SCIENCE?

Apparently fewer and fewer people trust science these days, or those dissertations on everything from gender studies to global warming.

Stories like this give us an idea why:

Comedian Steven Crowder was able to get a satirical article accepted in Fat Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Body Weight and Society titled “Embracing Fatness as Self-Care in the Era of Trump,” which argued that obesity was an effective method both of coping with the stress progressives felt after the 2016 election and of avoiding sexual assault. He was also invited to give a presentation on the fake study at an academic conference (which he did, to rave reviews, using a pseudonym and dressed as a woman).

ON 4 JULY, 2022 CAME ANOTHER DARK MYSTIC ON HIS MISSION

Everything was sunny and wonderful for a moment. Was red, white and blue wonderful. The children’s band had just marched by. Cute.

Innocence all around. Then, innocence was on the run.

The shaggy, tattooed young man, once (somewhere back there) also innocent, dressed now like a girl as part of his perverse mission, climbs up the alley fire escape, gets the high ground, start his killing.

He’d given the world fair warning. He’d written of his urges.

He wore the self-mutulating marks, inward and outward, of the army of the lost, soul-sick, violent egocentrics. The young nihilists. We’ve been spawning them, as in a fetid pool.

It’s one of the American stories — or American tragedies. But it’s universal. The symptoms and the actions can be found the world over. But, then, too, it seems we Americans have succumbed to this particular soul-corrupting pandemic, nurtured by the likes of our pibald, senescent ideologically bewildered prisoner -of-circumstances U.S. President who will, like millions, miss the point and blame it all on guns. Also, there are the false religions intersecting with the false chemical mood-alterers, racing around the cerebrum and the blood — they ought to be counted among the factors as well.

But the worst perpetrators are utterly clear in their thinking. That’s the scary part of it.

Mind-chilled and encrusted with a sickening sediment, they crawl forth in bright sunlight– at The Boston Marathon. They pop up in the high perch of a Las Vegas hotel. They enter a supermarket in Buffalo. They march freely into an elementary school in Evoldi, Texas. Your town is next — your street, your parade, your supermarket…..the demons are coming….

Their actions are theological in nature. The Evil One commands them. You might be scorned, mocked or ignored if you suggested such a thing and seem to be the Saturday Night Life comedian satirically uttering the word — Satan.

But, of course, it is a false, non-credible notion that any force, visible or invisible, forces us to do anything. We simply cooperate with evil. We make that choice daily, on a small or a grand scale. All of us.

There are the menally ill among us. They are to be cared for. We must search them out in all compassion. But I submit that the majority of the mass shooters have simply concluded that, in lieu of any ultimate, transcendant meaning, death and killling invest life with its only purpose or meaning.

Millions will, understandably, blame it all on guns. I find myself doing the same. Get rid of the guns or, at least, make it harder for them to get into the hands of twisted souls, and the problem will be abated, if not eliminated. And this is a reasonable civic goal to which we can aspire as a society. And, after all, what law or regulation or level of vigilance can discern and root out the galloping nihilism in the very air we breath? Is that possible? What is the antidote to the dark theology involved, especially if one doesn’t believe in theology, only sociology? We all believe different things about life’s purpose. We Americans are, in some respects, 300,000,000 theologians. And, frankly, even the most seemingly “normal” among us seems to have an appetite for the diversion that is violence, given our tastes in movies. We might not commit it, but we love to watch it. We just hate it when its real.

Meanwhile, for the killers among us…they think:

Kill them while they’re having fun or going about their business. Or at the movies, watching all that violence. Remind them with the rifle you bought of the real meaning of life. They are sleepwalking, those shoppers, those people watching the colorful, meaningless spectacle of a parade. “Enjoying” themselves.

This massacre left, among others, two young parents bloodied and dead, their child an orphan.

Motive, please….we can’t help but ask it.

Why? Why did you do it?

Why not? they’d answer.

Were they just — killing joy?

