Wednesday, February 27, 2008

William F. Buckley, Jr 1925-2008

Before there was Ronald Reagan there was Barry Goldwater, before there was Goldwater there was National Review, and before there was National Review there was William F. Buckley.
George Will

I just read where Bill Buckley died. How very sad for his family, friends, and all those who, like me, owe much of their understanding of Conservatism to William F Buckley.

What a remarkable man: devout Christian, philosopher, magazine founder (National Review), host of the successful television show Firing Line, spy (briefly) for CIA, author of fiction (great spy novels) and non-fiction, syndicated columnist, classical pianist, mayoral candidate, yachtsman, bon vivant, husband to Pat, and father of the man who wrote, Thank You For Not Smoking, one of the greatest satires of the last 20 years, Christopher Buckley.

Two things stand out in my mind regarding this remarkable man: The breadth, depth and duration of his friendships, and his magnanimity and wit while debating with men and women who differed with him regarding his faith, beliefs, and philosophy.

I always admired the fact that some of his closest friends were men and women who were on the opposite end of the political spectrum. Buckley loved being challenged, loved the back and forth of passionate, intellectual debate, and admired people who were both studied and genuine in their beliefs. For him, differing — even opposing — ideas didn’t make the person evil or bad … only misguided!

When I was young, I loved watching him interview people on his television show, Firing Line. I was always amazed at how dispassionately but humorously he could dissect his guests positions … all the while leaving them feeling respected, and, quite often, laughing along with every one else at his barbs.

Twenty years ago, I wrote this gentleman a note of appreciation for his influence in my life. It took me days to write one paragraph. Less than one month later, I received a handwritten note, thanking me for my kind words.
I later learned that he took the time to answer hundreds of nobodies such as myself. As Samuel Johnson said, The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good.

I do not believe I will ever see his kind again in my lifetime, and feel greatly honored to have been in the world at the same time as he.

For tributes far more eloquent and worthy of the man, you can read here

Copyright, 2008, Monte E Wilson

Life as a Metaphor

You can gain a great degree of insight into how a person approaches life and defines what constitutes “living life” by the predominate metaphors they use regarding life. For example, I quite often hear myself refer to life as a Magical Mystery Tour. For years I never gave it much thought, which is only natural as our most deeply held presuppositions about life are typically held on a subconscious-level … where we never bring them to the light of day to see if they are useful and empowering, or debilitating and disempowering. However, the more I thought about my own metaphor (and this is only one of them), the more I thought it fit with how I wanted to move through life.

Life is both magical and mysterious to me. For me, “magical” is synonymous with numinous. God is in and around all of creation, so that if we could see clearly, everything and everyone shimmers with His presence to various degrees. Life is mysterious in so far as it is not a mathematical sum (or theological formula) to figure out and then apply, but rather a journey (Tour) where we rarely know who or what is going to show up, or why. Sometimes, looking back on it, we can gain understanding but rarely do we know “why” in that moment of experience. And even when we look back and think we have some understanding, our interpretation or translation is sketchy, at best, because we do not have the Mind of God: Me, you, him, her, and it--they are all a mystery.

What made me think about this was overhearing a Christian telling a friend that Life is A Battle. I think this is a favorite metaphor for many conservative and fundamentalist Christians. For these people, life shows up like this: Us v Them, Right v Wrong, Truth v Error, Republicans v Democrats, Conservatives v Liberals, etc. Consequently, as this person approaches life -- relationships, truth-claims, job, church, political/social action, etc. -- it is most always with the mentality of a warrior … a warrior who never takes off his armor, never lays down his arms, and always sleeps with one eye open. Why? "Because if I am not at war I am not truly living: life is a battle, dontchya' know."

If I adopt this metaphor as an overarching understanding of life, what happens is that my home becomes a boot camp, the church is approached as a fortress, and education is where I am given weapons and ammunition with which to defeat the enemy -- who is defined as anyone who is not with me or us, or not apart of “it.”

Now obviously there are battles in life, but can we define life, engage in living our lives, solely in terms of battles? I don’t believe so. In fact, I believe that if we operate from such a life-view our ability to actually live life as God intended will be severely restricted.

Of course, the cool thing about defining Life as a Battle is that I get to feel like I am doing something important. The Cause defines and imbues me with feelings of significance and meaningfulness: my self-worth is equal to that of the worthiness of my Cause. But one of the problems here can be seen when the battle has been won or lost. What do I feel then? Do I not feel empty? Alone? Defeated? Martyred? Useless or listless, now that the battle is over? Well, I guess not, because the first thing I would do, of course, is go find a new battlefront on which to wage war. And if I couldn’t find a battle? I’d start one.

