Friday, December 9, 2011

Old Fashioned Writing

     Many people become more conservative as they age. Part of this shift is surely the wisdom of experience, but it would be pointless to pretend the process is entirely rational. Some of the drift toward conservatism derives from the loss of the world we knew in youth. When young, we learn all about the world. We learn how to talk, dress, and behave appropriately in that world. Once that world begins to disappear, we feel mal-adapted, and it is no wonder we resist further change. Yet again, another part of the conservative drift has to do more with æsthetics than anything else. It is not so much that we feel mal-adapted to appreciate the music of the young, for instance, as it is that we feel the music of our youth was simply better. We feel this all the more keenly when the change in the world is not just a shift in taste but the effective demise of what we love. For instance, the rise of the keyboard, the mouse, and the touch screen has effectively killed the old fashioned art of penmanship.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Forget Them Not

     Three score and ten years ago—a lifetime, in fact—Americans were called by history to rise and answer a challenge greater than any we have faced since. For all the horror of the attacks on 9/11, there was no military peer behind them. There was no empire. In 1941, Americans understood they were threatened with the fall of the republic to an imperial aggressor. In 2001, Americans understood they were not. We, the grateful children and grandchildren of the generation that fought and won a total war, will not forget their patriotism. Nor, if we are wise, will we squander the liberty they secured for us.

USS Maryland alongside capsized USS Oklahoma, December 7, 1941.
Photo credit:  U.S. National Park Service

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Why Do Skeptics Not Believe In God?

     The estimable Mark English posed a question rather like this some time recently. It has been rolling around in my mind since then. In my case, to the extent I was aware of anything like religion before about age six I seem to have assumed that “God and Jesus” were givens. About that time there was a conversation with my father. I still remember two sentences of it clearly. I said to him, “But you have to admit that God and Jesus exist, right?” He said, “No.” From then on I do not remember thinking about religion much for many years. I went to church when visiting the religious members of our extended family. I liked the formality, the music, the sense of common bond. But I always knew I was an alien in the congregation. Sometimes, on these visits, I would be sent to Sunday school. Once, having run across some book on what was not yet called Wicca, it appeared a good idea to explain to the other teens in Sunday school that so-called witches didn’t really worship the Devil. They worshipped nature instead, so give them a break. I can’t remember whether there were any family conversations afterward, but it seems likely the Sunday school teacher would have spoken to my local relatives, who would likely have spoken to my parents, who apparently decided that I was even then free to make up my own mind about things.