Poll of a Billion Monkeys

Friday, March 30, 2007

A Sermon for Sunday : The Rediscovered Country

Karpas - A Sermon for Sunday : The Rediscovered Country

For some time now I've secretly reinitiated my personal studies for the Priesthood.

A number of things have also driven me to entertain and undertake some other projects and tasks that might be considered related in this respect. For instance for about a year or so now I have secretly undertaken the writing of Sermon material. I haven't really written any real sermons, just small religious exposition pieces, since I was in college, but for about a year now I’ve been gathering material and writing some rough drafts for the production of actual sermons.

But very recently (within the past couple of months) I have also been in secret developing a New Order of Service and a new Type of Sermon (which is based for the most part upon sermons in the style of the early Church Fathers, especially the Greek ones) that can be delivered from the pulpit.

The sermons are after the modes of the Early Church Fathers but are supplemented by such materials as Icons, artwork, literary extracts, scriptural passages, music, poetry, parables, prayers and liturgical material, etc, some of which are historical and some of which happen to be of my own devising. I have especially relied upon the style and have been heavily influenced by Saint John Chrysostum (The Golden Mouthed). I wanted to reintroduce poetry and prosey to the Service and the Sermon, making the Sermon as short as possible, and highly participatory, for both the congregants and the person delivering the sermon. That is I wanted the Sermon itself to be part of the Public Rite and not simply a lecture delivered to others. I want the sermon itself to be a group project of the congregation. So the congregants and the celebrants partake in declaring various parts of the Sermon as the overall service progresses. So that the priest, pastor, minister (whoever is the chief deliverer) circulates a sheet with the entire Service, including the Sermon, upon it to the congregation. The congregation can therefore follow along with the Sermon (it is not simply owned, possessed or retained by the Deliverer) and at certain points, such as upon reaching the italicized or outlined sections the congregants read, sing, or chant the Sermon, as if the sermon were itself a Liturgy. There will also be sections where the Priest or Pastor may improvise and add materials or delete them, as he so feels led, but primarily the sermon and even the entire service itself is a congregational and not simply a clerical project.

The Sermon then becomes less a lecture and more an ekklesiastical enterprise, in the original sense of the term. I have also worked into both the Service and the Sermon elements or components that will appeal to all of the five senses of Man: Sight, Hearing, Taste, Touch, and Smell. Therefore things like icons, paintings, poetry, communion, music, song, chant, food, wine, etc. are all parts of the service. I plan an entire Cycle of Sermons in this fashion that can theoretically (and should easily so with a modicum of modification) be adapted to Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox Services alike. This Cycle of Sermons will all be secular, in the original religious sense of the term. I plan after all to be a Secular Priest.

I call these types of Sermons and Service the New Service Project and as I stated above the intent is to lessen the divide between congregation and Priest, Pastor, Minister and to create Sermons and Services which are ecumenical (in the broadest sense), can be adapted to any denomination, and most importantly, will make each service a group, Ekklesia, or Whole Body Service of the church rather than merely a lecture delivered by a sermonizer.

In a similar vein I intend these types of services to help erase the modern, artificial and ultimately very pretentiously mistaken ideas that great gulfs and dividing lines separate the various fields of Religion, Science, and Art. Religion, Science, and Art are all, when best pursued and best applied, very spiritual quests, and although each field has necessary points of emphasis they variously stress, each is ultimately related spiritually, and each are not only enterprises of Man, each is also a pursuit of God. So to erect artificial and counter-productive barriers of exclusion, the one against the other, is not in the best interest of any of these disciplines. Science should find a natural home in the Church, because Science arose from the Church. Art should find a natural home in the Church because the church and spiritual matters have always been the inspiration for some of the greatest works of painting, sculpture, architecture, music, theatre, film, and other art forms ever produced. In an interrelated fashion Wisdom should inform scientific pursuits and spiritual Enthusiasms (in the true sense of the term) should inspire art, and artists.

To me the dividing line between Secular and Sacred that has infected and infested our modern world for the past one hundred and fifty years or so has done little to bring about much good, except perhaps in the field of practical politics, where it has prevented the Secular and the Sacred from occasionally trying to dominate and consume each other. But as a basic spiritual, psychological, cultural, and social paradigm, the ideal that Sacred and Secular should not, indeed must not mix, is not only counterproductive, it is contrary to basic human nature. It makes small men of men who could be great by restricting their achievements to mere specializations of expertise, when such men could be broad geniuses of multiple and polymathic capabilities. Instead do breeding men and women whose achievements sweep the panorama of human effort; we produce mere scientists, mere artists, and mere priests. And much of the reduction of human genius is because we have reduced man in spirit to nothing more than a list of alien professions which cannot inspire or inform each other, much less inspire or inform the same individual soul. When the Sacred and the Secular are divorced by sophistry and circumstance then eventually even the Soul of Man suffers exile when forced to choose between warring parents.

