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March 31, 2013 - March 24, 2013

Saturday, March 30, 2013


Easter.

Gaelic. St. Patrick. Oh right. The Dark Ages.

THE SOMETHING THAT DOESN'T GO AWAY. I know that in future millennia moving works of music, art, and architecture will be produced in honor of a woman who had the world-changing wisdom to love no one but herself, but today is still, however briefly, the rejuvenating memorial of a different mentality.

I'm proposing a one-day truce. Anyone seen the movie Joyeux Noel?  Troops on the front lines in World War I who just stopped fighting for a day in honor of someone who cannot be named here without inciting a firestorm of scathing condescension.



That would be welcome, wouldn't it? She might not approve. But He would. Here's a look through his eyes, as us stupid, gullible mud gubblers have imagined it.


Dagny would have run a rail line through this superstitious waste of time.

I'm sure the competing vision is equal if not superior, given the glory of the intellect involved.


Hank Reardon couldn't have done a better job...

Shostakovich would have known how to smash the windows of Chartres in the name of smartishness, I'm sure. For a creature of the rational state he was brilliant.


You can almost see them building the Soviet Palace.

But did he ever equal this?



Sure he did. We'll learn how and why soon enough. When the totalitarians get through using the genius libertarians. Until then, we'll just be our usual dumb selves. Reminding ourselves that we're people who need something bigger than ourselves to believe in -- without consenting that we're worthless units in some Utopian plan run by a hierarchy of IQ obsessives.. Or something. You know. Maybe something divine in all of us that requires us to stand, now and then, in awe of creation and the new life it keeps offering.

Happy Easter, everyone.

P.S. Lady Laird is celebrating Easter too. Her gift to you is this.



One of her favorites.

P.P.S. No, I didn't use the occasion of Easter to scrape off Brizoni's last post. Actually, it sounded like the debate was finally getting good. If you want to continue it, go here. You can still add comments, and if the fireworks are good enough. I'll post them as their own new post. btw, I've spoken with the man on the phone, and he agrees it was inappropriate to crash our Easter celebration. He stands by everything else he said, however. Have at it.




Thursday, March 28, 2013


Black History Month:
A Radical Suggestion.

Time Is Tight. Never more so than today.
Interesting. First name at Stax Records
was Booker T. Anybody ever heard the
story about how his namesake first got
into school? Look it up. Total class act.

OR READ THIS. I know. Black History Month was in February. It's over now. Everyone can breathe a sigh of relief. No more History Channel retreads of the Civil Rights movement and the assassination of Martin Luther King. No more ESPN on-demand agglomerations of basketball documentaries. No more movie channel repeats of Malcolm X, Do the Right Thing, and Glory. No more Military Channel documentaries about the Tuskeegee Airmen. No more Discovery Health Channel exposures of the unforgivable "syphilis experiment."


If black history month is worth anything, why does this routine draw laughs?

I have some thoughts on the matter. Like, maybe it's time to stop segregating black history to one month of the year. They are 12 to 13 percent of the U.S. population. Perhaps their experience is significant enough to be featured throughout the year on the channels that presume to care about our heritage. And maybe it's time to think about who the audience is for black history television. My distinct impression is that it's all aimed at white people. Yes, this is the month of the year when you're supposed to feel guilty for all the ways you've victimized African-Americans over the decades. The racist assumption is that black people aren't the target demographic, because all they watch is basketball and foul-mouthed black comedians and sitcoms. Oh. And the NFL and some dedicated black channels.

So here's my radical suggestion. [And there's some urgency to it because the Obama administration has probably set back race relations 50 years. A president who feels obliged to tell the electorate, "I am not a king," "I am not an emperor," "I am not a dictator" just might be abusing the perquisites of high office, which doesn't at all play into the hands of those who need to be disabused of racial stereotypes.] Cover black history seriously and comprehensively, the good, the bad, and the ugly, as if they were Christian or Irish or Italian or even from Ohio.

There. I said it. Let the abuse begin to rain down.

My point is neither racist nor reductionist. It's expansionist. Consider the reporting on black history a huge responsibility, aimed at both whites and blacks. Above all, end the victimization narrative by recognizing both black individual achievement, which is considerable, and black participation in many of the worst turns in black history, which is also considerable. In other words, acknowledge that they are like the rest of us, some good, some bad, some incomprehensible, but all Americans and always intrinsic to our national experience.

