Friday, September 11, 2009

Four Hours: Habits, Addictions, and Idolatry

High! My name is Dan . . . I'm an addict. Well, I am--a Vicodin addict. If I take it, I walk; if I don't take it, I don't walk. As my friend Jon has sternly reminded me: If a doctor prescribes it, and I'm following the regimen, then I'm not an addict. Well, I'll bow to superior wisdom--or experience. But I know my personality, which tends toward addiction. The average medication seems to last about four hours. I guess, technically, I'm physically dependent on hydrocodone. That, and Inderal, which is a "beta blocker". It seems to hold down my blood pressure, but, more importantly, blocks most of my migraines. I was getting them on an almost daily basis. Doctors have told me this isn't really possible, but you can't argue with your head (or, at least, you shouldn't). Being an addict is an exercise in diminishing returns: you take more and more to less and less effect (I WANT MOORE--BUT THERE'S LESS OF ME!). In my substance-abusing days, lo these 27 years ago, I much preferred stimulants (CNSS, technically) such as methylesterbenzoylecgonine (cocaine, for you tabloid types) and methamphetamine. When you've been depressed for much of your life, you tend to avoid downers. I always enjoyed the taste a good dark ale, a good dry red wine, or a strong-but-smooth tequila, but alcohol, like sugar, gave me migraines. Pot made me vegetative (feel those roots going down). When I took good acid I couldn't see myself in the mirror, and I astrally projected . . . a little too close to the line. So . . . flying that plane, high on cocaine . . . And then, an increase in speed to make up for lost reality!

Habits might be described as repetitive reactions to unconscious emotional needs. I plain English, I always do something the same way, because at some level I need too. Then again, habits may just be like record grooves cut into reality. The end result: if you don't do something the same way, you feel uncomfortable (you remember what happens when you hit the needle while a record's playing?). They're said to take several weeks to establish, depending on the habitue' and the nature of the habit. They are very hard to break, as we know. I believe this is because we enter into them unconsciously, but it takes a conscious (and often protracted) effort to break or change them. Most habits are innocuous, not bothering anyone save ourselves (well, maybe our significant others; perhaps that's one reason people live alone). Some habits, however, are deadly, at one level or another. Sarcasm is a veiled anger which seeks to humiliate other people: a very destructive habit. Brawling (often fueled by alcohol addiction) is another destructive habit, at a physical level.

Idolatry is an addiction or habit carried to a spiritual level. It is my contention, backed up, I believe, in the Bible, that humans are tripartite beings: we have spirit-bodies, which are imperishable (except by God, of course); we have physical bodies, which act as hosts or carriers for our spirits; and we have mental-emotional (mind+heart) bodies, or souls, which are the interface of the other two. In other words, our "operating systems". This is, I believe, what is seen by some people as "auras" and what can be viewed or photographed by Kirlian "photography". All living--and some inanimate--things have a "soul", but only human beings have a "spirit" which can be linked to God's Spirit by salvation. Idolatry is simply an addiction or habit at the spiritual level, something that interferes with our relationship with God.

I actually took the "est" training with "Werner Blowhard" before I became a Christian. I did get one thing of value out of it: you start with "being", then go to "doing", and then to "having". You are first, then you do, then you have. Everything proceeds from the spiritual, then to the soul-level, then to the physical. Sometimes, God is the only one who can change us. Some addictions and habits are beyond our volition; some aren't. If trying is beyond you, ask God.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Orwell and Pinochio

I don't usually make statements of record about politics. Most of my comments are oral, made mostly to friends. After this melange, I'll probably have fewer of them (friends, not comments). Sometimes, though, a man has to stand up in public and say what he feels. To quote Whorf from First Contact, as his ship is about ready to be broken up by the Borg, "Perhaps today is a good day to die! Give me ramming speed!"

