I’ve been reading entries from Plutarch’s Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans. The entry on Alexander the Great will make you regret having read any other printed words first. So very interesting.
One aspect that makes it especially intriguing is how Plutarch, with the stated aim of capturing what moved these giants of history, references over and over again how dreams, bird signs, and other non-duplicatable, often mystical, pre-scientific experiences (and their interpretations) drove Alexander.
Whether to fight the battle today or tomorrow, Plutarch tells us, Alexander might decide based on a flock of birds having appeared. If Alexander found himself in a stretch of mourning after he killed someone in a fit of violent passion, he might have allowed his priestly oracles to interpret a dream and the interpretation was then used to stir him back to life.
This is on my mind today because I had a bizarre dream early this morning. Quick backstory: I have a checkride coming up. If the weather held, it would’ve been today. (Weather didn’t hold.) In any case, last night I went to bed around eleven. I awoke at four to use the restroom. I couldn’t fall back asleep.
Next thing I know, I was in some kind of building—like a cabin in a dense forrest or jungle—and my wife, stepson, and baby daughter were also around in the dreamscape. I can’t remember the beginning of the dream, but the drama grew when I saw a vividly green—off-white underbelly—and huge lizard (think something between Komodo dragon and the thing Obi Wan rides in Episode III). Like all dreams the exact sequence and details are hazy, but I know for certain that I was afraid of it and wanted to protect my family from it. It wasn’t on the attack, but I knew that it—by nature—would try to bite anything that got close enough for it to grab hold of.
My wife wasn’t as afraid as I was, and actually was, herself, in the process of removing two smaller lizards that had climbed onto her, as if it was no big thing.
The rest of the dream was basically of the theme that I was very worried and fearful of the big lizard, while nobody else’s demeanor matched my concern. It was uncomfortable, but in the end I awoke.
My interpretation? In my rookie days of contemplating the meaning of my dreams, I would’ve overlooked the first and major point of this dream, being, despite the general theme of fear, I was not eaten or fatally attacked. This leads me to acknowledge that the dream means I have nothing to fear. I will prevail.
Secondly, the fact that my wife was there and almost carelessly removing small lizards—while I was fearing the big one—means that I had something to do with the size of the lizard after me, means that I didn’t handle business when the lizard was small. This, then, I interpret to mean that I am the cause of the fear. I let my anxiety (likely over the pending checkride) grow disproportionately. How to fix that? Daily preparation. Fight small, winnable battles as they come rather than feeding the beast the fruits of procrastination.
Now let me ask you, dear reader, a question. Hasn’t this little blog post made me more likable? Isn’t it more relatable? President Trump is so anti-authority as it stands, I can’t see why this type of thing wouldn’t help him achieve the immortality that he seems to desire. I’m serious. None of us have a real understanding of just exactly what makes him wake up in the morning. And even if we believe it’s “love of America”, that still doesn’t really tell us much. But through dreams and bird signs etc, and how he responds, we’d be sure to see a fuller picture—maybe even one we like.
Two columnists I came across this last week (6/26) on the same news aggregate site ended their pieces with the exact same George Orwell quote. Additionally, a few weeks ago my very best friend had texted me the same quote. Apparently, I need to get out more.
Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.
What on God’s green earth am I supposed to do with this thing? Life is not some exercise in matching up novels with reality. George Orwell’s position in history, his position in literature is in no way affected by this repetition or attempt at application. Again, what, precisely, am I supposed to do with this thing?
Is BLM the “Party”? Has ANTIFA destroyed every record and rewritten every book? I hardly think so.
And these three fellas are some of the folks I generally trust. But the uncertain times have not only affected them. All those who would pick up a pen are affected. I haven’t come across anyone, not one doggone writer, who has anything to say.
Laboriously, then, I–your Captain–will pick up the slack and write. And in so doing I hope to encourage similar thinking and behavior.
There are many, many places to start, but the one that’s on my mind is the claim, “White Silence is Violence.”
The response to this claim comes from George Washington.
Now, you don’t have to announce that you’re quoting him to use his advice. But I wanted you to know, because it is true and it does matter.
