The Practice of Free Speech Is a Spiritual Necessity

I almost began by writing that I’m sick of politically tinged topics and wish to dedicate a column to something spiritual… but this one lands me right to the heart of free speech.  Everything, alas, has grown political.

In my nightly meditation (it’s my variety of prayer), I pass a “station” where I ask myself if I have “reached out” that day, because I’m convinced that exchange of some sort has to be an essential part of why we’re here.  We are not finished products.  We cannot allow ourselves to be deposited in a curio cabinet (or deposit ourselves there), safe from dust and errant missiles.  That doesn’t mean that we have a holy obligation to throw our elbows about and shout around the water cooler; it simply means that we must find a way to register our “take” on the truth as events unfold around us in this accelerated, hyper-active, overly medicated e-world of our creation.  Not to speak up in some manner, unfortunately (for the meditative, to whom silence is golden), is these days equivalent to nodding quiet assent to the slanders and inanities that build a dizzy momentum on Twitter, Facebook, and the rest.  “Pushback” is required.

And it was ever so, to be honest.  Monastic seclusion is beneficial only to the extent that it allows the hermit to reflect.  As soon as it favors a suspension of thought and a mind-numbed retreat into daily routine, it shuts down the individual’s opportunity to grow further.  A cow is not the ultimate sage.

I write this as someone with very strong tendencies to flee to an island and sink the skiff that brought me there.  That’s why I have to hold myself to an accounting every evening.  Exchange is required, not just (or even primarily) for the benefit of one’s “benighted” neighbors: it prods one’s soul, as well, into probing questions deeper and framing answers better.

Hence my quoting the word “benighted” above—for we must not think of our intellectual participation as gracing the world with prophetic revelations or as hammering sinners for not falling in with the onward march of Christian (or socialist, or utopian) soldiers.  An exchange not only runs in two directions: it also, in a truly Christian context, must accept limitation and fallibility.  Beings such as we cannot fully grasp ultimate truth, let alone express it.  Though I may be closer to the mark than you, and though I may know well that you won’t accept my correction—however modestly offered—I still need the “exercise in futility” involved in making my case to you so that I may better guard against any straying off target from my side.  When I’m enhancing a digital photo, I always overshoot the point where the lighting or coloring is just right; for how will I know where “just right” is if I haven’t veered into “too much”?

Not that I deliberately go too far in my speech or writing… but I will never “nail” the full truth; and without the evidence of a day’s slight (or gaping) misses, how will I restrain myself from the pride of feeling that I—in my superior silence—understand everything while the others are mere puny mortals?

There, in a nutshell, lies the spiritual necessity of exchange.  And there, as well, lies the wickedness of shutting down exchanges in the interest of “what’s right”.  So you know exactly what’s right, do you?  How generous of God, to loan you His eyes and sit you upon His throne!  But, of course, the people who would shut down such discussion do not regard their perspective as on loan.  In a post-religious world, their vision has become the new god—and they are all his prophets.

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If You’re Male and Have a Pulse, Then Someone Somewhere Could Ruin Your Career (Part Two)

Despite such moments of sublime insight as concluded my previous post, I was an emotional wreck by the time I was awarded a Ph.D.  Once again, I sought refuge among “salt of the earth” types who professed strong religious principles—specifically, in the singles class of a mammoth Baptist church feeding off the small East Texas city where I found work.  I ended up trying to court another strawberry blonde (damn it!), this one as statuesque and serene as the other had been tomboyish and lively.  We had many private conversations which I mistook for intimate, but which, in retrospect, were ice-cold with all that box-checking and “image maintenance” to which young women pay such attention.  When I dared at last to bring my Olympian beauty a lavish bouquet of flowers, the temperature hit Absolute Zero, and I realized that the soles of my shoes again needed cleaning.

