Monday, August 30, 2021

No mercy for sin

For years and years I wandered this earth
Until I died and went to hell
But my despair had ascended to heaven
That's how I finally got rid of it
-- They Might Be Giants, "Hopeless Bleak Despair"

For it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.
-- Matthew 5:29, 30

For he said unto him that the Lord surely should come to redeem his people, but that he should not come to redeem them in their sins, but to redeem them from their sins.
-- Helaman 5:10

Then cried they all again, saying, "Not this man, but Barabbas." Now Barabbas was a robber.
-- John 18:40

Well I do believe in miracles
And I want to save my soul
And I know that I'm a sinner
I'm gonna die here in the cold . . .
You'll never make a saint of me
-- The Rolling Stones, "Saint of Me"

A man died and was brought before St. Peter at the pearly gates.

"Let me say in all sincerity that I would like very much to let you in," said St. Peter. "However, you lived a life full of sin, and your heart is full of sin even now. No unclean thing can enter Heaven but must be cast into the fire. That is the law, and there are no exceptions."

"I know it, I know it," said the man -- and, weeping and wailing and gnashing his teeth, he was cast down into hell.

A few days later, another man died and was brought before St. Peter at the pearly gates.

"Let me say in all sincerity that I would like very much to let you in," said St. Peter. "However, you lived a life full of sin, and your heart is full of sin even now. No unclean thing can enter Heaven but must be cast down into hell. That is the law, and there are no exceptions."

"Oh, thank God, thank God!" cried the man through tears of joy -- and his sin was cast into the fire, and he ascended, clean.

The flesh cannot be expected to be other than weak, but the spirit must be willing. That is why it is so important to the devils that people identify with sin -- embrace it as a central part of their identity -- and why there has been such a push for moral inversion -- for people to internalize the idea that evil is good and good, evil.

Sunday, August 29, 2021

A particularly crystal-clear display of value inversion

According to Jewish atheist Philip Zuckerman, "Staunch atheists show higher morals than the proudly pious, from the pandemic to climate change." In this self-parodying Salon article -- click the link, it's real, I didn't make it up! -- we learn that practicing Christians are less moral than atheists because:
  • 45% of white (white? yes, white!) Evangelicals said they would definitely not get pecked, compared to 10% of (any-color) atheists.
  • Only 33% of white Evangelicals "accept the evidence that human activity is causing climate change," compared to 80% of "secular Americans" of any or no color.
  • Only 45% of white Evangelicals want to ban assault rifles, compared to 77% of atheists.
Those are this three main points. (And let me just point out in passing how totally racist it is for Mr. Zuckerman to equate piety with being white.) The next set of points are from a paragraph full of hyperlinked buzzwords like "death with dignity" and "animal rights." I clicked them all so that you don't have to. Here are the findings:
  • Evangelicals (any color this time!) are the group least likely to think the US has a responsibility to accept refugees.
  • White Evangelicals (there they are again!) are less likely than white non-Evangelicals to support Obamacare.
  • Theism correlates with supporting "sex education" that stresses abstinence rather than contraception.
  • Those who believe in life after death tend to have less positive views of "voluntary euthanasia."
  • Religiously affiliated people are less likely to say that "homosexuality should be accepted by society."
  • Christians are more likely than non-Christians to say that "gender is determined at birth" and that "society has gone too far in accepting transgender people."
  • Religious people and those who reject Darwinism are less likely to have considered vegetarianism, more likely to say that medical research on animals is sometimes "necessary and valid," more likely (obviously!) to agree that "God put animals on Earth for man to use," and less likely to agree that (not making this up!) "it is wrong to wear leather jackets and pants."
  • The religious are more likely to support "military action" (no further details available without paying for the article).
  • The religious are more likely to believe that "the use of torture against suspected terrorists can sometimes be justified."
  • White Evangelicals (our old friends!) are more likely than atheists to support the death penalty.
  • "Parents who attend religious groups used corporal punishment more frequently than parents who did not attend religious groups" (but "there were no effects for religious participation on physical abuse").
  • Those with "absolute views of religious truth" (a category that surely includes many atheists!) are more likely to be judged "authoritarian" by a psychological questionnaire.
  • Watching a "compassion-inducing video had a big effect on [the] generosity" of non-religious people but "did not significantly change the generosity of more religious participants." Takeaway: "Highly religious people are less motivated by compassion than are non-believers."
And that's it! Not a single data point addressing uncontroversially immoral behaviors such as lying, stealing, or committing violent crimes. Again I remind you that the three "moral" issues highlighted by the article were: getting the peck, believing in anthropogenic global warming, and agreeing that a particular sort of weapon ought to be illegal. That is the article's definition of "higher morals"!

The paragraph about abortion is worth quoting in full.

But wait — what about the rights of the unborn? While many people oppose abortion on decidedly moral grounds, it is also the case that many others support the right of women to maintain autonomy over their own reproductive capacities, on equally moral grounds. Hence, the deep intractability of the debate. And yet, most Americans — both religious and non-religious — do not see the abortion of a non-viable fetus as being akin to the murder of a living human being. And let's be frank: It is impossible to square the assertion that the strongly religious are "pro-life" while they simultaneously refuse to get vaccinated, to wear a mask, to fight climate change, to support universal healthcare, or to support sane gun legislation. To characterize such an agenda as "pro-life" renders the label rather insincere, at best.

Abortion, you see, is different, because both sides hold the view they do on "moral grounds." Implicitly, this is not true of any of the other controversies listed, where one side is assumed without argument to be the moral one. People who support killing babies in the womb for convenience should not be judged immoral, because they are motivated by a concern for "reproductive autonomy." Those who support torturing suspected terrorists, on the other hand -- well, what possible motives could they have, other than a callous unconcern for human suffering?

One more bit I just have to quote -- and I assure you once again that this is not a satire and I am not making any of it up. Philip Zuckerman is a real person, not a character in a Nathan Roth novel.

[M]embers of religious congregations tend to donate more money to charity, on average, than the unaffiliated. And of course, the 20th century has witnessed the immoral, bloody brutality of numerous atheist dictatorships, such as those of the former USSR and Cambodia.

However, despite such complexities, the overall pattern remains clear: When it comes to the most pressing moral issues of the day, hard-core secularists exhibit much more empathy, compassion, and care for the well-being of others than the most ardently God-worshipping.

That's right. On the one hand, atheism brought us Stalin and Pol Pot -- but on the other, more atheists believe in global warming! One thing we can all agree on: despite such complexities, the overall pattern remains clear.

