Saturday, July 09, 2005
The Glienecker Bridge, Part II
“You’re very logical.”
I was struck by how incongruous was her statement when juxtaposed with my own estimation of myself. For logical is not the word I would use to describe my particular mental cancer. Rather, I consider myself to be intuitive to a fault, one of the reasons that the posts come so slowly here at a4g. It is hard to translate into words what I experience as essentially pure… experience.
Once upon a time I intended to be a novelist. It was easy when I was a capital-A Atheist. Pronouncements flowed from my fingers and challenges rolled forth like the peal of thundering men before a battle. I was a warrior, and the page was my field of choice. Mine was a holy crusade to remake the world in my own image. That, perhaps, remains. And yet, the plan changed somewhere along the way. There was to be no 'great American novel.'
The easy explanation for the divergence from that untaken path is that “life got in the way.” But that is not really what happened. For there is always some time available for such passionate pursuits (even as a father of five), no matter how small. Yet as we added each child, though my desire to write remained, I found I was gradually losing my voice. I moved into a place where words could no longer express the vistas I saw spread out before me.
Yes, I wanted to write. But I know longer knew what to write.
Especially in the last two years, I have touched places of such indescribable beauty and symmetry that there are no words I can bring back to capture the force and completeness of the pure experience I have lived. Sometimes this joy has occurred in the depth of contemplation, or laughing in the car with my family, or sobbing at the fate of Terri Schiavo. Perhaps it’s just that I am growing up. Yet each time, I am left stuttering and laryngitic, with no force in my diaphragm to expel the words I long to say.
Yes, yes. I know. I love you, God. Take me, break me, save me.
But then what? The slow crawl of reason chewing the insulation off the wires. Because God doesn’t yet fit my picture of what He must be.
“How can you judge God?” asks my wife. “You’re missing the point.”
“But we all judge God, and find the one that suits us. Catholic or Unitarian? Hindu or Buddhist? The God of our parents or the God of our rebellion?
"How is my judgment of the existence or non-existence of God any different than you choosing which religion is ‘the right one’? Should an Anglican stay an Anglican when they allow priests to marry –each other? Is it incumbent upon the Anglican to find a way to accept this as God’s will?
"Or does right reason turn him against this?”
Of course, the Church has a long tradition of natural law that speaks to this very issue. Aquinas sought to find a path to the garden of the Lord through Reason, and not mostly for the very practical reasons of converting men like me, but rather, for the love of God and his Creation.
The Church is what draws me more than any other faith I have encountered, because of its 2000 year treasury of contemplation and exegesis. Because it declares its love for Truth and Reason like an excited child bursting with innocence and enthusiasm and a burning need to share its joyful discovery.
Yet there are places where I recoil. Stigmata, relics, incorruptibles. Angels and saints and miracles. These are the things I can't even begin to contemplate, because they seem to me insurmountable walls that my mind can not mount.
So God and I stand at either end of a concrete bridge, and I am held hostage by my doubts in the tense encounter. The lights are garish and the shadows deep.
And He beckons me to cross.
I am willing to suspend disbelief, for now, knowing that the secret to belief is in accepting the premises. The supernatural phantasms that lurk in the shadows I will leave to the contemplations of another day. My feet hit hard against the roadbed.
If we accept that God is perfectly and fully Just, and perfectly and fully Merciful, there are certain corollaries that may be contemplated. It seems to me that all of Creation, emanating from God, must be as perfectly ordered as God himself. There are, of course, many heretical traps that can be fallen into on this path, and I beg the reader’s forgiveness if I seem wandering into the murky bog beside the clear way – I hope it is a inadequacy of my words and not my reasoning which would seem to take me there.
The God across the bridge must have created a world which is fully and completely informed by His existence. The shadows of God must cast deep into every aspect of the universe, every angle reflecting back at His greater Glory. This is not to say that God is contained within the universe, but rather that the universe is fully contained within God. His breath animates the essence of everything. I discussed something of this concept in a previous post, Of Science, Supersymmetry, and the Holy Trinity. The idea is that the reality of everything is contained in the secret names (used metaphorically) that only God knows. That ‘is’ is not an emergent perception, but rather a concrete reality of the Divine Will.
So the key, then, to finding God, is to find Him in the clues He has left all around us. There can be no contradiction, no place where “reality” conflicts with God. I described it to my wife as a puzzle, with ‘material reality’ as a many faceted piece and ‘the supernatural’ as another. My goal being to rotate one or the other until I can find the proper fit.