Therefore I have approached the writing of these sermons as my attempt to reconcile Art and Science with Religion, and the Secular with the Sacred, to return them each to the other so that these various fields of human activity can cooperate to mutual benefit rather than squander time and effort in a pointless clash of combat which prevents each from achieving their best potential. Every church should be a home to God, and God is also the greatest of Scientists and the most magnificent of Artists. In truth God is the very Science of Science and the Art of Art. And the world should be filled with the Divine because the contrived dividing line between Sacred and Secular is an artificial human construct of limited vision and still more limited self-interest. The Sacred and the Secular are not separate because this is a fundamental Truism; they are split because we stubbornly insist it must be so, because this is the demand of our desire. This world is fleeting and only temporary of course, but that Sacred which lasts only for a day is still nevertheless Sacred. Therefore we cannot turn our backs upon this world as it passes merely because we but temporarily pass through it, but rather we must deliver it from the evils we sometimes prefer to the demands of a Divinity who asks that Heaven should come to Earth, and take root here. Not because Earth is a substitute for Heaven, but so that it can become a kind of training ground, a sort of Colony of God in a vast Sea of Stars.

Therefore it is my intention with these sermons to begin to erase that line of doubt between Sacred and Secular, and to welcome back Science and Art to the bosom of the Church. So that Science may again become a Sacred pursuit and so that Art may once again become Divine. As these things were always meant to be.

So this is my first effort in this respect, and I'm finished with this particular Sermon, which I have entitled, The Rediscovered Country. The title is an adaptation from a line in Hamlet about the Undiscovered Country. It is the sermon I have recently completed for the services of Palm Sunday and Good Friday.

I have not posted the entire service as I’m still working upon the closing liturgy, some of the music for the service, and various other small details. I may post the entire Service later as it is completed.

But you may find the sermon itself here: The Rediscovered Country

The sections written in italics are taken from scriptural, historical, and literary material, the stuff in normal print I wrote.

If you wish to do so then let me know what you think of it.


Save This Page

Thursday, March 29, 2007

An Assassin of Time

The Exchange - An Assassin of Time

An Assassin of Time: What I’ve Been Doing Lately and What the Internet Really Means –

Recently I’ve been taking a Sabbatical of sorts from the Internet in general and blogging in particular. This is for personal, professional, and religious reasons. And I’ve come to several conclusions because of this.

1. I can’t live on the Internet. Nor do I have any reason to do so. Or any desire to do so. For most of the previous six or seven months on this blog, and elsewhere on my other sites, I’ve tried to maintain an almost daily presence which has from time to time brought a number of readers here. But I’ve really no desire to maintain a daily presence on this blog merely to obtain a high number of readers. I simply don’t care either about that fact (number of readers), or enough about the Internet in general to give a flying crap about maintaining a daily presence. Readership as a motivation of publishing on the Internet is highly suspect to me anyway. I was talked into blogging by friends of mine who suggested I would make a good blogger and that my blog would be of interest. That may or may not be true, and I am grateful and flattered by their support, but over these months I’ve come to realize some far more important things than the fact that I may be a good blogger:

A. The Public Internet is simply not that big a deal. (When I use the term Internet below I mean to refer to the Public Internet.) Nor is it usually profitable either as a means of expressing general ideas and matters of public or private interest for me to devote that much time to it. As a business method it is sometimes superb, as a communications means it is at times extremely interesting, as a research tool it can be useful, as a method of transmitting covert information it is unique and even highly successful if approached in the right way, but generally speaking it is nothing more than one billion people (seemingly anyway) regurgitating their particular interpretation or opinion of the same events and ideas everyone else has already previously debated in an almost endless fashion. There is nothing wrong with that in and of itself, as opinions can sometimes even be valuable, or in far rarer instances even worth hearing. But the Internet is simply not important enough for me to care to devote large blocs of my personal and professional time to it. I recently ran a calculation and discovered that if I spent one hour per day on the Internet that hour would be approximately worth three hours of normal work (if focused) and lost project productivity. Therefore I have come to the conclusion that the time I devote to the internet is primarily a drag on my productivity and to ventures, experiments, projects, cases, work, and writings that could be far more profitably pursued in the real world. Oh, and in case anyone bothers to investigate the matter the Internet is not the Real World, theoretical speculation to the contrary.