The faith of Moses

But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
-- 1 Cor. 2:9

And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was.
--Exodus 20:21

God promised Moses, and Moses promised the people, no afterlife -- no Heaven, certainly, nor even a simple material paradise like those of Pindar and Virgil and Muhammad. No ocean breezes and flowers of blazing gold, no mossy beds by crystal streams that murmur through the meads, no gardens of palm and vine beneath which the rivers flow. Perhaps Moses thought at first that the voice from the burning bush was promising some such familiar Elysium -- the promised "land flowing with milk and honey" would fit right into many a pagan poem -- but then the voice continued, clarifying that the land referred to was "the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites." On earth. And then they would die, and of what came after that nothing was said.

For us, what follows naturally from "imagine there's no heaven" is "imagine all the people living for today." Whence then the heroism of Moses?  What motivated him? "Because there were no graves in Egypt," complained the people, "hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness?" -- and didn't they have a point? Almost all of them did die in the wilderness; of the 600,000 who came out of Egypt, only two -- Moses himself not among them -- lived to enter the promised land. And even those lucky two -- well, they lived for a few more years, in a land rather more notable for its Canaanites and Hittites and Amorites than for its rivers of milk and honey, and then they died, too. So much for that.

And this is why I think there must be something authentically Mosaic in the Book of Deuternomy. Moses must have known something beyond the Lord of "core Torah" -- that barely-contained volcanic force, always on the verge of bursting forth and destroying any who got too close. He must have known that God loved him, and that must have been enough. He may not have had any clear understanding of the point of what he was doing, or of his ultimate destiny, but he had enough to go on. One of the Book of Mormon prophets says of God, "I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things" -- and some such childlike trust must have underlain the awful courage of Moses.

Saturday, August 28, 2021

The deceivableness of unrighteousness

And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.

-- 2 Thessalonians 2:10

This passage was brought to my attention when it was quoted in a review of That Hideous Strength at Bennett's Phylactery. Most English Bibles have deception or deceiptfulness, but deceivableness is also a possible reading of the Greek, and I think this is a case in which the King James translators were clearly inspired. What do we see all around us in 2020-21 but the deceivableness of unrighteousness, because they received not the love of the truth?

Francis Berger makes the same point in a comment on his post "The Unapologetic Cruelty of None Are Safe Until All Are Safe."

The masses may indeed be under some sort of spell, but this does not absolve them of personal responsibility. They chose to fall under the spell and continue to choose to remain under that spell. The masses are not passive victims, and we should not make excuses for them.

Only God searcheth all hearts, but it is my considered opinion that there are very few, if indeed any, innocent victims of the birdemic scam and the other Big Lies of our time. The deceived are complicit in their own deception. To quote the Bennett's Phylactery article I linked, "Everyone involved knows on some level that they are being lied to -- and they not only assent to the lie, but workshop it, and refine it, and pass it along."

There's an obvious paradox involved in knowingly being deceived -- Carlyle's "sincere cant," Twain's "believing what you know ain't so." To know that you are being deceived, you must know that what you believe is a lie -- but if you know it's a lie, in what sense do you believe it? I think that's an extremely important philosophical and psychological question that deserves careful reflection, and I've been nibbling away at it over the years. On rough-and-ready terms, though, everyone knows what "on some level" means and knows -- firsthand -- what it means to be guilty of sincere cant. These things are always easier to recognize in others, though, and the world of 2020-21 has given us all ample opportunity for that!

Friday, August 27, 2021

Do I do memes now? Yes, I guess I do.

Last year, when I thought Joe Biden was irrelevant and had zero chance of returning to the White House, the synchronicity fairies kept bringing him to my attention anyway. Now they've switched to Kamala Harris. Make of that what you will.

Actually, I guess she was prominently featured from the beginning.

Listening for a signal in the noise

Last night I was teaching an online English class, and one of the students twice made the mistake of referring to the time using an ordinal number -- of saying, for example, "I usually get up at seven fifteenth." The first time, I just corrected it without further comment, but after she'd made the same mistake twice I decided I'd better explain in more detail. I explained that we use ordinal numbers for the date, not for the time. "For example, we would say that today is" -- I glanced down at the corner of my screen to check -- "August twenty-sixth, but if we want to talk about the time, we'd say that it's" -- I glanced down again and saw exactly the same numbers -- "eight twenty-six."

Quite the coincidence, right? The whole point I was making was that the same series of digits would be read differently depending on whether it was a date or a time, and I just happened to make that point at a moment when the time and the date were perfectly aligned. I thought, "He's got a watch with a minute hand / Millennium hand and an eon hand / And when they meet, it's a happy land."

This morning, I checked my email before leaving for work and found that someone had sent me this image from, apparently, Kamala Harris's Twitter.

When you want to do "Abbey Road" but don't have three friends

The email said simply, "Also saw this image & I know you’ve seen some Tarot connections. Notice any Tarot / Masonic symbolism?"

Well, yes, the Masonic symbolism rather hits you over the head -- but I wouldn't have looked at this photo and thought Tarot without some prompting from my friend. I thought of my Inauguration Day reading, identifying Harris with a woman between the two Masonic pillars Jachin and Boaz. The chessboard-tile floor does not appear on the card but is certainly implied by the context. One also sees an obvious visual allusion to the two pillars in the photo above. The angle of her legs even suggests a Masonic compass.

This photo also made me think of the AC/DC song "Highway to Hell" -- I think for no other reason than that it features the word "stride." Hey, Satan, paid my dues . . . . Another line from that song -- "Going down, party time" -- made me think of the chorus of the old Neil Sedaka song "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do" -- "Kama kama down doobie doo down down."

I visited Harris's Twitter, wondering if the image was a recent one. (Apparently it's not.)

So the photo she chooses for the header is one of her -- cackling? Also, "Momala"? Doesn't she/her realize the preferred term is "birthing personala"? Momala ties back in with "Highway to Hell":

Hey, Satan, paid my dues
Playing in a rocking band
Hey, Momma, look at me
I'm on my way to the promised land
I'm on the highway to hell
(Don't stop me)
And I'm going down, all the way down

Momala + Joe = Mamalujo. Finnegans Woke!

Later, on the road, I was thinking about the 826 coincidence of the night before when I noticed that string of numbers on the license plate ahead of me: MML 8268. Right next to it was another license plate that read NNJ 0315. This second plate caught my attention, because NNJ is ninja and 0315 is the Ides of March. This made me think of the Arizona audit, by a group called Cyber Ninjas, with (we hope) the ultimate result of striking down Caesar.

