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Archive for February, 2005

Sunday Night Journal 2/13/05

Lost Weekend

This being the second Sunday of the month, I had planned to
continue my not-very-well-established second-Sunday routine of
writing on the subject of music. My subject was to have been the
music, or rather say the work, or rather say the post-1982 work,
of Tom Waits…. But I’m not writing about music tonight because I
don’t feel like it. (read the whole thing)

Maclin Horton

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Jihad vs. Pornocracy

The news story last week, with its tale of sexual and religious abuse of
Muslim prisoners at Guantanomo, was reminiscent of earlier reports of abuse of
prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. In both cases women participated in
subjecting Islamic men to pornographic degradation and religious
humiliation.

Those responsible for the abuse at Abu Ghraib, currently being tried in
military courts, insist that they were following orders. If anyone is prosecuted
for similar crimes at Guantanomo they will doubless say the same. While I do not
have much trust that military and governmental authorities are likely either to
behave morally or tell the truth, that is not what concerns me here. Rather, I
suggest that such behavior is a reflection of American culture at the beginning
of the third millenium, and an indictment of our society.

Does anyone for a moment think that women of my mother’s generation,
which came of age in the 1940s, would have behaved like this? Is not such
behavior the result of exposure to pornography? What sort of culture accepts
that its young women would possess such easy familiarity with such things?

It is common even among Christians, who should know better, to describe
Islamic radicals as madmen, and to claim that they hate the United States
"because we are good; because we are free." How odd this is, not to pay
attention to one’s professed enemies.

Among other reasons, the Islamists hate the United States for the sort
of culture we export. Since the invasion of Iraq pornography has become widely
available in that country, as it has wherever we have planted our flag.
Pornography, abortion, insipid and obscene pop culture: these are the things the
Muslim militants associate with our nation.

In the Middle Ages when Muslim armies threatened Europe, people
refered to Islam as the "scourge of God." The destruction which followed in its path was seen as divine punishment for sin. People turned to penitence.
How far this is from our self-righteousness, how far from our inability to see
ourselves as others see us, let alone as God sees us.

This blindness extends to the roots of the conflict. Al Qaeda is
rightly and roundly condemned for its attacks on innocent civilians. Yet how
many Americans will fail to defend our country’s use of nuclear weapons against
Japan at the end of the second World War? This is not lost on Osama bin Laden,
who in his writings has invoked the moral logic of Hiroshima to justify his
attack on the World Trade Center. Indeed, if Hiroshima can be justified the only
argument is whether circumstances justified 9/11, not the inherent immorality of
the act.

If Christians are willing to honestly take stock of the moral state of
America today we are likely to view the Islamic threat as our ancestors did: the
scourge of God, these fierce monotheists sent to awaken us to repentance. And if
the battle is jihad vs imperial pornocracy, perhaps we should at least
philosophically declare neutrality.

Daniel Nichols

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Sunday Night Journal 2/6/05

Clock and Dragon

A Mardi Gras dispatch.

Maclin Horton

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A ’60s Conversion Story

Since we’re on the (inevitable) subject of the ’60s: here’s my conversion story , written back in the early ’80s, which describes my hippie-to-Catholic journey. This is the source of the Byrds/Dylan reference to which Daniel refers in a comment on the ’60s thread below.

Although, as I note in an epilogue written last summer, I might change some details of it if I were writing it now, it still represents my views pretty well on both the personal and cultural levels. Wish I could say something more positive about my current relationship with the Church, but at least I’m still here, and I ain’t goin’ nowhere (what’s that from?).

Maclin Horton

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A Good Word for the ’60s

Despite the argument (which by the way has been going on for years) between Daniel & me about the meaning & impact of the  "the ’60s" (that somewhat amorphous concept)–see comments on Sunday Night Journal post below–I’ve always thought he summed up the whole thing very well once in an off-the-cuff remark: "It was a moment of grace that was quickly squashed by the devil."

I don’t know if there’s any overlap between the readership of this blog and that of The Dawn Patrol , the blog of Dawn Eden, an evangelical Christian who should be in contention for the title of World’s Greatest Punster. It’s one of my two or three must-reads. Today certain events have led to her posting a link to a brief interview with her which is excellent evidence for the existence of the moment described by Daniel. Notice: the interview is on a distinctly non-, if not anti-, Christian site.

I direct your attention particularly to section 1 of the interview in which Dawn (I almost said "Ms. Patrol") describes the role of mid-’60s pop music in her embrace of Christianity. There was definitely, to coin a phrase, something in the air. Interestingly, by the way, she considers the radiant moment to have ended in (I think) 1965. Perhaps more interestingly, she wasn’t there. She’s in her thirties and was born sometime around the end of what one must pedantically concede to have been the actual calendrical ’60s.

Maclin Horton

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Sunday Night Journal 2/1/05

Folly Chasing Death

One last note on the general lack of repentance on the part of
the cultural revolutionaries of the late ‘60s, after which
I plan to leave the subject alone for a while: I haven’t
yet mentioned the evangelization for drug use that was as
prominent in its time as the sexual revolution….. (read the whole thing )

Maclin Horton

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