Hannah and Papa J

Hannah and Papa J

Thursday, February 9, 2017

On bums

Dear Hannah,

Protestants (and especially Calvinists) enjoy telling us that we're all bums to God.  They have no other way of making us understand how far below Him we are morally, so they have to find a way to make us think of someone who is morally far below us.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Superbowl 51

Dear Hannah,

The really remarkable thing about the Superbowl is that it is the most lucrative football game in the US and the one that Americans are the least interested in.  30 teams have already played and lost; and all the irrational localist jingoism that pervades the average football game has already been spent on the other teams.  The most that most of us can say about the Superbowl is that we pick a team that we "hate" the least, and the team we hate the least is hated least because they probably never had a rivalry with the team we love the most.  The whole thing is an exercise in wankery, the last dregs of a season Americans began in hope and excitement, eventually petering out in a whirlwind of disappointment, and carried on simply because there weren't any other games left to watch.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Daylight saving time and its detractors

Dear Hannah,

Because daylight saving time is around the corner we can expect to hear that tired old joke from that useless old Indian:
‘Only a white man would believe that you could cut a foot off the top of a blanket and sew it to the bottom of a blanket and have a longer blanket.’

Sunday, January 22, 2017

We're pregnant

Dear Hannah,

Yesterday I met a man who was celebrating a pregnancy, and when I asked him if the baby was his and he pointed at a man and said "we're pregnant," I laughed and then congratulated him.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

What was Aleppo?

Dear Hannah,

To my knowledge nobody I know knows of the meaning of Aleppo.  We know that it is in Syria.  Know that Assad has been bombing it.  We know that it is what the women are referring to as "a humanitarian crisis," and what the men are referring to as "a point of strategic importance."  Nobody has told me why the Syrians are more important than the thousands of women and children being butchered by drug lords in Mexico; or why Assad is more threatening to us than said drug lords in Mexico; or why the people are being bombed in Aleppo in the first place; or why Assad is a bad guy and the rebels are good.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Westworld: a review

Dear Hannah,

HBO's first season of Westworld has the honor of being so good that we are worried it will continue; and in doing so joins a series of series that would have been better if they'd left them unfinished.  The first series I remember starting this well was The Matrix, followed by two sequels that gave us more of the story but none of the magic; followed by things like The Hunger Games which eventually gave us a solution when what we actually wanted was more of the problem.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Carrie Fisher, world class beauty

Dear Hannah,

There is one thing shared in common by everyone who says that Carrie Fisher should be remembered for her brains, and that is that none of them will be remembered for their brains.  That she was beautiful is beyond dispute; and she will be remembered as long as Star Wars is still selling and Slave Leia is warping our sexuality.  What she will not be remembered for is her activism or her attitude.  We could have hired any woman to scold Harrison Ford across a decade; that is the thing known as marriage.  But the glory of doing it and still having us want her belongs to her face.  And secondly it belongs to her wearing a metal bikini.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Baby, it's cold outside

Dear Hannah,

One thing that seems to have escaped feminists' notice in the controversy over Baby, it's cold outside is that the song is a duet.  Perhaps never in the history of rape or music or music about raping people has anyone ever toured with their rapist for the express purpose of singing about being raped.  And this is for two reasons.  The first is that singing about it would be painful for the woman; and the second is that it would be dangerous for the man.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

This week in hate

Dear Hannah,

The New York Times has decided to run a new feature titled This week in hate.  Cataloguing a series of hate crimes dating back to November 16, it strangely fails to mention November 28th, when a young Somalian man in Ohio ran his car into a lot of pedestrians, got out of said car, and then began stabbing Americans at random.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

In defense of socialists

Dear Hannah,

Let's say for a moment -- hypothetically -- that someone out there had a son and the son hit his head and hitting his head sent him into convulsions; and the going into convulsions sent the man's wife into a panic, and the panic sent her to the hospital, and the hospital sent her to a room.  And let's suppose that the room was empty, and she wondered where the doctor was, and the doctor appeared for five minutes and then disappeared again; and she was given no medicine, and she waited for three hours, and at the end of it all she was sent home without anything more than a recommendation to see another doctor -- and that almost a month later, after receiving absolutely nothing more than a recommendation, she received a bill.  The original charge: $1200.  The cost after insurance: $350.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