George Orwell was a socialist and an atheist; I am neither. He was perhaps the most brilliant essayist of the 20th century. With the exceptions of 1984 and Animal Farm, his novels were less successful--and less well-received--than his essays and criticism. Though I sometimes disagree with his starting points or his objectives, I can seldom criticize his reasoning. Once he got hold of an idea he squeezed every drop of juice out of it--and usually found something to do with the pulp. The two novels mentioned above embodied almost all of Orwell's ideas about socialism--and his fears. Animal Farm is satirical and allegorical, but 1984 is nightmarish, a reductio ad absurdem of war and tyranny. Orwell is not really concerned with showing us the process and progression of collective socialism; he shows us the gritty end result of unchecked power exercised by oligarchy. Winston Smith, a tired everyman, knows--has always known--that he will be caught and tortured. O'Brien, his teacher-inquisitor, helps him to understand that there is no point to this process other than conformity and extinction. The central truth is: "The object of power is power." The other truth is that the collective is immortal; there is no need for God. The novel resembles one of those unpleasant dreams you can't escape from.

Barack Obama, in my opinion, is trying to force us in the direction of collective socialism. He is a member of an oligarchy. Whether he is making policy or just carrying it out does not matter. The recent institution of a Whitehouse website to encourage people to tattle on those who oppose Obama's health-care plan strikes me as ludicrous and ominous at the same time. I call it the"rat line". No representative democracy needs a system of informers, although the occasional whistleblower can be a good thing. I'm not going to get into specific proposals or policies right now. I believe the electorate, the people in general, need more input into the process of government than they're being given. You can't lie to them or bury things in thousand-page bills and not expect a backlash.

Pinochio comes to mind here: the myth of the puppet boy who would be real. The longing of the old clock-maker and puppeteer for a real boy is the quest for the miraculous. Pinochio had already been given free will, though he was still wooden. When he lied, he grew asses's ears (hmmm). We go through our lives trying to cut our strings and become real. Our Puppeteer has always given us free will; the Clock-maker wants us love Him as Father and, by believing, be real. He wants you to love Him, Obama, as your earthly father did not. Go to Jesus, Barry.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Jewish Problem

Well, sports fans, it's been too long since Dan the Despicable posted, so . . . Looking at the title of this column, you're probably thinking, "Aha! He's finally gone off the deep end. We've got him now. Next thing you know, he'll be defending Sarah Palin! [Soon!]" Actually, this is in response to several writer-personalities I have found useful in the past. One is in radio; another is the author of Christian books I found interesting, even provocative. They share an all-too-common monomania: hatred and paranoia of Jews. I am a Christian; Jesus Christ was a Jew. The Jews were necessary antecedents of the Christian movement. Jesus never renounced or denounced His Jewish roots. Indeed, He specifically credited them with fulfilling His identity as the Son of God. Many prophecies in the Old Testament, the Hebrew part of the Bible, pointed straight at Him. There is no coincidence in this; it is specifically intended by God the Father. The Jews were anointed as God's chosen people. Abram and Sarai were launched by God straight into eternity as Abraham and Sarah, the parents of the chosen people. Ironically, few Jews believe that Christians are connected to them in any way. More than a few Christians in the past have ignored or distanced themselves from their Jewish forbears. Some, as I mentioned above, have reacted with astonishng hatred toward Jews. Historically, some "Christians" have accused the Jews of being "Christ-killers". He had to be put to death by His own people so He could resurrect as Savior of all.

Jew-haters of the type I mentioned above cloak their hatred with labels like "anti-Zionism". They claim they don't have any problem with individual Jews, just with their rightful homeland, Israel. Bigotry works by establishing unreal distinctions and using them to isolate and hurt target groups of people. It's the ultimate extension of "stranger danger": xenophobia, fear of strangers. Intelligent and learned men become mental cripples. Even Martin Luther is said to have been a victim of this disorder, though I have not researched his case. We need to fight this tendency, people, otherwise we put on mental blinders . . . and end up serving the Enemy. Thus we fail to advance God's Kingdom on Earth.