Anyhow, I recently came across the following at the end of the brief entry on his life found in Vol. 13 of the obscure, but incredible, Library of Southern Literature under the heading, “Selected Maxims of Washington”, then sub-heading, “The Best Answer to Calumny.”
The approved response to, “White Silence is Violence,” from Washington (again, you are in no way obligated to announce that detail, perhaps trivial, if you feel like it would stop up your listener’s ears) is:
To persevere in one’s duty and be silent is the best answer to calumny.
(Dictionary.com has ‘calumny’ as “a false and malicious statement designed to injure the reputation of someone or something.”)
For an Indian Guides event, when I was around five years old, my dad helped me build a pinewood derby-esque car with which to race other children’s entries. When we arrived at the “Y” we learned that our car was far outside of the weight limit. Next thing I knew, some man with a drill was using a very large drill bit to hollow out the bottom of the car.
My mom once took the silverware right out of my hands when I proved incapable of accomplishing the feat of cutting my chicken at dinner.
During a basketball game–B-League–my opponent turned around and handed me the ball, mistakenly. I said, “Thank you,” and proceeded to head toward our basket as fast as I could run.
The local go-kart track and arcade in my childhood town was called, “Malibu Grand Prix.” One time I pronounced “prix” “priks” as I begged my mom to take me there. She laughed at me for what seemed like forever and only when my tears ran dry did she tell me why. (Or that’s how I remember it.) Years later she still brings up the phonetic faux pas when her mood turns fiendish.
H- was attempting to mix the cookie dough ingredients together, standing on a chair. She was probably three years old. The butter was still pretty hard and that led to some of the dry ingredients flying out of the bowl and onto the counter. I decided to take over for a bit.
When on a childhood vacation on a working sheep ranch in Wyoming, I accompanied the man on an early morning hunt. As we summited the hill from which he hoped to achieve and maintain the advantage over costly coyotes and foxes, I did not stoop low with him. He turned and very quickly motioned for me to join him down low.
Same man, same vacation. We were shooting a bow-and-arrow. My younger brother was having his turn with the instrument. With the arrow half-cocked, he turned toward the man to better hear the instruction and the man ducked out of the path of the would-be projectile faster than I had previously suspected he could move.
I don’t remember the exact details or even the precise date of the event, but there, at least once, was a time when I watched someone do something very slowly. Rather than wait on their laziness and incompetence, I told them they could take a break and that I’d finish up.
There was a pizza party. Most people had had their fill. I asked everyone if they had any problem with me finishing the remaining slices as I raised the lid of the already half-open box.
I wrecked my car during a snowstorm. The tow company had it in their lot. I told them that I didn’t need it anymore and was just going to donate it to Colorado Public Radio as they were always advertising that unwanted cars were a great way to donate. The man beyond the glass promptly informed me that he took donations, too. That seemed easier and I really wasn’t that philanthropic. So I assented. Then, as my friend and I drove away, an opportunity for promptness presented itself to me and I vowed to think before acting from that moment forward.
This Sunday, the church I have been a member of for three years now will recognize any/all graduates. It’s a fairly depressing ceremony as the congregation has lost so many members over the years that there are only a few remaining “youth” or “grandkids” that can be mustered out for display. For my part, I will be recognized for my post-undergraduate certificate thingy.
This calls to mind two things. First, I am sure I know more about the Bible, text-criticism of it especially, than my pastor and I’m not sure what to do about that. Second, I am sure someone will suggest I finish the master’s degree proper at some point when they realize I didn’t get one.
Here’s the thing. I will never attempt to do this. My reasons are not difficult to understand to me, but to all you encouragers I feel like my reasoning requires moving a mountain.
This is my final attempt. I stumbled upon this little gem in my Great Books of the Western World, Vol. 2. On the topic of “being” the following is included.
“It has seldom been supposed that reality exhausts the objects of our thought or knowledge. We can conceive possibilities not realized in this world. We can imagine things which do not exist in nature.“
Every professor at the school I attended for three years, including those who sit on the NIV translation committee, believe that reality does exhaust knowledge. For example, they believe numbers are not imagination, but real. (As are triangles, nouns in the genitive case, and the like.)
