Monday, July 3, 2017

Fighting Sci-Fi With Sci-Fi (read on, you'll see what I mean)

 In all of my major works of fiction, the character who most directly represents ME is Eric Joseph Havens, the dentist who is the adoptive father of the heroic Alipang Havens. I imagine Doctor Havens, late in life, writing a lengthy memoir of his long fight against the totalitarian collectivism which lyingly disguises itself as "justice." He titles his book "They'll Call This Hate Speech." Eliot Aristede Granholm, destined to become the superhero Grey Eagle, is born about thirty-five years after Doctor Havens' death, and as a young man has the good fortune to acquire a rare surviving copy of "They'll Call This Hate Speech." It becomes an inspiration to Eliot throughout his career, for the evils of the 22nd-century "Citizoic League" that Eliot has to contend with are the SAME evils that Doctor Havens denounced and resisted in his day.

Since Eric Havens "is" me (apart from my never having been a dentist), I naturally depict him as being a reader of science fiction. And because Doctor Havens is spiritually alert enough to discern the influence that anti-God ideas have upon much of sci-fi, he includes remarks about that genre in his memoir. Here is a passage which I imagine Doctor Havens having written, and which at some point I will depict Eliot reading....

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Within my lifetime, though Cecilia and I came into the world too soon to benefit by it, we have seen the new process of telomere preservation achieving a true prolongation of human life and health. As far as anyone can tell up to now, there are no adverse physical consequences attached to the process. There are potentially two negative SOCIETAL consequences; but both of these actually are problems which already existed anyway.

One drawback is that, with some people aging more slowly, the demand that "inferior" persons (like Cecilia and me, as Pinkshirts of the old Campaign Against Hate would have declared) should "just die and get out of the way" will grow more insistent. But this demand -- ALWAYS made by those who are confident THEY won't get euthanized without their consent -- would have been made in some form no matter what. It arises from crude human selfishness, which has been around since Adam ate the wrong fruit. Francis Schaeffer dissected it superbly in his writings; I thank God that at least a few of Schaeffer's books can still be found today.

The other drawback is more subtle, but again is really something that was only intensified, not originated, by the lengthening of lifespans. I'm sorry to have to say that science fiction, a literary genre which has given me much entertainment, has contributed to enlarging this other societal pathology.

Whenever secular authors of imaginative fiction envision science increasing human life expectancy, a specific assertion is bound to be made -- either by the author, or by fans discussing his or her story. The assertion is: "Marriage was invented back when people didn't live long, so there usually wasn't much time for any married person to get tired of their spouse. But if people start routinely living longer than a century, it OBVIOUSLY will become INEVITABLE that married couples tire of each other. Accordingly, it's just UNREASONABLE to expect anyone to be faithful for life in such conditions. Marriage as a permanent contract will need to be abolished, in favor of something like renting or leasing. Having one mate for ten years, then parting by mutual agreement, then playing the singles game for twenty years, then taking another mate for five years, and so on, is SO much more logical, isn't it?"

I can virtually guarantee that every supposedly sophisticated person who argues in favor of this "reasonable" change in human behavior ISN'T REALLY thinking only about a future when life expectancy is doubled or tripled. And here I include sci-fi authors who scoffed at marriage long before the first experiments in telomere preservation. Such a person really wants permanent marriage to be devalued NOW; he or she wants permission to be fickle and faithless NOW, or at least wants to be excused from any duty to rebuke the same selfishness in others.  

REGARDLESS of how long the average human life becomes, the real issue is unchanged. If you regard a sex partner as a purely superficial accessory; if you regard a sex partner as a minor side item, like a dessert randomly selected at a buffet; if you even THEORETICALLY accept the notion that it's "okay" to discard a mate who has done you no wrong, just because you FEEL a desire "to evolve and grow personally;" then you NEVER DID grasp what God meant about two becoming one. But if you marry for real, in God's way, then your spouse ISN'T an optional convenience, and your marriage ISN'T a temporary alliance with built-in ejection seats. In a Holy Spirit-led marriage, you would no more want to discard your mate than you would ask me to extract a perfectly healthy tooth from a healthy set of gums.

