Greetings! Welcome to the Chateau!


Within its corridors you will find insight into the books I have written, the books I am writing and the books I am thinking about writing.

It is also a place where I can offer insights into my favorite authors and - in the case of my game Conqueror: Fields of Victory - I can explain my rules and offer new variants.

Scroll down or check the sidebar for my latest posts.

Nonfiction:

Walls of Men: A Military History of China 2500 B.C. to A.D. 2020

Long Live Death: The Keys to Victory in the Spanish Civil War

Fiction:

Three Weeks with the Coasties: A Tale of Disaster and also an Oil Spill

Battle Officer Wolf

Scorpion's Pass

The Vampires of Michigan

The Man of Destiny Series:

A Man of Destiny

Rise of the Alliance

Fall of the Commonwealth

The Imperial Rebellion

Wargaming:

Conqueror: Fields of Victory, Revised Edition

Other Writings

Bleedingfool.com features

 


Debating the 1990s

There's a bit of a back-and-forth going on at Bleeding Fool over the worth of the 1990s.

I think the perception of any period is heavily colored by one's personal experience of it - either having lived through it, or its art, politics, and entertainment.

It's hard to separate a time of personal misery from the larger zeitgeist.  Still, I think my take is an objective one.  The pre-9/11 world was a better one, and while I found myself frustrated and depressed during that period, I still had a lot of fun.  Indeed, I recognize that with better judgement, I'd have had a better decade.

The other issue with sitting in judgement is that culture and life don't simply flip with the page of a calendar.  The decades bleed into each other, and what one thinks of as the epitome of a particular era may have happened before or after the actual dates in question.

For example, the decay of Protestantism didn't start in the 1990s, it was merely revealed then.

One can't look at the cultural tides in music, art, entertainment and politics in isolation.

At the same time, it is easy to fall into the trap of overdeterminism - the notion that the out come of a recent event was inexorably set in motion by a distant one.  I see a lot of otherwise reasonable people insist that the Union victory in the Civil War is the direct, inevitable cause of all our contemporary problems.  Apparently the people living and ruling in intervening decades were denied any form of agency.  It's very much a Calvinist approach to history.

It is true that historical writers often were able to predict the future by examining contemporary trends.  C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton and even J.R.R. Tolkien did this.  But as Tolkien in particular might admit, nothing was fixed - no one was forced to follow that path.  It's also true that many dangers fail to materialize, or that their impact is mitigated.

There are many currents in the stream of history, and some of them are hard to see.  It's also the case that there are other powers at work, the Unseen who most analysts completely ignore.

Combine a purely secular materialist frame with overdeterminism and the result will likely be devoid of any useful analysis.


Bad Gandalf: Ian McKellen's Richard III

Going through my various writings and reviews, it may seem to some that I'm implacably opposed to remakes.  That's not quite true - what I dislike are bad, deconstructionist remakes.  If someone has a different take on the subject, or wants to consider the story from a different perspective, I'm open to it.

The works of William Shakespeare are a great example of things that can be remade over and over again and still be decent entertainment.  They are so compelling, so full of emotion and thought that they have altered the course of the English language.

That's why I decided to get a copy of Ian McKellen's production of Richard III.  I was intrigued to see what he would do with such a gloriously outrageous role.  Indeed, Richard is so notorious that Monty Python did a sketch featuring a psych ward of patients who lost themselves in the role.

It's not only expansive, but villainous, and any actor will tell you that villains are always more fun to play than heroes.

So in addition to watching Sir Ian chew on scenery, I was also intrigued by the setting, which was the 1930s.  I'm fascinated by that period, and the combination of political instability as well as the Abdication Crisis in England makes it a great choice.

Overall, I enjoyed the film.  It fully met my aesthetic and dramatic expectations.  I particularly liked the fact that Richard's weapon of choice was a Mauser C96 "Broomhandle."  Yes, it's a very sinister looking weapon, perfect for a villain, but it was also famously the weapon of choice for Winston Churchill.  There are lots of nice touches like that.

In addition to the classic hunchback, McKellen's Richard also has a withered left arm, akin to Wilhelm II, which remains (mostly) tucked into a pocket.  What this does is force all sorts of gyrations to smoke a cigarette, sign papers, etc.  This in turn allows him more opportunities to express his character's traits.  It's great fun to watch.

The soundtrack is great as well, and the choice of using Americans to play the Woodvilles was a nice touch.

No, the biggest problem was the sound itself, which was all over the place.  The transition from stage to film means that one can whisper, sigh and mutter while remaining audible.  Well, sometimes.  Whoever did the sound mix on this should never work again, because I had to constantly dial it up and then race it back down again.  Admittedly, my hearing is not what it was, but I can usually find a satisfactory volume and leave it for the duration of the film.  Not here.

