Islam: A Reminder

     Islam holds that non-Muslim women taken captive by Muslims are fair game to be raped. Even the famously leftist New York Times admits this:

     In the moments before he raped the 12-year-old [non-Muslim] girl, the Islamic State fighter took the time to explain that what he was about to do was not a sin. Because the preteen girl practiced a religion other than Islam, the Quran not only gave him the right to rape her — it condoned and encouraged it, he insisted.

     And indeed, it’s in the Quran, supposedly the literal word of Allah:

     And if you fear that you cannot act equitably towards orphans, then marry such women as seem good to you, two and three and four; but if you fear that you will not do justice ( between them ), then ( marry ) only one or what your right hands possess; this is more proper, that you may not deviate from the right course. [Sura 4 verse 3; emphasis added by FWP]

     Would anyone care to discuss what’s been happening to the dozens of Israeli women HAMAS fighters kidnapped on October 7 of last year?

If The Headline Says “Scientists Say”…

     …or any approximation, it’s odds-on to be scare talk:

Bird flu pandemic could be ‘100 times worse’ than COVID, scientists warn

     A bird flu pandemic with the potential to be “100 times worse than COVID” may be on the horizon after a rare human case was discovered in Texas, experts have warned.
     The H5N1 avian flu has spread rapidly since a new strain was detected in 2020, affecting wild birds in every state, as well as in commercial poultry and backyard flocks.
     But it has now even been detected in mammals, with cattle herds across four states becoming infected, and on Monday, federal health officials announced that a dairy worker in Texas caught the virus.
     “This virus [has been] on the top of the pandemic list for many, many years and probably decades,” Dr. Suresh Kuchipudi, a bird flu researcher from Pittsburgh, said at a recent panel discussing the issue, according to the Daily Mail.
     “And now we’re getting dangerously close to this virus potentially causing a pandemic.”

     While I trust my Gentle Readers’ intellects, I know they expect me to do the verbal dissections of such articles. So take note of the following:

  1. “experts warn”
  2. “federal health officials announced”
  3. Quotes “a bird flu researcher”
  4. “getting dangerously close”
  5. “potentially causing a pandemic”

     That’s in the few dozen words cited above. Later on in the article, we have:

  1. “a pharmaceutical industry consultant for vaccines” “expressed his concerns”
  2. “100 times worse than COVID — or it could be if it mutates”
  3. “the whole U.S. government is taking this situation very seriously” (you bet)
  4. “If the virus does mutate enough to infect humans, it could spread rapidly”
  5. “If avian A [H5N1] influenza viruses acquire the ability to spread efficiently among humans, large-scale transmission could occur”

     And what “run in circles, scream and shout” article would be complete without a bit of vapidity from that indispensable black lesbian immigrant showpiece for “diversity, equity, and inclusion,” Karine Jean-Pierre:

     “We take the health and safety of the American people seriously,” she said at her briefing on Wednesday. “It is very important to this president.
     “Our top priority is to keep communities healthy, safe and informed.”

     Yeah, suuurre.

     The set-up for massive vote fraud is in progress. Remember that you read it here first.

For The “Post-Humorists”

     The Left is rabidly opposed to a huge fraction of our cultural heritage. Possibly all of it, really. Historical totalitarians have usually striven to destroy their subjects’ cultural memory. The contemporary Left is as totalitarian as any of its ideological predecessors.

     Why let it happen? Preserve what you can. Make sure your children and their friends are aware of it and take what pleasure in it they can. And when it’s funny, remember to chuckle over it yourself.

     My attention this fine morning is on novelty songs. Have a trio:

     “Oooh! How racist! What horrible exploitation of African culture!”

     “What did they sing? ‘Chicks??’ Gaahh! The sexism, it must be destroyed!”

     “How dare you slander our noble Native American kinsmen? They were just defending themselves!”

     And one more for lagniappe:

     Wasn’t that fun? Maybe I’ll do ethnic jokes next.

Early Morning Random Thoughts

This City Journal article is an excellent explanation of how statistics can be ‘massaged’ beyond all recognition.

Just one example:

“But is the Gallup–Lumina survey reliable? We have reason to doubt it, and not only because the nonrandom, web-based sampling employed by the report invites various biases and distortions. Tucked into the survey is the thesis-destroying acknowledgment that “many students do not enjoy the luxury of attending college in any state they choose.” The force of this caveat is only deepened by the fine-print revelation that respondents were between the ages of 18 and 59—not, as one might have expected, 18 and 22. The significance of this disclosure should be obvious. A 20-year-old may flit from state to state on the winds of politics. A collegian in his sixth decade probably can’t, however satisfying it is to tell a pollster otherwise.”

(I bolded the quote, as I’ve never been able to get WordPress to handle indentations and such properly. I have too little time for non-essentials right now – my brother-in-law is hospitalized with major medical issues – so I’m taking that half-a$$ed way of handling the formatting.)

I’m with City Journal on this one – let the Woke and Stupid go somewhere else. The higher education system will survive. Those that remain will likely be more focused on actual education, not ‘activism’, and the actual adults in colleges are relatively stuck in place, as the piece mentions. Only the younger students will leave; good riddance.

As for this American Greatness post on college loans – full disclosure, I was a recipient of student grants (state and federal), scholarships, and loans. But, the practice of making government responsible for the immature choices of the 25 and under voters is not working, in its present format.

I actually like the idea floated here:

“Donald Trump should steal a march on Biden: he should propose forgiving all student loans for people making less than, say, $40,000 a year (if you don’t like that amount, pick another) and—this is the important part—cancel all support for higher education in order to pay for the loan cancellation. Cancelling federal aid to higher education would save billions!”

I’d prefer to limit the forgiveness to:

  • Those that were suckered into loans that were NOT prepared for work at a college level. Those who were affirmatively placed in programs they had no business enrolling in. I do not, generally, blame the students. I blame the colleges – and there should be a 50-50 responsibility for making up the loss. Half the cost should be levied on the colleges/programs that enabled that academic fraud.
  • Those who finished a four year program with a 2.5 or above.
  • Those who spent the money on actual college expenses, not using the money to ‘live the high life’. Before qualifying for forgiveness, students should have to undergo debt counselling and restructuring, and make payments for a predetermined time period before forgiveness. Too often, just allowing part of the debt to be assumed by another – in this case the taxpayers – doesn’t solve the problem, which is that they are idiots with money.
  • Those who signed up for debt before the age of 21. Allowing a legal minor to assume 5-6 figure debt on a signature, without collateral, is idiocy. It’s especially bad public policy.

What about future students?