(Joy –allegedly, is said to be the surest sign of the presence of God. The French mystic Leon Bloy said so. He said many things, such as that the only failure in life is not to be a saint. He has never been canonized, or even beatified. He was, from all accounts, a rather intense individual who is also alleged to have stood on the hill of Monmartre overlooking Paris and proclaimed, “man left to man. That’s what I call The Wrath of God!”)

But here comes the mystic of darkness, climbing the alley fire escape to his perch, his little mountain, ready to unleash the wrath of his nihilistic god.

A relevant quote of dialogue from a story by a late writer of frankly theological fiction reads as follows:

If He done what He said, then it’s nothing for you to do but thow (sic) away everything and follow him, and if He didn’t, then it’s nothing you to do (sic)but enjoy the few minutes you got left the best you can –by killing somebody or burning down his house or doing some other meanness to him. No pleasure but meanness,” and his voice had become almost a snarl.

The words of the character, the homicidal escaped confict called, The Misfit.

-Flannery O’Connor, “A Good Man Is Hard To Find.”

We are, none of us, as “good” as we think we are.

And we will ask — again and again — how did The Devil get a high powered rifle?

Not a bad question. But not the best question. And not the most important question.

Not as important as the question, why is there something, instead of nothing?

Or, why for some of us, is everything — nothing.

And, finally, yes, finally — who are we, and what are we doing here?

HOW TO MAKE A BAD DEAL WORSE

Moscow wants written guarantees from our secretary of state that western sanctions for its brutal invasion of Ukraine will not prevent it from trading with Iran.

That’s a joke, right?

This is all about the notorious Iran nuclear deal. The Biden Administration wants it back in place. Ukraine is burning, but everybody’s back at the table. Happily, our side has balked at the request for Russia/Iran trade. It’s bad enough that Bejing and Moscow have sidled up with one another. Add Tehran at this tender point in history and you complete the dark triangle.

There are reports that Robert Malley, U.S. envoy to the nuclear talks, has already pledged to lift a number of anti-terrorism sanctions currently targeting the Iranian regime. The old campaign of maximum pressure appears to have been minimized.

Is the Biden Administraton perchance looking for a badly need foreign policy feather in its cap, and doing so in a “whatever it takes” frame of mind?

This one “takes” common sense.

AT A TIME LIKE THIS…

Just shy of a year ago, there were reports that Russia was amassing troops on its borders with Ukraine. There were other reports that China had sent its largest aerial incursion to that date into Taiwan’s air -defense zone. This was the moment President Biden chose to announce his decreased defense budget proposal for fiscal year 2022.

It came in at $715 billion, a hefty sum, but nonetheless a definite decrease from previoius budgets after accounting for inflation, which, a year ago wasn’t the devouring Pac Man monster it is now.

Why would the President decrease his defense budget at such a perilous time? And, of course, neither he nor anyone in his Administration was ready for the horrible war that was to come and that, all those months ago, was not entirely unforeseen (why else would troops be massing on Ukraine’s border?) Now, in these early April hours of 2022, the world is witnessing war’s atrocious outrages being perpetrated on innocent civilians by Russian soldiers, following days of massive death, destruction and persisent fears that World War III is at hand.

It’s likely, as with anything President Biden does, that he was trying to placade his Party’s Left Wing base which had been lobbying for steep military cuts in order to leave more money for their social agenda. As always happens when Presidents try to quiet a noisy flank of their own Party, Progressives weren’t satisfied. The cuts weren’t deep enough to their mind. Of course not.

At the same time, the final military budget figure contradicted recommendations of a 2018 panel to steadily rachet up defense spending. It was calling for annual increases 3 to 5 per cent above inflation.

Among those serving on that panel was Biden’s deputy secretary of defense, Kathleen Hicks. At the time, she and other experts had issued an ominous warning to Biden: if he failed adequatly to fund national defense, it would “be measured in American lives, American treasure, and American security and prosperity lost.”

I’d add that, combined with the manner of our appalling and shameful exit from Afghanistan, a reduction in U.S. military spending at that hour was sending the wrong message to NATO leaders and to Vladimir Putin, the man Biden and I and much of the world now feel comfortable calling a 21st Century war criminal.