And that's a big deal because it's SHAKESPEARE.  The lines are super-important.  I'll probably watch it again at some point, and try to find a happy midpoint, because it is an enjoyable film, and some movies improve with the watching.  I think this is one of them.


The Remarkably Respectful Song of Bernadette

Being a convert, I'm still getting up to speed on what might call "modern" Catholic history.  For example, I assumed the famed healing waters at Lourdes was an ancient shrine, not something that came into existence less than two centuries ago.

Because I'm building out my religious film collection, I decided to grab a disc of The Song of Bernadette, starring Jennifer Jones.  Made in 1943, this film sets itself squarely on the side of the titular saint.  There are lots of "direct to video" films of that nature, but this was an Academy Award-winning mainstream film with an excellent cast.

Vincent Price is his usually brilliant self as a secular businessman who has no use for "superstition."  At first, the skeptics seem to have a point, because like many mystics, Bernadette speaks to persons unseen and sometimes seems completely lost in a world of her own.  To those who have closed themselves off from the spirit realm, there is nothing to see.  But the more I open myself to it, the more I feel its presence, often in strange and unexpected ways.

By strange coincidence (or was it?) I also recently attended a funeral one of my past employers, a good man with every mark of success who was well-loved.  The church was packed, and extra seating had to be set out in the hallways and into the lobby.

I mention this because it was a Baptist "celebration of life," and felt more like a variety show whose guest of honor was absent.  The church itself was typical of the type - utilitarian and sparsely decorated.  The main chamber (I hesitate to call it a sanctuary) had white walls, natural wood support beams and single austere wooden cross in the center.  The dais had four comfy, high-backed armchairs flanking a podium, which I assume was considered to be a pulpit.  To video screens flanks the cross, and offered photos and even a family video celebrating the deceased.

The whole thing seemed strangely sterile, and true to doctrine, the emphasis of the service was that all one had to do was believe in Christ in order to straight to heaven when death came.

There is no place in such a worldview for saints, relics, sacraments or mysticism.  No place for healing springs or sacred spaces.  It was very much "of this world," and the presiding pastor was the son-in-law of the recently departed.

One line the pastor said particularly struck me, which was how the success and prosperity, wonderful (and believing!) family showed God's favor.  Is there a space for someone like St. Bernadette in such a faith?  What would happen if a young Baptist girl dug a hole and clean, healing water came out of it?  Would it be witchcraft?  Would someone's brother-in-law bring a backhoe in to fill it?

Then again, God knows what He is going, and bestows signs on those who can understand them.


Easter illness

I had big plans for Easter.  We'd all go to the 11 o'clock Mass and then come home to a hearty brunch.  Afterwards, the Easter egg hunt.  We'd close out the festivities with lamb stew.

Alas, it was not to be.  There are a bunch of nasty bugs about, and our family has collected most of them.  I rarely get sick, but even I have been afflicted.

In days gone by, I'd still go to Mass, but the priests have actually been urging people to stay home if they are sick, lest the rest of the parish be stricken.  I will obey, but with a certain amount of sadness.  Easter is one of my favorite Masses, a source of many happy memories.

In some ways, it's better than Christmas because it lacks the many fraught emotions common at that time.  It also is why Christmas even matters, and Christ's triumph over death is something we should all keep in mind.

I'm also having flashbacks to 2020, when the vicious statists closed the churches.  Those materialist narcissists consider faith to be something of a hobby, discarded when it is inconvenient. 

It is not, for it transcends life itself.  I will accept this loss secure in the knowledge that I can go to Mass during the week and of course next Sunday, once I am well.

In the mean time, have a blessed Easter.


The theological impact of the 1990s

One of my colleagues at Bleeding Fool has written an essay condemning the 1990s and the associated nostalgia for it.

I'm working on a rebuttal (I did a similar one over his take on Underworld), but I wanted to do a deeper dive into one of the most consequential aspects of the 1990s, which was the most dramatic overhaul of Christian theology since the Reformation.  In fact, I would argue that this is even bigger.

It doesn't seem that way because it took place gradually, and without violent upheaval, but while we were discovering the internet and the wonder of smart phones, the very essence of faith has been completely re-written. 

How else to describe the speed with which so many mainline Christian denominations abandoned ancient theology regarding sex and marriage in an attempt to legitimize homosexuality and other deviant behavior?  Christian sexual norms survived the rise and fall of empires, plagues and famines, but crashed down before America's hyper-individualistic culture and modern decadence.  It's nothing short of amazing.

The strangest thing was that there was nothing behind the change other than the desire to be seen and nice and compassionate.  Salvation went from submitting to God's laws to changing them to suit human pleasures.

As the formerly dominant religious authorities embraced sodomy, even to the point of elevating practitioners to their hierarchies, the ground work was laid for the subsequent redefinition of marriage.  The unthinkable became inevitable.

