Tuesday, June 29, 2004

You know the drill by now. I've gotten involved in a comment box discussion that has outgrown it's pot and must be transplanted.

I can't remember if I've said this before, so I'll say it now. I've never read Narnia and I don't intend to in the near future. I won't judge it up or down. As for T-lk--n, this I can definitely remember pointing out: Ma--c is a) used very seldom, b)used only by a few people, c)used by the bad guys more often than the good guys, d)there is a God-figure in T-lk-n from whom Gandalf and his fellow Astari (which are basically the archangels of middle earth) as well as the elves get their power. There is also an evil power on whom the evil ones draw. T-lk--n's dichotomy is both clearer and cleaner. The good power is simply the power of God. It doesn't come from one's own heart. It cannot be used to do evil. The bad power (like the ring) cannot be used to do good. Now THAT'S what I call a Christian perspective. That dichotomy is absent from Rowling. Gone. Not there. Tumblewee-rolling-along not there. Instead of there being a good power which good people draw on, and a bad one which cannot be used for good, mostly the same sp--ls, tricks and arts are used by both sides, and many can be used for good or evil.
Another thing in Tolkien that is not in Rowling is the aspect of service to a power. Christianity teaches that you use one or the other supernatural power by becoming a servant to it. Either a servant to God through prayer or a servant of the devil through...w--ch-r-ft and w-z--dry. It does not seem to be clear that in Harry Potter one becomes the servant of anything in order to draw on its power. Personally I like the message in T-lk--n about not being able to use power without becoming a servant to its source rather than the Rowling message of power that only comes from within a self-sufficient person.

As far as the 'watchful dragons' go, I think that argument is overrated. The Passion was criticized and vilified, but it was still a resounding success. If she was going to write a Christian allegory, it didn't have to about w--ch-r-ft.

"Lewis was condemned for the very same reasons people are objecting to Rowling." I actually had no idea Lewis was condemned for writing books that made s-rc-ry look cool. Even if that's so, it's an invalid point. It does not make Rowling's books either good or bad.

By the way, the Bible doesn't just condemn the summoning of d-m-ns. It condemns all forms of s-rc-ry. Deuteronomy 18 says "Let no one be found among you...who practices d-vi-nation or s-rc-ry, interprets om-ns, engages in w--ch-r-ft or casts sp--ls, or who is a medium or a sp-rit-st." The next verse continues: "Anyone who does these things is an abominations to the Lord.” I've heard of all the wonderful lessons of friendship this and discipline that contained in Harry Potter. But I still think they could have been imparted in a different venue. I wouldn't read a series of books that made adultery or bestiality look cool even if they did contain these morals.

Here is a review of a book about Harry Potter. Both the review and the book address many of the same concerns and questions; "Harry is a good role model", "what about Lewis and T-lk--n", and so on. I'm thinking of buying the book, but in the days that lie immediately before me, I simply have no time to order something and wait for it to come so I can read it.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Yesterday a very special flight touched down in California. On Monday June 21, Mike Melvill became the first pilot to reach outer space in a privately made, privately funded spacecraft. I have just one thing to say:

Congratulations Mr. Melvill. You've just won the adoration and hearts of tens of millions of little boys who have dreamed of doing what you did.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Today I got up and went to the recruiting station as I have pretty much every weekday morning for more than a month. My former NCOIC (he's retiring and they replaced him) told me not to do any upper body workout all this week. We're going to work on other things instead. However, I disobeyed him, and when I was sent out back to stretch and get ready for a workout, I got on the bar before he came out. Surprise! I did one. If I had stayed on and tried as hard as I could, I could probably have done another, or come very close. But I didn't want to blow my cover, so I didn't. We're going to work on the sit-ups and the cardio-vascular stuff this week. Hopefully this will let me drop another couple of pounds. On Monday he's going to put me on the bar and see how many I can do. Monday is also his last day as a U.S. Marine. I'm sure he'll miss the corps, and I'll miss him too. He's worked out with me for more than a month just to help me get ready for training. Here's hoping that when I get on that bar, I give him two or three nice going-away presents.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

You know, the other day, I was thinking over Paul Johnson and his murder. This all started with Daniel Pearl, I thought to myself. Then it was Nick Berg, and now Mr. Johnson. Then all of a sudden, an image comes to me out of the blue.

"Fear; The city is rank with it. Lets put them out of their misery. Release the prisoners!"

I thought it was interesting. Of the three high-profile beheadings, two of them happened after the release of Return of the King, in which that scene appears. Am I trying to call Peter Jackson and New Line Cinema indirectly responsible? Of course not. I am simply saying that a) The makers of LOTR managed to show an example of barbarism which they came up with by themselves and which manifested itself some months later by people who probably did not see the movie, and b) It really should help put in perspective the fight we are in.

The much touted 'Hearts and Minds' war can only slow down the progress of Muslims into al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups. It alone will not solve the problem. It's no use dialoging with the enemy or anything of that sort. The best advice was given to us by the White Wizard:

"Send these foul beasts into the abyss!"

Saturday, June 19, 2004

I invented a new word today.

