Archive for culture
There is nothing wrong with letting kids play as heroes fighting monsters, but sometimes you have to wonder what sorts of messages toys send to kids. For instance, if you need to teach your children about the virtues of remote warfare the recent release of die-cast aerial drone toys:
Seriously, this exists. And the reviews on Amazon are just hilarious. My favorite: “This is the best toy ever. Finally, I can pretend that I’m a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize! It’s like I’m sitting right there in the White House with my very own kill list!”
(By the way, you could alternatively demonstrate to your kids that you care about peace by joining the Clear Skies Initiative.)
Or perhaps you want to show your child that it is perfectly alright to submit to a naked-body scan at an airport or to get felt up by a TSA agent. In that case, I suggest the TSA checkpoint kit:
Really, who comes up with this stuff? There is wisdom in the book of Proverbs: “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
Tags: children, culture, drone strikes, TSA, war
Most people live lives of quiet desperation, Henry David Thoreau told us. If there was truth in that observation, in the pleasant, spacious old New England of Thoreau’s day, how much more truth is packed into those words in these melancholy days! Events have gotten out of hand and the world lurches into chaos.
Things have fallen apart faster than any of us would have dared predict, and we are seized by pangs of guilt and self-doubt. So many promising experiments have gone sour, from the New Freedom of Woodrow Wilson to the latest ukase of the present administration. The statesmen of this era talked peace and sought to outlaw war, but they let the twentieth century break down into the bloodiest period of all the twenty-five hundred years of warfare studied by Pitirim Sorokin. “We live,” wrote this great scholar, “in an age unique for the unrestrained use of brute force in international relations.”
The threat of protracted international conflict is bad enough, but there is also the well-founded fear of domestic violence and crime. And even if we are lucky enough to escape actual robbery, we know that inflation is steadily draining our wealth. We’ve seen the race issue go from integration to Black Nationalism; we’ve witnessed the emergence of the sex and drug cult, the rise of astrology, witchcraft and voodooism; V.D. has reached epidemic proportions among the young; and then there is abortion, homosexuality, the campus crisis, the environmental crisis, the inner crisis in man himself. For is it not true, as Yeats says in a famous poem, that “The wicked act with dreadful intensity, while the good lack all conviction.”
Tags: culture, Edmund Opitz, free society, freedom, ideology, philosophy
Joel Poindexter writes:
The Great Commission, as described in the gospel of Matthew, has been perverted by these Right-Wing warmongers. It’s gone from a mission to "go and make disciples of all nations," to go and invade all nations. Instead of encouraging people to help spread the Word, so often we see them advocating the spread of death and destruction, thus condemning the victims to an eternity in hell.
Admittedly, I was once of this mindset. I saw no contradiction between my role as a flesh-and-blood soldier, serving in the infantry, and as a Christian who was supposed to be fighting spiritually in the Lord’s army. Indeed, I saw my role in the military as one wholly compatible with Biblical teaching. The reason I arrived at this disjointed conclusion so easily was that I never questioned it. I never gave pause to consider the moral implications of walking into some foreign land with a gun in my hands, rather than a Bible. The blame for this is entirely my own.
For its part however, the church has done little to quell the appetite for war among its members and the public at large. The situation is so backwards that it’s practically considered laudable when a pastor ignores the military and doesn’t go out of his way to celebrate the troops at every opportunity. Too often Sunday services – in particular those around the state’s designated war holidays: Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Veteran’s Day – become a celebration of all things war.
Joel is right: it makes little sense to say we are about the work of spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ when we support such dastardly military conflicts at every opportunity. Check out more at LewRockwell.com.
Tags: church, culture, ethics, militarism, war
If you have never read The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis (author of The Chronicles of Narnia and Mere Christianity, and close friend to J.R.R. Tolkien), then you are missing out. In the book, the arch-demon Screwtape corresponds with his nephew Wormwood, who had recently been appointed his “temptership” on Earth. Lewis, in the voice of Screwtape, writes about the intricacies of sin and temptation, and it is an amazingly insightful work.
After publishing The Screwtape Letters, Lewis wrote an additional piece called “Screwtape Proposes a Toast,” in which Screwtape is giving a lecture before the Tempters’ Training College. (It is often included in current editions of the original book.) A most interesting element of the essay is the indictment of “democracy” itself, or perhaps “the diabolical democratic spirit.” Having been reminded of this essay recently, I felt it would be fun and enlightening to share it with you. I’ve highlighted some significant parts throughout the essay. Enjoy!
(The scene is in Hell at the annual dinner of the Tempters’ Training College for young devils. The principal, Dr. Slubgob, has just proposed the health of the guests. Screwtape, a very experienced devil, who is the guest of honour, rises to reply:)
It is customary on these occasions for the speaker to address himself chiefly to those among you who have just graduated and who will very soon be posted to official Tempterships on Earth. It is a custom I willingly obey. I well remember with what trepidation I awaited my own first appointment. I hope, and believe, that each one of you has the same uneasiness tonight. Your career is before you. Hell expects and demands that it should be — as mine was — one of unbroken success. If it is not, you know what awaits you.
I have no wish to reduce the wholesome and realistic element of terror, the unremitting anxiety, which must act as the lash and spur to your endeavours. How often you will envy the humans their faculty of sleep! Yet at the same time I would wish to put before you a moderately encouraging view of the strategical situation as a whole.
Your dreaded Principal has included in a speech full of points something like an apology for the banquet which he has set before us. Well, gentledevils, no one blames him. But it would be in vain to deny that the human souls on whose anguish we have been feasting tonight were of pretty poor quality. Not all the most skillful cookery of our tormentors could make them better than insipid.
