The Crucifix and the Cross: Questions Answered

Cristo_crucificadoThere have been a lot of articles about banning crosses lately. Bridging the differences between east and west, we see people on two continents strive to get rid of them. On pretty much every article in question, I see at least one Facebook comment, “People should note the difference between a cross and a crucifix.”

I am not certain if the problem lies in the fact that no reporter bothers to investigate the difference, or if that the commentariat wishes that the difference be expressed in the  banning.

I’m inclined to believe in the former. The latter is too depressing to think about.

Just in case, I aim at both ideas.

First, the crucifix depicts Christ on the cross. (see painting above) There are many styles, from the dramatic, bloody, and starving, where suffering is plainly evident. There are stylized crucifixes, which suggest a shadow of a body to an almost generic figure. Others show a more loving aspect to our Lord while pinned to the cross, thus speaking plainly the closeness of the Resurrection to his suffering and death. These are almost exclusively Catholic. There may still be high church Anglicans that carry the crucifix, but they are swimming cross the Tiber by the day, as their own church, drunk on letting it all hang out, lose their flock to the howling wilderness.

By Dmitry Ivanov (Own work) [Public domain or CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

By Dmitry Ivanov (Own work) [Public domain or CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The Orthodox among us have the twin cross which might carry the corpus. (That’s what a representation of Christ on a cross is actually called.)

Even they are a bit more temperate than those Catholics at showing off the corpus. Catholics seem almost mad over it.

A plain old cross is, just that. Two planks of wood tethered together, used to describe almost every other flavor of Christianity other than Catholicism. There are an almost infinite number of ways to describe two sticks tied together, two planks of a tree, two rods of iron that intersect, welded unbreakably together.

By Kehlmann Studio Archive (Kehlmann Studio Archive) [CC BY 1.0], via Wikimedia Commons

By Kehlmann Studio Archive (Kehlmann Studio Archive) [CC BY 1.0], via Wikimedia Commons

So I must point out…

If both the crucifix and the cross both refer to Christianity, you will never convince a Marxist that there is any difference. To a bourgeois, you could argue that a cross without a corpus is a kinder and gentler thing. If he already believes that Catholics are harmful but another sort of Christian is benign, he will sleepily go along with what you say. But never, ever will a Marxist or any form of communist see the difference. If it points to God, he will destroy it, no matter how kind or benign the object. He will destroy the Easter bunny rabbit, along with the empty tomb.

You must understand that the Marxist revels in that which shocks, that which marvels and that which makes one uncomfortable. Inhumanity to man is the mark of his faith. Man’s inhumanity to God might make God plausible, and that must be eradicated first of all.

For Christ’s crime was not that he was kind, not that he was a wise teacher, that he healed the sick, or that he banished demons, that he sang or ate on the Sabbath day. It was not even that he raised his friends from the dead, or broke us free from the bonds of sin. It is that he is God and we are not. That is the full stated crime of Christ Jesus. And for that He must suffer for all of our sins.

I argue that a crucifix speaks this truth more eloquently, but a cross points to the same truth with a more general sort of point. An empty cross is a stage, a sentence without an object. A crucifix points to the lengths God would go to love his children.

A cross states there is room on his Throne for everybody. Think carefully, and tell me again which message is more gentle.

Keyboard_Cross

Music: That Terrible Freedom

The song is actually called “Trial by Fire” by a ThouShaltNot… not to be confused with “Through Fire”..a forthcoming novel by Sarah Hoyt.  I do have to wonder if this song inspired her… for various reasons.

My musings lead me to wonder what Ariel’s life was like after he was released by Prospero.  One of my many story ideas is about what happens when a magicians apprentice is loosed on the world after his master died.  Because the Green Angel Tower series pissed me off that much.  But I can’t say that Tad Williams didn’t warn me.

But it may be why so many young people seem terrified of freedom. If you are coddled and protected all your life, and have no freedom at all– it eventually becomes threatening. It evolves into a spectral variation on Fear of the Unknown.

It doesn’t help that they are trained from birth to know that power over others is more valuable than personal freedom– while being taught they believe otherwise.

But do you trust freedom that was designed by people you don’t even understand?  But if you don’t know the unintended consequences (and these poor children don’t even know they exist, apparently), how can you know that what you design yourself through will gives you what you really want?

 

 

What is Freedom? Of Speech? (Part I)

What is Freedom? Freedom of Speech?

