Peace Through Strength

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If you haven’t heard, there are some scary things going on in the Korean peninsula.  There’s been a successful nuclear detonation estimated by Russian sources to be of a yield equal to the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  In case you’re curious, Russia and the U.S. created a vast array of sensors during the Cold War to measure the nuclear detonations from tests conducted below ground, underwater, and in the atmosphere.  This military spending resulted in several scientific breakthroughs and discoveries, from information gleaned about the contents of the ocean, and in particular the influence (and changes) of the magnetic poles, to astronomical discoveries concerning radiation from extra-solar bodies.

Far be it from me to avoid pointing out even more of the considerable benefits derived from U.S. military spending, but I’ve digressed from my original intent…

Along with the nuclear detonation–itself a violation of U.N. treaties and resolutions–the North Koreans have declared they’re no longer going to abide by the armistice that established the demilitarized zone between them and South Korea.  Furthermore, Kim Jong-il has stated N. Korea’s intention to fire on U.S. and South Korean ships if sanctions are imposed.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has stated their fear that the situation could “escalate into nuclear war on the Korean peninsula”.  President Obama had this to say:

While I marvel at how similar Obama’s words are to those of his predecessor (and wonder why the media hasn’t busted his chops like they did GW’s), I wonder if Obama has what it takes to do anything about the problem.  Diplomacy without the credible threat of military action has proven useless time and again, both with Kim Jong-il and other tyrants like him.  Appeasement is a policy for fools and those uneducated in history.

Interestingly enough, the Israeli airstrike into Syria a short time ago is thought to have been precipitated by clandestine North Korean, Syrian, and Iranian collaboration on nuclear weapons.  Fortunately, the Israelis still have the balls to do what is necessary, unlike too many soft, simpering, pacifistic Americans.

Earlier this week, while listening to the “Priest and the Rabbi” segment on a local radio show, the rabbi (who has lived in both Israel and the U.S.) was asked to comment on Iran.  He said something that is equally relevant to North Korea.  The rabbi said that the lesson of the Holocaust was that when a leader says he intends to kill you, you should take him at his word.

We need to be seriously preparing for a strong military strike against this madman (Kim), who has been content to starve and oppress over a million of his own people.   We need to wake up and learn the lesson that despots cannot be negotiated with, placated, or sanctioned into doing the right thing.  Despots only understand, respect, and respond to power, and no amount of pacifistic protest has managed to save the millions that’ve died at their hands.  Until foreign nations are ruled by democracies*, lasting peace will only ever be achieved and maintained by the willingness to hunt down and destroy evil men.   Just as we did with Saddam Hussein and his psychotic progeny.

Several other people have pointed out that North Korea’s nuclear and missile testing are essentially advertisements to any organization that might like to purchase a nuclear device.  When I was a political science/psychology double major at Vanderbilt University (with a minor in Southeast Asian Studies), I did a research paper for my course on the Russian Successor States.  In the course of said research, I was shocked to learn several Russian nuclear weapons had disappeared, and defense analysts from several nations feared they might end up in terrorist hands. Luckily, such devices are difficult to maintain in working order, and the Russians had already allowed their arsenal to fall into disrepair prior to the USSR’s collapse.  That may account for the absence of a nuclear detonation on American soil in the 90s and earlier 2000s.  It begs the question, though, as to whether such an attack can be avoided if Iran and N. Korea possess working nukes.

So short a time  after Memorial Day, one hopes people remember that we live in the land of the free because of the sacrifices of the brave.

*I’ll go further–I take Jesus at his word.  There will be no lasting peace until He comes again, which is why every good and peace-loving person needs to be prepared and willing to wage war against those who are evil.

Endings & One Unprofitable Servant

Tomorrow, my current school’s seniors graduate. Friday, the (now) seniors from my closed high school will be remembered at the parish that survived the school’s closing.

I don’t do endings well. It’s ironic, as I’ve been getting a lot of practice in them.

When I came to my present community, I was entrusted with the care of the freshman class, as sole counselor, class moderator, and teacher. Tuesday morning, I officiated at the award ceremony for those young men and women. At the end of that ceremony, the principal said some kind words of recognition. I think he felt badly for surprising me that morning with responsibility for the ceremony. It was sobering and wonderful to stand in that auditorium and look at the young people I’ve tried to serve, as they clapped and a few cried.

It’s hard for me to think I’d be worthy of tears. I look at what I’ve done, and I don’t see all that much that warrants notice. I’ve tried to do my best, to bring God closer in a more real and understandable way, and to train them to be critical thinkers and expressive writers. I’ve tried to be a presence of Christ and a model of righteousness. I know very well, living in this skin, the many thoughts that prove I’m not the latter.

Jesus once said, “So you also, when you shall have done all these things that are commanded you, say: ‘We are unprofitable servants; we have done that which we ought to do.'” Luke 17: 10

Have I lived up to the talent given? With great blessing comes great responsibility. I find it difficult to believe–given the abundance of the blessings I’ve received as gift–that I’ve wrought the full good I could.

Yet, dealing with the heartbreak life hands us sometimes requires we methodically put one foot in front of the other, and carry on until the heart or soul recovers. Maybe that is why I don’t do endings well. Maybe I use duty as a shield against sentimentality. Maybe I just don’t think all that much of who or what I am. There are many things far more important.

