Monday, November 23, 2015

Solzhenitsyn, 1978 Speech

Also, on YouTube.

To such consciousness, man is the touchstone in judging everything on earth -- imperfect man, who is never free of pride, self-interest, envy, vanity, and dozens of other defects. We are now experiencing the consequences of mistakes which had not been noticed at the beginning of the journey. On the way from the Renaissance to our days we have enriched our experience, but we have lost the concept of a Supreme Complete Entity which used to restrain our passions and our irresponsibility. We have placed too much hope in political and social reforms, only to find out that we were being deprived of our most precious possession: our spiritual life. In the East, it is destroyed by the dealings and machinations of the ruling party. In the West, commercial interests suffocate it. This is the real crisis. The split in the world is less terrible -- The split in the world is less terrible than the similarity of the disease plaguing its main sections.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Hamed Abdel-Samad on the "Downfall of the Islamic World"

Ezra Levant Interview with Young Muslim Men in Paris, this Week

Ezra may go over the top with some of his rants, but he has courage and drive.  Hats off.  We should listen to him for what it is he finds out.  In many ways, he is a champion of our rights and freedoms.

Also see this interview Ezra Levant had with Noam Chomsky.

Image result for ezra with chomsky

Trees on Mars. Our Obsession with the Future

While driving this morning, I listened to a lengthy interview with the author of a new book titled interestingly and memorably "Trees on Mars.  Our Obsession with the Future".

The author spoke incredibly well and I am thinking about getting the book.  It seems it  came out this October, and Amazon has no reviews and ratings, yet.

When I turned on the radio, he was just speaking about "Disruption."  Disruption is a current buzz-word in various places like Universities and technology innovators.  It means something like setting aside all the old, so that the future can be imagined and brought about.  Niedzviecki believes in what makes us human, story-telling and face-to-face contact.  He has no idea why anyone would be on Facebook, for example.  Some technologies don't make sense on the human level.  Of course, he is on Facebook, too, but it does not make sense to him, overall.

He pointed out the absurdities of some of our ambitions, and the goals that are being set before our young people.  For example, a woman from Edmonton was short-listed to go on a mission to Mars, on a one-way ticket.  Her husband did not make the short-list.  On the air, the tape was played:  "Yes, of course, I would miss my husband, but..."  Niedzviecki had some really good words to describe what is going on here, but I forgot them now.  But those would be what the book is about:  showing how we are sacrificing humanity for outlandish and practically useless dreams and ambitions.

No doubt, he might go a little far here and there, but I don't know that the main points should not be well taken.  He says, young people, and many of those "precariously employed",  really just want what their parents had--stable employment, affordable housing, etc.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Sura in context and fully explained

Often it is heard that Islam is a religion of peace and that the killing of people is forbidden in it.  This seems to fly in the face of the current emphasis on terrorism and the attempt to get Sharia accepted here, there and everywhere, and definitely not with peaceful means.

Answering Muslims has a simple and thorough explanation for a particular verse in the Koran that is constantly quoted only partially and out of context, here.

As the speaker explains:  Muslims in the world really need to decide if this is really the book and the religion they think they should follow.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Waiting Room Magazines

While waiting for a routine blood test for an entire hour in the morning, I had occasion to leaf through a whole stack of magazines, of varying vintage.

Several of them where Hello magazines, featuring the lives of royalty and, of course, of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt.  Every issue had something on Prince William and Kate and their fresh, little babies.  Attached to them there was always something about Prince Harry, who hopes to find the love of his life and have children, too, and the late Princess Diana.  We can see whom this magazine is marketed to.  Certainly it serves as a break from the bleak, violent newscasts we suffer from every day, an escape, a comfort of sorts.

Princess Diana, though gone, lives forever.  Sometimes, there were stories about the Queen and Charles and Camilla.  The Queen wears her crown.  Kate wears the Queen's jewels.  Everything is the primmest and properest ever since Downton Abbey, except when we remember that Charles was cheating on Diana with Camilla.  There were Three in the marriage, as Diana said.

