Fighting the Environmentalists

Frank points out a must-read review on a global warming book. Reviwer Josie Appleton of the Manifesto Club, “a pro-human campaigning network,” describes the religious language used to advocate the Earth’s doom.

We also suffer from ‘denial’ about the results of our activities, much of which is ‘straightforwardly selfish’, based on ‘an unwillingness to abandon personal comforts and consumption patterns’. The clincher, so far as Lynas is concerned, is that ‘most of my neighbours still shop in supermarkets’. They shop in supermarkets? Clearly such people should not be deciding the future of the planet after all. So, he concludes, the only solution is carbon rationing: ‘People would trade carbon as a parallel virtual currency, swiping their carbon cards at the petrol pump….’ We would all have a carbon limit just like we all have a pound limit, only the carbon limit would be imposed by the state. Global warming would be part of everyday life and everyday calculations, just as money is now.

This sounds like a critique I have heard from one man for many years, that the environmental movement was not about saving us or the earth but a guise of statism. Environmentalists want to run our lives, forcing their own morality on us for our perceived good.

Lewis-ly translated

It isn’t every day I get a cartoon dedicated to me. Thanks, Phil.

Now try and get your comment utility fixed.

Haven’t live-blogged The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, Vol. III, for a few days. I’m still at it. I’ve gotten through Lewis’ death, thinking dark thoughts of mortality, and now I’m in the resurrection land of the Supplement section, where Hooper prints some letters he left out of the earlier volumes, then decided he wanted to include after all. After this comes the “Great War” supplement, in which all Lewis’ letters to Owen Barfield, arguing about Theosophy, are gathered in one place.

Anyway, here are a few excerpts that interested and/or amused me:

From a letter to Mary Van Deusen, Oct. 3, 1953:

It is hard, when difficulties arise to know whether one is meant to overcome them or whether they are signs that one is on the wrong track.

From a letter to Dom Bede Griffiths, Jan. 30, 1954:

The trouble with Thackeray, is that… all his ‘good’ people are not only simple, but simpletons. That is a subtle poison wh. comes in with the Renaissance: the Machiavellian (intelligent) villain presently producing the idiot hero. The Middle Ages didn’t make Herod clever and knew the devil was an ass. There is really an un-faith about Thackeray’s ethics…. No conception that the purification of the will… leads to the enlightenment of the intelligence.

From a letter to Katharine Farrer, Feb. 3, 1954:

The bearings of this are wide, as you’ll see if you reflect on the difference between drawing a nude and verbally describing it, or the impossibility of mentioning Cheko-Slovakia (is that how you spell it) at the apex of a lyric however deeply one may feel about that country.

From a letter to Chad Walsh, Dec. 3, 1955:

I’ve often thought that if I wrote a play I’d do it in verse but type it as prose. In the present state of the human ear no publisher, manager, actor, or audience wd. recognize it, not even if it was in heroic couplets or the metre of Hiawatha.

One thing that constantly exercises my limited powers of charity throughout these books is the fact that Lewis consistently spells “all right,” “alright.” I personally consider “alright” an atrocity against the English language. However, as one quickly learns in reading the letters, Lewis wasn’t a very good speller.

In relation to that, it’s often been said that Lewis had a photographic memory. Someone who knew him wrote somewhere (I can’t find it; I can never find the Lewis reference I want. No photographic memory here) that if you named a page number from any book Lewis had ever read, he could recite the contents of that page verbatim for you. This would seem to be an exaggeration. He uses many quotations in the letters, and the notes show that they’re only approximately correct, like his spelling. His memory was obviously phenomenal, but it wasn’t exact.

Can’t Get Enough of That Boy

Warner Brothers and Universal are building a Harry Potter theme park. I confess I’d like to visit Hogwarts too, but I’d be concerned that it would have lots of little witchcraft and faux occultic elements lying around.

Evolution or Intelligent Design?

The Defense Department is developing cybernetic moths for video surveillance.

“Moths are creatures that need little food and can fly all kinds of places,” he continued. “A bunch of experiments have been done over the past couple of years where simple animals, such as rats and cockroaches, have been operated on and driven by joysticks, but this is the first time where the chip has been injected in the pupa stage and ‘grown’ inside it.”

“Once the moth hatches,” Brooks said, “machine learning is used to control it.”

