The Man in the High Castle

Monday, August 17, AD 2015

Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail: because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets:

Ecclesiastes 12:5

 

The late Philip K. Dick, paranoid, left-leaning, mentally ill and drug abuser, was nevertheless a science fiction writer of pure genius.  His book The Man in the High Castle (1962) introduced me as a boy to the genre of alternate history, with his unforgettable evocation of a United States divided by the victorious Axis powers of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan.  One of the main plot devices in the book is a novel The Grasshopper Lies Heavy which posits an alternate reality in which the Allies won World War II.  Like most of Dick’s work, the book suggests that the dividing line between alternate realities can be very thin.

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17 Responses to The Man in the High Castle

  • I thought the book was beautiful, which is not a term I often use for science fiction. But, yes, a faithful adaptation would not translate well to the screen. Too much of the narrative involves the characters’ thought processes.

  • I watched the pilot a couple of months ago. Very slick. It was immediately apparent that it is “based on” instead of “faithful to” the book, which was, along with McKinlay Kantor’s seminal work of roughly the same time, the story that sent me careening into science fiction-alternate history instead of more noble pursuits of erudition. Alas.
    .
    Nonetheless, I hope the series is produced. It will be interesting to see if the media muggles can capture the subtleties that make AH so addicting.

  • By defeating the Nazis and the Imperial Japanese, we have only delayed the rise of freedom-stifling fascism by decades – not even a century. The fascism overtaking us might be different in flavor and color – pin liberal progressivism – but it is the same ruthless, murderous fascism as had siezed Germany and Japan. Think about it: we daily murder thousands of innocent – little babies – and promote the most sterile of sexual practices to neuter our God-given liberty. We do things that would make Hitler green with envy.
    .
    In th work place people never talk about traditional values except in hush whispers, afraid of offending someone who will report to human resources to get the “hate-speaking” person fired. Training courses about sexual diversity and open-mindedness about throughout corrporate culture. No one dares say a word aloud against Obama in the presence of another co-worker, whether at work or at an extra-curricula non-work-related activity. Indeed, one doesn’t even talk with one’s neighbors any longer lest they find one’s orthodox Christian religion or one’s conserrvative politics offensive. This is happeneing now. Almost everyone accepts gay rights and reproductive riights and the whole godless litany of sickening putrid liberalism. And soon one day (maybe a month from now, maybe a year, maybe two years) we will be given papers at work to sign affirming that we believe in this crap or face unemployment. And that is only the beginning. These people will soon jail those who won’t sign, and then evenutally torture and kill them. It happened under Plutarco Elias Calles in Mexico in the 1920s though the themes were different. It will happen here. A Republican never election may forestall it, but this is on the way. The science fiction of yesterday is the science fact of tomorrow. 🙁

  • “By defeating the Nazis and the Imperial Japanese, we have only delayed the rise of freedom-stifling fascism by decades – not even a century.”

    Baloney! I am so sick of gloom and despair, always a constant temptation on Catholic sites I have noted. The easiest way for evil to triumph is to convince good people that something evil is inevitable. I am having none of that recipe for defeat. Free men have stood up successfully to longer odds in the past than confront us today. Man up!

  • Donald, in a former company I discovered that it had an arm which engaged in embryonic stem cell research (it was a large international corporation with one branch doing nuclear, another health care, another jet engines, another natural gas, etc). I questioned this research via the normal channels. Within weeks I was called into HR and questioned about my own non-work related internet activities done on non-company resources. I was told that my views did not reflect the company’s vision. When I left that company, it accused me falsely of trying to take company information. Its lawyers pursued me to my next company and tried to convince that company to dismiss me. There was nothing to the allegation so my next company told the first one to take a hike.
    .
    Then at a different company we received one of these on-line indoctrination training videos with the usual interactive test questions. It was on diversity and a great deal of it was devoted to LGBT rrights. The correct answers to the test questions were always in support of such perversion. I continually failed the exam because I refused to give the right answer. I left the course undone. Fortunately I was never questioned on this. I think the company did it as an experiment. But I see this happening now in corporate culture. You may say it’s doom and gloom, but soon people will be made examples of.