So it is not that I am trying to change God to fit my requirements, but instead that I am trying to discover how my requirements are pointing me to God.
The challenge is expressed in a list of contradictions that I keep meaning to write down but that never seems to fully gel until a post spews forth. Still, they are my own theses nailed to the cathedral door.
How can God be present in all times and not be an immutable object?
How can Salvation History be consistent with the infinite perfect Truth that must be God's shadow on the universe?
How can the angels be greater beings than man, when man's physicality and spirituality avails him more perfect communion with all the persons of God?
In what sense can free will be free, in the face of God's perfect knowledge?
How can Man, composed of God, exist in Hell? How can Hell exist when God is infinite Hope?
Unlike Luther, I post them not to challenge the Church, but myself.
Tuesday, June 07, 2005
The Glienicker Bridge, Part I
The world was on a collision course with secularism at the turn of the 20th century, although from their Victorian vantage they had not the benefit of hindsight to warn them, nor perhaps the philosophical tools necessary to combat the disease. The ideas of science, sketched by Galileo, firmed by Newton, described a clockwork world where beauty and art were epiphenomena waiting for a sufficiently informed examination to explain. This was the age of the quantifiers, the analyzers. Dante was dead and buried, and even the lusty anguish of Byron was fading. All was to be replaced by the perfectibility of Man.
But there were frayed edges at the fringes of physics. One of these was the problem of light. What exactly was it? A seemingly innocuous question, but one that was to spawn a rift in science that has still not been mended.
There were two camps. One said light was a mass of particles, like a quadrillion ball bearings flying out in all directions. After all, you could fire short bursts of high energy X-ray light using a slit in a thin metal plate to focus them, and punch holes in a target beyond. You could put an object in the way of the beam, and see the shadow cast against the plate where the little balls of light were blocked.
But there was another set of experiments that had a very different thing to say. These physicists said that light was a wave, a projection of force only, that traveled through the ether, the hypothetical medium of the universe, like a swell traveling through the ocean. (A wave does not move forward particles, per se, but rather uses particles to carry energy forward. The buoy bobs up and down and remains, even though the energy wave continues on toward shore.) And they had their own set of experiments that proved they were right. They could fire light at a metal leaf with two slits, and the light would propagate on the other side of the slits just like a wave did, in concentric rings of energy that would interact with each other like the ripples in a swimming pool. If light were a particle, like their competitors said, how could it ripple outward from a slit?
So here is the problem. One slit to pass through, and the light acts as a particle. Two slits, and it acts as a wave. So what is it?
And Einstein spoke, and he said it is both. It is all particle and all wave. A wavicle. Two natures in one, each fully formed and complete. (Who was that figure I just glimpsed out of the corner of my eye? And those fingerprints, always the fingerprints.)
This was one of his minor achievements, the major one being a little thing called the Special Theory of Relativity, which seemed poised to once and for all complete the work of Newton and Galileo. Science was near to answering everything, explaining all. It was left to future scientists to merely fill in the occasional blank where they found it. Einstein had created the mathematical and conceptual tools to understand the very turning of the spheres. He had peered into the mind of God.
And while Europe simmered and waited to explode into the senseless death of The Great War, right-thinking men contemplated the coming utopia in the Golden Age.
But, of course, not only the events of the time were conspiring against the hubris of day; the conflict was formed into the very fabric of the universe. There was a problem with the clockwork world, in the form of a little black box. The universe had thrown a wrench into the grand classical plan of the mechanical universe, and it was to cleave human knowledge.
A blackbody is a theoretical construct, an imaginary solid that is perfectly absorbtive and emittive. The idea is that you heat the blackbody up, and construct a thought experiment to describe its properties and its behavior. How will the blackbody radiate? Which frequencies and energies will it emit?
The answer was shocking. Because no matter how many times physicists did the math, they came to the same conclusion-- if you put energy into the blackbody, the classical world said it would radiate an infinite amount of energy back. One in, infinite out. Two in, infinite out.
The impossible conclusion had to be met with a theoretical construct that could balance energy in with energy out. And from this came the theories of the quantum physicists.
The world is not driven by gears and escapements, they said, but by probabilities and chance-- and most of all by quanta, the irreducible Ones. No infinite amount of energy could emit from the blackbody, because there were not an infinite combination of energies to emit-- only certain ones, discreet, finite.
