Tea Party Playwright Between the Lines

Below is a video of David Mamet, a well-known contemporary playwright, discussing his conservatism.  There is much more detail of how he came to be a conservative as well as essays of his well thought out viewpoints to be found in his book, The Secret Knowledge. The book is quoted in the video. I highly recommend it to you.

I post this interview not for the sake of the underlying political ideology that I as a thinking Christian would certainly endorse.  Rather, I post this so that we as Kingdom Venturers will gain understanding of our culture. More importantly I post this to gain one Jew’s perspective; to understand a modern Jew who has left the liberal Jewish fold- the world of Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky and the Hollywood decision makers-with a deliberateness based on definitive forethought.

If you are not familiar with Mamet’s work, then I would suggest starting with the movies Glengarry Glen Ross and Homicide. You will soon become aware of his fast-paced, tight, street-wise “Mamet Speak” dialogue.

Caveat:  I do not agree with Mamet’s description of the Torah, the Jewish Canon, as a bunch of good stories and fables about humanity.  Instead, the Torah, the Law and the Prophets and all of Scripture in a matter-of- fact way reminds us that God keeps his covenant promises. He keeps his word even though we like sheep have gone astray ~ perhaps it is the “tragic” humanity part that Mamet (and Thomas Sowell, an atheist) refers to. The Scriptures also, both Old and New Testament, point to the Kingdom of God coming to earth.

I do agree with Mamet that the Torah, the Scriptures, are inspired, but not in a “this-is-a-unique-and-special-compilation-of good drama” way.  Rather, the Scripture, the entire canon of 66 books bound in Old (39 books) and New Testament (27 books) are God breathed-inspired. In other words, God by the Holy Spirit spoke through men’s words, their personalities and their time and place in the world to give us his space/time understanding and to give us His ordinances leading to a life in relationship with him.  

 In the Scriptures we read that God breathed out creation~theistic evolution~ and I believe most likely through the Big Bang.  God goes on to breathe spirit and soul into mankind and then write His Law onto men’s hearts. We learn that God spoke his Ten Commandments to Moses and to his chosen people the Jews. God later ‘inspires’ prophets and evangelists alike to speak the good news of his son Jesus to all who would become one of God’s chosen through faith in his promises. God would send the world a surprise that would forever change our lives via his Son’s Kingdom on earth.

 The Kingdom of God on earth was inaugurated when Jesus Christ, very God, became incarnate and was born to Mary. 

 Though never mentioned in our church creeds, Jesus lived for over thirty years a holy, completely sinless life according to the Law and the Prophets ~ a Kingdom Life.  Then, as prophesied throughout the Old Testament, Jesus died on a cross as the perfect sacrificial Passover Lamb of God. 

The Messiah did this to ensure that His covenant promises would be upheld ~ that all the world would be saved, that Abraham’s descendants would be as many as the stars and that all who have faith in him would become Abraham’s children.  he did this so that his covenant with King David would be fulfilled~one of his descendants would be a King forever ~ Jesus would be crowned Lord of all.

Before his death Jesus said, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up again.”  As promised the resurrection of Jesus took place three days after his death. We are now walking around on resurrection ground.

Now to a most interesting interview:

Not One and Done

 

Don’t you know that when people run on the racetrack everybody runs, but only one person gets the prize? Run in such a way that you’ll win it. Everyone who goes in for athletics exercises self-disciple in everything. They do it to gain a crown that perishes; we do it for an imperishable one. Well then: I don’t run in aimless fashion!” The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Corinthian church, 9: 24-26

 

Some collected thoughts…

Watching the qualifying heats of the IAAF World Championship in London during my Saturday morning workout, I recalled my days as a runner. Before entering high school, I signed up for cross country. I loved to run. On the team, I ran long and hard and, always last. To finish with a flourish, I sprinted the last fifty yards in every distance race I ever ran. My legs were willing but my endurance lagged behind.

Coach Hammond took notice and mentioned that he wanted to time me doing the 50-yard dash on the track. When I did, the coach was pleased with my time. He said I should sign up for indoor track that winter. So, I did.

What I learned that winter: I could run hard and fast, like a Cheetah, for a short span. Others could run a strong pace and keep it up for miles.

Spring time came around and outdoor track began in my freshman year. We trained hard, repeating wind sprints at every practice. I found that I could handle running to each end of a football field when I had time to catch my breath between repeats.

As a sprinter, I practiced staring out of the blocks. Our relay team practiced passing the baton. We practiced 220 repeats.

During my freshman year I was timed at 5.6 for the 50-yard dash. I was told by my coach that I was the fastest person in the high school. After having finished last in X-country I began to feel better about my abilities. I just had to find the right race to employ them.

Socially, my speed worked to remove me from guys that wanted to take advantage of me.

Over four years, I attended Inter-high school track meets. My coach would have me run qualifying heats for the 100-yard dash, the 220-yard dash, the 440-yard dash and the 440-relay. And, when a slot was open, he would have me run the 880 relay.  Imagine running at least eight races in one eight-hour period. I was fit but exhausted after the last race.

When you compete in sectionals, you compete against top athletes from area high schools. The qualifying heats narrow the field down to the final race qualifiers. The first-through-third place winners received medals. And back then, there were no participation trophies. In the races, you either placed or you didn’t. The races I had run before only helped me up to the starting line. The next race was mine to run and to win. A good athlete is not one and done if he doesn’t place in the heats or finals. A good athlete is not affirmed from outside but from within. In the end, a stop watch holds the runner accountable to the mastery of their body.

I ran to win. I ran to win for my team and, without any thought given to it, I ran to push myself to be the fastest and most consistent sprinter I could be. Showing up to receive a medal at the end of a race would not make me any faster. The hard-disciplined training beforehand would. The competition only helped me to fire on all cylinders. And, it didn’t hurt that Flash, a comic book superhero, was popular then. (After my X-country hopes were dashed, I traded icons: Jim Ryan (first sub-4-minute miler) for Flash.)

~~~

You’ve run races for 88 years. You are in the final stretch of the final race. Your legs can no longer carry you to the finish line. You are being pushed in a wheel chair. Your strength is almost depleted. Your mouth and your thoughts run dry. Even with crowd support, you know that you’re on your own and your own is being pushed forward by others. You ask God for a finish line, for your running is dissolving into a blur. The Coach’s voice is somewhere near and yet, distant.

Mom, My Oldest Son and I

The other day, as I was leaving my mother after an extended visit, she hugged me and then said that she wanted to sit down and tell me something. She mentioned that she is tired and that life has nothing for her right now. My dad passed away several years ago.

“What’s the point?” she said.

“Mom, I don’t have an answer for you,” I replied. I didn’t. And, this was no time for spiritual bromides. But, I did have some understanding of what she was telling me, having reached an age where life seems to be asking me “What now?” And from that unsettled question I could suppose that at some point near the end of your life, you have seen all that you want to see and tasted all that you want to taste and enjoyed all that life has to offer. And you believe that you have endured all the loss and pain humanely possible.

Mom is unable to get out of the house by herself. And her eyes are dimming. She often sits alone in her house watching a TV that, she says, offers almost nothing of value. And though family live nearby to care for mom, I am only able to visit her for a time. I live in another state and see her as often as I can while working a fulltime job.

I asked my mother if she knew what would make a difference right now. She didn’t know of anything. Right then I knew that this life would no longer hold her up. She had seen the Lord’s salvation and was ready to leave this “vale of tears,” as she had once joked in the past. Nunc dimittis.

I looked at mom and said, “Ask Jesus what it is that you are doing here and now. Ask him and he will tell you. He has spoken to me often. Right before I drove out to see you mom, my spirit was troubled. I could not put into words what the matter was. Then, the other day, I sat down at my desk and heard the Lord say to me, “I am with you. You are not alone. I will go with you.”” My spirit understood that whatever I would go through, even though I wasn’t in control of what I didn’t even know, that I wasn’t alone. Finish the race. The outcome is God’s.

Mom has faithfully run the all races given her. Like Paul, mom has not run in aimless fashion. I am a witness of her life in Christ. She will receive the imperishable crown awaiting her at the finish line.

God help me as I follow in her train. Many more races must be run and done.