  • “Free men have stood up successfully to longer odds in the past than confront us today. Man up!”
    Donald McClarey: It was the concession speech by Emperor Hirohito and its mentions of “subjects” and “loyal servants of the state” in all its glamorization of servitude and object servitude and Obama’s overreach for an empire that really scares the pants off me.

  • I am still wondering ” what if”…Japan and Hitler had won the war. Emperor Hirohito and Adolph Hitler would have had to face off. Another science fiction tale. Not either one had any virtues or courage or common sense. It was all about domination. A free people will not be dominated.

  • Paul Primavera you are right.
    Worse is on the way. We need to prepare. This is prophesied in Sacred Scripture.
    cf Matthew 24; Revelation 13, & 14

  • Yes I agree there will be Trouble but I also think 1) we are not helpless against it – God gave us intellects and will- not just to save ourselves
    But also 2) We are called to communion – not just in Love with God, but also in Love with His people – we are our brothers keeper. As Catholics we have a certain noblesse oblige. 3) God is not going to rapture us out of it so…

  • Don, I have to agree with Paul. Some form of totalitarianism is coming to this country. Our secular educational system is controlled by Marxists. Too many of our religious leaders, even in the Catholic Church, have embraced leftist ideologies, especially that guy in Rome. Our politicians likewise. The growing number of people on welfare won’t embrace freedom, they will embrace the state, especially those who have been on the dole for generations and those who are in the US illegally. The fact that an open Marxist like Obama was twice elected POTUS should tell you where we are heading. And don’t think the Goofy Old Party is going to save us. The top leadership of the party of Lincoln is merely Demo Light, and the candidates in the running for presidency are the biggest bunch of flakes I’ve seen, outside a box of Kellogg’s. As for Trump, at least he’s saying the right things, whither he can deliver if he gets into office is another thing.

  • A completely incorrect assessment Stephen. The welfare state is dying around the globe, and the churches that embrace it rapidly shrink to insignificance. The Republican Party that you deride is doing good work on the state level and has not been stronger nationally since the days of Calvin Coolidge. Your gloom and doom analysis couldn’t be more mistaken.

  • Donald, I hope you are right and I am wrong. But I can only tell you what I see and experience every day in korporate Amerika. Company executive go out of their way to ingratiate themselves with government mandated diversity and inclusivity of anythiing except Judeo-Christian Tradition. Those who are conservative speak in hush whispers if at all lest someone overhear. We see bakers and hotel owners who refuse to coddle the redefinition of marriage run right out of business. And few politicians and fewer Catholic clergy are willing to speak out against this. Yes, there are notable exceptions (some good priests and bishops do speak out) and yes, there are (contrary to what Steve wrote) some good GOP candidates (Trump not being one of them – a caricature of a free enterpise entrepeneur). But even my neighbors and co-workers accept the rightness of gay marriage and reproductive rights and wealth redistributionism (so long as it isn’t theirs).
    .
    So yes, I pray your optimism is right and my pessimism is wrong. But I know what one company tried to do to me and what another’s training courses on diversity and inclusivity were like, and I work in an industry very regulated by the federal govt, so compliance with the govt agenda is just about mandatory.