It’s a STATE responsibility. The federal government should NOT be involved, unless it is to provide money for college for majors/programs for high-need fields related to federal functions. For example:

  • Engineering, physics, chemistry, math – NOT biology. We have sufficient biology majors (most of whom plan to enter the health professions).
  • Special education programs – higher amounts available for those preparing to teach more challenging students – severe disabilities, particularly.
  • Teachers in certain license areas ONLY – math & science. Am I biased (I’m a retired science teacher)? Yes. I’ve seen too many not-qualified teachers in those areas teaching for years on a ‘temporary’ certificate. More programs to move people from para and sub positions to full certification – in certain license areas only. We really don’t need all that many more elementary teachers.

ALL the above are dependent on working in those fields for at least 10 years. Failure to do so triggers repayment of the full debt, with no forgiveness.

One of the biggest barriers to people making use of their degrees (assuming they didn’t major in some quirky or overcrowded field) is the large number of immigrants that are hired preferentially. It’s just about impossible for many tech majors to get a fair shot at a job. So, full stop on work visas, AND deportation – BOTH. At the end of the current work visas, the workers should return. If they have married/started a family that includes American citizens, they can either return alone, and join the queue, or take their family with them (that’s my take on how we should handle family reunification).

Harsh? Yep.

But, don’t blame the fed-up Americans for this state of affairs. Blame all the cheaters, fence-jumpers, and chuckleheads that put on their SAD face and cried for exceptions to perfectly reasonable rules.

Have We Given Up On Ourselves?

     First, a brief Tucker Carlson video:

     Carlson is asking a critical question here. It pays to spend a few moments over it.

     There are three polar attitudes toward time that a man can have:

  1. Past-oriented: He can spend his conscious hours reminiscing, recalling past experiences and achievements, and grousing over past failures and injustices.
  2. Present-oriented: He can focus on his present needs, obligations, desires, and short-term ambitions.
  3. Future-oriented: He can devote his efforts to the attainment of goals or statuses that are distant in time.

     Not too difficult, eh? Most of us distribute our energy and attention over those three states rather than devoting ourselves wholly to any one of them. We work toward some long-term goal (e.g., retirement); we slake current needs and scratch current itches; and we remember where we’ve been and what we’ve done for the sake of what we can learn from it. That’s typical for a mature, healthy human being.

     To obsess over one pole is plainly unhealthful. To neglect one entirely is equally unhealthful.

     Tucker Carlson has focused on the dwindling interest Americans are exhibiting toward the future: their future, that of their progeny, and that of their nation. There are symptoms of a wide-scale loss of confidence in those things:

  • Present-oriented spending patterns;
  • Lack of willingness to save;
  • Few or no children.

     These are baleful trends. Moreover, there are powerful forces – economic, social, and political – behind all of them, especially the drive to depopulate the Earth.

     I’ve mentioned the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement several times before this. I have no doubt that most Gentle Readers scoffed at it. But think how it dovetails with the other elements of the death cults Pascal and I have enumerated:

  1. The nihilists;
  2. The anti-natalists;
  3. The extreme medicalizers;
  4. The radical environmentalists;
  5. The promoters of youth culture;
  6. The anti-growth activists of all kinds;
  7. The homosexual and transgender evangelists;
  8. The growing body of preachers against the work ethic.

     Those are merely the ones that come to mind at 5:30 AM after one cup of coffee. There are others.

     At this time, were it not for uncontrolled immigration, Americans would not be replacing themselves. Other nations that have fallen below the Zero Population Growth (ZPG) reproduction rate – currently, approximately 2.07 children per fertile couple – are visibly on the way to the ashbin of history. Read Mark Steyn’s indispensable book America Alone for further details.

     I shan’t flog this corpse into the magma. My job here is to note patterns. This one is worthy of more attention than it usually gets.

     Another fact of note is that a people that has become radically present-oriented is virtually impossible to reorient. As I’ve written before, encouraging people to work, save, and breed for the sake of “the future” is a difficult undertaking. We’re here now, living, enjoying, and suffering in the present. How shall we deflect a man from his present concerns and focus him on a future he may not believe he’ll see?

     Bravo, Tucker. Oh, Happy 1984 Day, Gentle Reader:

     April 4th, 1984. Last night to the flicks. All war films…

Corporate Malfeasance

I think that’s the correct term – normally, it’s applied to public officials, but in the case of a public corporation, I think it’s appropriate.

I found this on Robert Zimmerman’s Behind the Black blog. Normally, he deals with climate, space, and other science-related topics. I signed up for the $2/month subscription, and it’s been MORE than worth it.

This link is to information about the Boeing culture that is KILLING the corporation, and how it targets engineers.

Now, engineers CAN be picky, overly ornery PITAs (Pains in the – well, you know). I can say this, as I have been married to an engineer for over 50 years. His virtues are many, and why we are still together.

His faults are those of many engineers:

  • Insistence on doing things HIS way (the CORRECT way).
  • Picking apart the flaws in the way others are performing tasks (like his long-suffering wife).
  • Absolutely rigid about not taking shortcuts, ‘just this once’.
  • Not always the most diplomatic in how he addresses others – OK, he can be REALLY clueless about saying things that cut people to the raw.

Now, a lot of that is training. Engineers are schooled to NOT cut safety corners. And, for work situations, that’s fine. Not always so fine when it comes to home tasks. I look forward to getting things done when he’s not around, as I can take time-saving shortcuts on cleaning tasks. My goal is usually to get the job DONE, not done PERFECTLY.

But, when safety is an issue?

He’s the guy I want in charge. Period.

Today’s managers don’t value that attention to detail. They come out of a looser culture. Many of them are women, who come in with the perception that men need to be put in their place (usually that place is UNDER a woman). The DEI culture has forced too many men to either knuckle under to decrees they consider not based on reason or logic, or to leave under a cloud.

Boeing is one such company. The managerial types have weeded out those who won’t go along with their cost-cutting measures, if they threaten safety. What is left is lackadaisical, poorly schooled in safe manufacturing practices, and, shall we say, ethically FLEXIBLE.

Our transportation system – planes, trains, cars, trucks, military and space – is suffering as a result.

Social Media for Women

I was reading an opinion piece about relations between young men and women, and I had a thought:

Is Social Media like a drug with women?

By comparing Social Media to drugs, I refer to the addictive nature of the experience, and the way that use of that media seems to cause personality and behavioral changes in the user.

And, should the use of that “drug” become frequent/more than an occasional dalliance, the changes may be permanent.

I’ve been weaning myself from social media; the primary reason I use any of it is:

  1. Keep in touch with aging friends I seldom see in person (outside of funerals).
  2. Same as above, but with distant family.
  3. For contacts with professional connections – Physics teachers, Ham Radio.
  4. OCCASIONALLY, use either Twitter or Truth Social to post links to posts I’ve written or a post that I’d like to promote. I’m on the fence about that 2nd one, but hate to narrow the Dissident Media to ONE outlet.
  5. I do use the Notes feature for Substack, but mostly use that as I fear narrowing my reach to a single potentially deplatformed outlet.

What has replaced it? Mostly text messages to close family/friends. I’m not interested in posturing for the world; I want to keep in touch with those I love.