Cecilia and I will not be granted the opportunity to prove, through a mortal lifespan of two or three centuries, that we would never tire of each other; but we know in our hearts that we would not. As long as we both DO exist on the mortal plane, because God united us as one, we DON'T each think of ourselves as keeping the other at arm's length. It is AS A COMBINATION that we go at life, and splitting up that combination as a willing choice by either of us is unthinkable.

I wish that some of my favorite novelists DIDN'T regard breakups as SO VERY thinkable.  

At this point, my usual detractors will scream: "You want battered wives to be trapped at the mercy of their abusers! You want to give a blank value-pulse to the worst of patriarchal oppressors! You're waging war against women!" They will know themselves to be lying when they say this; for when THEY argue for THEIR preference that marriages should be disposable, they would furiously deny any charge that they wanted to take their position so far as to hurt any innocent person. Well, dear detractors, neither do I intend MY statement of conviction to be followed so rigidly as to hurt the innocent. OF COURSE an abused spouse has a right to escape from her -- OR HIS --abuser. But the general principle I advocate remains valid, and I am not ashamed of it.

Who knows? If Jesus doesn't return during the lifetimes of Chilena, Alipang, Melody, Harmony and Terrance [Eric and Cecilia's children in the Alipang Havens novels], perhaps my words, preserved by God's providence, will afford some encouragement to a future generation of long-lived beiievers who still want to do human love IN THE BIBLICAL FASHION.

Monday, May 29, 2017

The Oatmeal Parable

   Suppose that, for some reason or other (imprisonment, maybe?), a man is forced to live exclusively on a diet of oatmeal for five years. In all that time, he never gets to eat ANY solid food other than oatmeal, oatmeal, and more oatmeal. Other men, who are exempt from this austere diet, will eat sumptuous meals within his view, mocking his deprivation.

Now imagine that the circumstances which forced infinite oatmeal upon this man finally end; at last, it is possible again for him to obtain OTHER foods. So he hurries to a restaurant, intending to order a prime rib dinner. But as soon as he places his order, the waiter frowns and tells him: "Meat, meat, meat! All you EVER want to eat is meat! You're spoiled and pampered! You're a glutton! You're obsessed with meat! You're greedy and selfish! You need to come to your senses, quit this protein-heavy meat-eating diet, and have-- some OATMEAL!!!"

Hear ye now the interpretation of the parable. There are in this world men and boys who are decent and chivalrous-- all right, so they're a minority, but they do exist. There are, I say, men and boys who are decent and chivalrous, but who simply cannot find any female interested in dating/marrying them. There ARE females who will graciously grant these rejects the privilege of becoming Superfluous Redundant Friend Number 47; and the decent males shrug and go along with it. They perform acts of service for the females whose love they wish they had, while enduring the knowledge that some other guy, by dumb luck, is getting all the romantic attention without even trying to deserve it.  

But no matter what good sports the decent males are about being kept in friend zone, if they EVER dare to express their unhappiness at being unwanted, somebody is likely to chide them: "You have an unhealthy romantic obsession! It might even be a sexual addiction! You need to quit this attitude of seeing women ONLY as objects of desire! You need to do something NEW, something you've NEVER tried before in your life: try being a FRIEND to a girl/woman!"

There can be several different reasons why a meddling busybody would thus turn the knife in the heart of a love-deprived man or boy. But whatever the busybodies' motives are, it hurts just as much for the decent man or boy who doesn't even get credit for ALREADY HAVING BEEN in friend zone, done friend zone, and gotten a dozen friendzone T-shirts.

Even so, I agree with the poem about loving people "anyway," being honest "anyway," etc. God helping me, I will try still to be unselfishly chivalrous even as advancing age makes me almost forget what romance felt like. I would rather be Colonel Brandon and NEVER get to marry Marianne Dashwood, than get to marry Marianne by being that snake John Willoughby. (No, I do not mean by this that I think EVERY man who enjoys more romantic success than I do IS a Willoughby. Sometimes good guys do get the girl, and more power to them.)

I still do friend zone just fine. I'm an expert at being a chummy-pal, and not as a deceitful pretense. (There are certainly no male-performance issues to worry about in friend zone!) Just don't try to tell me that I should consider it my highest possible delight to be only and always force-fed oatmeal.


