Friday, May 29. 2015
I've never met Kemberlee Kaye either online or in person. I know people online who know her in person and vouch for her as being quality of the highest order, which is more than good enough for me. Of her personally I know little other than what she's detailed in assorted website and social media bios. She's married, I think. I know she's Catholic, and she lives in Texas. I don't know if she's a lawyer, but she has worked in some capacity in the legal system. She writes for the excellent Le·gal In·sur·rec·tion blog among other conservative online publications. That's all I've got. Which is fine.
A few days ago, at Le·gal In·sur·rec·tion Ms. Kaye posted some notes under the title Leave Michelle Obama's workout video alone. Quoting from same:
Objectively Mrs. Obama’s workout video was just that — an informative workout video. Void of political message or any other evil left-wing plot to undermine the Republic, thousands flocked to mock the First Lady’s quite strenuous workout regimen.
Political vitriol is nothing new. What has changed in the past fifteen years or so is the incessant reproving of, with the Internet's ever growing presence in most all aspects of our lives, its synchronized beauty and horror: fortunately, everyone can get online; unfortunately, so can anyone. No longer are political debates relegated to the local newspaper for editors and letter writers to hash out any given topic. Now, we have blog comments. The following are among those left on Ms. Kaye's post:
Barack Hussein Obama and Michelle LaVaugn Robinson-Obama “…remain as human and “like us” as the next family.”
I don’t hate that commie, racist, criminal, affirmative action hermaphrodite any more than it hates me.
She wanted attention.
And these are among the remaining comments. Many far more brutal ones have been deleted.
There are two primary reasons why I seldom blog about politics anymore. A little backstory before continuing: I am a Christian first, meaning that unless I prefer being an utter hypocrite I acknowledge being a sinner, saved by grace brought about by the shed blood of Christ on the cross as a sacrifice for my sins and His triumphant physical resurrection from the dead; and I am a federalist second, meaning that politically I hold the Constitution to be the supreme inviolable law of the land and always to be strictly, literally interpreted with a corresponding limited government. In short, I'm a classic liberal as defined by Hayek and socially conservative, meaning I despise both political parties and am in no way a libertarian regardless of my aforementioned belief in limited government due to the current definition of libertarian being someone who worships the trinity of Ayn, Ron, and Rand in-between toking up sessions. Also, I believe no one is beyond the redemptive power of Jesus while simultaneously knowing there is genuine evil, and are genuinely evil, people in the world who must be opposed.
With this in mind, it should come as zero surprise I am as politically opposed to the Obama administration's policies and philosophy as it gets. I despise excessive government spending, with its corresponding deficits and crushing tax burden, regardless of how superficially noble the cause may be; for private investment and competition between businesses create near infinitely better results than government's hamfisted blundering in most every enterprise. Dovetailed into this is fierce opposition to excessive governmental regulation, including full-bore takeover, of what should be private industries regulated by free market vying for business by providing the best combination of goods and/or services such as health insurance. I cannot abide a foreign policy that coddles ideological enemies of freedom while backhanding fellow democratic countries such as Israel. I have no tolerance for the demonization of those who achieve wealth through hard work and calculated risktaking. To summarize, I am not a Democrat.
That said, I hold no personal animosity for the Obamas. Given the opportunity I would cheerfully read them both the Riot Act, detailing why they are in grave error in so many areas. I would also illustrate for them as best I could, in deed as well as word, how to truly follow Christ mandates humility, compassion, and active care on a personal level. The perhaps apocryphal story concerning a statue of the Christ having its hands broken off yet not replaced, but rather commemorated with a plaque affixed to the statue's base reading, "I have no hands but yours," while far oversimplifying and to a degree downplaying Jesus through the Spirit's direct working in our lives contains a kernel of truth. If not us who believe, who? If not with all, with who?
There is no witness in vitriol or vacillation. The steadfast refusal to compromise principals and/or Christ's commands for His followers must reign paramount. The Prince of Peace must trump politics each and every time. There are no options for behaving differently, no outs based on the behavior of others regardless of their behavior's contemptibility. That a post such as Ms. Kaye's is needed is a sad commentary on those with whom I ostensibly have so much in common. Their reaction to said post is sadder. This is the first reason why I seldom discuss politics these days.
The second is conservative new media's omnipresent ennui. Every time and everywhere you look, it is the exact same puny handful of voices saying the exact same things to the exact same crowd for the exact same reaction: cry outrage! and let slip the tweets of butthurt. What, a liberal said something outlandish or offensive? We must take offense! The mainstream media pushing an agenda? We must snarl and snark! It is nothing but shadowplay; an eternal play to the crowd for the paycheck, a preaching to the choir while accepting a generous love offering from the congregation. It changes nothing. It moves nothing. It changes and moves no one. It is the Oakland of punditry. There's no there there. It is an utter waste of time to read, let alone create. And I do not have time to waste.
These things are why I don't get around much politically anymore.
Tuesday, May 26. 2015
There are certain things we learn, or at least hopefully learn, as we pass through the years. A prime example of this is coming to grips with how we are best advised accepting the fact that we should not expect respect for our anger, this coming into play the first time during our tender years any of us throw a temper tantrum without reaping the hoped for reward. Unless a spanking was that for which we had a honkering.
We also learn, or should learn, to not expect respect for our tears, or reciprocation for our love. These are far more difficult to swallow. We are taught from the beginning to respect others, to honor the heralded awesome power of love, and that true love always triumphs while conquering all and overcoming all obstacles. Yet through bitter and often embittering experience we learn how love is often impotent, incapable of swaying others in any direction let alone one which we desire. Those who do not learn this, such as starry-eyed women unshakable in their pursuit of utterly undesirable men believing they can transform jerks into jewels, invariably have their ship of hopes dashed against reality’s rocks. You’d think this would be sufficient to teach us, but far too often we embody insanity by attempting the exact same thing while anticipating different results. The Biblical truism that pride goes before a fall is not exclusively reserved for the outwardly arrogant. It also applies to those of us who, while outwardly modest and/or well-intentioned, sadly overestimate our own ability.