~~~

Today, August 6th, is the Feast of the Transfiguration. I am reminded that when things are out of focus for disciples like me that God has a way of bringing a bright cloud over my head and then speaking into my good ear: “This is my dear son,” says the voice, “and I’m delighted with him. Pay attention to him.”

Don’t Show Up. Be There!

Do you know the Olympics motto? “Citius, Altius, Fortius” (Latin for “Faster, Higher, Stronger”)

I bet you know Nike’s motto just from their swipe logo: “Just Do It.”

Why as Americans have we turned from away from meritocracy toward a progressive Disneyland of ‘equal’ ‘happy’ outcomes? Is it because of laziness? Perhaps. Is it due to sociologists and psychologists and therapists promoting untethered self-esteem and dignity? Most likely. Is it due to the politically partisan pandering of materialism by Progressives which demands an unnatural faux-equality to gain votes? Most likely. Whatever the lack of motivation, the Apostle Paul (c. 5 – c. 67) knew that man’s inherent idleness would kick in if he smelled a free lunch:

“And, indeed, when we were with you, we gave you this command: Those who won’t work shouldn’t eat!” Paul’s letter to the church at Thessalonica, 2 Thessalonians 3:10

For the people who have to prove themselves day after day, an athlete for example, the fact is that they have to earn their place on the team. Sports fans take meritocracy as a matter of fact. Why can’t we as an American people not only dream but also train and discipline our lives to create the outcomes that we desire to happen, as a matter of fact?

Every time we let government try to make equal outcomes happen we lose liberty, becoming ever more enslaved.

Do you know Pittsburgh Steelers’ linebacker James Harrison’s motto? “Earn it.”

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 28: James Harrison #92 of the Pittsburgh Steelers warms up prior to the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Heinz Field on December 28, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

PITTSBURGH, PA – DECEMBER 28: James Harrison #92 of the Pittsburgh Steelers warms up prior to the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Heinz Field on December 28, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

“James Harrison won’t let his sons accept participation trophies”

Pittsburgh Steelers’ linebacker:

“[James]Harrison took to social media this weekend to lash out at the idea that his sons should receive participation trophies simply for playing sports, saying that when he found out his sons were given such trophies, he demanded that they be sent back. Harrison believes that a trophy should be something you earn by being the best, not something you receive just for trying.

“I came home to find out that my boys received two trophies for nothingmaking them believe that they are entitled to something just because they tried their best…cause sometimes your best is not enough, and that should drive you to want to do better…not cry and whine until somebody gives you something to shut u up and keep you happy.”

Harrison concluded with the hashtag, “Harrison Family Values.” In James Harrison’s household, there’s no credit given for just showing up. If you want a trophy, you’d better win.”

