Je suis…vraiment Monday, Sep 24 2012 

There’s just not as much public posting going on at the moment. :-)

Open Letter to Huckabee Supporters Wednesday, Feb 6 2008 

[I realize that it is long. Please read it all the way through before reacting, clicking out, etc... :-P]

To begin with, your candidate did not do particularly well last night. Mine did not, either. Yet both did better than was expected vis-à-vis McCain.

I know you believe Huckabee to be your best hope. He is “one of your own,” a “real Christian,” pro-life, anti-gay marriage, and anti-gun control. Like Bill Clinton, he’s a Southern Baptist from Arkansas. Like Jimmy Carter, he’s an Evangelical.

Yet yesterday in West Virginia, we saw additional evidence of collusion between your candidate and McCain. No matter how firmly you believe Mike Huckabee to be above reproach, please realize: what transpired in West Virginia was at best shady—and at worst dishonorable. By accepting McCain’s calculated support, your candidate further impressed me with his willingness to do anything—as long as it furthers his political ambitions.

I understand your inflexible resolve to “vote your conscience” this primary season. Yesterday, I voted for the only candidate I could in good conscience support. I do not care which of my friends voted for Huckabee, which voted for McCain, which voted for Clinton, and which voted for Obama. Permitting a political disagreement to harm a friendship is short-sighted; as candidates, Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, and John McCain will only be with us for a few more months.

There is room in the primary season for spirited debate, but that debate must be driven by reason, not emotions, animosity, and harsh words.

I have heard cogent arguments for and against Huckabee; I have heard cogent arguments for and against Romney. These I understand. I do not, however, understand the fear of Romney evinced by large sections of the Evangelical community. While we may disagree with his theology, a political election is emphatically not a referendum on a Pastor, Minister, or Spiritual-Leader-in-Chief.

Furthermore, endorsements for Romney have come from several corners in the conservative, religious community (including National Review and Sean Hannity). The overwhelming majority of mainstream media coverage has been devoted to the supposedly-electable new frontrunner, John McCain. What has McCain to do with Huckabee? Should McCain win the nomination, would you vote for him?

You would not (at least, not if the blogs are to be believed). “OnlyHuckabee.com” preaches the gospel of Mike Huckabee and demands no substitution. Huckabee supporters from New York to North Carolina declare their heroic and terminal commitment to Huckabee—undeterred even by the specter of a second Clinton presidency.

How are the pledges on OnlyHuckabee.com not self-destructive? How are they not a recipe for a November Democratic sweep? These Huckabee supporters would boycott the election or give us Huckabee as a write-in (c.f. “third-party”) candidate. But consider the number of people who have voted for Huckabee so far; with what mathematical magic can that number win a general election? Are these pledge-makers prepared for the reality of a Clinton or Obama administration? Is undying devotion to a particular candidate worth higher taxes, socialized medicine, activist Supreme Court nominees, increased gun control, more Federal intrusion into local affairs, and genocide in Iraq? Are they prepared to share responsibility for these (and other) post-election realities?

I will not give you the ammunition you seek. I will not repeat the line you so hate hearing. Instead, I will turn that line on its head: “a vote for either Huckabee or Romney is a vote against McCain.”

Yesterday, many of you voted for Huckabee. Yesterday, I voted for Romney.

Can we not have done with the endless, destructive rhetoric?

I propose a truce. I propose that Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney bury the hatchet. I propose that the two ally themselves against McCain, and give us a ticket that both Evangelicals and conservatives of my ilk can support. If not, the nominee will be McCain—and the GOP will lose the election—even if the “Big Mac” is Machiavellian enough to slot Huckabee as his running mate.

Finally, I propose that Evangelicals of the “Only Huckabee” persuasion repent. No, not of voting their consciences (after all, “to go against conscience is neither right nor safe”). But if the Evangelical bloc wishes to be taken seriously, it must find a way to transcend the “if I am not allowed to win, I will not play at all” attitudes currently on display.

Never forget: we live in a fallen world. In that fallen world, there will only be fallen, less-than-good political candidates. To argue otherwise is to buy into the Marxist theology of the political savior. As Huckabee states, Christ (the only good “person” ever) probably would not run for political office, anyway.

Come, let us be reasonable together!

Rouge Monday, Feb 5 2007 

Premier Clinton’s first five-year plan has been unveiled. It’s bold. It’s audacious. It’s…wholesale confiscation of American energy corporations’ profits???

If Hillary wins the 2008 Presidential nomination, the red states will be redand so will the blue ones.

But what, you ask, about the red pro-Hillary states? Hmmm…maybe the newscasters can come up with a way to distinguish them.

Like…say…some pretty little yellow stars.

Monday, Jan 22 2007 

The benediction is said; the postlude is playing; and the congregation is gathering up its Bibles, gloves, bulletins, and pens.