And they saw that the light that Einstein had so brilliantly described was more mysterious than even his conclusion of duality. No, the light of the quantum physicists was neither particle nor wave, but merely appeared to be-- an almost-thing with only the properties-- but not the actuality-- that Einstein described. So unreal was this thing that it could never really be measured properly. The more you determined where it was, the less you knew about its energy. And the more you focused on its energy, the less you could know where it was. And this uncertainty wasn't the fault of your instruments; it was a basic property of the universe itself.
By the time the quantum physicists had laid out their arguments, the smooth continuity of reality had been chopped into staccato irreducible bits of Planck time. The hard pit of Bohr's atom was transformed into a fuzzy ball of almost-there. Things were no longer things, they were potentialities, probabilities, chances.
So on the one hand was Einstein-- with a theory affirmatively tested to the thousandth of billionth of a meter-- which said that God's firm hand brought order and law and Justice to the universe. God did not play dice.
And on the other, the quanta-- which experiments have demonstrated to accuracies even surpassing those of relativity-- which proposed chance and mystery and shadows. God's loving breath of Mercy?
The entire thrust of theoretical physics is to reconcile these two mutually exclusive ideas, but as of yet, they each continue to prove themselves correct-- and the other impossible.
And like the theories, the Twentieth Century became the battlefield of Reason vs. Mystery, Science vs. Religion, as Man tried vainly to force his newfound 'perfection' upon his imperfect frame.
And for every piece of science that lifted man up, there would be a eugenics to become genocide.
So where is God hiding? Is He the divine watchmaker of Einstein? Should we scratch our beards and detachedly appreciate our distant, perfect God? Or is he collapsing the cloud of superposition around each subatomic particle, so intimately connected to the universe that his presence controls every flip of every coin?
I'll consider the question in Part II.
Friday, April 22, 2005
On Science, Supersymmetry, and the Holy Trinity
The beginning of this study is the acknowlegement that the world must be what it is, there is no other world that God would have created. This is not to fall into the heresy of determinism, for God is not limited to the creation of this world in any sense other than that his Perfect Justice emanates a world that is perfectly suited for his purposes. This does not straightjacket God, but is rather a free choice (if that earthly term can have any meaning other than as an analogue) of the Divine Being to fulfill his perfection in physical form. As I tell my daughter, anything that you see here that doesn't make sense means that you need to look harder, for it all must be perfectly beautiful to God, completely with God, for divine Justice to blossom.
Because creation contains within it a complete Truth about the nature of God (a complete truth, not the complete truth, again in the sense of the shadow containing a complete truth about that which casts it), scientific study serves not merely to advance the physical comforts of man through understanding and technology, but those inquiries must necessarily reveal some deeper reality of the complexity of God's nature.
It is with this in mind that I approach the mystery of the Trinity. One God, three divine persons, wholly one, and yet each individual. God wishes us to contemplate Him, and see fully the Holy Trinity in that limited way which is possible through human understanding. Science offers avatars.
Symmetry exists throughout nature. Humans are symmetrical left to right, starfish radially. Myriad symmetries exist within the physical world, which are everpresent to the eye. The contemplation of string theory, however, uses the concept of supersymmetries, symmetries which cannot be experienced directly, but must be arrived at mathematically in order to be seen. They exist in dimensions above the three to which our mortal eyes are privy. Here is a relatively elementary discussion of supersymmetry (which means it is unbelievably complex). The basic concept, however, is that the substances of which we are created only seem to be distinct particles because of our limited way of looking at them. Through mathematics, they can be examined from a point of view unavailable in the physical world, and seen to be different views of the same object.
For example, look at the pictures below:
They are three different shapes. A triangle, a rounded rectangle, and the infinity sign. But look again, below, when I show you the object, and not its shadows:
All three are separate shadows, distinct in their true shape, their true essence, individual in every way. And yet seeing not the shadow, but the object, we discover that they are one. This does not diminish the truth of the shadows, for in this example, the shadows are the physical reality of the three persons of the Trinity*, whereas the object is the fullness of God's Perfect Being.
Another analogue would be the physical forces. We know electricity powers our computer, and magnetic forces store data on our hard drives, but these separate entities are really just emergent properties from the cooling of a higher order unified force, electromagnetic. When sufficiently excited, electricity and magnetism recombine from the states which they have crystallized into. Even when cool, they interact and relate, though they are separate and distinct. In the current state of physics, forces can be sufficiently excited to incorporate two other forces, the weak and strong nuclear forces, creating a four-part unification (I wonder if the Trinity is the limit of God's persons, or if more than three persons exist beyond that which has been revealed... hmmm.)