It hurts when love isn’t returned. The illustration of a rejected Savior is hard to understand until we encounter a one-sided love of our own. The other person doesn’t look at you in a special way. He or she doesn’t soften when you’re around. He or she isn’t interested in a relationship on any level save perhaps that of casual acquaintance, one quickly forgotten the moment close proximity is no longer in effect. Perhaps the person does allow you to approach them, but even then only within his or her strictly defined and absolute, non-negotiable parameters. Held at arm’s length? Most definitely. Held in each other’s arms? Never. And yes, it makes life a living hell. An accurate description, for hell’s torment is not fire and brimstone, but rather separation from love.
The illustration in Scripture’s most misunderstood and misapplied chapter states that when I was a child, I spoke, thought, and acted like a child; in adulthood laying these childish things aside. It seems strange to think, believe, and act on the notion that there are times when laying love aside is an act of maturity. More accurately, not so much setting love itself on the shelf but learning how to be at peace with the fact others can and will disregard your love for them.
It hurts when love isn't returned. There is no escaping, no denying the pain. If there is anything good to be drawn from these times, it is from the empathy gained for those also suffering; and how it makes more real our need to embrace -- more accurately, allow ourselves to be embraced by -- the nail-scarred hands belonging to the Man of Sorrows well aquainted with grief. He knows. He understands. He comforts. And He never rejects our love.
Monday, May 25. 2015
My oldest brother, who fought in Vietnam, passed away a few years ago. He didn't say much about his time there.
This is the text of a letter he sent our late father, who himself fought in World War Two and Korea, in November 1966.
This is Memorial Day.
What I am going to say will be most unpleasant, but we just spent a hell of a night up here at Tai Ninh. Here’s what happened.
At 9:00, the Viet Cong hit our position with heavy mortar, recoilless rifle, and rifle grenade fire. We hit the bunker and stayed until 10:15 when the attack was over. A flare ship started illuminating the sky, but one was a dud. It hit the aviation section tent, but it hit a man who had been in Vietnam less than a month. The force practically scalped him, and the flare ignited. The man was killed instantly. I ran over there, just after the attack with a jug of water to help put out the fire caused by the flare. Quite a bit of damage was done to the inside of the tent. Men with fire extinguishers and me with my water jug (which had just been filled) tried to put out the flare (which is next to impossible.) The flare started exploding, so we hit the ground. After that, somebody said that a man was hurt badly. I went over to see if he needed some water, but he was dead when I got there. The sight was unnerving.
We finally hit the sack after midnight. Then at two o’clock in the morning, they really mortared us. We lost twelve men, WIA, two seriously (Both should live.) A mortar round landed three feet from our communications tent and RTT van. The attack lasted until three-thirty. After the attack, I was detailed to wash the blood from the inside of the RTT van. I won’t go into any gory details of either event.
I came out without a scratch. I did not panic nor was there any extreme fear on my part. One never knows how he will react to an emergency.
Our battery suffered 25% casualties during the attack. I am all right, and they moved heavy artillery in this morning, 155mm SP howitzers, to protect against another attack tonight. We should get some sleep tonight. I hope that I never have to write another letter like this again. The danger has passed, so be thankful that I pulled through OK, and go to Aunt Beth & Hazel’s house for Thanksgiving. You have a lot to be thankful for.
My brother was a classical music buff, who reluctantly accepted I was Mr. Rock 'n' Roll. One day, he asked me if Billy Joel had served in Vietnam, to which I replied he hadn't, asking my brother why he asked. He replied because this song so perfectly captured what it was like there.
Wednesday, April 1. 2015
(Written for a friend.)
Hey there. You know that guy? Sure you do. We all know that guy. You know -- the nice guy.
Great guy, the nice guy. The nice guy is always there when you need him. Need some advice, someone to lend an ear, maybe a shoulder to cry on? The nice guy is there for you. Every time.
But ... well, you know. He's just the nice guy. Nothing exciting. Nothing special. Good guy, sure. Great guy, really. But he's ... well, he's the nice guy. That's all.
You don't hang out with the nice guy: don't go out for drinks, don't include him with the gang when you go out for dinner. None of that. I mean, let's face it. The nice guy isn't all that exciting. He's probably got plans anyway, or something to do. No need to ask him to participate.
Wait ... what's that? A date? Are you kidding? No way! The nice guy doesn't set off sparks. No sizzle. Oh, he's good for comfort when the boyfriend goes wrong. But to actually be the boyfriend? Are you crazy? He's just the nice guy. No way could he be Mr. Right. Just no way. Besides, what if you did date him and things went wrong? Who would you turn to? No, can't risk it. Gotta keep him at arm's length.
The nice guy will understand when you explain it to him. You're sure he'll meet some nice girl someday that's more his speed. It's nothing personal. It's nothing against him. But ... well, he simply doesn't fit into your world like that. Yeah, he could probably make some girl happy. He's the nice guy. But it's not you. No, it never could be you.
Still, sometimes you wonder about the nice guy. Every once in a while the smile seems a little forced, the eyes a bit distant. And he does seem to be alone a lot.
Well, he probably prefers it that way. He's fine. Of course the nice guy is fine. Isn't he always the first with the quip, the first one there for you when you need someone? He's fine. We all have our off days. He's fine where he is. He must get his happiness from helping others. He must be fine. He's the nice guy.
Although come to think of it, don't see him much anymore ...
Sunday, March 15. 2015
A phrase oft heard during any given sporting event where the heavily favored team finds itself on the score's short end is "the other team practices too." Meaning: nothing is a given and no matter how talented, or better on paper, someone or a collection of someones is than the competition, if you dismiss the other team out of hand and don't compete up to your ability level you will not win. Ever.
The same principle applies to life. We all have our burdens and battles; our private little hell that can and all too frequently does consume us. These must be tended to, otherwise they can severely damage us. Sometimes irrecoverably.
This duly noted, it is easy but dangerously shortsighted to exclusively focus on our own situation, neglecting to note that the other person has problems too. John Donne was right; no one is an island. We all have oppressive elements besetting our every day and every step.
To behave as though we alone are suffering while everyone else is on their own under the veneer of "they know their problems and I don't" is pathetically short-sighted. Empathy is not contingent on complete understanding of someone else's pain. We are all human, and we all share humanity's common threads.