Before we get into Freedom of Speech, Let’s look at Freedom first.  My reason? Too many people do not know what freedom is.

Illustrative of this is a Chesterton quote, who sums it up neatly.

“Most modern freedom is at root fear. It is not so much that we are too bold to endure rules; it is rather that we are too timid to endure responsibilities.”
What’s Wrong With the World, GK Chesterton

What isn’t a bid to avoid responsibility is an attempt to avoid suffering at all costs.  This explains how the Left can simultaneously claim to support “free speech” and decry anyone who speaks and is threatened– or killed.  I mean, it’s easy to decry a dead man when he isn’t there to refute what you say.  And… now we understand.

Rights aren’t issued by consensus.  If they were, the strongest arm would always win.   Rights are God given– innate, if you prefer.

It’s not just me.  Let’s look at the definition in detail.

1. the state of being free or at liberty rather than in confinement or under physical restraint:
He won his freedom after a retrial.
2. exemption from external control, interference, regulation, etc.
3.the power to determine action without restraint.
4. political or national independence.
5. personal liberty, as opposed to bondage or slavery:
a slave who bought his freedom.
6.exemption from the presence of anything specified (usually followed by from):
freedom from fear.

Does that really sound like something that is under the shadow of a death threat?  Sure, speaking your mind can be dangerous. You know what? When it becomes that dangerous, that means you have to escalate beyond words to defend your rights. There are other options outside of giving up because it’s scary or hard.

Oh, and here’s my personal favorite definition of freedom:

14.civil liberty, as opposed to subjection to an arbitrary or despotic government.

Hint: killing people over ugly words or pictures is not only despotism, but barbarism.  You want to live under such a government? Make haste and move there. Please. We just might rescue this faltering republic that much more quickly without your…”help”.

Some people only think they can revoke the right to free speech by censorship, threats or taking lives.  They are gravely mistaken. Free American mouthpieces that pander to those who would put  our freedom to the sword aren’t any better.  These are not citizens but mewling slaves for hire, ratting their self-imposed chains so they can force them on the rest of us.

Drama Llama comes home to roost

The Drama Llama comes home to roost.

Remember when I said…

 

I have a fair degree of experience with the whole feminist culture warrior shtick, and I took my leave based on experience. I was also not born in an echo chamber. My family spanned the culture war from both ends, so I had a good look at the best and worst of both worlds​”?

I had relatives arming themselves against the attack on Idlewild, defending the rights of black people, even though they were not. I had relatives wearing white hoods– even blood relatives shooting at each other in the middle of it all. I had relatives running for office on a Communist Party platform in the 1930’s. I had lots of family fleeing Germany– both the poisonous fallout from the Weimar republic and the guns and gas chambers of the Gestapo. I have a relative who was quoted extensively by the NAACP, yet was a republican icon for most of his life. I have relatives who have served with honor for the military and with distinction in the clandestine service. I had relatives on both sides of the pro-life debate, and I spent my formative years caught in the middle.

My mother was a leftist, and a radical feminist. She knew enough about Aristotle to criticize him and sound like she knew what she was talking about. It would take a scholar to refute her, mostly because much of the so called Enlightenment agrees with her.

My father was a fiscal conservative, but would have been called a social liberal, before we started forcing businesses to go against their consciences. He had a certain preference for ‘leave me alone’ standard of law that has a long glorious history in this country, that would find sympathy among the tea party. So if dinner time conversation ever meandered into politics, things got… exciting, to put it charitably.

It was a blessing, because the madness that has struck our country is for me, merely deja vu. I can’t run away from it by running away from home. It is as if a family disease leaked into the aquifer and now affects millions.

I used to pretend there is a place where I can go where it is not a factor. That place used to be the internet. I am so old I even remember when SF fandom was a shelter against politics. Well, now what it has affected both , and neither can seem to let go of it. Like the Drama Llama, it goes looking for you, even if you don’t seek it.

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I went off to become a writer in the safest place I could think of– in Science Fiction. And lo, the disease has found me still, and affects dear friends both past and present. Though it appears to be about the Hugos, it is about far more than that– it is about whether or not the umbilical fannish culture that birthed me will survive, or simply be supplanted by consumerist fandom. Come to find I have some friends on both sides, here, too.  Since it has decided not to engage or embrace the large influx of new people, is it will be starved to death by it’s staunchest defenders. It is worth pointing out that only one side is still talking to me. And that was true even before I declared a side. Running only changes the scenery. Hiding is an illusion.

