Maybe the French Should Be Speaking German

We’ve been Europe’s security blanket for six decades. We are Japan’s security blanket. We are South Korea’s. It’s been said that were it not for us, the French would be speaking German and the Germans would be speaking Russian. In 1938, the West decided it couldn’t be Czechoslovakia’s security blanket and sold out that country in Munich, Germany. The rest, as they say, is history.

This comes from Investor’s Business Daily by way of the Instapundit by way of Books, Inq.

The Iranian Threat

Did you see Glenn Beck’s CNN Headline News show last Wednesday, “Exposed: The Extremist Agenda.” I believe it will air again this Sunday at 7:00 p.m. It’s on YouTube too. It doesn’t seem to be causing much of a stir, and as Benjamin Netanyahu says on the show, “It makes you understand how the `30s happened, because Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran, is openly saying, while he denies the original Holocaust, he`s openly saying that he`s preparing another Holocaust to wipe Israel off the face of the earth with Iranian atomic bombs.”

The messages Beck collected are simply evil, but let me start with one that’s funny. From an investigative report on Iranian TV:

The Zionists are the largest shareholders of the world`s drink manufacturers. Coca-Cola, besides its clear continuous support of the Israeli government, had announced its willingness to invest billions of dollars to topple the regime of the Islamic Republic of Iran. . . . Take for example the Pepsi drink. You know what the name of Pepsi stands for? “Pay Each Penny Save Israel.”

Beck adds, “Coca-Cola wants to topple Iran. Obviously ridiculous. But the average Iranian citizen has no reason not to believe these claims.”

One analyst speculates this kind of wild propaganda comes in part from never having a free press. I guess Iranian Michael Moores run all the stations and newspapers. For my part, I don’t care for Pepsi, but if buying a few will help save Israel–well, I’ll consider it. Continue reading The Iranian Threat

“The murmuring pines and the hemlocks, bearded with moss”

THIS is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks,

Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight,

Stand like Druids of eld, with voices sad and prophetic,

Stand like harpers hoar, with beards that rest on their bosoms.

Loud from its rocky caverns, the deep-voiced neighboring ocean

Speaks, and in accents disconsolate answers the wail of the forest.

This is the forest primeval; but where are the hearts that beneath it

Leaped like the roe, when he hears in the woodland the voice of the huntsman?

Where is the thatch-roofed village, the home of Acadian farmers,—

Men whose lives glided on like rivers that water the woodlands,

Darkened by shadows of earth, but reflecting an image of heaven?

Waste are those pleasant farms, and the farmers forever departed!

Scattered like dust and leaves, when the mighty blasts of October

Seize them, and whirl them aloft, and sprinkle them far o’er the ocean.

Naught but tradition remains of the beautiful village of Grand-Pré.

Ye who believe in affection that hopes, and endures, and is patient,

Ye who believe in the beauty and strength of woman’s devotion,

List to the mournful tradition, still sung by the pines of the forest;

List to a Tale of Love in Acadie, home of the happy.

from Longfellow’s beautiful, sad poem, “Evangeline.”

I can’t help of think of words like this when I walk in the Great Smokey Mountains or even some of the beautiful trails around Lookout and Signal Mountains. They have captured my imagination, which is an important point to remember when buying Christmas presents for your children.

What we read, do, and play with as children form our imagination, developing our ideas of ourselves and the world: heros and who they are, villans and why they do what they do, how we define “happily ever after.” Do our little girls believe they are beautiful just as they are? Do our little boys believe they capable of anything God wants them to do? Our Christmas celebrations help them understand these things.

Flying post

I took a half day off work today, so I could go to the airport and meet my brother Moloch, returning from Tanzania.

I waited two hours and he never came out of the gate. He didn’t answer a page, and a call to Customs let me know they weren’t holding him in durance vile there.

One assumes he missed his connection in Amsterdam. Either that or he’s fallen into one of those missing persons mysteries along with Ambrose Bierce and Judge Crater.

I’ll keep you posted.

Update: Moloch is stuck in Dar es Salaam.

I think my evening will be free.


Have you seen or heard or seenandheard Weird Al’s song “White & Nerdy“? It’s funny, but somehow the fact that Wikipedia has long page with, I assume, all of the details. Forgive me for repeating some of the obscene points, but for the sake of accuracy in information, I must:

When Al raps that he has “… pens in my pocket I must protect ’em”, he implies that a pocket protector is meant to protect pens, which is incorrect; it is to protect shirt pockets from ink stains.

The scene with him playing Minesweeper (a game included with the Microsoft Windows operating system dating back to version 3.1) is actually being played on a Macintosh. The logged in user is listed as “whitenerdy”. The reason that the Finder is the currently active application listed in the menu bar is because Minesweeper is running as a Dashboard widget.[14] He is shown as using a keyboard to play this normally mouse-controlled game.