It is equally short-sighted, with a hefty dose of narcissism on the side, to focus so heavily on our own problems while neglecting to value others sufficiently to, at the least, inquire as to how they are doing that our life becomes a one-note samba of "woe is me." The other person hurts too. Their hurt is equally important as ours. Ignoring them while bemoaning our state helps no one. It makes the other person quite apt to wonder why they should help, or care for, us when our actions and words make it apparent our concern for them extends only as far as their willingness to feel sorry for us. And, simply put, in such a scenario we are doing more than enough feeling sorry for ourselves to where the other person has zero inclination to join our pity party regardless of how deeply they care for us. We are pushing them away at a time when we most need them.
The other person matters too. Ask them how they are doing. You will be surprised how much it helps you both face the wounds and scars we all -- all -- bear.
Friday, September 12. 2014
Something touched on in the previous post is the notion of cultural relevancy, or if you prefer engaging the culture. A common cry amongst the conservative new media echo chamber ... er, realm is the need to actively pursue entry into popular culture via the assorted reigning entertainment mediums -- music, television, film. The irony of how this is most often discussed within closed circles is apparently lost on those thus engaged with talking about engagement but never doing anything that can in any fashion be construed as genuine outreach. But I digress.
One of the greatest challenges facing anyone who seeks to influence pop culture is that despite its apparent pervasiveness, even for the biggest names it is surprisingly limited in its at least initial outreach. Take as an example U2, its record label, and Apple's agreement to make what is easily the biggest band in the world's new album available for free to everyone with an iTunes account, number of same being some 500 million. How many thus far (the deal was announced this past Tuesday) have taken advantage of the offer, said offer being mentioned and promoted by virtually every media and medium in existence? Around two million. This for a band that has sold over 150 million albums in its career. The days when The Beatles could change the world with the change of a hairstyle are long gone.
Another example of pop culture's limited appeal is at the movies. The general rule of thumb is that a movie with $100M in box office business is a success, bloated special effects-laden outings that cost more than $200M to make not withstanding. But how many people, as in individual ticket sales, see a blockbuster movie? The biggest movie this year to date is Guardians of the Galaxy, with an as of yesterday estimated domestic box office take of $297.8M. Translated into ticket sales, the best guess is that comes out to 35.7M tickets sold. Figuring there is quite probably a good percentage of repeat viewers ... you get the idea. A large number, but not universal. Also, factor in the film's built-in mass audience appeal from the Marvel Comics/Disney connection, the tens if not hundreds of millions spent promoting the film, and so on. This isn't a film designed for viewership at your local art cinema; something to give you cause for reflection and discussion. It is mass market product, designed to sell tickets and merchandise.
Paraphrasing Shakespeare, pop culture is sound and fury; tales told by an idiot, signifying nothing. This is the entirety of pop culture: a soap bubble, momentarily pretty but fatally fragile, inevitably popping to be seen no more and quickly forgotten in favor of the next bubble blown.
Yet despite this, enter into the pop culture fray we must. We have examples of what happens when we withdraw behind our walls; witness the utter failure of the evangelical American church, despite its size, to have any impact on society. Certainly the odds are stacked against us. We do not have multi-multi-million dollar promotional budgets at our disposal, nor will we have industry support no matter how potentially profitable our efforts may be. However, the need to reach people remains paramount. We cannot sit idly by, barking at the caravan as it moves on, then believe we are accomplishing something by barking. At least not if we are being honest. If we reach but a few, we have done far better than if we reach none at all.
We also have to be honest with ourselves. Echo chamber jingoism is great at rallies of like-minded people but utterly useless when presented to the general public. Be they ever so superficial and slick, pop culture successes convey whatever message they offer with sufficient skill to penetrate multiple societal layers. Clumsy cliches need not apply. Lee Greenwood already did "God Bless The USA." There is neither need nor room for a sequel.
Now, promoting conservative artists in whatever field immediately presents a problem, that being dealing with artists. Most -- not all, but most -- creative people are fundamentally insane and correspondingly hard to handle. Why this is so is seldom understood by those not similarly gifted, or for that matter many of those who are gifted. To be an artist of any genuine skill means, regardless of whether it is acknowledged, that one has opened him or herself to the creative spirit that is a direct gift from God. When human (that's us) is touched by divine (that's the Man Upstairs), simultaneously beautiful and terrible things happen. The beautiful is what is created; the terrible is how such overwhelming intimacy with the Creator can all too easily drive a person mad as in our limited human state we can only handle so much beyond ourselves. There is also the pain factor; Bono was completely accurate when he sang every artist is a cannibal, every poet is a thief; all kill their inspiration and sing about the grief. Little Miss Sunshine would have been a lousy artist.
So, these are the challenges facing anyone who wishes to engage the culture. It is expensive, it is an insular world that does not take kindly to outsiders with views outside its hedonistic hyper-liberal own, and the people best equipped artistically to enter the fray are often borderline, if not full-fledged, self-destructive lunatics. Yet engage we must, for there is far too much at stake to let things go as they are.
Thursday, September 11. 2014
So, after an extended silence that I oft doubted would ever end, I'm back. Had to blow the dust off my password and sweep the cobwebs out of the site, but thankfully it and I are still here.
Choosing a topic on which to hang my return was a tad difficult; it's not like there's a dearth of available points of discussion. That duly noted, one demanded immediate attention, that being blogging itself.
Blogging is in danger of becoming the compact disc of social media. It's a marvelous medium through which to communicate, but in today's world it is rapidly being superseded by Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. Why? Brevity and immediacy. The other formats are quick, easy, and instantly before your intended audience. A blog? Well, since no one uses RSS feeds anymore, you have to tell people new content is there (and tell them and tell them and tell them), then hope people will step away from Twitter and Facebook et al long enough to pay your site a visit. The hip and hot social media vessels have apps for most every mobile device. A blog depends on someone opening their browser and entering the address at least once, hopefully bookmarking it while there so it can be more easily accessed should return visits be part of someone's online media consumption strategy.
Another problem bloggers face in attracting and keeping, along with growing, an audience is the deep level of funk out there about bloggers individually and collectively being unable to get over themselves. Delusion of glory and grandeur abound. It's high time bloggers individually and collectively get back to basics and what made blogging a vital communication form.
