Tag Archives: holidays

Christmas and New Year’s Eve 2014: Overview

DO I LOVE CHRISTMAS?  I found myself asking myself that question this year a few times. I do not keep it as well, enjoy it as much or find as much hope as I did in years when I could face the suffering associated with the season differently than I find I can now. But I do love Christmas. I hope I will find a way to love this particular Christmas and so will you whoever you are.

Me in front of a Christmas lights nativity scene shot by one of the proprietors on my phone as I walked into the Donors Dinner.

Me in front of a Christmas lights nativity scene shot by one of the proprietors on my phone as I walked into the Donors Dinner.

There is a lot to post about and yet not the kind of post to write which fills me with drive and inspiration. I believe in Christ and in Christmas. There is no shortage of  joy in which some memories are lit despite the abundance of sorrows and shadows in the past as well. Christmas will always matter and be important to me.

I like the original Charlie Brown Christmas Special which in the most secular reaches of American popular Christmas culture  reaches out with a reading of the Gospel of St. Luke and the Infancy narrative which  so beautifully captures all of the essence of Christmas.  The classic Christmas story is contained in the second chapter of Saint Luke’s Gospel verses two through twenty. It does not seem like so many words for such a big holiday. This first big quote comes from a translation known as the New International Version of the Bible. Later quotes from the other Gospels come from the New American Bible Translation.

The Birth of Jesus

1 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.)3 And everyone went to his own town to register. 4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

The Shepherds and the Angels

8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” 15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” 16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

 

An image showing the basis of all this Christmas celebration.

An image showing the basis of all this Christmas celebration.

To write of Christmas is to write of so very much. To write even of the Christmas Days I remember is surely to write of a subject that could fill a book well enough.  When books are needed I think first and foremost of the Gospels. My heart is still moved by those glad tidings. Not so moved as the  heart ought to be perhaps but moved. What does it mean?  Surely, it means several things but what is the spiritual original context?

The first chapter of the Good News of Jesus Christ According to Saint John tells us:  “In the Beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” After telling a few words of how this mystery operates John assures us that God sent John the Baptist who was not such an eternal being to prepare the way for this Word.  This great mysterious Divine being  had come into Earth and history and is at the heart of the Gospel.  The fourteenth verse gets to the crux of the matter. This being is not a visiting angel or elemental principle, rather:

“And the Word became flesh

And made his dwelling among us,

And we saw his glory,

The glory as of the Father’s only Son,

Full of grace and truth.”

Saint John then is the Evangelist who tells us the most clearly of the Divine Nature of the Christ and how his coming into human flesh through the nature of pregnancy and birth and family brought the Divine and Human into One in Jesus Christ. According to Saint Matthew’s Gospel in the first chapter and eighteenth birth this incarnation of the Divine Word happened in a very specific way:

Now, this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.

When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph,

but before they lived together,

she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.”

Matthew will soon tell us of how Jesus is born in Bethlehem and visited by the Magi. But all of the story of how they got to Bethlehem and how Mary found herself with child by the Holy Spirit are found in Luke’s Gospel.  Luke is really the Christmas Evangelist above all others.  In the first chapter of St. Luke’s Gospel he describes the Angel Gabriel visiting Mary and her conversation  with him as the time when the Holy Spirit was revealed to be coming upon her. Pregnant she visits her cousin Elizabeth the now pregnant  but long barren wife of a priest at the Jerusalem temple.  She stayed there to  help her cousin be helped and to witness the birth of Jesus’s cousin John who is in the early chapters of all four Gospels.  She and Joseph marry after (according to Saint Matthew) angel had instructed him on the nature of the holy child.

I think of all that Christmas is and not only its origins or even its spiritual aspects.

The quotes from the centuries since the  first Noel which appear in this post are previously collected. Some I read in their original context and some I did not but they come from Goodreads, Brainy Quote and Bartlett’s Famous Quotations.  I will also note that my own writings about Christmas in this blog include this year’s offering here and here. Also earlier years led me to write this and this. These last two posts are not all I have written here they are a good enough sample for those inclined to read them.

Most Americans and most residents of Christendom believe Christmas is and should be a very good occasion. Benjamin Franklin stated, “A good conscience is a continual Christmas”. Franklin expected all his audience to think Christmas was a very nice thing to have.  Hope, peace, rest and good food have meant a lot to many people.   On this holiday of well-known practices one can base deeper meaning and higher hopes as Washington Irving wrote “Christmas is a season for kindling the fire for hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart.”  We all want to find a little Christmas we can keep well if we are honest with ourselves. This is most true for Christians but also for to others who catch the scent of the season.

But we also know it is not easy. Not always do we w feel bettered by the season. Sometimes the most we can do is agree with Lake Woebegone writer Garrison Keillor — “A lovely thing about Christmas is that it’s compulsory, like a thunderstorm, and we all go through it together”.

I have run lot of errands and I have bought lots of things on behalf of other people.  I have seen others buying and selling some I think were well enough aware at the  donation boxes for toy drives, Salvation Army kettles and in dealing with lines and hassles that they did not want the holiday to make them too selfish or too materialistic. They and I were aware of the idea in the classic children’s Christmas story.

“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

Even those more interested in Chanukah or Chinese New Year could know that whatever Christmas they kept should be a bit real.  Without having heard it they were concerned about Benjamin Franklin’s other famous quote about Christmas: “How many observe Christ’s birthday! How few, His precepts!” We mostly hope there is some real Christmas joy in the homes where we mark the day.

Mom with a Christmas tree in a previous year. Today she is scheduled to buy a tree.

Mom with a Christmas tree in a previous year. Today she is scheduled to buy a tree.

The great novelist who gave us the Christmas Carol was perhaps a conflicted Christian at times but he was a man serious about Christmas. It was Charles Dickens I think who wrote his own vow in Ebenezer Scrooge’s vow “I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.”  We can remember the best we have seen of giving and receiving between families and children. Those things remind us of the best of the shopping part of the holiday.  In our memories too we remember innocent joys of gratitude and wonder from our own dawn of awareness of the holiday. A chronicler of the American frontier and children’s writer Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote: “Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time.”

We all have a sense of how gifts connect and live across generations.

We all have a sense of how gifts connect and live across generations.

 

But we know the shopping for loved ones is not enough. even the toydrives are not enough.  Maraboli is one of many writers who reminds us ot the teaching of the Man we honor as a baby just now. There is more to do:

Want to keep Christ in Christmas? Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, forgive the guilty,

“Want to keep Christ in Christmas? Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, forgive the guilty, welcome the unwanted, care for the ill, love your enemies, and do unto others as you would have done unto you.”

― Steve Maraboli, Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience

 

Christmas is noted by all of us in different ways. None of us perfectly and I do not think parties, drinks and flirting are out of place.  My better Christmases involved more of such things. But let us remember Christmas in all its mysteries.  Merry Christmas to you all.

My niece's early Christmas can be remembered but not recaptured.

My niece’s early Christmas can be remembered but not recaptured.

Then when we get to New Year’s Eve maybe our party will be based on hopes and joys built to carry us into the new year in a more sturdy way. I am not feeling all the glee of the season’s best impulses but yeas I do believe in them.

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Christmas is a Coming and a 2016 Presidential Preview

An image showing the basis of all this Christmas celebration.

An image showing the basis of all this Christmas celebration.

It is still a bit too early but “Merry  Christmas and  Happy New Year!”  This post mixes Christmas wishes with political discussions. That is surely not every one’s cup of tea. It is not always mine. But this blog combines such themes as they are combined in the passage of time in my life. This blog post is another one of those. In some ways it is perhaps an admission that neither  one’s Christmassing nor one’s political life are all that they should be. I have been opposing much of Obama’s agenda in this blog and it certainly seems to have slipped back a few notches in the most recent election.  This Christmas we as Americans can see that the world is in flux. We can hope to find our way forward through these holidays and the coming year without a great catastrophe but we can also know that there are crises afloat and afoot. Americans can find some solace in the stresses endured by the Holy Family on that first Christmas.

Mom with a Christmas tree in a previous year. Today she is scheduled to buy a tree.

Mom with a Christmas tree in a previous year. Today she is scheduled to buy a tree.

I have not had an exemplary early Christmas and Advent and by some measures I am spoiling whatever moral or religious value it had be sharing it with you. This year I made some new ornaments to replace the missing ones in the old set my parents hang on the Jesse tree which is one of the only objects I still have from when I was married. I also put a few dollars into the Salvation Army kettles out and about, donated a few gifts to the toys programs at dollar stores and discount stores  and posted a bit about Advent. I also went to religious services and participated in the Advent rituals around the wreath and Jesse tree at home.

The celebration of Christmas rates some substantial coverage on the White House’s official website. You can link to some of that coverage here. Wikipedia takes note of the White House Christmas tree tradition here.  So, perhaps mixing up the elements of a Christmas blog post and an early presidential politics blog post is not such an odd idea after all.

Santa Claus is a powerful Christmas symbol in America today.  Santa is certainly part of the landscape of my holiday.

Santa Claus is a powerful Christmas symbol in America today. Santa is certainly part of the landscape of my holiday.

 

Even for a conservative Catholic Christian like me it is getting closer to the time when one might say “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year”. I have used the word “Advent” in two blog posts (as well as the word Christmas in one of them). None of these posts have been as seasonal as some other I have posted here, here and here in previous years. It is also early be discussing the Presidential election of 2016 but  I am doing that as well.

We all have images of what leadership should look like which are not simple portrayals of reality.

We all have images of what leadership should look like which are not simple portrayals of reality.