In defense of fake news sites

Dear Hannah,

The great value of a page like Shares from your Aunt is that it proves what we already knew about the elderly: that they are too old.  Perhaps nobody since the turning of the millennium has ever so accurately caricatured the embarrassing aunt on Facebook, and done it so convincingly that our aunts are likely to take the posts seriously.  An unwavering credulity, accepting even the wildest assertions and conspiracy theories; a mangling of minor facts in embarrassing ways that accidentally make them important; a tendency to crusade over the stupidest and most irrelevant things comprises the gist of the web-page, which is unintentionally the gist of many of our aunts.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Concerning improper use of the word Moron

Dear Hannah,

I will begin this letter by expressing my disappointment with H.L. Mencken; and being disappointed (perhaps unfairly) because H.L. Mencken was not G.K. Chesterton.  The beauty of G.K. Chesterton wasn't only that he was right (whenever he was, that is); it was that he didn't have to tell you when he was.  His genius eked from every line; even when he was being ridiculous.  Mencken was distasteful not only enough to be right (when he was right), but to insist that he was right when he thought he was right.  And the way he insisted he was right was by insisting others were morons.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Why everyone hates Ayn Rand

Dear Hannah,

Perhaps in the history of mankind there has never been so enjoyable a teaching as Objectivism from so unlikeable a teacher as Ayn Rand.  Jesus Christ was so magnetic that He spent His days ruining dinner parties and insulting His followers -- and despite this He was so fun that even the children loved Him.  Joseph Smith was so popular with women that he felt forced to reintroduce polygamy to the Americas.  Mohammed was so interesting that he was illiterate and still ended up with one of the most propagated books in all of human history.  Ayn Rand's insults stung more than her teachings soothed.  The men who should have naturally been her allies ended up becoming her enemies.    

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The perils of naming yourself

Dear Hannah,

One thing that I realized after reading a very thoughtful (and extremely Catholic) essay by Anthony Esolen, was that, in the war over gender pronouns and in nearly everything else, it's generally a terrible thing to name yourself.

Monday, October 24, 2016

In praise of Milo Yiannopoulos

Dear Hannah,

I'll admit that I hated Milo at first.  Something about the way he was making fun of fat women.  He seemed undignified, cold, and low; taking the issue far beyond the heresy of leftists and turning it into something personal -- something regrettable by anyone who has ever had an overweight mother or a sister.  The people who are against "fat shaming" (even if what they're against is only stating a preference for fitness) are really against health and beauty and taste, and thus perfectly worthy of a thrashing.  The overweight, on the other hand, are only overweight; and so long as they aren't demanding admiration for their fatness or forcing us to say that everyone is beautiful, may displease us sexually, but often make up for their unattractiveness with what we call a personality*.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

The American Dream and its critics

Dear Hannah,

Because I was in college I've done several things I wouldn't do now, at the top of the list being a beer bong with more than seven types of hard alcohol (which resulted in me blacking out and doing horrible things), voting as a Democrat, and reading Michael Moore.  The latter of these took place in small apartment after I decided to stop snorting cocaine and picked up some Chomsky, and involved a book much longer than it needed to be about something like Oprah Winfrey becoming president.  It was brilliantly titled Dude, Where's My Country?  One of the chapters has stuck with me more than the one about Oprah being an ideal presidential candidate, however, and it had to do with the fraudulence of the American Dream.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Concerning Didion's sense of humor

Dear Son,

Reading Joan Didion's Slouching Towards Bethlehem leaves me with the impression that she was one of those skinny, sickly girls who's always complaining about problems and never giving any solutions -- someone more commonly referred to as a whiner.  I've met several of them in my life and they all make me want to leave the second I meet them, because if you don't; if you find yourself giving in for even a second to your pity and trying to console them and (what's worse) trying to be a friend, you find yourself consoling them all the time instead of enjoying your life.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Welfare queens and their defenders

Dear Hannah,

If the editors of The Atlantic had ever seen Lost, they might remember a scene when Sawyer the lovable con-man explains his father's philosophy of stealing.  It runs, in entirety, that no matter who you are or what you do for a living, you're either taking or giving too much, but you're never getting what you deserve.  The whole world is alternating between stealing or being stolen from.  The professional thief (and maybe even the saintliest of saints) might argue that he's separated from the rest of humanity only in name.  A saner man might argue back that the thief is separated from humanity more particularly by degree.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

On wankery

Dear Son*,

I'm convinced that a major reason Americans are dumber than our ancestors is because so many of us are wankers.  Almost nobody talks about this, but a man's ability to be excellent is directly connected to whether he's spent himself sexually.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Are women as good as men?