It's become MSM gospel to condemn old-timey Christian movies because of the reverential narration they affect. Hasn't it become the same with every treatment of the Civil Rights movement, both documentary and fictional? Was Charlton Heston really qualitatively different in his godly tone of voice from Samuel Jackson, Keith David, Roscoe Lee Browne, and Ossie Davis in all those documentaries and movies about slavery and the Civil Rights movement? Yeah, it was bad. Saints? Cicely Tyson? really? Give it a rest.

Let's do history rather than modern-slanted propaganda. Let the kids learn that life involves more than grudges and money.

For example, there are now multiple channels whose demographics are principally black. MTV. BET. OWN. Probably others. I don't know. Why not do some work as opposed to cheap fill in the blanks bullshit? Black history didn't begin with Martin Luther King. The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow isn't the NBA or the NFL. The story of African-Americans isn't just about about politics.

There have been black writers and poets.

There have been black doctors and scientists.

There have been black entertainment and musical stars, beloved around the world (from the seminal to the spectacularly eccentric to the decently great to the doomed geniuses). We can''t have Bio Channel treatments of their lives that aren't just about race but individual drive and achievement?

There have been black entrepreneurs, successful to an astonishing degree. Some good, some bad.

There have been sports stars who transcended race to become national heroes, beloved by all. Some domestic and one or two (or many more, of course) international.

There have been black heroes who dueled (right, left, and center,) in competition for the hearts and minds of the people.

There have been black statesmen in both major parties, Democrat and Republican.

There have been black military heroes who didn't renounce their country.

There have been black intellectuals few people of either party have the gonads to confront directly.

There have been black villains, who connived and stole and ruined people's lives and somehow made a career out of it.

Shouldn't we be doing documentaries about all these people? Pieces designed to convince young people to study hard in school, learn shit, persist against all odds, and believe in themselves until they finally make it?

No. Obviously not. Black History Month has become yet one more example of the ghettoization of African Americans. Victims once, victims always. Harp noises. A documentary never done because it's so politically incorrect -- slavery is still practiced today. Run out of Africa. Does anybody know that? No.

How about an honest history of the passing of the Civil Rights bill. Democrats voted against it, Republicans for it. Maybe ONE of the channels could tell the truth about it.

Why we need a whole new approach.

Why this post today? Saw the only even-handed documentary about white-black issues I've ever watched.



Watch the whole thing. You won't of course. You never do. Motown was a factory. Stax Records was a liberation. A place, initially, where race didn't matter. Now it's a microcosm of everything that went wrong between black and white in the Sixties. So much has gone wrong. And now we're reaping the whirlwind. And his name is... Eric Holder.

But the names that matter, oh, they're legion. I'll leave you with just one. Otis Redding and the song that got him a contract when everyone thought he was just the guy unloading the equipment for the band he was roadying for. This was his audition.


Yeah. There really was a time when black music was about love, not guns, booty, and Bentleys.

He sang. Late, late at night. After most everyone had gone home. And everyone, from technicians to secretaries, came out of the woodwork to give him an ovation. What we should all do for, well... oh, forget it. Nobody will understand. Let alone the libs.

Why now? Because you've got eleven months to plan how to do it better. What I call fair warning.

P.S. If PBS cared about Black History Month, they'd play the whole of the Ken Burns Jazz series. They don't. Why? Because it makes clear in aggregate that jazz is not just a joyful spike of black creativity but an incredibly inspiring union of white and black that produced stars and victims on both sides. Which has nothing to do with the point of Black History Month at PBS.

Still. I'd recommend watching the whole series. Art produces victims aplenty all around. Something to remember when you're casting the whole universe in racial terms. You know. A good sign that you're a complete idiot.




Tuesday, March 26, 2013



Forgotten Gems...

Tin Drums

The dark side of Peter Pan. Not growing up is a powerful temptation.

SECOND ENTRY. Didn't get a lot of play here. It was in German. About a three-year-old who suddenly decided to stop growing. He discovered that his voice could cut and shatter glass. For you sticklers for authenticity, here's the German trailer.



There's a scene in the book I can't find, in which Oskar drums against the Christ Child in a church. It doesn't go well. The Christ Child can drum too. The following excerpt will have to do, extracted badly by me from a PDF file. So it goes.