Well, anyway, such is the boundary of where my current thinking on this subject has reached. Off to the contemplation cave!
*This is where a theologian would help. I have not been able to determine if the three persons of the Trinity must necessarily exist as what we would call separate beings within the context of the fullness of God's completeness. In other words, when in heaven, when the full beatific vision is revealed, does the concept of the Trinity dissolve, in some way, because the higher, supersymmetric truth can be conceived and the shadows of the three persons are seen, but seen within the context of the whole, or does the individuality of the persons of the Trinity remain. The two options are certainly not exhaustive, and the distinction is exceeding slight, but it certainly offers many years of contemplative excitement!
Thursday, April 07, 2005
It Depends on What the Meaning of 'Is' is
It started with my wife, who had encountered a group of kids in a church group who stated affirmatively that “scientific testing of the Eucharist revealed cardiac tissue in the consecrated Host.” Bypassing the obvious question of scandal in producing His Body Blood Soul and Divinity for scientific testing, I suspect the children took stories such as this, and did a bit of their own ‘transubstantiation.’
So what, asked my wife, is the full teaching of the Church in regards to the doctrine of Transubstantiation?
The Council of Trent stated:
By the consecration of the bread and of the wine a conversion is made of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the Body of Christ our Lord, and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of His Blood; which conversion is by the holy Catholic Church suitably and properly called transubstantiation.
The Church teaches that two forms of transformation are possible in the physical world, that of accident and that of substance. The accidental transformation is not one of misfortune; rather it refers to the physical change; the water at Cana pouring forth suddenly as wine. But here, too, is the substantial change at work. For not only have the physical properties of the water changed to wine, but it is also no longer the liquid called water, but now the liquid called wine.
The “miracle” of the Eucharist has always seemed to me a rather harmless quirk of the Church, and certainly has been the source of many a raised eyebrow even among other Christians. But the subtle power of the logic burrowed deep.
So what is ‘Is’? Descartes wondered how much of himself he could cut away and still be himself. We scienticians suspect foggily that ‘Is’ is an emergent phenomenon, a glorious adaptation that our massively parallel minds can float like a dust mote through air lighter than itself. We observe sufficient classes of patterns, and those patterns form a concept, and when sufficient data enter through our senses to trigger a threshold cascade, we call the thing a desk, or a chair, or an amphora of wine because it fits well enough for hunting the conceptual creation of desk or chair or amphora.
So if the edges of definition get blurry sometimes, it is only because ‘Is’ is only an illusion, an artifact of needing to identify things more efficiently than specifically so as to expedite the killing and the eating portion of the festivities.
But what the Eucharist tells us is not that Adam created the definition of Tiger when he looked at the four legged eater with stripes, but rather he gave a human name to that which had already been secretly named by God. The Tiger by any earthly name is in its very essence a tiger by virtue of God’s creation. God is the investor of substance. When we bake bread for consecration, it is bread not because we have named it so, or because we identify it as such, but because God has allowed its essence to become that of bread.
We discover the essence by use of the senses—does it smell like bread, look like bread, taste like bread? But these properties are not its true nature, rather they are only clues into its deeper reality. We know it is bread because we see its physicality, but God knows it is bread because He sees what it IS.
The soul, then, becomes not the semi-transparent avatar that rises from deceased cartoon characters, an otherness dwelling inside, but instead the IS that God sees when He looks at us. [ed.-- would this concept naturally require the resurrection of the body, as the carrier for the IS? Grain for another post. Must get to the mill…]
The miracle of the Eucharist seems no longer difficult. God has breathed life into each thing, and knows its secret name. He knows what everything IS. Through the transubstantiation, he changes what bread and wine IS, into something else. Sure, we see the bread and wine, we smell the bread and wine, we taste the bread and wine (figurative we—the atheist hasn’t scandalized the Holy Host!), but God has passed his hand over the altar and now the-thing-that-was--is-no-longer. And if God knows that it IS Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, how is that theologically difficult?
If His breath gave everything substance to begin with, how can it not change anything at will?
Friday, March 18, 2005
The Cult of the Soul Eaters, Part I
Yes, it is obvious hyperbole, and, as always, I roll my eyes'there you go again'and yet feel a vague unease, as if there is more to the statement than its stated meaning. As if it is more than just a lie to serve the immediate ends. His statement has a quality of violence to it. A violence against Truth.
And then like a great unrolling, spread before me is the epiphany.