My stress level has plummeted.

Things That Make Me Sad

     Good morning, Gentle Reader. It’s Wednesday, or “Hump Day,” as the gainfully employed have long styled it. The rain is pissing down on my kinda-sorta-beloved Long Island home, yet the dogs keep demanding to be let out…and let back in five minutes later. Thus, the house is accumulating a great number of muddy tracks from end to end. But this too shall pass away, right?

     That’s enough of an introduction, I think. Anyway, what I want to talk about is indie fiction.

***

     Hans G. Schantz has been operating a Based Book Sale at regular intervals for a few years now. At first it seemed an effective promotional technique. However, the bloom might be off that rose, at least if my own sales are an indication.

     There are some fiction-marketing “gurus” who argue that the way to develop a significant enduring readership is to “keep the pipeline filled.” Keep pumping ‘em out! Don’t bother fussing over every word. Don’t concern yourself with assuring that your prose flows smoothly and that your sentence structures propel the reader irresistibly forward. Don’t fret over the occasional typo. And indeed, some who have followed that star have sold a lot of books.

     I can’t do that. With one exception, I dislike the stories of those who’ve embraced that prescription. Overall they strike me as slapdash, often repetitive. But as regards sales volume, it seems to work for some of those who have the knack.

***

     Some time ago, I penned a short piece about things a writer should not do in promoting his books, with specific attention to the promotional blurbs we post at Amazon. However, I never posted it here or elsewhere. So here it is:


     Patterns can arise in any venue, and from many practices and techniques. Sometimes a pattern is an unrecognized consequence of the indie-fiction “Uber-consciousness:” i.e., the way we’re always furtively watching one another, hoping to spot someone who’s made an actual breakthrough. Since indie writers are more challenged by promotion than by most other aspects of their avocation, the patterns I’ve found there are my place to start.

     Mind you, I’m not particularly successful. I’ve made some money at this, but averaged out over the hours I’ve invested in my fiction, from a profit perspective I’d have been better advised to get a part-time job at a fast-food place. All the same, as a major consumer of indie fiction as well as a producer thereof, my observations might just have some value to my colleagues in this madness.

     Preliminary Meta-Observation: You cannot rise above the herd by aping the herd’s practices. If it seems as if everyone else (or a large fraction of everyone else) is doing what you’re doing, chuck it at once and try something else!

     When it comes to patterns, the above is the guiding principle. If it strikes you as obvious, then why are you still doing what everyone else is doing?

     First Detail Observation: Indies are prone to praising their own work.

     Doubleplusungood! It’s always a mistake to preen yourself in public, and never more so than when money is involved. Self-awarded praise is almost always detectable, is redolent of arrogance, and will reliably turn your prospective customer off. Speak plainly of your book or story, and let the praise come from happy readers.

     Second Detail Observation: Grammar, spelling, and punctuation always count, and never more so than in promotional material.

     Indies have stories to tell; no one disputes that. Many of those stories are inherently as interesting as anything being published by conventional publishers. But he whose craft is suspect won’t sell his stuff. He could have produced the next Gone With The Wind, and it wouldn’t matter. Paying readers don’t tolerate sloppy writing — and if your promo stuff is slovenly, the prospective reader will assume your fiction is as bad or worse. Remember, authors pay proof readers, not the other way around.

     Third Detail Observation: Even a good promotional technique can be overused. No matter how intriguing or evocative a technique seems to you, if it seems that “everybody is doing it,” you shouldn’t be.

     This comes to mind because, just this morning while fishing at Smashwords for something to read at lunch, I encountered about two dozen promotional blurbs in sequence, every one of which ended with a question. The hook here is easy to understand: If you can get a prospective reader interested in the answer to that question, he just might buy your book. But there are other ways to elicit that sort of reader curiosity. Breaking out of the pack by using one of those alternatives would add the refreshment of novelty to the lure of your blurb.


     If you write indie fiction, let me know whether the above is of any help to you.

***

     One practice mentioned above really must be extinguished at once: self-praise. Is there a reader who’s unaware that your Amazon blurb was written by you, the author? Somehow I doubt it. Yet the trend toward praising one’s own works in those blurbs is actually getting stronger.

     If you can get someone else to praise your stuff – someone who doesn’t owe you money – fine and dandy. But restrict your blurb to talking about the substance of your tale, not how you hope the reader will feel about it.

     I mention this because I was recently induced to check out the fiction of a fairly well-known commentator. This gentleman has written a long series of novels, whose themes “should” have aroused my interest. I’ve resisted his oeuvre because of the style of his commentary, which can be grating. But not too many days ago, he casually referred to his novels as “amazing” in one of his op-eds. Bizarrely, that made me feel compelled to see if he’s as good as all that.

     To stay compact about it, he’s not. I couldn’t get ten pages into his most recent novel without shaking my head at the flaws of craft. I shan’t name him, as I wouldn’t want to be responsible for a dip in his sales. But I hope he learns some fictional craft sometime soon…and some humility.

***

     Finally, a story that doesn’t make me sad. It’s not often that I write Amazon reviews any more, as the frequency of those reviews was proportional to the volume of requests from other writers to review their books, always for no consideration whatsoever. But now and then I do pen a review. The work in question must please me significantly more than average, as mere diversions are legion. My review of such a book will say so.

     And just yesterday, an extremely nice note arrived in the e-mailbox:

Dear Francis,

     Hello. You may not remember me, but I’m the author of Strangely, Incredibly Good, for which you wrote my all-time favorite review, and there have been hundreds! I loved that it tickled you and that you found I didn’t over-write.

     I didn’t have an email for you until recently (found it on GR) and came across your review again today, so I just wanted to thank you for it. You are one of the reasons I probably went on to write five more novels and a couple screenplays! It’s not an easy career, especially with some people who live online deciding cruelty is a way of life, so reviews like yours were the deciding factor for me between persevering and poking my eyes out with a very sharp object so I couldn’t write or read the reviews any more.

🙂 Thank you.
Heather Grace Stewart

     If you have a few bucks to spend, a little room in your reading queue, and aren’t turned off by romantic comedy, go to Amazon and show Heather Grace Stewart some love. She deserves it.

Even a flatworm turns away from pain

And even Oregon can regain a modicum of sanity.

On Monday, Oregon’s Democratic Governor Tina Kotek signed into law House Bill 4002, reverting the possession of small amounts of drugs back into a criminal offense and marking the end of a pioneering decriminalization experiment plagued by implementation challenges.

To the surprise of absolutely nobody with two functioning brain cells, when you legalize the use of drugs, you get more drug addicts. Unfortunately for the good parts of Oregon, Portlandia controls the state much like the Putrid Sound controls Washington. And as we can see from the past couple of decades, the people who inhabit Portlandia don’t have two brain cells. Actually, there might not be two brain cells to share for a majority of the population there.