Folks can believe what they want. But coupling this belief about the world with the one painted by the Bible makes it flatly a lie. They are wrong at a level which touches evil. Worse, in all my discussions with them, they never even acknowledged that they knew there was another option. Well I’m it. And I won’t fight them. I won’t. It’s foolishness.
There is huge trouble brewing–like you should be afraid–when men-of-god do not discern the difference between a circle or noun and the Exodus. One is only in our mind, the other happened. In that moment, the instant separation fades, the moment the circle “happens,” pride envelopes them and the meaningful distinction between creature and creator blurs. Aside: One thing I haven’t yet had time to research is just when precisely the academic types stopped declaring themselves divine. We know the infamous and hell-bound Greeks used to, and we know that they don’t anymore. But I’m curious when they stopped actually asserting it. By my thinking, the folks who think the LORD is in some way involved with grammar etc. are just closet-deity-declarers. Here’s the test question for you laymen. Can the all-powerful LORD make Frodo not throw the ring into Mordor? If you think the LORD can stop Frodo, how would He? And if you think the LORD cannot stop Frodo, what is preventing Him?
Do not mis-read me. Men-of-god can have as deep of imaginations as Anne Shirley. But they have to admit when they’re using them.
For example, I have reached far enough back into Ancient Near Eastern history to believe that the reason the adversary in the Garden is “the serpent” (versus some other predator) is because of how serpents bind their prey. Sin–disobedience to our Heavenly Father–binds us up just like the serpent binds its food. Serpents don’t use fingers, they don’t use arms and legs, they use everything that they are. That’s precisely how the adversary works. He doesn’t mess around and he desires us. And a really neat part of this is that no matter how much we struggle, we cannot get free. It takes someone outside of us to save us. Just like the Gospel recorded happened some two thousand years ago.
But that is all part of my imagination. The Word of God says no such thing. It draws no connection, and it never seeks to answer my question of, “Why the serpent?…besides the fact that it was the serpent.”
So that is my imagination. You don’t have to believe it. It probably isn’t true. But it satisfies me.
Finally, you may ask, “Why not track down some seminary that is in line with your understanding?” Ah, but there couldn’t be one. The LORD holds all power. Christ holds all power. It is His to give. Understand?
In retrospect, I should’ve went to Law School. Or Engineering.
Oh well. I can translate some cuneiform. That’s something.
…by asking you to have the courage to be wrong. Wrong about what? Wrong about my beliefs. I challenge you to state what I believe to be the issue. That is, state what someone who does not think that your foolish-if-fashionable footsteps are moving forward anything or anyone but your own body believes to be the issue.
Think you have the character to do this? I don’t think you do.
I think you’re chicken, the whole lot of you.
But I’m giving you the opportunity to prove me wrong. What have you got to lose? Certainly not any more tear-stained poster-board. So give it a shot and comment below. I dare ya. (Or write your own post and give me the link.)
I spent most of yesterday in an abundantly enjoyable conversation with one of your hopeful souls (his name is also Pete), and yet at the end, he still could only express confusion at what I believe to be the issue. (See the entire conversation here.)
I ably described the issue raised by school shootings as I see it, and I ably described the issue raised by school shootings as he saw it. By the end, he confirmed that I “sort of” saw his side. But he never demonstrated that he understood mine–nor did he really indicate that he cared to. Trouble is, I knew that I knew his side before the whole conversation started. (I knew ’cause I have been listening to you!)
But it gets worse. He is not the only one of you stomping spirits who do not seem to be able to simply state what I (and my pals) believe to be the issue.
Remember, all I want is to be assured that you possess some level of discernment. Here’s your chance to prove to me that you understand where we disagree. For assistance, links to recent posts which vary in length, breadth, and depth and whose contents contain writing which my pals generally agree I am clearly making a case in opposition to you are here, here, here, here, and here.
Clues (or beliefs which I do not hold): I do not believe the issue to be gun violence. I do not believe the issue to be bump stocks or AR-15s. I do not believe the issue to be the interpretation of the meaning of the second amendment or any of its words. I do not believe the issue will be solved by more guns. I do not believe the issue will be solved by less guns. And unlike you I do not believe the issue will be solved by stricter gun laws.