Dear Hannah,

At this point it can very safely be said that feminism from its inception was practically a bait-and-switch.   We know this because from the beginning feminists were telling us they were as good as men, and now the arguments from feminists center around the fact that they aren't.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Mothers and other villains

Dear Hannah,

It seems we have a conflict of interest.  Somewhere within the last couple of years you've decided life is intolerable without music; which is unfortunate because I think life is intolerable with it.  In this regard you came about a decade too late.  Sometime around 2008 someone stole all my cd's and I came to the realization that silence and I were better off than I thought; and my theory, to the best of my ability, has to do with the fact that the things coming out of my brain were more interesting than any music I could put into it.

Friday, September 2, 2016

A Room of One's Own: a review

Dear Hannah,

Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own has the honor of being the first time I've heard the patriarchy mentioned as a pejorative and haven't been interested in throwing anything at anyone.  Most other times it's said with imbalance; not as though there were moderate and radical ways of saying patriarchy as an insult, but as though the woman who was saying it was imbalanced in general.  None of that is visible here.  None of the blaming of "rape culture" for a man making a pass or a woman making a mistake; none of the irrational and ignorant calls for an equal wage that isn't equal; none of the blaming society when a woman is fat and she knows it; and none of the crusades against slut-shaming when a woman is dirty and flaunts it*.  Virginia Woolf is sensible; but not in a manly way.  She's a hundred years old and a breath of fresh air.  If feminists knew where they came from, they would know how terrible the place was where they had arrived.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

In partial defense of Cat Stevens

Dear Hannah,

My original response to hearing that Cat Stevens had become a Muslim and changed his name to Yusuf Islam was that he was a traitor.  My opinion, as with anyone else who trades an English heritage for Sharia Law, is that he's still a traitor; but as there are many different brands of traitors out there, what kind of a traitor is the question we ought to be asking ourselves today.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Goodbye to the 68'ers

Dear Hannah,

Anyone who was a child in America during the 90's will tell you how he was repeatedly molested by stories about the 60's.  It was everywhere, back then; the 68'ers having all grown up and many of them gone into cinema to tell about how things were in the good old days of radicalism and free-spirits and new ideas and easy lays with pretty women.  The recollections were more sad than anything else, and every picture you saw had the miserable tint of nostalgia; not as though you were experiencing the 60's themselves, but as though you had missed it and it had been lost forever, along with somebody's youth.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Between the World and Me: a review

Dear Hannah,

Fear is the basis of this book.  Fear of the streets, fear of the schools, fear of the police -- of losing control of one's body, of one's life, of one's family.  Many men have lived and died under such a fear, but few of them so inquisitive and eloquent as Ta-Nehisi Coates.  Many men living in the Baltimore ghetto have oftentimes asked the question why their lives are full of fear; and seeing the white world going on safely beyond them have asked themselves why others' lives aren't.  Between the World and Me is a painful search through race and history and humanity to understand the suffering of the black American.  Like most of us Americans, Coates quickly finds the reason for the suffering.  Like most of our Democrats, his cure is worse than the cancer.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The Fire Next Time: a review

Dear Hannah,

Distrusting both the literacy and the judgment of modern activists, I had originally intended to read Frederick Douglass or W.E.B. Dubois as my introduction to black literature.  But skimming through an informal list of the Greatest Essayists of All Time and seeing James Baldwin rather high on the chart, and also seeing him frequently and reverently quoted by Black Lives Matter activists, I decided to pick up The Fire Next Time and give him a go. 

