Pride cometh before the fall

Humans are not rational creatures, they are spiritual ones.  We do have a capacity for reason, but it is impaired by sin, particularly the sin of pride.

For example, there is a common assumption that if a person reacts to a certain stimulus one way, they will always react to it the same way.  This is manifestly untrue.  If I step on your toe once, you may not take any immediate action because you assume it was a mistake or even that you incautiously put your toe in the path of my stride.  However, when it keeps happening, you will eventually try to end it, either by moving away, warning me from doing it again, or physically assaulting me.

A clear example of this is the way that "Nice Christianity" has all but disappeared.  At the time, it seemed compassionate to welcome people suffering from moral shortcomings into the faith, perhaps hoping to heal them by refraining from criticism.  But - as is the case with all demonic behaviors - the afflicted were not content to sin in private, or even confine their acts to willing audiences, but instead felt the need to impose their degeneracy on all of us, particularly those most opposed to it.

"Live and let live" was immediately replaced with "bake the cake, bigot."

Right now, we are seeing a full-spectrum push against this, as all normal people - believers and non-believers alike - tire of being hectored and lectured by moral degenerates who demand endorsement for their degeneracy.

A year ago Bud Light was entering this month with its brand in freefall, and Target's bold decision to promote perverse, sexualized clothing to children generated an immediate and severe backlash.  Both companies have repented of their actions after severe financial damage, and many others wonder how to navigate the new terrain.  To ignore Pride Month is to court the wrath of radical activists who have access to immense wealth and power, but that is not enough to cover the economic costs of a broadly-based boycott by everyone else.

There is also a new assertiveness on the part of Christians, particularly the Catholic Church.  Eucharistic processions are taking place around the world in honor of the Solemnity of Body and Blood of Jesus Christ (Corpus Christi).  These are public demonstrations of faith, a direct challenge to the secular and demonic forces who currently control the culture.

A big part of why the "Woke" are so terrified by even the slightest dissent is that they know how fragile their position is.  Decadence is always a passing thing, sustained by a combination of apathy, affluence and moral complacency.  Economic turmoil, societal upheaval and a reassertion of traditional morals pose an existential threat to our current cultural environment.  "Gay marriage" has only been on the books for less than a decade and already public opinion is turning against it.  The crime of "surrogate pregnancy," wherein the rich and powerful buy the children of the poor and weak is also creating rising outrage at the very moment when desperate leftists are trying to lock into law.

A moment that founds itself on sin will reap the wages of sin.



Memorial Day's shifting meanings

I can't remember how long ago it was, but part of an Easter homily has really stuck with me over the years.  The priest remarked that while we've all experienced Easter before, each year is different because each year we are different.   Easter as a child is different from Easter as an adult, or a parent, or a grandparent.  This of course applies to other holidays as well, and it's particularly true of a secular one like Memorial Day.

It has shifted a great deal in my lifetime, not just in terms of how I approach it, but how society approaches it as well.

As a child, it was about picnics, maybe a family reunion, trips to the beach and so forth.  As a young adult increasingly involved in politics, it meant parades and speeches (I became quite good at speechwriting).

The coming of war changed it still further, and celebrations became more strident, no doubt a result of the fresh graves arriving in the veterans' cemeteries.

As the wars faded in importance (and casualties lost their political potency and became less newsworthy), ambitious and amoral politicians began trying to tear open the origins of the holiday, seeking to overthrow the post-Civil War reconciliation for fun and profit.

Most recently, the wars have ended in American strategic defeat, and the same sacrifices that were lauded years ago for spreading freedom and democracy are seen as wasteful and useless.

In retrospect, one can't help but wonder how much of the Peace Movement was ever sincere.  I knew people in it, and while I thought them misguided, I felt that they honestly abhorred violence.  Yet many of them now demand that Ukraine and Russia fight to the death over obscure bits of geography most people have never heard of.  I've yet to see any meaningful peace marches for that.   Oh, there are big demonstrations against Israel, but demanding a nation be completely obliterated isn't what I would call a "peaceful solution."

This Memorial Day therefore finds us in a strange place.  The day is the same, but we have changed greatly.