I would call the actions of Michael Schaivo, Felos and Greer reminiscent of the horrors of Nazi Germany-- for what more clearly in our popular consciousness represents an ideology that would starve a woman to death? But of course I have heard such accusations somewhere before. For years, in fact, spewed at our side. And rendered meaningless through repetition. Until Nazi and Hitler and Gestapo no longer mean anything but merely 'those with whom I disagree.' And my voice has been ripped from my throatfor once, I want to cry out NAZI but I am late to the party, it has already lost all meaning. I want to cry out GENOCIDE but what has that become? When Darfur isn't, but Iraq is?
They read well, when they were assigned Orwell. But like Alex de Large, they were rooting for the wrong side, Pilate instead of Magdalene. So it's not just the newspeak of 'African American' or 'Founding Framers' or 'Undocumented Immigrant' that we let them impose on us with a bit of unvoiced outrage, and then a sort of parental roll of the eyes, but, oh well, I suppose we can put up with this foolishness until they grow out of it. No, here we are when we need our intellectual weaponry, our words and meanings and truths, and we have been outflanked by an epistemological attack on a massive scale. From every outlet, from every mouth, spews the Great Lie. And it is repeated over and over ad infinitum.
A woman whose eyes see and mouth wails is brain dead.
A war that we fought after 12 years and 17 resolutions for 5 reasons was naked aggression based on a single premise that was a lie.
A baby isn't a baby, and even if it is, it doesn't matter.
The latest murder and the newest celebrity are more important than a million Lebanese patriots in the streets.
Truth is only a concept.
Believing in God makes you a tyrant, but believing only in yourself makes you... nuanced.
We who passionately believe in things are less capable of just reasoning than those who, as a matter of principal, refuse to resolve anything.
If we wish to save a life, we are killers. If we wish to free a people, we are imperialists. If we wish to save ourselves, we are ravenous beasts.
Like all men of good faith, I try to remember my Greek. Hubris, the man killer. I listen to my enemies and try not to become what I despise in them. So when they deign to judge all Republicans as enemies, who don't have a different agenda, but an evil one, I jot a note in the journal...'Remember not to call political opponents evil.' For they are calling me evil, and I have first hand evidence of the fallacy of that statement. So, as a man of reason, I suspect that if they can mistake my goodwill for evil, perhaps I am doing the same.
And so they have inoculated themselves against me. I will not call them evil or I fear I will have fallen into the same logical trap. But I have sidestepped the pit only to walk into the snare.
It has been rightly called projection, that they look into their own hearts and try to understand us in terms that are familiar to them. But it is also protection. They have robbed me of my righteous judgment.
Intelligent design theory says that there could not be such physical complexity in this world without a designer. That no possible set of random occurrences could result in the symphonic orchestration of even the tiniest microbe. Tut, tut, say I. Why not? Why in the brief flame of man's existence should we have insight enough to declare the universe this way or that? So I remain unconvinced, an Evolutionist and an Atheist.
But I always follow the evidence, no matter what road it takes. How does Occam explain the concerted distortions of the left? The layers of malicious efficacy. The soul-eating evil (and circular secular language has no tortured verbiage with such succinctly effective meaning as evil).
Is it possible, behind the grand symphony of their lies, their hatred of faith, their worship of death, that there is a silhoutted figure directing with bony clawed fingers what can only be chillingly described as intelligent design?
Wednesday, March 09, 2005
The Black Pit of the Human Heart
That explanation seems me as insufficient to encapsulate the true difference in world view. I believe, instead, that the true fundamental difference of outlook is far more ironic. The secular left believes paradoxically that mankind, although an essentially material being, is nonetheless free of his materialism via the intellect, a blank slate capable of infinite flexibility of being if only cocooned in the proper social structure. Thus if only trained, contained, and constrained properly, the great Utopia can be achieved.
Conversely, and equally as paradoxical, the right believes man, though made real by the breath of God, and hence a creature whose metaphysical reality is much more emphatically spirit than soil, is yet a creature whose essential nature is fundamentally staid, concrete, and immutable.
So the left, far from believing in the good of all men, rather puts faith in the programmability of all men-- it is not the men who are good, but the programmer (as long as they get to decide who writes the code). Mankind is potentially good because of the collective utopia that will be poured forth into the waiting clay pots. War and punishment is not necessary because the man can be rearranged.