But I do believe the school shootings raise an important issue.
Can you state, in your own words, what I believe to be the issue that they raise? Remember! If you bravely accept my challenge to defend your character, YOU MAY BE WRONG–about me. Scary.
(You’ll have to read this morning’s post to catch up. Apologies, but you can do it!)
My friend responded, “Your analysis or logic and certainly the conclusion escapes me. But, then again, in 1999 my two children were attending high school in Littleton, Colorado. Our home was less than fives miles from Columbine. The massacre that took place on April 20th, 1999 at Columbine High School cannot and will not be subject to the cavalier dismissal of your post. The millions of synchronous marchers, worldwide on March 24th are the empirical proof. That is a stronger, better conclusion… one guided by a light of hope… that last Saturday’s “March for our Lives” in Denver, is part of a larger, grander plan; one that this mortal can only guess at.”
My pastor is the man whom, nearly weekly, publicly declares the above conclusion in his prayers (assuming you’re referencing the LORD/battle/army sentence). As a veteran with first-hand battle and army (Air Force) experience, I cringed for the first two years of hearing the man say it. But for some reason I stuck around and gave him the benefit of the doubt. This past year of hearing it brought the payoff (and essentially re-reading the entire Bible). Similar to Aquinas’ thoughts on the law (i.e. counterfeit law), there is only one way that the conclusion makes sense and it involves re-orienting your understanding of reality. No small thing–and only possible with Christ.
I try to keep posts around 300 words, and so I cut out about half of what I initially wrote and hoped the meaning would still be clear. I am responding here because it seems to me that you may not feel confident in stating my point of view accurately, which I humbly submit is near the status quo’s point of view. Do you think you understand our point of view?
In short, assuming we agree that I have faithfully re-stated the claims made last weekend, I think the situation as more similar to calling for the end of cruel and unusual punishment or the end of certain forms of the death penalty than it is similar the Civil Rights movement wherein the African-Americans simply saw no reason why they weren’t allowed to vote. The call today is to restrict rights, not promote them. This is a very unique cry in human history in my reading of human history (unique in one sense, in another sense, it is the most common cry).
I’m not sure how my use of Columbine was seen to fit into the cavalier analogy of the big picture. I fully mean that I can see a future where historians in the future may find themselves describing all these “lone wolf” type mass shootings as early guerrilla warfare type acts of war which led to…
Regarding empirical proof, either more than seven billion four hundred million people worldwide, or more than three hundred twenty million in the United States did not get up from their couch. Empirically, in my mind, single-digit millions are not enough anymore.
On the whole, I still think (but might be wrong) that my analogy is an accurate assessment of the marchers’ claims, if a bit cavalier, in that it admits that the marchers’ are not calling to stop playing the game (which would be calling for an end to violence or the like, Beatles style). My point in getting to the root of the claim is to show that simply desiring things go in their proper place is not something that can be legislated. Instead, that desire is merely the call for the law to come into existence.
But it is possible that I do not understand what the marchers really want.
“When your old-ass parent is like, ‘I don’t know how to send an iMessage,’ and you’re just like, ‘Give me the fucking phone and let me handle it.’ Sadly, that’s what we have to do with our government; our parents don’t know how to use a fucking democracy, so we have to.” – David Hogg, Survivor of Marjory Stoneman Douglas schooting
Thank you, young man. I want to thank you for two reasons. First, thank you for delighting me. Second, thank you for saving me time.
Regarding delight: ask anyone who knows me and they’ll tell you that I love analogies. (Maybe you will understand me better if I write, “I ♥ analogies.” #celebrateilliteracy #icantreedorrite.) I love them because they somehow make communication crystal clear.
Regarding time: because you used an analogy, I do not have to ask clarifying questions to get at the heart of what you want to say. In other words, you have made my duty simpler. So, again, thank you for saving me time.
The analogy you provided is perfectly coherent, and undeniably clear. But do not think for a moment that through it you have demonstrated that you know up from down. I’ll grant that you are an expert at pressing “send”. Against my instincts, I’ll even grant that you are an expert at using a democracy. I will not, however, grant that you can see the truth.