Cuidado e Llamas, homes. That’s all I’m saying.

Keep in mind: being careful is not the same thing as hiding, giving up, or giving in.

The Phyrric twitter Barrage

JW with script

From my last post… (Age of Ultron Review, for those just arriving)

Speaking of gauntlets, I guess I have to talk about the Pyrrhic twitter barrage.

Joss is so not one of my political compatriots. Yet these women… can’t even wrong properly. Seriously. Why attack and devour one of their own? They call that a win? If they think they scored points in the culture war, well, let’s just say they were engaging in some deliberate friendly fire, just because.

Hell of a way to lose, mon cheri. God Speed, and enjoy those ashes in your mouth. If this keeps up, those of us in the “leave me alone” contingent won’t have to fire a shot.

So I said above, “You can’t even wrong properly” as if a retrograde reprobate such as myself knows what I’m talking about. Well, you see, just because I’m not flinging poo from across the isle does not mean I have always been what I am today. I have a fair degree of experience with the whole feminist culture warrior shtick, and I took my leave based on experience. I was also not born in an echo chamber. My family spanned the culture war from both ends, so I had a good look at the best and worst of both worlds.

In order to fisk these criticisms, I don’t even have to dip into the well of my knee jerk libertarianism– or probe the depths of my Catholic sympathies. Logic and reason don’t even have to enter into it. All I have to do is channel my mother, who was also a second wave radical feminist. Compared to these people, she had nuance. She had read a bit more history. But it is still the putrid foundation from which their culture springs.

BuPmd6A

She would have given him points for quoting Abigail Adams at a critical juncture, when we learn that a certain character with leadership qualities gets many of them from his SO. We have seen Black Widow be nothing but a strong, dispassionate warrior for two or three films, and now we see what is behind those eyes, what she struggled against to overcome. When she shows some sign of regret… how can you truly struggle without it? We are informed that she is insufficiently strong, because she did not celebrate a decision that was forced on her. Excuse me? So now we aren’t pro-choice, but no choice?

Well, at least you are being honest for a change. And I guess the fact that she has rescued several heroes and has the massive Hulk wrapped around her little finger means nothing.

Now for a place where they really fell down on the job. The Red Witch. Oh, sure, she’s the bad ass who brings the strongest heroes down low, and is the only reason why her unassailable speed-demon brother bothers to get up every day. She even catches Ultron unawares and manages to get her and her sib away alive, which is a real accomplishment when dealing with that cruel and vindictive robot.

But she had a massive breakdown in the middle of a critical battle– and has to get a pep talk from a strong male character to move on. And guess what? He’s the closest to the straight white male the whole movie has. Burn. Aaaaannnnd, they miss it completely.

Where are the haters when you really need them? Do they have the true courage of their convictions, or do they fling poo because that is all they know how to do? They can’t even do it particularly well by their own standard.

You need a flipping Catholic libertarian to school you on how it’s done. You had one job…

Aristotle meets Jesus

An oldie but a goodie.

Margot St. Aubin

Aristotle depicted by Raphael, holding his Ethics: detail from the Vatican fresco The School of Athens, 1510 – 1511.

I think Chesterton is ignored today because we do not have the intellectual fortitude to understand his point. We are blinded by wit and a clever turn of phrase, but do not see the meaning behind what is said.

Thought is virga, showering us, yet dries up before it touches the soil. Because we do not believe that reality is real, thought is less than metaphysical, less than smoke. Talk is cheap and meaning is non existent.

Moral relativism is the philosophy of depression and death– a death of cold. That is, falling asleep, thinking everything is fine.  All you see is the whiteness of a blank page; there appears no reason to worry. Yet reality will still devour you, and finds it easier to do so when there is no…

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“Loyalty Day”

By Aznluvr (talk).Aznluvr at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

By Aznluvr (talk).Aznluvr at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

So I look at the calendar and see that there is this holiday called “Loyalty Day.” It is happening as we speak, apparently.  Yeah, I know. Because a man with an R behind his name put this travesty into print, I’m supposed to be thrilled by it. Because it’s supposed to evoke patriotism, mom, and apple pie…

Ahem. There’s just one problem. It doesn’t.