There was once a drummer, his name was Oskar. When they took away his toy merchant and ransacked the
shop, he suspected that hard times were in the offing for gnomelike drummers like himself. And so, in leaving
the store, he picked out of the ruins a whole drum and two that were not so badly injured, hung them round his
neck, and so left Arsenal Passage for the Kohlenmarkt to look for his father, who was probably looking for him.
Outside, it was a November morning. Beside the Stadt-Theater, near the streetcar stop, some pious ladies and
strikingly ugly young girls were handing out religious tracts, collecting money in collection boxes, and holding
up, between two poles, a banner with an inscription quoted from the thirteenth chapter of the First Epistle to the
Corinthians. “Faith… hope… love,” Oskar read and played with the three words as a juggler plays with bottles:
faith healer, Old Faithful, faithless hope, hope chest, Cape of Good Hope, hopeless love, Love’s Labour’s Lost,
six love. An entire credulous nation believed, there’s faith for you, in Santa Claus. But Santa Claus was really the
gasman. I believe—such is my faith—that it smells of walnuts and almonds. But it smelled of gas. Soon, so they
said, ‘twill be the first Sunday of Advent. And the first, second, third, and fourth Sundays of Advent were turned
on like gas cocks, to produce a credible smell of walnuts and almonds, so that all those who liked to crack nuts
could take comfort and believe:

He’s coming. He’s coming. Who is coming? The Christ child, the Saviour? Or is it the heavenly gasman with
the gas meter under his arm, that always goes ticktock? And he said: I am the Saviour of this world, without me
you can’t cook. And he was not too demanding, he offered special rates, turned on the freshly polished gas
cocks, and let the Holy Ghost pour forth, so the dove, or squab, might be cooked. And handed out walnuts and
almonds which were promptly cracked, and they too poured forth spirit and gas...

I read what tastes good to me, but what tastes good to you? Slices of sausage and quotations from sausage casings
and books—and never will we learn
who had to be reduced to silence before sausage casings could be filled, before books could speak, stuffed full of
print, I know not, but I surmise: It is the same butchers who fill dictionaries and sausage casings with language
and sausage, there is no Paul, the man’s name was Saul and a Saul he was, and it was Saul who told the people of
Corinth something about some priceless sausages that he called faith, hope, and love, which he advertised as
easily digestible and which to this very day, still Saul though forever changing in form, he palms off on mankind.
As for me, they took away my toy merchant, wishing with him to banish all toys from the world.

There was once a musician, his name was Meyn, and he played the trumpet too beautifully for words.
There was once a toy merchant, his name was Markus and he sold tin drums, lacquered red and white.
There was once a musician, his name was Meyn and he had four cats, one of which was called Bismarck.
There was once a drummer, his name was Oskar, and he needed the toy merchant.

I guess we all need the toy merchant, in one way or another. Oskar finally decided to grow again, but he left it too long. There was forever after a hump in his back. There are always consequences. For all of us. Who doesn't have a tin drum to beat on? And a toy we can't let go of.

P. S. Since we're on the Forgotten Gems topic, here's what really made Peter Pan the gigantic hit it became. Mary Martin as the eternal boy. Reminder that the millennials didn't actually invent gender confusion.



Sorry to burst any bubbles out there. Well. Not really. Honestly, most of us haven't lived under a rock all these years. We're just polite. Which gets mistaken for stupid. By the incurably stupid.




Monday, March 25, 2013



Forgotten Gems...

THE Western Spoof.

The hero has to know how to make an entrance...

NOT INCLUDED HERE EITHER. Oh you thought that was Blazing Saddles? Sorry. That came much later. The first and best one was Cat Ballou. Why best? No fart jokes. I really hate fart jokes. They remind me of the whole current generation of standup comics, whom I also hate. Besides, Cat Ballou was just better all round. Jane Fonda was still a comely ingenue, Cleavon Little was great in BS but no Nat King Cole, and Lee Marvin won an Oscar for a gunfighter performance I somehow neglected to include here.


Couldn't find the actual gunfight. Trust me. It was a pip.
All serious and everything. Well dressed too. Lots of black.

He plays the part of both Alan Ladd and Jack Palance in a Shane sendup, and the movie's denouement prefigures (what spoof anticipates a classic of the genre?!) the hangman-cheating con of Clint Eastwood and Eli Wallach in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly -- with the added bonus of allowing us to look straight up Jane's skirt before Lee shoots up the town to cover the getaway.


And don't forget Dobie Gillis...

And there was actually one good song in the mix too. See if you can pick it out.


Nat King Cole. He adds class even in a walk-on.

No, don't thank me. I'm just trying to get in your good graces before the next Brizoni post puts us all in our theocratic places. Are you packing? Good. Me too.

Oops. Didn't give you the actual trailer. Here it is.