Here I will observe (as I begin to aim this long ramble at a destination) that either one of my strawberry blondes—either Baptist Preacher’s Cowgirl Daughter or Celestial Ice Queen—could have charged me with stalking, as the word is now rather carelessly understood.  Yet in both cases, I was only believing the claptrap that I was told and trying to show myself patient and respectful.  One girl was competing with a roommate and a soap opera to stage Cattle Country’s Most Roller-Coaster Romance, the other playing some Duchess of Lonely Hearts game until a dentist finally swept her up in his gilded coach.  I could have done without the “I’m so innocent” act, in the former case, and the “My past has mysteriously wounded me” act, in the other… but I was given no cues outside the context of games that I didn’t know how to play.

If I were running for public office, could an incident of this sort not be dredged up out of my past to prove me a creepy pervert?  Or what about the woman (no longer a girl, by any measure) who threatened to accuse me to my new bosses of being a predator?

I had met her through a book club, of all things (this was a bit before the Internet and Match.com).  I was well into my thirties now myself; and as disgusted and embarrassed as I was by my own lack of progress in these matters, I had acquired greater powers of observation.  I knew very early that Cynthia was a seriously damaged subject.  She spoke to me once of her father (with whom—and her mother—she still lived) knocking her cold with a fire poker as if it were the kind of thing every child goes through; and her fondness for alcohol and cigarettes was hard to hide.  Yet there was a sensitive, genuine person on the flip side of her fiercely sarcastic and vindictive alter ego.  I could add that she was an attractive blonde… but that would explain nothing at this point, for our initial acquaintance had smoothly advanced though the mail.

When I severed this always prim and proper relationship, I knew well that I might be accused of rape, kidnapping, child-cannibalism, and burning candles at an altar to Adolph Hitler if Cynthia were having one of her bad days.  I haven’t forgotten that lesson.  The claim made currently in the press and other highly politicized circles that women never lie about such matters isn’t laughably wrong: it’s dangerously, criminally wrong.  It’s the equivalent of a loaded gun placed in the hands of a drunken psychotic. Does no one remember Potiphar’s queen, or the tragic Phaedra?

I met my wife shortly thereafter: a brunette, who was visiting the singles class in a Baptist church!

The ancients, having survived a disaster at sea, would take their tattered clothing and their salty oar and nail it all to a post in Poseidon’s temple.  I offer my past miseries up to God for anyone to see who’s of a mind to learn.  The Seventies and Eighties did not liberate women.  Those times left them abused, confused, resentful, eager to fight, and quick to run for cover.  We cannot undo the damage by burning a few—or many—males at the cross.  If the typical male has now become predatory and if gentlemen are in very short supply these days, it is because yesteryear’s feminists trashed all lady-like qualities and attempted to be predators themselves. The result was as predictable as a foolish wildebeest’s charge into a lion’s den.

Our culture remains, in sexual matters, a smoking Chernobyl, and a garden hose won’t accomplish the necessary detoxification.  Just this past week, I found a series on Netflix titled Godless—brilliantly produced and even very poignant at times, but heavily embedded in the notion that women could be gunslingers in the Old West or, as prostitutes, could make out as well as a Wall Street tycoon.  I could name at least half a dozen other serials, movies, or Netflix gems that sell the same Kool-aid—and I’ve only seen the trailers and teases, for the most part. Women “whuppin’ ass” in a world where whimpy men can’t pry themselves loose from their coffee mugs… really?  So that kind of Never Never Land fantasy is going to help us get everyone’s head straight? Including the male’s?

The old Virginia Slims ad propaganda needs revision: “You’ve got a long way to go, baby…” except that—pardon me, progressive marketers—a gentleman doesn’t address a lady as “baby”.

If You’re Male and Have a Pulse, Then Someone Somewhere Could Ruin Your Career (Part One)

Having begun a few disclosures about my own experiences of the dating game last time, I’m prepared to lay before the public the entire body of wisdom that has accrued to me from my amorous adventures of yesteryear.  But I must post a warning: if death by boredom is possible, my accounts may pose extreme risk to the reader.

(Seriously, there’s a highly relevant point to this excursion—but I won’t be able to reach it in one post, so please stay tuned.)

I was sent to a rich kids’ school by two hard-working parents whose means were very modestly middle-class.  To everyone concerned but them, it soon became painfully obvious that I didn’t belong on the campus of that elite K-12.  An uncomfortably memorable event occurred when I was in sixth grade. A blonde girl whom I was sweet on—but had never found the courage to speak to—told me with a high dose of vitriol that she hated my guts and wished I wouldn’t return next year.  The abuse was so random and vicious that it entered where there was no armor to slow down the arrowhead.