  

Monday, May 8, 2017

Concerning the Literature of Self-Pity

Poor, poor me, they hate me for being different! Poor, poor me, they hate me for being different! Poor, poor me, they hate me for being different! Poor, poor me, they hate me for being different! Poor, poor me, they hate me for being different! Poor, poor me, they hate me for being different! Poor, poor me, they hate me for being different! Poor, poor me, they hate me for being different! Poor, poor me, they hate me for being different! Poor, poor me, they hate me forbeing different! Poor, poor me, they hate me for being different! Poor, poor me, they hate me for being different!

Did I say that too many times? I said it BARELY ENOUGH TIMES to reflect the excessive overuse of that complaint as the plot for all sorts of stories, in print or in mass media. The uncounted armies of poor-me-I'm-different writers evidently have completely failed to notice a certain fact of life in the real world.

NOT EVERY hatred occurs because one person is different from another. It is equally possible for one to hate another precisely because THEY ARE SO MUCH ALIKE.

Think of two football jocks, exactly alike in character, who hate each other because they are competing for prestige. Think of two fashion models, exactly alike in character, who hate each other because they are competing for fame. Think of two gang leaders, exactly alike in character, who hate each other because they are competing for territory. Think of two researchers, exactly alike in character, who hate each other because they are competing for grants.

In past generations, there were plenty of stories written or filmed which DID portray rivalries between persons who were alike, hating each other BECAUSE they wanted the same things. But the present-day victim-group mentality has caused a fixation on poor-me-I'm-different stories.

And since I'm taking the trouble to point this out, I must be--different! Poor me.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Another Author Who Preaches to the Anti-Christian Choir

 For as long as there have been men and women living and working together in any kind of organized societies, there have been men and women who wanted to take the easy, lazy way in any activity. If they were clever enough, they would even invent rationales to the effect that cutting corners and ignoring specific requirements produced a _better_ result.

The Body of Christ has not been immune to the lure of the shortcut and the compromise. Thus Franky Schaeffer, son of the famous Christian author Francis Schaeffer, could sink so low as to endorse the gospel-mocking book "Devangelical," an autobiography by a woman calling herself Erika Rae (Emergency Press 2012). Mizzzzzz Rae is the chief editor of Scree Magazine, and (not at all to my surprise) lives in Boulder. Her book is yet one _more_ book pretending to be daring and bold as it simply recycles what hundreds of "refreshingly irreverent" books have been doing for decades: pouncing on every example of professed Christians _not_ practicing the love of Jesus, and pretending that the hypocrites discredit the basic doctrines _about_ Jesus. And when Franky Schaeffer praised her, he wasn't taking a brave stand, he was taking his risk-free turn in line to beat a dead horse.

Throughout the book, Mizzzzzz Rae inserts "clever" little explanations of Christian jargon. For instance, she defines Evangelism as "The act of letting everyone around you know your spiritual stance, so that they will be dazzled by your certainty enough to also decide to believe as you do, thus gaining the reward of eternal life for all concerned." She similarly sneers that Godliness is "Often confused with pretending one is actually God in matters of judgment, piety, and denial of human desires." Mizzzzzz Rae apparently relies on us not to have noticed just how stuck-up and arrogant
the _secular_ culture can be about momentous issues like what's a fashionable outfit to wear this year, or which teams will make it to the NBA playoffs.

Near the end of "Devangelical," she offers the great punchline: again, simply recycled from all the other "liberating," "innovative" testaments of same-old same-old secular humanism. She says:

"Feed the hungry. Clothe the poor. Take care of those who need it. Relieve the burdens of others. This is what is REAL. The problem for me is quite simply that the larger Evangelical culture has gotten away from this somehow, and it has become impossible for me to overlook the disconnect. The core message of Jesus -- that there is no law above loving God, and your neighbor as yourself -- has been twisted so thoroughly that it looks a whole lot more like: glut your soul with pep talks, if you have any cravings for life on Earth use these approved substitutes, prioritize the saving of souls over destitute bodies, decorate your buildings, and then go there and hide."

The shortcut, the easy way, would be to nod, smile, and agree that Erika Rae is _ever_ so profound. But those who know me, know that I try to get past the surface appearance to the roots of things. Therefore Mizzzzz Rae doesn't get a free pass with me. Of course, those who _don't_ want to look past the feel-good language will desire to believe that if I criticize Mizzzzzz Rae AT ALL, this must mean that I want poor people to starve. Too bad if they think this. Reality is reality, and I'm digging up some reality here.