Please tell me Jane didn't do a politically incorrect Injun whoop-whoop thing...

Sillyfights can be fun. Remember that. In the days to come.

P.S. My better half reminds me it's not fair to bury a lovely song in a long clip. Rectifying the error:


Sadly, his last frame in this clip was also Nat's farewell.
He died in February 1965, close to Cat Ballou's release.

A sorrier but more moving way to end a post, I think we can all agree.





Number 1! Number 1!


THE RESTORATION. Fitzgerald famously said, there are no second acts in American lives. He was wrong.

Pardon me for being gleeful. You have no idea how disgusted I've been by ESPN's multi-year, joyful obituary of Tiger Woods. While NFL and NBA players got arrested and forgiven for gun crimes, domestic violence, assaults, drug offenses, DUIs, murder (Hi, Ray!) and killing dogs (which is, you know, a mistake), the poobahs at the nation's sports network singled out Tiger for special abuse. He cheated on his wife, pretty monumentally. Nobody else in the NFL/NBA/NHL/MLB ever did that. They were outraged and their reporting reflected it. He was done, they were pleased to report, he was a shell of his former self, he had lost the 'intimidation factor' that probably helped him win in the first place. "Nobody's afraid of him anymore," they exulted. When he missed a cut, which he's done more rarely than any professional golfer in modern history, they made it the lead of entire broadcasts.

Why? Because ESPNers are so slavishly faithful to their own wives? [Time out while we all chortle in unison.] No. They hate Tiger because before his screw-up they had no way of feeling superior to him whatever. It's easy to feel superior to NBA superstars. They pronounce the word 'ask' as 'ax.' Easy to love Bret Favre because he's as dumb as the guy who loses your credit card at the Citgo. They don't dare look down on Peyton Manning because he's a threat to take their own jobs some day and, you know, U. Tennessee ain't Harvard. But Tiger...?

Whole other story. Uppity sumbitch. Stanford. Composed. Articulate. Reserved. Maybe a little condescending to even those blueblood golf reporters? Dayamn. And richer than the CEO of ESPN and, not incidentally, God himself. Never going to audition for a spot as SportsCenter host. Hate him, hate him, hate him.

Crystallized for me, finally, by one of Imus's sidekicks (Geez, there's a kickback in time; haven't watched those sorry losers in two years). The studio erupted in laughter at his impression of Tiger, which was actually an impression of Richard Pryor doing his (truthfully, rotten) impression of a white guy. But everybody fell on the floor laughing about it. Aren't we all sooo sophisticated these days? We even know which black people we can safely make fun of.

Come again? Tiger is laughable because he's some kind of phony white guy nerd? Really?

Let's walk this all back a bit. Tiger is a joke because he doesn't speak Ebonics. Tiger is a joke because he's dominated his sport more thoroughly than anyone in history, including Gretsky, Jordan, and Johnny Unitas. Tiger is a joke because he's gotten laid more often and in more ways than the most salacious fantasies of ESPN's lowliest girls-locker-room-peeper correspondent. Tiger is a joke because he's so rich he could go all Howard Hughes on us in a moment and never appear in public again -- because he doesn't need us. For anything.

No. Tiger is a joke because he doesn't give up his quest to be the world's greatest golfer. He keeps playing in tournaments. What an asshole. We're laughing, he's losing, and we just can't get enough of his humiliations. He's supposed to know he's done because we said he was. He missed the cut! Hah! He missed the cut!!! We've got three interviews with young golfer punks who will tell us how "over" the whole Tiger thing is. And how about that Phil Mickelson? And that Rory McElroy. The next Tiger, if we ever thought Tiger was.

I. Love. It.

ESPN cannot kill Tiger. Nothing can kill Tiger except Mr. Death himself. He's a demonstration of the limits of media. And the power.

There are times when a smart man or woman just bows to greatness and quits trying to chip it away. Muhammed Ali. Secretariat. Tiger Woods. So monumental in legend that everyone else in the future of their sport will be measured against them and probably found wanting.

If Tiger had died in that late night car accident, he'd still be the greatest golfer who ever lived. And nobody in professional golfing should ever say a word against him. When he plays, TV watchers watch. When he doesn't, they don't. Simple. Living legends are the rarest thing on earth. Every professional golfer on earth is just an extra in the Tiger Woods story. Don't like it? Then find yourself a story you like better. Maybe HBO has something you'd prefer.

