Sunday, April 08, 2018

End Of Moosetracks

In 2016, I quit cross posting the blog to Facebook when I started a new job -- here is that entry, and the key paragraph.

Yes, the reason for stopping the cross-posting is the potential that "someone would be offended" relative to the new job. We live in a time where Christian, conservative, Constitutional, etc views are offensive to many. While I believe in people in the United States being able to have any view they want short of "pledging allegiance to ISIS" as in the case of the shooter this week, our current nation seems OK with ISIS supporters, but often offended with those who support Christ or the Constitution.
I realize that when I started the blog in 2005, I never posted my reason for blogging, so I will now.

My father was and is a very capable debater. So were his brothers, and I gather his dad, my grandfather who died when I was like 3. One story of my grandpa that I heard from dad more than once was of him taking dad to a county or town board meeting as a kid maybe 12 years of age, Dad was disturbed by everyone arguing so loud and seemingly angrily that he thought they could not be friends.

When the meeting was over, everyone went out for pie and coffee with no problems -- his dad was on the board, and instilled in my dad that being able to discuss / argue / debate with passion and still shake hands afterward was an important part of living in a democracy.

So I learned that lesson well -- early on with some tears or stomping anger, however my dad assured me that "I would grow up", and so I did -- perhaps just a little too well, as is common with such lessons.

Cowgirls may well not cry, but this moose certainly does -- pretty much every time I listen to that song as one small case, as well as sometimes when I witness the wreckage of our nation in broken families, addiction, suicide, and meaninglessness.

The lesson of making my case with dispassionate debate would serve me well through my schooling in those days. In the 1970's America was still a place where diversity of thought was honored, and there were no such things as "safe spaces" where freedom of speech was not allowed, certainly not in universities. The ACLU in those times even defended Illinois Nazi's right to march through a Jewish neighborhood -- freedom of speech meant freedom of even (especially) very unpopular speech. The IBM of the late '70s and most of my career was also a place where it was critical to "get your ducks in a row" and put together the right "pitch" to get your ideas implemented in systems.

By 2005 however, the US was sliding rapidly away from honoring diversity of thought. W was a pariah to the elite and "progressives", and it was important to not speak up in most cases when people would make some statement about how stupid he was, how he ought to be impeached, how Iraq was lost, how he was a "war criminal", etc.

While I was always more than able to hold my own in a discussion, the net result was likely be anger from the anti-W speaker that anyone would dare stand up for W, and even more anger when the person who intiated the attack felt that they were not actually able to defend a position they thought was "obviously correct". One of the "values" of the left became that people that did not agree with them were uneducated, only listened to "Fox News and talk radio", not very intelligent, etc -- feeling that they "lost" a debate with such a low life was just plain embarrassing. It usually meant that in an odd return to a practice of religions like the Amish, they would "shun" the person who stood up for such a terrible person as W.

The blog allowed me to continue to listen to NPR, read the NY Times, WaPo, and even see clippings from Huffpo, Slate, New Yorker, and a broad range of media on both (or many) sides of issues and "talk about it in the blog" without having  other people be hurt, angry, or embarrassed. The assumption was that people that did not like what they read would just "change the channel" -- as Christians were to do with the NEA funded "Piss Christ" and many other things.

In the back of my mind, there was always the dream of "discovery" -- some folks would probably just be kind to me and say "you ought to have a column" or "you ought to be on the radio". Over the years, my readership went from none to a few thousand a month ...

It's always been a labor of love -- I enjoy writing, it comes easy to me, and the blog was a way for me to keep track of thoughts, articles, book reviews ( 185 was the final count), travel, etc with some good discussions from some people over the years as a bonus.

As I look back on Holy Week 2018, Good Friday 2005.  stands out as a post from the early days that I'm glad that I was able to share -- and go back and read.

The post from when I quit cross-posting to FB gives some hints on how the blog is organized if you want to poke around. As those of you that know me are well aware, the blog both is and is definitely NOT "me". It' was an "outlet" for instant reactions to events and media reactions to those events -- so those reactions were less likely to be discussed at work, family events, church, social events, etc. I read broadly and more the kind of person who knows "nothing about everything" as opposed to "everything about nothing" -- the sad choice required of we very finite humans and our limited minds.

The blog is less me since 2016. In 2016 I started my new career as a Certified Peer Support Specialist ... I learned about DBT, Motivational Interviewing, and that validation is not agreement. I learned both the Mindfulness skills to stay "in the moment" during discussions as well as a number of other skills that are critically important during "difficult conversations". Some of these skills are well sumarized in this post on an excellent book; "The High Conflict Couple".