Blogging works only when you remember it's one voice, one opinion; consider it as you will. When you're blogging, remember it's a venue to express your thoughts and opinions on any given subject. That's all. You are not going to save the world. Hopefully, prayerfully you can help open eyes and minds to truth. Be content with that, as it is futile to frustrate yourself by striving for more when there is no more to be obtained.
When blogging, be yourself and be real. Say your piece, and be at peace. Be consistent with what you say. Be consistent with who you are. Let your words reflect who you are. Don't be one person online and another away from the computer.
Blog not for social media fame or accolades. Blog from and for the heart; the belief what you have to say can help other people. The echo chamber is already full, and it is not accepting applications. You don't need it or its residents for validation.
Blogging for a paycheck is not blogging; it's casual format column writing. Nothing wrong with that, but let's be honest about what it is. Far, far too many people pass themselves off as bloggers when they are nothing of the kind. Working toward monetizing your blog is not a shame, but should you start straying from yourself and the reasons why you first started blogging you are going down the wrong path.
When blogging, always remember this: no matter what, never, never become what you profess to oppose. You say you're a citizen journalist speaking truth to power at professional journalists living in ivory towers? Don't live in one yourself. You say you're against punditry elitism, where writers speak only to others in the same profession? Don't do the same thing. You say you're too busy to answer your emails; that there's just not enough time in the day to get everything done? Too bad. It's your job.
If you want the "glory" of being a popular blogger, you have to do the necessary work. That involves far more than writing blog posts. To be a successful blogger means you embrace the belief that blogging is a communication tool from one person to another. Every individual who reads one of your blog posts is an individual, and deserves to be treated as such. Unless it's a troll -- and not everyone who disagrees with something you say is one -- when someone communicates with you, communicate back. They've taken the time to read and respond to your writing. Simple, common courtesy dictates you do the same.
Again, unless it's a troll, answer your emails. Every time. Respond to tweets and Facebook posts. Every time. It takes very little time to type a simple "thank you." Do it.
The wise blogger does not see him or herself as a great written orator, or leader of people. The wise blogger does not see him or herself as one blessing teeming throngs with every word of wisdom that comes from their fingertips. The wise blogger sees him or herself as a retail clerk whose livelihood depends on the quality of service they provide all who come by.
Think about the pleasant retail experiences you have had. What is the common thread that connects all of these times? Invariably, part or all of it was interaction with a worker who was friendly, personable, knowledgeable, and genuinely helpful.
As it is in retail, so it is in blogging. The blogger who treats their audience with respect and as a welcomed guest will succeed. The blogger who treats their audience with disdain, or believes its sole purpose is to praise their words of wisdom, will fail.
We say we must change the culture. Well, culture change happens one person at a time. Culture change happens when you reach one person, one heart and mind, with ideas that helps them see things in a new light. Culture change comes when we talk with people, not to them.
Be a positive force for change. Treat people as you yourself wish to be treated. This includes blogging. Interact with your readers as you yourself wish other writers would interact with you. Not as a haughty lord, but rather as an equal.
To summarize, please remember the four tenets of the blogging evangel.
First, the ability to broadcast your opinion neither elevates nor validates said opinion.
Second, blog from, and for, the heart; not a paycheck.
Third, answer your email. Every time.
Fourth, and most important of all, never become what you profess to oppose. Never.
May I always follow these tenets.
Saturday, February 22. 2014
April Thompson is one of the most beautiful women I know. This conclusion is drawn not from her looks, although she is very attractive. Rather, it is from how she is deeply and passionately in love with God, her husband, and their kids. That is a beauty no Sports Illustrated model, save one who possesses the same qualities, can ever hope to approach.
In-between sessions of her very full-time gig known as raising the rugrats, April is wont to pen assorted thoughts in her blog. Her most recent post nicely expresses a frustration oft voiced by creative Christians, that being how a segment of American Christianity instantly recoils in horror the moment an artist, in any given medium, attempts crossing over from the Christian marketplace into the big bad satanic secular cesspool:
As Christians, we have to be careful not to be mindless consumers of whatever is served in the name of entertainment. But you know what's not good? Hiding in our little Christian or conservative ghettos, yelling nasty things at the world from the walls, and throwing stones at anyone who tries to take the message outside the gates. Ya know, like Jesus said to.
Mrs. Thompson continues the point by bringing it into the political realm. She mentions how many conservatives (she is unapologetically one) are so conditioned to a knee-jerk response and blanket condemnation of most everything pop culture-wise, completely hung up on an artist’s political bent regardless of whether it carries over into their art, they disassociate themselves from everything under the mantle of avoiding anything “unclean.” This takes the form of not supporting via buying a CD or download or movie ticket or what have you any individual not on their side of the political aisle, along with, when discussing said artists among those of like mind, participating in a top-this game of who can trash-talk them the most. Because, you know, that will win the culture war every time.
She’s too young to remember, but Steve Taylor brilliantly skewered this mindset some time ago:
Life for the believer is neither a scenario of doing whatever one wishes (sorry, libertarians) or hiding in a reverse leper colony. It is a call to the reality of Christ and life in Christ. It is personal holiness combined with mandatory outreach to others. Jesus was not a drunkard, yet He drank and His first recorded miracle was at a wedding reception when He changed water into wine so as to keep the party going. He associated, without compromise, with society’s outcasts. He didn’t tow the religious progressive’s continually shifting line of relative morality, telling them everything was cool and they could continue on their merry way without repercussion. He loved them where they were at while calling on them to change first their heart, and from that change their life. He didn’t commend the adulteress whose life He saved from the crowd seeking to entrap Him by what He said should be done with her, knowing full well the penalty for her actions under Mosaic law was that she was to be executed by stoning. He didn’t condemn her either. He offered her life with the admonition to leave her life of sin.
There is a powerful witness in the polite destruction of clichés. Systematically execute them by living life among other people in a Godly manner. Contrary to some opinions, living a Godly life does not mean acting like you are God, nor does it mean shoving your faith down the throat of another, nor does it mean never speaking up for fear of “offending” someone. It means tearing down the false image of what constitutes a believer by being both the human being you were created as and the child of God you were created to be.