B. I must budget my time to the Internet as I would any other venture and consider the risk to reward and work to gain ratios. In that respect the Internet sucks as a return on time invested. It always has sucked in that respect and I expect that to continue indefinitely. Now occasionally it is profitable as a means for pursuing business and other ventures that do lead to reward of some kind, or maybe even some kind of profit in particular, but this is not normally the case, and certainly not the case with a personal or personal interest blog. In that respect it is nothing more, or less, than a message board, a form of entertainment and diversion. An enjoyable pass-time if you have the time to pass. Most of the time I do not and am engaged in far more important things than to either desire or feel the need to spend the primary focus of my time and efforts on the internet. My advice to myself is stop being here unless I have the time to kill, have some real objective to achieve, or can budget the spare time, and instead spend every other moment in the real world and accomplish real objectives, do not kill your time in a Virtual World achieving Virtual Objectives which even if achieved tend to be meaningless and pointless anyway. No one ever became famous, much less achieved anything worthwhile, based on the amount of time devoted to the Internet. There is no Shakespeare of the Internet, no Einstein of the Internet, no Da Vinci of the Internet, and no Apostles of the Internet. Well, I’m sure there are Apostles of the Internet but not the kind that ever amount to much, historically speaking. If something is to be achieved and recorded for history as having any real importance at all then it must be really important, meaning it must be real. My advice to the person reading this is exactly the same. Get off this damned network, go into the real world, and do something real, and therefore possibly even really important. The Internet is not really important in most respects, nor is it really producing anything substantially important, or vital. It is a technological version (95% of it is anyway) of an old fashioned Party-Line. It is a barbershop yak-fest and a gossip parlor, and an opinion salon, but very little more. It could be much more and may one day be much more but for now it is simply a virtual substitute for life and an excuse to not-live in a real way.

What therefore will I be doing about this having realized these things over the past few months?

1. I have rearranged my schedule to allow me to blog and use the Internet for research with a modest use of time during the week. Other than that I won’t be using the Internet except for communications or to assist with business ventures, personal or professional projects, experiments, and for work and networking. I won’t be blogging or using the Internet just to hear myself talk or just to blog for the sake of blogging or to kill time.
2. The content I put on this site, or on any of my other sites must be of as high a quality as I can create or I won’t bother. Won’t even feel slightly motivated. I won’t do it if I don’t care, or don’t find it enjoyable, important, or beneficially experimental in some way.
3. The Internet will not become another form of work for me. It is profitless in that respect and not very important anyway. My real work (not to mention the other things I do in life) is far too important for the Internet to become some kind of substitute work bleeding off time and resources I could employ in another and far more productive and profitable way. The Internet will assist me with my work or objectives, but it is not important enough to be work or valuable enough to be an objective in and of itself. The Internet should be a Map of Human Achievement, and not merely a Forum of Endless Speech about nothing much at all.
4. The Internet will not become a substitute personal friendship network for me. Yes, I am the first to admit that the internet is a very useful technological tool for allowing me to communicate with and keep in touch with family, with friends (both old and new) in distant corners of the world, deployed friends, foreign friends, and others with whom I could not communicate easily or often. The Internet also allows me to communicate with individuals I often find interesting and stimulating, or even to communicate with potential new clients, associates, informants and even old comrades with whom I have shared danger, adventure and history. But it is no substitute at all for real friends, or personal networks, or real people. No part of any artificially virtual life is in any way a substitute for, or nearly as productive as, a real life. I have come to realize that the internet, as a social and personal network is really little more than a talk center for young people who have no real responsibilities and no real work to do to speak of and therefore it is simply a technological version of the shopping mall and local meeting place. It’s not always that way of course, but usually that’s about the size of it.

The Internet therefore is really a sort of modern and on occasion even a sort of mortal (in the true sense of the word) danger. It deludes people into thinking that they have achieved something of value by the simple fact of employing it, just as some people are deluded into the fact that just by watching television they have been profitably entertained.

It is a danger I have recognized for what it is, and so I intend in the future to make use of it much as I would a rattlesnake. I’m not gonna spend a whole lot of my time poking around with it just for the sake of curiosity, when I do use it I’ll milk her for all she is worth, but I won’t in any way confuse the poison I pull out of her fangs for cream with which to flavor my coffee.

Like all modern technologies the Internet can be used for good, or ill, but if used to excess, and most people who use her do use her to excess, then her assets become merely new liabilities and very quickly you come to realize that she is exactly what she most appears to be - an assassin of time.

Now if you ladies and germs will excuse me I’m gonna go grab a beer, and then I have better things to do with my time.

© JWG, Jr. 2007


Save This Page

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


Tamsil Linrung
Tamsil Linrung, Indonesian member of parliament was barred from boarding his flight to Canada.

[Also posted at Agam's Gecko]

A diplomatic flap is developing between Indonesia and Canada after legislator Tamsil Linrung was barred from boarding a Cathay Pacific flight in Jakarta last week. He was to be part of a 12-member parliamentary delegation doing research on new regulations regarding management of coastal and island territories. Mr. Linrung is apparently on a black-list for his associations with terrorists and terror groups, and he's not happy about it. As far as I can find, the Canadian press has yet to report on this -- although the Indonesian press, as well as Muslim figures in the country are raising quite a stink about it.