My recent post "Copper Queen" connected the Empress card of the Tarot with both Kamala Harris and the state of Arizona. Writing that post made me think (because of the phonetic similarity to empress) of the TMBG song "I'm Impressed," so immediately after posting it, I looked it up on YouTube. The video ends with a cartoon robot version of the assassination of Caesar on the Ides of March.

At first I didn't think much of the MML 8268 plate, except to note that it included 826. Now, though, I realize that MML is Momala, and that 268 is the gematria value of my full name. (Back in July, I posted about seeing 286 on a license plate and mistakenly thinking that was the gematria value of my name!) Oh, and the Ides of March is my birthday.

A few days ago, on August 19, I received an email with the subject line "License Plate Synchronicity."

I was driving today and saw a car license plate that said D & C 1 38.  This drew my attention because I have seen very few references to the Old or New Testaments on license plates and don't remember seeing any other that refer to Mormon writings.  

The reference is to Doctrine and Covenants 1:38.

What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.

On a hunch, I looked up D&C 8:2-6.

Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart.

Now, behold, this is the spirit of revelation; behold, this is the spirit by which Moses brought the children of Israel through the Red Sea on dry ground.

Therefore this is thy gift; apply unto it, and blessed art thou, for it shall deliver you out of the hands of your enemies, when, if it were not so, they would slay you and bring your soul to destruction.

Oh, remember these words, and keep my commandments. Remember, this is your gift.

Now this is not all thy gift; for you have another gift, which is the gift of Aaron; behold, it has told you many things.

Instead of "the gift of Aaron," the earliest manuscript has "the gift of working with the sprout," amended by Sidney Rigdon to "rod."

This is generally taken as a reference to a divining rod, later biblicized by connecting it with Aaron's rod that budded and blossomed and yielded almonds.

As I post this, it's still 8/26 in Arizona. Not that I'm expecting anything to happen in the next two and a half hours, but you never know.

Not my typo

Deuteronomy is the “Fourth Gospel” of the Torah

As I've mentioned in other posts, I recently listened to the whole Torah read aloud over the course of a few days. I've continued on and am in the middle of Judges now, but it is the Torah of Moses that has occupied my meditations.

When you take it all in quickly, and especially when you listen to it (as the Israelites were commanded to do every seven years), it is clear that the Torah has three main parts: There's Genesis (a prologue of pre-Mosaic material, retold only partly through the Mosaic lens), there's "core Torah" (Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers), and there's Deuteronomy.

Setting Genesis to one side, the four books about Moses have a certain parallel to the four books about Jesus, with Deuteronomy standing apart from core Torah in much the same way that the Fourth Gospel stands apart from the Synoptics. In both cases, the greater literary and theological sophistication of the fourth book leads scholars to conclude that it is later and less authentic (Deuteronomy is generally held to be a forgery dating from the time of Josiah), and in both cases I question that judgment.

It is interesting to note that Jesus seems to have had a special affinity for Deuteronomy. In the story of Jesus' temptation by the devil (Matt. and Luke 4), Jesus shoots down each temptation by quoting Deuteronomy. When asked which was the greatest commandment (Matt. 22), he did not quote any of the famous Ten from Exodus but rather a passage from Deuteronomy. And of course when Jesus said, "had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me; for he wrote of me" (John 5:46), it was to Deuteronomy that he was referring.

If all we had was core Torah, it would be hard to justify the claim that Moses was a greater prophet than Muhammad. If Muhammad is sometimes criticized for his materialistic paradise of houris and gardens beneath which the rivers flow, the Torah knows nothing of Heaven and indeed promises no afterlife at all, only a literal land flowing with milk and honey on earth. Deuteronomy, though it still knows nothing of Heaven, introduces the indispensable doctrine of divine love, and it is this above all that makes Moses the man of God the greatest precursor to Jesus the Christ.

The Torah contains 13 references to man loving God. One is in Exodus (20:6), and all the rest are in Deuteronomy (5:10; 6:5; 7:9; 10:12; 11:1, 13, 22; 13:3; 19:9; 30:6, 16, 20).

The Torah contains 8 references to God loving man. Every one of them is in Deuteronomy (4:37; 7:7, 8, 13; 10:15, 18; 23:5; 33:3).

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Local organization claims responsibility for totalitarian attacks

In news usage, to "claim responsibility" is to confess to a crime without acknowledging that it is a crime. When you read "Al Qaeda claims responsibility for bombing," you know that they are openly admitting to murder and destruction of property, and that they are proud of it, that they don't see it as wrong, that they are daring you to try to stop them from doing it again.

It is in this light that we should understand statements by various organizations about how responsible they are being about the birdemic. They are claiming responsibility for the totalitarian measures they endorse and enforce, and we should not forget that.

Emancipate yourselves

Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery
None but ourselves can free our mind
-- Bob Marley

I'd seen those lines on so many T-shirt and dorm-room posters that they'd lost their meaning. Now that I find myself living under a totalitarian dictatorship, with no end in sight, things are different.

Freedom of action has been greatly reduced, and will likely be reduced further. Freedom of expression, likewise. These are external vicissitudes, largely beyond our control.

Freedom of the mind, though, and of the spirit -- that is our own responsibility.  No one can take it from you unless you give it away. No one can give it to you unless you reach out and take it.

The great temptation is to consent to mental slavery in order to lessen the pain of physical slavery -- to tell yourself that your masters know best, and that what they command you to do is really what you would prefer to do anyway. Life in this world is so much easier and more comfortable if you can manage to love Big Brother.

And if an easy, comfortable life in this world is all you know how to aspire to -- why not?

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Or the battle will be hotter, and you won't get no supper

Ages ago in Ohio, a kid in my neighborhood got a pet rabbit that was slinky and black -- so he named it Slink-ack. Now that kid's all grown up and, apparently, working as a branding consultant for Pfizer.

Anyway, I'm sure you've heard that the first peck has been officially approved, and has been given a name that makes Humpty Dumpty with his portmanteau look like an amateur -- an unpronounceable, impossible-to-remember string of letters that was apparently intended to evoke corvid, mRNA, immunity, community, comorbidity, Comintern, and covfefe.

And you know what that means? It means we get to rebrand "vaccine hesitancy" as

Of course even a prophetic musician like Bob can't be expected to have predicted some made-up nonsense name almost 50 years in advance with any precision -- but I think Congo-Bongo-Natty comes impressively close!

So roll up your sleeve and take your Safe-n-Effective medicine, kids, or else you know what comes next: That's right, more dread-locks in Babylon!

In the meantime, enjoy a little music from a more human time.

Monday, August 23, 2021

The open eyes of Balaam

I love the evocative way the non-Israelite prophet Balaam introduces himself when he "takes up his parable" in Numbers 24:3-4.