James Harrison Instagram

James Harrison Instagram

~~~

At the beginning of last year I posted the following article about the futility of utilitarian egalitarianism

“Egalitarianism. Is It Equal To The Task?”

 

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.”

Here the Apostle Paul is writing a word of encouragement to the church in Corinth (1 Cor. 9:24). Remember Corinth? It is a city is in Greece, Greece being the birthplace of the Olympics.

Should Olympians ‘race’ when everyone gets the same prize at the finish line?

Egalitarianism = equal outcomes. And equal outcomes are what Progressives want to have happen within our legal system, within our education system-within society as a whole.

Egalitarianism is posited as a means to create the unspoken Utopian bureaucratic island where near-perfect socio-politico-legal systems exist and where no one has advantage over another except for the so-called elite who have been ‘blessed’ with “superior intellect.” Only they know enough to define life for you. (e.g., Cass Sunstein’s recent Nudge book).

In my younger days I was a sprinter. I would run many heats and then the final events. To do so I had to prepare for the weekly track meet. I will use my own ‘summer event’ experience to help you to consider whether egalitarianism is equal to the hard work and discipline required for life’s trials and to decide whether the rise of “egalitarianism” will benefit or hurt our society.

I wrote the following anecdote/moral fable based of my understanding of the “Constrained Vision” and the “Unconstrained Vision” as delineated by Thomas Sowell in his own favorite book “A Conflict of Visions”:

 

A Tale of Two Foot Races

Starting line

Race Number One:

 

Eight men enter a race. They are roughly about the same height and weight but come from very different backgrounds. The eight men enter the race knowing that there will only be one winner. It was for this outcome that they had prepared themselves with rigorous discipline during the past four years.

Months prior to the track meet the eight men are told of the rules: A runner must run in qualifying heats. If the runner is successful in those heats the runner will then be allowed to compete in the final race with the other qualifying runners; a runner who jumps the gun twice at the starting line will be disqualified as having a “false start”; the commands “Ready”, “Set” and a gunshot will be used by a track official to start the race fairly; each runner must stay in his lane or he will be disqualified; runners will be timed and the first runner to cross the finish line will be the winner of the race.

The runners all agree and sign off on the rules before the race.

On the day of the race and after qualifying in the heats eight runners come to the starting line. They know that they must run straight ahead in their own lane to reach the one-hundred meter line. They know that if they jump the gun twice they will be disqualified from running. They know that they must sprint as hard as they can to cross the finish line first. They are knowingly competing for first place. The race before them has now become the culmination of years of exhausting training and dedication to finishing the race and receiving first prize.

When the race is announced the runners shed their sweats and come to the starting line. The track official then announces, “Ready”. The runners will then carefully position their legs into the starting blocks and place their open hands stretched behind the starting line.

Once the runners have settled the track official then snaps “Set”. The runners immediately come up to a “set position”, coiled in their starting block. With the burst of the starting pistol eight men bolt from their starting blocks and run down the track as fast as their disciplined bodies will carry them.

The winner of the race is the one who breaks the tape. There is also a second, a third and fourth place finisher. The runners-up each congratulate the winner for his speed and, implicitly, for his fidelity to the rules and his commitment to the sport of racing.

The first three finishers receive medals, adulation and wreaths of honor from the thousands who have come to watch a fair race between those who have so vigorously prepared themselves. The experience of the race has bolstered each runner’s self-esteem. The cheering crowd is also moved by each runner’s self-sacrifice, dedication and self-discipline. This spectacle has confirmed the crowd’s understanding of playing by the rules and aspiring to excel within those rules. Those who witnessed the race that day are stirred, encouraged to excel at what they do.

All eight racers later return home. The runners-up are now more dedicated than ever to prepare for another day of racing and to receiving their own crown of victory. Ciltius, altius, fortius.

 

Race Number Two:

 

Eight men enter a race. They are roughly about the same height, weight but come from very different backgrounds. The eight men entered the race knowing that everyone will be a winner. It was for this outcome that they saw no need to prepare themselves with rigorous discipline during the past four years. They just had to show up.

Months prior to the race the eight men are told the rules. They are told the rules are subject to change at the time of the race based on the current ad hoc articulated reasoning of one superior intellectual with unquestionable virtue. A runner must run in qualifying heats but this will not be a constraint. Whether or not a runner is successful in those heats he will be allowed to compete in the final race with other ‘qualifying’ runners. The heats are basically events created to satisfy the need for more equality.

More rules: a runner who jumps the gun twice at the starting line will not be disqualified from running. Instead he will be given another chance; the commands “Ready” and “Set” and a gun shot will be used by a track official to start the race fairly, though any sincere attempt to cooperate with the official will be accepted; each runner must stay in his lane or he will be disqualified unless, of course, their background is such that they have never stayed within the lines; runners will not be timed because such keeping of minutes would be discrimination against slower runners. The first runner to cross the finish line will wait at the finish line so that everyone will be considered a winner of the race. This must be done at any personal cost to the first one crossing the finish line.

The runners agree and sign off on the rules before the race.

On the day of the race all of the runners come to the starting line. They know that they are supposed to run down to the finish line before the outcome-determining patrons. They know that there will be equal prizes and the egalitarian appreciation of well-wishers to look forward to. They are going to run for this reason. This race is now the culmination of years of knowing that the battle is just showing up and doing what you are told.

When all the runners are in their starting blocks and their hands are behind the starting line the track official then says, “Ready”. After a long moment of reasoned judgment the official says “Set”. The runners come up to set position. Then the race official shoots the starting gun. The eight men come out of their starting blocks and run down the track as fast as their unfocused discipline has trained them.

At the finish line everyone is a Finisher, even those who left the race due to being out of breath. There are hand-shakes and kudos all around for having shown up for such an event.

At the awards ceremony all the runners receive medals and congratulations. Thousands have come to watch a race between runners who have shown up for a race where the outcome was predetermined to be fair – fair as defined by the few judges of superior intellect and of unquestioned virtue.

 

Later, all the runners return home and rest for another day of showing up.

Egalitarianism. Is It Equal To The Task?

The 2014 Olympics is fast approaching… starting-line

 Should Olympians ‘race’ when everyone gets the same prize at the finish line?

 Egalitarianism = equal outcomes.  And equal outcomes are what Progressives want to have happen within our legal system, within our education system ~ within society as a whole.

 Egalitarianism is posited as a means to create the unspoken Utopian bureaucratic island where near-perfect socio-politico-legal systems exist and where no one has advantage over another except for the so-called elite who have been ‘blessed’ with “superior intellect.” Only they know enough to define life for you. (e.g., Cass Sunstein’s recent Nudge book).

 In my younger days I was a sprinter.  I would run many heats and then the final events.  To do so I had to prepare for the weekly track meet. I will use my own ‘summer event’ experience to help you to consider whether egalitarianism is equal to the hard work and discipline required for life’s trials and to decide whether the rise of “egalitarianism” will benefit or hurt our society.

 I wrote the following as a ‘real-life’ depiction of my understanding of the “Constrained Vision” and the “Unconstrained Vision” as delineated by Thomas Sowell in his own favorite book A Conflict of Visions:

A Tale of Two Foot Races

Race Number One:

Eight men enter a race.  They are roughly about the same height and weight but come from very different backgrounds. The eight men enter the race knowing that there will only be one winner.  It was for this outcome that they had prepared themselves with rigorous discipline during the past four years.

Months prior to the track meet the eight men are told of the rules:  A runner must run in qualifying heats. If the runner is successful in those heats the runner will then be allowed to compete in the final race with the other qualifying runners;  a runner who jumps the gun twice at the starting line will be disqualified as having a “false start”;  the commands “Ready”, “Set” and a gun shot will be used by a track official to start the race fairly;  each runner must stay in his lane or he will be disqualified;  runners will be timed and the first runner to cross the finish line will be the winner of the race.

The runners all agree and sign off on the rules before the race.

On the day of the race and after qualifying in the heats eight runners come to the starting line.  They know that they must run straight ahead in their own lane to reach the one-hundred meter line. They know that if they jump the gun twice they will be disqualified from running. They know that they must sprint as hard as they can to cross the finish line first. They are knowingly competing for first place. The race before them has now become the culmination of years of exhausting training and dedication to finishing the race and receiving first prize.

When the race is announced the runners shed their sweats and come to the starting line. The track official then announces, “Ready”. The runners will then carefully position their legs into the starting blocks and place their open hands stretched behind the starting line.  