When I become centered in Causes and Wars, I define everyone and everything in terms of the battles I deem mandatory. “My Cause is worthy; yours is a distraction … at best.” I also will have a tendency to think of myself as indispensable to The Cause. I become Atlas or, possibly, The Arbiter of Truth and Righteousness. All of my reality is filled with me, Me, ME … and, of course, My Cause – which of course we all understand is God’s Cause. I can no longer enjoy walking in a park, or listening to my children laughing, or enjoy a glass of wine while watching a beautiful sunset. “Life”—living my life, enjoying the gift of life, reveling in the gifts of creation-- is no longer sufficient for me: there must be a battle.

Another problem for people who choose to be defined by Causes is that they usually look down on the huddled masses that aren’t really doing anything, “not making their life count for something.” Such people are clueless as to how in the world St Paul could say, Mind your own business, lead a quiet life, and work with your hands so as to not stand in need of charity. (I Thess 4:11) “Jeez…what’s up with Paul?”

I wonder if part of the problem here is that these people are looking to justify their existence. It is as if being created and sustained moment by moment by the power of the God Who Is Love, and being gifted with a world full of goodness and beauty were something that had to be paid for, a gift that was not to be humbly accepted, cherished, and stewarded, but had to be earned.

The Night My Dad Become a Hobbit
This past week (February 16) was the 20th anniversary of my dad’s death. Knowing he had less than a week to live, we all spent considerable time sitting around his bed talking and laughing (while weeping) about our lives together. One day while sitting on the edge of his bed I asked him what his thoughts turned to when he was alone at night. He told me that he thought about when he first met mom, various Christmas mornings that stood out in his mind, time with his mom and dad and four brothers … “those sorts of things.” I then asked him if he thought about the thousand or more people he had baptized, the scores of men who had been called into the ministry under his leadership, or the battles for Truth he had waged in the Southern Baptist Convention. “No … not really.” His last thoughts were not about The War or Causes won or lost, but were about the everyday stuff of life: dinners, holidays, weddings, funerals … memories that had been collected over his 61 year journey and were now being affectionately remembered and enjoyed, one more time.

In some ways, my dad’s thought processes were much like those of Tolkien’s Hobbits, who are great role models here. They led simple lives, ate simple meals, loved simple stories, and always had a song or a riddle on their lips. And when they did get caught up in an adventure or a battle, their hearts and minds were always drawn back to the Shire, a good beer, a long smoke and laughing with friends.

wherelings whenlings (daughters of ifbut offspring of hopefear
sons of unless and children of almost)
never shall guess the dimension of
him whose
foot likes the
here of this earth
whose both
this now of the sky
— e. e. cummings

Hobbits are men and women whose “foot likes the here of this earth, whose both eyes love the now of the sky.” They aren’t all caught up in guessing where the next battle lies, with "ifbut hopefear" of life being meaningless without an enemy to fight, but simply are enjoying the creation God gave them to enjoy with one another. The “dimension” of such people’s souls, while being seen as diminutive by Important People Fighting Important Battles, is quite often actually far deeper, far more multi-layered, and far more interesting than those souls who are solely given to fighting or preparing to fight enemies both real and imagined.

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2008

Thursday, February 21, 2008

What To Do With Your Self

Why are you unhappy?

Because 99.9 percent
Of everything you think
And of everything you do,
Is for yourself—
And there isn’t one.
--Wei Wu Wei

A friend of mine sent me this Taoist diddy. He sincerely believes that if I would accept the wisdom of W3 all would be well with M3.

No Self, eh? There may be many false Selves, or pretend Selves, much that is not your Self, but there is a one-of-a-kind Self that was created by God and one day will stand before Him, where, as St John writes, this Self will be given a new name, written on a "white stone." (Revelation 2.17) If there is no Self (no ‘I’) then there can be no new name, just an absorption into the Spirit, so that the I that I think I am is actually…God?

That’s the ticket! I AM GOD!

Isn’t that the goal of all man-made religions, to exalt oneself or the corporate self (depending on your religion of choice) to the Throne of Heaven? Wasn’t this the intent of Lucifer: “I shall ascend to the heavens”?

