The Road, redux

So, I finished it. A movie of the book is coming out next year. Two sections:

What do you want to do?
Just help him, Papa. Just help him.
The man looked back up the road.
He was just hungry, Papa. He’s going to die.
He’s going to die anyway.
He’s so scared, Papa.
The man squatted and looked at him. I’m scared, he said. Do you understand? I”m scared.
The boy didn’t answer. He just sat there with his head bowed, sobbing.
You’re not the one who has to worry about everything.
The boy said something but he couldnt understand him. What? he said.
He looked up, his wet and grimy face. Yes I am, he said. I am the one.


He [the boy] walked back into the woods and knelt beside his father. He was wrapped in a blanket as the man has promised and the boy didn’t uncover him but he sat beside him and he was crying and he couldn’t stop. He cried for a long time. I’ll talk to you every day, he whispered. And I wont forget. No matter what. Then he rose and turned and walked back out to the road.
The woman when she saw him put her arms around him and held him. Oh, she said, I am so glad to see you. She would talk to him sometimes about God. He tried to talk to God but the best thing was to talk to his father and he did talk to him and he didnt forget. The woman said that was all right. She said that the breath of God was his breath yet through it pass from man to man through all of time.
Once there were brook trout in the streams in the mountains. You could see them standing in the amber current where the white edges of their fins wimpled softly in the flow. They smelled of moss in your hand. Polished and muscular and torsional. On their backs were vermiculate patterns that were maps of the world in its becoming. Maps and mazes. Of a thing which could not be put back. Not be made right again. In the deep glens where they lived all things were older than man and they hummed of mystery.

Pgs. 259 and 286-287, respectively. The Road, by Cormac McCarthy

It’s the Stupid Economy – Fact, Wisdom, and Virtue

Tobias Haller, BSG, has written a good post on his “In a Godward Direction” blog entitled, “It’s the Stupid Economy.”
Here is a paragraph:

For The Economy is far from a single unified entity, but a chaotic system built up, sad to say, from the very worst in human nature: primarily greed and fear. These primitive emotions are not limited to Wall Street, but are well established on Main Street too; they find a place in every home and heart.

and ending with this:

I pray this nation will have the good sense to reject McCain’s fairy tale magic, and empty promise. The next generation will indeed pay dearly if we fall prey to the seductive promise that wealth can be universal, and cost no one anything. Rather let us ask more of those who have more, and redistribute the wealth that actually exists. That, we know, can work. And it does have the imprimatur of the Gospel in its favor.

He goes on to discuss the McCain accusations against Obama with regard to socialism, redistribution of wealth, and so on. At one point, Tobias brings up that which is ethical.
Last Sunday in my sermon I preached about that which the Church and the Christian experience seek, regardless of what we want both to seek. The Church and Christian experience seek these twin goals: Wisdom and Virtue – not necessarily Fact. The Old Testament reading for last week saw God speaking through Moses and telling His people Israel what they should and should not do and in the Gospel gives us his two great commandments. We approach Scripture and the Tradition and Reason for the purpose of gaining Wisdom and realizing Virtue. Too many Christians, both liberal and conservative, approach Scripture, the Tradition, and Reason for the purpose of proving something – proving their theory, proving the rightness of their agenda, proving their schema True, but the Scriptures, the Tradition, and even Reason in this context is not about proving something true, exact, as within the Scientific Method.
The Church and the Christian experience in this world and with God, well, we don’t necessarily seek Facts or Information, we seek Wisdom and Virtue. McCain and Obama (or at least their handlers) attempt to assert Fact, negatively or positively. The seeking of verifiable, provable Facts and the seeking of Wisdom are twins aspects of Knowledge, but not identical twins. The doing-of-fact-finding and the doing-of-theology complement one another, or at least they should. Too many Christians today put them at odds, resulting in either the demand that Scripture be all factually true else they can’t believe or the assertion that none of it is actually reliable so it can all be relatively dismissed. We do the same with economic theory or political theory – Socialism or Capitalism must be verifiably false or true, but they are neither. Battle back and forth if we must, but for the Christian we should seek something other – Wisdom and Virtue that allows us to live “well” within any system.
So, when it comes to the economy and politics, the Church should call for the candidates to explain how their ideas are wise and virtuous. The theories come and go, attempted in practice and only realized too late that what is on paper does not work on the ground. Wisdom, however, is beside the point of fact or exacting proof. In Wisdom, we can say that we don’t know at this particular point in time and place what is best, but we know how to seek and to discern and to judge come what may. In Virtue, we can assert that in whatever system or circumstance we find ourselves, we can act in ways that benefit all. Virtue makes any system-of-this-world work better. For the Christian, whether we live in a laissez-faire capitalist economy or a socialist economy and whether we assert that either kind of system will be our salvation is beside the point, being wise and virtuous should be our goal; and the extolling of a system that is destined to fall short of the Glory of God already because, as Tobias stated, our human nature demands it, should not be our focus.
God tells His people, do this and don’t do this. Why? So that we will grow in Wisdom and Virtue and learn to have life-to-the-full, a peaceful and joyous life despite the circumstances, despite what economic system we inhabit, despite what we desperately want to be and try to prove to be in our self-deception to be Fact.
Something like that…
When we are about living “on the ground” rather than desperately proving our point factually true… Seek Wisdom and Virtue…