Once the runners have settled the track official then snaps “Set”.  The runners immediately come up to a “set position”, coiled in their starting block. With the burst of the starting pistol eight men bolt from their starting blocks and run down the track as fast as their disciplined bodies will carry them.

The winner of the race is the one who breaks the tape. There is also a second, a third and fourth place finisher. The runners-up each congratulate the winner for his speed and, implicitly, for his fidelity to the rules and his commitment to the sport of racing.

The first three finishers receive medals, adulation and wreaths of honor from the thousands who have come to watch a fair race between those who have so vigorously prepared themselves. The experience of the race has bolstered each runner’s self-esteem. The cheering crowd is also moved by each runner’s self-sacrifice, dedication and self-discipline. This spectacle has confirmed the crowd’s understanding of athlete’s playing by the rules and aspiring to excel within those rules. Those who witnessed the race that day are stirred, encouraged to excel at what they do.

All eight racers later return home.  The runners-up are now more dedicated than ever to prepare for another day of racing and to receiving their own crown of victory. Ciltius, altius, fortius.

Race Number Two:

Eight men enter a race.  They are roughly about the same height, weight but come from very different backgrounds. The eight men entered the race knowing that everyone will be a winner.  It was for this outcome that they saw no need to prepare themselves with rigorous discipline during the past four years. They just had to show up.

Months prior to the race the eight men are told the rules.  They are told the rules are subject to change at the time of the race based on the current ad hoc articulated reasoning of one superior intellectual with unquestionable virtue.  A runner must run in qualifying heats but this will not be a constraint. Whether or not a runner is successful in those heats he will be allowed to compete in the final race with other ‘qualifying’ runners. The heats are basically events created to satisfy the need for more equality.

More rules: a runner who jumps the gun twice at the starting line will not be disqualified from running. Instead he will be given another chance; the commands “Ready” and “Set” and a gun shot will be used by a track official to start the race fairly, though any sincere attempt to cooperate with the official will be accepted; each runner must stay in his lane or he will be disqualified unless, of course, their background is such that they have never stayed within the lines; runners will not be timed because such keeping of minutes would be discrimination against slower runners.  The first runner to cross the finish line will wait at the finish line so that everyone will be considered a winner of the race. This must be done at any personal cost to the first one crossing the finish line.

The runners agree and sign off on the rules before the race.

On the day of the race all of the runners come to the starting line.  They know that they are supposed to run down to the finish line before the outcome-determining patrons. They know that there will be equal prizes and the egalitarian appreciation of well-wishers to look forward to. They are going to run for this reason. This race is now the culmination of years of knowing that the battle is just showing up and doing what you are told.

When all the runners are in their starting blocks and their hands are behind the starting line the track official then says, “Ready”.  After a long moment of reasoned judgment the official says “Set”.  The runners come up to set position.  Then the race official shoots the starting gun. The eight men come out of their starting blocks and run down the track as fast as their unfocused discipline has trained them.

At the finish line everyone is a Finisher, even those who left the race due to being out of breath. There are hand-shakes and kudos all around for having shown up for such an event.

At the awards ceremony all the runners receive medals and congratulations. Thousands have come to watch a race between runners who have shown up for a race where the outcome was predetermined to be fair ~ fair as defined by the few judges of superior intellect and of unquestioned virtue.

Later, all the runners return home and rest for another day of showing up.

*****

A Tale of Two Foot Races:  Equal Opportunities vs. Equal Outcomes by Sally Paradise © Sally Paradise, 2013, All Rights Reserved

Added 2/7/2014:

Communism Leads to Slavery Not To Equality

Where Do You Start?

A Tale of Two Foot Races

Race Number One:

Eight men enter a race.  They are roughly about the same height and weight but come from very different backgrounds. The eight men enter the race knowing that there will only be one winner.  It was for this outcome that they had prepared themselves with rigorous discipline during the past four years.

Months prior to the track meet the eight men are told of the rules:  A runner must run in qualifying heats. If the runner is successful in those heats the runner will then be allowed to compete in the final race with the other qualifying runners;  a runner who jumps the gun twice at the starting line will be disqualified as having a “false start”;  the commands “Ready”, “Set” and a gun shot will be used by a track official to start the race fairly;  each runner must stay in his lane or he will be disqualified;  runners will be timed and the first runner to cross the finish line will be the winner of the race.

The runners all agree and sign off on the rules before the race.

On the day of the race, after running in the heats, the eight qualifying runners come to the starting line.  They know that they must run straight ahead in their own lane to reach the one-hundred meter line. They know that if they jump the gun twice they will be disqualified from running. They know that they must sprint as hard as they can to cross the finish line first. They are knowingly competing for first place. The race before them has now become the culmination of years of exhausting training and dedication to finishing the race and receiving first prize.

When the race is announced the runners shed their sweats and come to the starting line. They will then position their legs into the starting blocks and place their hands stretched just hugging the starting line.  Seeing the runners in place behind the line the track official then says, “Ready”.  Then after a moment he says “Set”.  The runners then come up to a set position waiting for the starting pistol to go off.  When it does the eight men jolt from their starting blocks and run down the track as fast as their feet will carry them.

At the finish line the winner is the one who breaks the tape. There is also a second, a third and fourth place finisher. The runners-up congratulate the winner for his speed and, implicitly, for his fidelity to the rules and his commitment to the sport of racing.

The first three finishers receive medals, adulation and wreaths of honor from the thousands who have come to watch a fair race between those who have so vigorously prepared themselves. The experience of the race has bolstered each runner’s self-esteem. The cheering crowd is also moved by each runner’s self-sacrifice, dedication and self-discipline. This spectacle has confirmed the crowd’s understanding of playing by the rules and aspiring to excel within those rules. Everyone who witnessed the race that day is stirred to motion – a motion to go home and try harder.

All eight men later return home.  They are now more dedicated than ever to prepare for another day of racing and to receiving the crown of victory.

Race Number Two:

Eight men enter a race.  They are roughly about the same height, weight but come from very different backgrounds. The eight men entered the race knowing that everyone will be a winner.  It was for this outcome that they saw no need to prepare themselves with rigorous discipline during the past four years. They just had to show up.

Months prior to the race the eight men are told the rules.  They are told the rules are subject to change at the time of the race based on the current ad hoc articulated reasoning of one superior intellectual with unquestionable virtue.  A runner must run in qualifying heats but this will not be a constraint. Whether or not a runner is successful in those heats he will also be allowed to compete in the final race with other qualifying runners; a runner who jumps the gun twice at the starting line will not be disqualified from running. Instead he will be given another chance; the commands “Ready” and “Set” and a gun shot will be used by a track official to start the race fairly, though any sincere attempt to cooperate with the official will be accepted; each runner must stay in his lane or he will be disqualified unless, of course, their background is such that they have never stayed within the lines; runners will not be timed because such keeping of minutes would be discrimination against slower runners.  The first runner to cross the finish line will wait at the finish line so that everyone will be considered a winner of the race. This must be done at any personal cost to the first one crossing the finish line.

The runners agree and sign off on the rules before the race.

On the day of the race all of the runners come to the starting line.  They know that they should sincerely try running down to the finish line. There will be prizes and the appreciation of well-wishers to look forward to. They are knowingly going to try for this reason. This race is now the culmination of years of knowing that the battle is just showing up.

When all the runners are in their starting blocks and their hands are behind the starting line the track official then says, “Ready”.  After a long moment of reasoned judgment the official says “Set”.  The runners come up to set position.  When the race official shoots the starting gun the eight men come out of their starting blocks and run down the track as fast as their preparation has trained them.

At the finish line everyone becomes a finisher, even those who left the race due to being out of breath. There are congratulations all around for having showed up to such an event.

At the awards ceremony all the runners receive medals and kudos from the thousands who have come to watch a race between people who have showed up for a race where the outcome was predetermined to be fair – fair as defined by a few judges of superior intellect and of unquestioned virtue.

Later, all the runners returned home and rested from another day of showing up.

*****

A Tale of Two Foot Races:  Equal Opportunities vs. Equal Outcomes by Sally Paradise © Sally Paradise, 2011, All Rights Reserved

Ask Yourself …

Ask yourself …

Did the media just elect Geritol-ad Joe Biden as president-elect of their sock puppet theater?

Does the media care whether your one vote is disenfranchised by two illegal/invalid votes?