There are no magic formulas for this; no superdeeduper secret initiation rites, magic words or self-induced guilt trips about what you should or shouldn’t do to say the magic words in response to which God will give you a hundred blessings. There is honesty, with yourself, others and especially God.
There are stones in the road. You will trip and fall. You will fail. You will know hurt, frustration, despair, rejection, grief, and anger. But you will also know what it means to truly be alive.
To be alive is to live, with all of life’s joys and sorrows.
You cannot hide from life. You can live life.
If others think you are crazy for doing so, so be it.
Monday, November 5. 2012
When you read posts like this, you realize sitting it out isn’t much of an option:
The con is in place and ticking along nicely. Keep up the pressure by bringing in as co-signers other innocent conservative bloggers to keep sounding the alarm and generating cash-flow, defrauding as many conservatives as possible of their hard-earned money, rinse and repeat on a daily basis. When a nosy-Parker like Jerry Wilson, myself, Brooks Bayne or anyone else questions them or reveals parts of the con, go on the attack using Ali, Lee Stranahan, etc. as bully boys to silence the questioners. Get the deceived choir to go along and shut-down questions “until after the election” when the financial scam will be forgotten and the thieves vacation and begin planning their next con.This isn’t about politics so much as it is about fundamental honesty and honor. If we allow those who claim to be one of us yet practice deceit, dishonesty and duplicity to flourish and be praised, what does that say about us?
Tuesday, October 16. 2012
It’s not the one I thought I’d be giving.
Skipping the gory details, it’s become clear to me that I must step away from political writing for the foreseeable future. It’s causing problems in areas that need to not be problems, and I’ve had enough.
It’s not that I am any less firmly committed to my beliefs. If anything, I am more determined than ever to sound the call for a return to Constitutional fundamentalism. However, in addition to personal reasons for dropping out, my present approach simply isn’t working for me and I refuse to minister from an empty well.
I’ve met some beautiful inside and out people over the past few years of pursuing a niche as a political writer. I’ve also met some decidedly less than beautiful people. Which happens in all areas and walks of life. This duly noted, the level of vitriol hurled by many against people on the same side as they has left a decidedly sour taste in my mouth, and I no longer wish to be associated with these people nor associate with them.
I’ve had my fill of drama queens, of both genders, perpetually playing the victim whenever someone treats them with the same level of contempt with which they treat others. I’ve reached my tolerance limit for cliques and living clichés, the self-appointed saviors giggling among themselves at whichever schmoozefest is the location for this weekend’s drinking binge disguised as a political gathering.
I don’t fit in with these people. My fault. I admit it. Too non-deferential; too stubborn in clinging to the blogging evangel stating one should never become what one professes to oppose. Hey, I get it. I know how the game is played. Sit at the assorted masters feet and gratefully lap up any crumbs falling from their table, piled high with the rewards and awards they give to one another. Wait for one to falter and pray you have positioned yourself properly to swoop upward and take their seat. Well, I really suck at the game. I admit this as well.
I’m tired of the game. I’m not playing any more.
I’m going back to my little NASCAR blog where I had fun and was funny. Going forward I’m taking care of myself. I’m going back to where I made dear friends and touched people the right way.
I harbor no illusions, or for that matter delusions, that the political social media world will note my departure and even those who do will lament my absence for more than a few seconds before getting back to their business. Which is okay. I gave it my all and did my best. I didn’t fit. It didn’t work. No hard feelings. You do your thing; I do mine. Everyone is happy.
That’s all. I’ll leave this blog up; maybe do the occasional post about music or spiritual matters. But no more politics. I’m done.
Thank you and good night.
Wednesday, October 10. 2012
My knowledge of Dawn Eden, newly ensconced at Patheos, consists of having read a few of her blog posts and assorted interviews. I know the thumbnail sketch of her life: former rock journalist (and by her own admission a bit of a slut) who after Christ entered her life gave up sex and rock’n'roll in favor of pursuing Catholic academic pursuits and preaching the virtues of being virtuous, particularly in the chastity realm. I’m pretty sure Pope Benedict XVI has her on speed dial for any and all theological questions, she’s so deep into pursuing knowledge. But I digress.
Given that Eden (actually it’s Goldstein, but she uses her middle name as her last) last wrote about rock in 2000 or thereabouts, it’s possible she might be familiar with Canadian guitar rock band the Tragically Hip which made its recorded debut in 1987. The Hip, as the band’s fans refer to the quintet, is a long-running institution in its native land, routinely topping the charts and selling out (what else?) hockey arenas from coast to coast, while in the United States it is a solid cult favorite.
I rather doubt Eden rushed out to buy the CD of, or download, Now For Plan A, the Tragically Hip’s latest album which hit the streets last week. I have no idea what kind of music she listens to these days; whether she avoids rock because of past connections, if it doesn’t bother her, if she simply doesn’t care for the music anymore or whatever it may be. On the surface there’s no discernible connection between her traditional Catholicism and band leader Gord Downie’s often inscrutable stream of consciousness lyrics that offer fragments and disconnected threads, almost defying the listener to discern what is being said. Yet whether intentionally or coincidentally, in his latest musings Downie amplifies part of Eden’s thoughts on relationships. To wit:
Baby, when’d you get so Zen?
And we don’t want to do it
Do we give our bodies to each other for the sake of momentary pleasure that fades the moment we’re done? Or do we give ourselves to Christ the Bridegroom, letting His intense love for His bride the church, a love so great He gave His life for us, shine through us even as a man and woman’s love for each other shines through them as they pledge themselves solely to each other?
Do we celebrate sex’s holy and pure nature as not only the means of creating the next generation, but as a symbol of His love by giving ourselves fully and completely to our sole soulmate? Or do we debase it by turning it into a carnival game with empty orgasms and conquests as our prize?
Which do we choose? Do we choose to do it? Or do we choose to be it?
(It’s worth noting the lyric also brings up the issue of why conservatives and Christians routinely fail to support fellow conservatives and Christians, such as Mark Scudder, in the arts. It’d be far preferable, and I say this as a huge Tragically Hip fan, to have artists on our side we can point to for this illustrations without everyone in unison replying “who?”)