Sunday, May 24, 2009


1888 had been, so far, a year of frantic action, as well as conflicting emotions. I had buried my wife, Constance, in the preceding December. It was a sad and dreary time of sleet alternating with fog: London at its worst. Holmes had gently suggested that I move back in with him. As there were no children involved, I had acceded. Constance had succumbed to diphtheria. She was always of delicate constitution, though she tried so hard to be the perfect doctor's wife. She tolerated and even encouraged my friendship with Holmes, though she discomfited him by cheerfully (in the American fashion) using his given name.
Holmes sat with me in Baker Street and, looking at me with those remarkable grey eyes, piercing and masterful, said, "Work is the best antidote to sorrow, Watson." Within a week we were enmeshed with the Douglas family at Birlstone. The pace did not let up. After that we were invited by a scientific team to investigate the murders of several of their members in the Transcaucasus mountains. A large, hairy wildman called the Wodewose was involved. I have been enjoined not to reveal the details of this near-tragedy until after the death "Col. Bombast". Holmes was badly injured; I was injured in the leg. Only my expertise with battlefield wounds was able to save us, and several other members of the expedition. Holmes never again went to a zoo, and his bitterness toward hunting began then.
By April he was chafing to work. The strange little case I called "The Yellow Face" was not one of his more successful cases. Just before that case, the first of the harlot killings occured in the East End. Holmes dismissed the murder, though noting the savagery of the knife-work. "The unfortunate murder of an unfortunate," said he. "When liquor is mixed freely with the baser passions, this sort of thing happens. There is no intellectual interest or redeeming human element in it." He strode up and down our sitting room, flapping his arms like some great, refined bird of prey. "I have told Lestrade, and anyone else who will listen, that Whitechapel is like a powder-keg, only needing a spark to set it off. If Sir Charles keeps provoking them, they will surely blow!"
I had rarely heard him express political and social opinions so freely. Usually, when he was immersed in work, he professed indifference to the social matrix in which he lived. His interest was in the day-to-day intersection of the criminal class with the rest of us, not in Dickensian social reform. "Recidivism, Watson! Recidivism--that's the thing!" he exclaimed.
By September, though, it became obvious that "Jack", as the press were calling the harlot-killer, was growing bolder. The unfortunates lived in fear. Several private citizens of some stature had interceded with Holmes to take an interest in the bloody rampage. But work intervened. The puzzles which engaged Holmes' attention came thick and fast: "The Greek Interpreter", which introduced me to Mycroft Holmes; the case of the Sholtos and the Agra treasure, which rewarded me with my second wife; and the extraordinary affair of the Baskervilles on the moors.
At the end of October we were sitting quietly in Baker Street with a fire going; outside it was raining. We had barely recovered from the rigors of the Baskerville case and its fiendish hound. The bell rang on the ground floor of 221B. Holmes looked at me. "Are we expecting anyone, Watson?" I shook my head, put my book down, and stood. Suddenly we heard Mrs. Hudson's voice: loud and frightened. This was followed by an imperious rapping at our door. Holmes lifted his brows, reached into his desk, and extracted his hair-trigger. He sat back down and covered the pistol with a cushion. "Come in!" said he.
The door opened slowly and a man entered. Taller than Holmes was he, thin and stooped, with a balding head which seemed to oscillate slowly back and forth, like a snake. His forehead was domed and his features aquiline. His eyes were grey, like Holmes. He shut the door and stood staring, from one to the other of us. I had only heard him described by Inspector MacDonald.
"Pray, Doctor, put down your shillelagh . . . and might I suggest, Holmes, that you take your finger off the trigger of your trick pistol? You might do yourself a mischief. I am not here for violence; you know my ways, Holmes." I sat down and rested my heavy blackthorn cane by my chair. Holmes tossed the cushion aside and took his finger off the trigger of his revolver, though he kept it in his lap.
"Please be seated, Professor," he said. His tone was even, but not light.
"Thank you, gentlemen," said Moriarty.
"I can think of no reason for you to be here," said Holmes. "I see that you got to Douglas."
Moriarty gave a small smile. "I do not tolerate opposition--or disobedience. 'Porlock', as you style him, is no more."
Holmes gave a start. "I will settle for you one of these days, Professor," he said quietly.
"And I you . . ." Moriarty said. "But now we have a problem in common, Holmes."
"The harlot killer," said Holmes.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Beach