The right, on the other hand, sees man as Cain, wandering the earth marked with the stain of his sin, unable to be redeemed until the enveloping arms of Death pull long sleeves of darkness around his cold, lifeless form. There is no utopia for this man, only the rule of law to rein in his base desires. And when he flies wicked over the world, he is to be brought down by force of arms, because it is not the context that has made him a tyrant, but the black pit in his own heart. A heart that cannot be turned by others, only stopped.
Which view of man is true?
If man is a vessel for context, then every totalitarian state should be a shining example to the world. Utopias designed with the acumen of planned communities. Yes, behind gates, but what nicely manicured yards of color-coordinated perfection.
But if man is sinner, then what would happen if this untamed feral beast were to run loose in Utopia?
Would it cost 100,000,000 lives? History has a comment on this subject.
Tuesday, March 08, 2005
A semantic point
Where our difference lies is that she misunderstands her gut feeling to declare that the US forces would target her. Rather, I suspect her conscience is gently warning her that they should.
Thursday, March 03, 2005
If I have to hear that argument again...
With the recent ruling on "the execution of teenagers" which is actually the ruling on executing adults ten to twenty years after they committed a crime while 16 or 17, a highly useful marker has been created by the Supreme Court in the outing of self-loathing individuals in our society.
For what is the argument over the Supreme Court's role in protecting us from the "tyranny of the majority" but a proxy for the larger question of man in nature and the inherent viability of democracy itself? It seems that anyone who takes a stand on this decision tips their hand -- the two camps are those that oppose the decision, who trust that the will of the people is best able to define justice, and those that support it, who believe that the will of the people is inherently suspect, brutish and cruel (although these same people don't seem to note the delicious irony that they, too, are people, and seem to trust their own will).
So what is the historical precedent for this feverish fear of majority decisions? Let's take America's most notorious example: slavery. Slavery, which a majority compromise rendered legal. Slavery which chained millions in bondage while salon conversation presented point and counterpoint. Tyranny, yes, stipulated. But a tyranny that drove deep wedges and cracks in this nation, with results of such violent retribution that no war in our history has equalled its penitential blood spilled.
Is history itself not an argument for the essentially self-correcting nature of democratic republics? Did slavery cease to exist when we would have liked? No. But neither has poverty, nor dictatorship, nor even gravity when it is not particularly in keeping with our desires not to hit the ground hard. The antebellum Supreme Court, which, self-annointed, delivers us from all evil, did not even side with the slaves. Yet we are now supposed to smugly smirk self-satisfied that the erudite intellect of five black-robed tyrants has protected us from our baser selves.
So no, I don't favor Brown. And no, don't believe that "black's would still be segregated" if not for the Court. We want change today -- now -- instantaneously, but the forge of history strikes its hammer slowly -- there are 561 years between June 15, 1215 and July 4, 1776. Five and a half centuries to tear down a king. And there are those that would give every ounce of his power back just to get their way today instead of tommorrow.
I for one would rather hold a rifle high above my head and let those who would lord over me know that I am an American, struck in the land of freedom. Through my blood runs the inheritance of patriots and martyrs. Untested though I am, if called, I will serve. I won't sell the terrible, terrifying uncertain adventure of self-determination for the fat, greasy comfort of a european entitlement cheque.
You'll take my liberty from me out of my cold, dead hands.
Friday, February 25, 2005
Not that kind of funny.
Not ever again.
The paper in the typewriter may have been blank. But what no one noticed was that he had written in blood the eulogy for Jacques Derrida.
Touching the eternal
Friday, February 04, 2005
A Yabba-Dabba Honeymoon
W's political prescience seems almost otherworldly, and it does beg the question, 'Can he really be as spot-on as he seems?' I am almost tempted to subscribe to the tin-foil hat of the month club and ascribe to Rove the powers of Nostradamus or Delphi.
The Democrats have positioned themselves for a fight on Social Security reform, and clearly, in the ramp up to the SOTU address, were waiting with long knives to jump on whatever sweeping proposal Bushitler tried to foist on the country. But like Manolote, W has swept away his cape and the Democrats have found air where they expected flesh.
What to do if they will attack in detail any proposal you suggest? Suggest almost nothing. Define the problem, set boundaries, and then task congress with doing its job. It leaves the opposition with nothing to attack but the idea itself. An already idealess party can only say 'there is no problem' because Bush has not given them anything to skewer.
The brilliance is that even if there is no problem (which I am not suggesting!), the very fact that the Republicans will move forward with debate and proposals will create the impression that a problem exists. The democrats can only keep up their denial for so long. They will have to change tack, and the only possible course correction is to submit a plan of their own. Which can not hope to pass. Which will inspire competing plans among Dems. Which gives cover to the red state Dems to side with the majority.
