Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Secret Chord

March 27, 2012 - by Richard Fernandez at

One Tagalog word for which no exact translation in English exists is “kuryente.” It literally means “electric current,” but the word can be applied to the practice of spreading sensational but faked news in order to produce a media jolt. One newspaper translates “kuryente” as “a bum steer”; others have rendered it as “actually but not really” or “confirmed but not definite.” At any rate, the phrase applies perfectly to the storm of bogus rumors swirling around the Trayvon Martin media feeding frenzy. The Daily Mail reports:

Fake Will Smith tweet about Trayvon Martin sweeps the internet — and Spike Lee retweets wrong address for George Zimmerman. … Man tweeting as Will Smith tweeted angry post about no justice for Trayvon — Spike Lee retweeted incorrect Florida address for Trayvon’s killer, George Zimmerman — Man posing as Will Ferrell also tweeted about high-profile case.

Americans are no stranger to the phrase “fake but accurate.” But kuryente takes things to another level where the lie becomes the truth; or worse, to where nobody can tell the difference.

The couple who actually live at the address which Spike Lee wrongly believed to belong to George M. Zimmerman now fear for their lives. The address was actually associated with the electoral roll of a different Zimmerman — George A. Zimmerman — though of course such fine distinctions are lost in the wash. As for the “Will Smith” tweets, the author of his missives is actually a “white man from Nashville, Tennessee.” Nor is Will Ferrell the Will Ferrell — his spokesman says his tweet was a hoax.

Not that it will make any difference. The main thing about faked news is that it shouldn’t matter whether it is in the slightest degree true. It is far more important for the news to confirm what we want to hear: our deepest suspicions about our neighbor or our wildest vanities about ourselves. People will believe it because they want to. As for the truth, well what about it?

Even the most basic facts becomes surprisingly irrelevant. Media Matters, for example, apologized to Matt Drudge after accusing him of being a “racist demagogue” for running a fake photo of the victim — only to discover it was actually a real photo. You would have thought Media Matters would know true from fake to play the fact-check game, but really, why would factuality be important?

Winston Churchill once observed that “a lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.” The immense power of kuryente consists in that it operates in the world of myth. It does not belong in the universe of fact. Hence what happened when, who liked what, what reasons there were for which: these are irrelevant.

Kuryente addresses what some might call a “deeper truth,” and it is therefore proof from falsification. You cannot falsify the re-telling of a myth. Take The Protocols of the Elders of Zion for example:

The Protocols purports to document the minutes of a late 19th century meeting of Jewish leaders discussing their goal of global Jewish hegemony by subverting the morals of Gentiles and by controlling the press and the world’s economies. It is still widely available today — still presented, typically, as a genuine document — on the Internet and in print in numerous languages.

Even if you could show that none of the events, meetings, or correspondence depicted in Protocols ever took place, it could never meet the objection that, taken as a whole, the narrative still contained the “truth” about the Jews. In that plane, evidence has no place. What predominates in that airy sphere are symbols, sacraments, and chants.

One of George Orwell’s most important insights is that all totalitarian ideologies — all methods of control — fundamentally required a religious liturgy to persist. It was faith — or its evil twin prejudice — that you really had to appeal to.

Hence, beneath the veneer of ostensibly rational discourse which outfits like Media Matters professed to espouse was an enormous need to hate. Given a photo, they just had to hate Drudge for it. They couldn’t help themselves. And now that it didn’t work out they’ll find something else. It was an itch they needed to scratch.

An itch.

Therefore the wise dictator gives his dupes the periodic opportunity to throw off their thinking selves and momentarily indulge themselves in a tribal frenzy if ever they hope to stay in power. How Orwell put it:

The programmes of the Two Minutes Hate varied from day to day, but there was none in which Goldstein was not the principal figure. He was the primal traitor, the earliest defiler of the Party’s purity. All subsequent crimes against the Party, all treacheries, acts of sabotage, heresies, deviations, sprang directly out of his teaching. Somewhere or other he was still alive and hatching his conspiracies: perhaps somewhere beyond the sea, under the protection of his foreign paymasters, perhaps even — so it was occasionally rumoured — in some hiding-place in Oceania itself …

Before the Hate had proceeded for thirty seconds, uncontrollable exclamations of rage were breaking out from half the people in the room. The self-satisfied sheep-like face on the screen, and the terrifying power of the Eurasian army behind it, were too much to be borne: besides the sight or even the thought of Goldstein produced fear and anger automatically. He was an object of hatred more constant than either Eurasia or Eastasia, since when Oceania was at war with one of these Powers it was generally at peace with the other. But what was strange was that although Goldstein was hated and despised by everybody, although every day and a thousand times a day, on platforms, on the telescreen, in newspapers, in books, his theories were refuted, smashed, ridiculed, held up to the general gaze for the pitiful rubbish that they were — in spite of all this, his influence never seemed to grow less. Always there were fresh dupes waiting to be seduced by him. A day never passed when spies and saboteurs acting under his directions were not unmasked by the Thought Police. He was the commander of a vast shadowy army, an underground network of conspirators dedicated to the overthrow of the State.