You're 14, on vacation with your parents and your sister, who's eight and very annoying (though if pressed, you'd admit to loving her, but not around your friends). You're old enough to rate your own puptent. Freedom! You wake early, smelling the trees around the campsite and also the beach nearby. This is your favorite beach in North California, because the evergreens march almost down to the beach: pines, with an occasional coastal redwood. Underneath the trees, you sometimes find blackberry brambles; a few of them have delicious sweet berries that stain your fingers. Outside, as you pull your pants on and your shoes and socks, you see tendrils of fog curling through the boles and branches of the trees. Fog! Coming from the high desert, it's a great rarity. You don't realize yet that some people would rather live in the unremitting desert sun.

Nobody else is stirring as you make your way down the trail to the beach. You can barely see the ocean through the fog. Glorious! You can hear the waves breaking; there's no wind as you start walking south, to the left down the beach. You stay just above the line of wet sand, looking down for shells as you walk. You love the ocean, but you don't like to get wet in it. Your sister can spend hours in her bathing suit running through the waves and shivering with pleasure--but not you. You enjoy swimming in the private pool your aunt takes you to, and you swim well, but there's something about the ocean, the great Pacific Ocean. . . .

The fog thins as you walk down the beach. You are headed for one of nature's most fascinating displays: great rock areas of the beach with large, permanent tidepools. A few people are already out, looking down into the pools. The tide is out, so viewing is good. As the sun rises and the fog leaves, you can see farther down into the pools, some of which are ten or twelve feet in diameter. They have seaweed growing in them, in various colors, and sea anemones--large ones--gently waving their tentacles. Small fish swim lazily through the seaweed fronds. Some of the pools seem quite deep.

A little later, as the sun gets a bit higher in the sky and it warms up some (though it's high summer and not really cold), you walk farther down the beach, away from the tidepools and people. The land rises behind the beach, forming a small cliff. Boulders begin to stud the wide strand, buried partway in the sand. Some of them are huge, ten feet around perhaps, though half-buried in the beach. A whole field of them stretches for hundreds of yards. The average one sticks up two or three feet above the sand. Smaller ones the size of basketballs are in between the big ones. You are just about ready for some exercise. And here comes your parents, walking your sister between them. An audience!

You warm up by running slowly and easily down the beach, away from your family, hopping from boulder to boulder in your tennis shoes. You have to watch out for the patches of green, moss-like growth on some of the rocks. You've actually slid off a few of them, though never hurting yourself. Your family is at the beginning of the field, and you're several hundred feet down the beach. You're ready to start your run. You start off fairly slowly, hopping on the smooth colored stones. You soon reach full speed. You're no track star, but you'd like to see one of them do this. Speed and oxygen merge into one exhilirating rush as you aim for your family. Your mother is holding her hand over her mouth (you can hear her southern drawl: "For heaven sakes, Tom!"); your sister is shouting encouragement and jumping up and down; and your father is grinning! Life is good as you fly off the last boulder and land in the sand in front of them, arms spread wide.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Angels and demons

I use the title of Dan Brown's novel, which is being released as a movie by the Howard-Hanks team, because it leads directly into our subject: Gnosticism. More specifically, I wish to discuss the barrage of novels, tracts, and movies that deny the divinity of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Belief in the triune nature of God is central and essential to Christianity, to the Way. All other religions, cults, and variants of Christianity deny Jesus' role as the second Person of the Trinity. He is not a created being, an illuminator, a teacher, or a guide: He is the Son of the living God, an aspect of the Godhead, along with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Of course He illuminates, teaches, and guides, but with the authority and power of Deity. He is the only Way to the Father; none may enter the Kingdom of Heaven save through Him. One can separate His sheep from the goats by asking the simple question: Who is Jesus? There is only one answer.

