All posts by Lars Walker

Economic crimes and hate crimes

I have sinned. Economically.

The used book store where I’ve been shopping for the last few years was doing fine, as far as I could tell, last January, the last time I was there. Then I lost my renter, things got tight, and I chose to re-read The Lord of the Rings. Then Dave Alpern sent me some books to read (Got to return those. Looking for the right box). So what with one thing and another, I didn’t buy any books for a while.

Today I dropped by the store after work, since I have a renter again and he just gave me his May payment.

They’re closed up. Empty. Dark and bare. Not a flyleaf left behind.

It’s my fault. I, personally, am solely responsible. I have no doubt that the owners lost their home and are now living on the streets, eating out of dumpsters, all for lack of my business.

I’m sorry. So very, very sorry.

Have you heard of HR 1592? It’s a bill now under consideration by the House of Representatives.

Its purpose is to expand Hate Crimes legislation. That’s bad enough, in my opinion, because the very concept of the “hate crime” amounts to punishing people for their thoughts. If a jihadist cuts off my head, I want him prosecuted for killing me, not for killing me for Islam. The motivation should be irrelevant in the eyes of the law.

But this bill expands the definition of Hate Crime in such a way that, in conjunction with Title 18 of the U.S. code, merely expressing religious opposition to homosexuality would be a prosecutable offense, in the case that some moron should draw the wrong conclusion and go out and commit a “hate crime.” Understand that? A pastor who simply repeats what the Bible says on the subject could be prosecuted and imprisoned, based on the reaction of one of his listeners.

Hat tip: Vision America.

This is what happened to the Revolution, kids. I always knew the hippies were lying when they talked about free speech. When they said “free speech,” they meant their own freedom from other people’s speech. When Paul McCartney sang, “Power to the people, right on!” he meant “Power to the people who are right on.” That is, people who agreed with him.

I don’t think a nation can survive without some kind of shared value system. It’s not enough to share a few symbolics, if the symbolics mean entirely different things to different groups. In America today, we can’t even agree on what the definition of “is” is. We’re so far apart we don’t even understand each other’s words.

I see a train wreck down the line. I wrote about this stuff in Wolf Time.

Right again, blast it.

Beyond Recognition

*Stand by for your Minneapolis weather report.*

Nice weather today. A little over seventy. But we could use some rain.

*This has been your Minneapolis weather report.*

I probably should have passed this story over to Gaius at Blue Crab Boulevard. It’s his beat.

But I couldn’t resist linking to it here.

Thousands of people have been ‘fleeced’ into buying neatly coiffured lambs they thought were poodles.

Entire flocks of lambs were shipped over from the UK and Australia to Japan by an internet company and marketed as the latest ‘must have’ accessory.

We farm kids love that kind of story.

I found myself without a book to read last week, on the day of the week my usual used bookstore is closed. So I picked up a book that had been among my late Aunt Jean’s things, Beyond Recognition by Ridley Pearson. I’d taken it away from her house when we were closing it up after her death, not sure if I’d read it before. I find that I have read it; in fact I think Aunt Jean probably got this copy from me. But it was so long ago I’ve forgotten the main points.

I came to this passage today, and thought it worth sharing. Sgt. Boldt, the hero, is investigating a string of vicious arson killings. He drops in at a jazz club run by a friend, “Bear” Berenson, and starts talking with him, trying to unwind. They’re discussing how you see horrific crimes nowadays that you never saw in the past.

“I think it’s God,” Boldt said immediately, because he’d been thinking about this for a long time and Bear was the kind of friend he could say this to. “Or, more to the point, the lack thereof. I was raised with church. Sunday school, that sort of thing. You?”

Bear nodded. “Temple.”

Boldt continued, “Yeah, and in all those stories, all those lessons, you had good and evil, God and the Devil—no matter what significance you put in either—but they were there, and you had faith, some sense of faith, some belief in something larger than yourself, no matter how small or on what level. Maybe you look at the night sky a little differently or maybe you go to church twice a week, but it’s there, it’s in you. And without it, without that sense of God, there’s no flip side, there’s nothing to fear, and as much as I hate to say it, maybe fear is a good thing in this case. A sense of God—whatever you choose to call it—gives you a soul; without a soul, you’re left with unfocused eyes and sense that you’re at the top of the food chain and anything goes. And that’s what you see in a killer’s eyes: no humanity, no consciousness, no thought or concern for their fellowman. Some kid blows away his best friend over a pair of sneakers—so what? I’m telling you, it’s no act. They have no soul. I interrogate these guys, I look them right in the eye, and I’m telling you they’re beyond recognition. They aren’t human. I don’t know what they are.”