A couple of years later, I conceived the same sort of steal-a-glance-now-and-then obsession for another lovely blonde thing.  (I’ve thought many times since those days about the “not me-ness” represented by the blonde and blue-eyed, as if I were attracted to features as far from the stigma of my own dark-eyed person as possible.)  This girl was of a classier sort, and we were all rather older; so when she became the first and last person I would ever ask on a date in high school, she turned me down very gently.  God bless her soul!  She already had her sights set on a college lad who was Pre-Med—and whom she would marry and divorce in one chapter of what must really have become a Hallmark Channel kind of life.

Meanwhile, the sexual revolution was raging.  I was so eager to depart my high-rent penitentiary that I graduated after eleventh grade (I’d taken extra classes and made top marks in most of them), against everyone’s advice.  Free at last!  What I didn’t know was that I, an innocent of almost unbelievable naïveté, was entering a land where the bad rap on Sodom and Gomorrah had been rehabilitated by a new “love” amply supplied with long hair, weed, and guitars: the academic world.

In the interest of safety, I will skip over the years that left me with three degrees and a fiercely reclusive, misanthropic nature: otherwise, I might bore myself to death.  A single skirmish might well summarize many: an absurd date with the daughter of a Baptist preacher.  I thought she, at least, might be just about my speed.  To my mind, everything had gone great in that initial encounter.  It took me almost half a year to figure out that Miss Sunshine and Salvation really didn’t want to see me again—that she’d expected not to spend that fateful evening at my digs and held me accountable for an extreme humiliation before her roommate.  But… her father was a Baptist preacher!  This just couldn’t be!

Since I’m keeping score… yes, she had strawberry-blonde hair.

I caught on quicker in ensuing episodes of similar caliber; and there were also one or two comedies where the “desperately single” tried to haul me in.  I was lonely, but my life raft wasn’t growing loose and squishy.  While I reached the ripe age of thirty almost as socially inept as I had been at fifteen, I’d managed to become a pretty shrewd observer of people, if only because I personally was seldom more than a supporting actor in any scene.  I wasn’t interested in someone who just needed to check a box in order to win the esteem of a certain social circle.

In any case, graduate school offered few specimens of this kind: on the contrary.  The “best and brightest” were all about building a career and squeezing in diverse romantic interludes as time allowed.  And they were horribly miserable, which probably accounts for why so many had drug and alcohol problems.  The males who hunted through their lives like cavemen looking for just enough meat to last a week were moral invertebrates.  They took responsibility for nothing, though you might mistake them as having principles to hear how they railed against “bourgeois hang-ups”.  Of course, the would-be feminist free spirits who supplied most of their sexual diet’s menu claimed to endorse the same lofty utopian goals; but a girl has to know subliminally when she is being used, even when she keeps repeating to herself that she’s getting even more use out of her user.

As much as I wanted to curl up in a self-pity of utter isolation, I could never convince myself that these “successfully socialized” creatures were were happier than I was—were not, in fact, agonizingly unhappy.  No wonder some of them decided to seek companionship only in the same sex!  That decision was being driven by cultural, not biological, conditioning… and the culture was in a state of advanced decay.

Roy Moore, Sex, the Seventies, and the South (Part Two)

Here’s the second half of my “unacceptable” essay about Roy Moore–and it may just be my comments about Mr. Lincoln’s bloody dictatorship that got the door closed in my face.

I myself didn’t actually court younger girls very often in my thirties—but I knew those who did. At a large Southern Baptist church which I visited frequently (since it was the only place in town to meet single women other than a bar, and marginally the more wholesome gathering of the two), we were classed in Sunday School rigidly according to age; and, yes, I observed more than one thirty-something man to forsake the abundant company of wounded divorcees and go hang out with the college girls. The age gap always froze me in my tracks when I contemplated the maneuver. I was afraid that a younger woman might be interested in me only and precisely because I was older: that is, she would assume that I was “experienced” in various and mysterious ways rather than that I was a bookish, retiring person who had hunkered down as the hurricane of the Sexual Revolution raged overhead. I’m sure certain people who wished me no particular good must have whispered various ingenious theories about how I had come to remain single at thirty-two. In fact, I was occasionally apprised of the speculation by busy “well-wishers” who “just thought I should know”.

