History lesson…from a TV Horror host

Ever since I was a kid, I always watched late night spook shows and that I like a good scare.  Most of these shows featured mostly classics like Frankenstein, Dracula or the Japanese monster movies like Godzilla.  When my Dad was stationed in Long Beach, California in the early 1970s, I stayed up on Friday nights to watch Fright Night with the Sinister Seymour who presented movie turkeys and was tormented by his arch nemesis, Banjo Billy.   During my time in high school, I watched Bob Wilkins out of San Francisco where he presented mostly science fiction fare and commented on the movies in a wry manner while puffing on a cigar and rocking back and forth in his chair.    Of course, I am not into the so-called “slasher” genre which seems to generate nothing but sadism on the screen.

Well, here we are in 2018 and I had the pleasure of going down to Dallas and hearing about how the redneck saved Hollywood.  The presenter was Job Bob Briggs, the cowboy alias of the writer John Bloom who hosted Monstervision on TNT during the late 1990s.  He held the event at the Texas Theater in the Oak Cliff area of the city.  It is the same theater where in 1963 Lee Harvey Oswald was captured as he watched War is Hell with Van Heflin. I expected the usual talks about bad movies and how the film makers did all of the work.  Instead, I was treated to a talk on the development of the redneck culture and that the Scottish Presbyterian John Knox was the first ever “redneck.”  Briggs, led us down the path of history from the borderlands between Scotland and England to Ulster and then finally to Appalachia where many of the “rednecks” settled to escape the wrath of the Catholics in Northern Ireland.  Over the centuries the hillbilly developed his own culture as he was isolated from the rest of society by living in the remote mountain regions far from the Tidewater areas of the Atlantic coast.

What was interesting was that Joe Bob Briggs came to the same conclusion as the renown historian Christopher Dawson in that the development of non-conformist, hillbilly culture and religion was due to the fact that formal religious training was far from their lands and that men decided to do their own preaching and developed their own hierarchical church system which led to unorthodox beliefs.  With this background, Briggs then showed us the development of the hillbilly and redneck films which included films on car racing which developed from the time that moonshiners outran the cops in fast cars with clever driving.

It was a very educational night indeed and the two hours went by very fast.  Those people who are serious students of cultural and film history should attend his talk.  The show is not for everyone as Briggs shows some film clips that are rather violent.  But for the most part, it was fun.  So, let’s get eastbound and down, loaded up and truckin’!!

The State of Efrem

Every year, the President gives a State of the Union address to give a summary of his accomplishments and goals that he wishes to achieve in the coming year.  Tonight, I hope to give a summary of my “state” as I stand on my 55th birthday:

The past year saw great challenges and great blessings for me and my family.  I now have completed two years as a librarian at the Wichita Falls Public Library.  I have learned much in that time and I am pleased that I have been involved in almost all of the workings of the library from reference work to selecting library materials to working the children’s desk.  I wish to spread my love for books in the coming year and after several years of dormancy on the book review front, I hope to write more reviews of books in the coming year.  I hope also to do a few programs for the general public and hope to stress the vital importance of literacy to maintain what remains of our Western culture.

The family has had its ups and downs.  Joseph is doing well in school and is growing bigger than me.  He does OK with Miriam while I am at work, but he gets a bit ornery on occasion.   Do keep him in prayer for direction in his life as he is now just a few years away from setting out on his own.  We were able to go back to California to see my brother Michael get married in Lodi, a small town midway between Sacramento and Stockton.  My brother Edwin is on the mend from a difficult surgery that stems from his diabetes.  He needs prayer for direction and making decisions about his future.

My walk with God has been a challenge which is a good thing as living a Godly life does involve struggle and suffering.  I have read much regarding the early church, books by Christopher Dawson and works of St. Augustine, G.K. Chesterton, Lord Acton and C.S. Lewis as part of the local Christian Classics Society which is hosted by an Orthodox priest that has a local congregation here in town.   I wish to learn more about the Church Fathers and early Church councils as they teach us much about how we should live today in an age of super materialism which is eroding all life in the West.

Aside from my trip to California, I was able to go to Baltimore to hear an address by Dr. Paul Gottfried on the multicultural mess that we are in today.  It was a pleasure to hear Dr. Tom Woods as well.   Travel this year will be limited although I will be going to a library convention in Philadelphia in March.  The city reminds me of 1776, the great cheese steaks, former Mayor Frank Rizzo and a funny sitcom from the late 1970s with Donna Pescow.