From behind me, a lady of my parents’ age smiles, and with a dripping voice more announces than asks: “So…you two are engaged?!!”

To which I smile, look her squarely in the eyes, and answer: “No.”

In an instant, the smile vanishes. Her face, which a moment before had been so smug, knowing, and triumphant, suddenly turns crestfallen and disappointed. Still smiling broadly, I follow Mary up the aisle and into the narthex.

Call me malevolent, but I love bursting gossips’ bubbles…

The Curse of the Were-Rabbit Tuesday, Jan 16 2007 

There’s really no better word for this…thing…than “freakish.”

Xmas and Christmas Friday, Dec 15 2006 

A Lost Chapter from Herodotus
by C.S. Lewis

And beyond this there lies in the ocean, turned towards the west and the north, the island of Niatirb which Hecataeus indeed declares to be the same size and shape as Sicily, but it is larger, though in calling it triangular a man would not miss the mark. It is densely inhabited by men who wear clothes not very different from the other barbarians who occupy the north-western parts of Europe though they do not agree with them in language. These islanders, surpassing all the men of whom we know in patience and endurance, use the following customs.

In the middle of winter when fogs and rains most abound they have a great festival which they call Exmas, and for fifty days they prepare for it in the fashion I shall describe. First of all, every citizen is obliged to send to each of his friends and relations a square piece of hard paper stamped with a picture, which in their speech is called an Exmas-card. But the pictures represent birds sitting on branches, or trees with a dark green prickly leaf, or else men in such garments as the Niatirbians believe that their ancestors wore two hundred years ago riding in coaches such as their ancestors used, or houses with snow on their roofs. And the Niatirbians are unwilling to say what these pictures have to do with the festival, guarding (as I suppose) some sacred mystery. And because all men must send these cards the market-place is filled with the crowd of those buying them, so that there is great labour and weariness.

But having bought as many as they suppose to be sufficient, they return to their houses and find there the like cards which others have sent to them. And when they find cards from any to whom they also have sent cards, they throw them away and give thanks to the gods that this labour at least is over for another year. But when they find cards from any to whom they have not sent, then they beat their breasts and wail and utter curses against the sender; and, having sufficiently lamented their misfortune, they put on their boots again and go out into the fog and rain and buy a card for him also. And let this account suffice about Exmas-cards.

They also send gifts to one another, suffering the same things about the gifts as about the cards, or even worse. For every citizen has to guess the value of the gift which every friend will send to him so that he may send one of equal value, whether he can afford it or not. And they buy as gifts for one another such things as no man ever bought for himself. For the sellers, understanding the custom, put forth all kinds of trumpery, and whatever, being useless and ridiculous, they have been unable to sell throughout the year they now sell as an Exmas gift. And though the Niatirbians profess themselves to lack sufficient necessary things, such as metal, leather, wood and paper, yet an incredible quantity of these things is wasted every year, being made into the gifts.

But during these fifty days the oldest, poorest and the most miserable of citizens put on false beards and red robes and walk in the market-place; being disguised (in my opinion) as Cronos. And the sellers of gifts no less than the purchasers become pale and weary, because of the crowds and the fog, so that any man who came into a Niatirbian city at this season would think some great public calamity had fallen on Niatirb. This fifty days of preparation is called in their barbarian speech the Exmas Rush.

But when the day of the festival comes, then most of the citizens, being exhausted with the Rush, lie in bed till noon. But in the evening they eat five times as much supper as on other days and, crowning themselves with crowns of paper, they become intoxicated. And on the day after Exmas they are very grave, being internally disordered by the supper and the drinking and reckoning how much they have spent on gifts and on the wine. For wine is so dear among the Niatirbians that a man must swallow the worth of a talent before he is well intoxicated.

Such, then, are their customs about the Exmas. But the few among the Niatirbians have also a festival, separate and to themselves, called Crissmas, which is on the same day as Exmas. And those who keep Crissmas, doing the opposite to the majority of the Niatirbians, rise early on that day with shining faces and go before sunrise to certain temples where they partake of a sacred feast. And in most of the temples they set out images of a fair woman with a new-born Child on her knees and certain animals and shepherds adoring the Child. (The reason of these images is given in a certain sacred story which I know but do not repeat.)

But I myself conversed with a priest in one of these temples and asked him why they kept Crissmas on the same day as Exmas; for it appeared to me inconvenient. But the priest replied, It is not lawful, O Stranger, for us to change the date of Crissmas, but would that Zeus would put it into the minds of the Niatirbians to keep Exmas at some other time or not to keep it at all. For Exmas and the Rush distract the minds even of the few from sacred things. And we indeed are glad that men should make merry at Crissmas; but in Exmas there is no merriment left. And when I asked him why they endured the Rush, he replied, It is, O Stranger, a racket; using (as I suppose) the words of some oracle and speaking unintelligibly to me (for a racket is an instrument which the barbarians use in a game called tennis).