  • Don, where’s the proof the GOP is so strong on the state level? All I have is your say so. Real proof please! Your fellow Republican Joe Walsh doesn’t seem to share your optimism about the Party. Since he was an elected official, I think his perspective is more realistic than yours. http://walshfreedom.com/
    The welfare state is dying? It might be dying in some places around the globe, but this benighted country re-elected Mr. Gimme-That Obama twice.
    What Paul says about corporate America is true. When I worked at Caterpillar Inc. , we were given the same line of leftist bull on social issues. I remember particularly how they talked to us about sexual harassment . What a joke! Most of the guilty were Cat Executives, not hourly stiffs like me!
    Paul, while there may be some good candidates, how effective would they be once they be, (if that actually happens) once they got into office? The various government agencies are now staffed with leftists up to the wazoo. Because of the civil service laws, unless they can be found guilty of corruption, incompetence, or treason, it will be next to impossible to remove them. And lets not forget the lackluster GOP leadership in Congress. They might as well be Democrats for all the good they can do.
    Don, you have made the claim that the GOP is strong on a state level and a national level. Well, I’d like to see some real proof, not glittering generalities. You can either post a few articles on TAC, or give your audience a few links to offsite articles. And please, no propaganda pieces! Just analytical pieces that give us a fair assessment of the local and national GOP strengths and weaknesses.

  • The GOP controls 69 of 99 state legislatures, the most ever for the GOP:

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/dec/10/gop-holds-more-state-legislatures-than-ever/

    In addition 31 states have Republican governors:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_current_United_States_governors

    24 states have both Republican governors and legislatures, as opposed to 7 states for the Democrats. As recently as 1977 the Republicans completely controlled one state to 29 for the Democrats

    http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/all-gop-controlled-states-outnumber-all-democratic-states-24-7/article/2557023

    Joe Walsh is a buffoon who got tossed after one term in Congress.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_Walsh_(Illinois_politician)

    “The welfare state is dying? It might be dying in some places around the globe, but this benighted country re-elected Mr. Gimme-That Obama twice.”

    Yep, and handed Republicans the Congress in 2010 and increased their majority in 2014. Compare and contrast with the electoral strength of FDR. Obama is not a sign of the strength of the Welfare State. His failed administration is its last gasp.

  • The state level electoral successes of the GOP are empirically undeniable, as Donald lays out. It is also borne out in a sense by the pathetic state of the Democratic presidential field. With Hillary flailing, the names being bandied about as potential rescuers are: Joe Biden, John Kerry, and Al Gore. At this rate it wouldn’t surprise me to see Walter Mondale’s name come up. The weak state of the Democratic bench is a sign of how poorly they have done on the state level.

  • the pathetic state of the Democratic presidential field.

    Looked at dispassionately, it’s a much better bench than they’ve run in the last five elections. Martin O’Malley’s tenure as Mayor of Baltimore and Governor of Maryland incorporated a number of obtrusive failures (the crime control hype and the disaster that is the Baltimore City Jail foremost among them). I’m not sure there’s a similar rap on any of the other candidates. Webb, Sanders, and Chaffee have all held executive positions, and none of them have any dirt sticking to them. If they have a history of buffoonery, it’s more modulated than that of Joseph Biden or Howard Dean. Look to the recent past: BO, Hildebeast, John Edwards, John Kerry, the decaying Albert Gore, and the Hot Springs Lounge Lizard. Webb, Sanders, or Chaffee would be an improvement on any of them.

  • The state level electoral successes of the GOP are empirically undeniable, as Donald lays out

    Bully. However, as we speak, fully half the Senate Republican caucus voted to re-authorize the Export-Import Bank, and the Senate Majority Leader arranged for this vote in the course of lying to dissenting members of his caucus. It’s a small issue but a telling one. The are no decent arguments for maintaining the bank; it’s just candy for Boeing.

Star Trek Continues

Wednesday, October 29, AD 2014

Time to renew my Chief Geek of the blog creds.  As faithful readers of this blog know, I am a Star Trek fan.  (No, I do not own a Star Fleet uniform, let alone worn one to court!)  Over the weekend I watched the three episodes thus far produced by Star Trek Continues, go here to their website, an unpaid volunteer group making episodes to complete the final two years of the original Star Trek five year mission.  Other Star Trek “tribute” episodes have been produced by other groups, but I have seen nothing that comes as close as Star Trek Continues in capturing the feel, and the fun, of the original series.  Judge for yourselves.  The video above is the third episode produced:  Fairest of Them All, which is a continuation of my second favorite Star Trek episode, Mirror Mirror, which introduced the alternate “bearded Spock” universe where the Federation is an aggressive interstellar empire.  Long may Star Trek Continue continue!

