SF&F

The difference, or a large part of the difference, between Fantasy and Sci Fi, as far as I can tell, is that Sci-Fi imagines it exists in the real world, while Fantasy imagines it exists in a world besides the real one.

This is why Christian ‘Fantasy’ like Pushing Back and the War of Tour Hote feel like Sci-Fi (and the author will admit that at least War actually is Sci-Fi).  When an atheist or agnostic writes about magic, he writes about something he believes doesn’t exist, so it feels like Fantasy.  When C.S. Lewis writes Angels into the Planets Trilogy, and Bruce Burns has wizards casting Demon-empowered spells in War of Tour Hote, they are both writing about something they know to be real.  And so, Christian ‘Fantasy’ often feels like Sci-Fi unless the author intentionally makes a completely imaginary world (Narnia, Middle Earth, etcetera).

I do not dislike Sci-Fi.  But I have always preferred Fantasy.  I love Narnia more than Thulcandra.  I hold Thulcandra to be the superior creation in some ways, but the fact that Fish is usually healthier than Steak does not change my preference for Steak.

 

Just a clarification of a vague idea that has been wandering through my head of late.

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Why Do You Concede and Then Keep Fighting?

The angry buzzing of the bees over this whole gay marriage nonsense makes me shake my head in sadness.

You’re fighting the wrong fight, peoples.

What is the current definition of what marriage is, according to the conservative, Church-going elites?

It is Disney marriage with an arbitrary rule.  The core of marriage is that two people in love with each other ratify their emotional attachment with a big, expensive ceremony.

The core of marriage is ‘love’, love here being defined as hormonally inspired obsession.  Last year’s debate between conservatives and liberals was “is it okay to have sex before you ratify your love,” with the conservatives saying “no; sex is for marriage,” and the liberals saying “sure, it’s just a ceremony.”  The libs won the argument, and now kids who really mean it when they call themselves Christian are sleeping with their girlfriends and moving in before marriage.

The arbitrary rule is that conservatives think it’s bad for people to become obsessed with people of the same sex.*

The problem is the conservatives had already accepted that marriage was about ‘love’.  They didn’t lose the culture war.  They conceded, handed over all their weapons, and then continued fighting.

Now, the gov is strong-arming gay marriage on the population, and the conservatives are all ticked off, but that same concession, that same lack of weapons, still applies.

As long as marriage is about ‘love,’ gay marriage is just as legit as straight marriage.  In fact, as long as marriage is the ratification of ‘love’, there is no logical reason why an individual might not marry anyone or anything he can fall in love with, including people of the same sex, multiple people, children, animals, Pokémon cards and the Eiffel Tower (warning, that link is about someone marrying the Eiffel Tower, so if you can’t handle it, don’t follow).

What does the Bible say marriage is?

It says:

1) Man’s purpose is to multiply and conquer the earth (Genesis 1).

2) He needs a helper suitable to accomplish this purpose (Gen 2).

3) The two become a single organism (Gen 2), a relationship Jesus strongly implies remains effective even if they think they’ve dissolved it (Matthew 19).

4) In any case, it is not to be broken (Mat 19 again).

5) This unity is the same unity Christ has with the church (Eph 5, and part of why I believe the bread and wine are Christ’s body and blood: these things apparently work through repeated physical acts).

6) People contending with lusts should seek marriage, and people who are married should tend to each-others’ lusts, in order to avoid temptation (1 Corinthians 7).

So:  Biblical marriage is not the ratification of ‘love’, but a Voltron-esque fusing of a man and a woman into a single organism so that the man might pursue his given objective of conquering his corner of the world and producing children, and that this whole relationship is an echo of Christ and the church fusing into a single organism so that Christ might pursue his objective of conquering the world and producing children.

‘Love’ as we think of it in the modern world is only tangentially mentioned:  people who struggle with ‘love’ ought to seek marriage out so that they have a legitimate avenue in which to pursue their passions, just as people who struggle with a need to blow things up ought to seek out a job in a demolition company so that their destructive tendencies might have a constructive channel.  But ‘love’ is not the purpose of marriage.  The purpose of marriage is to fill the earth and subdue it.  First, to reproduce, and then, to achieve mastery over some corner of creation in the name (originally) of Adam and (now) of Christ.