And on that happy note, I wish you a pleasant and psycho-free weekend.

Update: I should have given Aitchmark credit for tipping me off to the poodle story.

Writer’s Digest 101 Best

Hugh Hewitt just reported that a bomb has been found at an abortion clinic. I think it was in Austin, Texas (I can’t find the story online yet).

I know I speak for 99% of pro-lifers when I condemn all such acts of terrorism. If you’re a clinic bomber, tell me all about it. I’ll go straight to the police.

Well, it should have been a good day. Getting a column up at The American Spectator usually bucks me up a bit. Today, somehow, it didn’t work. I don’t know why. Maybe it was the weather–cool and overcast. Spring without enthusiasm. Around noon the Sickness Unto Tedious Self-Absorption began to metastasize in me, and pretty much everything I did after that was like swimming in a chocolate milk shake, only less tasty.

But I still dragged myself out for my evening walk, so I have a small glow of self-righteousness within to warm me. Tomorrow will probably be better.

Writer’s Digest published its annual list of “101 Best Websites For Writers” this month. Here are a few that might be of interest. Or not.

www.thinkbabynames.com lists the most popular baby names for every decade since 1900. Great for finding names for characters for your historical novel, or for finding a name for your baby that’ll get him/her laughed at for the rest of his/her life. On the other hand, the name might come back into style when the kid’s 18, and… well, he/she still won’t ever forgive you, but it might help get him/her onto whatever Reality Show is popular by then.

www.agentquery.com is a free site that lists established literary agents seeking writers. Also offers tips for approaching them.

Another agent resource is www.writers.net/agents.html. “…allows you to search for agents by name, location or topic.”

www.armchairinterviews.com is a site where you can access recorded author interviews. If reading me hasn’t soured you forever on authors already.

That’s all I’ve got. Go now and read my Spectator post again.

If already depressed, skip this post

Reader Aitchmark forwarded me this link to a perceptive column Tony Blankley wrote for the Washington Times. I agree with him that it nails the precise conceptual difference between the Left and the Right on the war (no doubt there are people who oppose the war for better reasons, but I think the view Blankley analyzes probably motivates the Democrats in power).

…the great divide is between those, such as me, who believe that the rise of radical Islam poses an existential threat to Western Civilization; and those who believe it is a nuisance, if episodically a very dangerous nuisance.

Those who believe in nothing higher than “personal spirituality,” I think, are incapable (without some kind of psychic “whack upside the head”) of understanding that there are people out there who really believe in things outside themselves. To them, Christians must be either incredibly stupid or they’re running a confidence game when they speak of doctrines and absolute moral truths. And Muslims… well, they’re inscrutable. But in their hearts they must be just like us. If they do… regrettable things, they must have been driven crazy by some evil force. Like Republicans.

I’d like to say that good Christian fiction—not preachy CBA fiction that preaches to the choir, but gutsy, smart, well-crafted Christian books like Andrew Klavan’s Damnation Alley, are one way to open people’s minds and fight back against the darkness. And books like that can’t hurt. Maybe I’ll find a publisher myself again someday.

But I think good Christian movies and TV would probably have more impact. Unfortunately, though some progress has been made recently, that’s still a major challenge and I suspect progress, if it happens, will occur slowly.

The bottom line is, I wonder if the remnant of Christendom can be saved. I wonder if the West has declined too far. Perhaps we’re entering a new period of worldwide tribulation. Maybe that’s God’s plan for the Last Days.

It’s all in His hands, of course. Our brothers and sisters have suffered persecution throughout history, and they still suffer today. There’s no reason we should think of ourselves as exempt. In fact, we are instructed to rejoice in it.

Promise Me by Harlan Coben

I don’t often laugh out loud (for those of you under 20, that’s an antique term for “lol”) at anything I read online, but Lileks cracked me up today with his deconstruction of a set of postcards from China in the days of the Cultural Revolution, describing an opera called “The Red Detachment of Women.”