 

The reality of our political life is such that the Presidency is currently our biggest symbol and most important feature of our political life. What we have in our society is a dearth of many of the symbols of the cohesion and sharing of our social values with one another in the way that a great holiday can unite a nation and a society. So Christmas and its presidential aspects have a lot to do with our awareness of ourselves as a people and as a society that stands out as existing in some real way in the world. With ISIS executing American hostages almost continually, Russia flying more military sorties than it has since the Soviet Union was at the height of its Cold War assertiveness, the North Koreans mobilizing large cyber resources against us and real decay of US stature in Europe we are either likely to say what does our Christmas unity matter or we are likely to say that the unity we express is not the most important national concern. That is of course unless we are like millions of Americans who have very little concern for foreign policy. It is also true that some of us think of Peace on Earth, Goodwill to Mankind as a particularly relevant sentiment in times like these. The Angels greeting which came with that sentiment at the first Christmas was joined to their adoration, “Glory to God in the Highest!” Many Americans will be going to a variety of churches to honor God as they celebrate Christmas. Others will go to other places of worship to celebrate other holidays – including Chanukah which is a holiday Jesus’s family would have known. But Nativity scenes and even Christmas trees have become a set of lightning rods in the controversies about Christmas in public life. That discussion in return has become a big part of the discussion of religious expression in public life. What Presidential contenders will think about faith is increasingly a political issue that can be seen from many points of controversy.

Me in a shot by one of the proprietors on my phone as I walked into the Donors Dinner.

Me in a shot by one of the proprietors on my phone as I walked into the Donors Dinner.

While the President plays the role he does in pardoning turkeys, lighting the National Christmas tree and seeking to embrace a holiday theme that resonates with the nation it is not impossible to think of the Presidency of the United States as part of our Christmas landscape. When we do there is a sense of the way that our society does and does not function which forms part of our  vision of both the holidays and the politics of our nation. So who is likely to be the next President of the United States of America?

 

 

Christmas has long been a political and legal battlefield. The assault on Christmas has been part of the story but so has the defense of Christmas in public life. In the chart featured below which may still have some currency even though I believe it is based on data from before the 2014 Congressional elections we have two Republican contenders for the Presidency in 2016 who have about equal shares of prospective primary votes. One is Mike Huckabee who regardless of what he might say if asked about Christmas is a former Protestant Christian ordained minister who clearly has a likelihood wanting to keep the tradition of honoring the birth of Christ as a nation.  The other is Rand Paul who, regardless of what he might say about Christmas is deeply committed to a libertarian point of view and politics. Such libertarians often find themselves in alliance with Atheists, some other religious groups and liberals of particular strip in undermining America’s traditional Christian holidays.

Early December 2014?

Early December 2014?

There is a lot of shaking out to do if these numbers mean any thing before any Republican can claim the nomination.  But it does indicate perhaps the streams of thought that are shaping the country as regards finding a religious root for values expressed by America’s  “right” in politics.

What then about the left? Where does the other side of American  political energy come down on our connecting with the roots of Christianity.  Unlike the possible GOP nominees, Hillary Clinton has tended to tower over her challengers for the 2016 Democratic nomination. Some people are saying that candidates like Elizabeth Warren are poised to show explosive growth but it would take a lot of growth to challenge  Clinton in the primary.

Joe Lieberman who ran with Al Gore was not a Christian but a Jew who seemed to tolerate a good deal of public Christmas. Mitt Romney belonged to what most scholars consider to be a post-Christian religion but it is one that celebrates Christmas as an American holiday and the birth festival of Jesus Christ. Many presidents have been devout Christians: Washington, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Jimmy Carter, Woodrow Wilson, John Kennedy and half a dozen others are clearly men who in my opinion must be seen as Christians entirely. Whatever they did not achieve of the Christian ideal is not because they did not adhere to that faith and religion. Richard Nixon was reared as a Quaker and (though many American Quakers seem pretty much to be Christians) Quakers as a whole are not a Christian faith but one which grew up among Christians.  It is hard to say what Nixon was when he was President. With men like Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson and  a few others it hard to say where they stood in terms of religious classification and identity.

So that brings me to Clinton. She is a favorite enemy of the Christian Right and other religious people in American politics and she may well deserve it. She has a background which is mostly verifiable: Clinton was reared a Methodist Protestant Christian, belonged to a Senate Prayer Group and has spoken at Prayer Breakfasts.  Her profile may seem different to American atheists than to most other people. Here is an atheist site evaluating Clinton’s background and religious values.  It is hard to know how  she would deal with Christmas.

 

Early December 2014? Whenever this is it is Clinton's race to lose at that moment.

Early December 2014?
Whenever this is it is Clinton’s race to lose at that moment.

Christmas and even religion are important but most religious people realize that religion connects to how they see all the world and does so in complicated ways. Real issues like how to evaluate science, how to evaluate ethical policies and how to make peace are informed by our religious background, point of view and  activity. We see this with political issues from funding homeless shelters, to stem cell research to the use of enhanced interrogation techniques. But it goes beyond that.

I am a Christian and many of my blog posts are explicitly Christian.  But my thoughts about science are in connection with my religious thought. So my scientific areas of discussion do seek or do have a harmony with my faith. Here, here and here are some examples.  So my choices of how to use resources here and elsewhere are in connection to my religious values. I do accept and embrace pluralism in America. I see a kind of pluralism in America and the structure of the universe.

The truth about all of life is that it is a bit interactive and interactive and multifocal.  That means that what we do affects what  we see done and there are many other active people and forces creating the continuous drama that is the universe, playing out the great game — or whatever other metaphor might work for you.  Increasingly one  may disagree with what the meaning of different part of the drama or game may mean, how much they will matter or who should care. For example some scientist are feeling sure that they have just recently  found the key to working out the meaning and structure of dark matter in the universe.

I am very interested in Astronomy but probably my use of space exploration money would place low priority on this research until  a better theoretical framework was developed. That also has something to do with Christmas. So Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Whether or not you are a Christian or an American I think the American experience of the holiday has something to say to us all. Chinese New Year and Chanukah are different indeed but they also represent a reaching for unity, meaning, celebration and often family.  Not just a reaching for money, power and resources. A society with no spiritual moorings seems very close to shipwreck to me. I hope we will never see America in such a condition.

 

Thanksgiving Day 2010

This post is like a nesting box set or those Russian dolls that include smaller dolls inside themselves in a series that can be revealed as they are split open. My own Thanksgiving observance has begun with spending a lot of time helping others who are really preparing the Feast, talking about the holiday and the football games as well as seeing who will and will not be around our massive table (many tables actually). John Paul Papurzynski is wedding Sheila Agresta and they are involving my family and some of the sites of the FMC bases in this project and celebration. The New Orleans Saints will be playing a big game with the Dallas Cowboys on the day  and it comes at a crucial time of year as well in the football season. There are lots of other things and dearly cared for people on my mind as well. Some I will see at Dinner some on the Day but not at Dinner and some not on the Day at all.  

I may blog again tomorrow or the next day but I reproducing my main Thanksgiving Day blog post here as well.  This is  very  great and deep tradition now going back alomost four years on the internet in one form or another…    

2009 blog post here:

I hope that all reading this will have the kind and level of Thanksgiving Day which seems appropriate and right for them. Not all of ye few, ye proud, ye brave– ye readers are Americans.  I am reprinting a Facebook Note from last year on the Thanksgiving  Holiday here. I hope you enjoy it as part of your season.

This morning in the very early hours  I sent out 40 e-cards to comemorate the holiday and Monday night I had Sarah, Alyse, Anika, Soren and my nephew Eli who is my sister Mary’s son over for a large dinner where we returned thanks and were in fellowship. Tomorrow I am scheduled to be with my Dad’s mother and his siblings and their families. So this is a pretty full Thanksgiving compared to last year but the parts of  the note which are not about my specific plans are largely accurate. So here is the note:

Getting Personal: A few thoughts about my life and Thanksgiving.

 Wednesday, November 26, 2008 at 8:46am 
This is kind of a Thanksgiving note but it is not really heartwarming or cheerful. I also hope it is readable on occasions after Thanksgiving. Perhaps if you are pretty sure you will not have a great Thanksgiving it would not be a bad note to read. If you are on the borderline call an old friend, watch football, offer to help someone clean up the dishes or whatever BUT don’t read this note. America has always had some serious problems and for whatever reason those problems have always weighed upon me. They are not the only things weighing on me andnever have been. However, this year is a year in which those problems weigh very heavily. I see the election of Barack Obama as kind of an anti-Thanksgiving event.

Thanksgiving comes from the most optimistic and positive part of America and its best historic moments. There have bee a lot of good times and moments of glory in America and in a real way Thanksgiving ties us to all of those times. “The pilgrims prepare a feast and invite those who lived in America before them to join the feast. These Aboriginal Americans called Indians join them and there is a period of peace and collaboration.” That’s the basic story. There were days of Thanksgiving, of Repentance, of Intercession and other such spiritual exercises in the Plymouth Brethren community. Unlike the Anglicans of James Town or my own Acadian forebears (who were mostly Catholic) these feasts were not scheduled to fall on holidays that were the same each year and regular ritual was avoided. If the Acadians had been the dominant culture on the continent in every way there might be a Jour des Bonnes Temps. There was in Acadie a society of recognized knights and non-aristocrats called “Le Orde des Bonnes Temps”. This Order of Good times would fund a priest or missionary to have a mass or service when they came through and would support community celebration of holidays. They did invite MiqMacs to their feasts on occasion. However, even with some charitable and religious functions of their own the order had a principal purpose. That was to be a kind of buying cooperative to ensure that the best possible meats and wines and pastries would always be for sale in the young colony. They did that by throwing several feasts each year that were as extravagant as they could make them. These Catholics, like the Spanish Catholics who celebrated the first Texas Thanksgiving in 1521, did have Thanksgiving Days on occasion. Christians of all communions did this to recognize occasions when something good happened especially in the dangerous new colonies of America.

The Order Of Good Times has an interesting and not unimportant story. Theirs is a better episode than many others in our continent’s history but certainly not better as a foundation than the one the Plymouth Brethren gave us. However, since this sect avoided holidays in the traditional sense our government had to revive the custom and the practice somewhat artificially later in our history. But it is still the child of Plymouth. Some silly modern scholars have called the 1621 holiday attended by Squanto and dozens of other Indians secular compared to a religious Calvinist feast on 1623 that was whites only. That is absurd, the two feasts are simply unrelated occasions. Both thanked God but one did it in an inclusive way and the other was the same people acting in the more narrow inside baseball way that they acted when assembled as a Christian sect. By the way this 1621 Feast is the only instance where Native Americans is a good term for Indigenous or Aboriginal Americans in common speech. Native means born there and most pilgrims were not while all Indians were in this instance.