One cannot enter our favorite (and only) bookstore, the Barn of No-Bull, without seeing a book about the Knights Templar, Rosslyn Chapel, or the Priory of Scion. They all seem vaguely Gnostic and they all deny Christ's divinity. The favorite scenario goes somethinglike this: Jesus is conceived and born in the normal fashion. He shows great intelligence and wisdom beyond his years growing up. He finally takes the reins of the Jewish revolutionary movement, but he realizes he must disguise his ambitions in a messianic cloak and fakes his own death. He has already married Mary of Magdala, who, pregnant, escapes to France or wherever, gives birth, and establishes a secret "royal" line, which is finally rediscovered in the Twentieth Century. The Catholic Church and/or some secret group tries to cover up this "heresy" for selfish reasons.

There is no credible evidence for this fantastic conspiracy hypothesis. Brown's "scholarship" has been shown by many real scholars to be false and bogus. Some of the books raise interesting points: Why, for instance, does Scotland's Rosslyn Chapel, established in the early Middle Ages, show representations of New World plants such as corn, well before Columbus' voyages? I, for one, think that a lot more went on back in history than we realize. The evidence, though, for Jesus' crucifixion, death, entombment, and resurrection is powerful and convincing. If it is a lie, a lot of people, starting with His own apostles, have lived and died for that lie. I believe history pivots around that virgin birth.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


We are under attack, people. Whatever your beliefs, however you slice life, there is obviously a concerted effort to deprive us of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happinesss". Since I believe that the spiritual precedes the physical, the master plan of attack is implemented by the "Enemy". This is the collective name for the fallen angels, led by Satan (the Devil), the slanderer and accuser of we humans. Satan was possibly God's own archangel and led the worship of Him in Heaven (his name was probably Samael; "Satan" is a title). Through pride he was cast out of Heaven along with a third of all angels. Satan seduced Eve, the mother of all humans, and caused the Fall of Man. Ever since he has gone about the world, which he considers his domain, corrupting and destroying any humans he can. He plans our downfall and co-ordinates his army of fallen angels (demons) to oppose God. Though he was defeated by Jesus' resurrection, in his insanity he cannot stop. This is all explained in the Bible, in various books, culminating with a flourish in Revelation, the last book. The last surviving Apostle, the elderly John, was given this great vision of the end of all things. Like Genesis, the first book of the Bible, Revelation is indispensible for an understanding of God's plan for us. Some "Christians" seem to find these two books figurative or irrelevant. They do so at their peril.

Satan's master plan, founded on four great lies he told Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, has never really changed. The Flood (the third great event in our history, after the Creation and the Fall) interrupted his strategy, but didn't change it. Satan has only two objectives for us: to keep us from loving God; and, if we do, to render us ineffective in carrying out God's work. All historical events revolve around these two poles: to serve God or to serve ourselves--hence, Satan. Through the millenia the faces and circumstances have changed but the real battle has been the same. In these last days, at the end of time, Satan's tactics are two-pronged. On the one hand we have the socialists and extreme liberals, who would deprive us of our individual liberties in favor of the state, for our own good. On the other hand we have the Muslims, who are willing to kill us to save the world; they tolerate no opposition, according to their own scriptures.

The two poles of the Enemy's plan seem seem disparate, indeed irreconcilable. If you examine the overall goals of the Enemy, however, the jihadists and the socialists are aiming for the same scenario. They both want a world where there is no opposition, because the state is everything and everyone. If there is only one choice there can be no choosing. The nanny-state and the caliphate are the same. Both are theocracies; and in both, the ends always justify the means. One need only look at World War Two. The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, the spiritual leader of Islam, was a regular visitor to Berlin, consulting with Goebbels and Goering on the "Jewish Problem". Both groups had the same objective: the rooting out of Judaism and, ultimately, of Christianity. The Muslim leader got along well with the Nazis. After all, Satan was the spiritual leader of both.

Friday, April 10, 2009

My First Car

Moby Dick, "The Great White Whale", was my first car: a 1964 Ford Custom. He had a 250 c.i. straight six, with a one-barrel carburetor. There was enough room for me to get in the engine compartment, if necessary. A three-speed column shift completed the drive-train. After the second time the shifting tube in the steering column broke, I had a Hurst shifter put in on the floor. Sometimes the linkage got hung up, necessitating a wrestling match with a tire iron under the car. The ignition had points (as did the voltage regulator!): tuneups were an art, done as much be ear as eye ("If it pings, back off the distributor!"). After 150,000 miles, a mechanic friend declared Moby to be "Perfectly worn out". He rebuilt the engine and we got another century out of Moby.