If you liked the blog and miss it, send me an email ( with ideally your google mail -- my new blog is going to be limited to my approving your access, and since I'm using blogger to start,  I'm not sure the google id will work. Depending on interest, I may look for other solutions.

Thank you for those that have read over the years, and especially to those who have engaged in discussion with me on posts. I still firmly believe that freedom of thought and speech, as well as the willingness to engage with those who think differently from us, was at the very core of what once made America an exceptional country. It was a nation under God with a written Constitution that was honored, and a free nation where independence, especially of thought, was a primary value.

As I wrote when I largely left FB and quit watching the NFL, we now live in a nation where there is no value that is agreed on by supermajority of people within our geographic borders. Since America was a nation founded on ideas, NOT ethnicity, religion, or territory, I assert we really no longer have a nation.

It will certainly not be me that fixes that (if it is to be fixed), and the costs of having a semi-public opinion that is easily ignored have now gotten too high as the costs of speaking up in public did in 2005. There is no way to know who is reading, not interacting, and just becoming more and more angry as they do. There is no way to discern a reader in "Emotion Mind" so I can use validation skills rather than simply "making a case".  I'm not going to fix what has happened to America -- it is not worth the price to keep publicly speaking to all. The "desire to read" may be a desire primarily to be angered and justify attacks on myself or my family. Thinking differently is now something that needs to be done "in the closet" ... hopefully this move to a closet of only approved readers will work.

For ALL those who have or will read my blog or other writings, especially those who most strongly disagree with me, I believe that love and free will are the two sides of an ultimate eternal value. To love is to allow free will, and only in freedom can we return love. God is love and light -- only he can truly love even those that reject him with all their hearts, however I promise to do the best that I am able to follow his example.

 I pray that you let God's love work it's miracle in your life and we have eternity to work out the nuances of our differences.
May the Lord bless you,
and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you,
and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you,
and give you peace

Shore Lunch With Jesus

What do we want on our tombstone? For a long while I've had the thought of "Gone fishing with Jesus" based on John 21:

Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee. It happened this way: 2 Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together.3 “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. 
4 Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.5 He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”“No,” they answered.
6 He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.”When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.
7 Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. 8 The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards.  9 When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread. 
10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14 This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.
The earthy incarnation of the Lord of the universe, AFTER his death and resurrection in his glorified body, cooking shore lunch for his disciples! It is a picture that always makes me smile and often gives me that little shiver of eternal awareness.

My father has often told me of he and his dad out fishing on Upper Turtle Lake in NW WI in the dark with cane poles and minnows in 8-10' of water while the sounds of a local dance hall drifted out over the water and WWII raged across the seas. Both his brothers where in the army, but dad's blood pressure was too high to be drafted ( he is 91 now, he lived longer  than either of his brothers who also lived into their late 80's).

I'm familiar with the lake, and have often fished it myself -- In later years, after my dad had some health scares, I occasionally have a dream of sitting in a row boat with my somewhat younger dad in the dark as music drifts over the water while we fish for walleye with cane poles. A couple of times, it vaguely seems the sun has been coming up and there is a man on shore with a fire ...

As we prepare our home for sale and contemplate our residency move to the Iowa lake place and an an apartment in Rochester "3 days a week", the reality of "stages in life" is very real. Our boys were just kids as we moved into this house in '95, now they are grown with the oldest having kids of his own. My dad was lucky enough to live to see not just his grandchildren, but his great grandchildren. The blessings of this life can be great, however certainly at my dad's age, and increasingly at mine, we begin to seriously contemplate the next.

My soul says that I can trust a risen Saviour that not only cooks shore lunch for his disciples, and even tells them the right way to catch an abundance of fish (153)!

I have no idea of heaven  (other than it being wonderful) -- and I strongly suspect it will NOT be as this vision is, however, it is comforting to me. Fishing for walleye with my dad on a warm summer night looking forward to shore lunch with Jesus.

How do you think of your eternal home?

Disinformation, Ion Mihai Pacepa

For those that care, the end of the USSR gave us an open window into Communism, the  USSR, and the culture of Russia, which still lives on today. One of the authors, Pacepa, was a 3 star general in Romanian security who was privy to the absolute top of the Soviet KGB. He worked with Kruschev and Soviet leaders after him up until he defected in 1978 ... he was a personal advisor to Romanian dictator Nicolae CeauČ™escu, and accompanied on all his trips abroad.

The book is required reading for CIA personnel, and the title tells us what readers of this blog certainly have known for a long time -- the ability to dupe the west via "disinformation" has been a cornerstone of Soviet and now Russian operations since Stalin. The art of creating fake stories and getting the rest of the world to see them as "facts" is an art form honed to precision and used effectively by the USSR.