Anyway, if there is no Self, then what of Jesus’ Self: is He now merely absorbed into the great chain of being? How do we pray in His name, and how is it that He is praying for us, as the writer of Hebrews tell us that He is, if He had/has no Self? And, speaking of Hebrews, what of “the great cloud of witnesses”? How are they “witnessing”, if there is no they-ness?

If I kill the Self—to Buddhism, the source of all dissatisfaction and suffering—then I also kill the Self that is to love God and others, don’t I? And what of Christ’s admonition to love others as we love ourselves? If there is no Self, why would Jesus tell me that I needed to love myself? Certainly we need to kill selfishness, but not the Self.

This is entirely anecdotal, but most people I know who are always harping on losing the Self, seeing that there is no Self (who is it, then, that is doing the seeing?), killing the Self, whatever, are usually turned inward on their Self, so that their Self-Denial is actually a Self-Focus, and, so, a form of Self-Pride: what Cardinal Ratzinger referred to as an “auto-erotic spirituality.” (Man is that a long sentence.) By the way, many Christians fall into this category.

You can see this Self-Focus in comparing Christian art with the art of Buddhism and other such Self-Denying religions. (Yes, I know there are differences between Taoism and Buddhism.) In the art of Buddhism, Buddha and those who follow his philosophy most always have their eyes closed, looking inward, while Christian saints are most often depicted as looking upward at Someone Else.

While my friend thought that my struggles and challenges were due to my thinking I had a Self, Christianity teaches that God sent Jesus Christ to redeem and restore the Self of any person who would believe in Him. So, whatever it is my soul needs, it will be found in giving my Self to Him, not in denying that I have one to give.

Or so I believe.

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2008

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Candles in the Dark II

"The pain I feel now is the happiness I had before. That’s the deal."

"No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear."

"It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad."

"Part of every misery is, so to speak, the misery's shadow or reflection: the fact that you don't merely suffer but have to keep on thinking about the fact that you suffer. I not only live each endless day in grief, but live each day thinking about living each day in grief."

"Some people feel guilty about their anxieties and regard them as a defect of faith but they are afflictions, not sins. Like all afflictions, they are, if we can so take them, our share in the passion of Christ."

"You play the hand you are dealt. I think the game is worthwhile."

"Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable."

"Talk to me about the truth of religion and I’ll listen gladly. Talk to me about the duty of religion and I’ll listen submissively. But don’t come talking to me about the consolations of religion or I shall suspect that you don’t understand."

– CS Lewis

Monday, February 18, 2008

Angelina Goes to Iraq: Pregnant

Standing in line at the grocery store recently, I saw a magazine that had a photo of a pregnant Angelina Jolie walking down a street in Iraq. The headlines shouted, “Angelina Jeopardizes Children!” My first thought was, “Cool, ‘children’, rather than ‘fetuses.’” (She is allegedly pregnant with twins.) Anyway, when I logged on later that day I discovered that there were quite a few people who catch up on pop culture while standing in grocery lines, as there were quite a few emails asking me about Mrs Pitt going to Iraq while pregnant.

Believe me: thousands of soldiers and special force units volunteered to be part of her security team, so she was probably safer than some US Senator who visited the week before! However, when I first saw the photo, my initial reaction was to agree with the headlines. But then I started thinking about it and am not so sure it is “wrong.”

If an individual believes they are “called” to go into harms way for the sake of an honorable cause, who am I to say it is “wrong”? After all, I went in and out of Southern Sudan during their Civil War and certainly didn’t believe it was “wrong.” Maybe, as a Goodwill Representative for the UN, Angelina Jolie believes this?

On the other hand, having children comes with implicit obligations that require you to stay alive so as to fulfill these obligations. It is one thing to be in the military and be called up to fight on the front line of our war against the Jihadists in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many parents are doing just that, right now. But for a mother to do this when she doesn’t have to, at the very least, is questionable. Nevertheless, I do not say, “Wrong,” as if she has committed some breach of morality. At worst, I would say not so wise, or even foolish.

But, as I am not God, she doesn’t stand or fall before me, and so must obey her own conscience in such matters. Certainly, from what I have read (while standing in line at a grocery store), she is a loving mother and would not intentionally do something so overtly dangerous that she thought she was risking her ability to Be There for them. Anyway, I suppose she did believe herself safe, what with all the security she had surrounding her.

