If you’ve read anything this year, it might have been some fine fiction that helped you escape from everything going on around you. Or maybe help you deal with current anxieties by getting you thinking about other anxieties. But eventually you will look back on everything you went through and see it through the eyes of a character. Continue reading
When I read R.J. Palacio’s Wonder about ten years ago, I was struck by Auggie Pullman’s choice to dress as Boba Fest for Halloween. If you’re a kid like Auggie, you could choose any character to be, preferably one that covers your face like that astronaut helmet, because you’re self-conscious about how you look, and people are not always kind.
It’s time for another guest post.
Here’s a challenge for all you readers. One of my high school friends maintains a blog of thoughts he has that are so deep I can’t figure them out. So for this weeks guest post, I invite you to try and figure them out, where I have failed.
So I now present to you THE ANALYTIC I CHING: A NOVEL EXEGESIS IN THE AGE OF DATA SCIENCE.
Go on, try it out. I tried. I failed. Maybe you’re more brilliant than me.
Early in The Mandalorian Din Djarin reluctantly takes up the mantel of foster parent with “the child” (aka Baby Yoda).
While we’ve seen the Mando’s fatherly abilities tested throughout the show, episode 2:2, titled “The Passenger,” gave us an exploration of maternal instincts in the Star Wars universe.
[SPOILER WARNING] Continue reading
“If you follow me, Christianity will have power.”
“Wait a minute, that sounds a bit too much like the temptation of Christ in the wi—”
“I hate abortion, trust me.”
“All hail Caesar! He will deliver us!”
“Ladies and gentlemen, we have recruited a famous comedian to portray our opponent’s opponent in a series of skits every Saturday night.”
“So the comedian is very woke, right.”
“Indeed. He shares our views on everything.”
“No, he’s fully against them. Even more than our opponent.”
“President Trump separated hundreds of children from their families at the border!”
“That’s horrible! So did Obama.”
“Yeah but Trump isn’t creepy on women.”
“[holds up several photos of Biden].”
“This is the most important election of our time!”
“Are you kidding me? Biden is a socialist! We’re four years away from the slide to communism!”
“If Biden is a socialist, why does he love corporations so much? You realize the DNC is so bought by corporations that it chose him over Bernie?”
“I saw a thing on Facebook that I liked and shared that said that he said we want an end to capitalism!”
“I thought you said Facebook is silencing your free speech. Clearly it let you like and share that meme.”
“And they took it down.”
[Checks] “Well, no. But they might.”
“Well first of all, we don’t have capitalism. We have a mixed economy. Like we did under Obama, Bush, Clinton, even Reagan. But that meme you shared was a lie. What Biden said was he wants an end to ‘shareholder capitalism.’ He clarified it by saying he wants to end the idea that the only responsibility a corporation has is to its shareholders.”
“Sounds like socialism to me.”
“Does it? Socialism tolerates corporations and shareholders? If he were a Marxist, he would want to end corporations, period. No shareholders. You do realize that even a kid can recognize a bad guy in a movie when all he cares about is impressing his shareholders. Biden’s not exactly an exemplum against that but at least the idea is good.”
“Don’t get all fancy with me. Biden is a socialist who wants us all to get relief checks so we don’t work.”
“Like the one Trump made out to you last spring?”
“This is the most important election of our time! It feels like Handmaid’s Tale in here! Trump’s about to appoint a Supreme Court Justice who supports the patriarchy!”
“So we’re about to become a dystopia where women are only for breeding and no reading, because he wants a woman on the supreme court?”
“She wants to overturn Roe V. Wade.”
“Well, half of unborn humans are women, and they have rights. This is why people need to study and debate the Constitution, professionally.”
“Let’s defund the police!”
“We found our guy!”
“Tell us about him.”
“He…doesn’t want to end the police.”
“Well what about his VP pick?”
“She is the police.”
“And was really tough police.”
“Our opponent wants to end the police!”
“I knew it!”
“And I bet he picked a VP who hates the police too.”
“Not really. She made a lot of liberals upset by how tough she was an ally of the police.”
“Oh. Well, ignore that! She wants to end law and order!”