As Churchill said about Russia in a 1939 broadcast, it was then and seems will always be "A riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma". The idea of the "Potemikin Village" and the "Russian Dolls" of close to infinite regress is core to Russian culture and history. It is no accident that Russian Chess Masters are some of the greatest ever.

Among he "big lies" of Soviet Disinformation are it's numerous framings of Popes and Cardinals as "Hitler's Popes" or other lies involved in their war on religion. Keeping the world view of Jews as "Zionist puppeteers" pulling the strings of any non-communist governments is another of the ongoing Disinformation programs.

The book makes the case that Lee Harvey Oswald provided the KGB with critical espionage on the U-2 that allowed it to be shot down -- there is also more detail on Oswald's connections to the USSR, and the likelihood that we ended up knowing that the USSR was behind killing JFK, however LBJ thought the risk of nuclear war to great to admit what was done. Pulling strings behind the curtain and leaving the West with a bunch of wispy conspiracy theories has always been a Russian favorite.

Surprising to nobody that has read much at all, "Ramparts" magazine and later "Mother Jones" were KGB funded to influence politics in the US -- David Horowitz, was raised as a "Red Diaper Baby" (a child raised in the US whose parents were communists dedicated to overthrow of the US government) and was later editor of "Ramparts" until the Black Panthers (also with KGB connections) killed one of his friends and he became a supporter of the US and conservative principles. I read his book "Radical Son" long before I started blogging.

It is a hard read -- there is a LOT of detail, and a lot of the names are Russian / Eastern European, so it is hard to keep track of it all. I found too much time spent on only marginally successful attempts to claim the Catholic Church supported Hitler ... yes,  there are a number of people on the left that like to make that claim because of the importance of making it seem that "National Socialism" was an ideology of the RIGHT ... I cover this in detail here.

Data Mining Evil Genius

The article does a great job of explaining what anyone with a moderate level of memory remembers about 2012...
What, exactly, would Obama be doing? According to The Guardian, Obama’s new database would be gathered by asking individual volunteers to log into Obama’s reelection site using their Facebook credentials. “Consciously or otherwise,” The Guardian states, “the individual volunteer will be injecting all the information they store publicly on their Facebook page — home location, date of birth, interests and, crucially, network of friends — directly into the central Obama database.”
Naturally, that was "genius, innovative, etc".
Facebook had no problem with such activity then. They do now. There’s a reason for that. The former Obama director of integration and media analytics stated that, during the 2012 campaign, Facebook allowed the Obama team to “suck out the whole social graph”; Facebook “was surprised we were able to suck out the whole social graph, but they didn’t stop us once they realized that was what we were doing.” She added, “They came to [the] office in the days following election recruiting & were very candid that they allowed us to do things they wouldn’t have allowed someone else to do because they were on our side.”
Is there even one of us that doesn't TOTALLY understand this? What is good for "our side" is GREAT, what is good for "the other side" is TERRIBLE! Human nature, as natural as breathing -- what CULTURE was once to do was modify human nature to allow that culture to survive and flourish above tribalism, the natural state of man. To understand that "the rules" were there for ALL ... not just "our tribe".

"The Hill" is a slightly left of center media bias rating ... apparently, for a mostly center media outlet, the contrast was just too recent and too glaring to not notice and they gave at least some lip service with the article.

These sorts of dichotomies are nearly daily issue on NPR. Trump had the audacity to congratulate Putin on his victory! Horrors. Naturally Obama congratulated Putin on his victory in 2012 and it was not a problem. That is what it means to be tribal -- when your tribe does it, it is fine, when the other side does it, it is a crime. Oh, and memory is the first thing to go.

At this point, I believe something over 70% of the population understands that we are politically tribal today  -- however my contention is that something like 90% of those people believe that "their tribe is right" (meaning correct).  They are wrong ... and any that still believe we have not fallen to tribalism are also wrong.

I voted for Trump because he was the most non-party / non-tribal candidate possible to win in 2016   -- however he is FAR from non-tribal enough to get us out of the mess we are in. And naturally, a new tribe of rabid supporters has formed around him.

  1. Nobody in Washington, and very very few people nationally have any idea of what it meant to be "America" -- I cover this here.
  2. Those that don't have shared transcendent values can only have tribalism -- so they fight, often at great cost to their selves, families, and even their own tribe, because they have no measure of "the good". Life is a constant tribal argument.
  3. As we see in the recent budget agreement, people see a victory" when "everyone" gets "something", even though what they "get" is charged to their children and grandchildren, and many parts of the "get" are things they don't even want, but some other tribe does.