Today was kind of funny. Mr. Tactless, i.e., Johnny Miller, has always had a talent for the truth. Which gets him in trouble. Probably not today, though. He said, and I'm paraphrasing here, so only half-quotes, 'People have gotten over-focused on the Majors. Maybe Jack Nicklaus did that (throat clearing noises), don't know. But winning tournaments, lots of them, that's the real measure. And nobody wins tournaments like Tiger Woods.'

What he was pointing out is that is Tiger has already won more total tournaments than Jack Nicklaus ever did. In about half the career. He's chasing a guy (Sneed) who played well into his fifties and may overtake him before too long.

Today, Tiger put McElroy back in his place. Nothing against the kid. He knows Tiger is better. Said as much a week or two ago when he acknowledged he should have been tough as Tiger when he dropped out of a tournament for a toothache and a bad mood.

Bigger question. Will ESPN be able to overcome its own envy, hatred, and lust for superiority now that Tiger is once again, officially, Number 1?

Number 1! Did we mention that? Number 1!

Shakespeare never had an ESPN literary network to give (or withhold) its stamp of approval. What would they have done in the face of the greatest ever in their mediocre eyesight?

Probably the same as today's ESPN.

Bear that in mind, you superiors of the universe. Bear it in mind.





A Theory
of Moral Progress


First watch, then read.


HERE'S A LINK TO SHARE WITH YOUR FRIENDS. Robert has requested I take this discussion out of the latest Brits thread and make it its own post. Not a problem. But first, a loose end to tie up.

"The 'elite' part is a direct inversion." No, it isn't. Ayn Rand wasn't an elitist? Atlas Shrugged? The hard-working, creative smart ones go on strike and thereby sink the entire nation. Nothing elitist about that as a model.

But it wasn't a model. It was a demonstration-- who moves the world-- via a hypothetical-- what if the men of the mind went on strike? If Atlas had been a blueprint, Rand herself certainly had the means to follow it, to take a serious swing at starting a new society somewhere in the Rockies. She wasn't interested. And laughed at anyone who suggested it. (And they didn't sink the ship. The ship was already sinking. The heroes of Atlas were those who insisted on their right not to spend every waking moment of their lives bailing it out.)

OK then. Down to business.

"We just have to admit (Christianity) is insufficient." An historical tautology. If the founders had thought Christianity 'sufficient,' they'd have seen no need for a Constitution. But they did. Men need laws as well as inspiration. Problem is, your vision is not intended to complement the moral foundation you and everyone else in the freedom business have borrowed from the only major religion that believes in individual freedom. You wish to replace it altogether because of all the tenets and people associated with it who personally offend you.

First, I'm saying Christianity and theism in general are insufficient AS a moral foundation. Second, law and morality are not seperate concerns. The former is properly determined by the latter. Third, his use of the word "personally" is a masterstroke. Paints a picture of my offense existing in a vacuum of self-regard, unconnected to any fact or reasonable standard of value. And one has to applaud the artfulness of the euphemism "complement." It's the best possible word in the language he can use to describe what the Founders did without collapsing into gibberish. "Improve," advance," "evolve," and "augment" all subordinate Christianity too much for his liking. Even "suppliment" implies too clearly that Christianity needed something added to it (and even the Founders who were committed Christians presumed to know true Christianity better than any Christian since the year zip, including Charlemange and Augustine and even Paul). Ironically, "compliment" better connotes supplication.

Here's my theory. Not only should morality be life-centric and not God-centric, but it has always been life-centric. Whether or not anyone realized it.

This quote from old you-know-who is pertinent.

But you must remember that religion is an early form of philosophy, that the first attempts to explain the universe, to give a coherent frame of reference to man’s life and a code of moral values, were made by religion, before men graduated or developed enough to have philosophy.

An analogy: Just as religion's story of the natural world was a primitive form of philosophy-- guessing and imagining causes vs. observing and determining causes-- so God-centricity is a primitive form of life-centricity-- guessing and imagining a foundation of rules for human conduct vs. observing and determining a foundation of rules for human conduct.

God-centricity means the idea that morality consists of serving God. Life-centricity means the idea that morality consists of behaving so as to preserve human life and further human flourishing.

What the believers of ancient myths got right is that things do have sources. All that natural phenomena around them wasn't just a given. Wind has a cause. Something is happening under the earth that makes volcanoes erupt. It's important to guess and imagine, but for most of history, men made the mistake of being satisfied with a story that fit with the knowledge they had. It's taken us until very recently to learn that a better way is to expand our knowledge until we know the true story-- not just any old story that seems to make sense.