My mother always said that there was no safer place to be than in the will of God. I agree … with a caveat. Trusting God with your life is not the same thing as trusting you will come back alive. Remember: The God in whom Jesus trusted had him executed on a cross.

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2008

Friday, February 15, 2008

A Few Good Men ... On Steroids

The following has been making the rounds on the internet:

Clemens: You want answers?

Congressman: I think I'm entitled to them.

Clemens: You want answers?

Congressman: I want the truth!

Clemens: You can't handle the truth! Son, we live in a world that has baseballs. And those balls have to be hit by men with bats. Who's gonna do it? You? You,Congressman? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for steroids and you curse HGH. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know: that HGH, while illegal, probably sells tickets. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, sells tickets...You don't want the truth. Because deep down, in places you don't talk about at parties, you want me on that mound. You need me on that mound. We use words like fastall, slider, splitfinger...we use these words as the backbone to a life spent playing a sport. You use 'em as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and falls asleep to the Sportscenter clips I provide,! then questions the manner in which I provide it! I'd rather you just said thank you and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a bat and dig in. Either way, I don't give a damn what you think you're entitled to!

Congressman: Did you order the HGH?

Clemens: (quietly) I did the job you sent me to do.

Congressman: Did you order the HGH?

Clemens: You're gddamn right I did!! +

I guess if you are a baseball fan, Roger “The Dodger” Clemens’ appearance before some Senators and their Committee to Waste Tax Payer’s Money was a big deal. After free agency, I pretty much stopped following professional baseball, so am only slightly interested in what happens with The Boys of Summer. But it seems I am a minority because I can’t turn on any television station without seeing Clemens and his Ratter Outer (is that grammatically correct?), McNamee, sitting before the August Senators.

Here are our elected officials—men and women we have called on to represent us in dealing with terrorism, subprime disasters, the debacle in our Public Schools, and other such serious issues—and they are sitting there for what seems like days getting all hot-and-bothered about exactly who went to Jose Cansecos’ party, that fateful night? Can anything be more a waste of time and money: unless, of course, it is investigating how to stop Global Warming. (Cue: spooky music)

And now there is Arlen Specter, the RINO of all RINOS preening before cameras (LWM: honey, this stands for Republican In Name Only), wanting Congress to step in and find out why Roger Goodell, the Commissioner of the NFL, destroyed the tapes that showed Coach Belichick filming opposing teams. “What did you know and when did you know it?” (Cue: voice over of President Nixon, “I am not a crook!”) Are these guys so bored that they have time to interfere in how a private business operates?

I think it was Von Mises who defined Economics as how people get what they want with what they have. Our Senators define it as “how we get what we want with what you have.” Well this taxpayer doesn’t want his money being spent on such trivial pursuits. Come on guys; deal with some serious issues … like why Britney Spears can’t seem to find a good Psychologist.

Copyright, Monte E. Wilson, 2008

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Smiley-Face Fascism

From the forward of Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning, by Jonah Goldberg

“Americans like to think of themselves as being immune to fascism while constantly feeling threatened by it. 'It can’t happen here' is the common refrain. But fascism definitely has a history in this country, and that is what this book is about. The American fascist tradition is deeply bound up with the effort to 'Europeanize' America and give it a 'modern' state that can be harnessed to utopian ends. This American fascism seems--and is--very different from its European variants because it was moderated by many special factors—geographical size, ethnic diversity, Jeffersonian individualism, a strong liberal tradition, and so on. As a result, American fascism is milder, more friendly, more 'maternal' than its foreign counterparts; it is what George Carlin calls 'smiley-face fascism.' Nice fascism. The best term to describe it is 'liberal fascism.' And this liberal fascism was, and remains, fundamentally left-wing.”

“This book will present an alternative history of American liberalism that not only reveals its roots in, and commonalities with, classical fascism but also shows how the fascist label was projected onto the right by a complex slight of hand. In fact, conservatives are the more authentic classical liberals, while many so-called liberals are 'friendly' fascists."

“Now, I am not saying that all liberals are fascists. Nor am I saying that to believe in socialized medicine or smoking bans is evidence that you are a crypto-Nazi. What I am mainly trying to do is dismantle the granitelike assumption in our political culture that American conservatism is an offshoot or cousin of fascism….”