I’m always looking for new favorite thriller writers. Klavan, Connelly, Tanenbaum, Kellerman and Lehane can only put out so much product per annum. So when I saw Harlan Coben’s new novel, Promise Me, in a grocery store rack, I figured I’d give him a try.

It was close, but he didn’t make the cut.

Not that the book’s bad. I enjoyed it and read it with interest. But… well, let me lay out the particulars.

The main character is Myron Bolitar (full points for audacity in choosing a character name), a sports and entertainment agent who divides his time between New York City and his suburban home town. Bolitar, it appears, was the hero of a series of earlier Coben novels, though he hasn’t appeared in a new book in about seven years. During those years, we are told, Bolitar has been concentrating on his business. Never married, he has recently begun dating a local widow.

One evening, during a party, he overhears his girlfriend’s daughter talking to a friend (Aimee, a girl he has known all her life, the daughter of friends of his own). They mention parties and drinking. Bolitar decides to talk to them. He gives each of them his card, asking them to promise him that if they ever find themselves in a situation where they’re faced with driving drunk, or riding with a drunk driver, they will call him. He promises to drive anywhere and pick them up, no questions asked.

It’s an admirable act, but the results aren’t what he planned on. He gets a call one night from Aimee. She’s in Manhattan and needs a ride. When he shows up, she’s not drunk at all, only troubled. She directs him to a residential address in the suburbs, then goes to a dark house that she says is a friend’s. Her friend will let her in, she says.

After that she disappears.

Myron is the last person to see her, and his story sounds thin. Also another girl from the same town has disappeared in similar fashion. Her father is desperate to find her, and not particular how he gets the information. He’s also a gangster.

Fortunately Myron has his own resources. He has a good record with the police. He also has a friend named Win Lockwood.

Many of today’s mystery heroes have psycho killer friends—scary, dangerous guys devoted to the hero for some reason, who are useful in the situations of extreme violence such stories tend to involve. We don’t like our heroes to be killing machines, I suppose, so we need the psycho killer friend to keep the hero alive.

I found Win Lockwood a kind of unconvincing PKF. He’s supposed to be the scion of very old money. As a boy, after a serious incident of bullying, he devoted his life to learning all the killing arts. Now, apparently, he just enjoys his wealth and watches Bolitar’s back for fun.

I think I was supposed to like him. Maybe I would have if I’d read the earlier novels. But in this book I found him sort of a flat, amoral deus ex machina.

I liked the book a lot in some ways. The theme overall is how much parents love their children, and the lengths to which they’ll go to protect them.

I wasn’t sure, though, whether Coben was willing to make moral distinctions. He seemed to conclude (I may have misunderstood him) that there is no real difference in kind between any child-protective acts, even including murder.

And the ending was troubling for any Christian conservative.

So I don’t think I’ll go back to Coben. Too bad. There was much to commend the book.

Nothing tough about this one

Andrew Klavan has this essay up over at City Journal today.

That high-pitched noise you hear in the distance is me, screaming, “I wish I’d written that!”

Michael at The Euphemist has come out of hibernation long enough to tag Phil and me with a “Six Weird Things About Me” meme.

Now there’s a challenge.

If he’d asked for six normal things about me, I might have had some trouble.

OK, where do we start?

I have heterochromia iridis. This is not a rare, debilitating genetic disease. It’s the condition where a person has bi-colored eyes. A famous instance is the rocker David Bowie, who has one blue eye and one brown. My H. I. comes in a different form, where the two colors are mixed in the eyes, in a pinto pony combination of brown and gray (or blue, depending on the light and who’s looking).

I like folk music.

I don’t like cheese of any kind, except in pizza.

I actually much preferred the second Conan movie to the first one.

I have no good memories associated with any sport (except for live steel combat).

I can read Norwegian in the old, Gothic Fraktur typeface.

I shall now take my hat and cane and go.

It’s Friday. All you get is scraps

Will Duquette of View From the Foothills is another favorite blogger of mine whose posting has regrettably decreased. But he put up an entertaining poem about Smeagol this week, and I wanted to wave you in that direction.

Guy Stewart shares this butt-kick for discouraged Christian Science Fiction writers.