Thanksgiving is a very American holiday and a holiday related to many personal and family memories and associations. I am able to remember a few Thanksgiving Days when I barely observed the day. However, I have never been in the United States on those days. I have also not at all aware that I ever did less to make a day of it. Three years I won a turkey for Thanksgiving and one year I won two turkeys.This year I did not enter any contests. But I think that there is a sort of perfect storm of long and short-term trends which have taken almost all the energy I had for Thanksgiving. NONETHELESS, I WISH ANYONE READING THIS EARLY OR LATE A VERY HAPPY THANKSGIVING.

It has taken me a while to get this note out. This will be the longest period of time between two notes since I got on to Facebook. That is largely because of personal concerns and post-election fatigue and depression. In this note have decided to step back from my philosophizing and conjecturing about the country and civilization and to discuss my own life. It is an odd time to do so but there it goes. I do odd things…

The stuff about the country in this note has to do either with what day it is or with how the country affects me directly. So I am thinking about another of the many fathers of the Thanksgiving Holiday. To some degree it was proclaimed by Abraham Lincoln after the extremely bloody Battle of Gettysburg. Even if one believes that Gettysburg was a great and important moment of good (my own feelings are ambiguous but I am more of a Confederate sympathizer than a Lincoln fan — that much is sure) this was the darkest pattern to help make the Thanksgiving tradition. Even if you just count Yankee dead it was a bloodbath which would not have rated such a holiday under any other President we have had up to now. I don’t know about the new alleged Illinois man.

The United States before the Civil War always commanded the plural form of verbs. These days however I write that the US has been in crisis rather than that the US have been in crisis much of my life.
We are not entirely lost but we are not entirely saved either. What we have got going is a suicidal narrative and process. Fortunately, however, this is still competing with a number of productive and life-giving narratives and processes. My own life has been lived out in the context of the tensions and conflicts of this country at this time. Many Europeans and a handful of Northeast Asians like to think that there has never been much of a life of Thought in the United States of America. Many Americans agree with them. However, that is not true. There are different forms of intellectual life and America excelled in a few of them. What America has offered far more often than Europeans like to admit is a life in which especially Greek, Jewish and Roman thought was vitally connected to intervening thinkers and the life of the day. We have however an America where almost nobody thinks reading Greek, Latin or Hebrew should be a requisite for even a doctoral degree. In fact not even in a doctoral degree related to the humanities is such a skill normally required. Many times in the past any American intellectual aspired to at least a faltering mastery of one or more of these tongues. Our newly elected President was Editor of Harvard Law Review. However, what real connection did he have to the grand body of knowledge which alone justifies having anything like Harvard.

The Thanksgiving we remember is the one at Plymouth but its history as a national holiday has more to do with the bloodiest killing of Americans we have ever seen. The battle of Gettysburg saw the flower of Northern and Southern young men die in agony. However, the Union under Lincoln set up a Thanksgiving day to celebrate victory in this fratricide and the nearly inevitable loss of the Confederate cause. That is only on of several days of Thanksgiving however, even Washington had at least one. However it is Plymouth’s that we really honor. If Colin Powell, Jessie Jackson Jr. or Clarence Thomas had been elected as our first Black president they would have been in tune with the part of America that does not just lie down in surrender before the endless waves of new blood and people. Instead of this story of struggle and people-building in the great sweep of American history culminating in the highest prize we have another “only in America story” that shows how weak we have always been in America.
We are also strong but not having a common religion, recognition of the exceptional in our politics or the constant success of newcomers does not make us strong. Rather those are actually part of the cost of being who we are. It is a cost worth paying when the Plymouth Thanksgiving is being lived out. When old and new come together and God is honored in a kind of secular way and there is both hard work and excitement.
If literally anyone can become President then I am afraid that we really don’t have a country. For me that moment arrived with Barack Obama. l think I had almost reached the end of my ability to stand where this country has been for so long but this is total insanity in my view. Foreign rulers or near foreigners in other countries can be healthy. If they have deeply established religious institutions, aristocracies and nativist privileges then a foreign dynasty or lazy and benevolent occupation can be energizing. Usually it is a bad thing but often enough it is a good thing. America is not that kind of country, it has always been a minimalist official society. Now we are way below the minimum. For me the end has come, it just hasn’t set in yet. Barack’s background cuts out the tiny connective tissue of a country with too little connective tissue.

When I think of America today and of my life in it I think that it has been a slow and inevitable process that so many American streams of real thinking have dried up entirely. I am entirely sincere in saying the following: Feminism has both produced some of the worst thinking in the country and has had an enormously healthy effect in clarifying ideas, enlivening intellectual communities, opening debate and integrating ideas into life. That mix of good and bad is rather common among booming intellectual movements. Feminism certainly formed an important part of my intellectual journey and landscape.

There have been times when I was resentful of and resistant to feminism. However, there are also times when I have been involved in supporting feminist causes. I feel that the individualist — statist tension of much of modern feminism is ver typical of the recent United States of America. However, while I dislike that very much in American feminism I actually think it is less pronounced than in more male dominated discourses of American thought. Having groups of distant relatives, family and guests gathering in different religions on a Day set aside to thank God is also an antidote to the poison of seeing only individuals and governments. American women still carry most of the load of making Thanksgiving work.
I was married to a feminist. However, like most feminists (and this more true than of many male dominated movements) she was inconsistent. Women tend to drop ideas that are not working. They tend to compromise and find circuitous routes around conflicts when they don’t think they can win. My ex-wife was like many other women in that regard. In recent years I seem to live out the lyrics of the Lenny Kravitz(sp?) song “American Woman” However, I don’t feel that there are many reasons related to feminism that explain this isolation.

My isolation seems to be related to many things both about me and my society. I just joined Politico. Com, it has been interesting and people dialog with me about my comments. In setting up my profile there I had chosen to keep my personal information only for friends and to make my blog public. So far ( I have only been on two days or so as I write this) I had scores of people who visit my profile and did not issue friends requests or view my blog. Therefore, these visitors basically just looked at my screen name and the title of the blog entries. Somehow this ability to get lots of people interested enough to make one click but universally sure that two clicks would be too many must mean something big. How exactly does one do that? As I write this I have tried to get my personal information in a bit better order and have decided to open up my personal info to the public. I will see how that works out.

There have been very few times in my life when I was sustainably happy for more than a few days. There have been few periods when I did not generally avoid rather than seek out the company of most people I could associate with in my life. I think that trends are still moving in that direction for me. However, on short-term occasions like Thanksgiving Day I have had many happy times. When my love life was really good I was usually very happy for a while but those times were not that frequent. When I won something honorable with a big payoff I was often happy. There have also been sometimes when I experienced religious consolation that made me happy. There were also other times but they did not add up to very large percentages of my life. I am the kind of person who will always care about the political and social order.

I still live to make a future and as though I may live another forty years or more. However, it seems to me that we are really moving past the edge of any worldview that doesn’t approach what I would call hellishness. There is little else that I can say except that I am glad to be alone most or all of this Thanksgiving Day. In my own way I have always loved America very much but I think a lot of that love is dying. Dying in me and I feel no shame in saying that publicly. So far me this year a sad and quiet Thanksgiving Day seems about right.

End of Facebook Note–

I am enjoying a happier frame of mind (not much)  than last year and do have many things on my mind to be thankful for in my life. I am heading into townto visit some people in a Thanksgiving way and we will see how that goes before tomorrow. Then hopefully a pleasant dinner with extended family.

End of 2010 blogpost

I also take this occasion to wish Amy Grant a happy  50th birthday this Thanksgiving Day.  I do not think she regularly reads this blog but I am a fan and wish her the best.  I hope that she and Vince Gill and family will have a really good day.  

Feast of the Assumption: National Day of the Acadians

Today is for Roman Catholics the Feast of the Assumption.  Today is the National Day of the Acadians. those of us who are both would like those in the Acadian Nation who are Jewish, Protestant, (even Anglican though today is an awkward day to be both), Freemasons with no other formal religion and adherents of other faith to join what is still the (not so large) Roman Catholic majority and not merely plurality of their countrymen in celebrating the Le Jour National des Acadiens. We also wish those Catholics who are not Acadians but live among large numbers of us would remember this is a dual holiday for us. It is a sad kind of National Holiday. We do remember all that we are but we are not principally celebrating the founding of Acadie by our ancestors which has become Nova Scotia. We are not primarily remembering the founding of the Novelle Acadie in Louisiana which has become Acadiana. We are primarily remembering the tragedy, time of weakness (relative to an old and established empire in its homeland) , loss and death which is the destruction of the land of Acadie and the start of Le Grand Derangement.  This holday has roots in the past since the Acdians were French subjects and as the first came to the new World the King of France had just designated the feast as the special day of France and the Fench. In 1881 there was the first large publisc and open convention of the Acadians since the exile itself in which a few thousand gathered for real national policy and it was at that time that they declared the holiday a national feast. The reason cited by some knowledgeable sources is in part to distinguish them form the Freanch Canandians who honored St. John the Baptist as their patron. You will see that I think the truth is more complex but the tie to the French synthesis they left behind is vital enough. We are remembering that we are a people and have a past and future in the face of great suffering. Here are some Acadian links in this site itself:

1. https://franksummers3ba.wordpress.com/acadian-forum-archive/glossary-of-terms-casually-defined/

2. https://franksummers3ba.wordpress.com/acadian-forum-archive/

3. https://franksummers3ba.wordpress.com/2010/06/11/well-see-if-bps-viking-shows-his-horns/

4. https://franksummers3ba.wordpress.com/2010/03/16/after-an-american-revolution-the-royalist-portion-of-the-empire/

5. https://franksummers3ba.wordpress.com/images/photographs-in-vermilion-parish/photographs-reproducing-mommees-paintings-1/

There are many more than these posts and pages which reference Acadian ethnicity and the Acadians in some way.  I hope that this set of links will help the reader to find more than they planned on in the time devoted to one post. Then there is the other side of the Holiday. Acadians celebrate the Feast of the Assumption as their National Day partly because it falls during the days when the first flotilla of surviving exiles were all at sea. Having watched the destruction of Acadie largely in the form of dying frail relatives and the plumes of smoke from farms and churches near the coast.   But Acadians also choose it because it is a holiday that has entered the Universal calendar of the Catholic Church as a Solemnity in this modern era in which they experienced this loss. They also honor it because it is a feminine holiday in a Christianity which has sold out to a largely woman-hating world in much of the modern era. While some parts of the world were more anti-feminist in the past and some are eager to bring that back — the feminine  half of things was prized in much of Ancient Greece, Byzantine Christianity, High Medieval France and Acadie. Acadians can remember that we stand with that always developing tradition and against its destruction. In 1938 the Pope officially recognized the Acadian celebration of the Feast of the Assumption as their national holiday. He also entrusted them to the special patronage of Our Lady that this recognizes. 