Every myth is like that. Paradise and the Fall. The Villain and the Hero. Except with Marx the cast of characters has been changed to suit. But it’s the same deal. What the Party participants who emerged drunken with hate never realized was that Two Minutes Hate was a potion used to control them. They were administered a jolt aimed at misdirecting and ultimately dulling the mind, not so that they could eventually become free — but so that they could keep enjoying the Two Minutes Hate.

Was there ever a Goldstein? Was Eastasia really ever at war with Oceania? What is crazy perhaps, is to inquire after the facts as if they mattered. They never really mattered outside of math and engineering and, perhaps, real spirituality. Did they ever?

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Jesus Holds A Business Meeting


Last week, Adam Palmer sent me a series of tweets he had received from our mutual friend, Mark Riddle. Here are just a few.

*Did Jesus always pray before his staff meetings?

*I’m guessing Jesus’ administrative assistant was tough to get past. I’ll bet she protected him well.

*And then Jesus said, “Go into the world and cast my vision.”

*Then Jesus sat down with his exec team & said “What are your measurable goals for this year?”

*Then Phillip said to the Ethiopian, “When you get back, find some big dog power brokers in your church & get them on board with your vision.”

*And then Jesus said, ”Let the children come to me, because if you get the kids, their parents will follow.”

*Then Jesus said, “Do not worry about tomorrow, but stockpile canned goods because the world will end soon.”

*When they gathered in the upper room for supper Jesus said, “This is my brand, created for you. Share it where ever you may go.”

Mark Riddle is a consultant to many pastors and churches in the country, primarily in the area of youth ministry. He has heard it all, and then some. Mark thought he would have a little fun and imagine what a business meeting with Jesus and his disciples would be like. Welcome Mark, and enjoy. JD

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said and his disciples did.

Some time later, eating around the campfire debating with the disciples how many lumens the moon produced, Jesus had an epiphany. This would be a remarkable way to get his message out to the world.

“You will be my executive disciple team,” he said.

“Peter, I’m making you my executive pastor, and on this staff structure I will build my church. Peter, keep the vision and cast it often. Make sure the other disciple leaders align and build their ministries around it.” Then, in the sand, Jesus wrote his mission, vision, and values statements. Judas took lots of notes.

Jesus looked at Matthew. “I’m making you the business administrator of my ministry. We’ll be launching a building program soon for satellite campuses all around the world to maximize our impact.”

“Judas, please file our 501(c)3 paperwork. We need to be compliant so that disciples who give to our ministry receive their tax deductions. We all know this is key to sacrificial giving.”

“Phillip, please start a missions department. Once people begin attending our regular gatherings they can go and serve.” Then he added to everyone, “Service is important, people. Make sure you give back.”

“Nathaniel, I’ve saved the most important job for you. You’ll be the youth pastor. There isn’t anything more important to my ministry than youth ministry (remember what I’ve said about millstones?). When we gather, take the kids away from the adults so they can be noisy. We all know that they have unique needs and the ministry must be age appropriate.

“Remember this,” Jesus affirmed, “the Gospel has levels of age appropriateness.”

“Nathaniel, I want you to look to the current trends in youth ministry in the temple and the marketplace and adapt them. Weigh the pros and cons of attractional versus missional ministry. Look at the statistics, surveys, experts, and best practices of others to shape our youth ministry. Coordinate with Phillip on youth missions trips. Stay compliant with Matthew’s policy for keeping food and drinks out of the upper room.”

Jesus continued, “When it comes to the ministry’s donkey, you’ll find it………….. Nathaniel? Was your hat on backward when we started this conversation?”

“The name’s Nate, yo!”

“Since when?”

“I need an assistant.”

“I just gave you the job. How do you need an assistant?”

“Look, you want me to hang out with the kids, that’s my job. Every youth ministry expert tells me it’s my job. I’m a relational guy. It’s my gift! I can barely return a phone call, let alone organize a ministry. I need an assistant.”

“You have a $300 smart-phone”

“It’s all about relationships, Jesus!”

“Were you just saying my name, or swearing?”


Jesus turned to his executive leadership team.