The truth is that democracy is not something that is used, it is something that is built. More clearly, democracy is not the hammer, it is the house.
The preface to Philosophy of Law and Jurisprudence includes two true accounts of people stranded at sea after shipwrecks. Inevitably decisions must be made as to who should get to live at least a little bit longer. And, yes, cannibalism is sometimes the best option.
Against this backdrop, the authors present Western Civilization’s history of thought about the “law”. The book isn’t very long at all. Though, I will admit that to the likes of David Hogg and friends, compared to 140 characters, the work may seem unending. To old-ass parents, however, the ability to coherently, if not comprehensively, paint the broad-strokes of the past 2500 years’ discussion of Western thought as related to the law seems a pretty incomparable feat.
Beginning with Aeschylus, we are presented with the law as found in the infamous Greek tragedies as captured in fictions surrounding the Trojan War. In short, revenge is shown for what it is–unending. The only solution to the eternal problem is given in the institution of the court, the law.
Plato, in turn, takes the law and states that it has the purpose of promoting virtue, through persuasion and coercion.
Aristotle answers the new question which arises from Plato’s idea, which is, “What is this thing that men should be persuaded and coerced to be?” In short, after delineating natural law (killing is bad) from man-made law (speeding is bad), Aristotle offers that the man-made law must be for the common good and be properly made.
The Old and New Testaments are treated next, under the question, “Why is there any need for divine law?”
We next return to Aristotle and Plutarch, to include Solon, and see outlined the three functions of the law. The law must be made, enforced, and applied. Here we see the makings of our own three branches of government, the legislative, executive, and judicial.
Aquinas seems to be one of the first to notice that up until his time none of his predecessors really even didactically defined the term in question, that being, the law.
- Plato, for example gets close but misses when he writes, “…there is one among these cords which every man ought to grasp and never let go, but to pull with it against all the rest; and this is the sacred and golden cord of reason, called by us the common law of the State.”
- Aristotle, for his part, says, “law has compulsive power, while it is at the same time a rule proceeding from a sort of practical wisdom and reason.”
- The emperor Justinian wrote, “Whatsoever pleases the sovereign has the force of the law.”
Finally, we read Aquinas’ definition, being, “[law] is nothing other than an ordinance of reason for the common good, made by him who has care of the community, and promulgated.”
Aquinas is also the author from which we find the complicated but enlightening idea that an unjust law is an impossibility, instead it is merely a counterfeit law.
Hobbes is the man responsible for creating the notion that the commonwealth, the group, should be thought of as a new being–which he calls the Leviathan. In his system, there are essentially three commands/points. First, right to life is the only inalienable right. Second, to achieve life, one must give up all rights and liberties (with the assumption that all others follow suit) and third, men must perform the covenants that they make. The tricky part of Hobbes is that there is no law without the Leviathan. And the Leviathan cannot be against itself. Put another way, for Hobbes it is irrelevant that I think a law unreasonable.
Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice receives the next chapter’s attention because of the covenant involving one character’s willingness to underwrite his debt with “a pound of flesh.” In other words, Shakespeare brings out that mindless obedience to covenants may not be best.
Montesquieu takes up the law with the phrase, “the Spirit of Laws,” as he promotes the notion Shakespeare observed, that is that there does not seem to be one hard and fast law. Specifically he advocates that the particular and distinct circumstances–especially the climate wherein the particular culture (or Leviathan if you will) exists–must be taken into account as the law is created, enforced, and applied.
Rousseau adds to the discussion by providing the sound reasoning that the law sets men free. Rousseau is also one of the first to argue that the law, as it sets us free, is primarily concerned with protection of property as property is the freedom most easily taken away.
Kant, while approaching the law from the perspective opposite Montesquieu (science), picks up the property notion and explains that to even say that we have a right to property requires a second person. And therein he defends the importance of property ownership as a measure of the law.
Next we view the American Constitution through the eyes of its inadequate predecessor, the Articles of Confederation. This will always be a worthy exercise.