Now, this definition excludes, by definition, gay marriage, which is non-reproductive, as well as marriage to pre-adolescents, to horses, and to French architecture.  The definition puts a soft limit on incest, as the closer you push the relationship between the two partners the less effective their reproduction will be.  It rules out marriages between Christians and non-Christians because the couple by definition would not be unified in their effort to subdue or achieve mastery.  It does not rule out polygamy, which I personally find distasteful; but I cannot find a single good argument that polygamy is wrong.

But look at your instinctive reaction to that definition!  Did you not cringe?  I did.  Did you not feel it impoverished for its lack of romance?  Did you not think it very misogynistic and oppressive?  Isn’t there some part of you — even if it’s a part that you’ve rejected — that is angry at me for saying what I’ve said?

That is why the fight against gay marriage is doomed.  Not because the Supreme Court has decided to play king, but because we as a nation have accepted and internalized a wrong definition of marriage.  Because according to that definition, there is no actual logical argument against gay marriage, and they only thing we can say in response to their main argument for, “But Bob and Henry are in loooove!” is “Eww.”

And they rightly view our rebuttal with contempt.

The place to start is not railing against the tyrants.  The place to start is by making babies and indoctrinating them with the doctrine of God and not Disney.  Gay marriage is a sign of cultural collapse — a sign, not a cause — and the medicine is not to oppose the symptom, but rather to convince as many people as possible to start planting good seeds for the next civilization’s culture.

This civilization, quite frankly, is done.

But that does not mean we are defeated, for we can see farther into the future than our enemies.  Even to eternity.

*Which it is, but that’s a symptom, not the disease.

Certificate of Consent

As a followup to my last post:  If the current definition of rape is so malleable as to allow for literally every ambulatory creature to be convicted of rape, how can we then sensibly differentiate?

The answer is fairly simple.  We must have a signed consent form.

Men’s Rights Activist Angry Harry forsees and fears this particular future.  But it really is an excellent answer.  Angry Harry’s objection is that it must be obtained and signed for every single sex act, and surely someone will forget in the passion of the moment.  And then a young lady who was enjoying her evening will flip on the news and discover that she’s technically been raped, and will boil herself and her lover in a slowly heating stew of legal indictment.

The solution to his objection is quite simple:  we need a permanent consent form.  A form that is signed by both parties, one or two witnesses, and a legal or social authority of appropriate standing.  Interested couples would be required to get this form signed and notarized before engaging in any sexual activity, and also be required to undergo formal legal procedures to have this consent withdrawn, should they so desire.  All sexual activity taking place without a consent form would then be clearly defined as illegal.

My solution is so elegant, so ingenious, that it’s a wonder nobody’s thought of it before.

marriage certificate

Silly moderns, always going on about how you can’t turn back the clock.  With Mr. Chesterton, I respond:

1. That’s a rather disingenuous metaphor.  Hand me a clock and watch me turn it back.

2. We must turn it back or die.  Whether the thing is possible or not is of exactly zero relevance.

All Married Christians are Rapists

Seriously.

The legal definition of rape, as I understand it, is sex without consent.

Of course, there is statutory rape.  If someone below the age of consent gives consent, that consent is nullified by the fact that he’s not old enough to know better.  How that boils down, according to what I larned in college, is that power imbalance nullifies consent.  The, say, twenty-something perp had power over the seventeen-year old, solely due to age, so that the teen was incapable of withholding consent.

Seems very orderly, very sensible.  And it allows us to apply the same metric to a young woman in college who gets stoned out of her mind at a frat party and wakes up naked in bed with a dude the next morning.  She could not meaningfully withhold consent, ergo he raped her.

‘Course, we then run into logic puzzles, like what if they were both utterly smashed?  Technically, doesn’t that mean they are both rapists?

Fortunately, modern society has no need for equality or logic.  Women are Holy, Men are Monsters.  Problem solved.

But consider:  the Bible states that married people are expressly forbidden to withhold sex from each other.  (The reason given is so that the withholdee is not tempted to sexual sin, which is why Focus on the Family radio shows spend a lot of time warning you not to tell wives devastated by their husbands’ porn use that they should try having sex more often.  It is true, after all, that sexual sin is the fault of the sexual sinner, and therefore this true fact is sufficient reason to ignore the Bible’s express command with regard to how to avoid the, er, issue.  Women are Holy, Men are Monsters.  Problem solved.)

So.  If you are Christian and married and you actually believe the Bible is God’s Word and should be held in higher esteem than, say, your own whims, you cannot withhold consent, and your spouse is raping you every time you hop into bed, no matter how much you enjoy yourself.