How nerdy is it to blog on something so whiteandnerdy?

From out of the depths I squeak

Can it get worse after yesterday?

You bet it can.

I found out I have another Church Constitution meeting tonight.

I knew about it already, actually. It was right there in my date book (which records “dates” in the sense of “calendar dates,” needless to say, not dates in the sense of “I’ll pick you up at 7:00 for dinner and a movie.”). But I had the idea that it was a tentative scheduling, likely to be cancelled due to conflict. No such luck.

If I were a Catholic I’d cry out to some minor saint, “HOW MUCH CAN ONE MAN BE EXPECTED TO ENDURE?”

Not a major saint, of course. I’d be embarrassed to bother a big saint with a little gripe like this one.

Some minor, mostly forgotten saint. Somebody like St. Olaf, who was patron saint to a country that went Protestant out from under him.

Of course St. Olaf might not like me because I write books about Erling Skjalgsson, his lifelong enemy.

But I figure he’s probably so neglected these days that he appreciates any attention he can get.

Then again, from what I read of his life, I figure he’s probably not really a saint anyway. He’s probably still in Purgatory.

Wait, I don’t believe in Purgatory either.

Never mind.

I have a meeting to go to.

2006 Weblog Awards

I guess litblogs or blogs on books, plays, writing, painting, and similar works are not prevalent enough to warrent notice when you look at the whole blogosphere. Still I keep hoping will point us out, and again my hopes are dashed.

The 2006 Weblog Awards (now accepting nominations) has an arts category with this list: Best Photo Blog, Best Culture Blog, Best Diarist, Best Gossip Blog, Best Music Blog, Best Podcast, Best Video Blog, Video Of The Year.

Best photo and music–good. Where’s literature or best humanities maybe?

Simpson the Tasteless

The infamous O.J. Simpson has written a book to say, hypothetically, how he would have murdered his ex-wife and her friend. His publisher, Judith Regan of ReganBooks, “This is an historic case, and I consider this his confession.”

A law professor said, “He can write pretty much whatever he wants. Unless he’s confessing to killing somebody else, he can probably do this with impunity.”

Simpson’s If I Did It may deal mostly with other parts of author’s life, giving only a chapter or so to the murder, but since he has been found innocent of the crimes . . . I can assume this morbid meditation is only the result of his profound tastelessness. Still, I wish he would find a more useful occupation.

Just skip this post. Seriously.

If Eeyore, Porkypine and Hamlet were in the house with me right now, they’d all go out for a drink together, leaving me behind. “You’re bringing us down, man,” they’d say as they slammed the door.

Everything good that’s likely to happen in my life, it seems to me, has already happened. About all I have to look forward to is the arrival of the Great Tribulation (I don’t buy that Pre-Trib Rapture moonshine). My comforting hope is that, with the way I’ve been eating lately, I’ll probably die of a massive heart attack before the Antichrist has time to get his biometric scanners up and running.

Somebody’s blog linked to this interesting site, Crummy Church Signs, today, but I can’t find the linker now. I ran down the link itself with a web search though, so you might care to check it out, if you’re in a mood to snicker at your fellow Christians.

I don’t know what depresses me more—the stupidity of the signs, or the condescending smugness of the web site operator.

It puts me in mind of my short time writing humorous pieces for the Wittenberg Door back in the late ‘70s. One day the thought struck me, “You know, the people I’m lampooning may be taste-deficient, but how do I know they don’t stand far higher in God’s esteem than I do?”

So that’s how it is for me today.

And it isn’t even winter yet.

Update: The link came from World Magazine Blog.

The Future of News on Inked Paper

This one is for Michael, who raised a question about the need for definitions in our post on reading the classics. World reporter Timothy Lamer asks, “Is the newspaper industry about to die or experience a revival? The answer may depend on whom you ask and how you define the word newspaper.” Heh, heh.

The point of the article is to quote some folks about how newspapers will survive and can they make money online. I think a subscription for the Chattnaooga Times-Free Press (formerly two papers, one of which was the Chattanooga News-Free Press, a far superior name don’t you think?) for a year is $120. If the cost was $50/year and it was only online, would I subscribe for the sake of local news? I don’t know. Maybe I would. I think I’d have to see the offer when it comes, much like the 2008 presidential election questions being asked now. I don’t know if I would vote for Giuliani or McCain. I don’t want to vote for either of them. So, I’ll wait and see what the options are.

When you have no thoughts of your own, quote Lewis

I know I’m quoting too much from my current reading, The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, but I burned my brain out last night, and I was impressed with this passage today, from a July 20, 1940 letter to his brother Warren:

Humphrey came up to see me last night… and we listened to Hitler’s speech together. I don’t know if I’m weaker than other people: but it is a positive revelation to me how while the speech lasts it is impossible not to waver just a little. I should be useless as a schoolmaster or a policeman. Statements which I know to be untrue all but convince me, at any rate for the moment, if only the man says them unflinchingly. The same weakness is why I am a slow examiner: if a candidate with a bold, mature handwriting attributed Paradise Lost to Wordsworth, I shd. feel a tendency to go and look it up for fear he might be right after all.