The decriminalization of drugs in Oregon didn’t just leave Portland as a drug-soaked piss bucket. It also encouraged drug makers to move to the state. Farmland that once grew beans or grazed cattle was being turned into marijuana growing operations. And not from your nice local neighborhood farmer who wanted a new cash crop. No, the cartels moved in. And they don’t make good neighbors. They don’t care if their run-off of pesticides and garbage make it on to your property. They don’t care if you walked up and down your road every day for decades. They’ll trash the property, your property, shoot at you if you get to close to their operation, and generally act like…. well, act like a foreign criminal cartel. Because that’s what they are.

They’re doing the same thing in Northern California. In the National Forests. Where the fuck are the hippy-dippy eco-freaks now? Why aren’t they screaming about all the chemicals that the cartels are dumping into the National Forests? Oh, that’s right, the eco-freaks are just a bunch of anti-American communists who don’t actually give a shit about the ecology, they just use that movement to shut down American development.\

Anyways, back to Oregon. I guess the view of addicts overdosing in the street, pissing and shitting all over public property and the rampant crime that always accompanies large groups of addicts has caused Portlandia a fair amount of pain. Enough pain that the people there, finally pushed out of their comfortable drug-soaked hazy life, looked around and said “Like, woah man, is that dude dead? Hey, where did my favorite coffee shop go? Why did they close? Hey man, um…. *massive bong rip*cough*cough* Like, wow man, someone should do something, or something like that man!”

Lo and behold, cause enough pain and even Leftists can change their behavior. Even if they’re a few steps down from a flatworm.

“…But I know it when I see it.”

     Does anyone remember that little phrase? It became notorious in the early Seventies, after the Supreme Court issued a ruling in a pornography case. The original speaker was Associate Justice Potter Stewart. The stimulus, of course, was the question “What is pornography?”

     The Court did not issue a definition. Instead, the ruling centered on a subjective interpretation of the intentions behind the item to be judged: “Does it possess serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value?” That came to be called the “SLAPS test.” It got the Court into the practice of screening movies for those things, to determine whether they were “pornography” and therefore could be banned. Justice Stewart stuck to his personal non-definition definition.

     Today, laws against porn are ignored nearly everywhere. They’re still on the books in most places, as are the laws against adultery, fornication, and sodomy, but no jurisdiction to my knowledge attempts to enforce them. Yea verily, not even the U.S. Postal Service, which at one point was the focus of the controversy.

     Today, quite a lot of people are saying “but I know it when I see it” about something quite different. Herewith, a brief video from Langley Outdoors Academy, in which master of ceremonies Braden focuses on a fascinating hearing in the United States Senate. As is so often the case, one interlocutor is Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana:

     I hope you watched it, Gentle Reader. Especially if you’re passionate about the right to keep and bear arms, as am I. Note all the following high points:

  • The young lawyer testifying to the Senate committee as an “expert” on assault weapons, the subject of a proposed ban in Illinois, could not say what an assault weapon is.
  • She also admitted that she did not write the amicus curiae brief in question. The brief was handed to her for her signature.
  • It is unclear whether she ever read the brief, for all that mattered was that an Illinois lawyer sign it, to get it before the Illinois legislature.

     Do you suppose that she “knows it when she sees it” — ?

***

     Laws which fail to define their subject matter in an objective fashion are fundamentally wrong. Many such have been deemed unconstitutional upon appellate review. The reason is simple, if not quite “obvious:” if the offense is not defined straitly enough for an ordinary man to know exactly what it means, then no one can be certain whether he’s breaking the law. Such a law is a kind of black-letter Star Chamber, wherein the accused is incapable of knowing against what charge he must defend himself.

     However, vague offenses are grist for the mill of the aspiring tyrant. A “standard” of “I know it when I see it” is inherently personal. It transfers the definition of the offense to a man: whatever man is in power at the moment. It makes room for whatever he pleases to do, regardless of the facts.

     That’s not law as Americans have understood it for centuries. That’s dictatorship. Today it’s as prevalent in American courtrooms as it is in North Korea.

     We may gloss over the obvious interest of such as the Brady Center for Gun Safety in keeping “assault weapons” undefined. What matters more is the difference in kind between such a law and one that would ban a well-defined kind of weapon: e.g., a crew-served .50 caliber machine gun. Even a dunce would have a fair chance of knowing whether he’d acquired one such. Not that I’m advocating laws against such guns, mind you, but at the very least an ordinary man would have the capacity to understand what had been outlawed.

     The difference is Isabel Paterson’s nightmare of the Society of Status, which is incompatible with a Society of Contract and Law:

     In the Society of Contract man is born free, and comes into his inheritance with maturity.
     By this concept all rights belong to the individual. Society consists of individuals in voluntary association. The rights of any person are limited only by the equal rights of another person.
     In the Society of Status nobody has any rights. The individual is not recognized; a man is defined by his relation to the group, and is presumed to exist only by permission. The system of status is privilege and subjection. By the ultimate logic of the Society of Status, a member of the group who has not committed even a minor offense might be put to death for “the good of society.”

     Even persons opposed to the private ownership of weapons should be terrified by that.

     But wait: What’s that you say? We’ve already erected a Society of Status? What do you mean? Well, it seems that FDR’s Administration incarcerated over a hundred thousand Americans in concentration camps, simply because they were of Japanese descent:

     Eighty years ago, on February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, stripping people of Japanese descent of their civil rights. That order and the subsequent actions carried out by the Federal Government represent one of the most shameful chapters in our Nation’s history. On this Day of Remembrance of Japanese American Incarceration During World War II, we acknowledge the unjust incarceration of some 120,000 Japanese Americans, approximately two-thirds of whom were born in the United States.
     Despite never being charged with a crime, and without due process, Japanese Americans were forcibly removed from their homes and communities and incarcerated, simply because of their heritage. For years, many Japanese Americans lived in harsh, overcrowded conditions, surrounded by barbed wire fences and armed guards. Not only did they lose their homes, businesses, property, and savings — they also lost their liberty, security, and the fundamental freedoms that belong to all Americans in equal measure.

     The reasoning? “There’s a war on.” And most Americans bought it.

     Perhaps I should stop there, before I begin to foam at the mouth. But one last question for my Gentle Readers: What is there that you can’t define objectively, but nevertheless you “know it when you see it” — ? Other than art, that is.

A Despotic Self-Own By RFKJr

Say you know a classical liberal. The Dems have finally broken their bond with him, most notably with their Bolshevikian attacks on any one or group that exposes their faults. Their attacks on free speech has him leaning towards RFKJr because of some popular stances that align with his own.

Specifically for people like that classical lib, I am provided you with the following video reminder. In RFKJr’s own words he expressed using the very tactics with which the Dems/Left/Media now attack all opposition.

RFKJr was 10 years ahead of them on intending to jail all his opposition.