Although the travel ban came from the Canadian embassy in Jakarta, the MP and his supporters are finding ways to blame the US for his problems. Linrung visited the US embassy on Monday to request clarification.

Tamsil Linrung is a prominent South Sulawesi representative in the national parliament, the DPR, having been placed in the number one spot on the "party list" for Makassar by the Islamist-oriented PKS (Partai Keadilan Sejahtera, or "Prosperous Justice Party"). In earlier times he was a prominent activist in the hardline faction of HMI, the Muslim Students Organisation, national chairman of the Islamic "charity" KOMPAK, and treasurer of the (much more moderate) National Mandate Party (PAN) of Amien Rais. He left that last position not long after being arrested in the Philippines in 2002, along with two comrades, on terrorism charges. Linrung, along with Agus Dwikarna and Abdul Jamal Balfas, were caught with detonating cord, blasting caps and the explosive C4 in their luggage (Time Asia: April 1, 2002).

Agus Dwikarna was sentenced in the Philippines to 10 - 17 years but Linrung and Balfas were sent home a month after their arrests, following appeals from then-President Megawati Sukarnoputri. I am suspecting that it was her Vice President, the notorious terrorist apologist Hamza Haz who was the driving force behind springing these guys from Manila.

A big wai to the excellent Indonesia Matters for picking up on this story. Patung reports on reactions to the travel ban among the political class and national Muslim figures. A prominent foreign affairs commission member complains that "the matter was an outrageous insult and humiliation for the Indonesian parliament and the entire nation, and a violation of Tamsil’s human rights," following up with an ultimatum for the US embassy. A former Muhammadiyah leader demands firm action against Canada, while a former Islamic University rector says that it's very easy to understand the situation -- Canada is the US' largest trading partner, and therefore has to do everything the US tells it to.

More background also from Riccardo at JakChat, who notes that Linrung's release from Filipino custody (by Indonesia's intervention), came just 6 months before the country's national state of denial regarding terrorism came to an abrupt end with the massive October 2002 Bali bombings. His return was a triumphant homecoming, and he was welcomed by a "who's who" of Indonesian terror groups.

Robert Spencer made note of Linrung's entry into the Indonesian parliament under the PKS banner just two years later. Spencer quoted at length from an article in The Australian (the article has now apparently expired from their site), including reference to KOMPAK (chaired by Tamsil Linrung) and Jemaah Islamiyah.
A report released in February by the International Crisis Group, titled Jihad in Central Sulawesi, refers directly to Kompak. "From the beginning, Kompak had one foot in radical violence and one foot in the Muslim establishment," the think tank's report says.

It focuses on the Mujaheddin Kompak, a Muslim militia set up by a branch of the charity, and how it both competed and co-operated with JI in Poso. Mujaheddin Kompak was joined by former JI members impatient for action and was "leaner, meaner and quicker" than JI, the report says.
I have some of the ICG reports on jihadist networks in Indonesia. These are very well researched and contain a wealth of detail on the subject. [ICG now requires registration (free) to retrieve its older reports.] In Asia Report N°43 (11 December 2002), there is an account of Tamsil Linrung's association with Jemaah Islamiyah, the smiling hatemonger cleric Abu Bakar Ba'asyir, and the formation of a new jihadi umbrella group.

In late 1999, Ba’asyir as head of Jemaah Islamiyah called a meeting at the International Islamic University (Universiti Islam Antarabangsa) in Malaysia to set up the International Mujahidin Association (Rabitatul Mujahidin or RM). [page 8] From footnote #36:
Present in addition to Abu Bakar Ba’asyir, according to another person who was there, were the JI inner core of Hambali, Abu Fatih, Ustadz Muklas, A. Umar, Aziz Kahar Muzakkar, Ali A.T. and Hasan Kamal; Agus Dwikarna and Tamsil Linrung; Eri Djunaidy, Lamkaruna Putra (Fauzi Hasbi’s son), and Faturrahman from Republik Islam Aceh; Tk. Idris, and his younger brother, Tgk. Muhammed from MP-GAM; a man known as Abu Huraerah from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front; Ustadz Salim Ullah, another Afghanistan veteran, from the Rohingya Solidarity Organisation [Burma - ed.]; Nik Adli and one other man from PAS, Malaysia [Islamist political party - ed.]...
Another four individuals listed by ICG's source were opposed to the use of violence. They were two from Thailand representing PULO (the "old" Pattani separatist group), one from Darul Islam of Indonesia, and another Rohingya rep from Burma. All those listed above favoured violent action. Quite the international gathering there in Malaysia (where of course, several of the planning meetings for Sept. 11 were also held around the same time period), and note the prominent guest list including Hambali and the Jemaah Islamiyah "inner core").