I know just how he felt.

This, by the way, is from the same letter, where he mentions, later on, in reference to going to church on Sunday morning…

Before the service was over – one cd. wish these things came more seasonably – I was struck by an idea for a book wh. I think might be both useful and entertaining. It wd. be called As one Devil to Another and would consist of letters from an elderly retired devil to a young devil who has just started work on his first ‘patient’….

People Don’t Read Classics; They Only Talk About Them

Ella askes an important question: “If you want to be a good writer, do you need to read the classics?” She believes her writing has improved after having read great literature for the past few years, but she wonders if it is necessary. Should the average writer read the classics in order to mature or are there other options, this one being simply the road less traveled? I think the would-be good writer should read the classics and study some of them too. But now that I’m thinking about it, “good writing” is a fairly relative term, isn’t it? We have to define what we mean by “good writing” before we can decide how to accomplish it.

For more writing advice, Mark Bertrand suggests spending time singing, painting, photographing, or other creative, non-writing enjoyments as a way to enhance your creative writing. I guess blogging doesn’t count, does it.

Call me Cassandra

I heard from my prospective renter a few minutes back. He decided he’d fit better in an apartment of his own.

Maybe God’s telling me that’s where I belong too.

Gave a lecture to the Northfield, Minnesota Sons of Norway lodge last night. It was a special Twenty-fifth Anniversary meeting, held in a banquet room at St. Olaf College (which was fitting, since I was lecturing on the original St. Olaf, among other people).

It was one of my better lecturing experiences. Excellent meal, receptive audience, and I sold a lot of books.

And yet, my heart is bowed down.

I wrote the following years ago, in my novel Wolf Time. The speaker is a television news reporter:

“Look, don’t get me wrong. I’m sorry we have to bury America—it has its good points. But we’re talking survival now. This is the nuclear age, the killer virus age, the age of terrorism. As long as we can defend ourselves there’s no chance for survival…. I want to live, and I want my children to live, if I ever decide to have any. In a world like this we can’t afford honor. My honor, if you want to call it that, is to persuade people, any way I can, that nothing—nothing in the world—is worth dying for. And I think people are getting the message. You know why we’ve only fought little wars since Vietnam? Because Americans don’t have any stomach for long-term sacrifice anymore. I like to think we [the news media] had something to do with that. It’s an incredible power we have.”

I hate being right. I had the hope, when I wrote that scene in a novel set in the near future, that the Universe (not Providence. They’re two different things) would step in, as it usually does, to prove my prediction false. Unfortunately the Universe backed me up this time.

I’ve heard all the arguments that nothing big will happen in the wake of the power shift in Washington, because of gridlock, etc.

I don’t buy it. I keep hearing smart people on the radio saying the election was mostly about the war. And it doesn’t matter that a lot of people who voted to throw the bums out were angry that the war wasn’t being prosecuted aggressively enough.

The message sent by this election was, “America has given up. We’re pulling out. We’ll do what we can to save face as we leave, but you’ve beaten us.”

I think we’ve turned a critical corner, pulled the pin on the grenade. The message of Vietnam has been confirmed—fight the Americans long enough and you’ll wear them down. They’re soft. They won’t make sacrifices.

I have a vision of the future. I hope I’m wrong this time.

I see embattled people all around the world, Christians and non-Christians, fighting against the pressure of Islam. They’ll know that there’s no help to be expected from America, and far less from the United Nations. In other words, there won’t be any polite, Geneva Convention answer to their problem.

They will do what they need to do to survive.

It will be very, very ugly. There will be acts of genocide and ethnic cleansing. There will be terrible battles and massacres and atrocities. On both sides.

I don’t think it will happen in America. At least not soon. But it will happen elsewhere, and it won’t be long now.

And it will be our fault. Because we had the chance to stop jihadism in Iraq, and we couldn’t finish the job.

But I see something else. It came to my mind as I sat in church on Sunday.

Our guest preacher was a missionary from Mexico. He spoke, among other things, of signs and wonders.

I need to explain here that we’re not a charismatic group. We mistrust faith healers, and positively oppose tongue-speaking.

But this pastor spoke of miraculous healings in answer to prayer, on the mission field. He spoke of a man raised from the dead. He spoke of exorcisms. He named names, names of several people who are known to us from mission trips, or as students at the Bible School.

He talked of all this matter-of-factly, as things just to be expected when God is working.

And that reminded me that the Kingdom of God is bigger than my fears. God is at work today, and what He’s planning to do is probably something that hasn’t occurred to me. His instruments will come from places where I’m not looking.

So be comforted.

But not too comforted.

Book Reviews, Creative Culture