Month: April 2014

Soylent Beck

I agree with you, Glenn. Burning corpses as a means of generating power is repugnant. More repugnant is having friends and neighbors that commit murder.

The news over the last couple of months that murdered babies are being incinerated with medical waste as a means of generating electricity has shocked and grabbed the attention of many. Like a magician’s sleight of hand, we are directed to look at the by-product of murder instead of the actual heinous act. Abortion is murder; that is the crime. Destroying a corpse, while detestable, has never carried the same weight as murdering a human being. As usual, we stand around decrying an ethical mole hill, unaware of the societal mountain from which we will soon fall.
The subject came up again yesterday when we heard Glenn Beck droning on about the bible and how “God will not hold us blameless.” That is his favorite refrain of late. Like the prototypical disc jockey he is, Beck’s phenomenal success is exceeded only by his self worth. Wrapped up in a good guy, preacher-man, marketing plan, Beck hocks his product daily to an audience made up of the fearful. Who can help but be afraid in today’s environment? Over the last couple of decades, the U.S. has lost its moral high ground in the world. Insane policy at home and abroad has become the norm. Americans (fatter and lazier than ever) have been infected with an entitlement mentality. Our enablers in Washington seek to herd us like sheep. We’ve degenerated into a feudal society in which they are the lords and we are the vassals. They see fit to grant us privileges when they wish and we are all too happy to keep them safe in their castles. On our backs is the full weight of their luxury. One needs look no further than the income disparity between the wealth around Washington D.C. and that of the rest of the nation to see who the lords and ladies are, but the U.S. is not the only institution that has been transformed. The Catholic Church, once instrumental in providing charity and hope to millions, has been put in a medieval light as well. Not since the Inquisition have so many horrors come out of the Church as what we’ve seen over the last fifty years. Despite having the morally correct position on the issue at hand, abortion, they are no longer an authority on anything. Therefore, the impact the Church should carry is minimized. This is not a treatise on U.S. or Church policy though; it is a statement about my old friend, Mr. Beck.
When it comes to the state of the world, Mr. Beck is probably right more often than he’s wrong. Progressives do want more control over our lives. Republicans are as bad as Democrats. We are at the end of an era, vis-à-vis constitutional government. All true. It’s only since he’s started getting messages directly from God that he’s begun to irritate me so much. “Promptings,” he calls them. I have a firm belief in God. This is not about faith in God. It’s about my faith in Glenn Beck, which has been wavering for some time. I’ve been on the Beck train for many years now, but over the last several (which have been his biggest) I’ve started eyeing the emergency exit. Back in the day, I listened because he was funny and different than most radio talkers. His humor was different from Limbaugh’s, and unlike Hannity, he was more than just a parrot for what everyone else was saying. The transition to television is where he started to lose me. Somewhere between his gig at CNN and Fox, Beck decided that Martin Luther King was his new hero. He talks about him all the time. MLK this, Ben Franklin that, Woodrow Wilson hit me with a wiffle-ball bat. Okay, I get it. History is important. I love history. I bore my friends to tears with history and God. We have that in common. What I don’t do is hold myself out as MLK or Gandhi. God doesn’t speak to me directly. He speaks directly to special people destined to do great things. Is it possible that Mr. Beck is a modern day Abraham? Maybe, but it seems less than likely. What is more likely is that Glenn Beck is like most other televangelists. They start down a path with a genuine desire to do good, but somewhere along the way their own hubris trips them up. Beck said yesterday that he knew how risky it would be bringing God into the limelight. He warned the staff how dangerous it would be for their careers. Like so many risks, it came with a huge reward. Beck is bigger than ever. He commands a larger audience than ever and has amassed a fortune in the process.soylent
Back to the abortion and incineration. Beck said that if his power was coming from aborted people (“Soylent Green is PEOPLE!” he screamed) he will just go off the grid. I’m buying huge generators and getting off the grid, he said. This is the evidence of the man’s disconnect. Most of us don’t have that option. Without a media empire to support our journey towards moral correctness, we have to make decisions in the real world; decisions like buying our power from the grid, or downgrading our children’s’ way of life. While it might be morally correct to go off grid, these decisions are not as easy as taking a fraction of our fortune and building a compound for the family. I agree with you, Glenn. Burning corpses as a means of generating power is repugnant. More repugnant is having friends and neighbors that commit murder. These are not mutually exclusive events. If a newborn is neglected in any way, the act is criminal. While in the womb, that same human has no human rights. That is where the problem exists. When Glenn Beck is in the right, I will continue to be on his side. When he’s funny, I will continue to laugh. And when God prompts me, I will remind everyone to point their righteous indignation in the right direction. Abortion is murder.