How does he do it?
Monday, October 25, 2004
Calling all Republican Spokespeople
THIS STORY HAS ABSOLUTELY NO TRACTION!!!!
Because Democrats have absolutely no compunction about lying, there will be forty nine different explanations, rebuttals, and counter-strikes which will all end with “and Bush refuses to admit a mistake.” Eventually, even within the scant media outlets that will bother to report this, everyone will get to confused about who said what to whom and when, and the whole story will die as just another ‘he said, she said’. (Between Republicans and Democrats, that means ‘he said’ with accompanying signed affidavits, corroborating witnesses, and a mountain of documentary evidence, while ‘she said’ is that everyone knows the accusations were found to be completely false and can’t we talk some more about Bush never admitting a mistake.)
But the real cautionary note in this story, is that like all great damning stories about Kerry, our evil opposition simply plays their other card: a bigger story.
We will not hear about Kerry’s—the only way to describe it is frightening—psychosis, because instead we will hear a steady drumbeat of the lost munitions. I just saw on Fox a Republican spokesman asked a direct question about the president’s responsibility for the missing explosives, and instead of answering, he dissembled. UGH! What are we, Democrats?
For what its worth, here is a proper response:
How do you respond to the charges that instead of keeping
Well first of all, I’m not going to respond to the question based on what amounts to a very narrow set-up created by the New York Times slanted view of the world. It’s been clear where the New York Times’ sympathies lie for some time, and it’s clearly not with an American victory in
That said, losing track of these munitions is absolutely a setback. We are extremely troubled by anything that puts our soldiers and the American people at risk. But after 9/11, we have only two choices: are we going to act, seek out and fight the terror cult that seeks the destruction of our way of life, or shrink and hide and wait for them to seek us. In the end, every nuanced suggestion boils down to one of the two choices.
Unfortunately, this administration did not have the luxury of designing the world to its liking before taking office. As much as the Democrats believe that every aspect of every problem can be controlled if only we shove more money, more troops, more allies at it, but I think most Americans understand from their own lives, that ultimately, there is only so much we can do. We take what we’re given, and we do the best we can. We’ve been fighting poverty for forty years, and there are still just as many poor people as ever. Are we to recriminate ourselves because we tried?
In Senator Kerry’s world of hindsight, its easy to be perfect. On the floor of the Senate, you can go on and on for as long as you like, and no one will every stop you from talking. In fact, you don’t even need to show up and you still get paid. When you live in a world of rhetoric and debate, you don’t have to make the tough decisions of a leader. He has said that he would have captured Osama Bin Laden at Tora Bora by using roughly the same techniques that got the Soviets bogged down in Afghanistan for ten years, he would have deposed Saddam using the same diplomacy and sanctions that had failed to do so for twelve years, his administration would even make Christopher Reeve rise from his wheelchair and walk.
President Bush sets the goals, and believes in giving his commanders on the ground the freedom to act in the way they see fit. He won’t micromanage the war, nor should he. And he’ll defend their decisions because he knows that every decision is made in the real world, without the 20/20 reflection that benefits Senator Kerry’s every pronouncement. Unlike the Senator, our commanders on the ground have to live with their decisions, they can’t just change their minds and make every past pronouncement go away.
Should we have protected the
Listen, the effort is
It is fight, or cower.
Win, or surrender.
Unite, or perish.
Tuesday, October 19, 2004
Why I am voting for Bush
One of my earliest memories is waking from a night terror, my heart racing, and being totally, mortally afraid of Death. In the all consuming way that only a child--helpless, dependant, ignorant-- can be afraid, I remember calling out from that terror to the accepting arms of God, and like a cold bucket of water I realized suddenly that there was no god, and that I had never once believed. The realization was so intense, it shocked me out of the terror, and I lay dumbfounded, exploring not the implications but merely the sensation of my revelation.
I never lost the gnawing fear of death, the urgent sense that somehow I must do something to carve my name into the bark of history or ... or what? That was the existential question I never seem to get around to answering. Like John Galt, I became an end to myself, not for aristippian pleasures, but for devotion to a stoic creed, one that evolved in particulars throughout life, but retained as its lodestar the flag of existence planted atop some
In other words, I was a coward.
There was no fight from which I wouldn’t squirm away. No principle high enough to override my desires. The justification was always the same, whether stated or mute, comprehended or ignored: I must continue. I must be satisfied. I cannot deny myself or I may never have the chance at the experience again.