Nothing “Loyalty Day” will ever have to offer is going to hold a candle to “would you follow me into fire? would you follow me into darkness? would you follow me into death?”. So why fucking bother? Not to mention it’s undoubtedly a plot by people who don’t get that loyalty is EARNED by one’s own conduct, and whose conduct has, therefore, been contemptible.

My first reaction when I saw the name was, “god, where do I live? ‘The People’s Republic of Amerikka’?”

After doing some furious research… I find the whole thing was put in place by Dwight D. Eisenhower.  Really?  How… Ironic. He’s a man who would actually  know what real loyalty is. Hint: it’s not a flag waving naivete assuming loyalty to them that hasn’t earned it.

I am told that it was a symbolic replacement of May Day. No one talked about it much.  But now… funny how we are hearing about it again, as if it’s a real thing.  To our current regime? That’s enough to make me laugh.

They have no loyalty to our country. They resigned our borders, sent our troops to combat a disease, give aid and comfort to our enemies abroad, encourage criminals to kill our neighbors to score political points for a purely local battle, etc.

Well, it’s important to understand the distinction between what actually matters and what actually doesn’t. Most folks these days have at least as hard a time with that as Neville Chamberlain did.

“You can have monthly ‘Plutonium Parades’ through the central market of Tehran” is not the same thing as “you can have enrichment centrifuges”.

And Here’s what HuffPo said when Bush did it.  Now here’s Obama declaring the holiday. NO complaints. Not a peep. Funny that.

 

The War on Fandom– By Fandom

The War on Fandom– By Fandom

Comikaze_Expo_2011_-_Cyberman_from_Doctor_Who_(6324615505)

By The Conmunity – Pop Culture Geek from Los Angeles, CA, USA (Comikaze Expo 2011 – Cyberman from Doctor Who) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

This.

Background here. And this. And this. And this.

Sigh. What happened to that happy amoeba of “we all share our weirdness together”?

I matriculated in the fan culture that built fan run conventions. Yes, I’m talking about cons like Worldcon. Working from the inside, the original culture of fandom was inclusive, welcoming– a veritable melting pot of shared love of our various obsessions. There are many obsessions, but these are mine! See, this is how I enjoy them and we can be our geeky awkward selves in a shared space! For a time, those values overtook barriers of politics, false identity and economic differences and put all that BS aside to have a special place. Then, somewhere along the line, fandom got… popular.

We weren’t really sure what to do about it.

Since then, some values from the outside our ranks have gotten their way in.

They say sinister things, like:

  • Some fans are more fannish than others. They don’t belong among us.
  • You aren’t safe here. We’ll make separate, safe spaces under our broad tent, so you will not be harmed/tainted by these other nobs.
  • You aren’t really inclusive if you don’t specifically check all the check-boxes we say you need to check.

 

All of this boils down to one toxic message:

People who are different from each other cannot hope to get along. Strangers will attack you. Separate into your comfort zones and be safe.

Let me give some people who claim to be our leading lights some insight.

THESE ARE NOT THE VALUES THAT DIY FANDOM STARTED WITH. If they were, mass fandom would not exist.

Why?

First: you live or die by how many people you could entice into the community.  These awesome cons cannot survive without attendees– and fresh blood.  And while families do come to cons, there aren’t enough to support us– or replace us.

Well, if we really believed the new school, why would be bother creating big diverse organizations to begin with? Who would bother to attend conventions in hotels surrounded by people? We’d invite those safe people to our homes, and tell the rest of the universe to go hang. We would be content with local clubs. Under circumstances like these, who would bother inventing WORLD CON?

Why do I go to conventions? I go to MEET OTHER FANS. I could care less what the vast majority of these media conglomerates want to sell me. If I want to buy something? I will go and find that thing on the internet. I don’t need to stand in line for hours for a brief glimpse of some movie star I’m in love with. I can write fan fic in the privacy of my own basement.

Honestly, it is the characters I care about, full stop. The actor wears the visage for a brief shining moment (he or she calls it work) and shares himself with that character so we may all love him. This is awesome, but not my area of interest.

The second thing I want, is meet the minds who came up with these characters, and script their lives. I’d like to buy them a drink (doesn’t even have to be alcoholic) and have a social chat with them. That is why I chose to join fannish society– and that is why I still love the idea of Worldcon.