Of course the Assumption itself actually celebrates the raising of the body of Mary into Heaven to join her believers spirit. this is very hard for Protestant, Jewish or Skeptic Acadians to relate to one would think. First let us think about the celebration in Biblical terms of interest to Protestants and Jews. The Bible talks of Enoch and Elijah being taken up into heaven and so it is not without precedent in the Jewish Scriptures.  For Protestants remember that in addition to these two Old Testament precedent we have what can be taken as the prophecy of Mary in the Canticle Catholics call the Magnificat .

And  Mary said.

My soul magnifies the Lord,

and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,

for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.

Surely , from now on all generations will call me blessed;

for the Mighty One has done Great things for me, and  holy is his name…

He has brought down the powerful from their thrones

and lifted up the lowly.”

Luke 1:46-49, 56

Depending upon one’s hermeneutic the whole canticle is even more of a prophecy of such an event as this one or it is not such a prophecy at all. But there is a case which can be made.

For the true skeptic especially in modern times the whole thing is indeed pretty alien but remember if you possibly can, how very much you take on faith from poorly reported science that is constantly changing. There are different kinds of faith, some see this holy event and others out of ordinary experience as primarily symbolic and having a great deal to say about womanhood, queen mothers, suffering mothers who lose sons, the human body, death and other things without really thinking of any event.  Others have a more earthy and integrated faith. The point is that sadly while your skepticism is poorer than religion in artistic light and shadow I am afraid theat I cannot grant you status as having a more rational faith experience — that has not been my experience so far. I do have lots of experience with skeptics.

I wish everyone a happy Feast of the Assumption and National Day of the Acadians. Life is marked by holidays in important ways. 

Father’s Day Posts & Links not Ignoring BP Oil Spill

Happy Father’s Day. This blog post  is not a sentimental greeting card. This may be more than anyone wants to deal with on Father’s Day but take a look at this stuff when you get a chance.

1. This link is to my post on this blog and although it is about my birthday it is also about Father’s Day. That part comes further down and discusses the wetlands as a patrimony threatened by the spill.

https://franksummers3ba.wordpress.com/2010/06/14/bp-oil-spill-and-my-personal-journey-as-of-my-46th-birthday/

2. This post is about women and family. Fatherhood has a lot to do with the connection of men to women and sexuality. We face so much confusion and corruption in this area…

https://franksummers3ba.wordpress.com/2009/08/25/women-and-sexuality-in-some-kind-of-context/

3. This next link reminds us of securing the heritage our founding fathers and the fighting fathers thereafter have tried to secure and pass on to us. There is no doubt we have as many threats and challenges as we always have had if we wish to be what we feel we should be.

https://franksummers3ba.wordpress.com/2010/05/31/the-british-petroleum-oil-spill-and-memorial-day/

4. Fathers are first men. Manhood and fatherhood are very related. I am therefore going to repost a note I wrote and posted on my Facebook account in January of 2009 about men and man. I will leave it to you to make all the connections.

 Tuesday, January 13, 2009 at 8:59am 
I want to write a few words about manhood and being a man. I mean more or less “hombre”, “homme” in Spanish and French where there is a word that can mean all members of the human species but generally denotes the male. I am not discussing exactly a “vir” as in Latin or a “baron” as in contemporary popular Spanish which can only mean a male human or rarely another kind of male. I am not writing about “human” or “ren” in Mandarin Chinese with its suggestion of a biped that walks tall nor a “tao” as in Cebuano-Visayan with its suggestion of anyone born into our species. Rather, I am talking about MAN. Those members of our species who are adult or late adolescent males viewed as part of our species. I think that the subject of man is at once a very old subject that has been discussed nearly to death by some lights and a dangerous and ever dynamic subject. Manhood is worth trying to understand well. The cost of not understanding manhood can be a very great cost indeed.

I think that a man who is aware of his own nature as a man has a chance to redefine manhood and to apply it in an appropriately shaped and guided way whenever it seems right for him to do so a man who is not aware of his manhood or does not understand it either has lost it in all practical senses or he has little control over how it ought to be lived and interpreted. There is actually a large body of literature on manhood that is joined by a much vaster literary set that looks at manhood within the context of a more narrow subject and then sometimes broadens out a bit by including a section or to with direct references to the women and children who make up the human race with men. On my Facebook friends list I have a distant cousin related to me through the Broussard line who has written a novel which is among other things a story of the first stirrings of manhood and the first step towards being a man. The novel is called The Chicken Dance and Jacques Couvillon set it in the real world very near where I live and in spots where I do live but also in the fictional community of Horse Island between the real communities of Cow Island where my sister was just wed and the community of Forked Island where I once lived. The fiction of course is a remade world. No French is spoken in the novel to speak of and as a child everyone I met in Forked Island could and did speak at least some French. This departure has made the story more accessible to readers in various countries including the United Kingdom where it has been well received. I encourage people to buy and read the book for many reasons. But partly because it shows how a boy takes an interest in chickens and begins to define himself thereby, to work, to take responsibility and to find in himself the basic ingredients of a man. 

In my lifetime books like Iron John, Wild at Heart, Maximized Manhood, Fatherhood and others sought to address the needs of spiritually attuned (mostly Christian) men who wanted to get in touch with what their manhood was about. I think that for all its weaknesses this project was both well conceived and well-intentioned. I even think that reading these books is more likely to help a young man than to hurt him in just about all ways that count.But the main path to manhood does not lie in reading these books of that I am much more certain still. There are books like Rudyard Kipling’s Captains Courageous and Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn which have helped particular large groups of boys to find their way to manhood. There are books likeLord of the Flies to help those who are just recently men to remember some of the false steps between childhood and manhood and to avoid those false steps whenever possible as regards the parts of themselves which are still evolving into adulthood.I think the role of this fictional literature can be significant in forming the inner dispositions of manhood in those who are not yet men. But again, this reading is not the main path to manhood. 

All humans start off life in the womb of a woman. The natural progression from that state is to be fondled by the woman and suckled at her breast. While women can, may and should do many other things they are in a sense designed meant and determined to return to that same process no longer as the baby but now as the mother. Men must make a different journey. The man must identify himself as not woman in a different way than the woman must identify herself as not man or even in any other way, The boy is not part of the intimate world which is forming him in the same way that the girl is and he usually senses this early on. This difference stays with us all into adulthood in a variety of ways and it haunts our later understanding of many things. In fact it undergirds one of the great tensions in human experience.

Women protesting in the United State for more liberal access to abortion have help placards which stated and declared an also shouted slogan, “It’s my body!”. On the other hand Christian children ( and those of some other faiths) are taught in religious instruction early on that “God made me.” The women certainly do have bodies but the fetuses body is certainly not their body and I am believer but while God made the child he did it with the normal (or not so normal) sexual experience of the biological parents and the pregnancy journey of the mother.These two simple ( and too simple) expressions have to do with a great tension in human affairs. I said to a woman I was chatting with online a while ago that “super evil is a guy thing”. I meant it and I think it’s true but great evil exists at this point in our discussion in woman’s camp. We hear a lot of mother love but their have been women who gave birth and reared children they intended for torture and eating, for maiming and spiritually enslaving. the greatest evil women do is often done to their children and it can be a very great evil. However, the super-evil we were discussing is that kind of innovative and wholesale destruction which men of talent and of mature years alone seem capable of and which remakes the earth or as much as they can reach of it. In a sense one need not believe in God to believe that he and not the mother made the baby in the ultimate sense. She did not make her own body, create the matter and energy it is made of, set up the balance in which it must survive or any of a number of other things. Even as a great sisterhood woman did not do all of this. Too many times animals with natures formed by other male and female members have been vital to survival of her ancestors, too may times it has been a ver religious or violent or adventurous man who has brought back to the women of his village the unexpected thing which was crucial to survival. While all of us have many human qualities in common whether we are male or female the thing that defines a good woman as opposed to an evil woman when we are talking about woman as woman is often her ability to see how much she is a goddess making people and creating a future on the one hand with the dignity and power that are hers and how on the other hand in seeming contradiction she is the place and portal children come through that are not hers at all. Many women want their own children in this evil sense more than any other thing and that is something a good man must oppose even if he loves the woman who wants that absolute power. There are certain ancient interpretations of the Genesis account which see the original sin we all carry inside of us as a shift from a different kind of human race to one in which women abuse children in a particular way and men abuse women in many way. The curse in the Genesis story they would say is only alluding vaguely to information coded in the story itself.