“Remember, team. You are leaders. Cast vision. Go into all the world and bring them back here to our services so I can save them. Amen?”


Jesus could tell they were getting excited about the vision, so he continued. “We’re here to make disciples.”

Peter held up his sword and yelled, “Yes we are!”

Jesus frowned and said, “That’s the wrong great commission, Pete. We’ll not compel them to belief with swords for at least a few hundred years.”

Dejected, Peter put his sword away, hung his head and kicked a little dirt with his sandal.

Jesus continued with his energized speech. “We’ll need a worship leader. Who’s up for that?”

“I am,” said a voice.

“Who are you?” asked Jesus.

“I’m Bartholomew. I’m one of your disciples,” said Bartholomew.

Jesus looked puzzled.

“You told me to follow you?”

Jesus, saving face said, “Sorry, I meet a lot of people, it’s hard to remember everyone’s name. You know how it is. Right?”

“Sure, I guess,” whispered Bartholomew.

Jesus turned to the other executive team members. “Who’s responsible for assimilation? I need a way to keep track of all these new faces!”

Bartholomew chimes in, “I play the electric lyre and I’m pretty good.”

“Ok,” Jesus concedes. “Meet with Matthew for all the appropriate personality testing to see if you are a good fit to be on the executive disciple team, then we’ll have a try out to see if you can play well enough to lead.”

Bartholomew looked confused.

Jesus continued, “You don’t talk a lot while you lead worship do you? I have a pet peeve regarding worship leaders who chit-chat when they have a mic.”

“We should coordinate our calendars,” Matthew suggested, changing the subject. “We don’t want all the stuff we are planning to overlap.”

Jesus sat back and watched with pride as Matthew led the staff meeting with efficiency, never varying from the agenda.

Jesus ended this first staff meeting with a prayer. “Father, help us change the world. There are people out there who are hurting, wounded and in need of you. Guide our ministry so we can impact the world with your good news. I pray that people come to our service this week. That you’d be preparing their hearts, even now, to come to our new building. I pray that they would become tithing disciples who give to us so we can fulfill the ministry you have given to us. May you expand our territory so we can impact this evil culture for you.”


Monday, March 19, 2012

Gunman Kills Four Jews Outside French School

Gunman kills four Jews outside French school
03/20/2012 02:34

J'lem teacher, 3 children die in attack; Ashton compares shooting to "what is happening in Gaza."

By REUTERS/Jean-Philippe Arles

A gunman opened fire at a crowd of parents and children outside a Jewish school in Toulouse, France, on Monday morning, killing four people.

Rabbi Yonatan Sandler, a 30- year-old French-born teacher from Jerusalem; his two children Aryeh, 6, and Gavriel, 3; and 8-year-old Miriam Monsonego, the daughter of the school’s principal, died in the attack. Several others were wounded.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on Monday compared the attack with the "what is happening in Gaza," AFP reported.

Speaking in Brussels at a meeting with Palestinian youth, Ashton said that "When we think about what happened today in Toulouse, we remember what happened in Norway last year, we know what is happening in Syria, and we see what is happening in Gaza and other places," she said.

Eyewitnesses present at Toulouse shooting said the unknown assailant drove up to the Ozar Hatorah school’s entrance on a black scooter around 8:00 a.m. and fired at the people gathered there with a heavy-caliber firearm and a pistol.

“I saw two people dead in front of the school, an adult and a child... Inside, it was a vision of horror, the bodies of two small children,” a distraught father whose child attends the school told RTL radio.

“I did not find my son; apparently he fled when he saw what happened. How can they attack something as sacred as a school, attack children only sixty centimeters tall!”

There will be a moment of silence throughout France on Tuesday in memory of the Toulouse victims.

Police believe the shooting was the work of a killer who had recently murdered three French soldiers on two separate occasions in the area. They said forensic evidence revealed a gun used at the school was the same used in the previous incidents.

The suspect is believed to be a man of slightly below average height and stocky build who rides a Model T Yamaha motorcycle, wears a black helmet and wields a .45 caliber pistol.

The victims in all three shootings were members of minority groups, but the exact motivation of the killer is still unknown.

The first murder linked to the gunman took place on March 11. Police found the body of Imad Ibn-Ziaten, a 30- year-old staff sergeant of North African descent, behind a school in Toulouse. Investigators suspect the off-duty serviceman was lured there by his murderer.

Last Thursday, a gunman riding a motorcycle and wearing a black helmet opened fire on three French soldiers in uniform at a shopping mall in Montauban, a city 50 kilometers north of Toulouse. Abel Chennouf, 24, and Muhammad Legouad, 26, both of North African descent, were killed. Loic Liber, 28, of Afro- Caribbean descent, was left in a coma.

