May each of you have the heart to conceive, the understanding to direct, and the hand to execute works that will leave the world a little better for your having been here. -- Ronald Reagan

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

My 2013 Year in Review

I haven't posted or written much in 2013. Much of it I think, is that I look at the social, religious, economic, political, cultural, foreign policy morass and have been in despair. How many times and how many ways can it be said that everything that works, that is good, that's beneficial, that benefits the most amount of people with liberty, wealth, goodness, has been rejected for things that demean, steal, hurt, impoverishes, insults, and diminishes liberty, is accepted.

I was talking to a friend at our choir Christmas party, and as often happens, when things are vocalized fresh thoughts, ideas, come to the fore. I think the process had already begun to make some changes in approach to what I think and write about, and that conversation shed some light on the direction.

I had, back before the personal computer age, pretty much ignored newspapers and the nightly news, because it was surface stuff, of the moment, and the stories had to be constantly changed and updated as new information came out.

With the internet, I've found myself reading news sites and news blogs that are like newspapers and news shows. Good for headlines, but nothing of depth. I was an avid magazine reader pre-internet, for awhile getting maybe nine or ten magazines, and reading most of them cover to cover. This year I've gone back to that. On a Kindle though. It's less expensive, more environmentally friendly (printing, paper, shipping all gone), and I don't have stacks of mags piled up behind my recliner. It gives easy access to magazines already read, 'saved' in the "Newsstand" section. I've been reading "National Review" for decades. Even when I was a Marxist. I strived (and still do) to be informed of all points of view. My magazine list, in addition to "National Review" now include "Commentary", "First Things" and "World". I subscribe to those, and get an occasional issue of "Science News", the only science magazine that doesn't have a Leftist political agenda that I could find. A little leaks in, but it's just the zeitgeist now.

I was stunned to find out, while searching for a science magazine, that all of them directly, or infer, a political agenda that matches the political Left and tailor not only editorials but even "science" articles to fit the agenda. Part of the view is that science should be the result of "consensus", not facts. The magazines I listed above that I subscribe to now are all conservative and Christian/Jewish essays, editorials, and news. All the other stuff is the meme of what's defined as "news" is Leftist, so we are immersed in it, that no additional reading is needed to know that viewpoint. In my paper magazine reading days, I read the Leftist "New Republic" and "Utne", "Atlantic Monthly", and "Harpers". There may be more, but that's all I can remember right now. The Left "news" outlets have been saying that same things on the same issues in pretty much the same way since I started paying attention to them in the 1970's. I was one of them. Now though, they're all screechy and preachy. Dull, boring, lying, insipid.   

Anyway, all that is to the purpose of changing how I view, think and write of things. Going forward by going back I guess.

Continuing on with reading, read a lot of books this year. List in the right column will stay up a few days. Standouts: A Traveler's Guide to the Kingdom:  Journeying Through the Christian Life by James Emery White, Exposing Myths About Christianity by Jeffrey Burton Russell, Introduction to the Devout Life by St Francis de Sales, Socrates in the City: Conversations on Life, God, and Other Small Topics by Eric Metaxas (Editor),  The Searcher by Joseph Loconte (This book a revelation about what happened on the road to Emmaus, the story of the two men that met Jesus after His crucifixion.) and Rebuilding the Real You by Jack Hayford. For fiction I enjoyed the Great North Road by Peter Hamilton, Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan, The Bartender's Tale by Ivan Doig (Doig one of my all time fav writers for many years), The Corpse Reader by Antonio Garrido, and lastly, I think my fav of the year, In Sunlight and in Shadow by Mark Helprin. Helprin's book got panned by a lot of snobby critics. It was poetic and romantic, not Helprin's usual steady on crafted novel. If you're looking for good fiction these days, look to the Spanish. Great stuff there.

Staying with the culture, movies, despite high sales this year, have pretty much sucked. Cartoons played by actors in front of blue and green screens. Great special effects, some decent story lines. Enjoyable but not challenging or fulfilling. Best movie may have been "Silver Linings Playbook", best cartoon movie "Superman". "Beasts Of The Southern Wild" was really good, but I have no idea why I liked it so much. Lots of worst movies ever this year including "Pain and Gain" with Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson, and "The Great Gatsby", arguably the worst movie ever made; ranks way down there with a couple movies in years gone by whose names I've forgotten. "Gatsby" was so bad I walked out, couldn't stand it any more. Bleh.

Television on the other hand is better and better. Cable shows mostly, that I binge view on Netflix. I'll just list a few here; "Burn Notice", "Justified" (my fav), "Glades", "Foyer's War", "Continuum", "Borgia", "Doc Martin", "Heat of the Sun", "Hell on Wheels", "Damages", "Doctor Who", "White Collar", any of the "Mystery Theater" stuff mostly presented by the BBC. Then there's some documentaries and of course the "Ted Talks" series. Of the live series "Blue Bloods" (astonishing it's lasting because it's revolves around a practicing Christian family, with traditional family values, service and sacrifice, and they pray together!). Then there's "Person of Interest", and of course both "NICIS" shows. I was a big fan of "The Voice" and "Singoff", but think these have run the course for me. Not lacking in talented singers, but the song selection is starting to sound the same and the audience instead of actually listening to the music, seem to think these are audience participation shows, and clapping, whistling, screaming and yelling are appropriate. Well, it's not.

Last but certainly not least, Church and Religion. I love my church with all my heart. Just amazing people, with amazing talents. Love and charity abounds. The conversations, the music, are all beyond extraordinary. I'm going to be rude here; if you "dis" Christianity and people that go to church, that serve, love, are charitable, then you're stupid and a bigot. You guys have to go back hundreds of years to find something to bitch about and use that to try and kill Christianity and replace it with the State. I don't have much truck with the anti-Semitism linked to the hatred of Christianity either. Scripture, Old and New Testaments are the most proven and effective guides to good living ever. Churches are the best organizations and institutions to benefit humanity, ever. Period.

There's my year in review. This much longer than intended, and I have more to say. But days, years, months to follow. We wish all a wonderful New Year, full of Faith, Hope, Love, Charity. 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Messiah (Handel): "But who may abide..." (Emma Kirkby)

A Musical Merry Christmas from The Metaphysical Peregrine

But who may abide the day of His coming?
And who shall stand when He appeareth?
For He is like a refiner's fire.

"Jesu! Jesu!" & "Joy to the World" USAF Band as Flash Mob

Uplifting and joyful.

Jesu, joy of man’s desiring,
Holy wisdom, love most bright;
Drawn by Thee, our souls aspiring
Soar to uncreated light.
Word of God, our flesh that fashioned,
With the fire of life impassioned,
Striving still to truth unknown,
Soaring, dying round Thy throne.