I have exercised for most of my life and I am grateful to God for giving me the motivation for exercising since high school and staying in shape.  Even with such efforts, I feel myself slowing down a bit and my heart flutters from time to time.  I am aware that I will not live forever in this body and look forward to the Resurrection and loving the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.  I hope to work and develop a vision for the coming years that will glorify God and that includes taking care of my family into my dotage.

Fifty-five years.  My how time flies.  May the Lord bless me this year.

A visit to the Eastern Seaboard

It was an early Friday morning in Wichita Falls and I drove the two hours to the southeast and boarded a plane at Dallas-Ft. Worth airport for Mordor on the Potomac AKA Washington DC.  It was just a short visit as I boarded a Metroliner to travel to Balitmore to attend a cultural conference over the weekend.

It is indeed a different world and when one flies into Washington, one can see the numerous buildings adjutting both sides of the Potomac many which contain offices that benefit from the generous largess provided by the taxpayers and public debt.  Defense contractors, homeland security technology firms and major medical companies are headquartered here for our “benefit.”  As I left Union Station on the train, I see numerous construction projects going on as the seat of our government grows richer every day.  In fact, three of the five richest counties in America are located in the DC area (Fairfax, Arlington and Loudoun).  It is interesting that the three aforementioned counties in Northern Virginia voted heavily for Democratic candidates in the recent election in the Old Dominion many of which were very progressive candidates.

The conference that I attended had many interesting speakers who were professors at universities, columnists at major magazines and men who were authors of several books.  Of course, being a librarian, I was able to have a few good conversations with these folks.   I told them that they could donate a few books to my library and that they would get read.  They were very pleased.

Most of the speakers spoke about the fracturing of our country and that forces in academia and the media were silencing those that had dissenting opinions.  It seems that there is now a major disconnect between the Ruling Class on the Eastern Seaboard and in Hollywood and the despised people in “flyover country.”  The elites judge people in the hinterlands to be “uneducated,” “backward” and in need of enlightenment.  It sounds almost puritanical.  Indeed, the British libertarian, Sean Gabb writes on this very theme in his article of a few days ago.  In it, he states:

The restored Puritan ascendency in Britain and America has nothing to do with the religious disputes of the Reformation. Harriet Harman (British politician) believes in gay marriage. Oliver Cromwell was a chain smoker. They have nothing in common but a particular disposition. Bring them face-to-face, and each would itch to persecute the other. They are Puritans not because of their form, but because of their possibly innate substance. The latter is unchanging across the generations. The former depends on circumstances.

He further states:

What each cycle has in common is the obsessive search for error, and its painting as sin, and the competitive display of those who think themselves most without sin.

In the scrum of Union Station of Washington, it seemed that everybody was well-dressed, engaging in conversation and keen to eat at the fancy restaurants there and showing an air of wealth and superiority.  I wonder what goes on inside their hearts.  Perhaps they are the new missionaries, ready to take the gospel of progressiveness and prosperity to the heathen in Wichita Falls, Amarillo, Lawton and Altus.  Perhaps they are just in it for the money.  Whatever the truth, one thing for sure.  Our nation’s capital is a soulless place.