Have you heard the recording of Alec Baldwin chewing out his daughter on voice mail? What’s your take on that? I know that even the best parents can be pushed past the limit sometimes and say things they regret, with no harm done in the larger scheme of things. But I grew up in a situation where this kind of tirade was pretty much daily fare, and so it’s hard for me to judge where the limits are. Do you parents out there respond to the recording by saying, “Wow, I’m glad there wasn’t a recorder on the last time I cut loose on the kids,” or do you say, “That was definitely over the line”? I’m just curious. I honestly don’t have a gauge for this, and I’m not a parent myself.

Not a writer

I don’t want to know anything more about the VT monster. (I won’t write his name. He’s not worth the effort to learn how to spell it. I will repeat the name of Prof. Liviu Livrescu, again and again. May he live forever in honored memory. Yad vashem.)

As a writer, I suppose I should be fascinated by the dynamics that led the VTm to write a B-movie ending to his life’s story. I was bullied plenty as a child. I can sympathize with moody loners better than most.

But he lost me when he did what he did. He ceased to be interesting at that point.

I’ve blogged before about the banality of evil. In fiction we like to think up fascinating, multilayered antagonists, urbane Bond villains and Hannibal Lectors, accomplished and witty and charming, who are the kinds of people you suspect you’d like if you knew them. What we think we’d be like if we took up the practice of evil.

Yet so often, in real life, the bad guys turn out to be walking stereotypes. Abused or neglected as children. Poor social adjustment. Shy. Alienated from the peer group. Fascinated with violent games and movies.

Until the moment they set out to orchestrate their Big Moments, they have my sympathy. I think I could have been like that. I had a fair number of the same issues in my own life. Still do. I hope they get help. I hope they find somebody to love them. I hope they confess their self-centered, obsessive sin and find grace at the foot of the Cross.

But that ends when they strap on the guns (or bombs) and go out to hurt innocent people. When they do that, they are not only committing evil. They are becoming clichés. A smaller matter, it goes without saying, but if you want my attention, don’t do a Cagney imitation.

There was a time when the Charles Manson story fascinated me. Right up until I saw David Frost interview him, years back. Watching and listening to him, I realized there was nothing special about him. He was just like any number of stoners I met back in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Manson wasn’t some Satanic mastermind. He was a narcissist with a messiah complex who eroded his inhibitions with drugs.

Boring.

There was a time when I was fascinated by the Jack the Ripper mystery. I’m still sort of interested in it, not so much in the criminal himself as in the story and the setting. And the enduring mystery. The fact that the crimes are unsolved prevents us from learning how banal the killer probably actually was. If (as I suspect is true) Sir Robert Anderson’s contention is correct, that the killer was a man later committed to an insane asylum, well, QED.

I suppose there are exceptions. Ted Bundy, they say, was charming and “played well with others.” But I haven’t studied his story closely, and it appears to me to be a rare exception.

The VTm thought he was a creative writer. He wasn’t.

Creative writers have to be able to come up with original endings.

Out of uniform

In my list of Thinking Bloggers last night, I didn’t include Roy Jacobsen of Dispatches From Outland and Writing, Clear and Simple. This omission was not due to any waning in my enjoyment of his work, but due simply to the fact that he almost never posts anymore.

Just a hint, to nobody in particular.

I sat down at the computer tonight, and suddenly realized I hadn’t planned anything to blog about.

So I resorted to the scribbled post-it notes I collect in my pocket planner. There I found this thought, which is apropos of nothing in particular:

“If God answered all prayers in the same way, it would make Him appear to be an object, a device we can manipulate. But beyond that, it would make us objects as well. Uniformity is dehumanizing.”

One of the convictions that grows on me with every passing year is my revulsion against uniformity, when applied to humans. Uniformity is great in science and industry—understanding the laws of nature makes scientific progress possible, and the standardization of parts made valuable (and not so valuable) things available to more people than our ancestors could have dreamed of.

But the great enterprise of the modern Left has been to make people uniform. For all their talk about diversity and personal self-esteem, their definition of justice is equality, not of opportunity but of results. They believe (sincerely) that this will enrich human life, but in practice it reduces people to interchangeable ciphers. Why did Stalin have no problem murdering millions of people, merely because they were inconvenient to his plans? Because they were just numbers to him, just units. There were plenty more where they come from. I do not say that those who work for equal distribution of wealth are all like Stalin. But Stalins inevitably rise to the top when they acquire power. I think we see this in the increasing hostility to the very existence of humanity seen in sectors of the ecological and animal rights movements.

