Over the past several weeks, the questions of time have been everywhere in my life. Driving with my wife and oldest son to New Mexico (from Michigan), I saw family, family grave yards, family churches, family homes, and family land. Time became centered, even in its plurality.
I also encountered a myriad cultures—such as that of the Navajo and the Pueblo—of which I have really only read. In the deserts of the Southwest are the modern peoples, all residing in a delicate balance with a desiccated landscape, and that landscape is not merely horizontal but vertical, reaching back to the nomads, the Anasazi, and the Aztecs of many, many generations ago. Every juniper tree reveals a stark contrast between the soil, in which it clings, and the deep blue sky, to which it reaches. Every building reflects hundreds and thousands of years of traditions as well as innovations. Mesas as well as historical markers populate the landscape. Should it surprise any of us that Huxley made is one anti-modernist reservation in his Brave New World, New Mexico, or that Willa Cather had her aristocrat-hero, Bishop Latour, build his cathedral in Santa Fe, or that Walter Miller placed his one point of certainty—the abbey dedicated to St. Leibovitz—in the brush country near Taos?
— Read on theimaginativeconservative.org/2020/05/time-our-present-whirligig-bradley-birzer.html
Permanent Waves was an especially important album for Rush in a few ways. It came out a mere two weeks into 1980, making it one of the initial progressive rock forays into the new decade. It was their first record recorded at Le Studio in Quebec, where they would continue to create for many years. What’s more, it signified the start of the Canadian trio’s transition away from trademark stylistic components like prolonged track durations, impenetrable arrangements, and fantastical lyricism and toward more concise and accessible radio-friendly hits with relatable messages. Naturally, its follow-up, 1981’s Moving Pictures, would cement that move by becoming arguably their most popular album, jump-started by their most widely beloved tune, “Tom Sawyer”.
— Read on www.popmatters.com/rush-permanent-waves-40-aaniversary-2646071873.html
But it’s as Jiff that Murphy gets his biggest laughs. Here is a man so grateful to be in a film, so disbelieving that he has been singled out for stardom, that he dutifully risks his life to walk across a busy expressway. Murphy shows here, as he did in “The Nutty Professor” and on “Saturday Night Live,” a gift for creating new characters out of familiar materials. Yes, Jiff looks like Kit (that’s why he got the job as a double), but the person inside is completely fresh and new, and has his own personality and appeal. Although Murphy is not usually referred to as a great actor (and comedians are never taken as seriously as they should be), how many other actors, however distinguished, could create Jiff out of whole cloth and make him such a convincing and funny original? Martin is also at the top of his form, especially in an early scene where he pitches his project to a powerful studio executive (Robert Downey Jr.). Martin steals a suit and a car to make an impressive entrance at the restaurant where Downey is having a power lunch, but undercuts the effect a little by ripping out the car phone and trying to use it like a cell phone–staging a fake call for Downey to overhear. Downey handles this scene perfectly, right down to his subdued double-take when he sees the cord dangling from the end of the phone. His performance is based on the truth that strange and desperate pitches are lobbed at studio suits every day, some of them no more bizarre than this one. Instead of overreacting to Martin’s craziness, Downey plays the scene to humor this guy
— Read on www.rogerebert.com/reviews/bowfinger-1999
When the Lewis and Clark expedition returned to St. Louis after two years not just of absence, but of complete absence, the people of America were ecstatic. The two men and their fifty-some companions were treated as royalty. Yet, even in such a climate of festive joy, no one forgot why Meriwether Lewis and William Clark and their Corps of Discovery had gone west. They had done so through the tenacity, the ingenuity, and the inspiration of the third president of the United States. The night the fair citizens of St. Louis held a dinner and a ball in honor of the returning expedition, eighteen official toasts were given. While each reveals something about the nature of American republicanism and could serve as a book in and of itself, it is the first toast, of course, that matters most.
To “the President of the United States—The friend of science, the Polar star of discovery, the philosopher, and the patriot.”
— Read on theimaginativeconservative.org/2016/05/thomas-jefferson-polar-star-discovery-lewis-clark-bradley-birzer.html
On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the late John Paul II’s birth, it’s worth underscoring that one theme which permeated his pontificate from its beginning to the end was that of truth.
Many remember Pope John Paul II as playing a crucial role in Eastern Europe’s liberation from Marxist tyranny. But he also insisted that liberty needed to be grounded in and guided by the truth knowable via reason and faith. If freedom and truth become separated—as they most certainly have in many people’s minds in our own time—we not only end up with an unhealthy and dangerous association of liberty with moral relativism. We also open the door to those who claim that the truth is whatever the most powerful or the loudest say it is.
— Read on blog.acton.org/archives/116144-how-john-paul-ii-reminded-us-that-liberty-and-truth-are-inseparable.html
From the perspective of John Quincy Adams, the United States had no right to claim or annex any part of Latin America. It also, however, had no right to deny any part of Latin America from joining its cause with that of the United States.
— Read on theimaginativeconservative.org/2020/05/monroe-doctrine-bradley-birzer.html
Bitterly, C.M. Kornbluth, the second presenter, vehemently disagreed, stating without equivocation that the genre “is not an important medium of social criticism.” Much like Hitler, Kornbluth complained, the adherents of science fiction treat the genre like a religion and lay claim to anything and everything they admire. Yet, for all its pretentions, science fiction rarely if ever actually criticizes anything prevalent in the world, and, when it does, its criticism remains rather tame. Anticipating the social radicals of a decade later, Kornbluth feared that science fiction fails in its power to change the consciousness of a reader, as the novels of the genre do “not turn the reader outward to action but inward to contemplation.” Then, he complained, there’s the horror genre, a supposed subset of science fiction which merely rolls all of our fears “up in one ball of muck” and thrusts “them into the reader’s face.” This is especially true in cinema, he continued, and “if the day ever comes when the shriek movie is a really major type, up there with, say the pretentious Western, the implications for the future of democracy will be bad.” Yet, one should never give any of this too much thought, he concluded, for “science fiction is socially impotent.” Tragically, Kornbluth died a year later, of a heart attack, only age 34.