The Road

I’ve gone from “The Summer of Harry Potter” to “The Road,” by Cormac McCarthy. What a book!
From the back cover: “The Road is the profoundly moving story of a journey. It boldly imagines a future in which no hope remains, but in which the father and his son, ‘each the other’s world entire,’ are sustained by love… The Road is an unflinching meditation on the worst and the best that we are capable of: ultimate destructiveness, desperate tenacity, and the tenderness that keeps two people alive in the face of total devastation.”
“total devastation” is an understatement.

Saw, again…

So, like an idiot I went to see “Saw V” yesterday. Why? Because it is Halloween week and I’m stupid. Now, the first “Saw,” while a bit disturbing because of the gore, was nevertheless a pretty good psychological thriller (if that is the right word). In its own twisted way, it was about the possibility of redemption and the dynamics that can go into realizing the stark and fatal consequences of our “sins” and our choices. This is the kind of redemption that Jesus may have offered if he suffered from ‘roid-rage.
Well, really, version “V?” Did I really think that the movie would be worth seeing in its fifth sequel? No, not really, but I thought it might be cheesy enough and a “frightful” beginning to Halloween. Saw V, wasn’t.
Of course, I absolutely love “The Simpson’s” Halloween special episodes… can’t wait!. I wonder what a “Reno 911” version of a Halloween episode might be like?

The Whole Story…

If we are to be informed voters, then we need to understand the whole story. We need to read and seek out opposing opinions, not just from those with whom we already agree. This is a bit difficult because journalism and journalists, in the aggregate, have given themselves over to political or social position promotion rather than truth telling. Nothing really new, I suspect, but in the waxing and waning of ethical behavior there are times when the reality of the wrongness is more prevalent and common.
Like the Religious Right political machine and their leaders push their agendas regardless of whether their means are ethical/moral because the end justifies all means, journalism and too many journalists are intent on pushing political and social positions/policies/theories rather than the objective reporting of news/people/events – or objective investigative journalism for the common good. Not all of them, of course, just like not all American-Evangelicals are in the thralls of the politicized, New-Conservative, Religious Right.
So, here is an opinion piece written by Orson Scott Card (or click here). For those who may not know of him, he is a writer and columnist. I first “met” him through his science fiction series begun with “Ender’s Game.” I’ve been told from a couple different sources that this book series is actually studied at the U.S. military’s War College. He has also written a number of essays (or some such thing) pertaining to culture, empire, and various other national, cultural, and geo-political topics.
Here, he chastises journalists for their lack of truth-telling. He is a Democrat, according to the personal description at the beginning of the opinion piece. He is also a Mormon. I suspect not many Mormon’s are Democrats, but I could be wrong. Anyway, for the sake of the whole story, this is an interesting piece to read….
Would the Last Honest Reporter Please Turn On the Lights?
By Orson Scott Card
Editor’s note: Orson Scott Card is a Democrat and a newspaper columnist, and in this opinion piece he takes on both while lamenting the current state of journalism.
An open letter to the local daily paper — almost every local daily paper in America:
I remember reading All the President’s Men and thinking: That’s journalism. You do what it takes to get the truth and you lay it before the public, because the public has a right to know.
This housing crisis didn’t come out of nowhere. It was not a vague emanation of the evil Bush administration.
It was a direct result of the political decision, back in the late 1990s, to loosen the rules of lending so that home loans would be more accessible to poor people. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were authorized to approve risky loans.
What is a risky loan? It’s a loan that the recipient is likely not to be able to repay.
The goal of this rule change was to help the poor — which especially would help members of minority groups. But how does it help these people to give them a loan that they can’t repay? They get into a house, yes, but when they can’t make the payments, they lose the house — along with their credit rating.
They end up worse off than before.