Maybe DIY fandom can’t scale the way Media West and Dragon Con can. You know what? Unequal numbers don’t bother me. Local smaller groups just makes it easier to find time to spend with the folks who socialize in consuite. I’ve talked to some incredibly famous writers– including Terry Pratchett even a hand full of movie stars. I have truly been blessed to be part of Fandom. And my old stomping ground convention wasn’t even that big, or that rich. We just had a good culture that ran a reliable con, so we got some big names for treating everybody well.

But if the big tent is divided into ever smaller warring factions– all these cool things won’t even be possible.

What bothers me is that these apparent leading lights of DIY fandom have forgotten their roots, their purpose– and that is a threat to ALL fandom. Because, once we forget our roots, we forget who we are, period.

This divide and conquer strategy is lethal. Because sooner or later, folks will realize they don’t have the money to be a part of this global social club where they only meet the people they are comfortable with. Why can’t they just meet those safe approved people somewhere cheaper? Aren’t there a hundred different ways to have a private safe gathering that exclude people we don’t like? Suddenly, you don’t need a con anymore.

Because, surprise, the con is SUPPOSED TO BE THE SAFE PLACE FOR ALL OF US. Not just the special ones, but everybody.

Take a risk and meet someone new.

WW I, & WW II– or Godwin’s Post

H. D. Girdwood [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

H. D. Girdwood [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I’m mostly reflecting on what’s going on on this post. For some reason, she turns off her comment box after a little while. Because she gets hundreds of comments, maybe? 😉

I was a strange little girl. The moment I heard about WW II, (I was quite young, since my grandfather served) I would stage mock battles of the Battle of the Bulge with stuffed animals and make dioramas punishing Hitler. It is a satisfying war, because there are clear villains.

But really, it only gets more complex when you get older. You know that certain beliefs are evil, but it was harder to know that Germany was, in great part, a country held hostage by power–hungry mad men. These hungry men were also very good at seduction. It was the state-level equivalent of marrying a charming sociopath who turns out to be a serial killer. The sad irony was that the Wehrmacht were very good at providing what they promised– but at a terrible cost.  If one is desperate, and guided by circumstance rather than principle, one can overlook those sorts of horrors.  At least, until one has dispensed with the trivialities of  eating. Though a very sophisticated country, it was very desperate country thanks to the ‘concessions’ of WWI.

I learned more about WW II than anywhere else in a mental institution.  There I met a boy who believed that Hitler was the greatest man who ever lived.   What might surprise people was that he was not a racist, or even an avowed member of some organization based on racial superiority. He did not even think that white people (or, let’s face it anglo saxons–or nordic races:  there are plenty of us who are ‘white’ that a self-respecting Nazi would spit on.) were necessarily superior. He thought that particular part of Hitler’s “grand vision” needed some refining. He always said that making Jews the enemy was brilliant– but only because they had all the money one needed to jump-start the German economy.  And jump-starting a whole society is more important than a small, isolated and self-serving  group of wealthy businessmen, right? So, why not?

If this logic doesn’t chill your blood… I don’t know what to tell you. See a doctor– or a priest.

Nope. He really wasn’t a racist. What he was, was a well-read pragmatist who had no moral qualms about eugenics. Basically, his argument was that Hitler was closer to any other leader in history to delivering to his people what they wanted– whatever the cost.  And, until his mind started deteriorating from syphilis, he was brilliant at it.  He turned the function and admiration of the State into a well honed state religion. There was a time, when living in Nazi Germany could be a pleasant thing. Especially if you had been starving, out of work, and paying great bundles of cash– if you had it– for a loaf of bread.

The Jews didn’t see it coming, because the Renaissance took place even before heads started to roll. They were used to ugly looks and bad words in their direction, and there was nothing on the visible platform that bothered them.  Keep in mind, what Sarah said also applies, but I think there were a complex of factors that are worthy of examination.

Also, because there weren’t instantaneous communications, it was easy to hide– for a while at least– that some people just didn’t make it home.  Sure there was propaganda, but everyone told themselves that it was only the extremists rattling their sabers, needing someone to blame for what happened. This charade was drawn out by saying that these undesirables were being shipped out of the country.  Most Germans– and most Jews believed this. So they went willingly  onto the cattle cars, figuring that it was an efficient way to avoid the problem.  Except… it was a lie.

It will shed much light to recognize that this boy was also a BIG fan of Machiavelli.  Indeed that is his whole modus operandi for loving Hitler. Because he was the most prominent, most faithful follower of this criminal mastermind, who wrote the book for leadership by criminal masterminds.  If there was ever a justification for book burning, his how-to manual for being an awesome, well loved, yet brutal and totally dishonest autocrat is one of them.  You will note next to no similarities between this and reading Wealth of Nations.  Just saying.