“(B)efore the war, fascism was widely viewed as a progressive social movement with many liberal and left wing-wing adherents in Europe and the United States; the horror of the Holocaust completely changed our view of fascism as something uniquely evil and ineluctably bound up with extreme nationalism, paranoia, and genocidal racism. After the war, the American progressives who had praised Mussolini and even looked sympathetically at Hitler in the 1920s and 1930s had to distance themselves from the horrors of Nazism. Accordingly, leftist intellectuals redefined fascism as 'right-wing' and projected their own sins onto conservatives, even as they continued to borrow heavily from fascist and pre-fascist thought.”

“Much of this alternative history is quite easy to find, if you have eyes to see it. The problem is that the liberal-progressive narrative on which most of us were raised tends to shunt these incongruous and inconvenient facts aside, and to explain away as marginal what is actually central.”

Jonah has a blog where he interacts with both supporters and detractors of his book.

I can’t use enough superlatives to describe this book. It is even-handed and sober, while being incredibly entertaining. It is a devastating critique of “the roots and fruits” of the inherent fascism of much of the political left’s present-day agenda for the US.

As I presently don't have the time or energy to write a review of this book, you might want to check out Thomas Sowell's review. There is an interview with Jonah that is quite interesting over at the California Literary Review, as well.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Without Roots

Without Roots: The West, Relativism, Christianity, Islam

Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, and Marcello Perez
Forward by George Weigel

In 2004, Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) addressed the Italian Senate on the state of Europe. The day before, Senate President Dr. Marcello Pera gave a lecture at the Lateran Pontifical University on the same topic. As they later compared notes and exchanged correspondence, they saw that they had come to the same conclusions regarding the political, cultural and spiritual condition of Europe. Their addresses and correspondence were then put together and published.

“A foul wind is blowing through Europe,” writes Dr Pera: a wind that reminds him of a similar one that blew across Munich in 1938. “While this wind,” he goes on to write, "might sound like a sigh of relief, it is really shortness of breath. It could turn out to be the death rattle of a continent that no longer understands what principles to believe, and mixes everything together in a rhetorical hodgepodge. A continent whose population is decreasing; whose economy cannot compete; that does not invest in research; that thinks the protective social state is an institution free of charge; that is unwilling to shoulder the responsibilities attendant upon its history and its role; that seeks to be a counterweight without carrying its own weight; that, when called upon to fight, always replies that fighting is the extrema ratio, as if to say that war is a ratio that should never be used."

Both Ratzinger and Pera trace the cause of this “foul wind” back to the West’s (particularly Europe's) rejection of its Christian roots, and the adoption of a new dogma: relativism.

”The thinking that currently prevails in the West regarding the universal features of the West is that none of them has universal value. According to the proponents of these ideas, the universality of Western institutions is an illusion, because in reality they are only one particularity among many, with a dignity equal to that of others, and without any intrinsic value superior to that of others. Consequently to recommend these institutions as universal would be a gesture of intellectual arrogance or an attempt at cultural hegemony.”

According to relativism, we cannot compare communities and cultures because each has their own understanding of what is true, beautiful and good, and “is only so according to the criteria by which that community defines them.” Furthermore, “There are no meta-criteria that can establish intrinsic truth, absolute beauty, or universal good. All criteria, according to this line of reasoning, are contextual.”

However, as Pera goes on to note, if relativism is correct in its assertion that there are no basic truths, “then not even relativism can be the foundation of democracy.” After all, when relativism is the foundation our society is built upon, who is to say that Sharia is better or worse compared to the US Constitution?

What is of particular interest in both addresses is that this relativism is investigated within the context of our present battle with Islamic jihadists. If there are no absolutes, no universal goods, how do we compare and contrast, how do we say this is Good, and that is Evil? If there is no universal understanding of the dignity owed to each and every human being, how are we going to define fundamental human rights?

To adopt a dogma that asserts there can be no dogmas and to make this the foundation of international relations is like adopting into your family an assassin who has been hired to kill you. As we face an enemy who has sworn to annihilate the West, if relativism is our new dogma, then all we are left with is acquiescence and capitulation: the only “virtues” possible to those who profess a politically correct creed.

This book deserves a wide audience. Go buy one for yourself and another for a friend.

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2008

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Ordinary World

Monks singing Duran Duran

But I won't cry for yesterday
There's an ordinary world
Somehow I have to find
And as I try to make my way
To the ordinary world
I will learn to survive

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Self-Critique v Self-Hatred

I ran across the following quote in a book review of Without Roots: The West, Relativism, Christianity, Islam, by Joseph Ratzinger and Marcello Pera. (Review by John Jay Hughes.)