During the attack, one eyewitness said the assailant pushed an old lady out of his way before emptying his gun directly into one of the wounded soldiers from close range, Le Figaro reported. Another said the gunman was stocky and short.

On Monday morning, a motorcyclist similar in description to the one involved in the second attack opened fire on the people gathered outside the entrance of the Ozar Hatorah school.

On this occasion, the suspect is said to have also used a .35 heavy-caliber firearm. Experts were quoted as saying that using two guns of different calibers seemed to indicate that the assailant was not a guns expert – otherwise, the gunman would have used two firearms using the same ammunition.

French police have launched a massive manhunt for the suspect while Interior Minister Claude Gueant has ordered increased security at Jewish schools throughout the country.

French paper Le Point reported Monday that police are searching for three former paratroopers, who were dismissed over suspicion of being neo-Nazis in 2008.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said that Monday’s attack was the work of the same gunman responsible for the killing of the three soldiers last week.

“We know that it is the same person and the same weapon that killed the soldiers, the children and the teacher,” Sarkozy said in a televised address, saying the terrorism alert level in France had been raised.

“This act is odious and cannot remain unpunished.” Sarkozy also said he would suspend his campaign for France’s April-May presidential election until Wednesday.

Sarkozy, who is facing an election later this year, is personally overseeing the investigation in Toulouse. In a press conference, he vowed to find the perpetrator of the attacks.

Meanwhile, his main political opponent François Hollande also traveled to the region to express solidarity with the local residents and the Jewish community.

France is taking immediate action to increase security around Jewish schools, French Ambassador to Israel Christophe Bigot said in an interview on Channel 2.

“There is security around every Jewish school in France,” Bigot said. “We are going to provide more security.”

Such steps, Bigot said, were necessary to protect French citizens and French values.

The entire country is in shock from the “horror” of the incident and mourning the loss of innocent life, Bigot said.

“This is a tragedy for all the French, not only the French Jews,” he said. “There is tremendous solidarity.”

“These kids are our kids, the kids of all French people,” the ambassador continued.

Earlier in the day, Gil Taieb, a vice president of the CRIF, France’s Jewish umbrella group, told The Jerusalem Post that he had no doubt the attack was a hate crime.

“For someone to locate this school in a place like Toulouse means he knew what he was doing,” Taieb said. “He went there to kill Jews.”

Taieb said the community was in a state of shock.

“There are occasional anti- Semitic attacks but they are small, nothing like this,” he said. “We haven’t had something like this in at least 10 years.”

The shooting was the single worst act of violence against Jews in France since 1982, when six people were killed and 22 wounded in a grenade attack on a Jewish restaurant in Paris that was believed to have carried out by a Palestinian group.

The most recent anti-Semitic murder occurred in 2006 when Ilan Halimi was kidnapped and killed by a gang in Paris in a crime that had racist overtones.

Some 500,000 Jews live in France, which has the world’s third-largest Jewish community.

A recent spate of attacks and attempted attacks on Jewish and Israeli targets in India, Thailand, Georgia and Azerbaijan allegedly by Iranian-backed assassins raises suspicions. The attacks are believed to be retaliation for the mysterious killings of nuclear scientists in the Islamic Republic that Tehran has blamed on Israel.

French police were not ruling out anything on Monday. By press time, they had still not apprehended a suspect.

Rabbi Avraham Weill, the chief rabbi of Toulouse, said there was no warning that the community, which numbers about 20,000, might be targeted.

“There was nothing – no phone call, no warning,” he said over the phone from France.

Weill said his top priority was to comfort the families of the victims and prepare the bodies for burial.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

"The Hound of Heaven" by Francis Thompson

I found this at:

The "Hound of Heaven" is a 182-line poem written by English poet Francis Thompson. The poem became famous and was the source of much of Thompson's posthumous reputation. The poem was first published in Thompson's first volume of poems in 1893. It was included in the Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse (1917). It was also an influence on J. R. R. Tolkien, who read it a few years before that.