Did illegal votes pour in just like illegal aliens poured in at the behest of Democrats?

Are you buying the narrative that by not conceding to the main stream media/Democrats and by demanding a thorough investigation into alleged election corruption you are delegitimizing Democracy?

Was the NYT headline of Nov. 11, 2020 American Democracy DEMANDS every legal vote to be counted and the rest tossed? Or, was it Election Officials Nationwide Find no Fraud?

Should we just get on with our lives and assume that what the NYT and the media tells us (“Nothing to see here.”) is “good enough for me”?

During the takeover of a country by the forces of a dictatorship, does the media ‘cooperate’ with the power they are in cahoots with?

Do you believe that the media has your best interest at heart?

Are you aware that the media and social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.,) pose the greatest threats to democracy?

Are you OK with and feel secure in Groupthink?

Are you Ok with the shadow government of Democrats/media operating to take down President Trump the last four years?

Is the Democrat/Progressive party the party of Bolshevism?

Are you OK with submitting your income, your rights, yourself and your country to Bernie Sanders, BLM and the Socialist spice girls (Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar)?

Are you OK with the intolerance of the Democrats/Progressives/media and their desire to cancel you (your thoughts, your words, your religion) out?

Are you OK with being reduced to the lowest common denominator of life because socialism/Marxism says it must be so for equality?

Are you OK with Biden rescinding, through executive order, the immigration policies put in place to protect the country?

Have you heard of any terrorist attack on U.S. soil during the last four years?

Have you heard of the U.S. starting wars the last four years?

Are you OK with Biden placing America – its resources, its tax revenue and its people – at the behest of the self-serving token Paris Accord (a Tower of Babel) while the American private sector, the last four years, has produced alternative green energy sources and has made America energy independent?

What really matters: numbers of cases and positivity OR deaths directly and solely related to COVID-19?

Are you OK with a state government that shuts down your business and your livelihood as it plays God seeking to control a virus?

Will state government shut down communities and businesses for climate change and racism and “gun control” calling each a “public health crisis?

Who is the “public” in “public health”?

Is the “greater good” proffered by the state as the reason for its coercive and overbearing control of your life really the greater good?

Do you agree with a member of Biden’s new coronavirus task force and lockdown enthusiast, Dr. Zeke Emanuel, that life is not worth living past 75?

Who should have the say about your health: the state or you?

Do you believe the state is the answer to healthcare and not yourself?

Are we to obey all laws?

Am I ready for civil disobedience?

Are you OK with increased cases of depression, drug use, suicides, and child and spousal abuse that the lockdowns have produced?

Are you ready to disobey all state orders that hinder human flourishing, that are antisocial and inhuman and, that produce the negative effects as mentioned above?

Should we obey stay-at home advisories and orders? And, why?

Should we “cancel Thanksgiving” as Chicago’s Mayor Lightfoot has strongly advised?

Who should be quarantined?

Who should not be quarantined?

Should you be quarantined?

Who should not be forced to stay at home and to cancel Thanksgiving?

When Democrats propose policies do you challenge them and ask economist Thomas Sowell’s questions: “Compared to what?” and “At what cost?” and “What hard evidence do you have?”

Are you able to challenge them or are you cut off because you are not making them look good and they don’t have the answers to your questions?

Do Progressives care more about their vision than about humans they want to impose their vision on?

Are you able to think for yourself or do you need the state/media to tell you what to think?

Do you operate out of a sense of fear that has been relentlessly generated by the media and the state?

Should casinos operate with greater freedom and flexibility than houses of worship?

Should Illinois restauranteurs defy state mandates that drive them out of business and create massive unemployment?

 Should parents of school-age children in Illinois rally and protest to reopen schools?

Are the U.S. (and world) public health officials joined at the hip with China?

Are the U.S. public health policies driven by China, as are Hollywood and pro-sports?

Will compulsory vaccines, contact tracing and vaccine cards become the means to separate who’s in and who’s out of the New Globalist World Order in the coming days?

Are you OK with abuse of power and a Stalinist type enemies list and another Great Purge?

Do you rant and rave, calling America “racist” and society “systemically racist”, because you grew up in a single parent home without a father and never learned how to succeed in the world?

Are you OK with the individual being crushed, worn down, and reduced to powder in the mortar and pestle of the totalitarian Progressive Left?

Are you concerned about and afraid of firearms because the TV has relentlessly told you that you should be concerned about and afraid of firearms, as it has with Covid-19 and climate change and healthcare and a host of other socialist initiatives to get you feeding from the same trough?

Ask yourself: Am I still in America?

The Case of Mistaken Identity

Recently, I went to my state’s DMV to obtain a Real ID. Starting Oct. 1, 2020, this ID will be required for all domestic commercial flights and to enter Federal facilities requiring identification to enter, such as military bases or nuclear power facilities. The REAL ID Act passed in 2005 establishes minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and ID cards. The Act refers to federal anti-terrorism laws and regulations that control access. To obtain the Real ID I had to submit several documents that verified my identity and my relationship to the state and federal government and my address.

As important as it is to our federal authority to know who you are to identify any threats to its citizenry, it is vastly more important for us to know who we are in space and time. It is to which authority we submit to that matters with regard to the verification of our identity and to the rights granted to us by that authority. Therein lies the case for mistaken identity.

Modern man has placed himself at the center of the universe as the anthropic cause and reason for existence. Modern man sees himself as the final authority. As such, his identity as self-creator becomes the reference point for all matters of life. What came before, what has been handed down through millennia is of no concern to modern man. Religion, science, family – nothing is as important to modern man as his present tense self-created identity. Enter Identity Politics.

Identity Politics and its, as philosopher Roger Scruton has described it, “culture of repudiation”, are at the forefront of modern man’s renunciation of the past – inherited values, cultural identifications and namesakes. As modern man shakes off the past and its ties to his identity, the need to belong remains.

Here is an excerpt from Scruton’s address, How identity politics destroys freedom, during the Acton Institute’s “Crisis of Liberty in the West” conference :

…we have a craving for membership, which is a deep adaptation of the species, and which presses us always towards the group and the conformity that will protect us. Many young people, under the impulse of this feeling, search for a “conformity in defiance,” a belonging which is also a rejection, that will provide a new identity in place of the old.
As a result, the pursuit of freedom has taken on an entirely new character. The new activist on behalf of freedom does not stop at affirming the right to choose a course of action or a way of life. He or she builds around this right a rival identity, an identity that defies the one that was traditionally on offer. This search for identity claims a space in the public world, and claims it from and against the unspoken conventions that have, over the years, made our free society possible. In this way, the pursuit of individual freedom, detached from inherited obedience, leads to a new denial of freedom.
It is worth examining how this comes about. Every freedom creates a difference – the difference between those who exercise it and those who do not. When you use this freedom to define your identity, you are in a certain measure differentiating yourself from those who receive their identity by inheritance. It is then a small move to the claim that the inherited forms of membership discriminate against the new identities, since they exert an unfair pressure to conform. There arises a new and virulent condemnation of our old identity and an attempt to suppress it.

The culture wars confirm the last statement. Social media accounts are silenced and suppressed when any voice counters the identity politics narrative. Swarms of cultural repudiators descend on anyone who doesn’t affirm their chosen reality bombarding them with vitriol. At a minimum the voices of cultural avowal are upbraided by SJWs who, appropriating the words of Jesus, condemn the voices for “judging” and “not loving”. But often, the cultural war is taken to a heightened level.
“Attack and destroy!” is the battle cry against anyone who veers from the political narrative sanctioned by their political overlords. And so, there is character assassination and doxing and worse meant to hamstring, cripple and harm the ‘enemies’ of the “culture of repudiation” warriors. The self-created with self-endowed authority demand that you affirm their creation and their authority. There is a price to pay if you don’t.

What is not taken into account by the cultural repudiators is that the human race has been paying another price, an enormous price, for its descent into self-creation and self-affirmation. Identity Politics, in the form of the Serpent, was right there at the beginning of the human race. The offer on the table: if you eat this you can be like God and own your identity; you can be your own person and not be tied to some outside authority; you can become self-logos. Once the ‘apple’ of self-realization was taken from the hand of the Identity Politics purveyor, problems and misery began for mankind. Self-creation and self-authority would go on to create vulnerability, isolation, and a denigration of the image of God. The quest for power and the search for group identity and dignity also began in the Garden. The product of Garden-variety Identity Politics can be seen today in the Pride Parade – the in-your-face anti-God perpetuated rite of cultural repudiation.