Follow my advice and you’ll go to the Dogs

I’m still beat tonight. Had another good night’s sleep, and my eye-bags have receded somewhat, like one of Sen. Gore’s icebergs, but I’m still shot from the weekend. I mowed the lawn after work, and now I’m about ready to collapse in a wrinkled, damp pile in a corner, like a college guy’s tee-shirt.

So I’ll redirect you to this post, composed by someone who calls himself “The Big Stink” (I assume it’s a he; rare is the woman who’d voluntarily assume a name like that) at an excellent Twin Cities blog called Freedom Dogs. I wish someone had told me these things at graduation. I wish I had the courage to put some of them into practice even today.

Back from the wars

I made it back from Iowa all right, thanks for asking. I came home physically beat, not only due to insomnia caused by sleeping in a strange bed (how strange I’ll explain further on), but because I’d slept badly all week leading up to the trip. So I figure I’m still about three nights in the red, even though I slept nine hours straight when I got back to my own mattress Sunday night (the first time I’ve slept that long at a stretch since… roughly 1995). I have massive swellings, like goggles (visible in my peripheral vision) around my eyes, making me resemble the British actor Michael Gambon even more than I usually do.

The weekend went fine. For those of you joining us for the first time, I made a six-hour trip to Elk Horn, Iowa for the Tivoli Danish Festival this past weekend. A Viking encampment has been part of the festivities for several years now, and I and a couple others from the Viking Age Society of the Sons of Norway joined a much larger group from Omaha in adding to the ambience by wearing our Viking outfits and whacking each other with blunt swords.

This year’s festival was more successful than last year’s. Saturday morning was rainy, but things cleared up and in the afternoon we had a creditable encampment going, and got some fighting in. In fact, I believe it may have been the largest Viking encampment they’ve ever assembled for that event. We were able to field two “armies” of eight men each for the group fights. That’s certainly the largest I’ve ever been involved in.

The good citizens of Elk Horn have allocated funds, (public and private, I believe) for the construction of a Viking house, next to the genuine Danish windmill they imported from the Old Country a few years back. Here’s how it looks right now:

Viking house

It’s not completed inside, and that makes this the embarrassing stage, since a lot of cheating has gone into the construction. When it’s done it ought to look authentic, but a truly authentic house, aside from being expensive and time-consuming to construct, has a short life expectancy (they rot). The Danes of Elk Horn want a house that’ll last a while, and so concrete footings and plastic moisture barriers and plywood are much in evidence now. Here’s the interior:


That’s Sam from Missouri, who brought his Viking boat again and set up a crucible to cast commemorate pewter coins, which he sold for the benefit of the house project. He’s working on the casting in the picture. I expect he wouldn’t be delighted to be featured on a Christian blog, but on the other hand he’ll probably never know.

On the tallish bench behind him, in the space between the upright posts, was where I made my bed, by permission of John, the project honcho. That’s how Vikings generally slept—on fixed benches along the walls of their houses (although I’ve always thought of the benches as somewhat lower than this). My inflatable mattress fit almost perfectly in the space, as it happened.

We had fireworks on Saturday night, and they were impressive. According to what I was told, the spectacle wasn’t orchestrated by professionals but by the local pharmacist, who does it as a hobby. Perhaps he benefited by having explosives stored up, since the fireworks were cancelled due to weather last year. In any case he did not fall prey to the mistake many pyrotechnicians make, of shooting up a fancy rocket that does something nobody’s seen before, and then pausing to give the audience time to appreciate it and applaud. That slows everything down. This guy didn’t spare himself. He kept it moving and had the bombs bursting in air pretty much constantly. I’ve seen far less impressive spectacles done by much larger towns, and I don’t recall being more impressed even at Disney World.

We got some good fighting in. I felt extremely diffident the first day, observing how much better our hosts were than we were (they practice pretty much every weekend; our practices and our demonstrations are generally the same things). Also a couple guys from Canada were there to demonstrate their somewhat different system, which permits much nastier blows (but uses anachronistic plate armor protection). The second day felt better, although I never overcame my deepest sin as a warrior—I forget my discipline when the armies engage and break out of the shield wall. This, if you know your Viking history, is a capital mistake that caused big defeats at Stamford Bridge and Hastings, among other battles.

I have a nasty purple bruise on my left shoulder, and my neck is sore from falling over backwards on top of another warrior with my torso on the ground but my head on his stomach. All that’s OK. I like going away a little hurt.