The name is strange. It startles one at first. It is so bold, so new, so fearless. It does not attract, rather the reverse. But when one reads the poem this strangeness disappears. The meaning is understood. As the hound follows the hare, never ceasing in its running, ever drawing nearer in the chase, with unhurrying and imperturbed pace, so does God follow the fleeing soul by His Divine grace. And though in sin or in human love, away from God it seeks to hide itself, Divine grace follows after, unwearyingly follows ever after, till the soul feels its pressure forcing it to turn to Him alone in that never ending pursuit.
—The Neumann Press Book of Verse, 1988

The Hound of Heaven
by Francis Thompson

I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
Of my own mind; and in the midst of tears
I hid from Him, and under running laughter.
Up vistaed hopes I sped;
And shot, precipitated,
Adown Titanic glooms of chasmed fears,
From those strong Feet that followed, followed after.
But with unhurrying chase,
And unperturbèd pace,
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
They beat—and a Voice beat
More instant than the Feet—
'All things betray thee, who betrayest Me'.
I pleaded, outlaw-wise,
By many a hearted casement, curtained red,
Trellised with intertwining charities;
(For, though I knew His love Who followed,
Yet was I sore adread
Lest, having Him, I must have naught beside.)
But, if one little casement parted wide,
The gust of His approach would clash it to:
Fear wist not to evade, as Love wist to pursue.
Across the margent of the world I fled,
And troubled the gold gateway of the stars,
Smiting for shelter on their clanged bars;
Fretted to dulcet jars
And silvern chatter the pale ports o' the moon.
I said to Dawn: Be sudden—to Eve: Be soon;
With thy young skiey blossom heap me over
From this tremendous Lover—
Float thy vague veil about me, lest He see!
I tempted all His servitors, but to find
My own betrayal in their constancy,
In faith to Him their fickleness to me,
Their traitorous trueness, and their loyal deceit.
To all swift things for swiftness did I sue;
Clung to the whistling mane of every wind.
But whether they swept, smoothly fleet,
The long savannahs of the blue;
Or, whether, Thunder-driven,
They clanged his chariot 'thwart a heaven,
Plashy with flying lightnings round the spurn o' their feet:—
Fear wist not to evade as Love wist to pursue.
Still with unhurrying chase,
And unperturbed pace,
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
Came on the following Feet,
And a Voice above their beat—
'Naught shelters thee, who wilt not shelter Me.'
I sought no more after that which I strayed
In face of man or maid;
But still within the little children's eyes
Seems something, something that replies,
They at least are for me, surely for me!
I turned me to them very wistfully;
But just as their young eyes grew sudden fair
With dawning answers there,
Their angel plucked them from me by the hair.
Come then, ye other children, Nature's—share
With me’ (said I) 'your delicate fellowship;
Let me greet you lip to lip,
Let me twine with you caresses,
With our Lady-Mother's vagrant tresses,
With her in her wind-walled palace,
Underneath her azured dais,
Quaffing, as your taintless way is,
From a chalice
Lucent-weeping out of the dayspring.’
So it was done:
I in their delicate fellowship was one—
Drew the bolt of Nature's secrecies.
I knew all the swift importings
On the wilful face of skies;
I knew how the clouds arise
Spumèd of the wild sea-snortings;
All that's born or dies
Rose and drooped with; made them shapers
Of mine own moods, or wailful divine;
With them joyed and was bereaven.
I was heavy with the even,
When she lit her glimmering tapers
Round the day's dead sanctities.
I laughed in the morning's eyes.
I triumphed and I saddened with all weather,
Heaven and I wept together,
And its sweet tears were salt with mortal mine:
Against the red throb of its sunset-heart
I laid my own to beat,
And share commingling heat;
But not by that, by that, was eased my human smart.
In vain my tears were wet on Heaven's grey cheek.
For ah! we know not what each other says,
These things and I; in sound I speak—
Their sound is but their stir, they speak by silences.
Nature, poor stepdame, cannot slake my drouth;
Let her, if she would owe me,
Drop yon blue bosom-veil of sky, and show me
The breasts o’ her tenderness:
Never did any milk of hers once bless
My thirsting mouth.
Nigh and nigh draws the chase,
With unperturbed pace,
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy;
And past those noisèd Feet
A voice comes yet more fleet
'Lo! naught contents thee, who content'st not Me.'
Naked I wait Thy love's uplifted stroke!
My harness piece by piece Thou has hewn from me,
And smitten me to my knee;
I am defenceless utterly.
I slept, methinks, and woke,
And, slowly gazing, find me stripped in sleep.
In the rash lustihead of my young powers,
I shook the pillaring hours
And pulled my life upon me; grimed with smears,
I stand amidst the dust o' the mounded years
My mangled youth lies dead beneath the heap.
My days have crackled and gone up in smoke,
Have puffed and burst as sun-starts on a stream.
Yea, faileth now even dream
The dreamer, and the lute the lutanist;
Even the linked fantasies, in whose blossomy twist
I swung the earth a trinket at my wrist,
Are yielding; cords of all too weak account
For earth with heavy griefs so overplussed.
Ah! is Thy love indeed
A weed, albeit an amarinthine weed,
Suffering no flowers except its own to mount?
Ah! must
Designer infinite!Ah! must Thou char the wood ere Thou canst limn with it?
My freshness spent its wavering shower i' the dust;
And now my heart is as a broken fount,
Wherein tear-drippings stagnate, spilt down ever
From the dank thoughts that shiver
Upon the sighful branches of my mind.
Such is; what is to be?
The pulp so bitter, how shall taste the rind?
I dimly guess what Time in mists confounds;
Yet ever and anon a trumpet sounds
From the hid battlements of Eternity;
Those shaken mists a space unsettle, then
Round the half-glimpsed turrets slowly wash again.
But not ere him who summoneth
I first have seen, enwound
With glooming robes purpureal, cypress-crowned;
His name I know and what his trumpet saith.
Whether man's heart or life it be which yields
Thee harvest, must Thy harvest-fields
Be dunged with rotten death?
Now of that long pursuit
Comes on at hand the bruit;
That Voice is round me like a bursting sea:
'And is thy earth so marred,
Shattered in shard on shard?
Lo, all things fly thee, for thou fliest Me!