Moby seemed (by today's standards) to be huge, until I compared him to my friend John's Cadillac: a '62 convertible, also white, with fins, that clocked in at over twenty feet. A true land yacht. You could almost see the bow-wave when you cornered. Moby's trunk was big enough to camp in (this was when the trunk was bigger than the hood). Inside, he boasted two bench seats and plenty of leg room. A we used to say, seats six or sleeps two. There were even two seat belts in the front. My father figured I couldn't kill myself if I tried. He was right. I inherited Moby in '66--I was 18. He had been the family battle-wagon for several years and was just broken in. I was the load-master and could just about make his tail drag.

When I started attending concerts "Down Below" (sounds like Hell!), Moby was the steed of choice. Five or six of us would pile in, rolling joints and swigging from quart bottles of Cuervo Special. I was accounted a steady driver who didn't become too incapacitated and didn't sleep too much, although midnight trips back from the Forum were sometimes mysterious, with involuntary lane-changes and other late-night phenomena. I usually couldn't hear too well--my ears would ring for several days after some concerts.

Moby accelerated like an arthritic tortoise. Some of my first conscious prayers were to keep from being squashed by trucks when entering the freeways. How I longed for the belchfire V-8! With gas three gallons for a dollar, we didn't give a damn about mileage. After I got married, we decided to leave Gomorrah-by-the-Bay and return to Lancaster, or as my son calls it, the Mojave Triangle. I sadly decided to leave my faithful steed in S.F. My wife had a German Opel (or Offal). It was my first European experience--but hardly a love affair. Siempre viva! Great White Whale.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Talk Radio

I do not usually write about politics. As a Christian, I would hope that many of my positions and inclinations would be clear from the Bible, particularly the New Testament. I certainly don't disdain the Old Testament: it is the father of the New: the Son shines in a different way. The Cross, that central signpost in human history, points the Way for us with painful clarity. It is becoming clear to me, however, that our new President is choosing a different direction to go in. He sees the brightly lit exit, the feeder road going to the superhighway. The traffic is heavy but the pace is fast. The destination? Who cares! They say it leads to paradise. . . . Who wants to take that old goat-trail that heads into the mountains--probably need four-wheel drive anyway.

The Senate, as a sop us dumb-ignorant-stupid-conservatives ("Idiots probably listen to Rush, anyhow"), agreed to not legislate the "fairness doctrine". Well, we're okay, aren't we?! But Dick Durbin (the other senator from Illinois) managed to save the day for Hussein I: Amendment 591, "Diversity in Media Ownership". I believe this only applies to radio stations. Most television stations and newspapers are already quite liberal. I won't go into the free-market tirade again; suffice it to say that conservative stations don't have to be subsidized.

Now, as I understand it, what this seemingly innocuous amendment means is pretty clear ["Hey, you know, we'll even let one of them own a station--long as he has the money, and we don't have to have lunch with him!"]. It will allow the FCC to determine who is licensed to run a radio station, i.e., who can own it. And since El Presidente is picking the commissioners and since Rush and Doc Savage and those other wackos are such pains in the ass . . . It doesn't take a Buchanan to spot this one.

They're building the superhighway already, starting from the coast of Tejas and going straight north to Canada. It will be a mile wide, and where American highways cross it, there will be customs stations, with a major "port" in the Kansas City area. It will split the country in two. Of course, we'll be a part of the North American Union, so that won't matter. Now, be still, boys and girls, this won't hurt--just a little chip in the backs of your hands. Then you can never get lost; we'll know how you're feeling; and you won't need money, or even credito facil, any more. Until then, use these ameros; they're just like the urals they use in Eurabia. Remember to face east, and remember, the telescreen can always see you. . . .