From Tolerable To Intolerable…

     …can be a very short journey indeed. Whether it’s possible depends on whether the State decides the protection and promotion of some human aberration would serve its interests. Buckle your seat belt and fold your tray-tables; this ride could get bumpy.

***

     I’ve ranted before about how the politicization of transgenderism has transformed it from something most people could safely ignore into a fearsome threat. I return to this as frequently as I do because it’s a near-perfect “demonstrator.” That is, as a category of human oddity it perfectly exemplifies the venomous power of the State. If I may quote myself:

     I’ll say it once more: There have been transgenders for several decades. (Does anyone else remember Renee Richards and Tula Cossey?) When transgenders were willing to live quietly, without trumpeting their condition and demanding that it be honored by others, they weren’t a social or political problem. But that ceased to be the case a few years ago.

     But transgenderism is not the first such oddity.

***

     Do the Gentle Readers of Liberty’s Torch remember the old movie The Boys In The Band? It was a pretty good flick, with a good script and good performances, but I doubt it’s shown in the “art houses” today. It depicts a group of homosexual friends at their extremes: their best and their worst. It also includes language that implicitly describes homosexuality as a condition to be regretted and, if possible, escaped. That’s because it was made before homosexuality became a political movement.

     Now that homosexuality is an explicit political force – one that commands deference from heterosexuals regardless of their preferences – such a movie is unacceptable. The homosexuals themselves would see to it with mass protests and monkey-wrenching. The State would protect the disruptors from any consequences, as homosexuals and their movement have proved useful to the State.

     Before the politicization of homosexuality, heterosexuals – 97% of the population of the United States – largely tolerated homosexuals. Yes, there were exceptions, some of which were horrifying and deserved to be punished. But the prevailing attitude was of tolerance and the maintenance of a certain distance. In social and sexual matters, homosexuals constituted a separate society. If they weren’t perfectly comfortable with that status, nevertheless they found it bearable…as did the heterosexual majority.

     Things are not better now.

***

     If you can stand a sharp turn to a subject few persons are willing – or able – to discuss rationally, let’s talk for a moment about race.

     One might say, with a modicum of justice, that the legal status of slavery is at the base of all our troubles with race. Certainly, it was protected by State power in the “slave states.” After the Civil War / War Between The States / Late Unpleasantness and the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, that was no longer the case. One could have hoped that the enslavement of Negroes – funny, people seldom address the populations of white slaves from that time, whose numbers were not insignificant – was a subject that had been sufficiently dealt with.

     For nearly a century, that was approximately the case. Yes, many whites were uneasy around blacks, and in some parts of the country blacks were treated unfairly. But those decades were far more tolerable than the conditions of today, especially for the 87% of us who are not black. The degeneration from an acceptable degree of social peace to near-constant disruptions and violence proceeded from what originally appeared an innocent thing: the drive for racial integration, which had the power of the State behind it.

     Are you beginning to see a pattern here, Gentle Reader?

***

     Homosexuality…integration…polygamy and polyandry…illegitimacy and “single-parent” households…“non-binary” sexuality…transgenderism… One by one these things groped for and seized political power and moved from the sphere of tolerable aberrations – ones whose existence we could acknowledge without being moved to pogroms – to forces that threaten not only social peace but the probable future of this country. The “frontier” today is bestiality and pedophilia. If there’s anything more looming behind the horizon, I’m not sure I want to know.

     Today there’s an envelope-movement wrapped around the above and a lot of other things: “diversity, equity, and inclusion” or DEI. This is an explicitly political movement that seeks to force Americans to surrender what remains of our freedom of association. It’s an important component of the movement to nullify, de facto, the guarantees of the First Amendment. I doubt I need tell you what will become of us if that goes into the trash bin.

     Time for a graphic, I think:

     Miss Robinson isn’t quite “on the right page.” What’s in the process of felling “America as it was” is the State’s application of political power to all those things. I’ll grant that normal Americans ought never to have “blessed” those things – the usual incantation is “not that there’s anything wrong with that” – but we were able to bear their existence, as long as we were permitted to choose our own associates without fear of some politician or bureaucrat intruding into those decisions. Some persons were excluded from others’ businesses, neighborhoods, and societies…but peace reigned. There were no riots and no violent disruptions. There were no desecrations of religious ceremonies. There were no crowds of “protestors” harassing those who dared to dissent from the “tolerance uber alles” gospel preached today.

     The difference is the ambition – already fulfilled by some; still hoped for by others – to enlist the power of the State on the side of the aberrant movement. The State is nearly always happy to cooperate. Power, after all, is a statist’s top priority at all times. And when power can be used to create conflicts among the State’s subjects that the State can use to increase and extend its power…need I say more?

***

     There is no Last Graf. The solution is the elimination of the State and its abjuration for all time to come…which, for the moment at least, is impossible. Yet it is the only solution with any endurance.

     The “progressive” assaults on individuals’ right to be left alone – the supreme right that underpins all other rights – have united under the DEI banner. If we are to retain any shred of our original freedom, it must be fought a outrance. For it is the State – the 88,000-plus governments that infest America – that presses it upon us. It is their best weapon, for now at least, for completing our subjugation.

     Anarcho-tyranny always moves toward ever greater tyranny. And April 1 notwithstanding, all of the above is meant seriously.

     Have a nice day.

Evidence That Demands A Verdict

     That’s the title of a famous book by a notable Christian apologist. It’s also suitable for labeling this obscenity:

     Protesters calling for a cease-fire in Gaza interrupted a Saturday night Easter Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, chanting “Free, free Palestine” before being removed from the service.
     Thousands of pro-Palestine demonstrators gathered in Times Square earlier Saturday before some headed to the Easter Vigil service at St. Patrick’s, where their chants of “Free, free Palestine” could be heard during the second reading of the service.
     At least some of the protesters were with Extinction Rebellion NYC’s Palestinian Solidarity group and carried a flag with an olive tree and the words “SILENCE = DEATH” written across it.

     That’s enough for me. They are evil. No further argument will be entertained.

The Outrider

     [A short story for you today. Some “great events” are, in point of fact, merely resultants. They’re preceded by much smaller and less visible events that made them, if not inevitable, at least overwhelmingly likely. If there’s a great event to come, where should we look for the seemingly insignificant precursors that will precipitate it upon us? – FWP]


     He struck at the stroke of noon.
     It was the best time by far, for the confluence of conditions made him both a rebel and a hero. With a single mighty sweep of his arm he cleansed the counter of the offending items, the instruments of oppression accepted too meekly and for too long. With motions both magisterial and reverent, he restored the ancient devices the oppressors had seized. As dozens of patrons gazed upon his deed in wonder and joy, he stood aside and gestured at the symbols of freedom reborn.
     “Comes the revolution!”
     He swept his cape aside and marched out of the building with a conqueror’s stride, to the sound of overwhelming applause and cheers.