Hatred of Wisdom and of the Past

Harrison loves my country too,
But wants it all made over new.
He’s Freudian Viennese by night.
By day he’s Marxian Muscovite.
It isn’t because he’s Russian Jew.
He’s Puritan Yankee through and through.
He dotes on Saturday pork and beans.
But his mind is hardly out of his teens:
With him the love of country means
Blowing it all to smithereens
And having it all made over new.
Robert Frost’s poem, A Case for Jefferson, speaks to us today through the idea that the beliefs and the landmarks of old days must be changed or destroyed in order to make all things new.  Tradition and the wisdom of our elders should be things that are highly prized in this uncertain world of ours where direction is needed to carry us into the future.  In the Old Testament shortly after the death of Solomon, King Rehoboam was confronted at Shechem about the burdens that were placed on the people of Israel and was asked how he would reform the abuses done by Solomon.  He consulted the old men who told him: If you will be a servant to this people today and serve them, and speak good words to them when you answer them, then they will be your servants forever. (I Kings 12:7).  Nonetheless, he did not take their advice but instead sought the counsel of the young people who grew up with him and they advised him to speak harshly to the people and add to their burdens.  As a result, the kingdom of Israel was divided forever.
In our age, we are told that anything that is old and from the past must be rejected as something that belongs in the horse and buggy era or even worse.  Terms like “reactionary,” “antediluvian,” or “out of step” are the choice words of those who in the words of Thomas Paine want to begin the world all over again.
Statues of men like Lee, Beauregard and Jeff Davis are being hauled down all around the country to be put into “museums.”  The funny thing is that such statues in the public eye are meant to be mini-museums of a sort for they were designed as remembrances of a time when our nation was torn apart in conflict.  For the progressive, such actions are not enough and that other statues must be pulled down to erase the past or to deride them as  relics from a barbaric age.   Statues of Columbus, Joan of Arc and Junipero Serra are being vandalized while overseas there is talk of the statue of Admiral Nelson being displaced from its column at Trafalgar Square.
Referring back to Frost’s poem, it seems that we have not rid ourselves of the puritan spirit.  Many no longer hold to the faith of those old puritans but instead we are treated to a virulent form of puritanism where the sinners of the past are condemn not to hell, but rather to the past.   Yes, the neo-puritan hates the past and wishes to blow it all to smithereens and make the world in his image.   However, with the old world’s destruction, the progressive is paving the way for his own destruction where values and beliefs are held in contempt and are changed every day.

The Loss of Faith

Last summer, I took my son on a trip to see the numerous civil war battlefields that were across the South.  We went to Shiloh, Chickamauga and Stones Point Battlefield outside Murfreesboro, Tennessee.  One of the things that I kept in my heart was not only the numerous graves in these places, but the memorials that were scattered throughout the parks.  As we went through the Vicksburg park, I ran across the memorial to the soldiers and sailors of the State of Arkansas.  It stated:

To the Arkansas Confederate soldiers and sailors. A part of a Nation divided by the sword and reunited at the altar of Faith.

What held this nation together for so long was the common faith that was held by the people of the United States.  Although the country was decimated, there was unity due to the Faith.  Now, we are a nation that is devoid of Faith that it has been eroding for almost a century.   Peter Hitchens in his commentaries faulted the Church for taking sides in the horrible conflict of the First World War and its reputation took a tremendous hit in Europe.  He stated specifically:

Civilized countries become less civilized when they go to war…I would add that, by all but destroying British Christianity, these wars may come to destroy the spirit of the country. Those who fought so hard to defend Britain against its material enemies did so at a terrible spiritual cost. The memory of the great slaughter of 1914-18 was carried back into their daily lives by millions who had set out from quiet homes as gentle, innocent, and kind and returned cynical, brutalized, and used to cruelty.”

In a similar way, we left the moorings of the Faith by putting faith in “democracy” to save us all.

Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddhin stated that the root causes of the loss of faith were the the French Revolution and the exaltation of reason.   They thought that they were the sole arbiters of right and wrong.  They were no longer united in faith but divided by race, class and social standing.  Nationalism rose, proletarian revolutions sprouted up in the nineteenth century and became full-blown in the twentieth century where mass slaughter was the rule of the day.

We might think that we are now safe from the ravages of war and famine here in America and that all we need to do is love each other and buy things like smartphones and new cars.  Human history has a nasty habit of repeating itself and with the battle in Charlottesville taking place a few days ago, we may see a return to unrelenting barbarism.

Washington Worship

Another day, another broken promise.  What more can you expect from a Washington politician? Many GOP senators were elected with the understanding that they would pull back the provisions of Obamacare.  For them to fold as this juncture is unexplainable.  Only several GOP senate seats are in play next year while many democratic senators from the plains and the Mountain West are in great trouble of being defeated.  The GOP retention of the majority is highly likely, yet they ran scared.   John McCain, recently re-elected, will probably end his career in a few years before his term finishes in 2023, voted No on all of the repeal bills that came to the Senate floor.  So did other senators like Susan Collins.  It is high time to understand that government will not get smaller nor will the politician dare give up any power over people’s lives.

The shock of the day came from Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut who actually tweeted that every problem can be solved with a law or regulation.  Funny that many who do not hold to any sort of theological belief or creed suddenly praise Congress as the god on earth that will deliver us from all sorts of evil.