Hegel then exposes the significance of understanding there is most assuredly a difference between the history of laws and the philosophy of law. He wrote, “A particular law may be shown to be wholly grounded in and consistent with the circumstances and existing legally established institutions, and yet it may be wrong and irrational in its essential character.” He is also responsible for spreading the notion that the philosophical task (in this case, answering either, “What is the law?” or “What is right?”) has not begun until the ideas are actualized.
Finally, the book ends with discussion of Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov. This is due to the final courtroom melodrama which is about as morally difficult as anything yet written and demonstrates that the question, “What is the law?” has not yet been conclusively answered.
Despite our current predicament, this little history lesson may be enough to demonstrate that the American system was very well thought out–not by grieving, angry teenagers but by parents who could tell the difference between hammer and house.
But you already knew that, Mr. Hogg, didn’t you?
So I just read that book that I was so excited to read for school–War in the Bible and Terrorism in the Twenty-First Century. Good stuff.
I partook in a “war”. I can’t say I was a Christian during it, but I grew up believing I was a Christian and today my beliefs necessitate that I label myself the same–Christian. So you’re curious to know my conclusion after reading a few essays on whether Christianity condones war? Obviously the matter is complicated, but my head is clear. If I had the time to order a personalized bumper sticker, this is what I’d make it say:
“Vengeance is mine” – God.
Christianity = Pacifism.
“I just don’t want to do the sock hop. I want to skate,” the boy declared.
The minivan door opened wide. Rushing to the plain brown building simply labeled “Skateland”, the children realized their hurry was wasted as they needed their mom’s money to make it past the gatekeeper.
Blue and red slushy mix marked the snack bar as a the smell of un-buttered popcorn and warm feet invaded their nostrils. Looking to see if pizza was an option, he nearly ran into a girl struggling to roll on the carpet.
“Yes! They have it.”
Pretending not to notice it, he was glad the couple’s skate was happening now. That meant he had time to focus on getting the right fit, and also time enough to check out the newest ABEC bearings for sale.
As I’ll Make Love to You faded into Thriller, his body drifted towards the rink. Almost falling, he cursed the carpet. Almost falling, he cursed the silky floor. Almost falling, he cursed his skates.
First stop, the DJ.
“What’s up kid?”
“Um. Could you play Hanging Tough, by New Kids on the Block?”
“We just played it a little bit ago.”
“I’ll see what I can do, though. Anything else?”
“Um. Ice Ice Baby, by Vanilla Ice?”
“Just played that too.”
“Okay. Never mind.”
Undeterred, he zoomed along the far wall, scanning the rink for his friends. A tap on the right shoulder warned him they were passing on his left. Catching up, he hoped that his speed and skill impressed any interested girls as the still air became a pleasant breeze.
Being told “five more minutes!” earlier than desired, he skated out his remaining time just fast enough to not get yelled at by the dude in the zebra stripes. Returning to the benches, he was amazed–just like every visit–how light his tennis shoes were.
“Feel’s like I’m still skating, only lighter,” he professed to the others.
As the they walked out the door, the boys chattered excitedly that they just saw the cutest girl of the day walking in.
“Man! That always happens.”
Those of you who left the world of academia long ago might be unaware that there is a debate raging about the humanities. Are college students interested in majoring in the humanities? Are they not? Would they like to, but their practical mind says, “Don’t be a fool. There are no jobs for humanities majors.”
My question is why is this debate even happening? I suspect that students who major in vocational type degrees get their long-sought-after jobs and live happily ever after. Just like students who major in the humanities or liberal arts degrees don’t get jobs related to their degree and live happily ever after.
There is some notion that accompanies attending college which goes something like, “If only we all do this right, we can achieve heaven on earth.” Is that what we (humans) really think?
I say do what you want. I wanted to get good grades and learn about why people behave they way they do. So I majored in sociology. Some people want to become very rich, so they major in fields that lend themselves to making money. Other people want to paint, so they major in art. I don’t see why this is a discussion. Am I missing something?
I want to be the best that I can be. Isn’t that enough? Why do I have to conform to your utopia? How about this: You just do your best rather than worry about forecasting what will happen if nobody studies English or History anymore. And I’ll do the same. And then we’ll see what happens.