But what Hecataeus says, that Exmas and Crissmas are the same, is not credible. For first, the pictures which are stamped on the Exmas-cards have nothing to do with the sacred story which the priests tell about Crissmas. And secondly, the most part of the Niatirbians, not believing the religion of the few, nevertheless send the gifts and cards and participate in the Rush and drink, wearing paper caps. But it is not likely that men, even being barbarians, should suffer so many and great things in honour of a god they do not believe in. And now, enough about Niatirb.

Strife on Earth & Ill Will Towards Persons Monday, Dec 11 2006 

“Civilization is dead, to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of its burial has been signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner. Trial lawyers have signed it. And trial lawyers’ names are good upon ‘Change, for anything they choose to put their hands to…”

[With apologies to Charles Dickens.]

Ugly Americans Abroad Wednesday, Nov 29 2006 

Desire [NIV: zeal] without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way. Prov. 19:2 ESV

Social activists? Or egocentric, uninformed, and immature wannabes?

What is their motivation? Compassion? Or is it all just a ploy to grab the media spotlight?

In many ways, the social activism currently in vogue smacks more than a little of narcissism. On the one hand, the real-world, life-and-death challenges confronting underdeveloped and war-torn parts of the world become the “filmed on location” backdrops for celebrity odysseys, globe-trotting excursion in which the paternalistic, “enlightened white man” saves the Third World—one film crew and MTV News segment at a time. On the other, those same challenges (suitably dumbed-down and sensationalized) spawn short-lived “grassroots” social action entities that gratify American do-gooders’ need for self-congratulation.

Even worse, all of this is played out in the context of complete disposable convenience, in a nation where the average attention span is that of the third-grader. New crises and ambitions must replace old ones—at regular intervals. New social causes come into view, slide past, and fade away, as the social action conveyor belt keeps celebrities in today’s news, on the fronts of tabloids, in gossip pages, on the public’s consciousness, and [most importantly!] on the cutting edge of social action’s latest trend.

But wait! the conveyor belt serves another purpose, too, because it simultaneously feeds the American consumer’s insatiable demand for the new. Social causes, like $5 frappuccinos, are consumed; humanitarian crises, like out of fashion clothes, are cast off and soon forgotten.

Thus the subject of Hollywood’s hand-wringing regularly changes—from world peace to green peace, from ending world poverty through debt forgiveness (the notoriously naïve and economically ignorant “ONE” campaign) to the insidiously noble-sounding (and equally ignorant) “Fair Trade” Coffee push, from the (genuine and urgent) crisis in Darfur to trendily adopting foreign children.

Tragically, in the celebrities’ ignorant stampede to keep the limelight trained on themselves, 21st century Western paternalism hurts the very people it purports to help. In the case of Madonna, it will further inflate the artificial 1:12 orphan ratio of Malawi; in the case of coffee-producing nations, it will slow down the pace of much-needed economic diversification; and in the Darfur region of Sudan, it runs the very real risk of raising the black Muslims’ hopes, only to dash them on the cold, calculating reality that is the media-hungry celebrity ego.

So—we return to the original question: are the likes of Madonna, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, and George Clooney really social activists? Or are they nothing more than egocentric, uninformed, and immature wannabes?

And while we sit here debating the issue, how many people in the Third World are going to have their hopes crushed, as the most narcissistic of Americans inevitably disabuse them as to our willingness and commitment to help?

Speculation Wednesday, Nov 22 2006 

Hmmm…moderate (some would even say liberal) Republican Mitt Romney is trying to position himself as a conservative, and has nothing but nice things to say about Newt Gingrich.

Newt Gingrich, on the other hand, cannot win the GOP nomination for President (he swings wildly between being very conservative and being very pragmatic, thus hacking off a lot of people). And if he did win the top of the ticket, I sincerely doubt he could win the election (unless, of course, the Dems nominated Hillary Clinton, in which case the election could get very interesting indeed ).

On the other side of the aisle, it seems that the Democratic nomination is Hillary Clinton’s for the asking. There has also been some noise about Obama running, but he will not even have finished his first term in the Senate when the nominations roll around—John Edwards, anyone?

A demented phantasm begins to form in my fevered, politically worm-eaten brain:

Romney-Gingrich vs. Clinton-Obama.

Or…maybe not.

Pop Quiz Tuesday, Nov 21 2006 

22) Modern-day Lebanon is accurately described as being:
a) locked in a lengthy struggle to throw off Syrian dominance
b) unable to rid itself of an heavily-armed, irresponsible, and foreign-
backed guerrilla army
c) in the process of rebuilding after heavy IDF bombing and shelling
d) the target of Syrian-sponsored acts of terror.
e) all of the above.

Next Page »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.