'Strange, piteous, futile thing!
Wherefore should any set thee love apart?
Seeing none but I makes much of naught' (He said),
'And human love needs human meriting:
How hast thou merited
Of all man's clotted clay the dingiest clot?
Alack, thou knowest not
How little worthy of any love thou art!
Whom wilt thou find to love ignoble thee,
Save Me, save only Me?
All which I took from thee I did but take,
Not for thy harms,
But just that thou might'st seek it in My arms.
All which thy child's mistake
Fancies as lost, I have stored for thee at home:
Rise, clasp My hand, and come!'
Halts by me that footfall:
Is my gloom, after all,
Shade of His hand, outstretched caressingly?
'Ah, fondest, blindest, weakest,
I am He Whom thou seekest!
Thou dravest love from thee, who dravest Me.'

Georgetown loses to North Carolina State 66 - 63

The Georgetown University Hoyas lose to the North Carolina State Wolfpack 66 - 63, and get eliminated from the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. Hoya Saxa - Ugh!

Friday, March 9, 2012

1984 vs Brave New World

In October of 1949, a few months after the release of George Orwell's dystopian masterpiece, Nineteen Eighty-Four, he received a fascinating letter from fellow author Aldous Huxley — a man who, 17 years previous, had seen his own nightmarish vision of society published, in the form of Brave New World. What begins as a letter of praise soon becomes a brief comparison of the two novels, and an explanation as to why Huxley believes his own, earlier work to be a more realistic prediction.


Trivia: In 1917, long before he wrote this letter, Aldous Huxley briefly taught Orwell French at Eton.

(Source: Letters of Aldous Huxley; Image: George Orwell (via) & Aldous Huxley (via).)

Wrightwood. Cal.
21 October, 1949

Dear Mr. Orwell,

It was very kind of you to tell your publishers to send me a copy of your book. It arrived as I was in the midst of a piece of work that required much reading and consulting of references; and since poor sight makes it necessary for me to ration my reading, I had to wait a long time before being able to embark on Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Agreeing with all that the critics have written of it, I need not tell you, yet once more, how fine and how profoundly important the book is. May I speak instead of the thing with which the book deals — the ultimate revolution? The first hints of a philosophy of the ultimate revolution — the revolution which lies beyond politics and economics, and which aims at total subversion of the individual's psychology and physiology — are to be found in the Marquis de Sade, who regarded himself as the continuator, the consummator, of Robespierre and Babeuf. The philosophy of the ruling minority in Nineteen Eighty-Four is a sadism which has been carried to its logical conclusion by going beyond sex and denying it. Whether in actual fact the policy of the boot-on-the-face can go on indefinitely seems doubtful. My own belief is that the ruling oligarchy will find less arduous and wasteful ways of governing and of satisfying its lust for power, and these ways will resemble those which I described in Brave New World. I have had occasion recently to look into the history of animal magnetism and hypnotism, and have been greatly struck by the way in which, for a hundred and fifty years, the world has refused to take serious cognizance of the discoveries of Mesmer, Braid, Esdaile, and the rest.

Partly because of the prevailing materialism and partly because of prevailing respectability, nineteenth-century philosophers and men of science were not willing to investigate the odder facts of psychology for practical men, such as politicians, soldiers and policemen, to apply in the field of government. Thanks to the voluntary ignorance of our fathers, the advent of the ultimate revolution was delayed for five or six generations. Another lucky accident was Freud's inability to hypnotize successfully and his consequent disparagement of hypnotism. This delayed the general application of hypnotism to psychiatry for at least forty years. But now psycho-analysis is being combined with hypnosis; and hypnosis has been made easy and indefinitely extensible through the use of barbiturates, which induce a hypnoid and suggestible state in even the most recalcitrant subjects.