Pope Francis zags back into Orthodoxy

If nothing else, the pontificate of Francis is never dull.  For much of this year, the faithful have been roiled with accounts of drastic changes to doctrine, including the ordination of women and the blessing of "irregular" relationships.  Though the term is broad, everyone knows that there is no one pushing to legitimize adulterous relationships, it's being pushed by homosexuals and their allies.

Last week the pope spoke with remarkably firmness on both issues, and liberal Catholics have to be feeling pretty bad about it.  On the recent 60 Minutes interview the pope was giving a rather long-winded question about allowing female ordination.  It's a remarkable clip because he almost immediately releases the thrust of the question shows clear irritation and boredom with the setup, and when finally given an opening to respond, leans forward to give a firm "No," rejecting it outright.

Similarly, the confusion of Fiducia supplicans, had prompted a large swath of Catholic theologians and senior clergy to call for its retraction.  Apparently that will not happen, but the pope did "clarify" that it only applies to individuals, can never be used to affirm homosexual unions and that Church teachings on homosexuality remain unchanged.

Lest there be doubt, Cardinal Fernandez was dispatched to Egypt to heal the rift with the Copts.   This is clearly an effort to save the pope's legacy, which at this point is looking pretty bleak.  The Coptic Church had been steadily moving closer to Rome, but FS created a rupture.  The pope's recent statement that: “Blessing a homosexual union goes against the law, the natural law, the law of the Church,” will likely heal this wound. 

It's no secret that Francis is not in good health, and I've seen some of his critics claim that he hasn't presided over a public Mass in two years.  Much of what has been going on in his name may very well be happening behind his back.  This does not exculpate him, however because personnel is policy.

If he can heal the schism with the Copts, much of this confusion will be forgotten.

Yasuke the Samurai: Falsifying history for fun and profit

Last week the trailer for a new installment of the Assassins Creed franchise came out.  I'm familiar with the game, though I've never played it.  Anyhow, my understanding is that it uses the Knight Templars as some sort of ancient conspiracy against their arch-enemies and assassins are good, Templars bad, or whatever.   I'm quite the fan of Umberto Eco's Templar conspiracy tour-de-force, Focault's Pendulum, which I'm sure was at least some of the inspiration for the franchise.

Anyway, the new release is set in Japan, a first for the series, and people were naturally looking forward to actual samurai and ninjas duking it out.  Instead, the titular character is an African samurai, which has a lot of people scratching their heads.

Apparently, there is a mention of an African man reaching Japan during the tumultuous 16th Century.  The actual person was the servant of a Jesuit missionary and a Japanese warlord took an interest in him, taking him into his service as a page or manservant.

To put it another way, he wasn't an actual samurai.  

But facts mean nothing to modern social justice motivated scholars, and so the game publishers are digging in on the "authenticity" of their game.  Some are citing African Samurai: The True Story of Yasuke, a Legendary Black Warrior in Feudal Japan as the authoritative source.  The book has hugely positive ratings, but that's meaningless in terms of whether or not it is actual history.

Long-time friends of this blog will know that when I dug into the Spanish Civil War, I found plenty of "respected" sources that spouted provable lies.  Antony Beevor is - for some strange reason - considered a respectable historian despite his blatant bigotry and complete disregard of the facts.

That tissue of lies has a very positive rating despite being filled with hot garbage, and I noticed that critical reviews of that Yasuke book echo my own audit of Beevor.

To put it another way, there is zero proof that this Yasuke was a samurai, but bigoted Western authors have decided that he was one, and that's that.

At the start of this dispute, both Encyclopedia Britannic and Wikipedia were skeptical of the samurai claims, but once the signal was given both sources rewrote their entries to conform to the new narrative.  They both went full George Orwell.  Never go full George Orwell.

The core problem with this transparent re-writing of history is that it convinces no one.  Skeptics will become more skeptical while fence-sitters will be turned off by the sudden about-face.  The true believers will parrot whatever is given them, which further strengthens the skeptical arguments.

Put simply, it is self-defeating, destroying the authority of once-respected institutions in return for ephemeral short-term gains.  This seems to be the hallmark of our age.

What makes this all so pathetic is that all this revisionism is being done in the service of a video game, one that has already generated overwhelmingly negative responses.  The various authorities that whored themselves out for this endeavor will see zero return on their investment.  Their best-case scenario is for some tech mogul to get a little bit more wealthy for a little while.

Meanwhile, the prestige of Western scholarship will suffer irreparable damage.  