Oh, to get one’s teeth again into a Farinata, a Henry VIII, or even a Hitler! There was real crackling there; something to crunch; a rage, an egotism, a cruelty only just less robust than our own. It put up a delicious resistance to being devoured. It warmed your inwards when you’d got it down.
Instead of this, what have we had tonight? There was a municipal authority with Graft sauce. But personally I could not detect in him the flavour of a really passionate and brutal avarice such as delighted one in the great tycoons of the last century. Was he not unmistakably a Little Man — a creature of the petty rake-off pocketed with a petty joke in private and denied with the stalest platitudes in his public utterances — a grubby little nonentity who had drifted into corruption, only just realizing that he was corrupt, and chiefly because everyone else did it? Then there was the lukewarm Casserole of Adulterers. Could you find in it any trace of a fully inflamed, defiant, rebellious, insatiable lust? I couldn’t. They all tasted to me like undersexed morons who had blundered or trickled into the wrong beds in automatic response to sexy advertisements, or to make themselves feel modern and emancipated, or to reassure themselves about their virility or their “normalcy,” or even because they had nothing else to do. Frankly, to me who have tasted Messalina and Cassanova, they were nauseating. The Trade Unionist stuffed with sedition was perhaps a shade better. He had done some real harm. He had, not quite unknowingly, worked for bloodshed, famine, and the extinction of liberty. Yes, in a way. But what a way! He thought of those ultimate objectives so little. Toeing the party line, self-importance, and above all mere routine, were what really dominated his life.
Tags: C.S. Lewis, culture, democracy, education, freedom, government, individualism, society, theology
This article was written by Pat Buchanan, and was originally published at LewRockwell.com on December 26, 2012.
For two millennia, the birth of Christ has been seen as the greatest event in world history. The moment Jesus was born in a stable in Bethlehem, God became man, and eternal salvation became possible.
This date has been the separation point of mankind’s time on earth, with B.C. designating the era before Christ, and A.D., anno domino, in the Year of the Lord, the years after. And how stands Christianity today?
"Christianity is in danger off being wiped out in its biblical heartlands," says the British think tank Civitas.
In Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Ethiopia and Nigeria, Christians face persecution and pogroms. In Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan, conversion is a capital offense. In a century, two-thirds of all the Christians have vanished from the Islamic world.
In China, Christianity is seen as a subversive ideology of the West to undermine the regime.
In Europe, a century ago, British and German soldiers came out of the trenches to meet in no-man’s land to sing Christmas carols and exchange gifts. It did not happen in 1915, or ever again.
In the century since, all the Western empires have vanished. All of their armies and navies have melted away. All have lost their Christian faith. All have seen their birthrates plummet. All their nations are aging, shrinking and dying, and all are witnessing invasions from formerly subject peoples and lands.
In America, too, the decline of Christianity proceeds.
While conservatives believe that culture determines politics, liberals understand politics can change culture.
The systematic purging of Christian teachings and symbols from our public schools and public square has produced a growing population – 20 percent of the nation, 30 percent of the young – who answer "none" when asked about their religious beliefs and affiliations.
In the lead essay in the Book Review of Sunday’s New York Times, Paul Elie writes of our "post-Christian" fiction, where writers with "Christian convictions" like Walker Percy and Flannery O’Connor are a lost tribe.
"Where has the novel of belief gone?" he asks.
Americans understand why Mao’s atheist heirs who have lost their Marxist-Leninist faith and militants Islamists fear and detest the rival belief system of Christianity. But do they understand the animus that lies behind the assault on their faith here at home?
In a recent issue of New Oxford Review, Andrew Seddon ("The New Atheism: All the Rage") describes a "Reason Rally" in Washington, D.C., a "coming out" event sponsored by atheist groups. Among the speakers was Oxford biologist Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion, who claims that "faith is an evil precisely because it requires no justification and brooks no argument."
Christians have been infected by a "God virus," says Dawkins. They are no longer rational beings. Atheists should treat them with derisory contempt. "Mock Them!" Dawkins shouted. "Ridicule them! In public!"
In The End of Faith, atheist Sam Harris wrote that "some propositions are so dangerous that it may even be ethical to kill people."
"Since the New Atheists believe that religion is evil," notes Seddon, "that it ‘poisons everything,’ in (Christopher) Hitchens’ words – it doesn’t take much effort to see that Harris is referring to religions and the people who follow them."
Now since atheists are still badly outnumbered in America and less well-armed than the God-and-Country boys, and atheists believe this is the only life they have, atheist suggestions to "kill people" of Christian belief is probably a threat Christians need not take too seriously.
With reference to Dawkins’ view that the Christian faith "requires no justification and brooks no argument," Seddon makes a salient point.
While undeniable that Christianity entails a belief in the supernatural, the miraculous – God became man that first Christmas, Christ raised people from the dead, rose himself on the first Easter Sunday and ascended into heaven 40 days later – consider what atheists believe.
They believe that something came out of nothing, that reason came from irrationality, that a complex universe and natural order came out of randomness and chaos, that consciousness came from non-consciousness and that life emerged from non-life.
This is a bridge too far for the Christian for whom faith and reason tell him that for all of this to have been created from nothing is absurd; it presupposes a Creator.
Atheists believe, Seddon writes, that "a multiverse (for which there is no experimental or observational evidence) containing an inconceivably large number of universes spontaneously created itself."
Yet, Hitchens insists, "our belief is not a belief."
Nonsense. Atheism requires a belief in the unbelievable.
Christians believe Christ could raise people from the dead because he is God. That is faith. Atheists believe life came out of non-life. That, too, is faith. They believe in what their god, science, cannot demonstrate, replicate or prove. They believe in miracles but cannot identify, produce or describe the miracle worker.
At Christmas, pray for Hitchens, Harris, Dawkins and the other lost souls at that Reason Rally.
Tags: atheism, Christianity, Christmas, culture