Sunday, February 15, 2009


And what, you ask in all innocence, is a "prosody"? Is it some minor technique, like flower arranging? Need one wear an apron, perhaps a bit of makeup . . . ? No, Grasshopper! It is the anatomy of poetry, the body politic of epiphany and theophany [but, you ask, aren't those the same?], the arms and legs and fingers and phallus of poetry! If you ask what is poetry . . . "Oh, do not ask, 'What is it?'/Let us go and make our visit." [Eliot.] It is the body of technique that makes verse into poems. It encompasses meter and rhythm, line and stanza, figures of speech and sound coloration, types and forms. If you think that poetry is made by breaking up prose into indiscriminate line lengths and random stanzas, then read no further. If you think poetry is an irritation that ought to be smacked with a flyswatter, then go back to reading your refrigeration manual or the latest Clive Cussler (though Clive is a hell of a storyteller--he just seems to be poorly translated from German) from the bestseller list.

There is an esthetic conundrum that needs to be dealt with at this point. I will use painting (visual art) as an example (my wife is a painter and sculptor). Traditionalists (and I am one) think that one ought to be able to master the basic tools of a medium, before experimenting. A painter must be able to represent what he sees in a way that someone else can recognize it. He must know how to use the tools and methods of his trade: brush, paper, canvas, easel, pigment, color, line, perspective, composition, and so forth. Only by knowing and reacting against what has gone before can he create something new and fresh. As Uncle Ezra said, "Make it new!" In the case of "modern art", much of what I have seen strikes me as the equivalent of what Woody Allen (in Love and Death) called "practicing in my room". I am no painter, as my wife often reminds me, but when I don't understand what I'm looking at, even when the artist explains it, I am suspicious and have an impulse to ask the artist if he can paint a portrait of his cat. The poet e. e. cummings produced what looked like word salad sometimes, but he knew exactly what he was doing (I think). You have only to read "Epithalamion" or one of his other early poems to see his complete control. Gerard M. Hopkins, who was way ahead (or outside) of his time, did things to English poetry that we're still trying to figure out--but he had mastered available technique (in English and Latin!). One of my favorite influences, W. S. Merwin, has strained syntax, punished punctuation, and done extraordinary things with line and stanza, but his early work is more traditional and magnificently controled.

I was fortunate to have several good poet-teachers in my formative years. The first, Robert Watson, made us buy Prosody Handbook, by Shapiro and Beaume. We hated the book! We felt our teacher was conspiring with Masters S. & B. to torment us and prevent us from expressing ourselves freely. But, by S&B, we knew what a villanelle and both sonnet forms were--and could write acceptable examples of them. Later, Dan Langton, Mark Linenthal, and Stan Rice (late husband of Anne Rice) put the polish on my poetic education. If you don't know your past, you may be condemned to repeat it.

I am not going to go into the mechanics of prosody. There are, as noted above, a number of good books available. Instead, I will offer a small poem, a little reminiscence:

What Has Been Planted

I started reading the unabridged
dictionary when I was twelve
it was the best novel I had seen
I took the words
singly and in groups
and planted them in the yard
not knowing what meanings
what shapes what colors
would sprout
and a different crop
would come up every year
casting their connotations to the wind
and flowering with new sounds
before the syllables went to seed
What has been sown
will be reaped long after I have
gone to rest

Daniel Moore

Saturday, February 14, 2009


Well, here I go again, stirring up the natives! I may have to violate my rule of no-guns-in-the-house (instituted for the safety of the kids long ago; my father kept the family arsenal) soon, if they start coming down the street. I was always a pretty good shot, especially at closer range with the twenty-gauge.