By law.

And if you both believe the Bible is authoritative, you are both rapists and subject to to the full punishment of the law.

You should look up what kinds of rights rapists have.  There aren’t any.  Your sentence is subject to change at any moment.  As in, a two-week sentence technically means “forever.”  You can be beaten into a coma by police or prison guards, and the authorities responsible will be reprimanded with a “that was bad of you (high five!)”  People can hunt you down and kill you and nobody will blink.

And every single Bible-believing Christian in this nation already technically bears this special criminal status.  Me.  My wife.  My pastor.  His wife.

Remember:  it is literally impossible to give consent, same as for a teen, and for the same reason.

The state hasn’t pressed its power here, obviously.  It exercises it in small and discreet dollops, generally avoiding situations that will end up in the public eye.  But technically, it holds the power to strip away the constitution from anyone over the age of, well, twelve or so.

I mean, as long as you don’t have documentary proof of every single act you’ve ever performed, a court can find you guilty of rape.  Even if your supposed victim claims he or she has never seen you before.  Just more evidence of how ‘under your sway’ he or she was.

And even suspected rapists have no rights in this country.  We’ve happily let the courts and the lawmakers strip away every possible hope of succor because rape is the most evil, horrible disgusting thing imaginable! (Which reveals what we truly worship.  If we worshiped God, the most evil, horrible, disgusting thing imaginable would be a toss-up between blasphemy and heresy — misusing God as much as humanly possible.  But our evil, horrible, disgusting thing is misusing sex, so clearly we worship sex.  Which means technically the Roman Catholics who drowned Anabaptists for rebaptising people are morally superior to us even if they were wrong about baptism because they thought heresy was a life or death matter!  I know.  It makes me shudder to think that the horrors in the wake of the reformation are the higher ground.  I, too, am the hell-begotten spawn of this Satanic era.)

Anyway, my main point is:  courtesy our worship of Eros rather than Jesus, the Rule of Law has not existed in this country since before I was born.  To those who wail in outrage at the depredations of Obama, I have a touch of scorn.  It’s not entirely your fault — someone was pulling wool over your eyes — but this country is long since dead, and the blood on your hands comes from your enthusiastic (if misguided) participation in its mutilation.

But take comfort, if they come to pack you away for rape, that your tormentors, too, are technically rapists, and if there is one woman who will give unequivocal consent to any man woman or child who merely flirts with her, it is Madame Guillotine.

Lutheran Catholic

A long while ago, I was very distressed about the divisions in the church.

Except I actually wasn’t.  Divisions in the church distress me no more than Pepsi machines not dispensing Vanilla Coke (on the other hand, Coke machines not dispensing Vanilla Coke is very sad indeed).

Humans are flawed.  Humans are unique.  Their flaws, therefore, tend to spread out in a wide variety of patterns.  Short of direct brainwashing from God, denominations are inevitable.  This has never disturbed me.

But it does disturb people I care about, and I, in a quest for affirmation that I didn’t actually need (but thought I needed), was forced into a position of actual emotional distress by the fact that distinctive differences between doctrine are a necessary result of living in a fallen world, and these differences cannot be resolved or worked around unless we are willing to acknowledge they exist and give them names, and the fact that the family I was worshiping believes that letting little things like doctrine get in the way of unity is the ultimate evil.

Which is a doctrine that gets in the way of unity.  Honestly, if we really believe that unity is more important than doctrine, we should all just go Roman Catholic.  They can draw a fairly straight line, historically, from Peter to the latest Pope.  Any non-Roman is non-Roman either because he believes that while the historical line is straight, the doctrinal line diverges, or else because Christianity is in no way actually meaningful to the person.

No?  Not going back to Rome?  Then you obviously either believe there is at least one doctrine worth standing your ground over, or else that sect supersedes creed in some way (i.e. brand loyalty).

Anyway, the tension in my post was not a genuine tension, but an excellent example of self-deceit.  I am not even slightly uncomfortable with the disagreement that exists within the church.  My true discomfort was that my open-eyed devotion to the quest for truth would be seen by the Family as offensive, and I did not want to offend them.

But it is definitely true that I dislike being called Lutheran.  I don’t like the implication that I follow Luther, when really I am trying to follow Christ to the best of my ability.  I draw my doctrine from the Scriptures, not from the Book of Concord.  But then I turn to Concordia and discover that it’s already printed there.