There is a cost for such an existence, and it is a gnawing twisting something that never goes away. It sits in the gut and occasionally rises to the chest, and averts your eyes when they look in a place the something doesn’t want you to see. Was it the devil, or my conscience, or are those just ways of talking about something that is merely humanness?
Regardless, I gave the dull discomfort a name: sophistication.
My tactic evolved quickly. I was right, always, and anyone that disagreed with me was not only wrong, but defective in some way, stupid, incapable of reason because they could not, would not, persist over the burn in their belly. They had yielded to the instinct and become simple animals—religious animals. I held the incompatible positions of my beliefs as a badge of honor. To support the killing of a baby inside the womb up to the moment of birth, I constructed elaborate intellectual defenses, and named the resulting revulsion I felt STRENGTH. I gave a name to the disdain I felt for my uninformed countryman: SUPERIORITY. And to all the questions I could not answer, and the logical fallacies that made everything nothing and nothing everything, my pride in juggling complexity and irresolution and nuance, I gave the name GENIUS.
Genius is an interesting word to a liberal. To those who believe in God, I can only suggest the possible translation as saint. Intellect is a god to those who have none. It is why debates are so important. Nuance. Refinement. Sophistication. Yet it is a strange thing that liberals don’t seem to notice what qualifies one as a true genius, and it was a discovery that helped bring me back to reason.
Galileo took a world where everything everywhere fell in its own way based on its own nature, swept it away and left one law in its place.
Kepler took gears and spheres and retrograde disks and smashed them with the power of an equation.
Einstein is not remembered because he remarked on how complicated the universe was, but how simple.
Genius is the understanding that nothing true is complicated.
Understanding is simple. Ignorance is complex.
Truth is simple. Lies are complex.
Honor is simple. Cowardice is complex.
I have been to the outskirts of the place where the Kerrys of the world reside, and it is an empty wasteland. On a barren plain, they sit under tattered silk umbrellas and drink sickly sweet cocktails that turn stale in their mouths once imbibed. They do not know life because they fear death. They are misers with each moment.
I you want to know why I’m going to vote for George Bush, it is because I am no longer a coward. I am no longer afraid to die—I am ready for it. As a husband and a father, I know where my duty lies. I am to provide, to protect, and when my time comes, I am here to die that my family may live. Everything else in life is sweet unearned but well received pleasure; but I am still here only for my grim honorable purpose.
Its all very simple. I have learned to trust the simple man. Inside myself. And in my President.
Monday, October 18, 2004
In defense of War for Oil
America believes military power should be exerted whenever it becomes interesting for our economic or political gains.One of the most reprehensible things about the left, and what perhaps offers a glimpse into the core of their rotting fruit, is the disdain for economic gains. To Jimmy, it is impossible for moral good to be achieved when economic good is also at stake.
The leftists (who disdain "labels" such as liberal) are, of course, the great phylists, generating from the near inscrutible high-level interactions of human beings myriad classes with which to catagorize and subdivide behavior, race, economic level, etc. They are dualists with a difference-- myriadists, polyists, infinitists. But at the core of separating one's nature from itself is a disease which infects them, they cannot reassemble, cannot identify that a higher-level whole exists that is greater than its sum. Though claiming no allegiance to right or wrong, they are still tethered by that unfortunate ligament that ties them to all humanity-- they JUDGE. So in examining their own multicotomy, when economic gain is realized (or really, any benefit at all), they cannot help but suspect that the scale has tilted away from justice.
It is infortunate that it has gotten this far. In fact, the bible says that the love of money is the root of all evil, not the money itself. For what is money, but a distilled brandy of sweat and achievement, bottled and shelved, to be sipped at some later date? The bible calls not for us to eschew the drink, but instead refrain from objectifying it, because money is in a way sacred. It is Time, Effort -- Life -- that can be held in a billfold. It is to love the thing, the money as an end to itself, and not the man and the act of creation of wealth, that is the sin.
It can be a sin to love one's wife if she is the object of base desire, if coitus is not a unitive act but a parasitic one. Money transactions should be similarly unitive. Two free agents mutually agreeing to trade one chunk of lifetime for another, to mutual benefit.
Economic morality, when acknowledged and celebrated, frees one to explore more straightforward "moral good" without the spectre of some gnawing shame of benefit.
That leftists routinely deride greedy, immoral capitalists reveals more about them than their accused.