Most men may not be aware of that whole vast female moral struggle to any significant degree. But whether they are aware of it or not it is not their major and principal struggle. Whatever scars and strengths a man brings with him from childhood his real drama and adventure of being a man begins with that later period that some people call boyhood. The idealization of childhood is not a bad thing but we need to remember that childhood is truly a nightmare and nearly ceaseless horror both for many who do not survive it and for many who do survive it. However, in most childhoods there were good times and elements of compassion that loom large in the mind of the child. Furthermore, even the most horrible experiences have a comforting familiarity and a capacity to block out the unknown evils of the world. In the gradual dawning of boyhood a man-child senses that his real destiny is outside of the familiar confronting those unknown evils and woes that he senses all around him as well hopefully finding the goodness he senses is just beyond his current reach. How much his mother or her surrogates have formed the boy in even his way of perceiving his quest is usually not clear to him. 

The boy needs his father more to the end of boyhood although there has never been a time when he did not need him. His felt need in early boyhood is for the pack of boys. He hopes to come home and get his mother’s love after expending himself in the pack and if he is lucky he will. He most solitary will spend much less of themselves on this aspect of life than the most gregarious will but all will feel the call. Here a crude immaturity, a directness, a desire to break the rules and a sense of competition or always present. This young boy creature is emphatically not a man but he is also not quite a child. While these packs have a tendency to exclude all girls and little male children completely it is not universal. If the boy with a precocious interest in girls is a dominant fighter and a good athlete and the families are close to their sons there will be some girls participating at times both those who are tomboy and those who are not. Some boys will include their kid brothers and sisters during the after and before periods of their exploits if the mothers in that culture find it safe and this can become a tool of recriting.But the pack will always have times when just boys and no men, women or girls are present. Where boys are enslaved to work or school all the time they will try to find and create periods of time for this activity in what tiny corners they can.If isolated they will turn to animals and imaginary or fictional characters. Here in this pack the boy will also learn a lot about rules and disputes. He will try on roles of various kinds of men in the larger society. If he is fortunate enough to have a real moment of achievement it is possible that this moment will match any feeling of accomplishment later in life. It is not uncommon to read in the memoirs of generals, presidents or kings the story of that race, home run, fish landed, soccer goal scored or bully knocked down that clearly looms as large in their emotional make-up as wars, cities and laws on which they laid their mark later on.

Through the pack the boys will usually begin a study of girls and women. There will be Honest Learners, Lying Teachers, Honest Teachers, Silent Explorers and Subject Avoiders. These are also roles that will get passed around along with other roles in the pack. As girls come into focus a second fact comes into focus as well. The boy suddenly in some ways and gradually in other ways realizes — “Hey, people actually expect me to become a man.” The words may vary but this is rather a shock. He has played at being a man his whole life and in some cultures he may have worked closely with men and dressed like them but there was always “forever” between him and actually becoming a man. Then forever is gone and really at that moment early boyhood ends and late boyhood begins. “I am going to be expected to be a man.” It seems so absurd and impossible all of a sudden when a moment ago it was easy and sure and could not come fast enough.The next moment may vary for some the shock becomes a central piece in a short and violent life of reckless escapism while for others it disappears almost instantly in the sure and steady work of becoming a man. Most boys fall somewhere between these two extremes.

The period between this late boyhood’s dawning and middle age is very varied. It varies by the region and culture of the man and things like class and rank. However, it is also true that it varies a great deal by the individual. One of the issues within the discussion of manhood is the idea of exclusivity . Many cultures come up with a variety of shortcuts to manhood that to my mind produce more marginal men more quickly and prevent the production of men of quality. The propensity for evil by men toward is women is part of that fundamental flaw which is most revelatory of what Christians call original sin. Most of these shortcuts manifest this tendency and involve mistreating, demeaning and devaluing women by using social pressures and structures to disable girls and them employing them as objects of abuse by boys. This is common in many cultures ( not all) and in parts of some cultures and not others. Where this has happened a great deal many of the boys will always define manhood mostly as an abuse of women. However, where certain other factors and opportunities are present men have defined themselves by other means and now turn to the pursuit of girls and women in a way that shows he is competing with other members of the boy pack and has distinguished himself from the child dependent on women. With a little more luck still he will be able to see himself bonding with female counterparts who are to be his principal potential partner in life or his partners in life.

This brings us to another aspect of our discussion. Because all of us sort of know that Manhood is relative. Not all adult men are equally men. In fact, they may not still be reading at this point but there are some men who will take anything in stride as long as it is couched as a personal opinion EXCEPT for opinions about manhood. All men are insecure about their manhood to some degree and all men feel that having manhood defined by others without their values will be dangerous to them in a variety of ways. Most will in anger occasionally admit that they feel someone is not a man when they view him critically. They don’t mean he is a woman or that he is not human but only that he is not a man. Some would take a note about aircraft design, beer drinking, breastfeeding or latin grammar at face value and then determine whether I had anything of value to say after reading and thinking through the text, However, they will not read a thought on manhood the same way. As far my own manhood clearly this note will expose both my inadequacies and my strengths as a man more honestly and clearly than any mere statement of how much or little of a man I may think myself.

Men are perhaps more different at a very basic level than women. There are a variety of reasons why this might be so. One is simply that because men have an X chromosome and Y chromosome and women have two X chromosomes they are possessed of a string of genes without copies. This lack of a reference copy makes men more liable than women to genetic disease. However, while men may be more prone to the kinds of genetic disorders we can easily identify today it is a mistake to assume that because we have mapped all the genome we have a complete understanding of how genes work there may well be complex effects of subtle individuation that go with the more obvious and dysfunctional forms of individuation. While no one has shown a causal link that I know of this pattern is not unknown among other animals and seems apparent in men. The female sense of empathy is very useful because a baby’s survival may depend on it and this may be tied into a basic genetic quality of resonance, pairing and communication which is greater than the male’s. Until there are really competent geneticists who are also competent philosophers and aestheticists it is likely that many questions will never be fully explored. 

While I repeat again that there many human adventures that we can all share there is a built-in adventure of pregnancy, childbirth and lactation which imposes itself on some women and entices others that is not available to men. Whatever else she does this is an activity rather analagous to surfing, sailing or skiing. Those sports are physical strenuous and demand skill but the muscles do not power the motion itself. So in these mothering patterns the involuntary drives the changes and the woman responds, shapes, calculates like a sailor guides his boat. That is the path to mature womanhood in the normal way of things. A man’s road to mature manhood is like a footrace or a football game. He is likely to grow a beard and take on some angles and hard muscles but a bunch of choices dealing with things outside of himself will determine the degree to which he becomes a man. his biological immortality lies through the womb of a woman and to the degree he contributes to it more than by copulation he will contribute in complex chancy ways to creating an environment in which his pregnant spouse and helpless young child can thrive or survive at least. Beyond this level of chance is an even greater one.

The next part of manhood which I would like to discuss is violence. Violence plays a major role in defining male identity and inevitably has plenty to do with manhood. There are cultures which are theoretically nonviolent and many cultures where the average man is not a solider. Those are complications they are not simple issues and they go far beyond the scope of my little note.The truth is that as a man in the real world matures he begins to see that violence is a component of how the world maintains its place and positions among and between men. A boy who is lucky has gotten an education in many things and acquired a number of skills but as a young man there is testosterone rushing through his system, he finds it easy to put on hard muscle, his reach and speed and wind are ready to increase. Also the greater hemisphericity in his brain than in his sisters which has inhibited his judgement and made it harder for him to contextualize has begun to mature. He begins to find that he can make judgements with one part of his mind while the other is devoted to strategy or at least tactics. He senses that by asserting himself he has a better chance of securing the things he will need to impress girls and possibly to settle down and start a prosperous family. His relative lack of attachment to most people seems suited for serious conflict and his experience in the boy pack suit him for more aggressive forms of team interaction. A man is not a warrior necessarily but he is fairly close to a warrior once he is a mature man.

Then there have arisen a variety of questions related to population. One of the really absurd assumptions that the “presumably educated” carry with them these days is that ours is the first era wary of overpopulation because the total world and total human population are at their highest levels currently. Almost nobody that ever majored in anthropology, Chinese history, or archaeology would think this could be common but for ever well-rounded MBA and engineer there are two who have a cultivated instinctive feeling that the neanderthals came out of the caves in about 1850 and their own employer then proceeded to build the world as we know it. From this instinctual base no amount of effort will reach the truth. Population control forces have often been brutal and have varied from society to society and have included across the world: cannibalism of young women and girls by young men, sending young men off into wars where many died and where women and children were either directly killed or prevented from continuing as a growing population indirectly, making eunuchs of a substantial number of boys just before manhood, killing those naturally inclined to homosexuality, forcing many into homosexual roles including forcible rape in supposedly celibate monasteries, directing all young men to have sexual relations with a few prolific prostitutes and keeping large numbers of young women as ghostlike slaves in some kind of enclosed environment. When someone is very enthused about population control they are usually a bad person in my experience. However, that does not mean that overpopulation cannot be a threat I believe humanity must advance technically and become more efficient must colonize the pelagic ocean and seamounts and (quite seriously) Mars in a big way but that does not mean I think we can afford unrestricted population growth. Part of manhood is becoming aware of population issues in a way that most girls and women near his age will have been for much longer. A boy may parrot off ideas about population but a man can take some responsibility. Part of this is that of his own progeny (this is not as related to total population as most of you think. Total population is a function of the number of children per average woman and almost the opposite of number of children per individual man.). Many men, although not nearly all, realize that with the effort, some luck and enough violence to survive all the angry people he would create around him he might enjoy fathering several hundred or maybe a thousand children during early manhood. Many men who experience this inner realization behave in a quite sober and chaste way and enter into stable monogamous marriages. But the realization has an effect on his thinking about the difference between what one might want and what one does.