And he took up his parable, and said,

Balaam the son of Beor hath said,
and the man whose eyes are open hath said:
He hath said, which heard the words of God,
which saw the vision of the Almighty,
falling into a trance, but having his eyes open: . . .

And again in vv. 15-16, with one line added.

And he took up his parable, and said,

Balaam the son of Beor hath said,
and the man whose eyes are open hath said:
He hath said, which heard the words of God,
and knew the knowledge of the most High,
which saw the vision of the Almighty,
falling into a trance, but having his eyes open: . . .

I had always read this as a poetic statement of Balaam's prophetic credentials, probably something he had been reciting for years whenever he was called upon to bless or curse or prophesy. I thought it perhaps shed some light on prophetic customs of the time -- that prophets typically prophesied in a trance with their eyes closed, and that Balaam was notable for doing so with his eyes open. I never thought to connect it with the episode which one usually associates with the name of Balaam, and which invariably reduces Sunday schools to giggles: the affair of the talking ass (Num. 22:20-35).

And God came unto Balaam at night, and said unto him, "If the men come to call thee, rise up, and go with them; but yet the word which I shall say unto thee, that shalt thou do."

And Balaam rose up in the morning, and saddled his ass, and went with the princes of Moab. And God's anger was kindled because he went: and the angel of the Lord stood in the way for an adversary against him. Now he was riding upon his ass, and his two servants were with him.

And the ass saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and the ass turned aside out of the way, and went into the field: and Balaam smote the ass, to turn her into the way.

But the angel of the Lord stood in a path of the vineyards, a wall being on this side, and a wall on that side. And when the ass saw the angel of the Lord, she thrust herself unto the wall, and crushed Balaam's foot against the wall: and he smote her again.

And the angel of the Lord went further, and stood in a narrow place, where was no way to turn either to the right hand or to the left. And when the ass saw the angel of the Lord, she fell down under Balaam: and Balaam's anger was kindled, and he smote the ass with a staff.

And the Lord opened the mouth of the ass, and she said unto Balaam, "What have I done unto thee, that thou hast smitten me these three times?"

And Balaam said unto the ass, "Because thou hast mocked me: I would there were a sword in mine hand, for now would I kill thee."

And the ass said unto Balaam, "Am not I thine ass, upon which thou hast ridden ever since I was thine unto this day? was I ever wont to do so unto thee?"

And he said, "Nay."

Then the Lord opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and he bowed down his head, and fell flat on his face.

And the angel of the Lord said unto him, "Wherefore hast thou smitten thine ass these three times? behold, I went out to withstand thee, because thy way is perverse before me: And the ass saw me, and turned from me these three times: unless she had turned from me, surely now also I had slain thee, and saved her alive."

And Balaam said unto the angel of the Lord, "I have sinned; for I knew not that thou stoodest in the way against me: now therefore, if it displease thee, I will get me back again."

And the angel of the Lord said unto Balaam, "Go with the men: but only the word that I shall speak unto thee, that thou shalt speak."

Balaam had "heard the words of God" before this episode, but is the rest of his poetic introduction a reference to his experience with the ass? He is "the man whose eyes are open" because "the Lord opened the eyes of Balaam" -- apparently permanently! When his eyes were opened, "he saw the angel of the Lord" -- hence "which saw the vision of the Almighty." (Throughout the Torah, seeing the "angel of the Lord" is not clearly distinguished from seeing the Lord himself.) And then Balaam "fell flat on his face." It turns out that when the King James writes "falling into a trance but having his eyes open," the phrase "into a trance" is not in the Hebrew but represents the translators' best guess as to the meaning of "falling." Couldn't it instead be a reference to Balaam's falling on his face when he saw the angel, or perhaps to his falling when the ass "fell down under Balaam"?

All that's missing from Balaam's introduction is, "He that hath heard the voice of an ass" -- omitted because, apparently, he didn't think it was anything very special. One of the strangest things about the whole ass story is how Balaam just takes it in his stride when the animal he has been riding on starts talking

I have enough water lilies, I need more crocodiles

Today I suddenly thought of someone I hadn't thought of in a long time: Roger Anthony, an Australian I met when I was a missionary in Utah, in 1999 or thereabouts, who had a philosophy which he promoted under the name Crocodiles Not Water Lilies.

I searched the Internet for "crocodiles not water lilies," and the first hit was a video of that name that had been uploaded just days earlier, on August 18, 2021. It was Roger, recounting his waking dream of the water lilies and the crocodile.

Doing a bit more searching, I found that Roger died on April 22, 2014. Someone posted it now, more than seven years after his death, and I just happened to find it a few days after that.

Sunday, August 22, 2021

The question is not, Can we suffer? but, Can we learn?

In An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation, Jeremy Bentham famously wrote, with reference to our moral duty towards other animals, that

a full-grown horse or dog is beyond comparison a more rational, as well as a more conversable animal than an infant of a day, or a week, or even a month old. But suppose the case were otherwise, what would it avail? The question is not, Can they reason? nor, Can they talk? but, Can they suffer?

But is the avoidance of suffering the purpose of life? Pretty obviously not. One of the most salient features of this mortal coil is that it opens up opportunities for suffering undreamt of by mere spirits.

If avoiding suffering were the principal thing, mortality would be pointless and counterproductive, and we would have to agree with the verdict of the chorus from Oedipus at Colonus: "Not to be born is, beyond all estimation, best; but when a man has seen the light of day, this is next best by far, that with utmost speed he should go back from where he came."

Life was never intended to be Three Weeks in a Helicopter. Mortality is a school, and those of us who experience a protracted mortality are here to learn. The reason we should wish to live longer rather than shorter lives is not so that we can have more years of not-suffering, but so that we can have more experience and learn from that experience. "Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding" (Prov. 4:7) -- for "Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection" (D&C 130:18).

Killing is wrong not because it causes suffering but because it cuts short an education. The greater a being's inclination to learn from experience, the greater the wrong of killing that being.

That is why, though Bentham is right that a horse is the intellectual superior of a human infant, and though both can suffer, killing a human child -- even, perhaps, a human fetus -- is a far greater evil than killing a horse. A horse's capacity for spiritual learning (though not, I believe, negligible!) is limited, while a human child's is virtually infinite.

That is why murdering a saint is so much worse than executing a hardened criminal. (The reverse should be true by Bentham's Utilitarian standards, at least if one believes in heaven and hell.) The one is inclined to learn; the other is not. (The chief thing for the criminal is to repent, but I believe that can be done after death.)