A lyric further along in the song warrants mention:
And all our friends gave us a week
To be it, no merely do it. That’s a goal worth aiming towards.
Sunday, May 10. 2009
“Good night, Gord,” said Cherie the thrasher. The sun had long since set on the day that had been, and it was time for this thrasher to retire to her home underneath the bushes that lined the back wall of her friend’s home.
“Why, good night, Cherie,” said Gord the polar bear. And with that, Cherie went to sleep.
At least for a minute or two.
Cherie awoke. She wasn’t sure why, but something had caused her to wake up. She peered out as best she could in the dim light of the zoo’s illuminated pathways to see the shape of Gord sitting perfectly still, his face turned toward the night sky.
Cherie knew what this meant. Gord was listening to the night whispers, the voices of those who were no longer here. Cherie had never heard the voices, nor did she know of anyone else who had heard them. Or for that matter heard of them. Yet Gord said he heard them, and if she knew anything about her friend it was he would never lie about such a thing. Therefore, even though they were unknown to her Cherie believed in the night whispers.
In a way she was jealous that Gord could hear then while she could not. However, this was quickly dismissed as she knew from Gord that hearing the night whispers was a great responsibility. One very few could bear. In fact, only the one she called a silly polar bear could — pardon the pun, she thought — bear it.
Cherie remained as still as Gord. She knew better than to disturb him during this time. She also knew her friend usually had something to share once he had finished listening. And so she waited patiently, doing her best to keep her eyes open and wondering what Gord might have to share this time.
After a long while Gord lowered her head. Cherie knew this meant the night whispers had said what they had come to say and were now gone until the next time. Despite her curiosity, she was always reluctant to ask Gord about them. However, curiosity won out as she herself whispered, “Gord. The night whispers?”
The only time Gord didn’t look Cherie in the eye, smiling, whenever he talked to her was immediately after the night whispers. This was such a time. He continued to look away as he said, “Yes, Cherie. The night whispers.”
There was a pause before she nervously continued. “Can you tell me what they said?”
The silence that followed made Cherie even more nervous. She was just about to apologize for having asked when Gord softly replied, “Why, yes. Although I must confess it was quite puzzling.”
“In what way?”
“Why, it was something of a riddle. Not spoken like a riddle. But a riddle all the same.” Gord took a deep breath before continuing. “The voices said, ‘What was once old is new again; what was here then gone is here again.’”
“That is something of a riddle,” replied Cherie. “I wonder what it might mean.”
“Why, I don’t know. And just before they left, the voices said something equally puzzling if not more so.”
“What was that?”
“They said, ‘That which was once your restrictor is now your own.’” Gord sighed as he continued, “I thought I might have heard it wrong and the voices were saying ‘constrictor.’ But the snakes here and I get along very well. No, it was definitely ‘restrictor.’ Then they repeated, ‘What was once old is new again; what was here then gone is here again.’ And with that they left.”
Cherie shook her head, “I wish I could help you, Gord. But I have no idea what the voices meant.”
“Why, neither do I, Cherie. And yet even with that, while the voices were saying these things I had a wonderful, safe feeling inside. It was like… why, it was like being home.”
“That’s an odd feeling to have when hearing such puzzling things.”
“Why, yes it is. But that’s what I felt.” With that Gord turned to his friend and smiled. “I also feel it’s high time I let you get some sleep. And do the same myself.”
“Without figuring out what the voices meant?”
“I will in time, I believe. But for now, I’d rather think about that wonderful feeling. It’s good when you’re home. Don’t you think?”
Cherie chuckled. “Yes, silly polar bear.”
Gord chuckled in reply. “Why, yes, crazy thrasher.” And with that Gord went into his small cave as Cherie closed her eyes and went to sleep, thinking about what the voices had said to her friend.
Sunday, October 26. 2008
Cherie the thrasher yawned and stretched her wings. She had just woke up after an odd night’s sleep in her home underneath the bushes that lined the back wall of what used to be Gord the polar bear’s home. Cherie shook her head, as much to try and figure out the dream that had haunted her seemingly all night as in an effort to dismiss the early morning cobwebs.
The dream had started off innocuously enough. In fact, it had started with of all things her peacefully asleep in her home. Then, she awoke with a start at the sound of a voice she knew well.
She looked down. There, standing in the middle of what was once her friend’s home was Alec, the old arctic fox she and Gord had often visited at night when the polar bear lived beneath there. He had moved what seemed like forever ago to a different zoo. Cherie would fly over and visit him sometimes in his beautiful new home. But there was no place there for her to live, so she stayed put.
Cherie never begrudged Gord his good fortune. He deserved a place in the new zoo. Still, she missed having him around. No one had moved into his home, which suited her just fine. There could be only one silly polar bear.
So why was Alec here in Gord’s old home? He could barely walk, and his home was on the other side of the zoo. It must have been a long, painful journey for him to make. Cherie was about to ask him about this when the fox again spoke.
“Cherie. Who lives here?”
Now this was a peculiar question, especially for one as wise as Alec. The thrasher for a moment thought this might be a trick question. However, she had never known Alec to speak in riddles. With a bit of caution in her voice she replied, “No one lives here, Alec.”
The fox smiled a little. “Aren’t you forgetting someone?”
Cherie thought about it for a minute, then realized her mistake. “Well, no one other than me.”
“And who once lived here?”
The caution was replaced by a touch of melancholy. “Gord.”
“Then he lives here as well.”
A puzzled thrasher replied, “But Alec… Gord moved a long time ago. He’s at another zoo now.”
Alec smiled again. “Was he happy here?”
“I guess. He always seemed to be.”
“Then he lives here.”
A now thoroughly confused Cherie cocked her head a little, not sure what to say.
Once more Alec smiled. “One lives only where their heart is, Cherie.”
“So you’re saying because Gord was happy here, he lives here.”
“That doesn’t mean he actually lives here, Alec.”
Yet again Alec smiled, only this time he said nothing. And with that, the dream ended.
