Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Weed Killer

This morning someone sent me this tragic story of a rural murder.



Farm Worker

This is all part and parcel of choosing death rather than life:  "We need to kill the 'weeds'," as your general orientation/goal, rather than  "to grow healthy, flourishing crops."  This habitual, oppositional/violent orientation is endemic to our culture, and poisons everything--every encounter we have, not just with "weeds," but between people as well (this story illustrates both rather well).  
If, instead, the goal were to grow things that are as healthy as possible, to "choose life" in that occupation of farmer--to walk in a peaceful way with all living things they encounter, in their occupation--then anything one farmer did for his crops could only help the neighbor's crops, or at least wouldn't be able to outright kill them.  But if "maximizing yield" (and therefore money) is the primary goal, then that one choice right there leads inevitably to violence (a violent orientation sets you on that path); that choosing of death rather than life, right on that apparently innocuous level ("they're just weeds") is choosing death. 
Soldier, Vietnam
It doesn't matter how innocuous the choice seems at the time, how small, how correct even; that path leads to destruction.  That's just where it goes.  Death for the weeds, suffering and death for the people who harvest the crops and are exposed to the toxic chemicals, somewhat slower suffering and death for people who eat them (or eat the things that eat them) and are exposed to lower but chronic levels of those toxins, and in this case, outright death by explosive violence for one man at the hands of his own neighbor. 

"Today I have set before you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your children might live!"  --Deuteronomy 30:19



Here's something else in the article that is so common in our culture: 

"We cannot lose this technology," Perry Galloway, an Arkansas farmer who has used dicamba and dicamba-tolerant soybean seeds. "We've come too far at this point to just throw it away."

This is a hugely common, and very strong, fallacy.  "We've come too far," "We've invested too much," etc.  But C.S. Lewis addressed this best:

"We all want progress, but if you're on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive."

The good news is, it's never too late to start choosing life.  And even the tiniest choice begins to correct the course.
 



Friday, December 9, 2016

The Cure for Entitlement

". . . the mistake that a lot of us fall into is thinking that whatever we need, whatever we desire, is something that we deserve."

Check out this vlog post; good food for thought:

Ascension Presents (Father Mike): The Cure for Entitlement

Whatever we have, was given to us.

For those of you who just thought, "Hang on--not X.  Hey, I earned X; I worked hard for X!"  consider whether you "earned" the capacities to do that hard work.  Did you "earn" your functioning body and brain, the working hands, bodily strength, and/or cognitive abilities that allow you to even do that work in the first place?  It's worth taking a moment to ponder that whatever gifts you have that allowed you to be able to work hard to earn X, were indeed gifts--not everyone has those.  Not everyone has a working body, or a working brain.  Not everyone even has hands, or feet, or functioning eyes, ears, or whatever else you need to do that work.  Those things were given to you--not to everyone; not to just anyone--and they were GIVEN to you--not earned.  You do not "deserve" those things, any more than someone who was born without them.  They are gifts.  Celebrate that, give thanks for that--and share them. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

E-slavery

This beautiful article from Christopher Check expresses eloquently so much of my own lamentations, for decades (he even uses the term "Endarkenment," which I've used for years, as well!).  If ANYONE is reading this. . . read this:

liberate-yourself-from-e-slavery

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Deranged Response to Value

 From Anthony Esolen's Destruction ad nihilem (at thecatholicthing.org):

[Carol Gilligan's] insane conclusion bears upon the cultural situation in which sane people in general and Christians in particular now find themselves. To look upon boys doing boyish and innocent things, and accomplishing something impressive, and to regard them with disdain or hatred, is a sign of mental and spiritual disease. It would be like seeing a mother rocking her child to sleep, and sniffing at the scene with contempt. It is what Dietrich von Hildebrand would say was a deranged response to value. 

You say that, Sir (the bit I've highlighted), as if nobody would dream of doing that.  And yet, they do that, too.  The "feminists" absolutely decided that motherhood was a contemptible occupation.  They would never say that out loud, but it was everywhere implied (and impressed upon us growing girls in the '70's and '80's), by the repeated messages that women needed more that "just that" to "be fulfilled," that making a home and nurturing children was somehow "beneath" the true dignity of a woman; that she deserved "more," that she was "worth more," etc.  As if there could be any more humanly ESSENTIAL, any more URGENTLY IMPORTANT, occupation for ANY HUMAN BEING, than raising up children and providing for their health and safety and preparation for life.  It is, as you say, insane, but that's what they were about, and the whole culture followed them right down that bizarre rabbit hole.

It is certainly true that women can make important, beautiful, enormously valuable contributions in every other field of human endeavour, as well.  And it's lovely that women have opportunities now to do so, far greater than they did at any time previous.  However, we must admit that a great multitude of babies quite literally were thrown out with the bathwater of workplace discrimination against women.  In addition to the million-plus per year actual babies that are discarded as medical waste, the metaphorical "baby" of the value of MOTHERHOOD was also discarded.  