The single biggest flaw in her same-old same-old humanist creed is that, in claiming to identify "the core message of Jesus," she is claiming that Jesus' mission on Earth WAS NOT ABOUT ANYTHING BIGGER THAN merely declaring a message. If you make Jesus out to be _only_ a teacher, you show that you want no part of the _actual_ Incarnate God.

Teachings about generosity and charity already _were_ available to humanity _before_ Jesus entered incarnate life. And both before and since His earthly life, the problem with humanistic charity has been that people aren't consistent with it. It is not only churches that may have greedy, self-serving leaders; plenty of _secular_ charity organizations also turn out to be channeling most of the money they receive into the bank accounts of their directors. And in the case of the supposedly noble United Nations, you can find blue-helmeted "peacekeepers" EXTORTING SEX from impoverished
women and children as "payment" for the delivery of humanitarian aid. So exactly how is getting rid of churches going to ensure better performance of humanitarian service?

If you say that people's _material_ welfare is the _supreme_ value, then the provision of this welfare will increasingly be in the hands of people who _don't_ have the Spirit of God living in their hearts. Thus, for instance, we get John Hickenlooper, when he was Mayor of Denver, devoting an enormous budget to ending homelessness in Denver-- and finding by the end of his mayorship that homelessness HAD NOT DECREASED. This kind of thing was understood by C.S. Lewis, who wrote that if you exalt the secondary values above the primary ones, you WON'T EVEN fulfill the secondary values.

 Jesus also understood this, well duh; so He _didn't_ come to Earth merely to _tell_ us, "Be nice." He came to atone for our _failure_ to "be nice." He came to redeem the eternal souls that Mizzzzzzz Rae pretends are of little importance. As for hiding in decorated buildings: yes, that happens-- but I already said that Erika Rae was choosing to regard the worst examples as the typical model. In my more than forty years as a believer in Jesus, I have _never_ been part of any church that _wasn't_ actively involved with tangible aid to needy persons. If Mizzzzzz Rae wants to play with straw
men, she won't get far playing that game at the doors of the food bank my church supports, or on the White Mountain Apache Reservation where my church assists young people facing the problems of adolescence, or in African countries where my church and other churches help to provide safe-water wells in rural villages.

Mizzzzzz Rae can always find ignoramuses for whom it will be the path of least resistance to nod and smile and pretend she is "daring." But I know Christians who have _actually_ done brave deeds, and I'm not impressed by Mizzzzzz Rae.

 In writing his endorsement for Mizzzzzz Rae's book, the disgraceful apostate Franky Schaeffer pretended that America was suffering from "the stranglehold of insane religion." His saying this was just one more example of the phenomenon that Mr. Lewis aptly described as "rushing about with fire extinguishers when there is a flood, and crowding to that side of the boat which is already nearly gunwale under." And Franky Schaeffer's expecting to be taken seriously proves that HE REALLY KNEW that, far from being dominated by evil religious bigots, America's culture was already deeply under the sway of the sort of unbelievers who would welcome Erika Rae's politically-correct irreverence. That's how it is with today's fashionable scoffers: they play-act at "heroically speaking truth to power," while knowing that their own side IS ITSELF THE POWER which enjoys a license to censor the actual truth.


Daring to Commit the Sacrilege of Defying the Icon Betty White

Outside of kung-fu movies, nobody thinks that it's possible for a human male to have testicles which AREN'T vulnerable to crushing. When anyone speaks of a man as "ballsy," or as "really having cojones," neither the speaker nor any teenage-and-up listener EVER thinks for a single instant that a literal claim of invulnerable testicles is being made. They all understand that the real reference is to the energizing role played by HORMONES FROM the testicles.    

But no trivial consideration of actual truth was going to deter Betty White when, something like five years ago, she "cleverly" said that testicles should not be associated with strength and bravery because testicles are physically fragile. The vagina, she insisted, should be the symbol of strength and bravery, because the vagina is designed to endure extreme physical stress.

But a vagina, in and of itself, is not what makes a brave woman brave either. We tend, quite reasonably, to speak of a brave woman as having a brave HEART.