***

     The authorities were swift to descend upon the scene. It availed them naught, for no one who’d witnessed the event could identify the perpetrator. Their words gave him gentle homage and thanks. Yea, even those who stood mute testified thereby to his greatness.
     “It was magnificent,” one young woman said. “He was magnificent. A hero of the old type, when men were truly men.” There was no mistaking the adoration in her eyes or voice. Had he been present, she would have gladly made herself his slave.
     The myrmidons of the State were not pleased. Their distaste reached its peak when the crowd forbade them, by their sheer numbers, from undoing his handiwork. At that moment it was plain that something greater than they had expected, perhaps greater than they or their masters could gainsay, had begun in that place.
     Their report to their superiors was not cheerfully nor placidly received.
     “Find him,” their commander bellowed. “Leave no stone unturned. Though this be a mere token, a dash of rebellion from a lone outrider, it could galvanize the rabble, spur them to much larger acts of defiance. It is at this stage, when the matter seems trivial, that the impulse to defy us must be crushed.”
     Chastened, the brutes set forth upon their mission. Yet not one dared to return to the place where the rebel had struck. The people had made it into a shrine.

***

     They never found him.
     Days gathered into weeks, and thence to months. His identity remained unknown, as did his whereabouts. Yet he had inspired others to take up his cause. Incidents spread from that seemingly insignificant village with a speed that confounded the oppressors’ expectations. He had kindled the flame of rebellion that commander had feared. His likeness—a short man garbed all in black, with a cape and a mask—became the icon of the rebels from coast to coast. Try as they might, the agents of the State could not erase it, nor him, from the minds of his followers.
     Only one knew him for what he’d done: the woman who nightly shared his bed.
     “Are you happy?” she said when the lights were out and their arms were around one another.
     He smiled in the evening gloom. “Very. You?”
     She nodded. “I wouldn’t have believed it would spread like this.”
     “I couldn’t be sure it would,” he said after a moment. “But big things start small more often than the histories admit.”
     “This seemed pretty damned small, Everett.”
     “It was, no argument.” He chuckled in remembrance. “But it had the advantage of proceeding from an absurdity that had already started people grumbling. Remember?”
     “Not exactly when,” she said. “But what? Of course.”
     He squeezed her gently. “I was there, you know. I didn’t want anything but a burger and a little ketchup for it, the same as a lot of other customers when the jackboots marched in. They wouldn’t even speak to us. They just took the ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise pumps, put up a sign about the new public-health regulations, and marched out. Remember how I looked that day?”
     “I’ll never forget it.”
     “Then came the little portion-controlled foil packages,” he said. “The ones so hard to open that half of them were wasted and half the customers didn’t even bother trying. And then—”
     “The protests about the packaging waste and the damage to the environment?” she said.
     “Yeah. That was when I realized that someone had to take a stand.”
     “Before that,” she said, “I had no idea how…how brave you are.” Her voice shook. “Driving to Mexico all by yourself, evading surveillance, finding and buying those condiment pumps, smuggling them back here, keeping them in secret until it was time to strike…”
     “Don’t think too much of me, Alice. It was something any decent man would have done. Eventually, anyway. The proof is all around us today. Someone just had to be first, that’s all.”
     “They could still find you.”
     He nodded. “They might.”
     She pulled him tight against her. “I love you, Everett.”
     “I love you, Alice,” he whispered.
     They slept.

==<O>==

Copyright © 2024 Francis W. Porretto. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

(With gratitude for the works of Harlan Ellison.)

Promise Kept

     In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.
     And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.
     And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.
     And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.
     And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.
     Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.

     [Matthew 28:1-10]

     The greatest story ever told culminates in the keeping of the greatest promise ever made.

     Happy Easter, everyone. May God bless and keep you all.

When someone tells you who they are,

Believe them.

If you thought March 31 was Easter Sunday, think again, heretic. And no, I’m not referring to the fact that for, Orthodox Christians, Easter falls this year on May 5. Those who celebrate Easter on March 31 are heretics from the standpoint of the Biden regime’s favored religion, which is worlds away from Old Joe’s ostentatious and hollow Roman Catholicism. March 31, you see, is the Transgender Day of Visibility.

Joe Biden’s Catholicism has always been hollow. It’s always been something that he gave lip service to, a shield to be flung up against any accusations of immorality. But Drooling Joe the Chinese Hand Puppet has acted in ways that give the lie to his self-proclaimed faith.

His support for abortion. His support for gay “rights”, which is really the elevation and celebration of LGBTOSTFU over anyone else.. And now this.

Joe Biden’s priorities were always whatever would gain him power. He lies so often and so wildly that you don’t know if he actually believes any of the words coming out of his mouth. He’s been corrupt for as long as he’s been in the public eye. Every single one of his actions shows beyond a shadow of a doubt that when it comes to Christianity, he doesn’t believe a single word of it.

And his puppet masters certainly don’t believe a single bit of it either.

Pray. If you’re of the type, go to confession at some point. Love God, and love your neighbor as yourself. But don’t allow yourself to be fooled, or tempted by people who hate the faith, and who hate you for having faith.

Fears And What Lies Behind Them

     If a man should tell you that he’s “extremely fearful” of some possibility, it immediately has you inquiring for his reasons. In some cases, some of those reasons will be (damn it all) “obvious.” You might have known about them before he expressed his fear. But in others, the more important of his reasons will be, in Ayn Rand’s words, “reasons they do not wish to tell.”

     Probe delicately but as closely as you dare. Often you can open a window into his character.

     Today’s screed arises from this Epoch Times article:

     Democrats are more likely to feel fearful and angry if former President Donald Trump is elected in November than Republicans are about President Joe Biden winning a reelection, a recent poll found.
     According to a recent poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, the majority of Democrats are both extremely fearful (66 percent) and very angry (60 percent) if the former president wins another term in the 2024 White House race.
     In contrast, 49 percent of Republicans feel very fearful, and 45 percent are angry about President Biden’s victory.

     “Extreme fear” must be grounded in an expectation of extreme consequences. What possible consequences might those fearful Democrats have in mind?

     One that comes to mind readily enough is impact to their livelihoods. A far higher percentage of Democrats than Republicans work for a government. Trump is candid about his intention to reduce the size and scope of the federal Leviathan. He demonstrated it during his first term. Also, persons on the Left are more likely than those in the Right to partake of some government benefit, which might also be affected by a second Trump Administration.

     Another is the Left’s fondness for sexual license without consequences. It’s been a while since any of the old laws against such things as adultery, fornication, homosexuality, sodomy, et cetera had force, even though many are still formally “on the books.” Trump himself is not a bluenose and would have no interest in returning to that regime, but his most conservative supporters might. There remains an undercurrent of anger about sexual profligacy in certain parts of the electorate that gets more column-inches than it seriously deserves. Also, there’s the Big Unmentionable: abortion on demand.