Half blind narcissist

Everyone is born alone and dies alone. The space in between involves fellow travelers, but the journey is a one-way ticket for one.

It is the fate of every narcissist to view certain things as being signs just for them. Any hypocrite that ever spent Sunday morning in church after a Saturday night of sin knows this feeling. The scripture selected for that day just rips right to the heart of your recent weakness. Beads of sweat build up on a guilty forehead. Does everyone know? Can they see through the God-fearing facade to the heart of the hopeless sinner sitting in front of them?

That’s the feeling I’ve had for most of the week. There’s a quote that I don’t remember knowing that’s been following me around. It’s by Desiderius Erasmus: “In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.” As a hobby writer and novice blogger, I’ve already established a bit of a fan club. These groupies from church, business, and my family tell me how insightful my writing is. They’ve encouraged me to keep at it. This is dangerous for a narcissist. It’s enabling. There’s always that nagging voice in my head that says I suck, but it gets quiet sometimes with all this undeserved support. My narcissism has always been more of a reverse self love. Love and hate are very similar emotions, and my ego has always been fed by the love of hating my own shortcomings. This is why I have trouble dealing with my siblings. They remind me of my own worst faults, making them unbearable at times, but they’re not the theme of this piece which is: ME, ME, ME. The few clever lines I doll out are usually perceived as such, but I’m just waiting for someone to find out the truth. I’m not that clever. In a politically correct world, being direct can look clever. I’m very direct, but rarely smart. I was an average student in school. My only real skill is remembering dialogue from sitcoms that went off the air years ago and movies no one else remembers. I won the affection of my wife with clever lines stolen from such places. When you have an affinity for movies and shows no one else likes, it’s as if you have your own staff of writers and an endless supply of cool things to say. But life is not a sitcom.

Who is to blame for the narcissist I am? Mother and Dad? The culture? Nope. It’s me. See the pattern? I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about free will lately too. I’ve chosen my own path. Small choices made every day have led me to this spot at this time. Things that I didn’t understand at the time have had enormous consequences. I believe in free will, but I also believe in fate, destiny, a higher power, angels, heredity and environment. I believe that I am both God’s most loved creation and the most insignificant of beings at the same time. I don’t fault God though. It’s not the culture either. Kristofferson once called Johnny Cash a “walking contradiction.” That’s me, and there’s nobody to blame but me. Everyone is born alone and dies alone. The space in between involves fellow travelers, but the journey is a one-way ticket for one. The fact that anyone would celebrate my particular brand of brain garbage is beyond me, but I own it. It’s mine. A little old lady that I scarcely know stopped me after church the other day to congratulate me on how smart I was; feeding the monster that is my ego. I brushed off the comment, and I fear I offended her in doing so. I didn’t dismiss the compliment out of pride, but out of the self hatred that stems from knowing my own personal truth. It was undeserved.