Betty White scored a totally phony Gotcha, by "refuting" a claim THAT MEN HAD NOT BEEN MAKING. She was allowed to get away with it because she's a celebrity, and because lots of women were looking for the next chance to high-five each other and screech fake laughter over an imaginary "proof" of female supremacy.

When a Facebook meme was made of Mizzzzzz White's words, it used a photo of her doing a forced triumphant wink. She can wink until her eyelids rupture, but this won't make a badly-aimed cheap shot not be a badly-aimed cheap shot.

   

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Barking Up The Wrong Tree, As Usual

Two recent science-fiction movies, in the future-dictatorship sub-genre, happen to bear similar titles and a shared theme. "Equilibrium" and "Equals" both tell the audience that the way a dictatorship holds on to power is by suppressing all impulsive emotion in the people, forcing them to be logical and calm. Based on what I see of popular culture, the writers of those movies were (as it SO often happens) "rushing about with fire extinguishers when there is a flood."

Well, it's possible that a dictatorship would use that strategy AFTER IT IS ESTABLISHED; but I never heard of any dictatorship anywhere that ACHIEVED power by keeping everyone logical and calm. On the contrary, revolutionaries deliberately appeal to the emotions of a population. Hopes (be they realistic or not), fears (be they warranted or not), and grievances (be they justified or not) have always been what uprisings relied on for fuel.

So don't be quick to say, "Look out, someone's promoting logic and calmness, he must be a communist or a fascist!" Would-be tyrants of course will DO some thinking; and they may use an APPEARANCE of wisdom to inspire loyalty; but be sure that mob hysteria has its place in their plans.

Not everyone who appeals to emotion is trying to enslave us....but EVERYONE who wants to enslave us will have appeals to emotion in his toolbox.  

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Purity Shouldn't Be Asceticism

The God of the Bible is not a mindless, merciless legalist, eagerly looking for every excuse to punish people for the very tiniest slip. He wants us to succeed, not fail, at being transformed into His moral image; thus, He is patient with us. But this doesn't mean that He doesn't have an ideal of righteous conduct that He wants us to MOVE TOWARD. Sadly, the progress of His children toward a more Christlike spiritual condition is often hindered when some of US turn into those mindless, merciless legalists.

Where this bitter, condemning spirit prevails, even persons who are promoting the right KIND of behavior may promote it FOR THE WRONG REASONS. They may correctly identify some action as sinful, but horribly botch the job of explaining WHY that action is sinful.

One area where this happens a lot is the area of sexual purity. Too many preachers have given only one reason why God would be against sexual sin: BECAUSE PEOPLE ENJOY IT. Just that, without further explanation. So the take-away is that if you feel ANY pleasure that has ANY connection with earthly life, it MUST be evil. I'm not exaggerating. One anger-driven pastor in my experience claimed that a boy and girl doing nothing more sensual than HOLDING HANDS were behaving just as sinfully as if they fornicated. This was almost forty years ago, so by now that pastor has probably had to report in at the judgment seat of Christ and have his work evaluated. Of course I don't know, but I would be VERY surprised to learn that in all of his career he ever helped EVEN ONE PERSON to walk in a truly God-centered purity -- for what I know of his preaching serves only to illustrate why worldly people find it so easy to claim that Christianity is "hateful" by its very nature.

When I talk about the Christian standard for sexuality, I talk about how our sex-related conduct AFFECTS OTHER PEOPLE. Both physical sexual intercourse, and the emotional interaction that leads to it or follows after it, will create EXPECTATIONS in the minds of those involved. Unfortunately, the expectations formed in the woman's mind are often TERRIBLY different from those in the man's mind, so that at least one of the partners will end up disillusioned and hurt. Usually the woman. This is only one of the ways in which people may injure other people when sex is in the picture; but this whole area of CONSEQUENCES needs to be more widely understood.

A man who would laugh at you for telling him, "Pleasure is evil BECAUSE it's pleasant," might nonetheless have enough conscience in him that he would stop to think if you told him instead, "SELFISHNESS is evil, because it hurts others who have the same right to be treated well as you have." If the entire world were a church, maybe it would always be enough to say, "Don't do this, because God says not to do it;" but since the entire world ISN'T a church, we need to provide a REASON for being against certain actions.