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Some sympathy for the historical American jingo

Dear Hannah,

It's become very fashionable to ask us to walk a mile in a man's moccasins without wondering what it's like to be chased by someone with a tomahawk.  Nearly everyone feels comfortable condemning Andrew Jackson for how he treated the Indians -- and condemning him at least partially rightly.  What they have not felt comfortable doing is asking themselves how it would feel to be born in a country you didn't found, and have a strange-looking group of illiterate, jobless, pagan wild-men show up at your neighbor's house and scalp all your best friends.  Whether or not this is Jackson's experience is irrelevant if this was the experience of many American settlers.  To have a savage at your doorstep, ready to strike at night and oftentimes beyond the reach of the law, would eventually affect your psychology in ways a modern man would consider unfavorable.  The only good Indian is a dead Indian is a cruel thing to say.  But we wonder how many cruelties a man had to witness or hear about (I'm speaking of the unmentionable tortures practiced by many of the Indian tribes on their enemies) before he was capable of saying it*.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Random thoughts on the alleged unpopularity of populism

Dear Hannah,

The fact that a party named specifically after democracy can be especially opposed to populism is a phenomenon too appropriate for the times we live in.  Perhaps no other era in the history of mankind has ever been so interested in butchering the idea of representation; and we know this because the worst governments possibly in the history of the world have almost all recently claimed to be republics*.  History's nastiest theocracies, in fact, soiled with the blood of honest questioners and accidental heretics, are easily less offensive than our leftist "republics;" and if there's anything to be learned in the matter, it's that allowing anyone to label himself is just as much a human right as our ability to judge him by it -- the latter of which, in light of the transgender issue, our leftists are also apparently against.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

A bigger problem than plagiarism

Dear Hannah,

When a presidential candidate's wife, known for stumbling though broken English, gets on a stage and plagiarizes a speech, the most important thing to say about her plagiarism is that it probably isn't her plagiarism.  In fact, we may safely say that in an overwhelming majority of cases like these, the speaker was probably not aware that the speech she had given had already been given.  Her job, if she really was more than slightly involved in it, was to simply approve what was written, and then read it to the public.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

The Age of Bad Reasons

Dear Hannah,

When a magazine like The Atlantic asks its readers whether they think reason or emotions are currently dominating the public discourse, I'm worried to see what the response is.  Not only because I have very little faith in the people who are giving the answer, but because I have very little faith in the quality of the question.

Monday, June 6, 2016

How to love yourself like a man

Dear Hannah,

Richard Baxter, whom I consider to be the greatest of the Puritan ministers, once wrote in The Reformed Pastor that the likelihood of a deathbed conversion was extremely rare.  The reason that he knew this was simple.  A lot of people on their deathbeds simply refused to die.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

So you say you hate the Dark Ages

Dear Hannah,

I wouldn't go as far as the Huffington Post and say that Jesus was transgender, but I feel very comfortable saying that Christians have been arguing that things are what they aren't for a very long time, and until recently were putting people to death over it.  This can be explained with two very casual observations.  The argument over the trinity (at best) is an argument about whether one is one or three; and the difference between transubstantiation and consubstantiation is an argument over whether bread and wine are body and blood*.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Winston Churchill's easy mother

Dear Hannah,

Whether or not Winston Churchill's mother had more than 200 lovers as reputed by George Moore, she had enough lovers to find him favor wherever he went and whatever he wanted to do.  It appears almost as if he owed his career to it.  To those of us familiar with the English from shows like Downton Abbey or the Hornblower series, a sex life as promiscuous as hers seems almost anathema to the stiffness of their manners and the rigidity of their morals. And yet that is the sex life she had.  And if it had only been her we could leave the matter and go on to other issues; but as any act of sex takes at least two, it is only safe to say she wasn't alone.  She was with the king -- and many other prominent men in England, Germany, France, America, and apparently the English colonies.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Never trust a "non-judgmental" person

Dear Hannah,

When atheists first began to undermine the power of religion, I think they meant to keep us from arguing about all kinds of silly things.  As it turns out, we're still arguing about silly things; the difference being that now we are responsible for being silly.  Before the advent of modernism, you could blame your arguing about any number of ridiculous things on the fact that you were convinced that God had said it.  Now if we're caught in the clutches of any trendy and backward philosophy, we say it's because a man had said it.  We've gone from being idiots on accident to being idiots on purpose; and with everything bad we've lost by dethroning the Pope, we have added a hundred more by enthroning our professors.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Why we still go to church

Dear Hannah,

An honest inquirer asked me this week why I plan to raise you in church when I have very publicly left the Christian religion.  And since it might seem insincere for me to leave a religion while being a part of it, even telling the pastor and others that I'm an apostate, I suppose somebody deserves some kind of an explanation.

