Trump is My Doing

We all knew that the fix was in for Hillary, over on that side (poor Bernie!): she’s been siphoning money from corporate America and the world’s glitterati to bribe as many of her party’s potentates so that she could finally make a legitimate run for the top administrative post in the land, without any upstart usurpers from Illinois, the most corrupt state in the Union.

But what to do about the other side? The early 2010s showed a disturbing tendency towards earnest patriotism over there: Tea Party, Libertarians, and outright Conservatives. Dear God!

I fixed it in my heart, and it has been the soul of my mind ever since, that the Millennials would not inherit anything in the way of a functioning government or society, not if I had anything to say about it.

Now, I know that there are rational theories and punditry theories, even wonderful conspiracy theories to explain Trump’s provenance, my favorite being that every time a Clinton makes a play for the presidency, a kooky billionaire shows up to run interference against the GOP and split the populist vote from the conservative vote. Nice try, conspiracy theorists.

No, it’s much easier than that: I produced Trump. It wasn’t that hard to do, really, and any megalomaniac would have done. The real genius was in picking Trump, having him tell absolute whoppers that not even children would believe, lies of a disturbing pathology, and having him demonstrate reasoning of the most tortuous depravity, but also having him who was born of USA’s toilet, Manhattan, pass himself off as Middle America.

I drank a lot of scotch Tuesday night, celebrating what I had done.

If Generation X is going to be the perpetual Middle Child of America, the Meh Generation pinned between the Me Generation and the Millennials, then it is obvious that we’re going to be passed over for our turn at leadership, with the inevitable doom of becoming the Fredo of America, the World’s Cosa Nostra. Why not do what we can to sabotage little brother, whose mind is bent toward pulling the strings with so many time-series graphs? Why leave them with a trajectory leftward or rightward when we can leave them with higgledy-piggledy?

So, yes, Millennials, Trump is a gift from me, personally, to you, to bring you the rot of the greediest, most immoral, undisciplined, perpetually adolescent generation in the history of mankind–to bring that filth, which we grew up in, right into your nice, clean policy advocacy, designed especially by your sterile, unemotional robots, controlled by nearly perfect, lightning-fast algorithms. You think you’re so smart: fix this, why don’t you?

Heh.

Heh heh.

Heh heh heh heh heh..

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The Arc of Cataclysm

Adam brushes off the present breaking of one of the Great Seals of the Apocalypse, writing, in effect, “Meh, we might be doomed, but we’re not that doomed, and we have no idea of knowing how or when our doom will befall us.” After presenting a couple of helpful and comforting metaphors, he likens our present condition, under the avenging thumb of Obama and faced with the choice of leadership between the Power Monger and the Buffoon, to that of Rome, which was always breaking apart, but did not ever do so, not until she finally fell.

If we actually fall, he intimates, it will be a historical anomaly: see how Rome swayed and cracked before she capitulated! See how she prospered and grew nevertheless!

When I recently plied the same tired saw as many have before me, namely that Gibbon, Jr. will also liken the impending doom of America to that of Rome, hoots and catcalls were tweeted my way to the same effect as Adam here comforts; more than that: look at the enduring influence of Rome even to this very day! Sarcasm wafted into my nostrils like so much sophomoric filth: what a horrible fate, to dominate the world for two thousand years!

Here I must hold up my hand in protest: shall we make distinctions? It is not likely that, while Alaric was laying siege to and finally sacking the city of Rome, the denizens therein comforted each other with the knowledge that they were only part of a process, the decay half of inevitable renewal. No, indeed, the three sieges of the Visigoths, the toppling of the Eternal City and many of its institutions, the ten-year brutality of their bloodthirsty presence, and the World War II body count brought the chaos to Europe which a single generation later yielded to Attila the Hun’s invasion.

So, yes, the ruins of the Roman Empire still smolder to our benefit.

It is an article of faith, because America has already been so tested, and the institutions of the West are laid on such massive foundations, that no violence of such magnitude will come to bring us to a similar state of renewal.

 

Religious Recursion

It does annoy me, on occasion, before I catch myself and remember that the whole Christian project is a project of open futility–

About that: the Second Sunday of Easter is always Doubting Thomas Sunday, so doubt is much on my mind, being a fervent believer, liturgically speaking, meditating on the elements of my faith, which is something else, at my age, having lived through the emergence of a culture which was mostly Christian into one which is mostly not, especially up here in Western New York and the Niagara Peninsula of Ontario. Doubt, right? It’s essential to the Faith.

They were upstairs, behind locked doors, afraid, those Eleven who were with him from the very beginning, and they all saw him die. Thomas, called “The Twin,” puffs his chest out, saying, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”

Well, Thomas, can’t you do that to a corpse?

Strange things.