I'm a God/meaning loyalist -- the budget "deal" was terrible. The "Stormy Affair" isn't as bad as a boss having sex with an employee at the office (especially the Oval Office), but it is also just one more sign that we are in Sodom and Gomorrah territory -- but we have known that since Chappaquiddick.

The choices are actually very simple. We will either return to a point where "70-80%" of people in this territory agree on a set of values that transcend tribe / party, and thus have something like what America was, OR, one of the current, or some other tribal view will "win", and exterminate, re-educate, etc the "losers" as happened in the USSR, National Socialist Germany, Mao's China, Vietnam,  etc and those of the "victorius" tribe will live on in something like "The Lives of Others".

Naturally, none of the tribes study history, so they are absolutely certain that if THEY win, they will do it "right" this time!

Sullivan, Intersectionality

Is Intersectionality a Religion?:

I find Andrew Sullivan to be an extremely interesting thinker. I'm guessing the number of people that agree with him on even a majority of his thoughts approximates zero, somewhat because of the variance and originality of his thinking, somewhat because it has a tendency to move around a lot.

In this article he points out the obvious similarities in methodology between Intersectionality, Trumpism, and religion. He has a tendency to provide comfort to almost none -- which is pretty standard for direct intellectual critique. The whole article is worth reading, but I found this to be the heart.

Then this: “Science has always been used to legitimize racism, sexism, classism, transphobia, ableism, and homophobia, all veiled as rational and fact, and supported by the government and state. In this world today, there is little that is true ‘fact.’” This, it seems to me, gets to the heart of the question — not that the students shut down a speech, but why they did. I do not doubt their good intentions. But, in a strange echo of the Trumpian right, they are insisting on the superiority of their orthodoxy to “facts.” They are hostile, like all fundamentalists, to science, because it might counter doctrine. And they shut down the event because intersectionality rejects the entire idea of free debate, science, or truth independent of white male power. At the end of this part of the ceremony, an individual therefore shouts: “Who is the enemy?” And the congregation responds: “White supremacy!”
Ah, "facts", one of the toughest questions in one of the toughest areas of philosophy -- epistemology. How can a being who can not explain the operation of their own (self assumed) "intelligence" be relied upon to explain anything else?

It is a topic often returned to in the blog -- look for entries with religion or philosophy and especially both as tags and you can follow the trail of this chimera -- I rate the best and most reachable place to start as "The Reason For God".

Sullivan was heavily influenced by Michael Oakeshott, yet another author that I have barely sampled and seek to become more familiar with.

'via Blog this'

Political Tribes, Group Instinct And the Fall Of Nations

Found the subject book by Yale professor Amy Chua to be a quick,  easy, and worthwhile  read. It seems such a perfect book to show up just as I'm closing Moose Tracks.

On page 40-41 she does a good job of quickly covering the basic science that we already know -- "our brains are hardwired to identify, value, and individualize in-group members, while outgroup members are processed as interchangeable members of a general social category".

"Humans aren't just a little tribal. We're VERY tribal and it distorts the way we think and feel".

"The key to ethnic identity is that it is built around the idea of shared blood; ... For most human beings, the family is primal".

Readers of this blog know all that, and they also know why destruction of the family is key to destruction of a culture!

She wisely spends a lot of the early part of the book discussing the US inability to recognize tribalism in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Venezuala. I was completely unaware of the degree to which the Vietnamese had been fighting against a Chinese minority that owned most of the wealth of Vietnam for a thousand years -- and we ignored that fact.

On page 46 she introduces the critical idea of a "market dominant minority" which the Chinese were in Vietnam, and are in Indonesia today: "in Indonesia the Chinese comprise 3% of the population but control 70% of the economy".

At this point it would seem easy to understand where she is headed -- something over 90% of the wealth in the US is controlled by an elite of well less than 10%, with something over half being controlled by a 1% who largely attended ivy league schools, live on one of the coasts in very large cities, and share a set of establishment values at odds with the have-nots of any color -- Asian, Hispanic, Black, White, etc.

Pretty much, she doesn't go there -- she goes to race.

On 166 she says "The Left believes that right-wing tribalism -- bigotry, racism -- is tearing the country apart. The Right believes that left-wing tribalism -- identity politics, political correctness, is tearing the country apart. They are both right."

From 21-33 she asserts that we became a "super-group" in "1965" after the Voting Rights Act, and defines a super-group on page 22 to be "a group in which membership is open to individuals of any background, but at the same time binds it's members together with a strong,  overarching, group transcending collective identity". To the extent she defines that "identity", it is "The American Dream" ... simplified to the idea that everyone can economically surpass their parents.