Philosopher Jose Ortega y Gasset stated it well when he said:

This is the gravest danger that today threatens civilization: State intervention; the absorption of all spontaneous social effort by the State, that is to say, of spontaneous historical action, which in the long run sustains, nourishes, and impels human destinies.

We have now come to that juncture.  Family, church and community are a in great peril from the DC monster.

Conservatives and Christians as sub-humans

If society can mend, remake, and unmake men at its pleasure, its pleasure may, of course, be humane or homicidal. The difference is important. But, either way, rulers have become owners.   –C.S Lewis 1958

In the course of the last 100 years, many ideologues have followed the voice of their “hearts” and tried to bring heaven to earth for humanity via their own efforts and through “reason.”  Of course, the results have been disastrous with millions dead and the expansion of the State to vast proportions.  Even in the West, we have witnessed the increase of the State as laws and regulations have blossomed since the 1960s starting with President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society.  At his speech at the University of Michigan on May 22, 1964, President Johnson stated the following:

A … place to build the Great Society is in the classrooms of America. There your children’s lives will be shaped. Our society will not be great until every young mind is set free to scan the farthest reaches of thought and imagination. We are still far from that goal.

Since that speech over 50 years ago, the classrooms of America have become, not a place to scan the farthest reaches of thought and imagination, but rather a place where thoughts and values are dictated from educational bureaucrats and that only a certain block of opinions are to be accepted in the school.  Students are bombarded with the most exotic of cultural prevarications.  There are no fixed values except those that foster “progress.”  The values of yesterday are cast aside as being reactionary, fuddy duddy and “out of step.”

In the main of society today, many who hold to values of the past and those who hold to Faith of Christianity are now under attack.  Julius Streicher was the notorious Nazi rabble rouser who published the blatantly anti-Semitic tabloid Der Sturmer.  In it, he cast the image of Jews and Catholics as being people that were sub-human and hindering the march of the progress of the thousand-year Reich.  His opinions were so odious that even when it was found that he did not participate in the machinations of the Final Solution, he was still put on trial at Nuremberg for inciting the murder of Jews with the printed word and was hung in 1946.

Today, we see the same vein of thought from progressive people that look upon Christians as something less than human.  I have been treated to a number of comments on my Facebook by so-called enlightened progressives who wish to see “haters” sterilized and also called those that engage in the dastardly act of discrimination sub-human.  It is clear that the eternal values of Christianity pose a threat to their Utopian dreams of what they think the Great Society should be.  Joseph Sobran commented on this threat when he stated:

Liberalism is really piecemeal socialism, and socialism always attacks three basic social institutions: religion, the family, and private property. Religion, because it offers a rival authority to the state; the family, because it means a rival loyalty to the state; and property, because it means material independence of the state.

Of course, we have not witnessed any sort of set up of sterilization facilities or labor camps for the troublemakers and those who would put a monkey wrench into “progress,” but such things can occur overnight and given the track record of humanity over the past century, I do not share the optimism of some who think that the progressives in LGBT or Black Lives Matter will keep their ideas on the theoretical level.  They will try to carry progress along by putting on a happy face and sending people into re-education and telling them that they must confess their crime of bigotry.    After all, they cannot let anything get in the way of their “happiness.”

A Country Dying of Cultural Cancer

I can only say that while I have considered the preservation of the constitutional power of the General Government to be the foundation of our peace and safety at home and abroad, I yet believe that the maintenance of the rights and authority reserved to the states and to the people, not only essential to the adjustment and balance of the general system, but the safeguard to the continuance of a free government. I consider it as the chief source of stability to our political system, whereas the consolidation of the states into one vast republic, sure to be aggressive abroad and despotic at home, will be the certain precursor of that ruin which has overwhelmed all those that have preceded it.  –Robert E. Lee to Lord Acton 1866

Recently, the mayor of New Orleans, Mitch Landrieu, order the dismantling of several monuments that commemorated men who fought in the Civil War from 1861 to 1865.  In his remarks on May 18th 2017, Mayor Landrieu stated that “It is self-evident that these men did not fight for the United States of America, They fought against it. They may have been warriors, but in this cause they were not patriots.”