At this point, I'm good with that.  Modern academics are nothing more than credentialed imbeciles.  Indeed, when challenged, they always resort to asserting their authority rather than providing actual evidence.  The faster this corruption is exposed and destroyed, the better for everyone.

The Church offers new rules for supernatural events

When word came out that the Vatican was going to release new rules for discerning supernatural events, it was hard not to be pessimistic.  The mess of Fiducia Supplicans continues to spread, but at the same time his pontificate is never consistent, so good regularly follows bad.

Based on the initial coverage, the guidelines seem reasonable, but I will have to dig deeper.  One of the elements used to determine if a vision or event is authentic is whether it is compatible with existing doctrine.  Would that this would also shape current policy!

Another point that stuck out to me is that the Pope has claimed authority to make a final judgement.  This is consistent with the increasingly autocratic rule of Pope Francis, which completely undermines the "Synodal Way," that he's been dragging out for years.  Is it a blind, or just a disordered mind?

Only God knows.

At any rate, I see this is something of a response to the growing spiritual turmoil in the world.  The Enemy is pressing the attack, and overt displays of Satanic beliefs are being mainstreamed.  There are increasing reports of demonic possession and oppression and exorcism seems to be a hot topic.

Indeed, I'm trying to finish a book on the topic, but between grandkids and yard work, reading time is limited and this is also why my posts have been less frequent.  Still, being outside in great weather is a good problem to have.

Sequel, Prequel, In-quel: where does it end?

Hollywood is apparently not done with strip-mining J.R.R. Tolkien's literary legacy.  A new film is supposedly in the works based on the life of...Gollum.

Which we already know.  I mean, it's in Lord of the Rings, book the book and both the movies.

This is the state of modern filmmaking: tell the same story again and again.  

Presumably audiences will keep coming back to watch something vaguely familiar, thus assuring a reasonable return on investment.

This is largely enabled by the consolidation that has taken place among studios, which are probably more in lockstep than they ever were in the days of the moguls.  Indeed, the signature feature of the Studio System was its innovation - all of the moguls were self-made men who were creating an industry from scratch.  The current executives are third- or fourth-generation legacy hires.

The good news is that this creates an unprecedented opportunity for independent artists to make some huge scores, and we saw this with Godzilla Minus One.

The bad news is that all media has been consolidated, and there is a concerted (and blatant) effort to restrict access to new content precisely because of the danger it poses.

I'm not sure how this will play out, but as with so many other institutions, my sense is that Hollywood will ultimately fall.  Like a vast ship incapable of course correction, it will inevitably crash.  Nothing is too big to fail.

War has no rules

My generation grew  up with a very legalistic, regulated view of war.  As a consequence, I don't think many people understand how utterly raw and lawless war actually is.

In the various contemporary conflicts I see accusations of "war crimes," and with that the expectation that some sort of authority will show up and hand out tickets.  It reminds me of nothing so much as complaining to teacher.

But as William T. Sherman observed more than a century ago, war is cruelty.  Efforts to soften it, "civilize" it or regulate it rarely succeed.  Indeed, the past few decades have illustrated that the more rules are put in place, the more they are bent and twisted to permit what are always considered to be necessary acts.

What really regulates the conduct of war is reciprocity - the understanding that escalation will produce a retaliatory response.  While in many ways more savage than the First World War, WW II did not see the widespread use of poison gas for this reason.  Neither side perceived it as conferring an advantage, so neither used it in anything other than isolated situations (I'm thinking mostly of Japan vs China.)

For the last few decades, wars involving Western nations have never reached the existential levels achieved during World War II.  This has led to a certain level of complacency and the assumption is that Western nations must always observe the laws of war even if the enemy conspicuously does not.  The result is usually military defeat, but one without serious consequences.

This "by the book" mentality also assumes victory is not necessary, and that "managing" the conflict is enough.

But when the stakes become higher, the old rules of reciprocity come back, and it's interesting to note that all of the agreements respecting laws of war were originally based on this principle.  If the enemy uses hospitals as ammunition dumps, they cease to be protected areas.  If the enemy refuses to wear uniforms, that the line between military and civilian is likewise eliminated.

No amount of international condemnation or hand-writing by various non-governmental organizations will change this.

Not all wars are savage, and in both of my books, I noted instances of remarkable restraint and mercy, but such things are the exception rather than the rule.