In a land that has been bombed by sitcoms and young adult fiction, I’m just one of the few semi-enlightened beasts left roaming the countryside looking for a kernel of truth. The quotes that stick in my head, the contrarian views on history, the obstinate posture are all part of what makes me special. The truth is that I’m not that smart. I’m not that funny. In a world of chaos I’m in love with the thought that there are some absolute truths, and so I spend my days thinking about them. Football is not interesting to me. Politics looks more and more like a game for losers. The truth is the only thing that fascinates me. I wish I could turn it off, and sometimes I get distracted, but it’s always nagging me to come back. I’m not king. Not by a long shot. But with my one good eye I catch a glimpse of the truth on occasion. Sometimes I can articulate what I saw. I guess people like that. Go figure. Good for ME!

Welcome to the monastery

church

“Some things that should not have been forgotten were lost.” So begins The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. As morning settles in on the twenty-first century, the light is starting to reveal a few incontrovertible facts. The most obvious: A lot has been forgotten. We stand on the brink of a new dark age, and the explosion of technology over the last seventy-five years has left humanity in a very vulnerable place. Human frailty is not new, but warring factions in the past never posed a planetary threat as they do today. Forget about the possibility of nuclear war for a minute. Still dangling over our head, it is suspended by that legendary horse hair. But let’s assume that it’s secure for a moment. We’ve already been hit by a giant explosion of another kind. Ignorance is the H-bomb of our time, and the aftermath is not going to be pretty.

Just a few generations removed from pioneers that tamed the wilderness of Kentucky, I’m one who often fanaticizes about the struggles and triumphs of my forbearers. On the farm where I grew up, there’s an old home site where the log house originally stood. In the late seventies, the house still stood there, surrounded by outbuildings and barns, and an old well. That brick lined well would be all that would survive to see the twenty-first century. A nineteenth century relic, it took decades for us to finally fill it in with enough earth to keep it from caving. To this day, I’m still cautious when walking in the area, afraid that the earth will swallow me up. Cropping around it for years, I always thought about the man who dug the well. How long did it take? Was he scared when he got to the bottom? Was it contracted, or dug by the land owner? How much was the digger paid? All these questions from a simple hole in the ground, and they can never be answered. Things like that make me wonder about all the other things that are lost to time.

The other night, I watched a National Geographic special about the “Gospel of Judas.” It’s an ancient Coptic text from the second century that tells about Jesus from a very unlikely perspective; the viewpoint of the man who handed him over to execution. As it turns out, there were something like thirty competing “gospels” in circulation in the early church. Eventually, the four that corroborated each other were canonized and accepted by the faithful as being authoritative accounts of what actually happened. Judas’ gospel was almost lost to time until it was discovered by a farmer in Egypt in the 1970’s. It offers a completely different view of Christianity, and was dismissed by the authorities of the early church as heresy, as were most other accounts of the life of Christ. As with most knowledge, the documentary left me with more questions than answers. Like the well, it provoked an acute awareness of how much I just don’t know.

The problem with modern society is our security in how much we do know, and the fact that a good bit of it is probably not true. We refuse to learn from history, and so we keep repeating it. Monasteries served as reliquaries for knowledge throughout the middle ages. While kings were warring for position and material wealth, men who took vows of poverty and obedience were holding the true wealth of the world: our history. Today, as I look around I see small minded men making the same wars for the same reasons as those medieval kings. I also see thirty-year-olds living with Mom and playing video games. They can’t point out Vermont on a map, but they have no problem finding the safe place to hide in the alternate reality of Call of Duty. At age 26, Nikola Tesla had his alternating current epiphany and set the wheels in motion for the electrical system that would change the world. Most people at that age now have barely finished college and probably learned very little in the process. Granted, Tesla was a genius, but there was a time when people had a lot of practical knowledge too. They built, had families, and lived life as soon as they were able. They didn’t wait till they were thirty to try and accomplish something. Like the man that dug the well, they did what needed to be done. Risks to life and limb be damned. They lived. The first step to conquering ignorance is admitting our own. Who will hold the knowledge during the next dark age? Louis C.K. said, “…you live in a great, big, vast world that you’ve seen none percent of.” And you and I, my friend, are the new monks destined to keep the flame alive. I only hope we can meet the challenge.