There is no such thing as race in human beings. I repeat, for the farsighted, THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS RACE IN HUMAN BEINGS. As a Christian, I base this on the first book of the Bible, "Genesis". As I have said before, rejection or adulteration of any of the Bible, but particularly the first and last books, makes the whole of it moot. Either God created the universe (not the "multiverse"--though it's a neat concept for stories) and us, or we might as well give up and join the Dawkins Dunderheads with their "millions and billions of years". Ken Ham, of "Answers in Genesis", first electrified me a few years ago with a short radio sermon on race and Genesis. The argument is simple: God created us in His "image". I put the latter word in quotes because we do not look like God physically; that is impossible. God is a spirit being and has no physical form; or, conversely, He can take any form He likes (remember Moses . . .). What this means is that we are created with an immortal spirit, intelligence, and free will. We are locked into one form (though one wonders about "shapechangers"--the subject for another essay) at this level of reality.

Now for the next sticking point. . . . Humans display mild variation just like housecats. This is natural and is called micro-evolution. Given the fact that we have only been around for, perhaps, twenty-thousand years (though the strict creationists will dispute this), some differences in size, pigmentation, hairiness, and so forth are to be expected. Genesis speaks of God creating "kinds": human kind, dog kind, etc. Biblical taxonomy is simple and to the point. We seem to have varied less than other kinds; perhaps this is due to our tripartite nature and possession of an immortal spirit. In any event, it puts paid to the concept of "races" of humans. Genetically, we can all be traced back to one set of parents. Thus, there is no need to classify people by race; we are all from the same stock. While I'm at it, let us dispense with the nonsense of other or earlier forms of humans, as contained in that odious term "hominids". We are the only hominids; there have been no others! Current research has shown that "Neanderthals" were genetically so close to the average living person that there is no differentiation--no speciation. The existence of "Bigfoot" and other bipedal apes, or "cryptids", might explain the "fossils" touted as missing links between humans and apes. Some of the cryptids are pigmy forms.

The division of humans into races, such as caucasoid, negorid, mongoloid, etc., is inherently artificial and is always done with the intent of creating division and paranoia. Indeed, the adoption by different groups of cultural identities based on race can be divisive and can limit the work of God in establishing the Kingdom of Heaven. I am not talking about groups speaking different languages or coming together from very different cultures. Multiculturalism should be a natural process of blending, a respectful exchange of flavors. It cannot be forced. This country was founded on the blending of cultures, languages, and creeds. It has produced something greater than the sum of its parts: the United States of America. Vive le difference!

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Censorship and Suppression

Forgive me, fans, I have been preoccupied--or post-occupied (why, he's uninhabited!)--lately. I've been writing poetry; have, in fact, joined a poetry group in Tehachapi. I think perhaps it's nearing time to get a real website set up and post Selected Poems. . . . [Thomas . . .?]

I try to stay out of partisan politics here, usually, although my Christian conservatism is in-and-of-itself inflammatory, I suppose. I believe there is a strong possibility B. Hussein Obama was born in Kenya and has abrogated the Constitution in this matter. Be that as it may, he is starting to come against talk radio, which is overwhelmingly conservative. Whenever Franken (who is busy trying to steal Minnesota) or some other liberal comedian tries to break into talk radio, he expires from disinterest. Obama has publicly denounced Rush Limbaugh, the doyen of media conservatives. I listen to Rush. He is sane and patriotic. I wish I could say the same for some of our elected leaders. At least Bragojevitch has been deposed (what an insult to Slavs he is!)--although if I were Governor Quinn, I would have him searched for weapons periodically!

Now to the heart of the matter: The Democrats are going to revive the "Freedom of Choice" act. Reagan killed it in '87. This misnamed FCC rule would mandate equal time for opposing viewpoints in broadcast media. Sounds fair, eh? What it really does is make it uneconomical for radio stations to carry conservative and Christian shows. Rush and company only rose up in the twenty years since Ronnie killed it. In a free marketplace, liberal commentators have to compete for the airwaves. They have failed miserably. I don't know anyone who listens to NPR; I seldom watch PBS. They have to be subsidized. Conservative media don't. Economics aside, I believe the Democrats are going to try to muzzle conservative commentators. This is contrary to the First Amendment. I repeat, THIS IS CONTRARY TO THE FIRST AMENDMENT! Our Constitution is the thing that separates us from tyranny and balkanization. I hope our Kenyan-American President realizes this. We need to pray for him. God bless America.