Similarly, what the God-centrics got right is that morality has a mandate. They understood that ethics were needed to survive. But their view of nature muddied their insight. Back when they thought God caused ­tornadoes and droughts and such, appeasing the God of nature made sense. And if that God's rules kept people from killing and robbing other people, people generally liked that. Some intuited that this might be the best part of the deal. Few realized that this was the real justification of the deal.

Watch that video up top, if you haven't yet. The Parliamentarians didn't work out so well for England. But who would dispense with the idea that, for their conduct, kings are answerable to men and not God alone? Who would deny that was a step in the right direction?­

And who would deny the clergy's obstinance in permitting any of those changes to come to pass?

The Christian Bible is a drug store. Its contents remain the same; but the medical practice changes. For eighteen hundred years these changes were slight - scarcely noticeable.... Not until far within our century was any considerable change in the practice introduced; and then mainly, or in effect only, in Great Britain and the United States. In the other countries to-day, the patient either still takes the ancient treatment or does not call the physician at all. In the English-speaking countries the changes observable in our century were forced by that very thing just referred to - the revolt of the patient against the system; they were not projected by the physician. The patient fell to doctoring himself, and the physician’s practice began to fall off. He modified his method to get back his trade. He did it gradually, reluctantly; and never yielded more at a time than the pressure compelled....

To the ecclesiastical physician of fifty years ago, his predecessor for eighteen centuries was a quack; to the ecclesiastical physician of to-day, his predecessor of fifty years ago was a quack. To the every-man-his-own-ecclesiastical-doctor of - when? - what will the ecclesiastical physician of to-day be?...

During many ages there were witches. The Bible said so. The Bible commanded that they should not be allowed to live. Therefore the Church, after doing its duty in but a lazy and indolent way for eight hundred years, gathered up its halters, thumbscrews, and firebrands, and set about its holy work in earnest. She worked hard at it night and day during nine centuries and imprisoned, tortured, hanged, and burned whole hordes and armies of witches, and washed the Christian world clean with their foul blood.

Then it was discovered that there was no such thing as witches, and never had been. One does not know whether to laugh or to cry. Who discovered that there was no such thing as a witch - the priest, the parson? No, these never discover anything. At Salem, the parson clung pathetically to his witch text after the laity had abandoned it in remorse and tears for the crimes and cruelties it has persuaded them to do. The parson wanted more blood, more shame, more brutalities; it was the unconsecrated laity that stayed his hand. In Scotland the parson killed the witch after the magistrate had pronounced her innocent; and when the merciful legislature proposed to sweep the hideous laws against witches from the statute book, it was the parson who came imploring, with tears and imprecations, that they be suffered to stand.

There are no witches. The witch text remains; only the practice has changed. Hell fire is gone, but the text remains. Infant damnation is gone, but the text remains. More than two hundred death penalties are gone from the law books, but the texts that authorized them remain.


But this he did say.

This all begs the question: By what standard do we decide which texts to implement and which to ignore? I say that standard has always been life-centricity (a fumbling, blind groping toward that standard, but glass half full). Morality's mandate is man's need for it. Not God's demand of it.

Look at it from another angle. What impelled the Roundheads to disempower the king? Was it staunch piety? Remember that (some) scripture and all of Christian tradition was against them on this point. Was it avarice and ambition that they contrived to twist the scriptures in support of? Remember that they didn't have to "twist" the story of David any more than Charles I had to twist Ecclesiastes. Or did they implicitly understand that men couldn't be free under an unanswerable sovereign? And could it be that the cruelties and excesses that followed under their rule came about because their understanding was only implicit?

Go back further. Look at the major milestones of religion. What impelled the inevntion of Yahweh? What impelled Jesus to so fundamentally transform Judaism? Why did gods of popular imagination go steadily-- slowly, but steadily-- from demanding virgin sacrifices to proclaiming the brotherhood of man? How did the ideal of "peace on earth" catch on with so many whose avowed cosmology insisted life on earth was merely prepatory for life in heaven (why do people who believe in heaven cry at funerals, for that matter)? My answer is that man's moral strivings can't help but hew at least a little to the standard of life.

For most of human history, God was a reasonable supposition. Now, our knowledge has expanded to the point where that's not quite the case. Even the religious (now) agree that you can't prove God. What they don't realize is that that fact alone takes God off the table as a justification for morality. Which is fine. We've had, implicitly, a better justification the whole time. Now it's time to make it explicit.




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