Since the Garden, Identity Politics went on to crawl its way down through the centuries to affirm all takers in their narcissism and to get them to crawl on their bellies for affirmation and fostering a brood of snakes. These snakes offered mistaken identities in the form of self-realization.

Consider this passage from Polish philosopher and historian Leszek Kolakowski’s essay On the So-Called Crisis of Christianity:

Christianity is thus the awareness of our weakness and misery, and it useless to argue that there exists or could exist a “Promethean Christianity,” that is that Christian faith could be reconciled with hope for self-salvation. Two great ideas of the nineteenth century which, despite all that separates them, perfectly embodied this Promethean expectation –those of Marx and of Nietzsche – were anti-Christian in their roots, and not as a result of accidental historic circumstance. Nietzsche’s’ hatred of Christianity and of Jesus was a natural consequence of his belief in the unlimited possibility of mankind’s self-creation. Nietzsche knew that Christianity is the awareness of our weakness, and he was right. Marx knew this too, and from the Hegelians, he took over and transformed the philosophy (more Fictean than Hegelian) of self-creation and futuristic orientation. He came to believe that the collective Prometheus of the future would reach a state which his thought and action would be indistinguishable and in which even “atheism” would lose its reason for existence, since people’s self-affirmation would be entirely “positive”, not negatively dependent on the negation of God.

The Progressive Element, those with Promethean Expectation, do not embrace God. The Democrat party, its enabler, booed God at the 2016 convention. Together they embrace the ideologies espoused by Nietzsche and Marx. The words of Jesus are used by the Progressive Element as a tagline for behaviors they want justified for someone they deem marginalized.

Man, as the principle cause and logos of the universe, creates his own values. Thus, the religion of humanity. Secular humanitarianism is the tie that binds the Progressive Element: atheists, agnostics, deists, social Darwinists and those who buy into sentimental Christianity for the sake of progress. The creation of man-as-logos values produces a querulous society of competing values, hence the culture wars. Amorphous and relativistic values are promoted under the high-sounding and ambiguous rubric of “social justice”. Individualism is turned inward toward self-centered anodyne interest to be protected by “rights”. Progressivism inverts The Second Commandment: “love me as you love yourself”. Lost in Self-Logos

The Progressive Element promotes another authority: the self as authorized, ID’d and dispensed by them. It is dedicated to the proposition that all behaviors are equal, that the ends justify the means, and that power is truth. It lambasts authoritarianism while acting in full authoritarian manner against anyone who wants to see the ring of power destroyed under their all-seeing eye.

If you want to read about the nefarious characteristics of the Progressive Element, I recommend reading C.S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy. The antagonist Weston (representing Western Civilization?) is a rationalist, scientist and secular humanist, who rejects God and any other form of knowledge outside science. He plots to create a Nietzschean-type super man race. His machinations turn him into a beast. Later, as becomes ever more possessed by the devil, he is identified in the story as the “Un-Man”. The Progressive Element aligned with dark forces is That Hideous Strength.

Or, for a historical take of the Progressive Element’s characteristics, one could read the Book of Daniel. The scribe Daniel records accounts of beastly kingdoms that were opposed to God and to His authority. The rulers self-ID’d as gods.

Or, you can watch the Pride Parade and witness the “dignity” of degeneracy and dehumanization of those making the case of mistaken identity. God does not ID his created beings as homosexual, perverse creatures. God IDs them – all of us – in His own image.

 

 

As with obtaining a Real ID, one has to submit their identity to a higher authority to obtain the rights and privileges the authority grants. Submitting a false ID is against the law. And, one could not submit their documented identification to the federal and state government and claim to feel like someone else. Emotional identity is not who you are. It is only a part of who of you are. One’s identity is a composite of the whole person and affirmed by an outside reference point. But the world rejects outside reference points as authoritarian and God-like. The Progressive Element has a significant problem with authority.

My identity is referenced or ‘sync’d’ with my relationship to the Highest Authority and with my relationships of those who also submit to the Highest Authority. I was reminded of this again today, Pentecost Sunday. The Holy Spirt was sent to indwell all believers of all nations, stamping their IDs “in Christ” and “located in the Kingdom of God”. The Holy Spirit was and is given as a pledge or seal (Eph. 1:14) of an inheritance – another reminder of my ID in as a child of God. Those in the world want to stamp their IDs with “self-appointed authority”.

Because of the coming inheritance I want to make sure all my documents are in order.

Not All Roads Lead Home

 

In truth, all through the haunted forest there could be nothing more frightful than the figure of Goodman Brown.

Beside the Technicolor fantasy of a quartet of characters leaving their homes and going into a foreboding forest to gain what they think they are lacking from a wizard (see my previous post), there is another tale of a young man doing just the same. And though there is no wizard or fear of lions and tigers and bears in this tale, there is, “What if the devil himself should be at my very elbow!”. Both stories, it seems to me, are about journeys into the dark side, the nocturnal forest in this tale, looking for an esoteric mystical experience that will supply what they are missing out on. But those who covenant to journey into the forest, and the deepest darkest part of it, end up disillusioned and faithless.

Often, especially in our youth, we begin to question the religious beliefs and worldviews of our families, of our mentors and of those around us. We see hypocrisy around us and despise it and yet become two-faced in our own sought out experiences wrought in the dark. We then begin to take on ambivalence about evil, giving ourselves the ‘grace’ to operate in both good and evil ways. Moral relativism is that form of grace.

We tell ourselves that there are people who are restrictive, conservative and Puritanical. We tell ourselves that we have become too worldly-wise to be like them: “I have Jesus so I am above all that out-of-date fundamentalism”. So, we journey in the dark forest and into the deepest darkest part of the forest and think ourselves to be impervious to its ills.

We give ourselves permission to investigate the dark side. We say to ourselves “I will do it just one time. Why be left out?  Why not join the “communion of our race””? Thus, we journey into the night and encounter evil. And like Goodman Brown, we come home disillusioned, our faith destroyed.

Young Goodman Brown sets out one night to gain existential insight into who (or what) is good and evil in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 1835 short story by the same name. The story, set in 17th century Puritan New England, operates within the Puritan context of sin, grace and unconditional salvific election. I consider the tale an allegory, as it employs symbols starting with the names Goodman and Faith.

In the tale before us, Goodman Brown leaves his saintly wife Faith at the threshold of their home. She is wearing a pink ribbon on her cap. The pink ribbon, mentioned throughout, I read as a symbol of the admixture of purity (white) and sin (red). The color speaks to Goodman Brown’s spiritual understanding based on his Puritan beliefs and also to his rose-colored romance-based naiveté about the nature of evil.

“Poor little Faith!” thought he, for his heart smote him. “What a wretch am I to leave her on such an errand! She talks of dreams, too. Methought as she spoke there was trouble in her face, as if a dream had warned her what work is to be done tonight. But no, no; ‘t would kill her to think it. Well, she’s a blessed angel on earth; and after this one night I’ll cling to her skirts and follow her to heaven.”

With this excellent resolve for the future, Goodman Brown felt himself justified in making more haste on his present evil purpose. He had taken a dreary road, darkened by all the gloomiest trees of the forest, which barely stood aside to let the narrow path creep through, and closed immediately behind. It was all as lonely as could be; and there is this peculiarity in such a solitude, that the traveller knows not who may be concealed by the innumerable trunks and the thick boughs overhead; so that with lonely footsteps he may yet be passing through an unseen multitude.

As Goodman sets out, he does so under the cover of night and the cover of assumption: as a Puritan, Goodman Brown considers himself one of the elect. He carries with him a Puritan/Calvinist ‘good hands’ insurance card – the doctrine of predestination. He doesn’t leave home without it. And, as you read above, Goodman assumes that his association with the right people – his wife Faith in particular and the town’s good church folk in general – that he will follow them to the heavenly home. Goodman Brown goes out into the portentous night feeling safe and secure from all alarms. But his predetermined confidence quickly melts away as soon as he steps into the mysterious dark woods.

He had taken a dreary road, darkened by all the gloomiest trees of the forest, which barely stood aside to let the narrow path creep through, and closed immediately behind. It was all as lonely as could be; and there is this peculiarity in such a solitude, that the traveller knows not who may be concealed by the innumerable trunks and the thick boughs overhead; so that with lonely footsteps he may yet be passing through an unseen multitude.

Goodman’s first encounter in the woods is an old man who reminds him of his goodly grandfather. The old man appears to be waiting for Goodman. He says, “You are late, Goodman Brown.” Goodman replies “Faith kept me back awhile”.

Though the old man appears similar to Brown in many pedestrian ways the old man also appears to have “an indescribable air of one who knew the world”. And there’s something else Goodman notices and tries to explain away.

But the only thing about him that could be fixed upon as remarkable was his staff, which bore the likeness of a great black snake, so curiously wrought that it might almost be seen to twist and wriggle itself like a living serpent. This, of course, must have been an ocular deception, assisted by the uncertain light.