In Poso (central Sulawesi), the mujahideen groups were known as Laskar Jundullahs, or "Allah's Armies" (in other words, Indonesian for "Hizb Allah"). From page 20 of the same report:
The best-known of the Laskar Jundullahs was created in September 2000 as the military wing of KPPSI, the Preparatory Committee for Upholding Islamic Law, under the command of Agus Dwikarna, now detained in the Philippines as a JI member. It was originally conceived of as a religious police that would enforce Islamic law among KPPSI members. In setting up Laskar Jundullah, Dwikarna worked closely with Syawal, the JI member with close ties to the southern Philippines, and with Tamsil Linrung, the man later arrested with Dwikarna in the Philippines in March 2002.
Tamsil Linrung is believed to continue on the advisory board of KPPSI.

The ICG's Asia Report N°74 (3 February 2004) focuses on jihad in Central Sulawesi, as referenced in the article from The Australian cited above. From page 4 of the report:
From the beginning, KOMPAK had one foot in radical violence and one foot in the Muslim establishment. After Ambon exploded, it became a conduit for funding jihad activities, purchasing arms, and producing videos of Muslim victims of violence that were then used to raise funds among Muslims abroad, reportedly with the help of men with al-Qaeda connections. At the same time, its genuine assistance to Muslim victims of floods and conflict-related displacement drew the support of senior politicians such as Minister of Justice and Human Rights Yusril Ihza Mahendra.
And from footnote #22 of that page:
KOMPAK at the national level was headed by Tamsil Linrung, a businessman from Makassar who until late 2003 was also the national treasurer of the National Mandate Party (Partai Amanat Nasional or PAN).
A little further into the report, page 11:
Laskar Jundullah was formally set up in Makassar in September 2000 as the security force of the Committee to Prepare for the Upholding of Islamic Law (Komite Persiapan Penegakkan Syariat Islam, KPPSI), under the command of Agus Dwikarna. It quickly established branches across South and Central Sulawesi and began systematically recruiting people to fight in Poso, as well as engaging in more mundane activities such as attacking sellers of alcoholic drinks. A main donor and fund-raiser was Tamsil Linrung, national head of KOMPAK.
Linrung's role in the setting up and funding of Laskar Jundullah in Makassar is discussed in an Indonesian intelligence assessment, which ICG has obtained.

If a national political party, such as the Prosperous Justice Party, sees fit to promote an individual like Tamsil Linrung into its upper echelons, and the people of south Sulawesi see fit to vote for them, that is clearly an issue for the people of Indonesia, and especially south Sulawesi. The vast majority of the good citizens have been shown repeatedly to oppose violent terrorist groups of the type Tamsil Linrung apparently supports. The issue then becomes one of information and education, and of jihadist politicians pulling wool over people's eyes. But when such people expect to travel to other countries, those countries now have an interest in the issue. If some Indonesians feel "humiliated" by the attention, they need to consider who is really causing all their embarrassment.


Save This Page

Sunday, March 25, 2007

A Senate is the Wisest Thing

The Glair - A Senate is the Wisest Thing

A Poem dedicated in honour of the US Senate, and in honour of all of those other lonely, unappreciated Senatorial Bodies that dot the troubled landscape of our Earth.

Here’s to you guys.
What would we ever do without ya?

A Senate is the Wisest Thing

“Senatus bestia est; senatores bon viri...”

A Senate is the Wisest Thing
By government devised
For when a Senate fashions law
Can Justice be denied?

Now Senators are benevolent (so I’m told)
But Senates are a Beast
And when they vote “en-commoner”
The Great becomes the least,

For Senates have evolving views
Of what is rightly fair
And often vote their asses
When decorum is un-bared

Though who may obstruct Senates
When they’re filled with mighty minds?
Let nature take her obscure course
The Blind best lead the Blind,

Our Senates are the best of us
None would dare object
The Wisest of our Wisest Men
Our privilege to elect,

Their thoughts reach to the Heavens
Deliberations so profound
With judgments deep and eloquent
And reasons to astound,

So when Senates are in session
Don’t forget to watch the air
For if their seats are empty
You can find them floating there,

Yet somehow all that Wisdom
Rarely ever leaves a mark
I guess they’re just too busy
With their opening remarks,

But who are we to gainsay
When in sapience they speak?
We are just as citizens
And they are quite antique,

A happy day for everyone
Please Bless your Senate now
If we could only be so wise,
It’s true I do avow –

Now come ye all the People
See your Senates hard at work,
They’ve never met a challenge yet
Their insights cannot burke,

So let that be your lesson
When in Senate you do act,
Remember mobs with furrowed brows
May fools from you extract.


© JWG, Jr. 2007


Save This Page

Monday, March 19, 2007

The Homosexual Fetus

Karpas - The Homosexual Fetus

I find this extremely interesting for several different reasons.