Now, I quite obviously cannot attest that my situation and Roy Moore’s were closely parallel in the manner that I have just suggested. I hope they were. That would allow me to let the Judge off the hook for everything except some very clumsy prevarications in the throes of “Yankee-induced panic”. I can further imagine, without much of a stretch at all, a fourteen-year-old girl whose parents have split up being titillated by the prospect of drawing attention from an older, “more experienced” man. And I can imagine her creating fantasies that come to have the vividness of reality for her—perhaps to the point that she holds the older man responsible for not finding her more interesting and considers herself somehow violated by him. Look up a classic black-and-white film with Lawrence Olivier and Sarah Miles titled Term of Trial if you want to view a good example of just how such things can happen.

I do not believe that Moore had the sort of encounter with the fourteen-year-old which she has described, forty years later, as a middle-aged woman. It would make no sense. Having exercised gentlemanly restraint around the older teenagers (who had reached the legal age of consent), as all parties acknowledge who acknowledge anything at all—and this excludes Roy himself, at least during Hannity’s interview—why would the same man then strip naked before a child? In the scenario I have portrayed, Moore would most likely have an interest in younger women precisely because he was striving to preserve an abstemious Christian lifestyle before marriage. Had this not been his objective—believe me—he could have found dozens and dozens of playmates to party with in the pre-AIDS, hypersexualized Seventies. Yes, even down in the land of cotton, where there’s a steeple on every street corner.

A Southerner, a Christian, a white male… Roy Moore is everything our intelligentsia loves to hate. The only thing needed to fill out his profile, as far as the opinion-makers are concerned, is a trail of corpses indicating the activity of a serial killer. I do wish this man were not so verbally klutzy; and, as a Christian myself, I wish he would not retreat to Bible-thumping every time he senses that the jackals are closing in. Just because all martyrs suffer doesn’t mean that everyone who suffers is a martyr.

On the other hand, I have to reject the pronouncement of Gregg Jarrett (for whose views I have the utmost respect) that Moore is an antinomian renegade just because he has defied the Supreme Court. “Renegade” seems to me a pretty accurate descriptor for more than one of the nine worthies who sit on that august body. Then, too, Mr. Jarrett, you must understand that some of us in the South, even now, have not forgotten the hypocrisy of a central government that invaded its member states for exercising a constitutional freedom, all the while sanitizing its act by decrying the atrocity of slavery yet tolerating the institution in “loyal” states and freeing Southern slaves only to serve as cannon fodder, imprisoning publishers and legislators in states as remote as Illinois and New York for resisting Mr. Lincoln’s draft and his sanguinary policies, and carting away plunder while leaving once-prosperous cites in ashes. Roy Moore speaks to those memories, as sublimated as they have grown and as unhappily knotted as is his drawling tongue. The government in Washington, Mr. Jarrett, observes what clauses of the Constitution it feels like reading on what days it finds itself in an observing mood.

We revere the Constitution in the South. The faraway, faceless government that claims to rule by constitutional authority? Not so much.

Roy Moore, if you are that caricature of a Christian gentleman that they make of you in the corridors of power… then God help us, and I only hope that forty years have taught you how to keep a belt buckled.

Roy Moore, Sex, the Seventies, and the South (Part One)

The following is the exact text submitted to an e-colleague who has always published my ruminations before on his busy site.  He woudn’t touch this one, or even tell me why not.  Roy Moore is apparently radioactive for “intellectuals”–especially those with good northeastern educations.

I had to wince at Roy Moore’s answers to Sean Hannity a couple of weeks back. Specifically, there was far too much talk about how the mothers of a seventeen- and an eighteen-year-old girl “liked” Roy and were pleased to have him courting their daughters–how he never asked a girl out without first consulting the lady of the house–followed by reiterated insistence that, no, he didn’t date teenagers when he was a thirty-two-year-old. So, Roy… these two particular moms wanted you to court their daughters, but you refused because of the age gap? And when you asked out a woman of twenty-eight, you first contacted her mother so as to ascertain if a date would be acceptable? Is that what you’re saying?