In terms of population policy I myself favor the habitat expansion I have described, I wish all girls studied the most advanced forms of natural family planning in secondary school as part of a journey of self-knowledge in secondary school. I wish all girls had access to sports and education when young. I wish boys took a shorter course in natural family planning their last year in secondary schools. I wish healthy monastic orders had a richer and more diverse roles along with canons in our society. So far I have said things that make me seem a Roman Catholic hero apologist. or a Roman Catholic ideologue nut depending on what ones point of view might be. Then comes the part where I begin getting nominated for excommunication and where others may be mystified. I think the Church should and (in the best case scenario) will evolve in its views about acceptable forms of birth control. I think properly regulated forms of polygamy should be legalized to allow a few men able to have more than one wife who will often have fewer children than a single wife to do so respectably (this is far more the norm in Christian history than almost anyone likely to read this realizes) and still have a large number of children of various social roles and provide homes and happiness for some women who cannot handle monogamy themselves but are good women as well as good people. I also believe young men should be allowed to risk their lives, they have an instinct for it and while the tragedy of resulting deaths is horrible for the families it is not as great as the tragedy for when young men are denied access to danger — many are poisoned and maimed for life in many ways. With that path I would feel as a man I was in a society doing enough for population control.

There is a great deal more to say about manhood but I want to end on one more thing. In many wise societies and in some wise families and religious groups a boy will mark his passage from the boy pack to man’s estate with some great solitary pursuit. Silent retreats, wilderness hikes, vision quests and two or three of these things ought to be a part of the passage for more people than they are. Here the boy finds his boyhood skills are integrated into him and that as a man he can control these shill in an independent and self-contained way a boy cannot. For the majority of young men it would be great if these solitary adventures were followed by something like a ball a big formal carnival of sexual attraction without sexual completion involved.

When all this is done a man can be an engineer, a general, a husband, a priest,an astronaut, a bishop, a king, or a farmer. However, I really don’t think it will ever be alright for us to forget to be and make men first. Once one is a young man there will be men besides one’s father who help one become something besides just a man and also finish the job of becoming a man. One of those men in my life has just joined my friends list. Since he is an accomplished writer with his own reputation to protect he may feel the need to write something distancing himself from all this politically incorrect animist Christianity interbred with science but I still must tag John Wesley Fiero in this list who played a key role in bring out my better qualities — my vast and varied collection of faults belong mostly to me, a little to my father (along with his contribution to the good in me) and not at all to Dr. Fiero. I hope the young men who read this will find a teacher or guide of half his quality or better in which case they will be blessed far beyond the average.”

End of the Facebook Note

 

I could not find a link that stated it but David Camardelle who is mayor of Grand Isle is son and father in a seafood and water tradition. I have a link to him and another below it to other families fighting to keep father to son traditions alive. 

5. http://nola.humidbeings.com/features/detail/443/The-Horizon-File-Mayor-David-Camardelle-of-Grand-Isle

6. http://calamities.gaeatimes.com/2010/06/10/oyster-shucking-a-la-seafood-business-a-way-of-life-threatened-by-oil-spill-off-gulf-coast-29209/

A special happy Father’s Day to my father Frank W.Summers II and also to my grandfather Ceil Bruce Gremillion senior. I wish a happy holiday to all of you and yours as well.

The British Petroleum Oil Spill and Memorial Day

Memorial Day actually springs from the traditions which came out of the Civil War, War Between the States, War of Northern Aggression, War to Save the Union, War for Southern Independence, Last Stand of Western Civilization or War to Put Down Rebellion– that great cataclysm of bloodshed and destruction which to many Southerners is what one is always presumed to be speaking about when one simply says “The War”. However on this Memorial Day my memory turns to the War Americans call the War of 1812 which gave us our National Anthem and the first complete military victory of the US over the Brits in a major engagement where no foreigners helped. That came in the battle of New Orleans.  Despite Lamar Mackay, Bob Dudley and thousands of US employees and stockholders the odd truth of all this is that the British and their Swiss allies are invading our most precious resources under the leadership of Tony Hayward and under the concealed banner of British Petroleum.  

Scraping oil off beaches

 

Below we have a map of how the British invaded Baltimore and how Americans sunk their own ships in a line to block access to the harbor. The British were large held at bay by that single maneuver and the heavy artillery from a fortress which was operating under an enormous star-spangled banner which a lawyer saw from a truce ship and about which he wrote the song which became our anthem.  
This Map Shows  how British Besiege and Attack Baltimore in war of 1812
The American gunboats were supported by a line of sunken American ships in lines not shown on that map that were sacrificed by the waterfolk and traders to limit movement of the mighty British fleet as well as by the fort McHenry which fired off huge guns and small ones beneath an enormous starry flag. The battle was watched by a lawyer in a truce fleet and  he wrote our National Anthem from its inspiration.

British invasion and repulsion in the Battle of New Orleans

 

The round of hostilities between Britain and America which reached such poetic height in Baltimore reached it end in the Battle of New Orleans which was fought very near where the current battle for the survival of the marshes is ongoing. We are facing the invasion of British Petroleum Crude near where Jackson and his army and Lafitte and his navy (injured by a new American attack) drove off some fine units of UK invaders. There in New Orleans they handed the British the first decisive defeat at the hands of an all American force in a major encounter. The Revolution owed much (if not most) of its winning to the Kingdom and Empire of the French but here French and English-speaking Americans drove out the British Empire in blood-soaked victory alone.    

This 2010 battle of Memorial Day  is an epic struggle and the stakes are very great. It is hard for us to win on this side because if there is little damage it will be used as an excuse for future sabotage or carelessness to be more easily permitted. If there is great damage then we live in age when the natural world is already under great strain and we have rich “well-educated” idiots (who had the capacity not to be idiots when they were young) in government and in big business who never think things through as regards the natural world. I hear so many stupid and irrelevant remarks. The damage done in a short period of time can wipe out millions of years of vital continuity and removing the toxins through there being biodegraded later won’t help. The oyster beds of South Louisiana ought to be compared and classed with vineyards of Napa and Sonoma and instead are classed with the sands of the Arabian deserts. It is hard for me to write this through all the pain and depression I am feeling.
I am very careful to use legal materials in this blog but if I have infringed any rights in this post I will worry about it after I see how much of my homeland has survived. This is a struggle  of enormous proportions. The eleven killed in the explosion and the  dozen or so cleaners who have been hospitalized have suffered in a war in which admirals, generals and Guardsmen are also battling. This is really a struggle for what cannot be replaced.   

http://www.usa-flag-site.org/song-lyrics/star-spangled-banner.html 

Local efforts to block oil incursions

I am going to include a few phrase of my own between pictures of the struggle and verses of the National Anthem. Just above you see people drawing a line against the new invasion. Do we doubt they risk their health in this noble struggle? 

 The Star Spangled Banner Lyrics
By Francis Scott Key 1814

 

 
Oh, say can you see by the dawn’s early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

  

 

 

Fishing fleet cleaning or stranded in many places

Like Baltimore and Lafitte’s flotilla it has fallen to small ship and boat owners to bear the brunt of much of this great battle and they do so alongside the Coast Guard and others in their government’s formal service. But is their civilian service much less patriotic? 

On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
‘Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave! 

A flotilla of shrimp boats adapted for skimming

This flotilla of shrimp boats sails like the Americans of 1812 and 1814 to save their homes families and country. Already some languish in hospitals. Are they not our heroes too?  

 And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion,
A home and a country should leave us no more!
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave! 

Louisiana National Guard fights a new enemy.

The National Guardsmen know that their world will not recognize this as combat. They will earn no new respect on world battlefields. Yet they risk their health in a beautiful but dangerous coastal wilderness under hot suns in proximity to possible and unmeasured risks of poisoning. The battle for their homeland and can not hurt the liquid at which they throw their human and mortal flesh. Are they not good warriors in this case as well?  

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war’s desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave! 

 I wish everyone a good Memorial Day weekend. I have several friends nobly risking their lives in the two foreign wars we are fighting  and I wish them well.  SD, AD, JS,and JS if you read this know you are not forgotten. But this day my heart is full of pain and also the debt of respect for those who fight with little hope for honor or glory against an invasion so near to so much that I love. 

Note: Throughout the BP Macondo oil leak crisis I was responding day by day to an enormous set of devastating problems for many that I care about deeply or am connected to. While I have made no money on all that work and tried to use my own, open source or public domain materials in every case the stresses were enormous. This particular post has received many views and I have few if any net assets. If it happens that this or any materials used during the crisis are proprietary and used without permission I first apologize and secondly will do in a slow and careful manner whatever I can to make things right. Nonetheless, I am gratified that so many have visited this post over such a long time…

Passover, Holy Week and the World’s Insane Savagery not always Progressing Civilization

“On the First Day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the disciples approached Jesus and said, ” Where do you want us to prepare for you to eat Passover?” Matthew  26: 17  NAB. During Easter and Holy Week Christians celebrate Jesus celebrating his national and ancestral holiday of the feast of Passover.  Jesus the Redeemer and Deliverer was celebrating a holiday of Delivery and Redemption when  he entered into the suffering and death of his Paschal mystery. According to the Bible the Hebrew had come into Egypt as wealthy administrators whose zenith was embodied in the man Joseph who struck  a shrewd deal to help Egypt through a crisis and secure his people’s survival. Perhaps ties to Hyksos Semitic elements before or after their dynasty and ties to lands as far away as Babylon and as close as Canaan enabled the early Hebrew clans to play a key role as a small part of the Egyptian society and economy. But things change. “Then a new king, who knew nothing of Joseph, came to power in Egypt, He said to his subjects, look how numerous and powerful the Israelite people are growing, more so than we ourselves! Come, let us deal shrewdly with them to stop their increase, otherwise in time of war they too may join our enemies to fight against us and so leave our country.” Exodus 1: 8-9 NAB.

The Hebrews are enslaved (although neither in the systems we have known relatively recently nor in the system for individual war captives in Egypt) and when that doesn’t do the trick infanticide is commanded to keep them down. Doubtless many Hebrews gave children to any Egyptian who would save them. One of those saved was Moses who became the deliverer of the Passover. There are no real vowels from which English translates his name in the oldest texts.   So we may say his name was Mss. The Pharaohs often had names like Ramses (Rmss) or Thutmose (Ttmss). As a Hebrew  reared as an Egyptian Prince he was doubtless possessed of the name of an egyptian God followed by the “mss” name. He then removed that Pagan first syllable and had a new meaning given to the last two syllables of that name perhaps based on an event or perhaps based on a wall known story of Sargon which was in the Pharaoh’s  Palace Library — and so his name tells a story. Moses’s struggles, spiritual journey and growing sense of Hebrew identity filled a period after he fled Egypt for killing an Egyptian and then returned to seek the deliverance of his people. Why would an atheistic team of scholars and scientists say he appeared to confront Pharoah at that time?  Many such say the story is made up. But I say they are lazy cowards.   