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Value Voters…

Well, the election is just days away. I can’t believe it is approaching so quickly, but here in New York (at least in the City) there have been almost no campaign commercials. It doesn’t seem like an election at all, aside from the debates.
Here is the latest promotional/motivational video put out by the Religious Right organization ValuesVotersUSA to “get out the vote.” This tactic in the end will only come to one kind of action.

I find it strange and off putting when the image behind the statement “Judeo-Christian Values” presents a bunch of men on one knee, not genuflecting, but aiming a rifle. “Judeo-Christian values” begins with guns. Now, I know that the point is that Americans have been defending the Constitution and their rights all along and now is such a time (it is an attempt to honor those who defended OUR rights in the past and imply that this is such a time, again), but the implication of that image is not there/implied by mistake. Is it a nudging or a planting of the idea in values voters’ minds that they may need to pick up arms again if Obama wins?
The other thing that strikes me has to do with why these kinds of organizations and the people who have their psyches formed by these groups honestly believe that straight people’s marriages will be doomed, or the whole institution of marriage destroyed, if same-sex couples are allowed to marry? It makes no sense. “Saving Marriage” has much more to do with straight people and THEIR attitude concerning their own marriages and the institution than anything the prospect of same-sex marriage can do. It is fear baiting. It is ridiculous, and the leaders of these groups know it. Fear mongering brings in money and fearful people remain devoted to “the cause” (read Neo-Conservativism and Christian fundamentalism) and the maintenance of the leaders’ own power.

Its the commercials, stupid

I really didn’t realize this until presidential debate last Wednesday. I am continually surprised when I hear that the election is so close and getting closer. Then I got it – there are no political commercials playing in New York (at least New York City)! It doesn’t seem like an election. McCain gave up and ceded New York, as he did Michigan (and I suppose other places as well), so pay put money into paying for commercials, I guess.
It seems so odd…

What do they do next?

The quoted paragraph below is from the American Family Association, a very prominent Religious Right organization lead by Don Wildmon. This organization along with Focus-on-the-Family and several others are the primary forces behind the reactionary and polarizing Culture Wars in the United States.
I am truly sadden by their tactics and their short-sightedness. It came to the point several years ago where their leadership decided that political and cultural domination warranted winning at all costs and by whatever means. For them, the end justifies the means. By their rhetoric and tactics, their witness, I have a very difficult time recognizing their Christianity, despite their stated beliefs.
Here is Don’s e-mail trying to rally the troops to get out and vote. His hyperbolic statements are astounding and frightening, and he does mean it literally not out of ignorance but by intent. The Religious Right and the Neo-Conservatives push for conflict and polarization, frightening whomever they can and distorting the truth in order to get their way. Others do this too, of course, but these people are supposed to be Christian. History will show, I’m convinced, that this period in American cultural and religious history will come to be profoundly damaging to the Christian witness – the cause of Christ – in this country.
Here is a paragraph from his get-out-the-vote effort to his millions of members:

Dear Friend…
If the liberals win the upcoming election, America as we have known it will no longer exist. This country that we love, founded on Judeo-Christian values, will cease to exist and will be replaced by a secular state hostile to Christianity. This “city set on a hill” which our forefathers founded, will go dark. The damage will be deep and long lasting. It cannot be turned around in the next election, or the one after that, or by any election in the future. The damage will be permanent. That is why it is so important for you to vote and to encourage friends and family to vote. This is one election where your vote really counts.

What credibility will they have when a Democrat does win and American does not “no longer exist.” Did this doomsday scenario happen when the last Democrate was in office? Of course not, and if Obama wins it won’t happen this time, unless the damage done by the last eight years by this failed president has set the stage for the end of empire. Frankly, I never wanted “empire” anyway, so I wouldn’t be so saddened if it ends. (Of course, that all depends on what takes its place in the world – dictatorship, authoritarianism, barbarism are all possible.)
And, what is left to do by all these people who believe Wildmon and Dobson and the other Religious Right leaders? Will they take up arms for God and attempt by force to impose their vision of a “city set on a hill,” a “Godly American?” What choice will they have if Obama wins, since by his winning America will be no more and real Christians will be so persecuted that they might as well be martyrs? The intentional striving for the polarization of American society by demagoguery in order to win, attain, and gain more power will come to no good end, not because of some evil liberal force taking control of their beloved geopolitical entity, but because of their own anti-democratic efforts and by their own means for imposing upon everyone in God’s name their sectarian and “fundamentalist” vision (and I don’t use the “f-word” willy-nilly).
Read Wildmon’s whole letter below.

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