But there she is, Diana, with the hands-on parenting, tobogganing down the hill with her boys.  My heart breaks for her. I can see it in her face. What did it take to put up this front for so long? What does it take to be ever so put-together for the camera, in spite of all that goes on?

When we were young, I remember my girl-friend going over a picture of Sophia Loren, and admiring many features.  Personally speaking, I am missing a gene for this sort of showmanship and preening, probably to my detriment.  Perhaps, being a bit vainer would have been a good thing.  It would have seriously never occurred to me "ooh" and "aah" over Sofia Loren.

All the royalty seems to be into having weddings, babies and "Christenings".  Nobody calls it a Baptism, in any captions.  (I have even seen Baptism pictures of Kardashians, in the Holy Land, of all places.)

Well.  I came away with the feeling that maybe it would not hurt to be a little more like them, a little bit more put together, a little bit more graceful and gracious, never mind the larger and smaller, true or untrue, intrigues that we hear about sooner or later.  Under all those fancy arrangements they are just people like you and me.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Simon Sheh book: Pure At Heart: A Man's Guide To Purity In A Sexualized World

I had the chance to hear Dr. Simon Sheh speak about shame and porn addiction.  He spoke for the second time for our Love Life Conference.

Below the information on a book he wrote, available on

His book is titled  Pure At Heart: A Man's Guide To Purity In A Sexualized World

Unfortunately, I don't have the book handy.  Though I bought one at the conference, I promptly lent it out to a seminarian.

PURE AT HEART is a life changing handbook about overcoming sexual addiction and achieving sexual purity. Dr. Simon Sheh, one of the few Christian Psychologists in North America specializing in the treatment of sexual addiction, wrote this practical handbook to help men pursue purity in our hyper-sexualized world. PURE AT HEART gives you: Surprising new information about pornography and how it affects a man and his health, A self-assessment questionnaire to help point you in the right direction for seeking help, Effective tools to break the destructive habits of sexual addiction, Clear advice about how to affair proof your marriage, and Guidance on how to safeguard sexual purity in your children.

"Dr. Sheh asks some tough questions when it comes to men, pornography and sexual addiction-is it just about sex? The reasons behind these habits may surprise you, as may the practical plan to get free from these family and self-destroying habits. This book is a must read, both for men and women who are looking for answers."-Paul Arthur

"Dr. Simon Sheh delivers an extremely straight and forthright prescription for how to live a morally pure life. Contained in these pages, from a biblical perspective is information that can bring you freedom from pornography and sexual addiction. I recommend you read this material thoroughly and offers solutions that can change and heal you."-Rev. Kenneth A. Solbrekken

So much from the Amazon site.  What is it I remember?

Most of all, I remember Dr. Sheh's revelation that Christ is the redemption also of our shame.  As he hung naked on the cross, he bore both our sin and shame.  Second of all I remember the stories he told from experience.  I could never retell any of that the way he said it himself.  He was an impassioned speaker, and so I would recommend going to hear him, if you have the chance, or if you need treatment, I could imagine him being a truly helpful therapist.  Face to face would be much better than the book.  But lacking this opportunity, the book would be better than my trying to restate it.

Nevertheless, with those caveats, let's give it a try: 

Shame is a very deep-seated emotion, a very deep pain.  It speaks to the lack of acceptance of yourself as a person of value, either by others or yourself.  Often this comes from the home with words such as "you won't amount to much",  "you are not as smart as",  "you are too short, too ugly, too whatever..." , "you are not as good as your older brother..."

This sort of talk may be more pervasive in some cultures or families, but we are all familiar with it. Shame is different from guilt, as it does not speak to a particular behavior, lapse or sin, but speaks about your whole being, maybe something you can't change, at all.  It is just simply who you are.