“The president just brokered a peace deal between Sudan and Israel! Of course the mainstream media won’t tell you that.”
“Are the New York Times, Washington Post, NBC, BBC, and The Guardian not mainstream media?”
“Oh, do they have stories about it? Because I haven’t seen it.”
“Do you get your news from them?”
“I’ve never been to Wisconsin. So I don’t know if there are Applebees restaurants in Wisconsin.”
“Oh, I get it. So that means I can’t say for sure that there are no Applebees in Wisconsin, just that I haven’t seen them where I haven’t looked.”
“Yes, and in both cases, you can Google it easily to find out.”
“But the peace deal is amazing, right?”
“That remains to be seen. It’s not completely unprecedented that they’ve agreed to try and normalize relations. Many Palestinians feel betrayed, as well as many Sudanese political parties. Israel is occupying Palestine, and normalizing political relations with Israel is seen by many as supporting colonization and legitimizing it. Trump is removing Sudan from a list of countries that the US recognizes as supporting terrorism. It doesn’t mean that it is no longer happening. The deal is complicated and has been done with great timing to look like a political victory. Why else would he brag about it and claim that Biden could not have done it?”
“Ok sure. But back in the 70’s Carter was negotiating between Israel and Egypt and it was all over the news.”
“And he was a Democrat. The peace between the countries he worked with largely remains to this day, but at the cost of not supporting the creation of an independent Palestinian state. The consequences of the U.S. both aiding the Mujahideen in fighting the Soviets, while at the same time not giving voice to occupied Palestinians, has had many consequences we are still dealing with today. We are learning these lessons, and Trump hasn’t. He lied when he said that Russia invaded Afghanistan to stop terrorists decades ago. Russia invaded to prop up a puppet regime. We aided rebels who would later become terrorists (actions taken under Carter, and then even stronger under Reagan). In their eyes, we’re the new Soviets. Let’s not let our political loyalties to parties lead us to assume what can and can’t succeed. Republicans and Democrats will both lie to us about the wars they support overseas and then justify it by blaming it on one another. Enough.”
A lot of people this year have been tired of it. Not really liking their options. Politically speaking. For a lot of us, both seem pretty bad.
So then you’ll hear someone say, “neither are the best option, but one is far better than the other.” Of course, such an opinion will come naturally. You’ll also hear someone say “the two parties, Republican and Democrat, couldn’t be any different from one another.”
And is that true?
In some way, yes. You look at their platforms and talking points. What one says it’s pro, the other says it’s anti. At least, when you get to frame the language. But what does it mean for them to be so different? Is it simply a matter of comparing their talking points and determining they are as distinct as good and evil?
The two sides of a quarter could not be any further opposed to one another:
- At any given time, they are always facing opposite directions.
- One has a face, the other has something other than a face.
- They have opposite slogans on them.
- You can’t really look at both at the same time.
- When someone flips a coin and calls “heads or tails,” the choices are distinct and there is no problem telling them apart.
The two sides of a quarter can’t exist without each other, and will always be part of the same coin. No matter which side you’re looking at, you’re looking at the same worth. You’re looking at the same substance. You’re looking at faces of the same subject.
Ultimately, this is what the two-party system in America has become.
They both give in to corporate lobbying, they both ignore the national debt, and they both contain hypocrites lacking in integrity.
But which side is for life, and which side is for death? In the abortion debate, for example, most Republicans want abortion to be as difficult as legally possible to obtain. Most Democrats want abortion to be easy to obtain. So then that must mean one side is clearly for life and the other is not, right?
It might seem like that. But there are pro choice Republicans and pro life Democrats. There are Democrats who believe that less abortions will happen if it is legalized and healthcare is robust. There are Republicans who believe that less abortions will happen simply if The Supreme Court makes it illegal across all 50 states. I’ve never heard anyone from either of those parties say they love abortions.
But life is about more than birth. Where do these parties stand on protecting the public from all manner of death? Or letting people protect themselves? What are their stances on warfare? For example, did you know that drone strikes have been known to kill children? That abortions were committed when the atomic bombs were dropped in Japan? Did you know that as much as 4% of people on death row are estimated to be innocent? The list of complications could go on.