What she doesn't focus on much is that Christianity as the prototype super-group -- the strong overarching goal is serving Christ and others, and everyone, regardless of background is a "blood brother/sister" in the blood of Christ. Galations 3:28 "There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus."

Obviously, her objective is a SECULAR super-group, which she thought the US had from 1965 to the election of Barack Obama. She notes as I have on previously page 165 that 1965 was also the year when an historically unprecedented wave of immigration, much of it non-white,  started -- this was not an accident. The elites at that point felt that America was too slow to change, so they would just change the population. Brilliantly, they also told us that Americans should avoid having children because world hunger was the "end of the world issue" of that day, similar to "climate change" today.

On page 181, she spots a little problem with identity politics ... "The demand is not for incluson within the fold of universal humankind ... nor is it for respect "in spite of" one's differences. Rather, what is demanded is respect for oneself as different."

So much for "everyone being created equal" -- try each individual being "evolved" different and special, AND demanding to be SPECIALLY respected for being different! Everyone a star! Sacrifice? Tolerance of those who do not share your particular differenc?

Not the values of identity politics!

She spends a good deal of time on things like "The Prosperity Gospel", "Sovereign Citizens", the WWE, NASCAR and a few other things to it is not clear what end -- something like a few on the left doing a "Safari to America" after Trump was elected. Clearly she, being on the left, would like to focus on the tribalism on the right.

 By the most scary estimates the FBI or the Southern Poverty Hate  Center" could come up with were "as many as" 300K members of apparently highly feared "Sovereign Citizens" ... I'd never heard of them, I've never met one even though I'm a denizen of gun clubs and crazy conservative meetings. Apparently no web site exists for this dangerous group ... was expired. There were LOTS of web hits on how much of a threat they are however. It's on the Internet, it must be true.

Would NPR listeners be a "tribe" like "NASCAR"? Since I'm a regular "spy listener", I'd certainly say so -- very much a secular humanist world view with recent movement toward "intersectionality". How about BLM? At a minium, they seem to have a lot more web presence than the fearsome "Sovereign Citizens". Amy is right about tribalism ... even if you DO have a transcendent value beyond your tribe, seeing your OWN tribe is HARD --  we just assume our own tribe is just the normal, reasonable, decent, intelligent people!

So once we had a country that Amy believes was a secular super-group, a goal of at least hers  -- and then came Obama, the proof of the existence of that super-group, and "poof" it was gone. So how do we get it back now that we are no longer going to have any dominant majority group? However, we will apparently continue to have a very elite coastal ivy league "Market Dominant Minority" of the 1% that own all the wealth?

I'd argue that even with lots of minority problems, we were much more of a sectarian (Christian) super-group than she gave us credit for well before 1965  ... that Federick Douglass could rise to the prominance he did as an ex-slave in the mid 1800's shows that much of the country held merit to be a much greater factor than race even at that time. Something about America -- I'd assert it to be our written Constitution, was enough for people to fight and die for even though we remained far from a "perfect super-group". As she points out, nobody else on the planet even sees that as a goal.

The book is a good survey of the prevalence and problems of tribalism -- it does not in my opinion acknowledge how far the generally Christian Western civilization had risen above tribalism by the apogee of America post WWII 1945 - 1965. It does show that our higher level educated "elite" no longer subscribing to the values embodied in our Constitution, and certainly losing Christianity as a common glue, has resulted in what most students of civilization and culture would assert to be a fully expected descent into tribalism ... Darwin's Cathedral is one post/book that goes into more detail here.

She provides a hugely hopeful story on page 205. A young  Mexican American Yale student, "Giovanni" lived in a poor trailer park in rural Texas near "the Joneses", who were extremely kind to his family. In 2016 he thought that due to their social media posts, they must be "racists". He told the author however, that the "Joneses exemplify a critical paradox that progressives often overlook or dismiss, to their own detriment." Despite their racist attitudes (determined by Giovanni based on social media posts), "they treat our family with nothing but love and respect, in fact, they treat my sister and me to be their adoptive grandkids".

She goes on; "I found Giovanni's story to be striking first because he was talking about racism in a way that is completely taboo among progressives (the group he identifies with). Among progressives, once someone is deemed racist, that's it. You can't talk to them, you can't compromise, and you certainly can't suggest they might be decent people just because they are nice to a few minorities.".

Perhaps Giovanni is an Easter Person (Christian)? Somewhere in his heart might he imagine that his judgement is less than ultimate, and that ALL are redeemable? For me, the saddest part of Hillary's deploreables comment was that she judged them (us?)  "irredeemable". As a Christian, it isn't the Joneses works that make them redeemable -- nor mine, nor anyones. If it were, then Christ would not have needed to die because ultimate redemption would be a matter of meeting some standard of works (vs proper social media posts as judged by "progressives"). "Morality" would  be a matter of "keeping up with the Joneses"!