     But the third reason that comes to mind is the most striking of all: fear of legal and political retribution for what’s been done to American conservatives, and to Donald Trump himself, these past four years.

     As I’ve written before – sorry, it’s too early for me to go searching for the reference – in our attempts to determine the reasons for others’ actions, we tend to project our motivations onto them. It’s a near-to-universal tendency that arises from our inability to escape our own reasons for doing things. It takes a lot of effort to suppress it. That’s highly relevant here.

     For decades previously and for the last four years quite openly, the Left has striven to use its bastions in the federal government to harass and hobble its political opponents. The two impeachments and ninety-plus indictments of President Trump are only the most blatant examples. The brutal treatment of the January 6 protestors, the legal harassment of conservative activists, the use of “lawfare” to impede conservative candidates for public office, and the many attacks on companies that refuse to toe the Left’s ideological line are from the same motives. A person of a certain character will leap to the conclusion that “they’ll do to us what we did to them” – for he projects his motivations onto us.

     Vindictiveness and the desire for revenge are not unknown among persons in the Right. I believe they’re far weaker and rarer. But those on the Left see their own savage desires as equally likely to move us.

     I don’t know if this insight is particularly useful. Generally, persons in the Right strive to do unto others as we would have them do unto us. What more we could do beyond that, I cannot say. But it’s worth a few moments’ thought, and perhaps a bit of light conversation with one’s fearful left-leaning neighbors, if that’s possible. (NB: Leave your guns at home. Yes, all of them.)

On Being Alone Far From Home

     [After returning to and contemplating this piece, I was moved to repost an old item. It first appeared at the late, lamented Eternity Road in December, 2007. – FWP]


     He was far from home, alone in a sterile room in a cookie-cutter businessmen’s hotel, a storage warren for men on the road for purposes not their own. The television was off. The mini-bar beckoned, but he knew better than to indulge in his present mood. Dinner could wait, and anyway, there was room service around the clock.

     He’d just returned to his lodgings after an exhausting day. It had been filled with frustrating negotiation and petty bickering, even though he and his hosts were employed by the same firm. He’d never liked being on the road; it impeded his sleep and compounded his anxieties. On that occasion, he had more than usual to worry about, for he and his wife had fought bitterly on the night before his departure. They’d had their differences before, but the most recent set had reached an unprecedented pitch. Divorce seemed imminent.

     For several years his life had been filled with anxiety and fatigue. Despite an impressive list of accomplishments and a reputation as a genius in his field, his employment had become insecure. He’d worked hard at being a good husband and father, but his children had turned away from him and his wife had grown cold. His health wasn’t what it had been; several maladies common to older men had come upon him, further sapping his energies and causing him to wonder if his time of power was drawing to an end.

     None of his troubles were new or nearly so. Yet he hadn’t learned how to carry them in a way that would allow him not to dwell on them. They were forever near his thoughts and often at the heart of them.

     His strivings had begun to seem pointless. What did it matter how good he was at his trade, or how dedicated he was to it? His achievements would soon be surpassed by other, younger practitioners. No work of man’s hand wears the crown of its kind for long.

     His attempts to heal the wounds in his family appeared doomed. His wife’s priorities had drifted from his. Their lives centered on entirely different things. Their relations with their children were no longer as a couple, but as disjoint individuals. She could not abide any of his few friends; out of a desire for peace, he’d ceased to have them in his home. She would not have any of her family or friends to visit, perhaps out of fear that he’d treat them in similar fashion. He couldn’t remember ever having done so, but surely she had a reason.

     He was a scientist by education and a critical thinker by inclination and long habit. It was not his way to leave a problem unanalyzed, no matter how tender. But in his attempts to deal with his personal troubles, his powers failed him.

     After all, he told himself, don’t innumerable other men face the same sorts and sets of difficulties? My sorrows aren’t unique. My colleagues share them. Some of them must bear far worse burdens. But they don’t complain…at least, not where I can hear. Are they better equipped to deal with their slings and arrows than I am with mine?

     He could not know. He would not ask.

     Worst was the sense of meaninglessness. Nothing he did, or refrained from doing, would affect more than a few lives at most. Were he to die that day, he would be swiftly forgotten, even by those closest to him. In the cooler reaches of his mind, he knew that that is how it must be. No man should matter critically to great numbers. All grief must give way to the imperatives of life and the needs of the living. No individual, be he ever so gifted, should have the power to upset those balances.

     In the place where his agonies lived, he knew he could not resist despair and its accompaniments for much longer. He’d begun to toy with terrible ideas. He’d managed to refrain from embracing them, but how much longer could he withstand the temptations?

     Restlessness impelled him to motion. He donned his coat, strode out of the hotel, got into his car and drove aimlessly down the little harbor town’s waterside street. Fishermen and pleasure boaters roamed the docks, in their several ways concluding their days on the water. Harborside bistros bustled with dinner trade. The late-winter evening was alight with commerce and indulgence, energies not yet spent by the day’s labors.

     Just past the docks and the commercial zone stood a small Catholic church, a white-clapboard saltbox with a modest cruciform spire. It appeared unpatronized: the doors were closed, the windows were unlit, and there were no cars in its tiny parking lot. The sign at the curb was illegible in the evening gloom.

     Though he’d been raised Catholic, he hadn’t been in a church in many years. Throughout his adult life, religion had struck him as a racket, a tool for the enrichment of its hierarchies at the expense of the credulous. Even so, he yielded to impulse, pulled into the lot, and went to the doors. They were unlocked.

     There was no one inside. The nave was both short and narrow. The pews appeared old and hard worn. The altar was a simple table. The only light came from a gas lantern mounted over a gilded box affixed to the wall. From his early religious education, he knew it to be a Presence lamp. It was a rule in Catholic churches that the tabernacle — the gilded box below the lamp — must always be illuminated, for the transubstantiated host, the body of Christ, resides within.

     He marveled briefly at his own presence there. He hadn’t intended to visit any particular place. He certainly hadn’t gone out looking for a church. He hadn’t reexamined his convictions about religion or the supernatural in many years. Yet there he was, in obedience to a sense of obligation he could not define.

     He entered a nearby pew, knelt on the kneeler, and made the Sign of the Cross for the first time in nearly thirty years.

     It triggered a flood of memories. Humorless teaching at the hands of habited authoritarians, impatient with the questions of the young. A rigid discipline that implied that everything not compulsory was forbidden, or very nearly so. Stories of the lives of saints that emphasized their sufferings and renunciations. A program designed to turn children away from the Church could not have done a better job of it.

     But he remembered other things as well. Promises of a blissful life after death. Assurances that a Being infinitely above the mundane and its trials took note of each creature that lived, and loved them all. The serenity of prayer and the quiet majesty of commemorative rituals. A story of unequalled magnificence, of a Deliverer who feared no enemy, over whom death had no dominion. Above all, the certainty that even the humblest life was rich with meaning to an Interpreter that knows all and forgets nothing. Whose judgments were beyond reproach.