What prompted these thoughts was my recent experience of listening to the entire Torah of Moses read aloud. I was struck by the casual violence of the Mosaic world, so shocking by modern standards, how lightly life was taken. We think of murder as one of the worst possible sins, but ancient people like Moses and Homer -- and their Gods! -- clearly saw things differently. And I thought, What if they weren't moral idiots who casually committed the gravest of crimes? What if, due to the evolution of consciousness, human life really was "cheaper" back then? What if the vast majority of people in those times were, in their capacity for spiritual learning, rather closer to the horse? What if we have, over the course of our historical development as a species, not so much discovered that life is precious as actually made it more precious?

And what does this line of thinking imply about the present day?

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Triple numbers, and a Biden, in Numbers

For a month or two now, I keep running into triple repdigits: 111, 222, 333, 444, etc. It seems that every time I check the time on my phone, it's always exactly 2:22 or 3:33, and when I do the shopping, the totals keep coming out to $555 or $666.

I've also been listening to the Bible -- a first for me, as I don't think I've ever listened to an audiobook in my life. One side effect has been mishearing things which I would never have misread; for example, I recently posted about mishearing "Esau came" as "he saw Cain." Today I was listening to the beginning of Numbers -- a boring list of names and numbers that didn't exactly engage my full attention -- when I suddenly thought I heard the name Biden. I paused the app and checked what verse it was reading. It was Number 1:11, which reads:

Of Benjamin; Abidan the son of Gideoni.

I probably would have read that name as "Abby-dan," but the reader I was listening to pronounced it as "a Biden." I noted the triple repdigit in the reference (1:11) and the coincidental similarity to the Antipresident's name, and I kept listening.

A few minutes later, I heard Biden again. This time, it was Numbers 2:22.

Then the tribe of Benjamin: and the captain of the sons of Benjamin shall be Abidan the son of Gideoni.

Basically the same verse, and also a triple repdigit. So that was weird. Then I thought, randomly, "Hey, I wonder what Numbers 11:1 says." I'm not sure why that particular reference came to mind, instead of 3:33 or something, but it did. I looked it up.

And when the people complained, it displeased the Lord: and the Lord heard it; and his anger was kindled; and the fire of the Lord burnt among them, and consumed them that were in the uttermost parts of the camp.

This caught my attention, in the context of Numbers 1:11 and 2:22, because of a persistent mental image I have of Joe Biden spontaneously combusting. Not sure what any of this means, if anything, but I note it.

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Prediction: Peck deaths will overtake birdemic deaths in Taiwan by Double Tenth Day

To date, the pecks have killed 78% as many people as the birdemic in Taiwan, and that figure has been increasing steadily at a rate of about three percentage points a week. If present trends continue, it should hit 100% right around October 10 -- a.k.a. Double Tenth Day, the National Day of the Republic of China.

Don't you know what "ther" means?

Sunday, August 15, 2021

One beast becomes four, and four become one

In Ezekiel 1, the prophet sees strange hybrid "living creatures" that are part man, part lion, part ox, and part eagle.

And this was their appearance; they had the likeness of a man. And every one had four faces, and every one had four wings. And their feet were straight feet; and the sole of their feet was like the sole of a calf's foot . . . And they had the hands of a man under their wings on their four sides; . . . As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle (Ezek. 1:5-10).

John of Patmos separates these chimaeras into four separate creatures.

And round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind. And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle (Rev. 4:6-7).

In Daniel 7, the prophet has a dream of four separate beasts.

I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea. And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another.

The first was like a lion . . . . And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear . . . . After this I beheld, and lo another, like a leopard, which . . . had also four heads . . . . After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; . . . and it had ten horns (Dan 7:2-7).

Daniel's four beasts have among them a total of seven heads and ten horns. John of Patmos combines them into one.

And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy. And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion (Rev. 13:1-2).

In the Old Testament, the cherubim are monstrous hybrids, while the pagan kingdoms are individual creatures, "diverse one from another." In the Apocalypse, this is reversed: Each cherub has its own distinct character, while the pagan kingdoms have been amalgamated into a single grotesque Beast.

Lightning never strikes twice

Read the scriptures, fast and pray,
Go to church, and don't be gay.
-- More of a couplet than anything else

Every time I go through the Bible fast (omitting the first comma from the couplet), I make new connections.

Here is Joseph speaking to Pharaoh about his dreams of the kine and the ears.

And for that the dream was doubled unto Pharaoh twice; it is because the thing is established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass (Gen. 41:32).

And here is the Lord speaking to Moses, after giving the signs of the serpent rod and the leprous hand.

And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe thee, neither hearken to the voice of the first sign, that they will believe the voice of the latter sign (Ex. 4:8).

Prophetic dreams . . . the hand of Moses, "leprous as snow" . . . It reminds me that I still haven't resolved this:

I'm sure that "Hand of the King" reference in the Bidenette meme also has some significance. Last night, between dreaming and waking, the White Hand of Saruman came to mind and seemed to be connected to lots and lots of things in the contemporary world. I can't remember any of the links, though -- if there were ever any real links to begin with; it was a dream. Perhaps something will come back to me.

All that has come back to me since then is that the dream involved connecting Q with the White Hand -- because (I thought in the dream) the Hebrew letters Kaph and Qoph originally represented the two hands. I forget which was the right and which was the left. I thought of Kaph as a red hand -- the pierced palm of Christ -- and Qoph as a white one. There were lots and lots of other connections, too -- but, as Nebuchadnezzar said, "The thing is gone from me."

Kaph is the palm, but Qoph never represented a hand at all. It has been variously interpreted as a needle, a monkey, the sun on the horizon, the back of the head, and the nape of the neck. Neck, Bert!

No longer alone in their bodies

Das war also des Pudels Kern!

There's a bit of doggerel Mormons like to quote, without ever crediting it to any particular author. The earliest such quotation I can find is in M. Russell Ballard's 1989 talk "The Effects of Television."

All the water in the world
No matter how it tried
Could never sink the smallest ship
Unless it got inside.
All the evil of the world
And every kind of sin
Could never damn a human soul
Unless we let it in.

Mormon reader Ben Pratt left this comment on my post "Things come to a point in the CJCLDS." The letter he refers to is the one sent out by the CJCLDS First Presidency, urging the faithful to "follow the wise and thoughtful recommendations of medical experts and government leaders" and get the "safe and effective" peck. I've made my customary edits.

I have my found my pecked friends and family members to be uncharacteristically and extremely fearful and angry. Another line of evidence brought that into focus yesterday, and I now suspect that the pecked are no longer alone in their bodies.

I'm still exploring this idea, but it instantly felt right and offers insight on the aforementioned letter as well.