At the end of one path, looking tentatively to the next, I see once more much in the way of Gift. I’ll have a job I love doing for pay that’ll make a family possible…if I’m ever able to bring myself to the point that I can get my heart unstuck.

I see two battles before me; one intensely personal (having to do with the aforementioned “stuck heart”), the other attempting to deal with the mentalities and entrenched administrators that seem bent on systematically destroying Catholic education in this Archdiocese.

Though I’d like to be, I’ve never much felt like one of the sheep of Christ’s fold. There’s much of the wolf in me. In childhood and adolescent fights, when I shed blood in defense of others, I realized I was a wolf that preyed on other wolves. I saw my role as that of a defender of the weak. Time to dust off those aggressive tendencies…

Is the RNC Being Run By Idiots?

I have to ask, because when they called me tonight to solicit a donation, the script of complaints about Obama had nothing to do with outrageous government spending, the likely expansion of infanticide and abortion, stealth taxes, or restrictions on civil liberties.  They harped on his actions with the (irrelevant) UN and bowing to foreign dignitaries.   

This post will doubtless bring some sort of triumphal reaction from my friends that are Obama supporters.  But I’d suggest that glee in the face of an inept or toothless opposition party is extremely unwise.  

A robust party system is a democratic necessity, and protection against excess.  Should it fail to exist–especially in an age of politics as polarized as our own–it can lead to very bad things.  Things like revolt or civil war.  There is increasing talk of such possibilities, and it is by no means isolated to demagogues or nutjobs.   Some of that talk is coming from very solid, patriotic intellectuals, members of both sides of the political spectrum (Orson Scott Card, a Reagan/Kennedy Democrat, is one who sees such a possibility).  

People, we may have to take matters into our own hands, because the politicians of both parties aren’t listening…

Summer of Deathrays

Maybe this post should be entitled “Summer of Sci-Fi”, but if there’s one thing I learned in Vanderbilt’s Political Propaganda class, it’s that “if it bleeds, it leads”.  Well, I’m a little off–deathrays mostly fry.  Welcome to my personal post of summer’s 5 top movies of interest, in order of their release date, with my synopsis and speculation.  Would’ve added a trailer each, but either Youtube or WordPress doesn’t approve of multiple movies in a single post.  I know, you still love me.   You really, really love me!

1.  Star Trek (May 8th)

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Brought to you by JJ Abrams (responsible for Lost and Cloverfield), the casting seems solid, and the trailer epic.  There’s something I find endlessly appealing about the confrontation with evil, and the nobility of laying down life–if need be–in defense of one’s family, nation, world, etc.  No surrender, no spineless attempts at “appeasement”.  The big question is whether the movie will avoid action cliches and retain the feel of the trailer (a task the movie 300 failed to achieve).

Karl Urban is a solid actor (McCoy), and Heroes’ star Zachary Quinto (Sylar)as the cold Spock is a bull’s-eye.

2.  Terminator: Salvation (May 21st)

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Christian Bale is brooding hero John Connor, engaged in the opening battles of the future machine war.   Salvation is the first in a trilogy set in a post-robapocalyptic future.

3.  Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen (June 26th)

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“Fate rarely calls on us at a moment of our choosing.”  –Optimus Prime

First one was good, but could’ve been better.   Some campy dialogue and a completely unnecessary subplot with the hackers was redeemed by an excellent score (Steve Jablonsky), special effects, some decent comedy, and a passable plotline. Michael Bay excels at good action and stunning visuals, but often at the expense of elegant narrative flow and pacing.

Optimus is the John Wayne of robots, and we can only hope the writers kept his dialogue to the few outpourings of wisdom and gravity childhood fans remember from the first animated movie (from which much of his dialogue in the 2007 version was boosted).

4. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (July 17th)

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Every one of these to date has been good.  ‘Nuff said.

5.  Public Enemies (July 1st)

Normally I’d say that when Johnny Depp and Christian Bale choose to join a production, the movie is good as gold. However, this is being directed by Michael Mann (Heat and Collateral), who seems adept at taking an all-star cast and producing a substandard movie with them.  One can only hope his earlier flicks have taught him something about the need for proper pacing, good editing, and leaving the unnecessary on the cutting room floor.  Guillermo del Toro, where are you when we need you!

While this may not fit with the theme of science fiction, Public Enemies made the list because I am a fan of the old film noir/(classical) gangster flick, even if it is shamelessly exploiting populist rage over the economic crisis.

Greensong and Goosepoop

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How long has it been since you heard the whisper of grass against your feet, rather than concrete?  I was pondering that question as I walked Shaw Nature Reserve a week ago.  I got that sense of wonder and awe (and gratitude) the outdoors bring when I remembered that grass is only a fairly young species to appear on Earth (during the Cenozoic period), and that it’s evolution roughly coincides with our own.  It was rather nice of God to provide us with some soft padding to ease our earliest travels.  

I spent a little time in the Wildflower Garden, where I was surrounded by the comforting thrum of little pollinators. The dive and tumble of ubiquitous bumbles…every green thing lifting up soft praise to the Creator. 

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I also got to see the strut of geese with new goslings, and almost stepped on a young copperhead.  Had any other hikers been around, they’d have been amused by the leap I took just as I was getting ready to step on Mr. Slithery.  

 

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In all, Shaw is a beautiful attraction if you’re out near Washington, and well worth a seasonal stop.  Look out for the goosepoop, though!