Many people think Jesus preached equality of wealth. They are wrong. He preached equality of contentment, a very different thing

On suffering

Phil mentioned several of my favorite blogs in his Thinking Blogger nominations. I might add Gene Edward Veith’s personal blog at World Magazine, The Recliner Commentaries, and S. T. Karnick.

Whew. I came home tonight and found my renter here, unloading another carload of personal stuff. If I hadn’t seen him tonight, I had a tentative plan to start nosing through his personal possessions in the hope of finding a phone number I could call to check on him. Apparently he’s just making a graduated move.

Another glorious day in my favorite season of the year. Not as warm as yesterday, only a click above sixty, but very nice for my evening walk. It would have been perfect if it weren’t for the subject matter on the radio…

Not that Hugh Hewitt isn’t handling it like a champ. He’s hanging up on the second-guessers and finger-pointers. He’s concentrating on talking about the victims, and about how people can help the survivors. Very classy. Hewitt at his best.

He brought David Allen White on to talk about suffering, and White touched on a thought that has intrigued me for some time. He read from Colossians 1:24:

“Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.” (NIV)

“How can anything be lacking in Christ’s sufferings?” we ask. Here’s what the passage says to me. I don’t insist on it, and I’m open to correction.

But it looks to me as if this means that Christ’s suffering is still going on. I don’t mean His suffering for our sins. I believe that’s finished, complete. But He also is the Head of His Body, the Church. When we, the parts of the Body, suffer, the Head suffers. In that sense His sufferings will not end until the coming of the Kingdom. Therefore none of us who are in Christ suffer alone.

I remember reading long ago about a female martyr (I forget who) who was warned by her judge of the terrible sufferings she faced. She replied, in so many words, “I am one with my Lord, and it will not be me who suffers. It will be Him suffering for me.”

I don’t know if I’d have the courage to make such a statement of faith, but I like the sound of it.

Excalibur by Bernard Cornwell

First off, my prayers go out to the families and friends of the victims of the Virginia Tech atrocity. Commenter Aitchmark tells me that one of his good friends is an instructor there. According to the last message I got from him, his friend would appear to be all right. But lots of other people’s friends weren’t so lucky, and there are just no words to say except that we are thinking of them and lifting them up to God.

The news didn’t match the weather, at least not here. It was an exquisite day. Seventy degrees. Last Monday it was winter. Today it was summer. It’s enough to give you whiplash.

I had a busy weekend. On Saturday my new renter moved in. So far he’s been the perfect tenant—he’s hardly been here at all. He brought three carloads of stuff in on Saturday, and then I didn’t see him again. I didn’t see him on Sunday, but while I was gone he seems to have brought some more in. Today, nothing as far as I can tell. I don’t have a number to call to check on him. Hope everything’s all right.

On Sunday I did one of my Viking PowerPoints for the Norwegian Federation in St. Paul. It’s a Norwegian-American friendship organization. They fed me a nice lunch, laughed at my jokes, bought a good number of books and promise to send a gratuity check. I have no complaints. On top of that the meeting was held at Luther Seminary, so I can now put “Lecturer, Luther Theological Seminary” on my resume. (I’m joking, I’m joking.)

When I got home I was pretty wiped out, as I usually am after public speaking engagements. But the day was so gorgeous I forced myself to go out for a walk, bribing myself by designating the local Dairy Queen the terminus of my route. There were two long lines strung out in front of the place (it’s one of the old-fashioned ones where you stand outside). Minnesotans have a lot of pent up cabin fever to work off right now. I think if the Blizzard machine had broken down, it might have gotten ugly.

I finished Excalibur, the final book of The Warlord Chronicles trilogy by Bernard Cornwell, on Saturday. I think I have rarely both enjoyed and disliked a book so much.

I enjoyed it as a drama and an action book. The battle scenes were outstanding, particularly the Battle of Camlan, Arthur’s last battle. As I read it, I couldn’t help thinking, “I can’t believe that someone could figure out a fresh, exciting way to do Camlan, after all the times it’s been done before.” But Cornwell achieves that. He mixes action, suspense, pathos and lyricism in a way I only wish I could emulate.