Yes, Brother Pratt is implying exactly what you think he is implying, and my intuition immediately told me it was true. (The First Presidency letter makes a lot more sense if you imagine it being read in the voice used for the Senators in this video.) It would also help explain the sense of extreme spiritual urgency I and others feel, that we absolutely must not be pecked, and that far more than the health of the body is at stake. 

The paradox of these times

The constant carnival of intense control
(Card by Jean-Pierre Payen of Avignon, 1713)

I'd just listened to about half of the Book of Exodus when it crossed my mind that I hadn't checked out Jonathan Pageau on YouTube recently -- so I did so, and found a fairly recent video called "Now Is A Great Time to Understand the Plagues of Egypt." He really only talks about one of the plagues, that of the hail mingled with fire. Here, lightly edited, is the comment that most struck me.

Think of our day, think of our age, where you both have the most intense level of control that has ever existed -- the greatest police state that has ever existed in the history of humanity, with the most control and quantification and calculation that has ever existed -- and at the same time, this sense that we live in a constant carnival, and that anything goes and that anything can happen. It's like the Beast and the Whore together; somehow they shouldn't be together, but they're together, and so this is the image of hail and fire at the same time.

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Things come to a point in the CJCLDS

O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths.
-- Isaiah the Prophet

Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away.

There are differences of opinion, there are delusions, and there are lies. I've bolded the lies.
The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sent the following message on Thursday, August 12, 2021, to Church members around the world:

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

We find ourselves fighting a war against the ravages of COVID-19 and its variants, an unrelenting pandemic. We want to do all we can to limit the spread of these viruses. We know that protection from the diseases they cause can only be achieved by immunizing a very high percentage of the population.

To limit exposure to these viruses, we urge the use of face masks in public meetings whenever social distancing is not possible. To provide personal protection from such severe infections, we urge individuals to be vaccinated. Available vaccines have proven to be both safe and effective.

We can win this war if everyone will follow the wise and thoughtful recommendations of medical experts and government leaders. Please know of our sincere love and great concern for all of God’s children.

The First Presidency

Russell M. Nelson
Dallin H. Oaks
Henry B. Eyring

"We can win this war if everyone will follow the wise [sic] and thoughtful [sic] recommendations of medical experts and government leaders." That doesn't leave much room for doubt as to which side of the spiritual war they consider to be "their" side!

Mormons, the choice is clear: Do you follow these three men, who follow the wise and wonderful edicts of the secret society of Gadianton, which society and the works thereof they know to be good? Or are you desirous to follow the voice of the Good Shepherd, and to come out from the wicked, and be separate, and touch not the unclean thing?

Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! for the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.

She swallowed the cat to catch the bird

I've been tabulating cumulative birdemic- and peck-attributed deaths in Taiwan since June 1. As you can see, the gap is rapidly narrowing, with the cure currently having killed about 75% as many people as the disease. (There are some gaps in the lines because not all the stats are reported every day.)

There is simply no non-insane way to look at these figures and conclude that the birdemic is a major health crisis justifying draconian measures, while the pecks are Safe And Effective™ and should be pushed even harder. Just looking at the absolute numbers, the two menaces are roughly similar in seriousness. If the context of the "normal" is taken into account -- a normal year in Taiwan sees up to 15,000 pneumonia deaths and maybe 10 vaccine-related deaths -- the insanity is even more apparent.

Friday, August 13, 2021

The Grateful Dead "Ripple" video and January 2021

Over at The Magician's Table, I discuss what a Grateful Dead music video had to say about January 2021 -- because, well, who else is going to tell you this stuff?

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

And, behold, he saw Cain

From time to time, maybe once every five or six years, I go through the entire Bible as quickly as possible -- so quickly that I wouldn't really call it reading the Bible, but it serves to sort of refresh my memory and reinforce my mental concept of the Bible-as-a-whole. Since I now have an app ("Gospel Library" from CJCLDS) that will read the Scriptures to me aloud, I thought I'd try that this time around. It's much slower, of course, in terms of words per minute, but it allows me to spend more minutes a day "reading," so perhaps it will all balance out. Anyway, for the past few days, whenever I'm doing housework or anything else that doesn't engage my brain overmuch, the Bible is playing in the background. It's still in Genesis.

Today I was brewing some coffee and half-listening to Genesis, and I thought I heard this: "And Jacob lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold, he saw Cain, and with him four hundred men." And I thought, Wait, how could Jacob have seen Cain? Did it say Canaan? But it said "with him four hundred men," so it's obviously a person, not a place. I went over, paused the app, and checked what it was reading. Oh, of course.

And Jacob lifted up his eyes, and looked, and, behold, Esau came, and with him four hundred men (Gen. 33:1).

This counts as a synchronicity because of a recent post of mine that recounts a story of a 19th-century Mormon seeing Cain, and which also speculates that Cain may have been Esau's biological father.

Sunday, August 8, 2021

The "fake Jew" question

Over at Fourth Gospel Blog, I speculate about "fake Jews" in the Bible -- with a special guest appearance by Bigfoot. Go read the whole thing.

And then maybe delete your browsing history.

Friday, August 6, 2021

Slow Joe Eagle?

Back in October 2020, I identified then-candidate Slow Joe Biden with the Fox in Socks character Slow Joe Crow.

Today, a Babylon Bee story headlined "Liberals Praise DeBlasio For Barring 65% Of Black NYC Residents From Society" includes the following made-up quote:

"Just to be clear, this is not Jim Crow. This is more like Jim Crow's nicer, public health-defending cousin, John Crow. This is all about safety and science because we're the government and we care," said DeBlasio.

Jim Crow, John Crow, Joe Crow -- and then I remembered that Slow Joe himself had recently come out with his own new, more transmissible Jim Crow variant.

Is that Jim himself in the background?

Searching for the "Jim Eagle" comment led me to the helpful article, "Who is Jim Eagle? Biden's Jim Crow analogy explained!" by one Ellissa Bain.

Biden’s bizarre quote has confused a lot of people who assumed that Jim Crow and Jim Eagle were two people. However, this isn’t the case.

Jim Eagle isn’t actually a real person. Joe Biden made up the name as a play on words, using different bird species to get his point across.

A crow is a small bird, whereas an eagle is far bigger and more dangerous.

What Biden was trying to say is that what the Republicans are trying to do with their voting legislation is huge, and far worse than that of the pre-Civil Rights Jim Crow era.

If you’re not familiar with what Jim Crow is, it’s a series of laws that enforced racial segregation in the United States.