It is clear to the reader that the old man is the devil who is supported by the serpent staff, He does his best to entice Goodman Brown down the road to what is later called “the communion of your race” where he will learn of the “secret deeds” of his fellow townsfolk and see hypocrisy countenanced.

Goodman balks, claiming to be one of a breed of men who is above the riff-raff.

“Too far! too far!” exclaimed the goodman, unconsciously resuming his walk. “My father never went into the woods on such an errand, nor his father before him. We have been a race of honest men and good Christians since the days of the martyrs; and shall I be the first of the name of Brown that ever took this path and kept—”

Goodman’s journey away from faith is stop and go as wrestles with the temptation of going on. He encounters something he initially resists and uses the honor of his good name and of those before him as a reason to rethink things before giving on to going on. But, he doesn’t use his faith as a shield and so bends in to temptation. He continues his journey with the old man’s urging.

The old man tries to persuade Goodman to get up and continue. He does so by using Goodman’s own argument. The old man conjures up a kinship with men like Goodman. He lies about having personal knowledge and acquaintance of Goodman’s family. He then speaks of townsfolk – deacons and those in power – as personal references. He cajoles Goodman to continue their ‘association’ by journeying on.

Goodman Brown once considered himself impervious to all the devil’s wiles. After all he was one of the elect and associated with the right people. But each step he took in the wrong direction away from faith weakened his resolve. His compromises were reinforced by his inordinate curiosity. He continues his journey into the deepest darkest part of the forest and sees what the “communion of our race” so desires, “that the good shrank not from the wicked, nor were sinners abashed”.

 

There are several interpretations and critiques of the story. Some will say that Hawthorne is pointing out the hypocrisy of a society that prides itself on its high moral and civic standing and makes outcasts of those who do not live up to its standards. Other interpreters go out on a dark forest limb with their construal:

Modern critics have interpreted “Young Goodman Brown” in many ways. The story as a critique of society stands out to some. To psychologically inclined readers, Brown journeys into the psyche. The village represents the superego, whereas the forest and darkness become equivalents of the Freudian id. The entire story becomes a portrait of one human mind that discovers the usually suppressed and disquieting reality of animal instinct

The story’s symbols lend its meaning to a wide audience and to many interpretations. As you read it you will have your own takeaway. I consider it an allegory or parable about assumptions, hypocrisy and the lure of evil to pull one away from one’s home base of faith toward the “reality of animal instincts”.

The story doesn’t tell us Brown’s motives other than “present evil purpose” Conjecture would lead us to think that young Goodman Brown had become questioning about evil and the devil even though he lived surrounded by strict warnings against both in Puritan village. One gets the sense that Brown goes out by himself to just stick his nose in on evil for the sake of understanding the world he lives in and perhaps the fear of evil inculcated in him by his upbringing.

 

I have provided some of my take on Young Goodman Brown and some excerpts from the story with the hope that you will read the short story (it should take about fifteen minutes). I invite you to consider what road you are taking when you want to stick your nose in on evil. Consider where it leads and what you will encounter. And, where it will lead you. This road does not lead home.

We are told in Scripture to “test the spirits” so that we may know what is good and true and from God. That is not what is going on in Young Goodman Brown. Rather, this a young man who leaves faith behind and takes a walk on the wild side and ends up at a satanic ritual. His road did not lead back home to faith. It led to nihilism and despair and the resolve to no longer exist.

In truth, all through the haunted forest there could be nothing more frightful than the figure of Goodman Brown. On he flew among the black pines, brandishing his staff with frenzied gestures, now giving vent to an inspiration of horrid blasphemy, and now shouting forth such laughter as set all the echoes of the forest laughing like demons around him. The fiend in his own shape is less hideous than when he rages in the breast of man. Thus sped the demoniac on his course, until…

 

 

 

Here is a link to the story: Young Goodman Brown

We’ve Been Down This Road Before

 

One does not need a degree in cultural studies to see that our culture is charmed by and suffused with charismatic self-knowledge, self-love, self-esteem, and self-awareness. The powerful, the glamorous, the ministers of inclusion, and the gurus of self-help each promote their version of snake oil which, by application, would lift the unenlightened feeble off of terra firma to the heights of self-dom. Their special tonic is said to awaken consciousness, to liberate from conditioning and to provide relief from suffering. Mystical, intuitive, subjective, inward, and emotional approaches to truth are everywhere promoted as leading to a higher plane of existence where self-knowledge is knowledge of the divine. The self and the divine are to be perceived and experienced as identical.

One quote from a gnostic teaching website is sufficient to reveal the ‘higher road’ many are taking:

“Yet to know oneself, at the deepest level, is simultaneously to know God; this is the secret of gnosis. Another gnostic teacher, Monoimus, says:

Abandon the search for God and the creation and other matters of a similar sort. Look for him by taking yourself as the starting point. Learn who it is within you who makes everything his own and says,” My God, my mind, my thought, my soul, my body.” Learn the sources of sorrow:, joy, love, hate … If you carefully investigate these matters you will find him in yourself.”

In the Garden of Eden, the serpent asked, “Did God really say…?” And, based on what I am seeing today, I can imagine that It also whispered “What does the god within you say?” The choice Adam and Eve made put them on the road leading out of the garden. This is the road most travelled.

As I was considering this topic the Technicolor image of the cowardly lion wringing his hands came to mind. I had the misfortune of seeing the musical fantasy Wizard of Oz in my youth.

Why the misfortune? While it made fantasy-tale sense that characters made of straw and tin needed something to be humanish, what was a humanish animal requiring courage about? What was it about this movie that disturbed me? It took me some time to sort out – discern – why I do not like the movie: it’s promotion of Gnosticism in the morally vacuous Land of Oz and the wimpy withering lion.

The lion in the Wizard of Oz is the anthropomorphic personification of presumably silly and timid humans lacking self-awareness. The lion comes into the story like a bleating lamb and leaves as a roaring lion. How did the transformation happen? Through gnosis. The lion is told by a wizard (a professor; a spiritual guide and self-help guru of sorts) that the lion must acknowledge the courage he already possesses inside. The same self-knowledge mirror is held up for the Straw Man and the Tin Man.

And what is the purpose of the new found-in-self brain, heart and courage in the moral vacuum of Oz? To “awaken their consciousness and liberate them from conditioning”? And the reason for courage? Courage to not be afraid of what? Of things that go “Boo” in the night? Courage to be yourself?

Lest anyone think that I am being picayune about a now beloved child’s fantasy they should pull back the curtain and see what’s lurks there in light of the above and with today’s culture in view.

In the moral vacuum of the Land of Oz, does gnosis-courage mean one bravely acts to be one’s self at all costs? If the only moral reference points are yourself and someone telling you have what it takes within, are you prone to then embrace your base desires to be one’s self? Are we to believe ‘wizards’ that through self-knowledge we change from baaing sheep into roaring lions? See for yourself what’s come out from behind the curtain in the Land of Oz:

Actress Judy Garland (1922–1969) is widely considered a gay icon. The Advocate has called Garland “The Elvis of homosexuals”. The reasons frequently given for her standing as an icon among gay men are admiration of her ability as a performer, the way her personal struggles seemed to mirror those of gay men in America during the height of her fame, and her value as a camp figure. Garland’s role as Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz is particularly noted for contributing to this status. – Judy Garland as gay icon

Has Western culture has followed the Yellow Brick Road? Besides the ubiquitous adverts by wizards of enlightenment coming out with their brand of snake oil, we hear almost every day in the media of someone coming out (via self-knowledge) as gay. This gnostic way of understanding has been confirmed by Pope Francis when he said “God made you this way.”

It is no secret that Progressive elements in our culture promote being oneself as one walks along on their wide Yellow Brick Road of self-discovery. This way is touted as the higher, more “universal” and thus “neutral” perspective and that the meta-narrative of Christianity is the narrow road which must be avoided and declared the wrong way. Progressivism doesn’t see its own meta-narrative of identity politics and of reducing the moral universe to the god within. Progressivism isn’t self-aware.

Universities, under the thrall of Progressivism and of course benefactors, are incubators of gnosis. They seek to awaken a new vision and to stir up dormant impulses in cowardly lions. Pseudo-disciplines like women’s studies, black studies, LGBTQ studies, etc., offer Woke gnosis.

The Land of Oz campus admins create physical safe spaces so that self-realization is safely tucked in and away from things that go “Boo!” in the day. For Land of Oz sustainability, Marxism and socialism are taught as the means to create financial safe space. The idea is to make others pay so the disciples of self don’t have to concern themselves with material concerns. This, so one can continue to grow in self-awareness and be an SJW with a moral center carefully crafted around gnosis.

At graduation, participation trophies are presented to the brave – those who stood inside safe spaces against outside knowledge, and to the compassionate (for others like themselves). A diploma, a medal and a ticking heart-shaped watch are passed onto to another generation. These trinkets of gnosis are bestowed under a ceremonial banner, which reads: “Know thyself, Be Thyself. We are here for our own sake”.

There is a Yellow Brick way that seems right to a man who seeks to find what it takes to be one’s self, but the ends thereof are the ways of self.

 

 