Putin’s genocidal global confrere and war criminal-in-waiting, Xi Jinping, was watching and waiting, too. And he still has his eye on Taiwan.

A DIRE POSSIBILITY

The following comes from NY Times writer German Lopez, writing in the March 27 on-line edition of the paper. But I think it’s a possibility and a prognosis any of us could make at this critical and worrisome juncture in the world’s history. We need to pray it does not come to pass.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could mark a troubling shift: the end of a relatively peaceful global era.
Though it has not always felt like it, the world has since the 1990s endured less war than any other period in recorded history. Wars and resulting deaths plummeted with the conclusion of the Cold War in 1991 — and the subsequent end of direct and proxy conflicts between the world’s great powers.
“The end of the Cold War was the greatest thing to happen to peace in a long time,” said Jeremy Shapiro, the research director at the European Council on Foreign Relations.
But the world has since changed. After emerging from the Cold War as the lone superpower, the U.S. grew weaker, bogged down by failed wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Meanwhile, Russia and China evolved into more formidable powers; they are now better positioned to challenge a world shaped by American norms and rules.

THE REAL GREEN NEW DEAL

(On the occasion of St. Patrick’s Day, 2022)

“Wherefore then in Ireland they who never had knowledge of God, but until now only worshiped idols and abominations — now there has lately been prepared a people of the Lord, and they are called children of God. The sons and daughters of Irish chieftains are seen to become monks and virgins in Christ.”

St. Patrick’s “Confessions”( first published in 425.)

THE TASTE OF ASHES

At the 1st Synod of Westminster held at Oscott, England in 1852, St. John Henry Newman preached his famous sermon called, The Second Spring. It was delivered during a period of rabid religious persecution and controversy. It was a beautiful appeal for peace and tolerance.

What follows are the sermon’s rhapsodic beginning lines:

We have familiar experience of the order, the constancy, the perpetual renovation of the material world which surounds us. Frail and transitory as is every part of it, restless and migratory as are its elements, never-ceasing as are it changes, still it abides. It is bound together by a law of permanence, it is set up in unity; and, though it is ever dying, it is ever coming to life again….one death is the parent of a thousand lives. Each hour, as it comes, is but a testimony, how fleeting, yet how secure, how certain, is the great whole. It is like an image on the waters, which is ever the same, though the waters ever flow.

So the subject here is obviously of a historical religious nature. But Newman’s words amount to a longing for spring, rebirth, peace and order — and they have an eternal ring and application. In 2022, we are ever so much in need of a Second Spring on every mortal front, from your house to the Ukraine.

It might seem a trite sentiment on the tongue — saying we long for spring. But, then, abiding natural truths when we voice them, or, if you will, taste them, in contrast to their evil opposite (like all spoken supernatural truths AND evils and ALL benevolent realities that struggle to life like spring blossoms despite threatening tangles of malign, poisonous vines) — yes, these, put into words, often DO sound trite. Yes, they do.

But forgive, please, me while I torture another metaphor and say, as this difficult winter in the world draws to a close, that we are longing for that old taste of spring. We fear it may have a stale taste. We like to think it would taste much better if we could only truly bite into it.

In the Ukraine, however, our fear is that it would taste like ashes.

OF THE SEARCH FOR TRUTH

A man who is good for anything ought not to calculate the chance of living or dying; he ought only to consider whether in doing anything he is doing right or wrong….I shall obey God rather than you, and while I have life and strength I shall never cease from the practice and teaching of philosophy.

Socretes, as quoted by his student Plato in the Apology.

Socrates had been accused of “corrupting the youth” of Athens and was, as such, to become an ancient — and perhaps the first — victim of the “cancel culture”.

As to the calculation of whether he’d live or die — they killed him.

UKRAINE REQUIEM

One man and one government is perpetrating this civilizational enormity. It has already laid waste so much of Ukraine and destroyed so many lives that there is no clear point of return. Putin and his government will be judge by history. The Orthodox Patriarch must speak out in the name of God. All humanity must intervene, even if only with our prayers. China is the other half of the pincers of this monster, and it is all so frightening.

Tolstoy is weeping.