Thanks to the people of Elk Horn, and to the Skjaldborg group, for a memorable and successful long weekend.

Marilynne Robinson on American Religion

Author Marilynne Robinson writes about a new poetry anthology called, American Religious Poems, edited by Harold Bloom and Jesse Zuba:

Whitman’s nation was no nation in terms of the time in which he wrote. It had then, as it has now, no bond of blood, soil, or tongue to create in it the organic unity the theorists of nineteenth-century nationalism considered essential components of a legitimate national culture. Whitman’s genius was to reject all that, to see a real America and to create a visionary America based squarely and exuberantly on ever-changing patterns of life and newer streams of population. Dickinson’s poetry quietly presses every question religious belief might seem, to the hostile or the anxious, to preclude. If these are the two greatest American poets, as Harold Bloom and I and legions of other critics and writers and readers believe, then the classic achievement of our literature is an openness, intellectual and spiritual, that is utterly unlike the phenomenon of an “American religion” promoted by certain politicians and religionists and derided by Professor Bloom and many others. If American religion is narrow and unlikable, it is difficult to account for a book like this one, in which so many fine poets are represented.

Though doubt, alienation, and even parody are elements in some of these poems, the collection is quite appropriately aware that these all have reference to the field of thought and meaning ordinarily called religious. Any reader of Ecclesiastes or the Book of Job is aware that the canon of scripture has room for thought that can disrupt conventional assumptions about the nature of belief, whether these assumptions are held by the religious or by their critics. Indeed, religion is by nature restless with itself, impatient within the constraints of its own expression.

Thanks to Critical Mass.

Where Does Limitless Freedom Lead?

Harrison Scott Key points out an observation by Theodore Dalrymple, “As Dostoyevsky said, starting out from limitless freedom, we end up with total despotism.” For context, this is the closing statement in Dalrymple’s article, “There Is No God but Politics,” in the New English Review. Earlier, he writes, “Qutb insists that the triumph of Islam is the only way that what he calls the lordship of man over man will be abolished, just as Marx and Marxists insist that the triumph of Marxism is the only way that the exploitation of man by man will cease.”

Theodore Roosevelt on America’s War Readiness

For Memorial Day, I offer this quote from Theodore Roosevelt’s Autobiography, published 1913. His observations on politicians and public opinion of his day are remarkably relevant to our current day situation.

I SUPPOSE the United States will always be unready for war, and in consequence will always be exposed to great expense, and to the possibility of the gravest calamity, when the Nation goes to war. This is no new thing. Americans learn only from catastrophes and not from experience.

There would have been no war in 1812 if, in the previous decade, America, instead of announcing that “peace was her passion,” instead of acting on the theory that unpreparedness averts war, had been willing to go to the expense of providing a fleet of a score of ships of the line. However, in that case, doubtless the very men who in the actual event deplored the loss of life and waste of capital which their own supineness had brought about would have loudly inveighed against the “excessive and improper cost of armaments”; so it all came to about the same thing in the end.

There is no more thoroughgoing international Mrs. Gummidge, and no more utterly useless and often utterly mischievous citizen, than the peace-at-any-price, universal-arbitration type of being, who is always complaining either about war or else about the cost of the armaments which act as the insurance against war. There is every reason why we should try to limit the cost of armaments, as these tend to grow excessive, but there is also every reason to remember that in the present stage of civilization a proper armament is the surest guarantee of peace—and is the only guarantee that war, if it does come, will not mean irreparable and overwhelming disaster.

Thank you to all the men and women who have taken up the call to prevent our country’s wars from being irreparable and overwhelming disasters. May the Lord bless you and work through you according to His abundant mercy.

Further: A Memorial Day quote from R.L. Stevenson’s essay, “The English Admirals.”

Peter Collier writes, “We impoverish ourselves by shunting these heroes and their experiences to the back pages of our national consciousness. Their stories are not just boys’ adventure tales writ large. They are a kind of moral instruction. They remind of something we’ve heard many times before but is worth repeating on a wartime Memorial Day when we’re uncertain about what we celebrate. We’re the land of the free for one reason only: We’re also the home of the brave.” (via Books, Inq. and Instapundit)

Chatta Mom (a.k.a. Omie) passes on a photo of our men in Iraq cutting a plot of grass.

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Book Reviews, Creative Culture