I don’t understand the intellectual hostility to Christianity, especially when people I consider friends publicly wish there were fewer of me, less of my influence in life and culture. Why? Because there are bad Christians? And the half-baked dismissal of the fervent, you know, glib high school angry atheist stuff, always as an aside, never as a grown-up inquiry into this two thousand year old faith with a billion adherents, and growing (despite Europe and North America), which has roots in a strange Ancient Near Eastern blood cult another two thousand years hence.

The Christian project is a project of open futility, though, and I have to remind myself of that.

Nevertheless, I do take a little pleasure in some of the materialist investigations into the Faith, first transforming Christianity into a “religion,” which is a neat intellectual move, making the Faith, which dominates the life and culture of Western Civilization, indistinguishable from shamanistic druidic magicka, only distinguishing by time elapsed. When the materialists talk about ritual, ignoring my own call for distinctions within these hallowed halls

Remember, the Christian Faith is in defiance of ritual and religion. When Christianity develops rituals, it’s always a threat to itself.

This behavior of the materialists, all of them together, namely, wishing there were fewer of me, reducing my beliefs into a primordial pool of beliefs, and talking about my rites and rituals without making proper distinctions, creates in me a sense that a kind of recursion is going on:

The materialist sees the Christian, and comments. The Christian sees the materialist commenting, and comments. The materialist sees the Christian commenting on the comment, and so forth. To me, it’s like one of those wonderfully absurd Monty Python sketches:

Scene: Lower middle-class apartment, evening, husband sitting in comfortable chair reading The Times, wife making efforts at wifely cleaning. Two men appear in the window, dressed in safari clothing, writing in notebooks.

Wife: Herman, they’re watching us again!

Herman: Who are, Margret?

Margret: The Materialists.

Herman: Oh, that’s all right, dear, they’re just researching.

Margret: Researching?

Herman: That’s right, Margret; they’ve come from a long way away just to learn about our behavior in the wild instead of in captivity.

Laugh track

Margret: Well, I don’t like it, not one bit. (closes curtains. The materialist safari move to the other window)

Laugh track

Margret: They won’t go away, Herman!

Herman: Of course not, dear, they’re Materialists.

Laugh track

Herman: Ask them what they want, and maybe they’ll go away.

Margret: What do you want?

Materialists don’t answer. Whisper to each other, writing in notebooks.

Margret: They don’t think we can see them.

Laugh track

Herman: Do what?

Margret: They don’t think we can see them.

Herman: Well, what are they talking about?

Margret: Normativity.

Herman: Normativity? Did you hand them a copy of Proverbs?

Margret: I told you, they don’t think we can see them.

And so forth. The laugh track is to my advantage, but you, O Materialist, have the last laugh, the true laugh.

The whole project of the Christian Faith is a project of open futility, and it is actually encoded in the Faith. Saint Paul–excuse me–the Apostle Paul, after fifteen chapters on the wisdom of God putting to shame the wisdom of the world (that would be you materialists) finishes his exposition by saying in his first letter to the Corinthian Christians, “If there is no resurrection of the body, then we are to be pitied more than all men. Send money.”

So, since miracles = impossible (cf. G.E. Lessing), and since the resurrection of the body = a miracle, then, it follows, therefore there is no God.

The materialist has the advantage in an ever-improving society and ever-progressing technology as a result of Science, material proof. The only way for me to prove my faith is for me to become a corpse.

They called Thomas “The Twin” for a reason, you know.

man-in-the-mirror
Image borrowed from http://menfash.us/styling-tips/am-i-really-looking-good/

 

The Appeal of Fascism

Or: It’s Going To Be All Right

When we call Trump a fascist, we mean something bad, but we don’t mean fascism. If you look at it the right way, the numbers are kind of comforting: About 30% of Republican primary voters, in some states, are all in on Trumpscism, or whatever you want to call the Trump brand of fascism. Populascism? I don’t know. It’s such a fun thing to watch, regardless.

The numbers, not too long ago, were much more disturbing, back when everyone went in for fascism, properly speaking; the entire Western world went all-in for fascism, right before all the homosexuals, blacks, Jews, and other undesirables were cleared off the streets and disappeared. The difficult truth about disappearing the undesirables made fascism itself undesirable, so it fell out of favor as a term with the university class. Now fascism is a moniker for something else, a name for the perversion of conservative political doctrine.

We ought to be careful about calling Trump a fascist and a racist, despite the elements of fascism and racism attached to his message and persona, and despite the fact that he’s running in the GOP, which is also the home of conservatives, mainly because that’s an awfully broad brush which covers people who aren’t fascists, while it leaves unpainted actual fascists, who probably don’t have any party affiliation.