We have exchanged a dominant culture where all people were at a minimum "redeemable", and at least the standard was that as a practicing Christian we were  bound to not only not judge them, but to even LOVE them! For a "progressive" culture where worth can be judged via social media posts, redemption from such posts is not possible, and such posts define your worth even beyond repeated actions! Giovanni is a rare person -- rare enough for his Yale professor to call out his behavior in not cutting off people that have been kind to his family for years on the basis of social media posts to be an "amazing hopeful sign" in this tribal nation of BOistan!

As I wait for the potential of yet another major spring snow storm, I reflect on where our culture has moved over my lifetime. In my youth and even up to middle age, it was considered wise to believe in a set of transcendent values  that included a created world with a loving God showing us how to live happily not only in this life, but eternally, and feeling gratidude to be blessed to be  living in a nation with a written Constitution, exceptional among all nations on the planet, insuring our right to think and live freely in peace with our neighbors.

We traded that for a world where this short life is all we have, the whole of Western culture is nothing but a terrible tale of oppression, and the avowed purpose of our nation is to insure that there will be nothing recognizeable in the future save "accelerating change" toward an unknown, but promised to be "progressive" future. We are required to believe in this, rather than anything we might see with our own eyes -- lest we be judged "irredeemable deplorables" by the elites driving this "progress". Oh, and "nonbelievers" in the "progressive" mantra are to be pitied -- for it is guaranteed by the elites that the "future beyond the future" is CERTAIN to be even more wonderful! What a brave new world!

Have we not been to this movie before? Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!

Why The West Was Won, Victor Davis Hanson

A worthy final book review for the end of Moose Tracks. I regularly have blogged on articles by Dr Hanson who writes regularly for National Review, where I find his thinking always of merit and with whom I am typically in agreement with. The depth and scholarship of this work of 455 pages is amazing, even more so when I look at the giant list of books by Dr Hanson -- although an avid reader, I could spend years just catching up with Hanson's writings, let alone a sampling of the classic writers that he often references.

My lack of any training in Greek or Latin makes many of the historical names difficult for me -- Dr Hanson is one more reminder of my lack of historical and classical education.

The book can be summarized fairly simply -- it is a series of battles that bring to light the way of Western warfare. Hanson argues that because of the relative democracy, freedom and private property rights of Western peoples from Greece onward, the west developed the unique character of attacking in mass with a disciplined and cohesive force, and then pressing the attack until the opposition was no longer able to make war. A world of private property and advancement of personal and family fortunes was the way of the West ... and that made WINNING and STOPPING war a priority!

In a recent case that we are familiar with, Japan never imagined that by attacking Pearl Harbor, the US would declare total war on them with no thought of any "negotiations" to come before unconditional surrender. For the Japanese, and other imperial, "god as emperor/king" cultures, wars had elements of symbolism, martial artistry, "honor", and ritual -- they were not simply about getting the bloody task over with as quickly and efficiently as possible. War was an important part of their very culture.

For the West, no matter how great the slaughter on the battlefield, it was seen as "moral" compared with the mutilation of prisoners, women and children. The culture of the west up to recently was in line with the character in this clip from the unforgiven -- if you want to take the west on in battle, you better arm yourself.

In a slight measure, the book is a response to "Guns, Germs and Steel" which Davis finds to not make it's case -- western armies, even with superior weaponry were defeated by native forces on a number of occasions. Cortez was defeated and barely escaped with his life from Tenochtitlan in the summer of 1520, only to amazingly return and win in the summer of 1521! "Germs" affected both sides. What the non-Western adversaries lacked was the ability to form proper formations and successfully fight using them with discipline and resolve, even when leadership was killed.

The story of Western military dominance according to Hanson is one of strong independent individuals at all levels of the force who are drilled and BELIEVE that staying in rank, maintaining the line, and no running are the ultimate best way to stay alive and WIN. Without democracy and private property, it is not possible for a nation to hold this advantage, even if they purchase Western armaments. Western culture could not be bought ... but unfortunately, as with Rome and Britain before it, it has certainly been squandered.

The section on Midway makes that case exceptionally strong. Yorktown returns from the battle of the coral sea to Honolulu heavily damaged with repair estimates of 3-6 months. Admiral Nimitz says he MUST have Yorktown at Midway, and he himself is in hip boots under the hull assessing damage before the dry dock is even drained. Because of the ability of the American workers to operate  without close supervision and know exactly what needed to be done, they worked around the clock and she steamed out of the harbor with the last of the workers still finishing up as she headed into battle 68 hours after she came into port!