Mohler on Gay Babies


Save This Page

Saturday, March 10, 2007

New Pictures of Puppies and Dogs

Humours of Idleness - New Pictures of Puppies and Dogs

I've been taking a lot of photographs lately. These are some of the new ones of my dogs and puppies. The puppies are now six weeks old and ready for sale.

I've already put up an ad and it'll run this weekend.
I'm really gonna miss these little buggers, all the ones we're selling anyway. We're keeping one.

If I had another twenty acres or so and it was all fenced in we'd keep em all.
I hope and pray they all get the homes they deserve. We're certainly gonna be checking references as well as we can.

Bear has already been sold and from what I hear through the grapevine he's got a great home.
Woman's entire family seems to adore him.
He'll make her a great watchdog and a very loyal pet.

Hope he lives twenty years.

Here are some pics of the others, and their parents:

The Surgical Studio/Bedroom

Kor – The Surgical Studio/Bedroom

Yesterday morning I had another unusual dream. Actually it was a rather strange, even bizarre dream. It took me awhile to write it up though, and the details returned to my memory rather slowly, all through the day and the evening. It is very unlike me to have two such dreams back to back on consecutive nights like this at my age. When I was younger I would have two or more striking and numinous dreams in a single night and could remember each in intimate detail. But as I have aged such numinous and powerful and easily remembered, highly detailed dreams, have become more and more rare for me.

It began when I awoke in my bedroom. But my bedroom was not the bedroom of my house in waking life but rather a huge surgical studio (it resembled a large, English operating studio of the 19th century) in which operations or psychiatric (brain) procedures could be performed before an audience during public lecture or for medical training. My bed sat in the middle of the theatre on the floor where ordinarily the surgical table would be located. Around my bed were a series of small tables with trays and implements but these implements seemed less likely to be surgical or medical equipment, but rather they appeared to be scientific equipment from various previous eras in human history. There were a few devices I did not recognize but which seemed to be of considerable antiquity.

The rest of the studio consisted primarily of raised amphitheatre seating completely encircling the leveled and sunken floor on which my bed rested. There was no glass or dividing area between my bed and the surgical floor and the rest of the studio, all of the seating was open to full view and unobstructed in any way. The studio floor where my bed sat was brightly illuminated, the rest of the studio was dark and ill-lit. Indeed near the walls there seemed to be no source of light at all. The room itself was oval in shape and was perhaps fifty to sixty feet at the widest point across. The ceiling was perhaps ten feet high from the highest tier of seats along the walls and perhaps thirty feet high from the lowest point of the studio floor, which was where my bed sat. My bed in this studio was more of a hospital type bed than the king size bed I normally sleep in with my wife, and the bed appeared to be a single man bed. It was completely white as were the sheets and bedding.

I got up and explored some of the implements surrounding my bed of which I can recall few details. Next I explored the surrounding seating, which was stone seating as might be found in an ancient amphitheater. I made my way into the dark sections of the room and found many old and unusual devices, some man-sized in height, that I did not immediately recognize but all of which appeared to be mechanical devices of some sort. None worked or seemed operational but all seemed recently restored or at least in reasonable shape, fairly well maintained.

Suddenly I became aware of the fact that something looked very wrong about the room. I looked around for a door along the walls by which one might enter or exit, but there was no such door. No door of any kind. None of the walls had any windows either. I looked at the ceiling for some sign of a skylight, or way by which one could enter from the roof. But the ceiling above was devoid of any opening of any kind. There appeared in fact to be no way to either enter or exit the room. The room appeared to be a completely self-contained, closed system.

This gave me a very creepy, strange, uncanny feeling because I began to wonder how I had arrived here in the first place. Then it occurred to me to look under the bed to see if some method of entry or exit might be located there. Despite the lighting in the middle of the room the area under the bed was completely dark and so I had to move the bed to look at the space underneath it.

Where the bed had been I discovered a triangularly shaped area on the floor, large enough for me to pass through. But there was no door or trapdoor, the area enclosed by the triangle was simply soft to the touch, and slightly warm, like flesh in basic texture. It looked like concrete but felt like flesh. When I touched it I could hear a sound or a sort of hum, like hummingbees in the distance. The area smelled funny too, not quite like a corpse but sort of like the body of someone old who had just died and then been soaked by water and rolled in clover. It sort of smelled like mild disease and herbs and grass all mixed together.

Then I heard a noise that apparently emanated from one of the dead machines I had seen near the outer walls of the room. I stood up to walk over and investigate but at that point I awoke.

Note: I had this dream the day before I saw the film The Prestige. Indeed the day before I rented The Prestige so I don’t connect the dream itself or any of the devices in the dream with that particular film. The Dream was quite unlike anything I have seen or been working on lately.

After watching The Prestige however, which I enjoyed immensely (anyhtign with Tesla in it can't be all that bad), I had an odd sense of familiarity between certain scenes in the film and this Dream.