Nothing could be more untrue.  Lee and his men were fighting to preserve self-government and had fought to stop an invasion by Northern forces that wanted to remake the country in an image that would have been totally alien to the Founding Fathers. Elsewhere in Lee’s letter to Lord Acton, he clearly saw the dangers of a centralized government and that he stated that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson saw that the centralization and consolidation of power would result in the subversion of state governments and despotism.  Dwight Eisenhower commended Lee by stating the following:

General Robert E. Lee was, in my estimation, one of the supremely gifted men produced by our Nation. He believed unswervingly in the Constitutional validity of his cause which until 1865 was still an arguable question in America…

When one sees how the history of our nation has transpired, we see that Robert E. Lee foresaw with great clarity the decline of this nation.  Our government in Washington has created vast bureaucracies which harass the common man frequently.  As for our conduct aboard, Lee’s words could have been taken from yesterday’s headlines.  We have made a wreck of many nations around the world and ship arms to despotisms like Saudi Arabia.  We have been at war in Iraq for over a quarter century and the result has been a country in rubble and a Christian church that has been gravely damaged by ISIS forces which have been supplied with arms by these same Saudis.

With this, we must ask where are we as a country in the course of history.  We have seen the economic prosperity of this nation rise to heights never before seen in history, yet in the end we are starving spiritually.  Broken homes have become a frequent occurrence, our debt rises to a height where it can never be paid off and instead of visiting houses of worship, we visit other temples…sports stadiums.  In his speech, Mayor Landrieu made no mention of deity except in taking the Lord’s name in vain when he said “Think about second lines, think about Mardi Gras, think about muffaletta, think about the Saints, gumbo, red beans and rice. By God, just think. All we hold dear is created by throwing everything in the pot; creating, producing something better; everything a product of our historic diversity.

So everything we hold dear is created by throwing a bunch of stuff into a pot? Does culture consist of a mess of pottage?  We have truly forgotten about the permanent things, about being humble and forming organic communities, about confessing our sins to God.  Mayor Landrieu is a proud man who only reflects the current culture.  Nothing matters except food and entertainment.  We are truly a nation dying of cultural cancer.

The Civic Gospel

Today, Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ)  introduced legislation that would modify provisions of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.  The bill would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation, and for other purposes.  In addressing the issue at a press conference today, Senator Booker stated the following:

So I have a saying about religion.  Before you tell me about your religion, first show to it to me in how you treat other people.  Well, while the Gospel and many religious books say something, the truth is that we have a civic gospel as well.  We all know the words.  We say them in our songs and pledges.  We have this self-evident truth that everyone is created equal.  We believe that we have equality under the law.  We say with the hallowed phrases that we are a nation of liberty and justice for all.

So, it seems that Senator Booker acknowledges that we have a religion that controls the affairs of men today–the “civic gospel.”  We say a prayer every day called the Pledge of Allegiance.  We sing gospel tunes like My Country Tis of Thee and the national anthem.  We have “hallowed” phrases like “liberty and justice for all.”

It seems that the idea that one should tolerate one another should be accompanied by the iron fist of the State that preaches this “civic gospel.”  We shall enter the new millennium by forcing people to serve those that have lifestyles that we disagree with.   In truth, this bill will result in the diminishing of liberty.  We would be forced to give up more of our freedom in order to handle the expansion of “rights.”  Joseph Sobran stated it well when he said:

The term civil rights has come to mean the opposite of what it suggests. People think it means individual freedom, when it usually means government power used in behalf of large groups…

What is really irritating about this is that ALL religious beliefs and feelings must be subservient to the dictates of the State.  No matter what convictions you hold, they must be swept aside to ensure that equality can be maintained forever.  They tried something similar a little over 200 years ago.  Instead of the civic gospel, they set up something called the Cult of Reason where its goal was to perfect man by obtaining truth and liberty for all.  In the end, the result was the Reign of Terror and the eventual rise of Napoleon which led to years of European war.  The true Gospel will not come from Washington, it will come from men humbling themselves before the one was given power over heaven and earth.  God, spare us from more political salvation schemes.

Mortality

So yesterday, George Michael, the big pop star from the 1980s, died of apparent heart failure at the age of 53.  As he was younger than I am, I face the reality that those that grew up with me are passing from the scene.  We should all be thankful for the days that God has given us and one should never be prideful about what one does in his life.  We are given the power to do all things by God.  Jesus told Pontius Pilate in John 19:11 that “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.”  We should always be mindful of the days that are ahead of us and that we should do all to further the Kingdom of God and to serve men for His Glory.