Yeah, I'm pretty sure most people got that it was a play on words using different bird species -- and I'm also pretty sure that's not how "X makes Y look like Z" analogies work. If you want to express how big and dangerous something is, you might say it makes a lion look like a kitten -- not that it makes a kitten look like a lion!

I suspect that Slow Joe was thinking of eagles not as bigger and more dangerous than crows, but as more patriotic and all-American. He was trying to say that requiring ID to vote was so sinister and horrible that it made a sinister, horrible crow look like a majestic eagle by comparison.

He may also have been thinking of Sam Eagle, of Muppet Show fame, and misremembered the name.

Or maybe he was thinking of Larry Bird. I mean, with Biden who the hell knows?

I've just realized what the Jim Crow Jim Eagle thing reminds me of. This:

Thursday, August 5, 2021

My 2014 review of The White Book

Note: This is a repost of something I originally published on July 5, 2014. This was when I was still en route from atheism back to Christianity and Mormonism but still rather closer to the former camp. Still, my thoughts on this particular topic haven't changed much since then.

I read The White Book, by the pseudonymous Robert S. Oculus III, about a year ago, when Laura Wood was promoting it on her blog. Since then I’ve been working on and off on these comments and wondering whether or not to publish them. Well, here they are.

Oculus makes a distinction between white and White. The peoples of Europe are of course white in a racial or biological sense — that is, they belong to a shared ancestry group originating on that continent and characterized by orthognathism, relatively pale skin, etc. — but they are not to be considered ethnically White. Rather, they have more specific ethnic identities; they are Englishmen, Russians, Spaniards, Belgians, Latvians, and so on. Most white Americans, on the other hand, are just plain White — descended from one or more of the white European peoples, but no longer really a member of any of those ancestral groups. My ancestors came from England, Germany, and the Ukraine, but I am not an Englishman, a German, or a Ukrainian — just as a modern Englishman is not really an Angle, a Saxon, a Jute, a Celt, a Norman, or a Dane. He may be primarily descended from one of those peoples, of course, and may even be aware of and proud of that heritage — but in practice, he’s just English; and white Americans are just White. (The same is true to varying degrees in the other countries of the European diaspora, but in practice Oculus focuses on America, and so shall I.)

Although Oculus does not develop the point, something very similar is true of American blacks. Their ancestors belonged to specific African ethnic groups, but they themselves are no longer ethnically Hausa or Fula or Igbo or Yoruba or whatever; they’re just Black. These two ethnic groups — Black and White, African-American and European-American — are the main peoples that can be called simply “American.” (Of course various indigenous tribes also qualify, but these groups are much smaller. The White:Black:Navajo ratio is 672:129:1.) The others — Mexican-Americans, Chinese-Americans, etc. — still have clear ethnic ties to non-American groups, and their hyphenated names are appropriate; but Blacks and Whites are Americans in the same simple sense that an ethnic Frenchman (as opposed to, say, a French citizen of Maghrebi origin) is French.

Blacks in America generally self-identify as Black, participate in a Black culture which is openly and explicitly Black, may support the idea of “Black pride,” refer to other Blacks as their brothers and sisters, etc. — but White Americans do none of these things — generally can do none of these things without feeling like horrible people. The following passage from Oculus’s book drives home just how deeply rooted this aversion to White racial identity is:

Say it out loud: “I am a human being, but I am not just any human being. I am a white person. I am a member of the white race.”

Can’t do it, can you?

Do these words scare you? Do you feel like a bad person just for reading them? Do you think I am evil for writing them down, or even thinking them?

It’s okay if you do. You have been trained to feel that way. You have been trained not only to hate what you are, but to deny that you even exist.

This is absolutely true — and absolutely astonishing, when you think about it. Even I, who am generally quite open-minded about such things and pride myself on not being a slave to goodthink, feel somewhat uncomfortable quoting these words or even reading them — but why? What is there in them to be ashamed of? Do they say “white people are better than other people” or “I hate members of other races”? They are a simple assertion that there is such a thing as the white race and that I am a member of it. They ought by all rights to be received as an obvious and completely value-neutral statement of fact. Notice also how completely inoffensive they become if you replace every instance of “white” with “black.”

What is the explanation for this? Is it because we feel that the white race is uniquely evil, and that to acknowledge one’s membership in it is shameful? Or, conversely, perhaps it is because it is so good to be white — because the white peoples are among the most accomplished and “privileged” on the planet, and so to make a point of one’s whiteness is bad form, in the nature of gloating? Or perhaps the problem is simply that whites are a majority in America, so that when I say “I am White” rather than “I am American,” the people I am excluding from my in-group are more salient than those I am including; it sounds less like a statement of camaraderie (“Tom and Bob are my good buddies”) than like a mean-spirited rejection of others (“I’m friends with everyone here except Pete”). Of course, whites in white-minority areas like Los Angeles presumably aren’t supposed to identify as white either, so that can’t be the whole explanation.

At any rate, whatever the reason for the current state of affairs, Oculus wants to change it. The purpose of his book is to encourage capitalized-Whites (that is, all non-Europeans of European ancestry) to self-identify as such and to promote their interests as a people, just as most other peoples in the world do. He even proposes a “flag of the White race” (azure, a snowflake argent; certainly better than the current de facto White flag, which is — well, a white flag). This idea of a pan-White identity, including all the peoples of the European diaspora but excluding Europeans proper, seems forced and unrealistic to me. Non-European Whites as such are not a coherent ethnicity; a White American typically has far more in common with an Englishman or a Black American than with an Argentinian or an Afrikaner. White Americans represent an actual ethnicity (or perhaps a closely related cluster of ethnicities), and Oculus would have done better to focus on this more limited group. (As I’ve said, in practice he does focus on Americans; the pan-White stuff is superfluous and could easily be cut out.)

Perhaps in part because of his overly broad definition of “White,” Oculus struggles when it comes to describing what White culture is all about. He rejects the idea of America as a “proposition nation” defined solely by the abstract ideas laid out in the Constitution, insisting instead that any real nation must be firmly rooted in race and culture. But he then proceeds to define White culture in terms even more abstract than those he is criticizing. Whites care about order. They work hard. They respect rules. They don’t cut in line. They have a moral code. In other words, basically, “White” means “civilized.” I understand that Oculus is trying to instill a sense of White pride by focusing on objectively good things — but still, defining a culture in this way is outrageous. First of all, the idea that a culture can be defined at all, especially in terms of abstract principles, brings us right back to the “proposition nation” idea that Oculus is supposedly against. Culture is not simply an ideology; it has to be organic and particularistic. It can be, so to speak, motherhood and apple pie, (i.e. abstract principles plus historically contingent features), but just motherhood isn’t enough. A more serious problem is that the things Oculus identifies as “White” — order and fair play and so on — are universal goods to which every race and culture ought to aspire (though of course not every group will be equally successful in so doing). When Oculus identifies White culture simply with being civilized, his implied message to non-Whites is that not being civilized is an essential part of their culture — which they should presumably cherish and protect as much as Whites should theirs.