— Read on theimaginativeconservative.org/2020/05/science-fiction-university-chicago-bradley-birzer.html
This prompts some new thoughts during her bedtime story session, in which she tells her own story, about a mother’s love and “the feelings of the unhappy parents with all of their children flown away.” Peter hates this story, but listens anyway. Wendy’s autobiographical tale features her own mother leaving open the window for her children to fly back into the house and ends with a happy reunion. Peter declares Wendy to be “wrong about mothers,” recounting his own story of finding the window barred upon his return after a long absence, “for my mother had forgotten all about me, and there was another little boy sleeping in my bed.” This tale frightens Wendy’s brothers, who then beg to go home. The Darling children have lost track of time and of their own identities. They must return home immediately. The Lost Boys, having now experienced a mother’s love and care, try all manner of threats and pleas to keep Wendy from leaving.
As they exit the underground lair, the children and Wendy are captured by the pirates. Hook proceeds with the “princely scheme” to force the children to walk the plank and then make Wendy the pirate mother. Offering words of farewell to the boys, she declares: “These are my last words, dear boys . . . . I feel that I have a message to you from your real mothers, and it is this: ‘We hope our sons will die like English gentlemen.’” These final words impress even the pirates, who declare they also will do what their mothers hope. Smee tries to bargain with Wendy. He will save her if she will promise to be his mother. “‘I would almost rather have no children at all,’ she said disdainfully.”
— Read on www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/searching-for-mother-in-peter-pans-neverland/
As we enter the third month of our national lockdown, many of our friends and supporters are struggling due to the Coronavirus pandemic and our country’s efforts to mitigate its deadly effects. Indeed, the crisis has brought much destruction and distress. But it has also caused many to turn again to the Divine manifestations of Truth, Beauty, and Goodness in this world.
The preservation and celebration of these “Permanent Things” are at the heart of The Imaginative Conservative’s mission. For nearly a decade, The Imaginative Conservative has been an important forum for civil dialogue about what it means to be conservative… to be human… to be God’s creatures. For the last ten years, we have provided essays by great minds that reflect the best of conservative and humane thought, past and present, free of charge and paid advertising.
To continue to do so, however, in this unexpected and unwelcome era of medical, economic, and social crisis, we need your help now.
— Read on theimaginativeconservative.org/2020/05/giving-tuesday-now-making-world-better-place-support-the-imaginative-conservative.html
Not surprisingly, the sub-genre of post-apocalyptic literature boomed after the dropping of the two American atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Suddenly, megadeath seemed a possible reality. Even mainstream books—such as Nevil Shute’s On the Beach—dealt with apocalyptic horrors. Some, such as R.H. Benson’s The Lord of the World (1907) and Walter Miller’s Canticle for Leibowitz (1959), relied on the mass destruction of nuclear weaponry. Amazingly enough, Benson’s 1907 novel hypothesized the weaponry as “city crackers.”
But, there were a myriad of other ways to kill off the earth and human beings, too. In Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End (1953), humans evolve into something new. Jack Finney feared the arrival of communist, parasitic aliens in his serialized Invasion of the Bodysnatchers (1955). J.G. Ballard entertained the idea of twin killer, solar radiation and the greenhouse effect, in his The Drowned World (1962). In Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle’s Lucifer’s Hammer (1977), a comet hits the earth. Douglas Adams has the interstellar public works commission bulldoze the earth as a barrier to good trade and good highways in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (1979). S.M. Stirling blames a hiccup in the temporal order in Dies the Fire (2004). Gordon Dickson offered simple economic collapse for Wolf and Iron (1993). Stephen King, of course, wrote his tale of “Dark Christianity,” The Stand (1978), employing the plague as the method of death. Justin Cronin unleashed vampires upon us all in The Passage (2010), and Richard Matheson let loose the zombie-vampires in I am Legend (1954).
— Read on www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/pandemics-and-our-love-for-post-apocalyptic-drama/
Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror Book Review: Monsters, Movies, and Mayhem by Edited by Kevin J. Anderson. WordFire, $29.99 (356p) ISBN 978-1-68057-107-3
Anderson (Stake) assembles a fun, nostalgia-filled anthology of 23 original, lighthearted horror tales riffing on the movie monsters of both modern cinema and B-movie favorites. The majority of tales are short and snappy, like Jonathan Maberry’s fresh, surprising zombie story “Gavin Funke’s Monster Movie Marathon” and Karina Fabian’s playful “Josie’s Last Straw,” both of which hit the ground running and pack a quick punch.
— Read on www.publishersweekly.com/978-1-68057-107-3
To put this more positively: The future of the Church, once again as always, will be reshaped by saints, by men, that is, whose minds probe deeper than the slogans of the day, who see more than others see, because their lives embrace a wider reality. Unselfishness, which makes men free, is attained only through the patience of small daily acts of self-denial. By this daily passion, which alone reveals to a man in how many ways he is enslaved by his own ego, by this daily passion and by it alone, a man’s eyes are slowly opened. He sees only to the extent that he has lived and suffered.
If today we are scarcely able any longer to become aware of God, that is because we find it so easy to evade ourselves, to flee from the depths of our being by means of the narcotic of some pleasure or other. Thus our own interior depths remain closed to us. If it is true that a man can see only with his heart, then how blind we are!
— Read on ucatholic.com/blog/the-lost-prophecy-of-father-joseph-ratzinger-on-the-future-of-the-church/