A man learned in all the vast science and wizardry of Egypt that an astute Princeling could learn there he added to it ties with Semite and nomads with old ties to his Hebrew Ancestors. He preayed and sought the help of God for a deliverance for his people. Through consultation and study steadied in prayer he became certain enough that a vast volcanic eruption was coming to the Eastern Mediterranean. The first shifting of plate and upheavals of the Earth came after he had already begun to prophesy to Egypt’s leaders. They found the water reddish and discolored and somewhat poisoned after the prophesied first quake. Hebrews rejoiced at this sign that their unique leader could predict the future. Frogs first, then gnats and then flies were driven from wetlands and wilderness and among the flies were stinging water creatures found in new puddles and flats. Moses preached and life got bad. Moses and his agents kept a sense of pace and theater building the tension and soon the bad water, gasses from fault cracks and rotting bodies and waste of insects led to devastating disease.

The Seventh plague of hail came as the first ashes coated with ice and snow stirred up storms with the early eruptions.  These storms stirred up unprecedented numbers of bugs that swarmed to escape the hostile climate. Then the Locusts descended on a blighted land. Finally the main eruption poured forth and the ejecta cloud darkened the skies for three days. Moses had prevented the Hebrews from being victimized in these terrible ordeals — perhaps sacrificed or eaten and instead had made them feared when he preached and predicted all of this. In the Wealthy Houses many if the Heirs lived in areas of the building nearest the outgassing inlets and as the Hebrews gathered to pray, plan, drill at arms and feast these died in their sleep.

Then the Hebrews moved away from Egypt and found water courses diverted and dams of debris creating dry corridors. The crossed over these and when the Egyptians had second thought s the waters were returning to courses and the armies were cut off surrounded, flooded and washed away by the returning waters.  The Hebrews followed a column of cloud near the coast by day as the cloud of the erupting volcano was visible and of fire at night as it glowed. Exhausted birds flying from lands devastated by the volcano fed them and the ashes fell down with humidity from the sea and caused little plants to produce food in the desert for flocks and people and this went on for a while and was called manna.  With courage and faith they risked it all in a world turned upside down and found themselves free at the end. Unfortunately many seminaries are either illiterate or else see only how fairy tales are similar to these stories.

Jesus was also a real man who really healed the sick. He really fed the hungry and preached and led crowds. He came to Jerusalem knowing he would die horribly with the endless courage that typified him and his life. He came among other things to celebrate the Passover. 

I do appreciate the glories of Egypt and Rome. I am not a romantic idealist purist who hates all trappings of power and pomp. But the great stories at the heart of  Judaism and Christianity are also about human greatness. These are not worthless fools serving a worthy God. This is God drawing near to his people.   

In recent posts I have been putting up a goodly number of more or less political postings.  In fact, the last half-dozen have all been political without an exception. I could have interrupted these to do a personal post on my brother’s wedding but I did not.  Having committed to this political expression I have decided to go on with the process for the immediate future. Everyone has got their discontents and their sense of what are the tolerable limits of their civic and social situation before they must take some kind of drastic action to change that situation or remove themselves from it. I am not arguing that whatever I will do is immediately and inextricably linked to what society as a whole will find to be the right and practical response. In fact, in may ways my own place is one of having lost that basic sense of trust in society which would be at the base and part of the very essence of such an assertion as I disclaim here. But on this holiday as we think of our civilization let us remember that civilization is more than power alone. Besides the unique and great criticisms of Moses and Jesus Egypt and Rome retained much of whatever habitability and decency they did retain because of others who sought more than just power in that sense and were also able people who could wield power.

Human Habitat,  Resources, Sex and Reproduction, Military Culture, Bio-diversity,  Really Understood Moral Hazard, Preservation of Momentum and Continuity of Resources are all themes I would like to address in my blog. I would like to draw near to a plan for reforming our society. However, I want to take a break to ponder God’s mercy in the redemptions we celebrate just now. As we move into SPRING, maybe a new springtime of a genuine and intelligent faith can find its way into our policy.

Happy Passover and Happy Easter.

A Friday the Thirteenth Look at Evil…

Today is Friday the Thirteenth. There are ancient roots of the superstitions related to this day as it is currently noted. However,  while thirteen has long and broadly been a scary number and Friday is the day that Jesus died the combination of Friday and the thirteenth as both scary and unlucky is not so old in its current organized fashion. However,  as long as it has existed as an association it has been a bit associated with evil and also with the aspects of evil we find in the milieu which Americans especially describe as occult or related to the literary and cinematic context known as horror .  One of the most successful franchises of bloody horror films in American popular culture  is titled Friday the Thirteenth.  Another is called  Halloween both Friday the Thirteenth and Halloween were released on the dates indicated by their title. It may mean something that there were more Friday the Thirteenth Films (as I recall) although they did lose the title and the release connection over time. I am not so much a horror fan myself but the tradition is still relevant.
At midnight last night when the calendar began this Friday the Thirteenth the new movie in the Twilight series “New Moon” was released. This pursues the idea of war between vampires and werewolves which had almost disappeared from popular culture before the making of the Underworld movies with Kate Beckinsale. For a glimpse at the pre-historical background behind the fiction see my earlier posts here on this blog.   
 
 and also
 
 
I have not read the Twilight books nor seen the movie the New Moon but I did see the first Twilight movie. and it is a quality piece of film. I am disturbed by the making of vampires into sex symbols of such importance but I do see the value of the moral and social messages, Kristen Stewart is beautiful in a way that is a more available sexual ideal in Bella than many characters and more humane as well for many girls. Now I think the werewolves hidden in the first movie may be revealed in an interesting way.  Many if not most of those going to see these movies in the United States would identify themselves as Christians and the creator-writer is a member of a body which while outside of conventional Christianity is tied to the Christian tradition — she is a Mormon.  So what is the appeal of these films and other aspects of the horror genre. Are they just bad,silly and spiritually dangerous?  
Twilight_star_Kristen_Stewart signing autographs

Kristen Stewart the Actress who Portrays Bella in the Twilight Series

 I am not really going to deal with films and literature outside the Gospels for the rest of this post. Nor am I going to deal effectively with all the issues of inculturating the Gospel into various countries and cultures with varied pagan roots.  The Facebook Note which makes up most of this post  is really largely a follow-up to my Veterans Day post from the day before yesterday. This post    https://franksummers3ba.wordpress.com/2009/11/11/veterans-day/      had a related Facebook Note. They deal with Jesus and his experience which must define much of our view of Good and Evil even for those who are not Christians and simply wish not to be ignorant fools — because of his cultural influence. So here is my Facebook Note.    

 Saturday, April 18, 2009 at 4:09pm | 
There is always the question of evil isn’t there…. The question of evil haunts all of us. Many, many people do not believe in evil. I know that, nonetheless, the question of evil haunts them too. Anyone who reads my notes knows that I value being a Christian very highly. I did not say that I was a very good Christian — those are separate issues in very many ways. But one of the primary reasons that I value my identity as a follower of Jesus Christ is because of how he dealt with evil. The question of evil has a huge draw on my attention. I am palpably and intensely aware of evil. Jesus Christ is the place where goodness interfaces most intensely with evil in my experience. The Christianity that is all about us does not always remind me of Jesus in that way although sometimes it does. Nor do I myself always remind myself of Jesus in that way although sometimes I do.

I see a tremendous and powerful amount of evil in many people who are very confident that they are good people and whose friends all say so. I see a powerful and forceful flow of evil in groups and institutions that many regard highly. I certainly see some evil in myself. I know that I am more polite to many people even in my more cussed middle-aged than many others have been to them and I respect many institutions others detract from — and yet in some cases I see huge evil lurking in these people and institutions and never doubt that it is present and active through the agency of these people and groups. So when they are around me at least, the question of evil (as opposed to evil itself) does haunt them. It haunts them in my reactions.

Evil is by its nature a very tricky sort of subject. It is not the kind of thing that one would expect to yield up all it secrets without struggle. Jesus confronted evil. Christians may disagree about many things but the truth is that all those who are not merely impostors find some significant part of the goodness of Jesus Christ in that he confronted evil. The Gospels of Matthew, Mark all recount a special instance of Jesus’s confrontation with evil once he had been baptized by his cousin John and been specially recognized by some manifestation of the Holy Spirit. St. Mark’s account is a good place to start for anyone who does not know or does not remember the Scriptures or life of Christ very well.

Mark 1: 12-13 simply states:
At once the Spirit drove him out into the desert, and he remained in the desert forty days tempted by Satan. He was among the wild beasts and the angels ministered to him.

That, one might say, is the basic framework of what happened. Devils, The Spirit, angels and wild beasts are at the extremes of naming and here they all are together. Jesus went through some kind of very powerful and very real experience which is left as a mystery. Mark’s is the shortest gospel. It is he who gives us the briefest account of this event. We tend to overlook some of the big claims of the gospels and some of its big language because it is so familiar to us. One part we overlook is the idea that Jesus lost himself in the temple one Passover as an older child and amazed all the doctors and teachers of the law. Prior to his baptism this is one of the last things which the Gospels tell us about him. The Great Temple was an overwhelming place and the schools that met in its porticoes and courts were outstandingly rich and deep in scholarship. Sometimes I think that if there were any real Bible believers in the vast and varied world of professional Christian scholarship there would be book every few years about that one story. That story is related to that of the Testing and Temptation in the Desert. I will attempt to explain how.