The Japanese carriers damaged or losing many planes at Coral Sea -- Shokaku and Zuikaku with FAR less severe damage, sat in their repair port of Kure during Midway battle. Reverse this picture, and the US goes up against SIX Japanese carriers with TWO, rather than the 3 on 4 which resulted in the Japanese losing all 4 carriers and thus the initiative in the war only 6 months after their victory at Pearl.

The tales of the battles are detailed and BLOODY -- on all sides. The book gives some real insight into what battle and life was like for soldiers of Greek and Persian empires, the Romans, the Spanish Conquistadors, the British Empire, etc.

While Vietnam and subsequent anti-war protests have possibly weakened the Western resolve to win, and most of all to do it quickly and efficiently, Hanson maintains that as long as democracy, personal freedom and basic private property continue to exist, so will the Western way of war.

Interestingly, the orginianl Star Trek, right during the Vietnam war had an episode called "A Taste of Armageddon" about two civilizations that had been "at war" for a very long time where "attacks" were carried out by computer simulation, casualty figures totalled up, and people filed into "disintegrators" as war casualities -- very tidy, no loss of costly infrastrucure. When the Enterprise is computer "collateral damage", Kirk decides to give them the option to negotiate or engage in real actual very messy war.

A worthy read if you want to know about western military tradition and some of the key battles of history.

Billy, Not Bill, Graham

I have been derelict in commenting on the passing of Billy Graham. I always hated being called "Billy" myself ... proof that I lacked the humility of Rev Graham. It is fitting my Bible reading has just taken me through Joshua, so I've been reading a lot of Moses, the most humble man in the OT, having been offered the chance to be the new Abraham by God multiple times, as God sought to destroy Israel and raise up a new nation with Moses as the father. And each time, Moses talked him out of it. (which is one of my favortie things to ponder relative to God, God being willing to have his mind changed by mere man)

On the Red Rocks link, you should find the sermon that one of their ministers did honoring Rev Graham.  Red Rocks mission statement is "Making Heaven More Crowded", which was what Billy was up to as well. I'll let you know there is a really nice surprise at the end of the sermon that adds more to understanding the humility of Billy Graham -- it's your present for listening to the sermon, and I found to be a good one.

The NY Times piece is about what you would expect -- they wanted Billy Graham to be a social justice warrior for their view of what that concept might be, rather than preaching Jesus Christ crucified  to make Heaven more crowded. The NY Times mission is about creating a "heaven on earth" built to their own exacting specifications for "heaven". They closed their article as followes ...

The memory of Mr. Graham is rightly honored by those who shared his values and the goals for which he mobilized evangelical Christianity. But the rest of us can surely be forgiven if we remember him differently.
In a Christian civil society, we could honor and even love people who we disagree with while living, let alone when dead. We are admonished not to judge them while they live, and certainly once  the ultimate judge is taking care of judgement, we can honor even those who had many values that we disagreed with.

Martin Luther King Jr was a conservative Republican Christian minister who fought for civil rights, and who was a friend of Billy Graham, including joining him to speak at a Crusade in NY in 1957., The following quote is from the Washington Post, supporting MLKs conservative bonafides. I suspect even the NY Times, while they would no doubt do their best to re-write the "conservative Chrisitian, Republican" part of MLK's legacy, would still praise him more than his co-worker with Christ, Billy Graham.
“My friends,” Dr. King said in his Detroit sermon, “all I’m trying to say is that if we are to go forward today, we’ve got to go back and rediscover some mighty precious values that we’ve left behind. That’s the only way that we would be able to make of our world a better world, and to make of this world what God wants it to be. . . .”

Billy certainly would love to see ALL "the rest of us" forgiven, however the forgiveness that counts is from God, and that requires that we humble ourselves to God, not saying that we can "surely be forgiven". When judgemental language shows up in our DBT class, we sometimes refer to this ...

Christ also had VERY little to say about the Roman Empire, which was not all that much of a "kinder and gentler" sort of government. Christ and Dr Graham agreed that the important kingdom is "not of this world" --- eternity makes the mere lifetime of the universe ( 14 billion years so far, maybe 5 to go ) into one of those milli, micro, pico, femto. plank kinds of parts of a second that are way too short for us to register.

As a personal aside, by an odd happenstance, I stood and talked to Billy Graham's future daughter in-law as she was wearing her "slip" -- talk about "old times"!  A "slip" was a piece of women's clothing that a woman would wear over her other undergarments, basically a "white sun dress". As I stopped by the shared apartment to pick up the woman who would eventually introduce me to my wife (she was getting ready, imagine that!), one of her roommates stood and chatted with me, but seemed to be getting more and more red / flustered.