Oh, and the notion that enemy populations have a "human right" to food?  Utterly without historical foundation.  The oldest - and arguably most effective - siege tactic is starvation.  At some point, the garrison either submits or is too weak to resist.  Food has always been a weapon since the days of the hunter-gatherers.  It would be well for people to understand this.

The call to conversion

British comedian Russell Brand has announced his intention to be baptized this Sunday.  He is the latest in a series of celebrities to convert (or revert) to Christianity.  Apparently Hulk Hogan and his family have been baptized, along with a smattering of people I'm only vaguely aware of (but am assured are famous).  Shia LeBeouf has followed through with his pledge to enter the Catholic Church, and he has been joined by political commentator Candace Owens and Tammy Peterson, the wife of Dr. Jordan.

Is it opportunism or sincerity?  Perhaps it is a mixture of both.  One could argue that "finding religion" is a someone worn-out trope in American culture, typically the result of having destroyed all other career opportunities.  Everyone loves a redemption story.

However, the culture has never been more hostile to people of faith.  It's interesting that Kanye West has gone from church-like Sunday concerts to contemplating building a pornography empire.  Satanic imagery and overt denigration of Christ has never been more popular.

As Brand himself has observed, there's something deeply wrong with the world right now, with every institution crumbling into ineffectiveness if not a tool of downright oppression.  The Catholic Church is not immune to this, however the strange diktats coming out from the Vatican seem to be producing the opposite of the intended effect.  Both the laity and the clergy are becoming more stridently orthodox, decisively proving that the Church is more than its leadership.

I think people are realizing the reality of spiritual warfare.  Technology - once held as the solution to the mysteries of faith - has been exposed as a mindless recording of our follies, spitting nonsense back at us even as it tries to lock us into a virtual reality of endless depravity.

At the same time, the allure of Yard Sign Calvinism is wearing off.  Oh, the signs are still up, the virtue signalling continues, but as the situation deteriorates, there are more pressing issues than asserting "love is love" or that "science is real."  The latter is actually becoming a problem because so much of science has been shown to be false, from the effectiveness of masks against Covid to treating gender dysphoria with medical mutilation. 

As is their wont, humans have erected new gods, which have predictably failed.  It should not be surprising that a number of them (perhaps a remnant?) should turn to the true God as a result.

Movie anti-review: Civil War

From the moment I saw the first trailer for Civil War, I knew I was not going to watch it.  Instead, I'm going to do an anti-review on it.

What is an anti-review?  It's where I explain why I refused to see a movie that should otherwise be very interesting to me.  This is a great example, because it seems to have many of the elements I like in a film.

For one thing, it's about conflict, and I love war movies.  It's also about civil war, revolution, and political collapse, themes I've used in my novels and of course I've written a book about the Spanish Civil War (Long Live Death) and my military history of China (Walls of Men), has lots of rebellions and civil wars in it.

So why am I skipping this film?  Because it is so incredibly stupid.

Some folks have picked on the setting, i.e. Texas and California teaming up.  I actually don't have a problem with that.  For one thing, there's ample precedent for rivals to join against a common enemy.  Heck, Catholic France rallied to the Protestant cause in the Thirty Years' War.

The scenario was purportedly made that way to focus on the characters' stories rather than the political side.   Which is fine.  If you want to just focus on how war affects people, you can pretty much block out the cause and just focus on people trying to get by.

I think one could make a great story about how civil war would affect hospital workers who are forced into treating casualties or conscript soldiers who are now fighting their countrymen and don't fully grasp why.

The problem is that the heroes are journalists, who are supposed to immerse themselves in these things.  Indeed, journalism is now the most political profession outside actual politics.  So to pretend they're "just following the story" is stupid.

The next layer of stupidity is the characters themselves.  There are no "war correspondents" anymore.  They vanished decades ago.  Martha Gellhorn died in 1998.  The notion that there is still some famous woman journalist documented war passed its expiration date 30 years ago.  The characters may as well be relying on chemical film and using phone booths to communicate.  It's stupid.

Similarly, the emphasis on still photography is stupid.  No one uses still photography in war zones, they stream video.  Writer/Director Alex Garland is lost in a world that no longer exists and died by the time he hit age 30.