~~~

Of course, not all self-reflection is be rejected. Proper introspection is to occur in the prayer closet. There, in the Light of the Lord, sin is exposed and named. You learn to see yourself as the Lord sees you. You confess your sin and ask for forgiveness. Then the Lord returns you to the road before you to walk in his resurrection power.

Now, it takes no courage whatsoever to tell others how to live to make them comfortable for you to be around. That is social justice for the woke generation. It does take considerable courage to look into one’s soul and see the darkness within, to repent and to cast out any unclean spirits in the name of the Jesus.

The absolutions of the Woke World humanist religion are self-justification and self-righteousness. Both are repulsed by the Lord. Prayer-closet courage is required to resist both.

Positive Earth, Negative Earth

 

“I’ve learned a lot in these last four years. Most importantly, I’ve learned that I’m not alone. One in six men have an abusive sexual experience before they turn 18. Secrecy, shame and fear are the tools of abuse, and it is only by breaking the stigma of childhood sexual abuse that we can heal, change attitudes, and create safer environments for our children.”

Anthony Edwards Writes about Sexual Molestation at Hand of Gary Goddard

~~~

A true account by Denny Moody

What do I recall of the summer of ’67?  Well, I’ll feel safer if you came back into that memory with me. I share the details so that others will see what’s coming.

 

By the summer of 1967, at age 14, I felt that I had shaken off the junior high school gawkiness and was ready to take on the world of girls. The world of “them” had been in my social gaze while I was trying so hard to be like and bond with junior high male classmates.

That summer was the first time I acknowledged my human existence – myself as apart from others and responsible. That frame of reference also brought a new-found loneliness. It didn’t help socially that hormones and organic circumstances made my incoming high school freshman’s face breakout. And though my skin would eventually settle down, life in that the skin would never be the same after the summer of 1967.

It was June, 1967, when I first met Ken. He pulled into the parking lot of the Bible Church driving his ‘63 convertible T-bird, the AM radio blasting. Getting out of his car, his lanky body navigated over toward us guys and then over to right in front of me.

“Hi, I’m Ken.”

“Hi.” I responded looking at my best friend Bill. “I’m Denny.”

“Do you think that we’ll get everyone together and get over to the park? He asked.

“I think the girls are figuring out who they are going to ride with.”  I responded looking at the ground.

‘Yeah, I think your right.’ “Are you just starting high school?

“Yeah, I’m a freshman.” I started kicking loose gravel.

“I’m a senior this year. I transferred from York High School because they finished building the high school here in town.”

“I’m in summer band and I’m on the cross-country team,” I answered, trying to leverage my freshman standing.

“You can ride with me to the park.”

“OK.” was my answer, with an instant pride at being selected by a senior to ride in a rag-top. I asked my best friend Bill to ride with us. With the T-Bird filled with just the guys and with me in blue jeans and a white tee shirt, I was on top of the world, or at least a James Dean world. The girls in our group just had to notice – a freshman riding around with a senior. Yet, years later I finally realized that the girls perceived something about Ken that I was too childlike to notice. They avoided him. When they later saw that I hung around Ken that summer they must have thought the same about me as they did about Ken. This explains a lot and way too late.

That summer there were many such church teen outings. I joined them all in hopes of making new friends before entering high school. It was after several of the group outings that Ken started calling me and asking me to come over to his house. He said that he had a Triumph TR3 that he was rebuilding and that he needed some help. I told him I didn’t know anything about cars except something about oil changes but he begged for me to come over. I finally accepted his invitation on one hot, boring summer day. I was eager for friends and to learn about cars. I figured that I would be driving soon enough.

I rode my bike across town to Ken‘s house. I pulled up to his parent’s house and found the garage door open with Ken standing inside. His hands were black, holding an oily car part in his hand. The TR3 was parked in the garage with the hood up. I said “Hi” and then asked about his parents. He explained that his mother was at work and that his father worked the men’s locker room at a country club. He told me, “They are never home during the day”. I felt a little unsettled not knowing the neighborhood or Ken that well. It must have showed. Ken immediately began talking about the TR3 and what he was trying to do.

Looking at the Triumph, Ken explained: “The Triumph has a positive earth electrical system and I’m trying to connect this radio I just bought. There are only three items on a stock positive earth TR3 electrical system that care what the polarity of the system is: the ammeter, the coil and the generator.” I just nodded my head and looked informed. The most I knew about what he was saying was that there were positive and negative forces in the world. Opposites attract and like polarities repel.

I went on to handle a few car parts trying to look into the whole matter. My hands soon became like his, greasy, with fingernails covered with the black muck of spent oil. I remember being extremely interested in seeing the sporty little car repaired, especially if Ken would let me drive the car. At fourteen, I was eager to drive fast sporty cars. At that time, I believed a new friendship was forming and one focused on cars.

After we completed the polarity conversion for the radio Ken invited me inside the house.  There, we washed up.  He then offered me something to drink. He handed me a glass of lemonade and we sat down in his kitchen, talking for a while. After about half-an-hour, Ken asked me if I wanted to play cards. I told him I didn’t know how to play cards. He said “I can show you.” I thought that here was something else that I could learn from another guy. So, I agreed.

Ken left the room and came back shortly with a deck of cards. He began to shuffle the deck in ways I had seen on the TV show Gunsmoke. He began to tell me about the different hands and their value and the rules of five-card stud, his favorite game.  He dealt the cards and I gathered them up, holding them, fanned out in my hand, just the way I saw Maverick hold them in the TV western.

I quickly lost every hand I played but Ken he convinced me to keep trying. After seven games and only one win, Ken asked me if I wanted to bet on the next hand. I said “I don’t bet.” He came back, “It will only be for candy.” He threw a handful of M&Ms on the table. I hesitated and then said, “Why not.” I continued to lose the rounds and my pile of M&Ms disappeared. I said I had to get home for dinner. I grabbed my bike and headed back across town toward home. It felt good knowing that I had a new friend and that I had learned ‘guy’ stuff in the process.

The rest of June I hung out with the teens from our church. I sought ways to be with the girls as much as possible. Then in July Ken began calling my family’s house often. He was inviting me to come over to his house. I finally went over to see him.

We again worked on his TR3, this time cleaning the carburetor. He asked about my family. While cleaning out the butterfly valve with some solvent, I told him about my family.

When Ken and I finished the carburetor repair we cleaned our hands and then grabbed a couple of Cokes from his parent’s icebox. I soon noticed a deck of cards on the kitchen table. With our cold drinks we sat down and played several hands. After winning a few rounds, Ken wanted to know if I “wanted to play for stakes?” “I don’t know. I just like playing,” I responded.

Ken then pestered me to “up the ante” and I kept saying “No”. After several more hands he asked me again and I said “what are you talking about.” He said that if I were to lose the next hand that I would have to do whatever he wanted and that if he was to lose that he would do whatever I wanted. It felt weird to me but at the same time I knew that I always had the power of “No”, so I said “OK”. I desired his friendship and socially, I thought it would help to have a senior as a friend in high school. And, he would probably ask me to do something like polish the TR3.

I lost the next hand. He then told me what he wanted me to do: “I want you to clean the house. Sweep, vacuum, everything.”

I looked at him incredulously. “What?’

“You lost. You said you would play and now you lost. You must do what I want.”

I resisted, looking everywhere for a way out of the bet. “I’m not going to clean your house.”

“You have to,” he insisted. “You gave your word. You’re a Christian, aren’t you?” He left the room and came back to the kitchen with a tiny men’s Speedo swimsuit. “I want you to wear this while you’re cleaning.”

My face flushed lobster red. I said, “No way!” I immediately began trying to lower the debt to just cleaning the house. I felt like running. I also felt that I needed to somehow save face, to be a Christian and honor my word. I had no idea of the consequences this bet imposed on me. Rattled, I got up from the kitchen chair I promised to come back another day and help him with the TR3 and maybe even play cards again, “Without betting,” I added while heading for the garage. I got on my bike and sped off towards home.

 

That July I was invited to play trumpet in the concert band after an audition. Soon I began to generate friendships in the band and with the cross-country team during their summer training runs. Along with the church teens group I was developing many positive relationships.

 

At the start of August, twenty days before school started, I got a phone call from Ken. He wanted me to “come over”. “The TR3 is ready to roll. I’ll take you for a ride.”

Thinking that this would be a harmless way to honor my unpaid “bet”, I said,” OK”. I headed over to his house and found the Triumph parked on the street. Ken walked out of the garage and asked me if I was ready and I nodded “yes”.

We got in the sports car and Ken started the engine. Ken drove the TR3 out of the neighborhood and headed for the nearby highway. About an hour later we returned to his house. Ken parked the car in the garage and we went in for a Coke. I knew at this point that I would not play cards. So, when he asked I said, “No.” He persisted in asking and I persisted in resisting. Then he said that he had a roulette game in his bedroom. I had heard about roulette from a TV show but I knew nothing about the game. Ken persisted in his desire to show me. I went with him to his bedroom thinking that I would see this thing and then head home.

When we got to his bedroom, Ken uncovered the roulette game from a box that was stored under a bunk bed. He spun its center wheel, showing me how it worked. He handed it to me and I sat down on his bed to hold the wheel on my lap. I spun the wheel to see where the red, black and white balls would land. As I did, Ken sat down next to me. I quickly moved over to make room for him. Ken then moved closer. He then put his arms around me and started wrestling me down to the bed. I was shocked.

Taller than me, Ken leveraged himself on top of me, grappling every which way to confine me. I squirmed under him, thrashing my arms every which way, trying to push myself out. I was yelling “Stop it!” over and over.

Ken began to use his feet against the footboard of the bed and his tall frame as a lever to hold me down against the bed. He then grabbed one of my legs and pulled it up onto the bed. As I lay face down across the bed, I struggled in vain to get out from under him. I had wrestled many kids when I was younger so I reacted to his “take over” by trying to roll out sideways from his body. When I started to do this Ken grabbed a rope from the wall side of his bed. He must have hidden the rope for a time like this.

While on top of me, Ken tried to loop my neck and hands to the headboard. I continued to struggle, turning sideways, but with no luck. Then, I felt his pelvis thrusting into my backside. I immediately pushed myself up from the bed with all of my strength and put a shaky leg on the floor and then another. I wrenched my head out the headlock he put on me. When I finally pulled myself free I ran out of his room. I headed straight for my bike and took off for home. The summoned surge of adrenaline enabled my feet to pump the pedals faster than ever.

That night, I ate dinner silently. I have never mentioned what had happened that summer of ‘67, not to my parents or to anyone until now. I felt shamed and wounded.  I felt dirty, dirtier than when I worked on his car. I felt used. I felt used as a car part, as a means to an end.

At fourteen years of age I had some understanding that someone would take advantage of me and my desire for friendship. Some of my Junior High pals, my fickle friends, would offer me sex with a girl to lure me into their clique. I said “No” to their offers. I came to expect their attempts to sway me in their direction. What I wasn’t expecting was that some guy, using the ruse of friendship, would want me to join his private clique by raping me.

I have always wanted to have close friends–male or female. In fact, friendship means more to me than marriage does. With Ken, friendship meant forced and unnatural things, things born out of his brokenness.

From that summer on, throughout high school and into college, I always made a point of never being alone with Ken and others like him (I gained a “sense” of things.). My ‘67 summer was forever flawed. Would I be? Would a new friendship become a vehicle for an attempt at violating my boundaries? More would try but I would distance myself from them. Thankfully, there have been trustworthy and correctly-connected friends in my life. Friends like Bill. Friends like Steven (now with the Lord).

 

The above account is true. Denny Moody is a pseudonym.

~~~

 

Years later I would learn that Ken would go on to become an attorney and then a mayor of a small village outside of Chicago. Ken had always boasted to me of his being a lifelong Democrat. He said this deliberately, knowing that my family and I were Conservative Republicans. No matter, in any election, he would never get my vote of confidence.