We are now an entire culture who pays almost no attention at all to the image of a mother rocking her child to sleep, and--far worse--little or no attention to the image of a mother having someone murder her own child in her very womb.  Go figure.  Motherhood?  Forgetaboutit.   

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Worldview Review: "Self/less"

Shortest WR ever:



This beautifully told parable in the guise of a sci-fi action thriller is not recommended for the young'uns, but for adults and young adults with well-formed consciences (say, anyone capable of appreciating St. Augustine's Confessions), I'd have to say it's a must-see.








Side notes:

1)  It's a beautiful advertisement for New Orleans, and it's nice to see Hollywood notice that life does exist in the U.S. in places other than New York City and various California coastal cities.

2)  I'm always surprised to find that Ryan Reynolds can actually act.  His physical type is such that I always expect him to be merely a "face man"--and then he repeatedly reminds me that I am mistaken (not that I've seen much of his work, or would recommend any of his other films that I have seen, other than perhaps "Buried").  I've no idea if he could handle a stage performance, but a movie actor he certainly is.  Ben Kingsley and Victor Garber, as always, are a pleasure to watch work.  It would be nice to see more of Derek Luke; he has a great presence but we didn't get to see enough of him here.

3)  Ten "Venture Points" to anyone who, after seeing the movie, leaves in the comments here the same "moral of the story" that I had bounding through my head as I left the theater.




Monday, July 13, 2015

Special Forces Tasked With Covert Ops; The Role of the Citizen in the Resistance









[[High levels of violence, as well as drug cartels and abortion in the country, were the motivation behind the special rite of exorcism, known as exorcismo magno (the great exorcism).]]

I had no idea that this could be done for entire towns, regions, or nations, as opposed to only one individual at a time.   If these (quoted above) are sufficient reasons, then the U.S. is far overdue. Indeed, I hope it is already being done regularly, and we just are not being informed about it (see next comment, below).



[[ Comment Posted by C.S.:
This is an inspiring example of the faith of the bishops of Mexico. I’d like to see this done in our country. Probably the location should be kept secret to avoid disruptions but the date could be given out so that the faithful could support the effort by confession, fasting, and prayer.]]

No, the entire event, even the fact that it is being done, should be kept secret, for the physical and spiritual safety of the exorcists.  Our nation is in the grip of some truly terrifying "principalities and powers," and the "special forces" soldiers in the vanguard fighting this enemy need every advantage they can get, including the advantage of secrecy so that demonic forces cannot be (wittingly or unwittingly!) marshaled against them beforehand.  When I say "unwittingly," I refer to people who think, for example, that they are "atheists," but who would direct their hatred and contempt toward the event, which constitutes a spiritual assault, giving ammunition to the enemy even though they don't believe there is such a thing. 


What the faithful should be told is to be invited to add regular prayers for the support of exorcists to their daily prayers (I intend to!), as well as being invited to fast and perhaps make other offerings specifically for the support of exorcists--in general.  The less said about specific events, the better--certainly until AFTER the event is over, but even then, because spiritual acts are not time-bound, it is probably better not to reveal specifics of any operation like this, for the same reasons that highly sensitive operations in wartime are not announced beforehand OR afterwards, until many years after the war is over. 
 



Another thing the faithful must be told, now and repeatedly (it bears continual repeating, as wartime communications to general citizens during WWII demonstrate), is that we ARE, in fact, at war.  Of course, we always have been, but for Westerners living in what was until recently CHRISTENDOM, and particularly U.S. citizens, up until recently living in a nation explicitly founded on, and a culture deeply steeped in, a Christian worldview, that was all too easy to forget.  We have forgotten it, most of us, and we have become so ingrown into the creeping culture of mammon that we've failed to recognize how the thorns have grown up around us.  We're now waking up to the fact that we're caged in them, and there's a pitched battle forming all around us.  We need to slash our way out of those thorns, arm ourselves "with the whole armor of God," and get ready for the persecution Christ warned us would be our portion, but also that he told us would be our BLESSING. 

Our priests must remind us, at every opportunity, that we are at war, we live in occupied territory, we are the resistance--"not peace but a sword"--and help us to learn how to resist as Christians, not as belligerent, obnoxious Americans "fighting for MY rights," but as Christians fighting for the eternal souls of those we face--fighting "NOT against men, but against principalities and powers.”  We have no experience doing this, and far too many examples (we are constantly bombarded with images in our media) of people attacking EACH OTHER.  We must remember that the PEOPLE who APPEAR to be our opposition (e.g., those politicians you view as "the other side;" the activists you view as "against" your beliefs) are as desperately loved by our Savior as we are.  We "fight NOT against them," but against a real and present, but not as easily PERCEIVED, enemy.  We cannot attack them, much as we may feel ourselves attacked by them, and call ourselves Christians.  We need to truly "know our enemy," and we need to be equipped for resistance IN CHRIST--for it will avail us nothing if we win some kind of human battle against other PEOPLE, made in the image of God and for whom Christ died, like us; if we beat down our brother we may both be lost.