What I disliked was the general picture of religion in general, and Christianity in particular. Cornwell seems to hold the view of the average “sensible” Briton today, that religion is all well and good, but all you really need is a little simple humanity, because religion tends to get out of hand.

Cornwell clearly isn’t promoting heathenism. Although his narrator is a heathen (through most of the book, and always in his heart), Cornwell pictures the old gods of Britain as cruel and bloody. They are, however, powerful.

Christianity, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to have any inherent power at all. The great advances it makes in this story are all due to the priests telling lies and extorting conversions.

Cornwell’s position, it seems to me, is the very one that’s killing Europe. “If we’re just sensible, practical agnostics, everything will be fine. We can counter militant Islam through our enlightened culture and comfortable lifestyle. We don’t need to believe anything ourselves to defend our civilization from holy war.”

Sorry. I’m obsessed with Europe these days.

Anyway, I give Excalibur high marks as a novel, low marks in the culture wars.

Addendum: I forgot to mention he puts horns on the Saxons’ helmets. This is an egregious fault for which I can think of no excuse.

Setting Lewis straight

This post will probably be completely incoherent, as I’m working under a time deadline. I have a Viking Age Society meeting tonight.

Actually, I have plenty of time to write this, but you never know what will happen. I might get an attack of writer’s block and have to leave without posting. I might have a sudden toilet explosion and have to spend the evening with a plunger and towels.

Worry as globally as possible, that’s my motto. Because disasters are always so much more bearable if you’ve worried yourself sick about them in advance.

Also I’m not entirely sure I haven’t posted on this subject before. But if I did it was a long time ago, and who remembers? That’s the upside of writing ephemera.

Anyway, thinking along the lines of my post last night, I thought I’d mention one point on which I differ (I think) with C.S. Lewis.

(That sound you hear is everyone who knows me intaking breath. [Taking in breath? Performing an intake of breath? Clumsy. Clumsy whichever way you go. Replace it or let it stand? Let it stand. I’m in a hurry here.]) I’m well known to be one of those Christian English majors who have trouble telling the works of CSL apart from canonical scripture.

But Lewis says in several places (I’d look it up, but like I said I’m sweating under a deadline here. High R-factor in those deadlines) that Jesus Christ introduced no new ethical ideas. And this is a good thing, in his view (and in mine) because good and evil are universal, and have been recognized, in generally recognizable forms, throughout all cultures throughout all history.

But I think Christ did introduce one fresh, unprecedented teaching. One teaching that no one had presented before. And that was personal humility in relation to one’s neighbor.

Other religions have taught humility before God. But Christ (correct me if I’m wrong) was the first to say, “You should treat your neighbor as if you were his servant. You should do nothing to defend your personal honor.”

Remember, you read it here first.

Unless you didn’t.

Hey, I’m done! In plenty of time, too!

Now I can worry about something else. Computer crash. Traffic accident on the way to the meeting tonight. I’ll come up with something.

Honor off

Good news. I’ve got a real renter. The guy who came to look at the place a while back called and said he wants to take it. So if my questionable e-mail renter happens to be legitimate, I’m treating him badly. But I don’t think the odds are very high for that.

I’m blogging about Bernard Cornwell’s Enemy of God again tonight, because the only subject I can think of for a post is a comment I wanted to make about that book in my review, and which I forgot to include.

I don’t mean to beat on Cornwell’s Warlord Chronicles again and again, because that suggests I hate the books more than I do. If I really hated them, I’d have stopped reading them. I long ago gave up the compulsive idea that I had to finish every book I started (even—horrors—books I’d paid good money for). Cornwell is one of the solid professionals in the field of historical fiction, and he always gives excellent value for money. He’s too good to give up on, even when he irritates me.

He’s great at the details. He knows how linen was processed in the Dark Ages, and how the process smelled. He knows what plants grew in what region, when they blossomed and what the blossoms looked like (you’ve probably noticed, if you’ve read my novels, that “the flowers were yellow” is about as detailed as I ever get in matters botanical). He knows (or convinces you that he knows) how mounted cavalry fastened their horseshoes in Arthur’s time. Details like that are the result of careful and exhaustive research, and they make all the difference in bringing the past to life for the reader.

But I caught Cornwell in a big error. It’s the kind of error all historical novelists (me probably more than most) make, and make on purpose. But it’s more objectionable in some cases than others.