Save This Page

Friday, March 09, 2007

Civil War and the Death of Old Legends

Allele – Civil War and the Death of Old Legends

Title of Work: Civil War

Author, Director, Artist, Creator: Marvel

Form (Book, CD, DVD, Film, etc.): Comic Book

Ranking/Recommendation: 9 of 10

Well, I now know how the Civil War ends. I found the ending compressed, and shortened and a bit too easy for my tastes, but I think Cap made the smart move.

Unlike the Justice League the heroes of the Marvel rebellion simply had no chance whatsoever of resisting both the authorities and the heroes stacked against them. Eventually it would have ended with the utter liquidation of the resistance and their resistance was only gonna harden the political resolve against them. I was kinda shocked, even amused, that when the civil workers grabbed Cap that he was shocked they were against him.

Of course they were gonna be against him, what, did he think that the vast majority of the population would be glad to see the triumph of a resistance movement fighting their own military, civilian, political, and governmental authorities, as well as special agents (the registered heroes) sanctioned by their own government? I don’t see how he could have been that stupid and deluded in the first place, or anyone else for that matter, including any readers supporting that position for the long run. You might wanna see Cap and his team win a skirmish or two but to think that most people would approve of him and his side winning? That’s laughable.

Like I said earlier an easy compromise could have been negotiated in which some heroes would go public, and some heroes could retain their secret identities as long as all registered with the proper authorities. But as time went along I realized neither side, nor the writers, were interested in anything like a logical compromise until events had run their course. Which was fine with me because I found this the best large-scale Marvel project ever undertaken in the sense of a milieu or background setting for future developments. The only reason I ranked it a 9 instead of a 10 was due to the fact that there were obvious plot and construction holes in the overall project and I liked four previous Marvel projects better; when Captain America went after Daredevil in Hell’s Kitchen due to government construction of another super Soldier, when Kraven kidnapped Spidey and “killed” and then replaced him, the entire Venom/Black Suit story arc (I much prefer the Black Suit), and the Spidey/Daredevil/Kingpin/Gang War involving the Hobgoblin. But now for the first time ever I like Marvel as well as I like DC, not just a few lone characters like Spiderman or Daredevil, but Marvel and the Marvel World itself. I think this was an entirely courageous and great project, very timely, and to tell you the truth I was shocked by the conservative conclusion. I had expected Marvel to go in the opposite direction entirely, a sort of all hail rock-n-roll, screw the authorities, we hate the Man and power structure ending that only some modern liberal could think brilliant and angst-ridden. A mascara and tattoo modern rock whiney-teenager, the world is doomed ending. But they actually played it right, even if a little unevenly, and even if they went askew every now and then by occasionally disappointing in the individual storylines.

But eventually Iron Man was gonna have to win because his side was the correct side. Once the very idea of regulation became fixed in the public mind there would be no turning back the clock to a prior mindset. Not that I’m a big fan of over-regulation, but regulation of policemen, soldiers, EMS workers, or anyone else with the potential power of life and death (and such heroes would certainly have those abilities in many cases) is only logical. There is no way around that.

Couple that with the fact that Iron Man is a much, much better modern leader of men and there was no way Cap or his renegades could triumph. Cap was an anachronism from another age, one in which great leadership skills were basically evidenced on the Tactical Level. He never really graduated. He never rose in rank to Major, Colonel, or General America. He remained in effect always a small group, Special Teams Tactical Leader. He never ranked as a Strategic Leader with a Strategic Vision. He had no way of truly moving into the Future, made little to no employment of advanced technology (except as a last ditch effort against IM, if only he had employed such foresight against terrorists and murderers and Nazis – a Shield, that’s the limit of your Arsenal of Democracy?), was almost always reactionary (instead of being anticipatory and proactive against potential threats), never advanced as a Commander, had no strategic vision for the future, was clad in a ridiculously outdated and outmoded brightly colored uniform in a world where Stealth and maneuver is a far better advantage, was well past his prime militarily, as a commander, as a visionary, as a leader, and as a field agent. I understand the impulse towards anachronism, being something of an anachronism myself in some ways, but simply because you come from another age is no excuse for remaining trapped in the past. One cannot remain forever fixed in the past or one is unfit for the future.

Not that he couldn’t have adapted, not that he couldn’t have become a newer, more advanced, more capable, more strategic, better Captain America. He just never really tried. Which is a shame because had Cap adapted, had he thrown away the bright long johns and donned a suit befitting his athletic and physical skills, had he employed a wide range of technological tools, had he practiced and honed his leadership skills to befit the modern world, had he developed a strategic vision, had he made, maintained and succored the proper contacts, built the proper network of alliances instead of relying merely upon the personal admiration of others for him, had he built the proper teams instead of just personal friendships then he could have become the Batman of the Marvel universe. But his character never grew, never matured, merely antiquated.