     Why did I leave all that behind? Was it too poisoned by its disseminators? Was I unable to separate the good from the bad at that age?

     When I came into the fullness of my powers, why didn’t I reassess it? Was I too embarrassed to do so, when it seemed that all the world had cast religion aside as a bad deal? Or was I unwilling to admit that my youthful reaction to being so brutally indoctrinated might have been excessive?

     Apparently it was an evening for unprecedented thoughts. He chuckled at his own sobriety. If the stories were true, there was a battlefield within him, over which gods and demons struggled with total dedication and transcendent fury. Yet all he could remember of the days when those ideas had first been broached to him were humiliations, exhortations to repentance for guilt he didn’t feel, and wooden paddles wielded to quell the unruly.

     Were the stories true? His habits of analysis and the rigorous examination of evidence demanded that the question be squarely addressed. They could not be proved. Could they be disproved?

     The key narratives were almost two millennia old. They confirmed one another, but no non-Christian source confirmed them in their totality. They spoke of suspensions of the natural law — miracles — of a kind never before attributed to any figure. If they were true, that Figure had to stand above Man in the order of things. If it were so, He could not have been a temporal, goal-driven creature, for He had no agenda of His own. He traveled, taught, healed, suffered, died…and rose from the dead.

     Insight came upon him in a flash of blinding purity.

     Of course no non-Christian source would fully confirm the Gospels. Anyone who wrote objectively of the miracles, Passion, and Resurrection of Christ, reporting them as observed, well-testified facts, would have to be a Christian. He couldn’t do so otherwise. So the lack of non-Christian confirmations means nothing.

     It could all be true. It can’t be disproved. All it requires is that I allow that there might be a God — a Being above and apart from temporal reality, to which temporal reality is subject. There could be. That can’t be disproved either.

     Men went to horrible deaths rather than renounce it. Many men.

     There are no words to describe what followed. Faith exploded through him, a Christian satori whose suddenness and totality stopped his perception of time. Was it God speaking to him along some trans-dimensional channel? Or was it his need for meaning, for a niche in existence that would endure after his mortal struggles had ended, groping blindly for its last remaining chance?

     He could never know. But knowing was unnecessary. Acceptance was all that was required of him.

     “Our Father, Which art in heaven,” he murmured, “hallowed be Thy Name…”


     May God bless and keep you all.

The Beginning Of The End

     The materialists say that there is nothing beyond the veil of Time, that the material is all. They say that life begins, and ends, and is over. But then, they say a lot things. They have a lot to say… and one can’t help but get the sense that their aim is mainly to exalt themselves: “Look how hard-headed and remorselessly rational I am!”

     Their pitch does have some power. But it is transient. It is as the clatter of cymbals or the braying of brass. It sounds, and it passes, and is forgotten. It lacks the resonance with which to course through the centuries. It will not be remembered as is this story:

     And when they had crucified him, they divided his clothes among themselves by casting lots; then they sat down there and kept watch over him. Over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.”
     Then two bandits were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes and elders, were mocking him, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down from the cross now, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he wants to; for he said, ‘I am God’s Son.’” The bandits who were crucified with him also taunted him in the same way.
     From noon on, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And about three o’clock Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, “This man is calling for Elijah.” At once one of them ran and got a sponge, filled it with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink. But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.” Then Jesus cried again with a loud voice and breathed his last.
     At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised. After his resurrection they came out of the tombs and entered the holy city and appeared to many. Now when the centurion and those with him, who were keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were terrified and said, “Truly this man was God’s Son!”

     [Matthew 27:34-54, NRSV translation]

***

     Christians know how the story goes from there. But if we take the tale to have an end, where is it? Is it with the Resurrection, or the Ascension? Perhaps it arrives on Pentecost.

     Myself, I don’t think so. I don’t think the story has ended yet. I think it continues on in each of us who has read the story and accepted it.

     To accept it is to accept Him.

     There’s a telling exchange, near the conclusion of the movie The Case For Christ, in which rapidly despairing skeptic Lee Strobel, played by Mike Vogel, consults a medical researcher about the possibility that Jesus didn’t actually die on the Cross:

     Strobel: “I have a real problem with most of the experts that I’ve talked to here.”
     Researcher: “Which is?”
     Strobel: “Which is that most of them are not impartial, and if I’m to take a guess, I would say that you’re not either.”
     Researcher: “And you would be correct, sir. For I have learned that most impartial travelers who undertake this journey rarely remain so.”

     The story has power. It’s a peculiar sort of power. It doesn’t rely upon a great mass of forensics or the sworn testimony of a host of “experts” in a formal court proceeding. It’s just a mass of words that have been relayed down the centuries, translated and re-translated from one vernacular to the next. Somehow, despite the little differences in emphasis and delicate shades of meaning among those translations, the power of the story remains.

     One who lives with the story year after year, and with the demands of “experts” that it be doubted or dismissed outright, learns its true power.

***

     In an essay about the value of skepticism, I wrote that “the vogue is to regard religious belief as a variety of insanity.” And indeed, that is the vogue among the detractors of the Christian faith. Their variety of skepticism differs from mine.

     In all humility and candor, for a time I was swayed by their kind of skepticism. Its subtext appeals to the ego: “Be one of the smart guys.” It didn’t last. At a time when I was at the lowest ebb of my life, the power of the story took hold of me. Each year, when the Easter Triduum arrives, it shakes me afresh. Though nearly two millennia have passed since the events it narrates, the story remains vibrantly alive.

     Today, Good Friday of the Year of Our Lord 2024, take a few minutes to refresh your memory of the story of the Crucifixion. Perhaps at three this afternoon you will kneel, as I will, and give thanks for the greatest act of love ever recorded. As terrible as it was, it was conceived out of love.

     There can be no greater love. Did Jesus Himself not say so?

     This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. [John 15:12-13]

     That’s why we call it the greatest story ever told, but you knew that, didn’t you?

Ignorance, Ingratitude Exploited By TPTB Sociopaths

Below I present two observations. They are nominally related. I’m not sure what can be done about them. But I am presenting them for your further consideration.

Originally set to begin at 39:40, but somehow altered to begin at 39:20. Good enough.

In this short clip, Douglas Murray observes why so many alive in the West today have not a clue why they have had it so good.

Now I’ll provide my own observation related to that one.

Sociopaths recognized and have exploited that ignorance so that the young might hate the West rather than have gratitude for all the sacrifices that provided them their now fading good life.

The rest of the interview has worthwhile elements, particularly near the end. I’ll leave those ideas for the reader to explore should they be so inclined. Contemplating the large scale ignorance and ingratitude is quite enough of a load for you already.

As George Santayana might say were he alive today: ‘Those who study history are condemned to watch those who don’t repeat it.’

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