Within the next generation I believe that the world's rulers will discover that infant conditioning and narco-hypnosis are more efficient, as instruments of government, than clubs and prisons, and that the lust for power can be just as completely satisfied by suggesting people into loving their servitude as by flogging and kicking them into obedience. In other words, I feel that the nightmare of Nineteen Eighty-Four is destined to modulate into the nightmare of a world having more resemblance to that which I imagined in Brave New World. The change will be brought about as a result of a felt need for increased efficiency. Meanwhile, of course, there may be a large scale biological and atomic war — in which case we shall have nightmares of other and scarcely imaginable kinds.

Thank you once again for the book.

Yours sincerely,

Aldous Huxley

Sunday, March 4, 2012

BBC Boss will mock Jesus but not Mohammed

We’ll mock Jesus but not Mohammed, says BBC boss

from: on Wed, 29 Feb 2012

The head of the BBC, Mark Thompson, has admitted that the broadcaster would never mock Mohammed like it mocks Jesus.

He justified the astonishing admission of religious bias by suggesting that mocking Mohammed might have the “emotional force” of “grotesque child pornography”.

But Jesus is fair game because, he said, Christianity has broad shoulders and fewer ties to ethnicity.


Mr Thompson says the BBC would never have broadcast Jerry Springer The Opera – a controversial musical that mocked Jesus – if its target had been Mohammed.

He made the remarks in an interview for a research project at the University of Oxford.

Mr Thompson said: “The point is that for a Muslim, a depiction, particularly a comic or demeaning depiction, of the Prophet Mohammed might have the emotional force of a piece of grotesque child pornography.”

A BBC spokesman was unavailable for comment.

Last year former BBC news anchor Peter Sissons said Christians are “fair game” for insults at the corporation, whilst Muslims must not be offended.

Mr Sissons, whose memoirs were serialised in the Daily Mail, said: “Islam must not be offended at any price, although Christians are fair game because they do nothing about it if they are offended.”

The former presenter also said that staff damage their careers if they don’t follow the BBC’s mindset.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Steadfast in Worship — Considering all of the Confessions.

When I became a pastor in the Lutheran Church, I said that I would perform the duties of my office in accordance with the Lutheran Confessions. I promised, with the help of God, to preach and teach and administer the Sacraments in conformity with the Holy Scriptures and these Confessions. (To the best of my knowledge, such statements are standard at the ordinations and installations of Lutheran pastors, at least in the Missouri Synod.)

So, when push comes to shove and the rubber hits the road, what is the result of these statements and promises? What does it mean – that your actions in worship would conform with the Holy Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions?
For some, the following passages define their confessional view of worship:
And to the true unity of the Church it is enough to agree concerning the doctrine of the Gospel and the administration of the Sacraments. Nor is it necessary that human traditions, that is, rites or ceremonies, instituted by men, should be everywhere alike. As Paul says: One faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of all, etc. Eph. 4:5-6 (Augsburg Confession VII:2-4).
(J)ust as the dissimilar length of day and night does not injure the unity of the Church, so we believe that the true unity of the Church is not injured by dissimilar rites instituted by men… (Apology VII & VIII:33a).
And, most famously:
We believe, teach, and confess that the congregation of God of every place and every time has the power, according to its circumstances, to change such ceremonies [church rites which are neither commanded nor forbidden in God's Word, but have been instituted for the sake of propriety and good order] in such manner as may be most useful and edifying to the congregation of God (Formula of Concord: Epitome X:4).

Those who love to quote these passages often act as though these were the final words that the Confessions speak about worship. It is not too much of a stretch to say that any practice could be permissible for them, as long as it could be defined as “useful” or “edifying”.
Yet, after making these statements, the Confessions continue:
… Although it is pleasing to us that, for the sake of tranquility [unity and good order], universal rites be observed, just as also in the churches we willingly observe the order of the Mass, the Lord’s Day, and other more eminent festival days. And with a very grateful mind we embrace the profitable and ancient ordinances, especially since they contain a discipline by which it is profitable to educate and train the people and those who are ignorant [the young people] (Apology VII & VIII:33b).
Nevertheless, that herein [making changes in ceremonies and church rites,] all frivolity and offense should be avoided, and special care should be taken to exercise forbearance towards the weak in faith. 1 Cor. 8:9; Rom. 14:13 (Formula of Concord: Epitome X:5).
As I study the Lutheran Confessions, I continue to find much that can be applied today towards this topic of remaining ‘steadfast in worship’.