And I haven’t even brought up how both parties choose to respond to a pandemic.
These two major parties are sides of a singular party-coin one could call a necropolis. What is a necropolis? It’s a city of the dead. The term can refer to a cemetery, but also to a civilization thriving off death.
An extreme example of this would be the world of, say, Mad Max. Or ancient Egypt. The death of some is almost worshipped as essential to the life of others.
In any world where death is celebrated as essential to a society’s thriving, you have a necropolis. Allowing the murder of babies? Necropolis. Perpetually sending young men and women off to war? Necropolis. Euthanizing the old and infirm? Necropolis. Overworking the poor until they die from poor health like broken machine parts? Necropolis. Tearing families and neighborhoods apart with oppression, robbing them of their resources, poisoning them, deceiving them, perpetuating conditions that lead to civil unrest, depriving people of meaning? Necropolis.
Ultimately, for all its fireworks, the American society is such as this. And it has long been such. Consider the following quote:
The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. it is it’s natural manure.
According to Jefferson, owner of slaves (that is, treating humans only as bio power), liberty requires a cycle of killing. In the same letter from which this quote derives, Jefferson asks, “what signify a few lives lost in a century or two?” Under this logic, killing a few people every century, under any circumstances, would probably justify a heap of liberty. After all, some people are just manure.
In the book of John we are told, “Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jewish leaders that it would be good if one man died for the people.” The great irony is that Caiaphas’ willingness to kill one innocent man to preserve peace, though true, was only true because of the resurrection of the Christ. Caiphas held to a pro-death principle, but the principle of Christ is life. His death does nothing without life returning. And though his death was a necessary step, those who killed him were not noble, not in the right. By resurrecting, Jesus defies Necropolis.
Both major political parties have their own ways of trying to calculate the worth of other human beings and placing limits on life. Both parties accept ideologies of subjugating the bodies of others and limiting the population’s natural growth. Both parties have tendencies to view human lives according to their utility.
Both parties validate the American empire and culture’s ways of producing and exporting death with efficiency and a far reach. Be it fast food or endless warring or gun violence. We attach the logic of martyrdom to unborn children, to young soldiers fighting for oil prices, to children murdered in a school, to immigrants dying on the border, to the vulnerable dying from a pandemic. And regardless of rhetoric, both parties end up catering to interests that perpetuate necro-power.
That’s not to say that other civilizations aren’t worse, but boy do we tell ourselves we know better. But ask any number of people who subscribe to one major party or another, and there is at least one group of people they would celebrate the death of.
So if you feel like you need to make a political choice soon, remember first of all that you can choose to refuse these choices, and not participate in a system of death. But if you want to participate, there are also more than two options. For example, there is the Libertarian party, or the American Solidarity Party. These are just two examples that have been gaining popularity in recent years (and votes).
It’s one thing to accept that death is an inevitable part of life. It’s quite another to necessitate death in the pursuit of prosperity and personal liberty.
Choose your own necropolis. Or choose something else. Flip a coin. You’ll likely get opposites…of the same hunk of metal.
So there’s a new movie coming out. Maybe you saw the trailer for it. Some sci-fi flick called Dune, based on a famous novel. But say you haven’t read it. Well, it just looks like Star Wars except all on that desert planet and no lightsabers. With giant worms, right? Continue reading
In lieu of a blog post this week, I decided to take time to address the abyss. I hope you take time to do the same. The hole you have inside of you, that we all have. Don’t peer into it too deeply, and don’t run from it either. Address it head on for what it is, seeking to have it repaired. If it feels too large, ask yourself, “what is larger than my abyss?” You know what’s not, anything you toss inside. Think bigger.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” — Hebrews 12:1-2 Continue reading
No matter who you are, you might be swayed these days by a new kind of Gnosticism.
Ancient Gnosticism was this whacko offshoot from Christianity that was all about secret knowing. At the base of all that Gnosticism taught was this idea that the world had a secret, underlying truth that only the knowers could know. And if you don’t know what the knowers know, you’re not participating in the divine. You’re like a non-playable character, a rube. Gnosticism had no evidence to base itself on. You just had to know. You just had to connect the invisible dots with even more invisible lines. Continue reading