Saturday, December 13, 2014

It Was The Best Of Times It Was The Worst Of Times

Hard times, this year. But today we gathered together as a loving family. Even those in Kansas reached us through FaceTime. And now I have a tree  full of flashing lights with a star on top and new memories of the family enjoying Christmas together. The good is precious and the bad we endure.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Religion And Violence Or Politics And Violence?

In his review of Karen Armstrong's 'Fields of Blood' James Fallows comments that, "in modern times Hitler, Stalin and Mao were all atheists…

While this is undeniably true of Stalin and Mao, there are serious questions about the religious beliefs of Hitler. Many of his private comments display clear contempt for religion, especially Christianity, which he regarded as a slave religion (obviously based on a misinterpretation of Nietzsche's works). But some of his comments indicate that he believed that he had been saved by some form of divine intervention during an incident in World War I. Even assuming that Hitler believed in a God, the question then becomes. which God?  It is entirely possible that he was referring to the Hegelian Spirit of World History, which is not a God, and yet has at least some of the attributes thereof. Hitler's many references to God made in public are sharply contradictory to many of his private beliefs and were undoubtedly intended more as propaganda than as a statement of actual belief.

So, was Hitler religious? The answer is, we really don't know. Nevertheless, he believed that some sort of force or power of a mystical nature was strongly supporting him, even if that force or power was the force of history and culture.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Ben Secures The Borders

Edwin O'Donnell, a College of the Holy Cross history professor, presented this quote to his students during a C-SPAN presentation:

Why should the Mexicans be suffered to swarm into our settlements, and by herding together establish their language and culture to the exclusion of ours? Why should California, founded by Americans, become a colony of aliens, who will shortly be so numerous as to Hispanicize us instead of our Americanizing them, and will never adopt our language or customs, anymore than they can acquire our complexion.

Only six words have been changed from the original quote which was by Benjamin Franklin in 1753, referring to the German colonists moving into Pennsylvania.

I also decapitalized words which would not utilize the capital letter in today's grammar. Otherwise, the quote is as Benjamin Franklin stated it over 300 years ago.

Sounded like FOXNews didn't it? Oh, sorry! I should have used the proper name, FOXLies.


In the 1700s we were terrified the Germans would take over our country, speak German instead of English, and make us Not British.

In the 1800s we were terrified that the Catholics would take over our schools, teach our children the Catholic Bible instead of the Protestant Bible, and make us love and obey the Pope

In the 1900s we were afraid the communists would take over and make us love Lenin.

Today we are afraid the Mexicans will take over, refuse to learn English, make us all obey Sharia law (?!), and take back everything they gave up in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.

Now that's progress.

Facts Is Facts

In response to Andrew Sullivan's dish post, a ringing declaration against crimes against humanity and those who cover them up or excuse them, a man posted:

Andrew, if you really believe that Dianne Finestein's report is not partisan (after all she did catch the CIA spying onher computer) then you must also believe that the KKK should run Obama's race relations council or Rush Limbaugh should be a professor of Civil Discourse ... C'MON MAN, get a grip and a life....

To which I replied:
Facts are not partisan even if a partisan reports them.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Lost Sheep and Cancer

My daughter's  post as her husband sufffers and dies of cancer and my reply:

Some times in the middle of the night are the hardest for me… After I do Ed's meds and get him taken care of my mind wanders…

Sometimes y'all say I'm strong and I feel very weak…

Sometimes I mourn Ed and my relationship and our love story…

Sometimes the tears run down my face and I don't think I can go on one more moment…

Sometimes I want to grab Ed up and run away (far away)

Even through all of these things I get up the next day and carry on…

I do it for Ed… I do it for our love…

It's just not easy and I am not strong I am just a woman who loves her husband and wants what's best for him…

A long response, but it comes from the depths of my soul and reflects a lifetime of struggle.
A person who does not suffer is not strong.  A person who does not feel is not strong.  It takes no strength to go on doing what you enjoy, or what is, at worst, boring.  

A strong person suffers and despairs, tries and fails, yet keeps on struggling.

Simon and Garfinkel's song declares:

In the clearing stands a boxer,
And a fighter by his trade
And he carries the reminders
Of ev'ry glove that laid him down
And cut him till he cried out
In his anger and his shame,
"I am leaving, I am leaving."
But the fighter still remains

He still remains, not because of his injuries or his failures.  He remains in spite of them, because he is strong. He could run and hide.  Instead he stays and fights the good fight.

Remember the post below from your philosophy class?  What it says about courage is true of strength.  There is no strength in doing things you enjoy and which are easy.  Strength is in struggle and in carrying on when you suffer.

Who is braver? The person who never fears anything or the person who overcomes his fear? Shakespeare said, "The coward dies a thousand deaths. The brave man dies but once." This is a very common attitude and it's very foolish. The idea that man who is brave is never afraid makes no sense at all. Bravery consists of going ahead when you are afraid. If a person ever existed who was never afraid of anything, he had no courage at all. He didn't need any. Also, he had some kind of severe brain damage.

Remember Aristotle's Golden Mean between cowardice and excessive courage. The person with no fear at all would be about as excessive as possible.

Imagine you go to a petting zoo and in one area there's a snake. Are you very brave if you walk up and pet it, when you have no fear of snakes and even enjoy their company? Of course not.

But an old friend of mine, Barbara Hamilton, was once teaching her class of special needs students. One of our bus drivers brought in his huge pet boa constrictor to show to the children. Barbara was absolutely terrified of snakes, but didn't say so because she didn't want to teach the children to share her fear. Since she looked so calm, the driver showed the children how nice snakes were by putting the snake on her lap and wrapping it up around her neck. She showed no sign of her fear.

The next day she couldn't come to work because she had broken out in hives as result of her absolute terror. She was brave. Although terrified, she would not show that fear because she didn't want to teach the children to be afraid.

The driver was not being brave, he was enjoying his pet.

The Gospels say:

I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.  Luke 15:7 KJV

Is it not surely true that there is more joy and respect for those who suffer, yet carry on than there is for those who never suffered and which needed no strength?

We justly respect the man who serves by doing his job supporting the troops back home where there is no violence, but we only give medals to men who suffer and struggle and despair, but keep fighting on in combat.

It is better not to suffer, but if you do suffer, it takes courage to go on every day in the face of it.  It takes great courage.  It takes great strength.

You have both.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Making It Through

So much happening! But I must agree with Epicurus and Ecclesiastes: in this terrible, awful world good food, good conversation, friends and family still bring you joy.

It was a beautiful Thanksgiving and the family that could and wished to be there was there. My thoughts are with you, who were not there - both family and friends. I must admit I'm worn out, but I'm going to see if I can dig out the Christmas lights and follow tradition and get them up tonight, even though it's getting late.
So I have to find the Christmas barrel, even though the barrel that held all the Christmas stuff when I was a child has long since crumbled the dust.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Fact: 0 Fear: 57

We're number 2 in ignorance? Not acceptable!  America will rise (sink?) to number one!

The video is also well worth watching, but oddly blames television for the problem. Surely the citizens of the other nations in the survey have televisions, yet they mange to be better informed and less deluded. The problem is that we allow our corporate masters to hijack our public airspace and use it against us.  Thank you, Ronald Reagan for vetoing the bill extending the Fairness Doctrine, and thus ensuring the robber barons would control our minds. My favorite superhero is Ronald Reagan, Destroyer of Democracy!