This shame can lead to addictive behaviors in order to comfort ourselves.  Sexual addictions and addiction to pornography can be some of those problems created.  Dr. Sheh feels that the female breast takes the man back to the comfort of his mother.  I don't know what to say about that, except I think I remember reading that Luther said something like it, when he marveled, as a married man, that the female breasts are both for the nurture of the infant and for the stimulation of the man. (Indeed, it is somewhat marvelous, speaking as a married woman.)  

From there he spoke about what porn does to a person and to relationships.  From there he went onto recovering from addiction.  He spoke to the fact that most people can't go cold turkey and that every failure is a learning opportunity:  "What did you learn from this instance and this lapse?"

In the end, he is very hope-inspiring, impressing the hearers with the fact that these things can be beaten.

So, basically, seeing how pervasive porn use has become, I would think that the book is a great investment, as it is bound to affect someone you know, if it does not involve yourself.  Maybe, I should buy myself another copy, in case I don't get the other one back. 

Dr. Simon Sheh has a website here:

Dr Simon Sheh

In relation to the problems associated with porn use, also see this Ted Talk.  

Silence Observed / Prayer

On BBC news, there is a clip today, that shows the observing of silence in British society on behalf of the fallen and the terror in Paris. There are school children with French flags.  There are meetings with men standing around a table.  There is Westminster chiming.

Silence is moving.  It is a strange thing.  It expresses the sorrow.  It expresses the solidarity.  It expresses the seriousness.  It expresses the determination.  It binds the community.  It frees the community to go on and move on to whatever is next.  It is a marker.

It really is amazing.  It costs no money, expends no energy and is still so powerful.  Better than a march with banners.

Silence is like prayer.  We have time to connect to something more, something deeper.

It reminds me of something I was told by African American Spiritual singers:  "Let's hum.  The devil won't know what we are singing."  I think the humming was not wordless.  In their minds, the choir knows the words, and they know them together.  But outwardly, it is just a soft sound.

In the minutes of silence, we also know what we are thinking:  "Lord, have mercy and help us.  Lord, be with the loved ones.  Lord, don't let it happen again. Don't let the sacrifices by in vain.  Let us go on soberly and properly doing the right thing, with your help. Amen."  

Not only does the devil not know what is being prayed, the atheists can't protest, either.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Prayer Quotes

"I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in pryaer."
by Martin Luther
"I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had no where else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day."
by Abraham Lincoln
"The more you pray, the less you'll panic. The more you worship, the less you worry. You'll feel more patient and less pressured."
by Rick Warren
"Prayer is not an old woman's idle amusement. Properly understood and applied, it is the most potent instrument of action."
by Mahatma Gandhi

Paris and the World

Yesterday, we were all grieved anew over the atrocities committed in Paris by murderous terrorists.  Daily, it seems, we must cope with the news of the deaths of innocents in many lands, demonstrators in Turkey, shoppers in Beirut and Kenya, Christians hounded and persecuted everywhere.  We worry that this has become guerrilla warfare, and indeed, the leader of the French nation spoke about  a war.  How will it end?  What is this war about?

Again and again we are told that Islam is not to blame, even though in the Koran we have strict instructions for the subjugation or killing of the so-called infidels where ever they are found.  But this has already become painfully obvious to every one, in spite of the window dressing.

We are also told that people don't just simply act according to their holy texts, and therefore Muslims everywhere are peace-loving people, in spite of the Koran.  I do not doubt it.  Most Muslims, like all people who want the best for their families, communities and countries are more or less peace-loving, in spite of their holy book even.

There are other inexcusable strictures in the holy book.  They deal with the denigration and subjugation of women.  We need not go here into all the details.  They are all becoming well known.  It seems to be an insurmountable problem very basic to the practice of Islam everywhere.  Every sophisticated Islam-friendly philosopher bemoans it.  The honor of the family is tied up with the conduct of the female.  Thus she is covered, veiled, prevented from driving cars, going to school and so on.  Girls marry too young and men they have not wanted.  Girls have less value.  A woman's word does not count.