Sunday, July 12, 2015

Worldview Review: "Terminator: Genisys"



Because of my soul-deep regard for Story, I am fervently philosophically opposed to the “reboot.”  Because of this, if I were not teaching a sci-fi-related course in the fall, I probably would not have seen this latest Terminator offering, having heard that it was that most deplorable thing, a "reboot" of a "franchise"--and that would have been a shame. 

As it happens, “Terminator Genisys” is not properly a “reboot” at all, but a continuation of the Terminator saga.  The sharp script with marvelous time-travel convolutions abides by all the rules of the Terminator world introduced in the first film, and respects (and even at times beautifully alludes to) the events of the previous films (certainly of the first two, both of which I’ve seen and studied so often for teaching my course that I nearly have them memorized).  The only thing “rebooted” about the film was the casting of the two young leads as different actors, of practical necessity, since the first film was made over 30 years ago.  In this regard they could hardly have done better for the Sarah Connor character; Emilia Clarke reminded me of the original’s Linda Hamilton throughout the film, not just her physiognomy but the crafting of the character.  While Arnold Schwarzenegger has obviously aged, the smart script even makes perfect sense of that, again strictly within the “reality rules” established in the very first film.  

From a worldview perspective, these “Terminator” films (certainly the first two and this most recent one) are quite interesting.  Yes, there’s a great deal of violence, but interestingly, unlike most sci-fi action adventures, which generally compete with each other for the record of most bloodshed and loss of life depicted in a two-hour timespan, these films are shot through with a very obvious regard for the value of human life.  In the second one, in particular, the young John Connor makes a big deal out of ordering his robot guardian not to kill anyone,
“because you just CAN’T!”  This regard for human life and reluctance to kill indiscriminately extends throughout this series and is reflected in a similar order to Sarah Connor’s guardian “Pops” in this recent film, as well as a clearly expressed distaste on the part of Kyle Reese to “kill” at all, even when those he is “killing” are only machines.  The filmmakers also seem to take pains to order the chaotic action sequences such that it is at least plausible that the hapless humans caught in the Terminator crossfire might escape the fate of “collateral damage.”  For example, in one chase sequence in "Genisys," a gas truck, driven by an uninvolved human driver, is wrecked to attempt to slow down the relentless human-killing Terminator pursuer.  I was surprised to see the Guardian target this vehicle—for the very reason that it is inconsistent with the usual Terminator “just can’t kill people” world rule—but, as the truck turns over, we see that the cab with the driver disconnects from the trailer full of gas, sliding out of view to our right as the trailer explodes off to our left, implying that the driver might have survived this incident.  Yes, it's subtle, but it's--something.

If you haven’t seen the previous films and are considering whether you’d like to, you should note that in the first film, we do get an obligatory 1980’s sex scene between unmarried adults, but it must be said that the fact that these two people have sex actually is essential to the story (spoiler alert:  the future’s inspiring leader of the human resistance, John Connor, who sent Kyle Reese back to protect his mother Sarah Connor, turns out to be the fruit of this one night they spend together).  At least we maintain the “human life is of ultimate value” worldview in the fact that Sarah Connor doesn’t decide to have the future savior of humankind aborted.  It’s also worth noting that the first “Terminator” movie was not just made quite a long time ago, but was fairly low-budget even for that day, so adjust your expectations accordingly with respect to special effects, etc.  It is still a compelling story, and an interesting study in heroic devotion on the part of the Kyle Reese character, and in fortitude and courage, and the growth of character through adversity, on the part of the Sarah Connor character.

The second film, “Terminator II:  Judgment Day” is a far better film in general than the first (although you do profit somewhat by having seen the first), and is far too busy with all the action involved in saving the young John Connor and his mother from the next generation Terminator, and then attempting to save the world from Skynet, to bother with gratuitous sex.  It manages to give us images of patience, determination, fortitude, self-discipline, and familial loyalty in the midst of the inevitable chaos.  It also has a lovely depiction of a scientist as a caring, brilliant, African-American family man of integrity and courage, played beautifully by Joe Morton, which is worth the price of admission, right there. 

I found the intervening films (3 and 4) generally forgettable, and can recommend with a clear conscience simply skipping from the second ("Terminator II: Judgment Day," which, in my view, remains by far the best of the series) to this most recent, "Terminator: Genisys."  The only thing you might wonder about is a reference in this most recent film to the destruction of a site in Denver (which happened in one of the previous films).  It was a major Skynet hub; they blew it up; all good.  Moving on.

I wouldn’t in good conscience recommend any of these films for kids, but for adults or young adults with well-formed consciences who like action/adventure and enjoy speculative fiction with at least a little food for thought regarding the nature of humanity and our relationship with the machines to which we increasingly hand over our daily lives, this series is worth a look.