I so wanted to like this man… but thanks to contradiction and incoherence flowing from his mouth in a steady, unsavory mush, he has rendered himself impossible to believe and presently looks as guilty as Ganelon. If your account of how you did not do a deed is insulting to people with IQ’s higher than the temperature on Christmas Day, then you likely did the deed. (For instance, if you claim that you found a gun in a dumpster and decided to shoot a seal with it, but dropped the piece and then stumbled so that your toe pulled the trigger while pointing the muzzle further downward so as to create a ricochet… but I forgot that such things really happen in San Francisco.)

I concluded after the Hannity interview, then (with my head buried in my hands), that Moore must have done everything of which he stood accused. I was ready to fit the noose around his neck myself.

As the weeks have stumbled along, however, as awkwardly as an expatriate seal-hunting drug-dealer on a crowded pier, I began to reconsider. I did so largely on the basis of my own recollections of the Seventies, and of the ordeal of being a single Christian male during those suicidally hedonistic days. Here’s what I wish Judge Moore had said, and what I think he may have meant to say:

“Mr. Hannity, I’m sorry that you think it’s a perversion for a man of thirty-something years to ask a girl fresh out of high school for a date. In the rural South and out West, such practices were routine rather than unusual (let alone aberrant) before the Civil War; and in some parts of the South, things haven’t changed that much. But, yes, they’ve changed enough to have made my courting practices a little oddball back in the 1970’s. All the same, in my neck of the woods, asking out a girl ten or fifteen years your junior wouldn’t have been equated with pedophilia necessarily, as you seem determined to do–and your making that association really intimidates me. I’m really tempted to scuff up certain boundaries and hedge on the truth, except that I know I would be setting my foot in my own snare. You fast-talking Yankees, Mr. Hannity… you all have a way, you know, of making us Southerners feel like backward, inbred perverts, deviants, mutants, and retrogrades. You’re always so sure of yourselves, and we’re always Exhibit A for human failure and degeneracy. But I’m going to admit to the seventeen- and the eighteen-year olds–those were innocent adventures involving nothing more torrid than a light kiss at the end of the evening; and I’ll attempt to explain to you something further about the Seventies.

“You just about couldn’t find a girl to go on a date with back then who didn’t expect the evening to end up in bed. It didn’t even matter much if you met her at church. Since I had been unwise or unlucky enough to remain single into my thirties, most of the available women were divorcees, and they weren’t in any hurry to repeat what they regarded as a mistake: to get married again, that is to say. They held the institution of marriage at fault for their unhappiness, and not their own evaluation of marriageable material. They had decided that if they ever did marry a second time, they would do so only after giving the vehicle several test-drives. Unfortunately, this attitude not only tolerates behavior that a Christian is not supposed to practice; it also doesn’t yield the sort of confirmation that girls back then seemed to expect of it. So if I had engaged in the dating game as it was then being played by people of my age, I would have been exploiting women for my selfish sexual pleasure, albeit with their permission–and I would have been preparing them for another personal catastrophe following hard upon their previous one, since they were seeking to build a solid edifice upon a foundation of sand.

“Of course, there were better-educated women of approximately my years who had not rushed into marriage right out of high school, as we tend to do in the South; but few of them, frankly, clung even the rudiments of Christian belief that I found in struggling, confused divorcees. Indeed, it was the creed of feminism, learned in colleges and exported by these dazzling graduates into professional circles throughout the community, that probably induced many a single-parent secretary or nurse to follow the same lifestyle. For that was how the ‘smart’ people lived.