Iron Man became the Batman of the Marvel Universe in most respects. He had the Vision, the resources, the leadership skills to properly employ modern agents, and the network of contacts to make things work. He had the Big Idea.

Whether Iron Man will properly employ his Strategic Vision in the future in the best possible way for the greatest benefit of the greatest number of people possible, that remains to be seen. He could easily become corrupted. Many modern people do. Modern men have little trouble developing the necessary ideas to encapsulate a Strategic vision of great scope and potential, they just often fail to maintain or even to grow in the first place those necessary ideals by which a great Vision can only be properly sustained. Cap had that ideal set, but he was an anachronism of another age that lacked any new ideas upon which to fix such ideals. Iron Man has all of the proper ideas but has often, in the past at least, shown the type of moral ambiguity that will make him subject to both overt and subconscious psychological and spiritual corruption.

It’s possible of course that Stark is now completely clean and sober, and will remain that way, and so will not be easily susceptible to the corrupting influence of either his own shortcomings, or the corrupting influence of those around him. But time will tell. In any case given the huge scope of his plans he will in all likelihood eventually need to find a new Captain America as a partner, friend, and guide to help him control his impulses towards overcontrol and to prevent the calcification of his own Vision.

Speaking of which as everyone now knows Cap is to be Killed. By an assassin. I can only say that I am sad to see the character killed, I wish he had been convicted, then pardoned, then gone in retirement since it was obvious he would probably never change and adapt to the current world. But in a way it is very fitting he died by hand of an assassin given the state of the modern world.

I can only hope that the next Captain America, or whoever assumes some similar mantle will be forward looking, will adapt, will have a vision, perhaps can even become a friend of Stark and assist him with whatever comes next. I really, really hope they do not resurrect Steve Rogers. Let him lie in peace, Hero of Another Age. Let him go proudly to his Fathers, and their Fathers. He was a man of another world, so let him go to another world and find some rest.

As for whatever new character arises to replace him, I can only say, “Welcome to the Party Pal. We’re living in strange and dangerous times. Ditch that clown outfit and suit up in something a little darker. Then we’ll talk about your next assignment”

By the by I thought Dave had the best overall write up of both the strengths and weaknesses of the Civil War as a comic book event on the Net.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Kor – The Geisha House

Kor – The Geisha House

This morning, right before waking I had a very unusual dream. It was unusual because of the locale.

I dreamt that I was working my way undercover through a series of Geisha Houses in Japan. I was unaware of the exact nature of the case I was working or who or what my target might have been. I had the vague impression that whoever had assigned me the case had more or less said something to the effect of, “keep your eyes open and look for anything out of the ordinary, or which smells fishy to you.”

It was all out of the ordinary to me however and so I was making copious mental notes everywhere I went and trying to mentally observe and record everything. I tried at all times while operating during the dream to remember and to practice the Three Keys of Defection: Observation, Attention, and Memory. I wasn’t really sure if I had been specifically instructed to do this or this was just a result of my own innate training over so many years.

One house in particular and three girls in particular kept showing up over and over again. I revisited their house numerous times and observed several older gentlemen, well dressed, and obviously making pains to conceal their appearance and identities, but I never really linked them directly to anything worth writing home about.

Then on one visit I saw a little girl and boy enter through a side door and move through the house as if nobody else had even noticed their arrival. I followed them surreptitiously and at a distance to an unguarded and unwatched back door. From the doorway I watched them enter a courtyard and walk to a small, rough, dark gray stone marker, only about half as high as they were, and the girl pulled out a compass and placed it on the top of the marker where it transformed into a sundial. The boy read the time and then pointed up into the air, at that point the alarm went off, and I woke up.


Save This Page

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Wednesday Religious Assessment 2/28/07

Wednesday Religious Assessment

China in Chains - Just in time for the Olympics.

The Apathetic Christian - I can't imagine not be enthusiastic. It would be a revolution of advancement. We won't get there by murder of course, and that seems a very bizarre idea - that one can encourage salvation through murder - but the return of Christ would mean the end of murder and the championing of all kinds of progress.

Vocations Up - Even in an Exodus vocations are rising. That's fascinating and reminds me much more of the early Church than the present church in the West. Good for them.

Liturgical Failure

Fighting Slavery - As a Christian this is a fight worth winning.

Diet in the Desert

The Church in Venezuela - It's always a tough call for the church in my opinion. Help the oppressed in a tyranny and therefore appear to be reconciled to the evils of dictatorial control, or oppose the regime and face persecution and the real danger that the innocent will likely suffer. It's not for me to say which does the most harm, or most good, and I guess every situation is unique. Godspeed to them though.

Dry Bones - To me stuff like this is just entertainment. It doesn't ring true at all. It's hard for me to get upset about it. He's just a director and I've never understood how, or why, our society gives so much importance to entertainers.