Friday, April 22, 2016

A defense of my almost indefensible language

Dear Hannah,

A very kind gentleman has written me this week and asked me why I used the term "blow-job" in a letter to a three-year-old girl.  One of the reasons I can think of is that these letters aren't actually written to a three-year-old girl.  They're written to you, of course; but which version of you is a matter of utmost importance.

Friday, April 8, 2016

A waste of Cicero

Dear Hannah,

One time, when Cicero was in the middle of an argument with Metellus Nepos, Nepos attempted to bring Cicero's nobility into question by repeatedly asking who Cicero's father was.  Cicero, knowing that Nepos's mother was easy, replied that I would ask you the same question, but your mother has made it very difficult to answer.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

An objection to my latest essay on Spike Lee

Dear Hannah,

My editor (God bless him) has rejected the last essay on the grounds that I was unfair to Spike Lee.  The fact that Spike Lee is unfair to everyone else is absolutely beside the point if my editor was right; and since I believe a sense of fairness is what separates men like me from Mr. Lee, I've decided to give him something of an apology.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Concerning the first 30 minutes of Spike Lee's Chiraq

Dear Hannah,

I just finished the first 30 minutes of Spike Lee's Chiraq, which I had expected to be a very good movie with a very bad message, and was surprised to find that it was a very bad movie with a partially good message.  For years we've been hearing Spike Lee's name in association with cinema, and had every reason to believe it was because he was a good filmmaker.  Now that I've seen part of his film, I realize that I had only heard about him because he's a loud filmmaker.  Like the Black Lives Matter movement, he's someone to be watched not because you want to watch him, but because he wants you to watch him.  It's notorious in the world of entertainment that any publicity is good publicity.  Spike Lee is well aware of this truth, and as he lacks the talent to make us love him, has had the prudence to have us hate him.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Some obscure sayings of Solomon and Franklin

Dear Hannah,

Many of the wisest sayings may be unclear to any but the wise. Reading Ecclesiastes, you might be tempted to take in much wisdom is much grief, and assume that wise people grieve because they know the way things might have been.  Knowing the way things ought to be done, of course, leaves plenty of room for grieving about things going unnecessarily wrong; but no more room than the average fool has when he considers the way he thinks things could have gone right. The nature of ignorance is not to know little or nothing, but to believe we know rightly when we actually know wrongly.  The idiot faces exactly the same emotional problem as the genius.  He says the world is a mess because nobody listens to him, and feels powerless to fix it.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Jesus texting

Dear Hannah,

I'm finally working on my first book, the unofficial sequel to Sarah Young's Jesus Calling.  It's going to be called Jesus Texting, and instead of pretending to speak for Him in the voice of a warm (but ultimately weak) white woman, I'm going text for Him in the style of a sarcastic teenager.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Paul the Apostle

Dear Hannah,

HG Wells once wrote in his Outline of History that Paul was responsible for refashioning the Christian religion.  From what I can tell this seems to be unfair.  Not only because there were twelve actual Apostles to keep him from doing it, but because Paul had a very different mission from Jesus Himself.  The whole purpose of Jesus was to start the Christian religion.  The job of Paul and the Apostles was to figure out how to organize it.

Monday, February 15, 2016

A note on the generosity of Myanmar

Dear Hannah,

I refuse to accept that Americans can be second-place in anything -- even in obesity.  It just means we haven't given it our best.  We've all seen our southerners, and if the Mexicans can beat us in gluttony they can beat us in anything.  There is however one trophy I'll accept in silver, and it happens to be the one we got for philanthropy.  The Charities Aid Foundation reports that we've been beaten by Myanmar, and nothing makes me happier than concession.  The only reason Myanmar ranked higher is because the people of Myanmar are dumber.  The only way we could be better at philanthropy is if the CAF ranked us worse.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Against an excess of positivity