Cherie sat and thought about the dream. It all seemed so peculiar, Alec insisting that Gord lived here despite his having been gone for a long time. Yet even with this fresh in her mind, out of habit she walked over to the wall’s edge and peered down into…
… Gord’s eyes.
Cherie was so startled she almost hurt herself on a branch as she jumped back. Slowly she crept over to the edge and looked again. No, she had not been seeing things. There was Gord, sitting there smiling and looking up at her as he had done so many mornings before he left.
They both sat there for a moment. Then in the quiet low voice she knew so well the polar bear said, “Why, Cherie. Aren’t you going to say good morning?”
“But… but… am I still dreaming?”
“Why, no, Cherie. Since I am quite awake, it goes to reason you are as well, given that we’re talking to each other.”
“But… but… you’re here!”
Gord chuckled. “Apparently so.”
Gord reached out with one of his front paws. Cherie understood what this meant. She hopped down and landed on the paw so Gord to talk to her face to face, or as he referred to it snout to beak.
“My dear Cherie. I was quite content living here with you and Alec and all my friends. But when the chance came to move to a different zoo, why, I had to see what it was about.”
Cherie nodded as God continued. “It was a lovely place. The humans there were wonderful. The other animals were quite nice. It was an excellent place to live. But it wasn’t home.”
The polar bear slowly moved his paw. “Here… why, here I can come and go as I please, saying hello to everyone and talking about anything there is to talk about. Here is where I met you, and all my friends. Here… why, here is where my heart is. And so I came back. To stay. If you don’t mind.”
Now it was Cherie’s turn to smile. She stretched out and lightly tapped Gord’s nose with the tip of her beak.
“Silly polar bear. Silly, silly polar bear. I’m sorry you had to leave the other place. But I’m glad you’re back.”
“Why, so am I, my friend. So am I.”
Saturday, December 29. 2007
It was very late at night when Gord left his small cave and went outside to lay down. It had been several days since he had enjoyed a good night’s sleep, and tonight was no different than the others. There were too many things on his mind, too many thoughts to allow simply letting them all go and resting.
Mostly, he was bothered. It bothered him how few people came by to see him. Oh, they all flocked over to the area next to his where all the other bears lived, all boisterous and noisy and shouting, “Look at me! I am a great bear. Why? Because you’re all coming to look at me!” For whatever reason, people liked that.
But him? Why, they’d take one brief look, if they looked at all, and say things like, “But there’s only one bear here! Let’s go back to the other place where there are lots of bears to look at. They must be better than this one, because they’re all together. This one’s off by himself. Let’s not waste our time here.” And away they would go, back to look at the other bears as they made a great amount of noise and shouted look at me.
Was there something wrong with him? Gord didn’t think so. But lately, he had become less and less sure of this. Should he try to be more like the other bears and draw more attention to himself by being noisy and shouting look at me?
He thought about this. Gord thought about how much he disliked it when the other bears did this. But was that the only way to get people coming over to see him? Obviously being himself wasn’t working. Maybe he was just being standoffish when he did that. Maybe he should try doing things the way everyone else did them. Maybe…
The polar bear immediately sat up. He looked into the sky, seeing the stars and clouds but not really seeing them, because what he saw wasn’t important. It was what he had just heard.
It was the yesterday whispers.
“Gord,” the whispers said again. “Why are you here?”
This puzzled him. Knowing the yesterday whispers only occasionally answered him, nevertheless he replied, “Why, I don’t know. Can you tell me?”
There was silence lasting so long Gord began to fear the whispers had left. Then he heard, “Gord. Where is Penny?”
Hearing that name again made Gord sad. Penny was a bald eagle at the zoo Gord befriended. Then one day, while the zookeeper was taking her out of her home, she managed to get free and flew away without telling anyone she was leaving or even saying good-bye. Gord hadn’t seen her since that day. “Why, I don’t know that either.”
“Gord. Why are you here?”
Was this another animal or even a person asking this again Gord would have become a little miffed at being asked the same question for which he had already said he didn’t have an answer. But these were the yesterday whispers, and none dared argue with them. “Why, I still don’t know,” was all he could say.
“Gord. Do you hear the silence?”
The whispers stopped. Gord sat, puzzled but listening… to nothing. There was no sound. No sound whatsoever.
After a long while the yesterday whispers said, “Gord. Do you hear the silence?”
“Why, yes. I do. At least I believe I do.”
“That is why you are here.” With that the yesterday whispers left.
Gord continued to sit there, thinking about what the whispers had said, trying to understand them. How he wished Alec the arctic fox was here. Surely he could explain it all to the quite confused polar bear.
Then, Gord remembered.
It was the other day. All the people were over in front of where the other bears lived, talking to each other and looking on as the bears did what they usually did so people would look at them. Meanwhile, Gord sat by himself, with no one coming to see him. Just like it always was. He laid down and closed his eyes, thinking what difference would it make since no one was there…
“It’s so peaceful here, isn’t it?”
Gord opened his eyes. There were a couple of people in front of his home looking at him. The first person said to the other, “That’s why I like coming over here instead of where everyone else is watching the other bears making all that noise.”
The other person replied, “But there’s never anyone over here.”
To which the first person smiled and replied, “Exactly. It’s better. You can actually spend time over here. Where the other bears are, you have so many people jostling each other and carrying on. I don’t like that. I’d rather be here, just me and one bear getting to know each other.”
The second person cleared their throat, to which the first person hurriedly replied, “Just me and you and the one bear, of course.”
As he remembered, suddenly Gord knew what the yesterday whispers meant.
“Why, I’m here so people can hear the silence,” he said to himself. “Because silence is much better than noise.” With that, he went back into his small cave and for the first time in many nights had a good night’s sleep.
Tuesday, September 18. 2007
The sun had barely made an appearance over a day somewhere between summer and fall, leaves expiring one by one yet for the most part still clinging to the trees they had served well during their brief turn on this earth. The weather was still warm, but the nights were now coming both more swiftly and with a tad more bite, a touch more chill. Soon there would be nothing but fall, nothing left of picnics and days at the beach except brown crunchy dust that a short time earlier was filtering brilliant sunlight through green translucent windows into life itself.