However, if you want a truly evil villain and are running low on inspiration, it’s a great read for seeing evil in action “for the greater good”–his. Or hers, even. There are all sorts of great gems here about decision making. So now that we now know what truly ostentatious evil looks like, lets go for something a bit more subtle.

Who was the real bad-guy in WW I ? Those in Europe would probably say royalty as a concept.  My husband would say Woodrow Wilson. I would point out that he didn’t start WW I. He would say, “Yeah, well he ended it by setting up WW II.”  Ol’ Cold Willy’s actions do inspire one to declare lifelong fealty to Franz Josef of Austria.  Or who knows, maybe I read too much Zmirak to be quite sane.  I’m not actually a monarchist– yet. I still believe that a Republic can work. But we must return to something closer to what our Founding Fathers intended.

Because, in case you haven’t read “Extraordinarily Popular Delusions  and the Madness of Crowds”, an unruly democracy will, if left unchecked, becomes indistinguishable from tyranny in the worst sense.  I argue we are mighty close to that, if he haven’t fallen off that cliff already. That’s what happened in France during/after the Revolution. The unruly Founding Americans managed to avoid this because they were already well versed in statecraft and also had seen the worst mob rule had to offer.  Many of them were on good terms with France, and had seen the ugly result while struggling with these questions. They lived on the border between civilization and chaos– chaos being defined by the fact that they were 13 tiny colonies clinging to the edge of a vast frontier messily divided up among hostile foreign powers.

The Founders were dealing with realities. The French were inflicting ideas on reality, convinced  the grand design would just work. Also, the Founders, by and large, wanted to create a place where one could just go back to farming. In reality they were conserving a life they already knew from the incursion of an outside other.  That, being “the madness of King George”.  The French, while they chopped off the heads of the old empire, still dreamed of replacing it with their own new utopia. This is an undiscovered country, even more so than the future– because you can generally count on the sun to rise in the morning with an ordinary future. But utopia is ultimately a stranger, an alien thing where anything seems possible.  Our naive culture thinks this is a good thing. Let me put it this way. Thomas More gave us that term. It means “no place”, and much greater suffering results when people forget those small, ugly facts. It is arguable that he was killed for it.

Nazi Germany was merely the reanimated corpse of the Weimar Republic.  It fed off the life and treasure of it’s own people, and it’s entire economic structure required  expansion, the pilfering of other nations and empire to keep the goods coming.  Going back to the insane assylem for a minute. Because the poor boy was insane and not especially good at economic logic, he did not recognize that the greatest disease of his hero was not his misplaced hatred or even his ravening insanity.  It was using a destructive,  unsustainable financial system to save a starving people.  By bribing some of them and killing off others. This is the ultimate zero sum game.

You may be screaming at me that of course the death camps were the worst feature. Certainly they are the worst outward sign. We have confused the most terrible symptom for the disease. But I tell you what made Nazism so terrible was that it required death camps.  The endless stream of cash required to keep the National Socialist engine running was the lifeblood of every productive human being within reach.

Hating Jews was just an excuse to get the public sanction to remove them from view so they could be taken a part and squeezed for every drop of monetary value they had.  Whatever taxes a given population would willingly give couldn’t be enough for the level of redistribution they used to buy the loyalty of his constituents.  Sounds disturbingly familiar, doesn’t it?

That is how top heavy the economic situation was, and it was mostly a vacuum of any economic value inside the country– save it’s people, and whatever wealth they may have.   Once those become the state’s responsibility, every one of those becomes another mouth to feed. In Germany’s case, the total absence of any kind of monetary value was due to the crippling sanctions demanded from them by the rest of Europe– notably the French, the English, and the United States.

These demands  came out of WWI.  Europe had lost her innocence, a whole generation of good men and energetic women, and her great hope in an optimistic future. The full brunt of the horrors of industrialization were made painfully evident, and sucked out the soul of the whole continent.  For this catastrophic loss,  they made Germany pay. They merely demanded all of her output for themselves.   Woodrow Wilson especially pushed for the punishment of Germany– but then he wanted everyone to suffer. But at least it gave him some ammunition to use back home.