After "gay" liberation was achieved, the "trans" movement came forward, which has inflicted untold harm on vulnerable children who have been mutilated in the cause of "affirming care," all with the blessing of the old mainline churches.

Yes, this triumph has been immensely destructive to the same bodies that pushed it.  One would think that the United Methodists, Anglican Communion, etc. would be flooded with converts as a result of their "compassionate" and "tolerant" pivot on morality.  Instead they are rent by schisms and their membership has collapsed.

But a lot of damaged came about because of this rapid surrender to heresy, and unwinding it will not be easy.

 

 

 


I guess this year's Easter ambush is "Christ is King"

Back when I paid attention to the news, it seemed that every Easter stories would appear attempting to debunk or otherwise throw shade on Christianity.  Fake Bible scholars would announce a shocking new discovery that totally destroyed Christian teachings.

I thought of these as the "Easter ambush," specifically designed to demoralize Christians.

Since I've given up on mainstream news, I'm unaware if any of that is going on, but over the past few days, social media (particularly Twitter/X) was having a time of it over the phrase "Christ is King."

I'm not sure what the backstory is (or if there really is one), but the anti-Christians immediately latched onto this phrase as proof of both racism and anti-semitism, i.e. Nazis.

How does a basic expression of Christian faith make one a Nazi?  Well, apparently people who are racist and/or anti-semites or perhaps Nazis have used this phrase.  Thus, if you use it, that can only mean you want to be associated with those people.   It is yet another "right-wing dog whistle" that only leftists can hear.

The expectation was that Christians - who above all want to be thought of as nice - would drop the expression, and the usual Quislings sprang into action.

However, we've seen this movie many times before, and complying with the latest woke demand only gets one more demands in the future.  Thus, instead of obeying, Christians happily spread the word and "Christ is King" actually trended.

Christians have at long last realized that these attempts to suppress expressions of faith or morality have nothing to do with sensitivity or politeness and everything to do with silencing God's word.  If you're someone who gets upset when you hear "Christ is King," you are the one with the problem.

This is a welcome development and further proof that "nice" Christianity is indeed dead.

 


Is the Church of England ashamed of Christianity?

The Church of England is in a state of total collapse.  It has been reduced to hiring out its stolen cathedrals as nightspots.  Sacred ground trodden by saints and martyrs now are converted into mini-golf arenas.

Theologically, it is nothing but wokeness wrapped in tattered religious garb.   It's latest fetish is apologizing for all the evils of history.  This is the new hotness with liberals.  Rather than take personal responsibility for something in the present, they puff themselves up by denouncing their ancestors. 

But an apology requires an offense and redress.  Mostly they're just condemning their ancestors for not being as hip as they are.

A draft version of their plan to atone for the evils of the past includes this remarkable passage:

Penitence: We call for the Church of England to apologise publicly for denying that Black Africans are made in the image of God and for seeking to destroy diverse African traditional religious belief systems. This act of repair should intentionally facilitate ongoing and new sociological, historical and theological research into spiritual traditions in Africa and the diaspora, thereby enabling a fresh dialogue between African traditional belief systems and the Gospel.

This is absolutely hilarious, indeed beyond parody.  A Christian church is apologizing for bringing people to Christ!

The line about diversity is also priceless.  So much for the unity of the Holy Church!  I mean, I suppose Church of England is now finally preaching what it practices.  Having broken from the Western Church, it's now breaking from itself.

The bit about "dialogue" with traditional belief systems is also great.  Protestants have long (falsely) accused the Catholic Church of incorporating pagan elements into its doctrine as a means of converting people, but here the Church of England is seeking to do exactly that.  I'm curious as to how they'll work cannibalism and human sacrifice into that dialogue.

What this document demonstrates is a lack of faith in the faith.  The Church of England does not believe its own teachings, and deeply regrets sharing them with others.  The Africans were better off with their old "diverse traditions" than with the Gospel of Our Lord. 

During my conversion, I remember the exhilaration I felt when I realized that the Church was real; her authority was real; her morals and teachings were real.  I had grown up with irreligious parents and lived in a town where intentions superseded results.  Good people doing their best to be good was the ideal and if things went awry, who was I to judge?

The Church changed all that.  There was intrinsic good and intrinsic evil, and one could speak clearly and truthfully about right and wrong.  For a time, even Catholics tried to be "nice," but that time is passing, if not already passed.

The Church of England, however, has embraced "nice" over faith.  They worship the Spirit of the Age, and I suspect the ultimate act of this will be its disestablishment, which cannot be that distant.

I think this is a good thing, because it was founded in adultery and heresy, aggressively persecuted people who refused to partake in it, and is now nothing but cult of wokeness led by people LARPing being dissident Catholic clergy.  Good riddens.