I don’t even think Luther’s Small Catechism is a superlative summary of the faith.  I think in many ways it’s dated, making statements that were clear in its time, but which have been rendered ambiguous by the proliferation of the modern and post-modern salesman/entrepreneur brands of Christianity.  I think it could certainly have been done better, and it absolutely was not inspired by God.  But I lack the skill to do better myself, and I find that if I take the text as the author intended (rather than as a modern American would first see it), I cannot much disagree with it, so I continue to use the Small Catechism.

While the Lutheran’s I’ve run into have often seemed quite happy with the label, I’ve always found it’s chafed.

Then, I learned that the official position of the Lutheran church is it does chafe.

We wanted to be called Roman Catholic.  The Pope kicked us out.

Then we wanted to be called Evangelical, as our distinguishing doctrine was salvation by the work of Christ alone and not ourselves — truly good news for anyone who has tried to do something good and honestly examined the results.

But other Reformation splinters were also calling themselves Evangelical, even though they had entirely different beliefs.

We tried Reformed.  Same problem.

But if you said “Lutheran,” everyone knew what you meant.  It was an insult — “you follow Luther, not Christ”, but it was a clear identifier, and you need clear identifiers to have meaningful conversations about something.  So eventually, we went with it.

This bit of history helps, for me, because it makes ‘Lutheran’ a category on the same level as ‘Thomist’.  A Thomist is a Roman Catholic who accepts most (but not necessarily all) of St. Thomas Aquinas’s theological explanations.  A Lutheran is a Roman Catholic who accepts most (but not necessarily all) of Martin Luther’s theological explanations.  And sure, Rome has disowned us.  And sure, much of modern Lutheranism, steeped as it is in salesmanship and liberalism, would not go back if Rome, er, reformed; but a true Lutheran (that is, one for whom the name ‘Lutheran’ is a reference to Luther, and not a reference to the local ELCA church) is a Roman Catholic without a Pope.  A Roman Catholic who would gladly follow the Pope, if only the Pope went back to the role of Head Bishop instead of allowing his flock to trust in Him rather than Jesus.

Of course, it’s not that easy.  Doctrinal distinctions have only multiplied, and I very much doubt the church will be unified until Christ Himself comes back to do it by hand.

Nor will I be very surprised, when that happens, to learn my beliefs on several fronts are inaccurate.

But I now understand that Lutheran is not shorthand for ‘follower of the church of Luther’, but ‘Luther’s fellow Roman Catholic who cannot stand for the abuses within the church.’  Or, for short, Lutheran Catholic.

It’s a small distinction, and one I don’t recommend using in conversation, as it will only serve to confuse the issue for anyone who hasn’t followed this train of thought (which is almost everyone), but it is a mental shorthand for a great deal of weight off my chest.  My faith did not start in Germany.  I am simply a Catholic whose understanding of a bunch of Greek letters and biographies lines up in large measure with the understanding of a German Augustinian monk.

The Biblical Language Center’s unwarranted assumptions

Amused by this bit on their “why it works” page.

Do you remember learning your mother tongue?  Probably not, it just kind of happened, as if without effort.   Wouldn’t it be great to learn other languages that easily and yet so effectively?  In fact, research has shown that the way a child learns its mother tongue is the best and most efficient way for everyone, at any age, to learn additional languages.  The trick, then, is to imitate how young children learn languages as closely as possible.

So how do they do it?  Well, they spend hours listening to the language before they start trying to produce or read it.  They immerse themselves (they call it “play”) in the world around them, interacting with objects, actions and ideas long before they know the proper words and expressions, knowing that with repetition meaning will become self-evident.  And when they do start talking, they make hundreds of mistakes, and they don’t care that they do (nor do their parents).

Um.

  1. Just because you don’t remember the effort of learning your language doesn’t mean you didn’t expend any.  Do you remember the effort of learning to walk?  Of potty-training?  Your parents will probably be quick to assure you that much work went into all of these things.
  2. The parents of small children do in fact care about the mistakes, and correct them.  (“Daddy, can I have the other one spoon?”  “Other spoon.”  “Other one spoon.”  “Say it with me:  Other spoon.”  “Other spoon.  Now can I have the other one spoon?”)

Which is not to say the BLC is wrong about which techniques are most effective.  Just that it’s silly to fancy it should be effortless on the basis of not remembering life as a two-year-old.