“In those circumstances, Mr. Hannity, I conceived the perhaps ill-advised notion of trying to date ‘unspoiled’ girls–young ladies who were neither exiting an unhappy marriage nor bound for a campus that would make them wise in the ways of contraception and abortion. I thought I was choosing the best option of the few available to me. Naturally, I made myself look a little ridiculous to certain people in the community who were already disposed to dislike me. Some of them, I’m sure, made me out to be a pervert and a predator, because I had left myself in a perfect position to receive shots like that. My ill-wishers in the law enforcement fraternity, especially, would start rumors about how they had to warn old Roy away from the young girls at the shopping mall. That’s what Jesus said would happen if you didn’t follow the way of the world. Him, the Son of God, they called a drunkard and a reveler, a companion of shady characters like tax-collectors. If the world would say that of Him, why would it say kinder things of me?”

Kind of a long speech for a Hannity segment, I know… but I wish Judge Moore had uttered something in the vicinity of my script.    continued tomorrow

Thanksgiving Lite vs. True Gratitude

Like just about every other thoughtful person, I’m a little queasy when I hear all the Christian-lite bromides at this time of year. “Thank you for our health.” So the ailing are hated of God? “Thank you for our family.” Pagans have families, too; so do murdering drug-cartel kingpins. “Thank you for peace.” Well, sort of… only don’t go for an evening walk without a concealed weapon unless you live in an exclusive gated community; and if it’s peace in the world to which you refer, I guess you mean, “Thank you for not making me Mexican, so that I don’t inhabit a nation that produced 21,000 murders last year and 30,000 surviving casualties.”

That’s a little Pharisaical, don’t you think? “Thank you for not making me like that filthy publican at the altar.”

And then we have the unnerving fact that what we fear and loathe most is often what we most need. We don’t know what to be thankful for. Maybe our raise is just going to plunge us into a more materialistic lifestyle. Maybe being bumped to part-time will make us become more creative and independent. Should we be thankful that we can afford to view more trashy Hollywood movies and stuff ourselves on more sweets and fats… or should we be thankful that we’re now having to read books for amusement and grow potatoes and beans in the back yard? How we hate being forced into virtue! When that doesn’t happen, we’re so damn thankful!

I have enough of the old pagan in me that I’m almost afraid to be thankful for anything, lest I make a target out of myself. “Thanks for our prosperous investments… oh, my God! Did you see how much the Dow just plunged?” There’s an Irish saying that runs, Mol an là um trathnóna—“Praise the day as the sun goes down.” It’s the same sentiment that we find at the end of Sophocles’ Oedipus the King and ascribed to Solon by Herodotus: “Let no man be called blessed before he is safely dead and secure from the world’s shocks.”

In my more Christian moments, however—truly Christian—I know that I must die to this world some day, and I am grateful for the little clues that alert me to a “winding down”. I am grateful that I can see a way to start tying loose ends together—to leave some sort of legacy that will warn others against living just for the here and now. And, yes, I’m grateful for something to put on the table. “Let each day’s worries be sufficient unto itself.” I am grateful that we get by, that the sun and the rain fall on good and evil alike, and that the means of survival are always within reach of the humble and hard-working. I want to learn more about those means in my final years, and I want to do more about passing them along. Simply feeling the days lengthen and then shorten, simply studying how the earth grows food and then gives it up to those who know her secrets, is a vitally important part of understanding bountifulness and feeling gratitude for it.

I am not grateful to this culture we have created which has carried us so far away from such understanding and such gratitude.

 

The Dark Elite (Part Six)

As I wrap up these remarks (at least for now), I find that one observation leaps immediately to the fore. I wrote in beginning this series that we must deprogram ourselves from viewing multinational corporations and Nanny State politicians as adversaries, for in fact they are two sides of the same coin (and a counterfeit coin, at that). In the same way, we must no longer automatically view a utopian progressive building a staircase to heaven as the opposite of a dogmatic neo-bourbonist awaiting the return of a rightful king. For what were Stalin and Mao if not the most despotic kings imaginable? The progressive is always waiting for a master, whom he calls Beloved Leader. On the coin’s other hollow-ringing side, the ultra-conservative who wants God’s ways (as understood by him) to intrude into the management of the body politic produces, in his Richelieu or his Metternich, nothing but a Stalin or a Mao clad in holy garb.