 


Which one of my books would fans of Patrick Swayze's Road House enjoy?

I've noticed a bunch of people are coming here via searches or links pertaining to Patrick Swayze's superlative Road House.

If you liked that film, you'll probably enjoy The Vampires of Michigan.  No, this isn't the usual 90s vintage tale of teen angst or social squabbling.  This is a driving, fast-paced tale that uses vampires to frame the action.  It's partly a meditation on what immortality would actually mean, and an extended chase where the each side in turn becomes the hunter and the hunted.

It was really fun to write, and when it came out, one of my friends (who is a fan) said it was the best writing I had yet done. 

One of the aspects I enjoyed was finally putting my firearms knowledge to narrative use.  Matching characters with weapons and showing them in action was fun.   (Only the bad guys use Glocks.)

The whole thing is written in a cinematic style, emphasizing showing rather than telling, and avoiding internal monologues.

Basically it's sexy, fun, high body-count action novel.   Check it out!


Why aren't there many Protestant-themed horror movies?

I'm not a fan of horror films, but being something of a movie nerd, I'm well aware of the genre, especially its standout entries.

I've seen The Exorcist a couple of times and it's unnerving.  Exorcists, demons, possessed people - all of these are staple of horror cinema, but there isn't much in the way of Protestant-centered films.

Why is that?

The obvious first take is that it's simply a matter of optics.  An ancient church filled with icons, gargoyles and all the trappings of the Catholic faith is simply more visually interesting than the traditional stripped-down Protestant aesthetic, let along a megachurch.  

Indeed, the only Protestant locales I recall tend to be decrepit Baptist churches or - even scarier! - Pentecostal ones.  In that case, though, the actual faith is secondary to the traditional urban fear of the wilderness.  The notion that those backwoods simpletons are actually holding Black Masses and summoning demons goes back to H.P. Lovecraft at least.

Catholic horror, by contrast, seems rooted in antipathy towards the faith itself, and Hollywood has long has both traditional Protestant and of course Jewish influences in its content creation.

At the same time, there seems to be an unspoken assumption even among Protestants that when it comes to the supernatural, the Catholics are the experts.

Indeed, much of modern Protestantism denies ghosts, demons, spirits and even to a certain extent angels.  Anything that reeks of polytheism or questions the singularity of God is suspect and likely satanic.  Some Protestants are so zealous in this regard that they flirt with heresy in regards to the Holy Trinity.

Catholics, on the other hand, are right at home with this sort of thing, and have rites and even relics to aid in the struggle against the Unseen.  Some readers may recall the visit of the relic of St Jude, which is styled to look like a forearm with fingers extended in a permanent blessing.

Such numinous objects naturally lend themselves to visual storytelling.

One area where Protestantism has historically accepted the supernatural is witches, and there are films in this line, but - at least in the United States - the existence of functional witchcraft is officially disavowed by most mainstream Protestants.  This is partly the legacy of the infamous Salem Witch Trials and partly the softening of mainline Protestant faith, which is more likely to ordain clergy that practice witchcraft than to condemn it.

The Baptists and Pentecostals will denounce it, but in practical terms, I'm unaware of any protocols to solve it on a purely spiritual level.

And, as mentioned above, zealous ministers of those faiths are more likely to be portrayed as villains than heroes.

This was not lost on me when I was younger.  In fact as well as fiction, everyone seems to turn to the Catholic Church when things get truly otherworldly. 

As they should.

 


Were St. Patrick's prayers answered?

There was some heartening news from Ireland last week.  The latest progressive reforms, which would have changed the constitution to redefine the family, failed spectacularly at the ballot box.

Perhaps the Irish are beginning to appreciate their culture again and rebelling against the soulless globalization movement.

The decline of Irish culture and religious has been shockingly fast.  The central idea of making Ireland a tax haven and global service center was always flawed because no one considered that when the world came to Ireland, it would remake the Emerald Isle in its own flat, commerce-centered image.

The corporations have colonized Ireland more quickly and more thoroughly than the English ever could.

And yet, a limit has (at least for the moment) been reached.  I think that much of the cultural destruction we've seen over the last decades has been seen as inevitable, the flip side of globalism.  However, it is now clear that decline is a choice, and one actually can "turn back the clock" by embracing tradition and choosing family-centered economic policies.

The current controversies in the Catholic Church prove this.  The remarkable thing isn't that Pope Francis has started pushing heresy and sowing division, it is the the Church is vehemently and successfully resisting.  His successor will be made of different cloth and the folly of trying to "get along" with the Spirit of the Age was demonstrated by the Anglican schism.

Here's hoping that the Irish (and the rest of Christendom) continue to resist the secular pressure to conform to what is actually demonic influence.  St. Patrick, pray for us.