“Of course Europe, and the West in general, have made many mistakes. But the West's most significant merit, Dr. Pera writes, quoting the Peruvian writer Maria Vargas Llosa, 'has been its ability to be self-critical.' Today, however, self-criticism has become 'a peculiar Western self-hatred that is nothing short of pathological,' Cardinal Ratzinger writes. 'It is commendable that the West is trying to be more open, to be more understanding of the values of outsiders, but it has lost all capacity for self-love. All that it sees in its own history is the despicable and the destructive; it is no longer able to perceive what is great and pure.'"

What struck me is how easily it is for us Christians to do this: to fall from self-criticism into self-hatred. And if we who are salting and lighting and leavening the cultures in which we live are doing this, what hope is there for the nations in which we live.

Serious Christians want to walk right, be right, do right. So as to accomplish this, we seriously go about evaluating and critiquing ourselves. “Wrong here, wrong there, bad here, bad there,” etc. The challenge, as the then Cardinal Ratzinger noted, is the refusal to see “what is great and pure” about us, which then turns into self-hatred.

Self-hatred is not a virtue: it is not synonymous with humility, as humility is the act of agreeing with God. Yes, you fail, have failed, and will fail again, but you also have accomplished good, and have many attributes which honor both you and God. Humility requires that you see that both good and bad are true of you. Yet, if all you choose to see are your failures, what happens to your ability to maintain what is “great and pure,” and to continue doing good?

How are we to love others as ourselves, if we do not love ourselves?

God: I see this “good” in you
You: Not so, Lord, I am nothing but a worm
God: You are telling me that I am wrong about you? Don’t you think that’s a tad arrogant … hmmmmm?

Falling down and failing is a part of the human condition: this is not an excuse for falling down, simply a humble acknowledgment of reality. However, why choose to define yourself solely by such failures? Yes, seeing pretty much only the good in yourself leads to arrogance, but seeing only the bad leads to self-hatred, which is just as deadly to spiritual and psychological health.

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2008

Monday, February 4, 2008

Chicken Little Goes to Vote

People demand freedom of speech as a compensation
for the freedom of thought which they seldom use.
-- Kierkegaard

“(A) conservative is one who protects and defends … private property, free markets, individual liberty, freedom of conscience, and the rights of the community to determine how they will live within these guidelines.” (Jonah Goldberg, Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning, p. 402f)

Jonah’s definition pretty much sums up my political philosophy.

“So, who are you going to vote for?”

Not going to tell you. “Not gonna do it … wouldn’t be prudent.” (Dana Carvey imitating Bush 41 on Saturday Night Live.)

What I am going to say is that a lot of people out there need to chill: specifically, Conservatives.

“If John McCain is our Party’s nominee, I am sitting out. In substance, he is no different than Hillary. He will ruin our movement and our Party.”

“Romney is a flip-flopper, squishy on abortion, and who knows what he will do regarding our war against the Jihadists.”

And this isn’t being said rationally so much as it is fearfully, as in, “O my Gaaaaawwd, the sky is falling!” Stranger still is that this is the sentiment of so many Christians. It is as if the "wrong" candidate were to get into office
--i.e., the one I didn't vote for--all is lost, there is no hope ... THE END IS HERE!

Go figure.

I thought we believed in Providence? I thought we believed that a Loving Father was governing history? I thought we believed that promotion was from God alone, that he raises up whom he will?

Evidently not.

Suggestion regarding voting:

  • Think
  • Compare and contrast
  • Reflect
  • Maintain your sense of humor
  • Pray for wisdom
  • Pull the lever on the candidate of your choice
  • Trust in the Good God

And remember: at the end of the day, whomever is elected was elected because God voted for him … or her. We just won’t know “why” for a while.

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2008

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Where the Streets Have No Name, Super Bowl 2002

One of the greatest half-time shows--if not the greatest--in Super Bowl history. U2 paying tribute to victims of 9/11

Background of lyrics:

"I was trying to sketch a feeling. I often feel very claustrophobic in a city, a feeling of wanting to break out of that city and a feeling of wanting to go somewhere where the values of the city and the values of our society don’t hold you down."

"An interesting story that someone told me once is that in Belfast, by what street someone lives on you can tell not only their religion but tell how much money they’re making - literally by which side of the road they live on, because the further up the hill the more expensive the houses become."

"That said something to me, and so I started writing about a place 'where the streets have no name.'”

Bono, from Propaganda 5, 1987