All historical novelists that I know of alter their characters a bit, giving them attitudes that didn’t actually exist in their periods. The further back in history the story is set, the more attitude adjustment the novelist has to do. Trust me. If you were to spend just a few minutes inside the head of a real warrior of Arthur’s time, the sheer mass of ignorance, superstition, prejudice, hate and tribalism would send you running for an exorcist.

But there are limits, especially in books as well researched as Cornwell’s. There’s a scene in Enemy of God where Arthur and Derfel, the narrator, meet again after a long period of alienation. Arthur apologizes and asks Derfel’s forgiveness. Derfel gives it.

If I’ve learned anything in my historical research, it’s that nothing like that would have happened among Dark Age heathens (which Arthur and Derfel are in the book). Such men lived in an honor-based culture, in which “face” was the only thing that mattered for a man. Such men never, ever apologized, even to their closest friends. The best such men would have been able to do would be to take up as friends again, silently agreeing to say nothing about what had passed between them.

The only thing that made such an act (an apology and forgiveness between warriors) possible (if rare) was the coming of Christianity with its radical new ethic.

This scene is dishonest. Cornwell is trying to picture a “merry olde Britain” going along just fine before the Christians came along to mess things up. And to show us how admirable his heathen heroes are, he depicts them performing an act that they would never have performed, and that they would have despised if done by Christians, the only people who actually might have done such a thing.

Cornwell should know better than that.

Walker’s Theory

OK, this is getting ridiculous.

I’m supposed to believe in Global Warming, according to the Great and the Wise.

It’s April 10.

We got about three inches of snow last night and today.

The cognitive dissonance has become too great. I need a new paradigm.

And I have one. I’ve done serious thinking today (I work in a library, and the psychic emanations from all the wisdom that surrounds me marinate my highly sensitive soul). I’ve considered the situation, and I know what’s going on.

What are my credentials, you ask? Ha! I know as much about it as Rosie O’Donnell! And I’m almost as fat!

I offer Walker’s Theory of Global Cooling.

When you’re introducing a new paradigm (or theory, or hobbyhorse) of course, there’s one thing you absolutely need in order to enjoy real credibility. I’ve studied the discussion closely, as it has gone on to date, and it’s clear that a theorist really needs one thing to be taken seriously in our day.

You need a conspiracy theory.

So I’ll start with the C.T.

Every conspiracy theory needs a Hidden Hand, a secret cabal manipulating events for its own benefit. I have selected one.

The Jews are already taken. All the crackpots are ranting about the hidden hand of the Jews. I’ve got to be more creative than that.

I’ll go to the Number Two most popular Hidden Hand, the one they use in Hollywood all the time.

Neo-Nazis.

Yes, Global Cooling is the work of an international cabal of neo-Nazis.

If you’re old, like me, you remember the 1970’s, and how all the scientists back then were warning us about the new Ice Age that was right around the corner. Any day glaciers would advance to cover most of Canada, and snow would fall in Mexico.

Why did the alarmists change their boogeyman?

I believe it happened because scientists realized, to their horror and surprise, that global cooling was actually happening. What they’d intended as a fictional lever with which to pry research money out of the government turned out to be an actual danger.

Enter the neo-Nazis.

The neo-Nazis are still angry about how World War II ended. Ever since 1945, the Nazis and their heirs have been furious at Europe and America. “We offered you greatness, and you refused it!” they mutter. “If you want to decline, we’ll help you decline.”

Global Cooling is their method. Through massive bribery of the world’s scientists (with money provided by their anti-Semitic allies, the Arab oil states) they suborned the scientific community into promoting the entirely imaginary theory of Global Warming.

Meanwhile, the weather gets colder and colder, so we have snowstorms in April. The demand for oil increases, enriching the Arab allies, making more money available for bribes.

Soon it will be too late. Soon most of Europe and the United States will experience arctic conditions. Equatorial areas (where the Arabs live) will become temperate. Everyone will want to move there. There will be massive social upheaval, wars caused by food and fuel shortages, and the neo-Nazis and their allies will have the market cornered on those resources.

It’s almost too late, friends! You must demonstrate! You must riot in the streets! You must call scoffers bad names and throw ice cubes at them! Only through unrestrained international chaos and upheaval will we be able to make our voices heard!

(By the way, that part is up to you. I came up with the theory. My work is done.)