When you offer a general population the following planks in a campaign platform: strong national identity, strong central government, (un)willing participation of corporate entities, high taxes paying for universal services, while also demonizing opposition (and even sabotaging the opposition’s efforts), well, you’re going to get some votes. Wiser politicians than Trump have long known how to offer fascism without the nasty side-effect of attracting an openly racist voter bloc, that which is the final plank in the platform known as fascism. Without racism, it’s an appealing political doctrine today, and it held the world in sway, once upon a time, when history was still in black and white.

The conservative argument against the appeal of fascism, whatever its actual name today, is that it can’t really be done without a great deal of disruption. The characteristics necessary to create a leader who will implement that platform is unlikely to produce a leader who will observe the pleasanter traditions of constitutional democracy. Liberal and Leftist pundits will be wise to note that the conservative movement in the United States has vociferously rejected Trump (see National Review), especially where his doctrine (such as it is) overlaps with a properly defined fascism. Those conservative voices in popular media who actually have endorsed Trump are hardly making a conservative case for him–because it’s impossible.

Now, as for the name fascism, and its application to perversions of conservative doctrines: well, it’s a tough cruel world, and conservatives are going to just have to get over it, continuing to argue for free markets, smaller federal governments, the Western canon, inter alia, acknowledging weakness and pointing out strength.

No worries.

The Sting of Science

Some interesting things going on in the world of guilty, not guilty, and innocent, what with its consequences: the accused goes free, or the accused is imprisoned. As far as I understand it, prison, between Johnny Cash concerts, is a rather unpleasant existence, a place which not only punishes evildoers for the purposes of hindering evil being done in the midst of well-doers, but it also dehumanizes.

Convictions based on DNA evidence are being overturned. Another one bites the dust. Throw DNA evidence onto the pile of other courtroom incontrovertibles, along with fingerprints and lie detector tests. Perhaps the ancients were on to something when they said, “Do not establish a charge except by two or three witnesses.” Besides which, all the truly great courtroom dramas are based on the accounts of the witnesses and whose testimony might be trustworthy or how one might piece together the circumstances surrounding the crime: in other words, narrative. These forensic science TV shows, as cool as they might be in their first run, are intolerable in repeats. Columbo endures.

Ah, but science has determined that the science was insecure, susceptible to abuse! We are hereby one step closer to establishing the scientifically failsafe forensic method in criminal justice! A house divided, yada yada yada…

Jurisprudence took a turn, from this layman’s perspective, in those heady days when we were convinced that we could serve justice coldly, removing the fallible human element from murder trials. As public morality splintered (and now that it has disintegrated), triangulating became truly difficult for juries. How can a jury of peers even be established when we are all islands unto ourselves? Thus the task of weighing testimony was sublimated to the task of weighing the evidence.

Evidence is not unimportant, of course, but artifacts have been elevated in the public mind above hot-blooded accounting of hot blood. It’s all so icky, the tears, the blood-curdling descriptions, the hatred, rage, all there on display in a nice, sterile society. For a jury to pass moral judgment in the case of law is asking an awful lot. Juries, then, are witnesses themselves, offering testimony to the jury of editorials and the twitterverse concerning the wherewithal of a society to commit moral judgment. Who is the presiding judge?

More than that, perspective has been polarized, meaning, a witness is either telling the truth or is telling a lie, and only a chasm exists around those two pillars. The TV tells me that good lawyers know how to destroy witness accounts on this basis: if a reliable witness flutters in one detail, then the whole account is invalidated. Alas for measuring and sifting, for dividing and discerning, a lost art in the age of certainty!

Now that science has once again been disbarred from the courtroom, apprehended murderers might get away with murder! Indeed, they probably will for a short time, but we will establish a new evidentiary process to which to sublimate testimony. In the meantime, it will remain true that our prisoners, nearly all of whom are surely guilty, are stacked in cells reaching from beneath the earth up to the sky, and stretching in lines which converge around the compass on every horizon. Look, we say, our prisons are full, and crime is consequently minimized. See how we have hindered evildoing! We are approaching that day when we shall become a completely just society.

 

 

The End of Millennials

As the so-called Greatest Generation takes its place in oblivion, Generation X finds itself as the lone middle child of the generations, sandwiched as the smaller sibling between the Baby Boomers, the worst generation ever, and the Millennials, that great monolithic unseasoned mind.

GenX has assumed a peculiar role, I think, of being divided, divvied up by our parents, being the incarnational byproduct of the Baby Boomers’ willful overthrow of western institutions. On one side of the divide there is a sense of pessimism and doom that the whole western project is failing, and that the Baby Boomers are the primary malefactors in their sucking all the pleasures of civilization unto themselves before they crumple it up and throw it into the dustbin of history, at just about the same time they pass on to sleep with their fathers, leaving us no heritage except for some really great record albums.