Cherie the thrasher sighed. She did not care for winter and how it demanded trying to find shelter from and warmth despite the cold and rain and wind and snow. Now it was coming again, waiting to catch whoever had failed to pay attention to its warnings about its intense dislike of most everything living. Hopefully these bushes I live in will do the trick one more year, she thought. Hopefully. But it wouldn’t be the same as last year, when no matter the weather she had not a care in the world.
Last year, in the space underneath and in front of the bushes she called home lived Gord the polar bear. Cherie often wondered if Gord knew it was a glorified cage in a zoo, the way he’d practically bounce around it as though he was in the midst of an Arctic paradise. He’d splash in the pool and dance about the concrete embedded with white flecks of coloring in a failed attempt to resemble snow. And during the winter when it actually would snow, God was as happy as an animal can be, playing in the white fluff he’d splatter in every direction.
But Gord didn’t live there anymore. Late one evening, he left. Cherie knew God knew how to sneak in and out of his cage with no difficulty, as he often wandered about the zoo at night talking to any of the other animals who were awake. He’d always make sure to visit his friend Alec the arctic fox, whom Gord had known when he was a cub before he came to be at the zoo. Alec would tell incredible yet true stories to Gord, ones he would often repeat to Cherie who preferred not to mix with the other animals too much. She knew many of them disliked her, not for who she was but rather what she was: free to come and go as she pleased, not trapped inside the zoo’s walls, metal bars, and wide deep ditches that were impossible to cross. Gord liked her nonetheless. And he would always come back before morning so the zookeepers wouldn’t become suspicious or alarmed.
This time, Gord didn’t come back the next morning.
This alarmed Cherie. Did he get hurt somewhere and can’t make it back, she worried. Or worse yet… did he get caught? So she flew all across and over the zoo, looking everywhere for her friend. She even found enough bravery to approach some of the other animals and ask if they had seen him. No, they all replied.
Now Cherie was very worried. She kept searching and searching to no avail. She never saw him. No one else had seen him either. He had vanished.
After a few days, Cherie came to the sad conclusion Gord had been caught and sent away to another zoo, or someplace even worse. She occasionally tried to comfort herself with the idea he might have somehow escaped the zoo altogether and had found his way back home. His real home, not the zoo. His real home was at the edge of a lake where he lived with his mother when he was a cub. If any polar bear could actually do that, Cherie reasoned, it would be that silly polar bear. She knew it was almost certainly impossible this had happened. However, she clung tightly to her tiny thread of believing despite reason. Gord had found a way home. He had to have done so. Cherie couldn’t handle the thought of anything else having happened to her beloved Gord.
She sighed again, trying not to think about things yet thinking about them all the same. There would be no berries set aside for her this winter, no warm if small cave for her to get out of the elements; for shortly after Gord’s disappearance the zookeepers had boarded up its entrance, remarking among themselves that come next spring the entire area would be torn down and rebuilt as something else. Cherie shuddered at this thought. Not only had she lost Gord, before long her home would be destroyed. Assuming she lived through the winter. If not, it wouldn’t matter.
How she missed Gord…
Cherie was so lost in thought she almost didn’t hear the crunch of an already fallen leaf behind her. She immediately prepared to take flight. Such a noise meant an animal was on the path behind the row of bushes where she lived, and the animal was usually a cat more than willing to try and turn her into a meal. Just as she had unfolded her wings and was ready to become airborne, hoping it wasn’t already too late and she’d be able to avoid the cat’s pounce, a voice made her stop in her tracks.
“Why, Cherie! You are still here.”
Cherie spun around as quickly as she could. There, on the path, stood Gord, peering down beneath the bushes at her.
“You… you!” she exclaimed. “Where have you been? How did you get here? What are you doing out here when the sun’s already up?”
“My dear crazy thrasher,” Gord replied with a smile. “So many questions! Why, I don’t know which one to answer first. But first, you need to come with me.”
At this invitation Cherie flew out from underneath the bushes, then over them, finally landing gently on the back of Gord’s neck. He turned around and started walking toward the main part of the zoo, Cherie hanging on as best she could without digging her claws too deep into Gord’s fur.
“So where have you been? I haven’t seen you since spring!” asked Cherie.
“Why, I’ve been here.”
“But where? I couldn’t find you. And none of the other animals have seen you.”
Gord chuckled. “My dear Cherie. Of course you couldn’t find me and the other animals didn’t see me. I’ve been living in a place the humans call ‘indoors’ for a while. But I’m home now.”
“You haven’t been home in months, silly polar bear.”
“My new home, Cherie.” With that, Gord stopped in front of a door. Reaching out with his right front paw, he used a single claw to tap on something Cherie didn’t recognize. The door opened, and Gord walked inside, Cherie ducking low so she wouldn’t bump her head on the ceiling. She heard the door close behind her, then blinked as she was back out in sunlight.
Cherie looked around. The area looked much like Gord’s old home at the zoo, but definitely newer and larger.
“Why, I moved in just yesterday,” said Gord in response to Cherie’s question before she’d had a chance to ask. “I’m sorry I couldn’t tell you earlier. But there were always humans around this ‘indoors’ place where I was living. Most of them were very nice. But I don’t believe they would have understood had I left during the night to visit my friends.”
“And they don’t know you can get in and out of here?”
“I certainly hope not! And as you’ll notice, there are nice new bushes between the back of this place and the path. If you don’t mind living nearby me again.”
“Of course not, silly bear.” Cherie hopped off of Gord and flew over to the bushes, picking out the best spots to stay.
After a while, Cherie flew back into Gord’s home and landed next to him. In a slightly nervous voice she said, “When you left, I thought maybe you had found a way to your real home. Which made me happy for you, thinking that. But sad for me, because I never would have seen you again.”
Gord looked down at Cherie and smiled. “Why, my dear crazy thrasher. How nice of you to think such kind thoughts of me! And one day I will find my way back to my real home. I miss it very much. Sometimes I miss the first home I had here. But I am now here, with my friends. And for now, why, here I will stay.”
“You will go away one day, though.”
Gord smiled again. “Perhaps. But even if that day comes, you will always be able to hear me in the yesterday whispers.” With that, Gord jumped into his new pool, Cherie giving him a look of mock sternness as she hopped out of the way of the splashing water.
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