I submit that this is a deeply relevant paradox in unmasking the Dark Elite. I strongly suspect, that is, that people with misguided religious convictions may possess all of the qualities essential for participation in such a covert enterprise. They would likely be discreet, fiercely faithful, tirelessly industrious, and steeled against second thoughts by utter conviction. They would be modern Crusaders; and what would make them distinctly modern would be an understanding of advanced technology of the practical variety such as the Space Program generates, or even of the somber variety such as the Department of Defense generates. They wouldn’t be designing video games. They might be invested in delivering the Internet’s instant knowledge via an earbud… but they would be aware, as frivolous people are not, of the potential to filter the Internet’s content and distill coy suggestions into everyone’s ear.

I find the profile of the person I have just imagined not unsympathetic, I admit. Democracy seems to be entering a self-destructive stage. People are expected to arbitrate issues at the ballot box about which highly trained experts disagree—and never has an electorate been more impatient with training itself in our nation’s history. More and more voters, as well, are claiming their right to a bigger and bigger portion of somebody else’s income, while it grows increasingly obvious that all the wallets of the next two or three generations cannot fund the claims made. Infatuation, irresponsibility, selfishness, and outright stupidity characterize the choices made in the broadest and most consequential plebiscites. Wouldn’t we be better off if some Beloved Leader—some Anointed One—would step in and do God’s work?

If you worship the God of Goodness, yet you forget that good ways are only so when freely chosen by thoughtful individuals, you may be tempted to do away with the “folly” of democratic elections—with their susceptibility to trend and their cult of personality. The good is the good; and since people will not reliably select it, it must be selected for them. They must be saved from themselves, the silly children—the bloody fools, some of whom may have to die until the remaining accept that they are silly children. You, as God’s agent, will see that the hard lesson is taught.

There’s not a paper’s thinness of difference, I repeat, between this line of reasoning and that of the utopian ideologue: hence the strange affinity that has evolved between the radical Left and radical Islam, the one boisterously atheist and the other fanatically pious. Even so are there sincere but self-deluded Christians in the United States who would cheerfully adopt a know-nothing attitude as a paternalistic government oversaw and overheard whatever passed in every kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom to “protect” us; and there are those of this same group, as well, who would dutifully undertake the “protecting”.

I don’t mean end my rambles in the assertion that the Dark Elite are a gang of religious fanatics… or perhaps I do. I will accept that characterization of my conclusion if you, in turn, will accept that devotion to the ever-recessive image of a manmade utopia is also a religion—or a cult, to be precise. Our covert Chosen Ones may feel that they are bringing about the eternal life of the soul by fostering a world where downloads may enter an indefinite number of corporeal residences… or they may feel that they are elevating humankind to new evolutionary heights by merging the biological with the robotic. The former idea is Catholic physicist Frank Tipler’s, the latter charismatic secularist Ray Kurzweil’s. Either one of these two would be quite comfortable in a room where the enlightened engineering of humanity’s future by a select, fully initiated few was under discussion.

In my restless thoughts, I keep returning to the Phoenix Lights, an inexplicable display of aeronautic prowess viewed by hundreds and filmed by dozens. Either extraterrestrial craft were aloft that spring day in 1997, or else our government has developed technology capable of what any civilian Physics professor would call impossible. Either way, we have been lied to on a scale that sets our dull world wholly adrift from the futuristic reality known to the Elite. Yet these same “protectors” have overlooked the little matter of securing our power grid against EMP’s… or have they, really? That, I would insist, is a moral impossibility. If we live thus exposed to almost complete annihilation, it can only be because the Dark Elite have already decided that they wish to hold such a trump card in their hand. Perhaps an America of ten percent its present population would be much easier to feed and defend, equipped as she would be with apocalyptic technology; perhaps the Elite have decided that her deadwood simply needs to be pruned.

This subject terrifies me, frankly. Our world is not perfectible, and attempts to force perfection upon it by its human occupants invariably bring Hell a little closer. Our free society was intended to give individuals a chance to work out their soul’s salvation or to squander their mortal time upon things that perish, as they prefer: it was to have been a place where people may learn from failure or simply fail and fail some more. Should the “illumined ones” among us decide to outlaw failure, our grand experiment in freedom will have failed catastrophically.