The finding of Jesus in the Temple is one of the stories from oral tradition and what might be called pamphlets from which the Gospel writers wrote the story of Jesus. However, the Baptism and the Temptation in the Desert are part of the prologue of the Book of Signs. In the Prologue there was the Mysterion which was the first section and the Revelation which is the Baptism and Temptation more or less. As I recall the tradition I learned is that the book had 12 signs and they were less coded and concealed than the Gospels but the Mysterion had an exhortation to all writing copies to code the stories of each pearl to protect it from swine. The first sign was the wedding in Cana, the second was the Calming of the Storm, the third was the Demons and Swine, the fourth was the first Feeding, the fifth was the second Feeding (which the Gospels do not mention), the sixth was the Walking on Water,
the seventh was the third Feeding, the seventh was the Prediction of the Passion which in the Book of Signs Jesus makes at the site of a group of crucified Zealots, The Eighth was the entry into Jerusalem, the Ninth was The Devil approaches Judas, The ninth was the Cleansing of the Temple, The tenth was the Speech of the Living Waters, the eleventh was the Preparation of the Room and the Twelfth was the Last Supper. This book had a significant influence on all the canonical Gospel writers. Of all books ever written from original sources, mostly the writer’s experience of having known Jesus and the witness of his own known associates who had known Jesus, it had the most information about Jesus as a warrior.

To know what Jesus had been doing in the desert it is useful to understand the narrative of the Temple. That is simply the truth it is a very important story. We are told in another infancy narrative that Jesus went into Egypt as a child to avoid the persecution of Herod the Great. We are told also that he was visited by Wise men from the East. What the story of the boy Jesus in the temple tells us is that almost two decades before his public ministry Jesus was already very well-educated.

Jesus’s family arrived in Egypt with a valuable skill, gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. They were a literate family with a royal pedigree and an indescribable set of recent experiences. The Great Synagogue of Alexandria was open to them directly and the The Great Library of Alexandria was open to them indirectly. They arrived there at a time when another group of persons who were not Roman Citizens were using, money eloquence and organization to increase library access to all — these were the Buddhist missionaries. I learned to read at two, Jesus had a much higher IQ than I do and his family were more royalist, strict and attentive to their own identity than mine. The child Jesus was steeped in a sense of destiny educated in carpentry, the skills of the House of David, a broad base of Judaica and yes also some Pagan and Buddhist learning. With the Buddhists and the Magi he also came to much knowledge from the far East. He would leave Egypt with a basic knowledge of Latin, Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic languages.

Then he had some experience with his priestly relatives in Jerusalem. He had the study and dialog with the great minds of the Temple when he visited there. All of this he fermented, cultured and refined in a life of work, craft and culture in a small country town. A family resented for royal pretensions while living on more or less middle class means and being regular and ordinary members of the synagogue by most measures. Jesus had begun to attract some attention as a potential great rabbi and had some rabbinical training before he journeyed to be baptised by John. Joseph had sent him on errands to retrieve timbers and visit his own Davidic relatives. With these representatives of the House he learned to use the sling and the staff, to track the lion and the bear, to find water in the desert and use its rare herbs and resources he learned to sing the psalms and recite the promises and to adopt a royalist view of women. All this was done between a constant set of ordinary duties and so he never married. He began to refer to and hear his mother referred to as the Queen of his own world of associates and mysteries but to almost everyone he was only a good carpenter, a somewhat reserved bachelor and a lector at the synagogue.

The quiet young man had noticed that a famine was beginning in Galilee. Crops were failing, fish were dying, bandits were raiding and there were many troubles. He set off on a journey for many reasons but one was to find the source of this trouble. After being baptised by John and alone fasting and praying in the desert he found a source of these and many other woes.

It was significant that he went to see John and be baptised first. His cousin was a former Essene. There was a nexus of royalist, semi-Buddhist and Magi influences in nonetheless Jewish Israel. This was the Essene movement. Qumran and the great Dead Sea scrolls preserve of books are such a huge find that they have made modern people think that they were all that the Essenes were, but ancient libraries and organizations were different from modern ones. We know that some of John’s Followers were numbered among the twelve Apostles. As the young (but not so young) Jesus went into the desert he was followed a t a distance by a few men of great Essene learning. He was on the very short list of possible Messiahs they were watching in a crisis they saw brewing. Here the young man of perhaps thirty or so met a man more ancient than all but a few living in the world. A man who would introduce himself in Hebrew and Aramaic as Satan. Does this seem so unlikely and unusual? That is perhaps one of the costs of a vast and profound ignorance. No individual can overcome such a constructed ignorance fully alone.

When ordinary Roman troops attacked a country or civilization they often studied its religion and worshipped and propitiated its gods. Medals were struck and widely distributed honoring the local deities and these were worn by the Legions. But the Demons were far more sophisticated in religion than Rome. Their commander had learned the lore of dozens of dark cults and rites. He was the living incarnation of Pluto, Loki, Hades, perverter of Mithraism, Buddhism and many other cults. In entering Judea he channeled the force and persona of Satan. The Fallen Seraph, Corrupt Prosecutor at the Throne of God had vast knowledge of Scripture and so playing the role required some knowledge of Scripture. He had the wealth and resources to have such texts prepared for the rare occasions when he might meet a Jew worthy of a personal interview. Jesus met this impressive man who knew him from a network of spies.

What are the temptations of Christ?

They are the same three temptations in Matthew and Luke. The order of the second two varies but the oder of the first is the same, and in all of this there is a message. Jesus finds Satan near his assembling Demon administration in a remote redoubt in the harsh Judean desert. To find this would normally be death but Satan is sure that Jesus could be of great value to his enterprise. So he is offered a place in the administration. Help Satan turn the best fishermen of Galilee into meat and he and his family will be allowed to eat and live. The word “stone” or “rock” is most often used to describe one person in the Gospels — Peter. Peter was prominent fisherman already known to so observant a man as Jesus and he stands in for all those Satan would like to start capturing. Turning into pies and sausages those who produced the most food in the first Jewish target. Causing the Collapse of the Tetrarchy of the relatively weak and terrified Herod Antipas in Famine would end the last real form of Jewish sovereignty now that Judea had become a military province. Jesus could protect his own and feed his family by helping to turn these stones to bread. Satan makes the offer knowing that he has seen princes and kings gratefully accept these terms. He has around him the forces to drive all but a very few hearts to terror and despair.

Luke 4:3-4
“If you are the Son of God command this stone to become bread. Jesus answered “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone.'” ”

Jesus rebukes and rebuffs and refutes he does not try to slink away. Satan knows that his first efforts have been badly misguided. He is not sure who this man is but he is not going to be even a high ranking flunkee. So he sets out to reveal to Jesus what his two options will be even should he survive this interview.

He can go to Jerusalem and call upon his ties and relations at the temple as well as his princely claim to the allegiance of the City of David. He can lead a suicidal revolt that Rome will use as an excuse to crush all Jews and which will open the path for Demons to play. Otherwise he can seek to cooperate with the Demons and they will help him to take Antipas’ throne and then make his move. They will let him operate with some dignity and respect so long as he guaranties that when he does give up hope all the power of the lives and flesh of his people will be theirs. He must be the Devil’s vassal. Since Satan is a heavenly Prince as the book of Job teaches us there is no real blasphemy here. Satan in his splendor, spiritually intense, surrounded by narcotic and hallucinogenic smokes and mists makes in the offer of kingship as generous an offer as he has ever made. While the two accounts are similar I will leave you to read Luke 4 and Matthew 4 for the accounts on your own. Jesus ends the interview and as Satan retreats he makes his way into the desert again. The gospels do not really code the next section of the story it is absent.

Jesus walks away from Satan and is followed by two demon assassins. They are strong and powerful and have orders that he not reach the settled land alive. He is weak from fasting, nights of prayer and the effects of Satan’s drugged smoke. He leads them in a very particular way at a very particular pace. He sees the white-robed Essene messengers drawing near but very far away. The assassins draw their short swords and round a rock to pin him in a small defile. They rush in but do not see him instead they see one of the few stealthy prides of lions in the Judean desert not taken to an arena. They are killed and devoured — not entirely in that order. Jesus is then met a bit further on by the Essene emissaries who with prayers to God and channeling the angels of his Holy Court attend to Jesus with food, water and help in disappearing. They note his story.

So the pacifist or revolutionary or whatever Jesus kill these demon asassins with lions. Does that change too much? The real point is that Jesus will have to deal with the facts the Devil presented. But the court he will found will not be their vassal and will not crush the smoldering wick that is the murderous Antipas who will kill his beloved cousin. He will start trouble in Jerusalem but will arrange to absorb all the pain and get all the credit in the short-term. Before that passion he will do many things the Devil cannot imagine. He will use pigs to feed Jews fish mixed with other fish, bread and other food , he will heal countless lepers (many of whom were ill with poverty and neglect fostering rashes or festering wounds) and other sick people as well and he will organize the fishermen of Galilee in such a way that even those who did not follow him directly would be richer, more active, more alert and harder to capture. He would directly lead attacks on Demon camps.

These things he did were hard for the Devil to understand or deal with. However, that was only the beginning. In his teaching and in the Eucharist he changes a fundamental advantage the Demons have always had over many of their prey. He makes it possible to think about cannibalism without practicing it. He makes it possible to prove that a great man can find dignity greater in giving up his flesh as the Bread of Life than he would in being a flesh-broker for the Demons. While the Christian heritage has often been misused and perverted it still towers high as one of the greatest confrontations of evil. He is not a pacifist and will hurt people, he is meek and humble, he cannot be discounted. He fasts but he also enjoys food, wine, the attentions of women and music. He will not yield all human pleasures to the Devil.

In the Facebook Note “War & Easter” I crossed a point of no return and began putting into public view an ancient esoteric interpretation of the Gospels which I know in my heart is true. I have continued that here and may now stop for at least a while. But the point is that for me Jesus is the most convincing case in all of the human record of full engagement with evil which is manifest by someone who is very good himself. To some Christians this view of Jesus will not be spiritual enough and seems like giving in to modern secularism. To the secular it is old-fashioned superstition. To me it is both historical and spiritual truth.

I wish you all the best in your own struggles with evil.

END OF FACEBOOK NOTE—

So have a safe and enjoyable Friday the Thirteenth.