up his “Space Trilogy” in less than a decade.
Out of the Silent Planet is the first book in the trilogy. The story begins when Elwin Ransom, a philologist who is spending his vacation walking around the English countryside, comes across two men, Weston and Devine, trying to force a retarded young man into some structure. Ransom rescues the young man, only to be taken himself on what turns out to be a space ship traveling to a planet called Malacandra, or Mars. Along the way, Ransom discovers that Weston and Devine intend to deliver him as a sort of human sacrifice to the Malacandrans and as soon as they land, he escapes.

Out of the Silent Planet

Out of the Silent Planet (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ransom quickly encounters the Malacandrans and learns that they are not the savage, primitive monsters he had been led to believe they were. There are three species of Malacandrans; the seal like Hrossa, the tall, wise Sorns, and the handy Pfifltriggi. A fourth race, the invisible Eldili live in space and are more like spirits or angels. All three races are unfallen and thus lack the inclination to evil that the inhabitants of our Earth or Thulcandra, the Silent Planet. The only word in the Malacandran language that Ransom can find to express the concept of evil is “bent”, perhaps the most apt word to describe the problems or humanity that I have ever heard.

 

There is not much action in Out of the Silent Planet, and there are slow places, but the plot is far from dull. I think the depictions of the extraterrestrials are among the best I have read in science fiction. The science is badly dated, though Lewis made the best use of contemporary theories and knowledge about Mars available at the time. In the climax, Ransom is brought before the ruling eldil of Malacandra, the Oyarsa. He discovers that the Oyarsa of Earth is bent and confined to Earth’s immediate region in space. As a result, Earth is inaccessible to the Eldil and is named Thulcandra, the Silent Planet. Ransom answers the Oyarsa’s questions about life on Thulcandra and affirms things are very bent indeed. Weston and Devine are brought forward, but they insist on treating the Malacandrans like ignorant savages, even speaking in a ridiculous pidgin. This scene is a send up of modern man’s pretensions of superiority over “primitives”, and Ransom’s translation of Weston’s speech asserting Human superiority over the Malacandrans is priceless.

 
Out of the Silent Planet seems to be a promising beginning to the Space Trilogy and can stand on its own. I am not sure if it can really be classed as properly science fiction so much as a theological fantasy, or an up to date medieval romance, but however you might classify it, it is worth the effort of reading.

 

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Boycotting Mozilla

April 6, 2014

By now, just about everyone who might be reading this post knows something of what has going on with Mozilla and its eleven day CEO Brendan Eich. For the heinous crime of donating $1000 in support of California’s  anti-gay marriage Proposition 8, a position held by none other than then Senator Barack Obama. For this thought crime, Mr. Eich has been obliged to leave.

This isn’t about gay marriage. It isn’t really about freedom of expression, or the right to donate to political causes without fear of retribution. This is about the most fundamental right of all , the right to be left alone to live our lives as we see fit.

There is a class of professional activists; the hyper sensitive, the perpetually aggrieved, the would be do-gooders and reformers, for whom everything is subordinate to the glorious cause. For these people, life is a Manichean struggle of ultimate good and evil. No one can be neutral or indifferent to the struggle. If you are not with them, you are against them and must be destroyed by any means necessary. No decision or action can be strictly personal. Everything is political. In Mr. Eich’s case, the fact that he was a co founder of Mozilla and had invented JavaScript was irrelevant. He had opposed the cause and could not be tolerated. Remember that notorious video that British environmentalists made.

 

Notice that the people who were blown up were not actually opposed to the Green agenda. Their crime was simply that they were not sufficiently enthusiastic. I don’t want to live in that kind of world. I don’t want to boycott Mozilla or stop using Firefox. I don’t want to make decisions on what I buy or use based on the political ideas of the providers. I would rather just live my life and express my opinions and let everyone else alone. If there are differences of opinions, I would rather discuss or debate the matter and not have to worry about being punished for taking the wrong side, or punishing others for disagreeing with me. It would seem, however, that those of us who want to be left alone and to leave others alone are not going to be allowed to do that. Since this is the world the busybodies and the bullies seem to want, I guess we will just have to push back until they go away.

I do not know if the people who run Mozilla are cowards who give in to the least pressure, from the right sort of people, or if they can be included among the bullies. It really doesn’t matter. They have shown that they are on the side against liberty and so do not deserve any support from me. I will uninstall Firefox.

No Firefox

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