We are told that the pious woman chooses all this garb and restrictions for herself.  We don't buy it.

With all that is wrong here and completely inexcusable and absolutely despicable, and terribly depressing, there is one thing that makes me pause, however, and one does not hear it mentioned:  we, the West, are decadent;  we are corrupted; we are also sick.

I had never heard of the Eagles of Death Metal.  When I first heard that a Concert Hall was targeted, I wondered:  was it Beethoven or was it Rock that was on the program?  Was it music or was it noise? --And I watched a couple of videos by Eagles of Death Metal and I heard one say:  "Are you ready to have a fun evening with the dark side?"  And I knew this is quite far from the Bach Cantatas I was taught to sing in Youth Choir.  Research it for yourself on Youtube.

I don't have time anymore tonight to speak to low we are sinking, how we have abandoned basic instincts and institutions.  Let's just say:  part of me is willing to lash out with the Islamist.  Our children are neglected, drug-addicted, promiscuous and sad.   We have robbed them of the things that matter.  We, too, live in a very sick world.

In the press, we hear about how people cherish their freedoms and wanted to enjoy themselves on a Friday evening.  This is what Paris is about, after all.  Yes, it is, and that is why Paris was targeted, so we are told. Our societies have abandoned normal family life, normal sexual relations in faithful relationships, the fear of God and the afterlife, a life of prayer and community.  We have altogether become corrupt and gone astray.  We should think about it. Charlie Hebdo and others may satirize all religions, but who will satirize the sickness of secular culture? -- It is too sad to satirize.

In the end, it could have been a Bach Cantata going on in the Concert Hall, as, no doubt, an Islamist would find it offensive, too.  Music is not allowed, for one thing--another horrible rule.  So it does not really matter what kind of concert was being held.  It could have been the same bloodbath.   And still.  What are we doing? We are shoving trash into the world's media pipelines.  This stuff comes into people's homes and how do you keep it out?  You can't.  You can't keep it out.  It is another form of terrorism, a more insidious form, but also a lethal form.  Islamic people conflate this secular and vulgar culture with Christianity, as it is "Western".  No, some of us are getting this garbage pushed down our throats.

I want all of these people to stay away from my children.

Friday, November 13, 2015

The 1950's, from the Internet and in Memory

I was not alive in the 1950's and my parents married just before they closed.  I played dress-up in clothes from the 50's.

My parents built a house in the early 60's and found an unexploded bomb during excavation.  The towers of the Aschaffenburg castle were still blown off, and I could still see and remember that.  When a plane flew overhead my little brother would scare our littler sister saying that it was a war plane.  I also thought that the Main merged into the Rhine at Aschaffenburg, but such were early confusions.

Later, we had some people with long hair sitting in the pedestrian zone and we called them Beatles.  All John Lennon look-alike were "Beatles".  There also were communists distributing leaflets in the pedestrian zone.  One Saturday, I distributed Christian leaflets opposite them.  I don't recall coming into discussion with them.  We practiced English and learned to play guitar singing Beatles songs and Gospel songs.

This is the extent of my brush with rebels and rebellion.  I have not taken drugs.  I have not smoked... nor have my friends.   My village and town life still resembled the pastoral, though murderous, scenes of the Father Brown murder mystery series we have just launched into on Netflix, recent BBC production. I am new to Father Brown, as well--but I recognize the clothes, the village, the church, the pastor.

I am surprised to find all the refugees from the world wars in both the Father Brown series and in the Hercule Poirot series.  I recognize them, too.  Our parents were refugees.

Strange then to come across American life during the time.  The post-war 50's giving birth to strange flowers, to drugs, mysticism, sexual deviance (if one is at all allowed to use the term).  Last night I came across Allen Ginsberg on Buckley's show:

He reads a poem on air for William Buckley. I recommend watching the first and the last minute.  We laughed and I am still laughing.  There is a collision of worlds.

But we have reaped a harvest of this--inanity, self-importance, drugs, weird sex.  It has Not improved things.