His notion of how war works is similarly stupid, and clearly shaped by his work on zombie films.  Indeed, he can't get out of that frame of thinking, resorting to the usual trope of having abandoned vehicles on the highway.

But this isn't a zombie outbreak.  Highways are crucial to keeping people fed and clothed.  If a highway is bombed or strafed, people will fix it and scrap or strip the damaged vehicles.

Similarly, he has the whole order/chaos thing exactly backwards.  He shows that the closer one gets to the battlefront, the more organized things are, even down to neat little tent encampments.

No.  That is stupid.  The closer you get the front, the more chaotic things become, and no modern army builds camps like that.  This isn't 1860, it's a time when cheap drones can fly and bomb tidy little camps like that with almost no warning.

And this isn't secret knowledge, either.  Fighting in Ukraine has been going on for more than year.  Maybe he should leave his zombie bubble.

It is in the rear areas that you have order, as the new government is put in place, and people pick up and carry on as best they can.  Garland has the twisted Hollywood version of American in his mind, where everyone between the coasts is just a bunch of bloodthirsty rubes waiting to kill each other.  It's not like that at all, but he's too stupid to know it.

I'm actually losing interest in typing out all the stupidity because there is just so much of it, so I'm just going to finish with the example of the militia guy who shoots the journalist because he's not American.

This scene is stupidly stupid.  It is a towering monument of stupid, covered with a stupid gloss and shining under stupid clouds.  

Why?  Because no militia person would ever walk around with red shades and only a single magazine in his weapon.  Garland knows no actual gun owners, and has no idea how combat works.  Even people with zero military experience understand that you need a canteen, first aid kit, extra ammo and gear to carry it all.  The dweeb he has standing there is someone who literally cannot exist in gun culture. 

"Hey Bob, cover that road with only 20 rounds and be sure not to wear a hat so you can get sunstroke."

"What if I get thirsty?"

"It's only for this one scene."

Okay, I'm done now.  It's too stupid to go on.

Cameron and Ringwald epitomize Hollywood's cheap penance

One of the hallmarks of the ongoing Cultural Revolution in the United States is the desperate efforts of successful entertainers to try to stay relevant and ingratiate themselves to their new moral masters.

Exhibit One is James Cameron now repenting of his wildly successful Terminator franchise, which had two good movies and then a bunch of crappy ones.  I don't actually know how many there are at this point as I stopped watching.

There are a couple of things to unpack in this particular "confession," because what Cameron is doing is a clear case of Yard Sign Calvinism.  His alleged regret for "fetishizing" firearms is actually a pretty bold claim that Hollywood didn't push gun violence until he, James Cameron, entered the scene.  Death Wish and Dirty Harry would like to have a word with him.

This is of course the cheapest for of repentance, because he's not giving up anything, and actually trying to ingratiate himself with the current power brokers. 

"Gosh, I'm sorry I made a boatload of money and am now fabulously rich.  This apology relieves me of any obligation to donate to charities that benefit the victims of violent crime.  I'm going to go play with my submarine now."

Similarly Molly Ringwald has also announced that - after decades of affluence thanks to movies she merely acted in - she now thinks that they are wrong.

Again, her statement contains no pledge to spend the fruit of her ill-gotten gains on charities or in any way inconvenience herself, it's just about letting everyone know she's now a better person than she was, and also a better person than anyone who likes her previous work.

One of the worst abuses of Catholicism is when the Rite of Reconciliation is treated as something of a box-checking exercise.  You do the sin, go to the priest, confess, say some prayers, and then do it again.

No.  That's now how it works.  Without sincere remorse, the sins aren't forgiven.  Without sincere acts of penance, the sins aren't forgiven.

There is an increasing emphasis on this in the Church.  I'm noticing that penance is no longer an arbitrary number of prayers, but also requires some effort to heal the wound that sin has caused.

This is as it should be.  Simply telling God you're sorry is not enough; one must then go and make amends for the harm one has caused.

Because so much of Hollywood (and its elite wannabees) are immune from consequences, this is an alien concept to them.  (Heh)

One of the Enemy's most effective snares is the combination of pride and complacency, perhaps with a dollop of self-righteousness on top.  The signs of repentance are not directed toward God, but the popular culture.

Their goal is not to clear their conscience to to maintain (or regain) access to the decadence of their youth.

As scripture tells us, they shall have their reward.