One who has an irrational fear of the authority of, and especially the power of, the Catholic Church: Romophobe.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Had a very odd dream the other night.
For starters, I was in Marine uniform hanging out with some friends at some sort of state park. Along comes a ranger dressed all in black uniform, and he immediately starts finding fault with me for the way I'm sitting or the way I'm looking at him (if he hadn't been making a pain in the neck of himself, I would not have been looking at him). He goes over to his car, and it seems rather clear to me that he is about to arrest me on some sort of trumped-up charges. This, combined with the fact that the rest of my party had apparently left already gave me the idea that rather than sit around, the wisest course of action would be to print a trail in the other direction.
I got back home, except that like most of my dreams, locations were not as they are in real life, and are often mixed in my mind with other location. In this case, my hometown was mixed together with Manhattan. Almost as soon as I got there, I noticed something was not right. The sky was dark and forbidding, and the people seemed to be in something of a panic. I soon found out why. News had just broken that the Chinese Red Army had just invaded the mainland United States. Everyone was looking for their families so that they could get together and out of there (later, when I woke up, I realized this didn't make sense because they would have invaded from the west and this city was on the East coast. They would have been looking for boats, not trains).
What am I going to do, I thought. Well, first thing is to get some clothes and supplies in case I'm on my own. Back to the house, but first I have to find mom, dad an everybody else. I start looking, and before long I notice a skulking, gangling creature. It was Gollum, in more of a panic than most of the populace. I called to him, but when he didn't answer, I assumed he didn't like the name. So I called him by Smeagol.
We met up, I took him by his bony little hand and we continued searching. I soon came upon my two younger brothers. I ask them where mom and dad are, but instead of telling me, Michael draws my attention to a commuter jet on the ground not far off. It was small, the sort an executive flies to a meeting in another state in, and what's more, it was in bad shape, with the cockpit completely ripped off. He told me that not too long before, an executive from some sort of airline or transportation company had appeared and announced that to mollify and placate the Chinese authorities, he was going to do something like give them free transportation or something like that. He had come to urge the populace to get in on this deal somehow, probably by working for him. In all their panic, the people were apparently neither stupid nor cowardly. Some pulled out handguns, while most simply grabbed rocks and sticks. In no time at all, they had torn the man limb from limb and left his fancy pants jet in the condition I was not looking at it in. It was a pity I arrived too late for this scene.
After that riveting narrative was over, we went to the train station and met up with mom and dad. I think they had my sister with them, but I didn't see my older brother (I only have one). We all went back to the house, and it would seem that my first goal was complete, which is unusual for one of my dreams. The next thing to do was to get up to Front Royal, VA and see to the safe escape of a certain young lady (and some others). I can't remember, but either I never got there or when I did get there, everyone had already gotten out. In any case, the final cut came on the way back.
As if things weren't bad enough, there was a government announcement on the radio that due to irreversible architectural flaws, they were systematically abandoning the city of Manhattan and hope to completely abandon it by the year 2053.
It was about that point that the dream ended. It's funny, but the part of the dream I was most relieved to learn the falsehood of upon waking was the part about New York being permanently evacuated.

Sunday, June 06, 2004

"Such were their funeral rites for Reagan, Breaker of Horses."

Saturday, June 05, 2004

Good Lord! The Great Communicator is gone!

Ah, well. I've been expecting this for some time.

He was what? 93 when he died? A very fine age I might say, especially for one terminally ill, but then, he always was a very healthy man for his age. Very intelligent, too. I am SO glad he died during a Republican administration, because I would not be able to stomach a funeral address by a Democrat.

Perhaps if we all pray, we can get him a post as one of God's foreign policy analysts.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

I'm also getting tired of something else. Apparently Pat Buchanan recently asked what it was that American Culture can give the world. Mark Shea has recently been linking to almost dozens of articles about people doing or supporting bad things in this country, and every one is linked to with something to the effect of "More answers to Buchanan's question." I must say I'm rather disappointed with him. It does rather seem that the line of reasoning consists primarily of assuming that every bit of depravity is typical and anything good is an anomaly (or just didn't happen).

I was very young (or not even born yet), but didn't parent's tell their kids just couple of decades ago not to think that things were always as they were shown on TV? To be sure, that's where most conservative Catholics get the idea that American culture is nothing but depravity. I know this because whenever someone suggests otherwise, the usual response is "turn on your TV and see."

Make a reality show about onanism or oral sex or anything else depraved, and they will seize on it as typical. But the reason sleazy shows ('reality' shows and others) get ratings at all is because these things are atypical. It's not 'reality'. A real realty show would be boring.

I think Dinesh D'Souza did a very good job pointing out that What's So Great About America is the people who choose the good and live it when the good is not the only option.

What can our culture give to them? That's a loaded question, but a good answer might be the ability to produce guys like this.
I was thinking the other day...

One of the things the Muslims accuse of us of degeneracy for is trading with interest. Then I thought: Wait, these are Muslims we're talking about. Is it better to charge debtors small fees for paying late, or is it better to chop their hands off?

Just a thought.

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