Those that know me are aware that I talk "easily" and my degree of being "observant" could be better. She finally blushingly tittered "I'm just wearing my slip" and ran off! ... not that it mattered, but this was a house of really conservative Christian women. She later went on to marry one of Billy's sons ... I'm not certain which. Sometimes memorable things happen while "waitin on a woman". In over 30 years of marriage, it is something I have some experience with ..

Many Baptist Churches were broken up by Billy Graham. The reason is because Billy was pretty much willing to stand on a stage with anyone -- no matter how liberal their theology, and all Christian churches have some level of "separation", a very tricky topic. I tend to see all of human life as having AT LEAST two ditches, and we are to seek to "drive" (live) on the road. Living in any ditch means that we have fallen into the perils of one side or the other. Being on "the way", means we are following Christ, however it is narrow.

In one ditch,  we have the problem of  separation / law  -- if there isn't anything different about Christians, then how will anyone know you are Chrisitan?  Matt 5:13 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet."

In the other ditch, we have the problem of legalism -- a problem that we could quote MANY verses on, and Christ himself was WAY harder on than sin --  go read the "7 woes" in Matthew 23 for one example of just how hard. It seems the "worse ditch" is this one based on our pride, and the idea of personal "virtue". Satan fell because of pride, Judas failed to repent because of pride, and it is pride that leads to unbelief that is the unforgiveable sin.

While the essence of Christ and therefore, practicing Christians, is to love and to serve, this ditch says that "our church / tribe / world view / ideology / etc" has it "right / correct / smart / just / etc" and WE must put others in "judgement / separation / punishment / isolation / etc".

As Christ said to the rich young Jewish ruler in Luke 18:19 "Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good--except God alone."

For Christians, this would seem to preclude our judgement of ourselves as "good". Dangerously, outside of Christ, men find their views to be superior and thus "good".  Even when those they disagree with leave this mortal coil, they still find them not worth of honor since they didn't share THEIR values.
The way of Billy Graham was one of humility, as was that of Martin Luther King Jr and Jesus. How does man find humility outside of Jesus?

What Does It All Mean? The Beginning of the End

This post starts the final series of posts for Moose Tracks. Some of the remaining are just "standard posts", however I made a promise to end the blog, and I didn't want anyone watching to see posts keep dribbling out -- the end should show up virtually at the same time as this series.

There are over 4600 posts in the blog, so I'm the not a moose of few words. In conversation however, I have often summed up the meaning of it all with the stolen anecdote, "Jesus loves me, this I know". Here is the proof of that oft repeated anecdote.

According to the best accounts of the incident I have heard (many have taken on weird additions), Karl Barth was at Rockefeller Chapel (really a Gothic cathedral!) on the campus of the University of Chicago during his lecture tour of the U.S. in 1962. After his lecture, during the Q & A time, a student asked Barth if he could summarize his whole life’s work in theology in a sentence. Barth allegedly said something like “Yes, I can. In the words of a song I learned at my mother’s knee: ‘Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” That is the simple, unadorned story. Many tellers have adorned it with additions of their own (in sermons, etc.).

Karl Barth is considered by many to be the most important theologian of the 20th Century. Life is short, eternity is long -- it's good that the truly important things are simple! There is nothing simpler nor more profound than "Jesus loves me, this I know".

What did the Jesus who loves us have to say about what is important? Matthew 22:37-40

7 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

God, Family, Friends, Vocation, and Study are where my life focus remains as I close on the age of 62 this fall. 

The solo trip that I took on the Wing back in 2104 was something that I enjoyed putting on the blog -- the final entry from that trip is "I Hold On".  It was an advanture that I was blessed to be able to have. It was not profound, it was self centered, it served no purpose but being a fun adventure. I believe life is more than that, however having such things in your life can make it a little richer. If our life is "about fun", that is a concern. It does not however make "having fun" wrong! To everything there is a season!

As long time readers know, I love putting in little song or video clips in the blog. I like doing it mostly because it anchors sometimes nebulous or dry information in a modern idiom at least for me. It is also one of those things that we CAN do with a lot of ease in a digital blog medium that is not possible on the paper printed page.

The most profound work I read in the last year was "The Divine Conspiracy" by Dallas Willard, while the most daunting was "The Secular Age" ... both of them relate to the same common theme that I return to again and again. The conviction of my soul that this "stuff", this mere matter is not all there is, and the dull dread that if Western civilization continues it's fall from Metaphysical Realism to Nominalism, there will be nothing left for Christians to do but to hide out to maintain a remnant in some sort of "Benedict Option".

And so the end begins.