On the other side of the divide is this: I was driving my 12-year old son to hockey practice the other day, and I was trying to penetrate his world, which was shielded by his iPod earbuds, and I heard myself saying, almost unconsciously, “So, Tom, what does your generation think?” Thankfully, he didn’t hear me or he would have rolled his eyes, and I would have become infuriated, and both our worlds would have become unpleasant. Nevertheless, I was pleased with the question, for even though this young man hasn’t a thought beyond the latest Minecraft update, or (to be more generous to my own dear progeny) his latest electronics project, he will soon have thoughts beyond those trivial things, and they will be generational.

It is an anxious game GenXers are playing, a Machiavellian one (by the common understanding): with one mouth, we are encouraging the Baby Boomers to remove themselves before their grip on our civilization becomes too morbid to procure its release, saying, “Why, yes, Peter Singer has some wonderful ideas about assisted-suicide. Say, the skin around your eyes does look a touch pallid, doesn’t it? I’ll go fetch the doings, and we’ll be done with you in a jiffy. You’ve lived a good life, now on to better pastures, right?” With the other mouth we are trying to set up a renewed western canon of ideals for our children via the Millennials, saying, “Have you thought to consider that human dignity doesn’t necessarily end when you become so weak that you need the constant care of your family?” Alas, to be the generational Pushmi-Pullyu is exhausting, and it is the essence of futility.

My son, however, is pushing the Millennials, and his generation are of a number, and they will be of a myriad of ideas that they shall press against the Millennials, and the Millennials shall press back, applying unwittingly the idealistic torsion forces which will shatter that infuriating optimism, as ours shattered, and as did the Boomers’ before us, and as it was for every generation whose parents sinned and set the children’s teeth on edge.

And then it shall come to pass that the Millennials will be frustrated in their efforts to progress, more or less, and their contributions to civilization, or to its collapse, will be put into the great crucible, and it will be fired, and the generations will sift through the ashes to find what value there might be.

And so there is hope.

Blessed Are the Meek

After last night’s annual bacchanalia, it was a pleasure to awaken groggily to Samuel Hammond’s delightful celebration of materialism, in which he channels The Preacher, known to many as Ecclesiastes, which tries to translate the Hebrew “Qohelet,” the one who calls the assembly.

It is the godless book of the Bible, disturbing in its nihilism, but it became one of the “little scrolls,” those books which are designated for use by the post-exilic Jews for public reading during their own bacchanals. This 2900 year old book was read aloud during the Feast of Booths, that gargantuan outdoor party celebrating the harvest. In short, while you are totally blitzed on new wine, engorging yourself on the fat of the land, and looking lustily upon one another, as commanded by Moses, The Preacher shouts over the landscape: “Meaningless!”

Consider Sam:

“Status competitions are our main, if not only, source of meaning in the universe.”

and

“So meditate if you have to, but don’t be afraid to day dream a little, too. It may fill you with anxiety, and it definitely won’t make you happy, but later in life you just might find yourself building a spaceship to Mars.”

And The Preacher:

“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going. (Ecclesiastes 9:10 ESV)

Adam Gurri has been pestering me to write a defense of Christianity here in the hallowed halls of Sweet Talk, but I have thus far demurred, being unmotivated to do so in the midst of those who are so certain, but Sam’s stimulating post has evoked a little something irresistible.

If I may categorize (naturally, drawing distinctions simplifies, and the elements of this taxonomy will, in real life, overlap):

There are those who see the world as it is and celebrate it. Thus Samuel Hammond.

There are two classes of those who see the world as it is and mourn over it as broken.

Class One copes, meditating.

Class Two will not cope, continuing to mourn, in the hope for a restoration of what is broken. Christians define this class.

For Christians, the brokenness of the world is best mourned in the body of Christ, who stands crucified, in which Christians participate by means of the mystery of the sacraments.

This mystery is articulated by one Paul, formerly Saul of Tarsus, who persecuted the Body of Christ with all his might until he had a vision of the Crucified One, and he writes about him whom he saw:

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities– all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:15-17 ESV)

It is important here to note a few boundaries. This is not a refutation of the science of evolution, but it is a declaration of pre-eminence, which is offensive. Note carefully that the Christian view of creation is cast not in terms of material manifestation, which Christ says is vapor, but in terms of dominion, rulers, authorities, i.e.,  that rascally elusive normativity.

More than that, since the universe is held together in, with, and under a human body, the material world is transformed into a world of relational interaction. To wit: love the Lord your God with all your heart, and equally (because God is a human in Jesus, and we are in him and he is in us), love your neighbor as yourself.

A rocket-size measuring contest is the epitome of pursuing meaninglessness. Meaningfulness is measured in interpersonal relationships, beginning with the male-female relationship, which perpetuates the species, and also embodies thrones, dominions, rulers, and authorities, beginning at home, which is broken and should be mourned. Normativity dominates; it does not love, nor does it allow for distinction, only ruthless conformity, as evolution teaches: we adapt to strength, not weakness.

The relationship of a man to a woman is hopelessly weak.