Associate Editor Scheer’s Note: With this post, Pastor Nathan Higgins joins the regulars here at BJS writing for a segment entitled “Steadfast in Worship”. Pastor Higgins was a member of the Bemidji Circuit (one of the best in MNN) of the Minnesota North District when I served as a pastor up there in the northland. He is also one of the assistant editors that produced Treasury of Daily Prayer for CPH. The Rev’d Nathan W. Higgins is a 2002 graduate of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Indiana. He has served as Pastor at Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Long Prairie, Minnesota ( since December 2008 and has participated for many years in the Lutheran Mission Association ( which provides relief in Haiti.

Friday, March 2, 2012

ELCA Follows Episcopal Slide to Oblivion

Evangelical Lutheran Church Follows Episcopal Church in Gadarene Slide to OblivionAs in the Episcopal Church there is still and always will be a faithful remnant in the ELCA
Five Congregations leave ELCA every week. Lutheran Congregations that leave can keep properties

By Robert Luther
Special to Virtueonline
March 2, 2012

The ecclesiastical realignment that has been going on in North America over the last decade has not been confined to Anglicanism.

Since August, 2009, when the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's Churchwide Assembly voted to allow congregations that choose to do so to recognize same gender unions and accept those who have entered into such unions to serve as rostered leaders (pastors, deacons, chaplains, etc.), the resulting schism in the ELCA has been devastating.

The ELCA was formed in 1987 by a merger of three Lutheran denominations that combined to form one ecclesiastical adjudicatory that promptly went down the same revisionist path as the Episcopal Church, sadly but predictably bringing the same results. Membership started a slow decline so that by 2008 the ELCA had lost over 12 percent of its membership and 737 congregations, all this while the population of the United States was booming.

Then in 2009 things got worse. While the befuddled revisionists celebrated their muddled gospel of inclusion, affirmation and social justice, many of the faithful shook the dust off their feet and gathered in Columbus, Ohio a year later to start a new Lutheran denomination called the North American Lutheran Church (NALC). As Edmund Burke wrote, "There is a limit at which forbearance ceases to be a virtue."

Others left for Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ (LCMC) or the American Association of Lutheran Churches (AALC). LCMC has 772 member congregations, with 683 of those in the US; however, some of these congregations also maintain membership in the ELCA.

The result has been a schism that has been much faster and deeper than that in the Episcopal Church. Why is that so? because ELCA congregations can disaffiliate from the ELCA and keep their property. It takes two, two thirds majority congregational votes ninety days apart and they can leave with their property and join the Lutheran denomination of their choice.

No lawsuits, no clergy deposed, no pack of wolves trying to take property from those who paid for it and for which the synod would have no use; an altogether civilized and gracious way to treat those leaving.

In the 2009 - 2010 period alone the ELCA lost nearly 8 percent of its membership and 388 congregations, with most of these congregations moving to other jurisdictions and some closing.

It's also likely that additional thousands of church members quietly left their liberal congregations without a word, in typical Lutheran humility, but are still being counted as members on the rolls. Many of these folks headed straight for the local Lutheran Church Missouri Synod congregation, where the Holy Scriptures are still faithfully preached and taught.

2011 numbers are not yet available but they will be just as bad. Over the last year an average of 5 congregations each week have been leaving the ELCA to join the North American Lutheran Church, and after only a year and a half well over 300 congregations have taken this step.

One would think that the leadership of the ELCA would have looked at what happened to the Episcopal Church and decided there is no way they could all join hands, drink the same Kool-Aid and then jump off the same cliff into oblivion, but amazingly and regrettably that was not the case. This writer will leave it to the psychologists and other deep thinkers among you to try to fathom why.

As in the Episcopal Church, there is still and always will be a faithful remnant in the ELCA but as so many of the faithful have left, this group will have less and less influence, be more and more marginalized and most likely will find their presence more and more difficult; however, the Lord always has a purpose for the faithful and prophetic voice crying out in the wilderness, and some will always feel called to the lonely ministry of the scorned prophet.

May God comfort and strengthen them. One can't help but wonder what the similarities between the Anglican Church of North America and the North American Lutheran Church may lead to. Anglican and Lutheran theology are very similar and there has been a substantial and visible presence of Anglican purple shirts at both convocations of the NALC.

It's also pretty clear that the realignment in North American Protestantism over the last decade has not been along denominational lines but along the lines of those who are orthodox in matters of faith and morals as opposed to those who have adopted the values of a secular and increasingly pagan culture.

This leaves the ACNA and NALC with a lot in common. One thing is very clear: these two churches have a lot more in common with each other than they do with the churches from which they disaffiliated.