Oculus states repeatedly that he bears no hatred or hostility toward any other race, but he nevertheless does show contempt for blacks, sometimes in very crude and dehumanizing terms (using phrases like “dat ape-like thing dey does”). Now not everyone likes everyone else, and he certainly has a right to dislike black people if he wants, but it does undercut the main thrust of The White Book, which is to promote White identity and White pride as positive things and to distance them from the bigotry and racial hostility with which the popular mind associates them. I suppose Oculus’s failing in this regard is unsurprising. In the current political climate, with its extreme demonization of anything deemed “racist,” you need a very strong motive to write something as radioactive as The White Book — and negative feelings of anger and hostility tend to motivate more strongly than love and loyalty alone. It is nevertheless unfortunate, though, and one wishes that Oculus could have risen above whatever personal antipathies he may feel toward other races. (That such a thing is possible is demonstrated by the example of Steve Sailer, a “racialist” writer who obviously likes black people a great deal, and even more so by the late Lawrence Auster. Martin Luther King — as opposed to, say, Malcolm X — is a good example from the other side.)

Despite occasional slip-ups, Oculus does make an effort to show respect for all races and to distance himself from so-called white supremacism. It is perhaps this effort which motivates him to write, with the best of intentions, that there is no one “master race” because “each race is the master race in its ancestral environment” — which is, unfortunately, baloney. If the phrase “master race” has any meaning at all, we can hardly be expected to accept it as an accurate description of the current status of, say, the Native Americans in North America or the Aborigines in Australia. Remember, too, that Oculus has defined the White race to include only people who do not live in their ancestral environment — but he of course makes no appeal to White Americans to submit to their rightful “masters,” the Indians. All in all, Oculus’s whole treatment of the “master race” idea is awkward and unsatisfactory, and he would have been better off just leaving it alone. Racial loyalty does not require such a concept, not even a “nuanced” one, any more than family loyalty requires the idea of one “master family.” (As Oculus himself points out several times, a race just is a family, and love of race is love of family.)

Oculus’s treatment of the issue of racial segregation versus integration is also, I think, naïve. His basic position is that if freedom of association is restored — that is, if people are given the freedom to hire, do business with, and associate with whomever they choose — then the resegregation of America will happen naturally because that’s what most people of all races really want. Whites like to associate with other Whites, Blacks with other Blacks, Chinese with other Chinese, and so on; simply allow them to do so, and our problems will be solved.

But that’s obviously not true. Under the current system, no one is forcing Blacks to move into White neighborhoods (or Mexicans to move into America, Chinese to go to WASP schools, etc.), but they do it anyway — probably because White neighborhoods and countries and schools are so often the “good” neighborhoods and countries and schools.

The “freedom” Oculus is advocating is essentially the freedom of Whites to keep out Blacks (and others) who want to move in — so by definition it does not result in “what everyone wants.” In fact, freedom of association is not such a clear-cut concept. If A want to join B’s club (company, school, neighborhood, country, etc.) but B doesn’t want him to join, whose “freedom of association” should the law protect? I’d say B’s, because it’s his club, and I’m sure Oculus would agree — but we shouldn’t pretend that such a policy is giving A what he wants.

It’s a hard fact to face, but the truth is that segregation is good for Whites and integration is good for Blacks — and the law must support the one or the other. Either it supports segregation by saying I have a right to keep you out of my club even if you want to join, or it supports integration by saying you have a right to join even if I want to keep you out. No neutral policy is possible — and therefore, since Blacks who want to join White-run “clubs” vastly outnumber Whites who want to join Black-run clubs, no racially neutral policy is possible. Any policy adopted will be, de facto, either pro-White or pro-Black. Disparate impact of one kind or another is unavoidable. Now no one on either side wants to hear that. Having been indoctrinated into the idea that “racism” is the worst possible evil, no one wants to admit that their preferred policy amounts to favoring the interests of Race X over those of Race Y — but that is nevertheless the way it is, and honest people have to come to grips with it.

Closely related to the idea of segregation is that of the “ethnostate,” which Oculus supports. His main interest is naturally in pushing for the creation of a White ethnostate in America, but he welcomes other races to do the same.

I should make it clear that Oculus’s idea of an ethnostate is not that of a monoracial state where other races are not welcome. Rather, his model ethnostate is Israel — including several different racial and religious groups, but existing for the purpose of serving the interests of one of them. Non-Whites and non-Christians would be welcome in his imagined White ethnostate, but they would have to accept that the state’s policies would be calculated to favor White Christian interests over those of other races and religions — as opposed to the current policies of the United States, which, under the guise of an impossible “neutrality,” serve the interests of racial minorities and the irreligious at the expense of those of White Christians.

(By the way, the suggestion that other racial groups in America could form their own ethnostates only serves to underscore the fact that segregation is not “what everyone wants.” White Americans may well dream of an ethnostate that recreates Europe — or what Europe used to be — in the New World, but no American Black in his right mind would want to recreate Africa! Oculus even suggests that “a Latino ethnostate might arise” in North America — but we already have one, Mexico, and a full third of its citizens state that they would move to the U.S. if they could.)

Anyway, being sensitive to the needs of other American races to have countries of their own, Oculus does not propose converting the entire United States into a White ethnostate. Rather, he suggests that states or blocs of states might secede from the Union to form ethnostates of various characters; and his suggested White ethnostate is, incredibly — Dixie! — i.e., the most heavily Black part of the entire country. (And where’s the Black ethnostate supposed to be? New Hampshire?) If these ethnostates are meant to be patterned after Israel, this one will come already stocked with a generous population of angry “Palestinians.”

It’s easy to criticize Oculus’s various proposals, but more important than any of the solutions he proposes is the problem he recognizes. To repeat, “Say it out loud: ‘I am a human being, but I am not just any human being. I am a white person. I am a member of the white race.’ Can’t do it, can you?” So long as we can’t do that — so long as we feel vaguely “evil” for even reading those words — we have a serious problem. Your race is your extended family; loving your race is loving your family; disowning it, ditto. Determining what actions and policies should follow from those principles is a difficult business, but the principles themselves are irreproachable.

How beautiful upon the mountains are their feet!

In his July 21 post " Twister, 'The Extreme', and Shine On ," William Wright mentions a couple of Book of Mormon passages ...