Dear Hannah,

There's nothing more obvious than that Westerners are obsessed with serial killers, but there are many things more disturbing.  We all know why people watch deranged people doing deranged things, and it has something to do with our being a little deranged ourselves.  It also has lots to do with our being very safe.  Few of us can be terrified by aliens and ghosts after childhood, and wars and riots are beyond the general experience; but serial killers are real, and they strike unsuspecting people in unsuspected places.  An obsession with serial killers flows from public innocence; not our licentiousness.  The stories about the kidnapped middle-class bombshell reflect our fear of everything going wrong in the middle of its rightness.  The stories may pollute our souls, but only because the most of us are busy doing every thing but raping people and killing serially.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Thoughts on the Academy Awards

Dear Hannah,

Anyone tolerant enough to have seen the first 20 minutes of Birdman knows that the Academy Awards are a matter of opinion -- and that the opinion is oftentimes a bad one.  And this is because (whatever the people at the Academy Awards would have us believe) there is no other way to judge a film than by the way it makes you personally feel.  There is no science of film criticism, and (whatever Jeremy Bentham said) there will never be an accurate mathematical formula for measuring happiness.  The question on America's mind should never be whether the Academy gave an award to the right movie or people.  It should be whether they gave the award to the right feeling.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

A timely rediscovery of Aaron Burr

Dear Hannah,

Nearly everyone knows that Aaron Burr shot Alexander Hamilton, but almost nobody knows that Burr was wanted for murder while he was the vice president.  Few people are aware that Aaron Burr was even the vice president at all; and fewer would expect, given the historically serene nature of contemporary politics, that an American vice president has ever been wanted for murder while in office.  Nixon nearly went to prison for eavesdropping.  Bill Clinton was impeached over a series of consensual blow-jobs.  Because of the Hamilton affair, Burr was wanted by two states on charges of homicide.  He essentially spent part of his vice-presidency in hiding.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Joe Rogan vs the Book of Genesis

Dear Hannah,

People love to talk about Mother Nature, but they rarely capitalize on our being Her children.  They never consider that maybe like everything else in the universe we're doing what She intended -- even in doing the things She never would have done without us; even in destroying what we perceive to be natural.  They call it the state of nature when we haven't done anything to change nature itself.  They say that things are natural before we touch them, and unnatural after we do.  The birds make their nests out of twigs, and the twigs are considered natural when they're made into nests -- and only because the birds never think of doing anything else.  A government, unlike an anthill, is considered alien; almost as if it was made out of spirits and miracles -- or made out of mutants and toxins.  A condo is considered a blemish, and a hornet's nest a necessity.  We recognize everything as natural except everything we do.  We recognize everything as necessary except what we need.  We secretly believe in the divinity of man because we consider him the only foreigner in the universe.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Well-behaved women

Dear Hannah,

Of all the feminist slogans I've ever heard, one of my favorites has got to be well-behaved women seldom make history, and mostly because they've forgotten to mention that almost nobody makes history.  Amongst women, the number of people who make history is even fewer; and amongst their poorly-behaved, the number is significantly less.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Concerning "Dear White America" in the New York Times

Dear Hannah,

The great irony of a hunger strike is that it does nothing to prove the morality of the hunger striker.  It does everything to prove the morality of the man he's striking against.  Millions of horrible people have been willing to die for horrible causes, and we have only been the worse for it.  Far fewer have been willing to save the life of a suicidal enemy.  And if you do happen to go on a hunger strike and win, the only thing you've done is proved your enemy cares more about you than his cause.  You can only win a hunger strike against a person who cares about people.  You can only defeat your enemy if your enemy is actually a saint.  Gandhi may have saved the Indians from the English.  We can only wonder how successful he would have been against Al Qaeda.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

The skeptic's prayer

Dear Hannah,

I don't remember whether it was Chesterton or Macaulay, but somebody is responsible for telling me about the hilarious English skeptic who was about to go into battle and was overheard praying
Dear God, if there is a God, save my soul, if I have a soul.
Nothing more accurately sums up skepticism than this -- not even our modern skeptics.  Our modern skeptics are actually fundamentalists in disguise.  They have very real beliefs about controversial things, and they call themselves skeptics because it gives everyone the impression that they're still thinking hard about them.  In reality they've mostly made their minds up, and so have joined the ranks of the conservatives who want to change everything, the liberals who don't like liberty, the socialists who who prefer a mixed economy, and the Christians who ignore everything Jesus commanded.  The skeptic's name means something, exactly like everyone else's.  It means something it isn't supposed to mean.  It most usually is code for atheist.