One could argue that our shuffling Democracy is still suffering the consequences of his rule.  Europe certainly has, for WW II nationalized Germany’s great despair. Europe stared too long and saw too much in that abyss. Thus she give up all hope for humanity- or God.  Though I argue that she was set up for this devastating blow by having talked herself out of hope and God by the time WW I rattled to it’s universal defeat. All that was necessary was to verify the most cynical conclusions derived from the previous war.

But these two wars helped define modern life in ways the brainiacs of the Enlightenment could never hope to understand.  Because while some were indifferent to the God of Hosts, and referred him to stay remote and unknown, they also knew that an absence of such would lead to great horrors.  The modern nihilist says, “we already have horrors. What’s a few more? What does it matter?” It did not seem to occur to them that the specter of the primacy of words (with variable meaning) could ever return to primacy in the mind of mankind, after her thorough inculcation of Right Reason.

Perhaps someone needs to send Europe the memo.  While we did kill God (so Nietzsche did get something right) , but God did not die.  We just casually decided He didn’t exist.

Review: Codename Winterborn

Codename-Winterborn-Cover

 

My name is Kevin Anderson. I am many things. Soldier. Spy. Widower. Pain in the Ass. Exile. Inconvenient. I am hurt. I am weary. I’m bone tired, on the edge of exhaustion, perhaps even on the edge of sanity. But I am still alive.

Come and get me.

Chesterton: “This world can become beautiful again, if we behold it as a battlefield.”

I could write a long rambling essay unpacking that line, but read what Finn has to say instead. There is a lot more firepower involved, as a gift from our vivid protagonist.

He’s a spy who goes on a murderous campaign of revenge.  But he’s just getting started.   Later on, the best revenge is to not only survive the wrath of your enemies, but to thrive in circumstances they cannot tolerate or imagine. He has nothing left to lose, so he builds it up from scratch.

This  action packed thriller  leaves you breathless, both in it’s taught action, scope and character.  Unlike the far future settings, there is very little fantasy here, and much of the technology is easy to see from here. I suppose the US being nuked multiply, that makes this the optimistic version.

It could easily be called post apocalyptic in it’s outlines. I argue that it is NOT a post apocalyptic tale. Much post apocalyptic literature tries to peek dimly beyond the end of history. Sorry, in my book, when history is over, it’s over. The fat lady has sung. The parrot is dead. That is clearly not the case here.  This story argues that the real story of redemption happens only after you’ve hit bottom.

If you love a good spy thriller but don’t want to be bothered with metaphysics– I still beg you to try it anyway. It is not a New Wave diatribe wallowing in subjective nonsense, but a considered look at what happens when a man hits bottom, and claws his way out– not quite to the top, but to a level place where a flag can be planted. So less Stand on Zanzibar and more Batman Returns. His sense of post apocalyptic agrees more with Stephenson (see Diamond Age or Snow Crash) than with any Nebula Award winner of faded memory.

There is some sexual…stuff, nothing graphic, though frankly more than I expected. Again, this is about human things, and about coping and loss. The full meaning of those scenes are not apparent until the very end of the book.

Once again, I keep screaming “Here’s the book. Where is the movie?” Though the prose is less textured and than A Pius Man, there is sharp eye and a dry wit that remains characteristic. It is almost a crime I quote anyone else, because there are so many lines that stick with you. Here’s a sample:

“I’m not cleaning out the house. I’m cleaning out the senate.”

“As I said, I like your style. And, if I keep following you, I’ll get to kill something sooner or later. I wont’ be bored. Maybe dead and mutilated, but not bored.”

“‘Hell you were probably covered the first time you walked into the city.’ ‘Probably by snipers,’ Anderson muttered.”

“It’s very simple, really. Your public image is that you’re a killing machine. Mine is that I’m completely out of my mind.”

“Had San Francisco gotten stranger since he quit drinking, or had he been too drunk to notice?”

There are lots of wonderful touches. The setting is a living thing, particularly in the second half, where we get a glimpse into the underbelly– where the apocalypse hides it’s dirty laundry. Yet even a Hobbesian nightmare still has people you want to buy a drink for, and at least one place you’d like to have that drink. Well, just so long as you don’t dwell on those stains on the floor, or stare too long at the body count.

For the right mood, however, to each his own. Peter Kreeft once said, “Some ideas don’t need philosophers but exorcists.” Declan Finn argues the same is true for politicians. Except this exorcist uses firearms– with extreme prejudice.