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11 Responses to Star Trek Continues

  • 🙂 Galaxy Quest (the movie) has ruined
    my joy for Star Trek………forever!

  • Galaxy Quest is one of the best satires of show business I have ever seen:

    “Sir Alexander Dane: I played Richard III.

    Fred Kwan: Five curtain calls…

    Sir Alexander Dane: There were five curtain calls. I was an actor once, damn it. Now look at me. Look at me! I won’t go out there and say that stupid line one more time.”

  • We love it also!
    Great writing great fun.

  • I love Galaxy Quest– it’s such a great skewering, but unlike, say, that book “Redshirts” it oozed love for the show. Heck, some of the jokes are ones that I have made! (In spite of that, it’s good.)

    Really need to make time to watch this.

  • I made the mistake of buying Redshirts. Scalzi is not only a left wing nut, he is a poor writer.

  • Is this the independent Star Trek series that has an actual relative of James Doohan (maybe his nephew?) playing Scotty?

  • Yep, Chris Doohan, one of his sons, and he does a fine job.

  • I watched the beginning, and this is the one I was thinking of. I saw part of the first episode a while back, I think. And I see that the opening credits show Chris Doohan as Mr. Scott. Evidently he is James Doohan’s son, not his nephew, according to Wikipedia.

    Anyway, thanks for sharing this video. The people who put this together did an excellent job, based on the part I have watched so far.

  • I watched the whole episode, and it was good! I was very, very impressed with how they captured the look and feel of the original series almost perfectly, from the sets to the music to the costumes — even the acting was pretty close for most of the characters (though it was hard to judge from this episode, since it took place in the mirror universe, where most of the characters have somewhat different personalities).

    One thing I didn’t like was Spock’s voice — it needed to be deeper. But the actor did a good job with Spock’s mannerisms. Also Uhura seemed to be a bit too whiny and lacking in self-confidence, but maybe that was just because she was mirror-universe Uhura?

    Chris Doohan was great as Scotty, as you said. And I like the actor who plays Kirk, who apparently is also the main creative talent behind the series. I especially loved his scream of “Spooooooooock!!!!!!!!” at the end. Classic!

  • Another interesting thing I just noticed: The video appears to be 4:3 aspect ratio, instead of the modern TV standard of 16:9. I guess that makes sense, as they are keeping the same aspect ratio as the original series.

  • I am looking forward to further episodes Paul. If it could be a commercial product I think it would be a smash.

Quotes Suitable For Framing: Walter M. Miller, Jr.

Thursday, July 31, AD 2014

 

 

 

“The closer men came to perfecting for themselves a paradise, the more impatient they became with it, and with themselves as well. They made a garden of pleasure, and became progressively more miserable with it as it grew in richness and power and beauty; for then, perhaps, it was easier to see something was missing in the garden, some tree or shrub that would not grow. When the world was in darkness and wretchedness, it could believe in perfection and yearn for it. But when the world became bright with reason and riches, it began to sense the narrowness of the needle’s eye, and that rankled for a world no longer willing to believe or yearn.”

Walter M. Miller, Jr., A Canticle for Leibowitz

A writer can be considered a grand success if he manages to write something that will endure long after he is gone.  In that case the poor, tortured Walter M. Miller, Jr., who ended his life by suicide, was a successful writer.  After participating as an air crew member in the bombing of the abbey at Monte Cassino during the Italian campaign, Miller converted to Catholicism.  During the fifties he wrote science fiction short stories.  In 1955, 1956 and 1957 he wrote three novellas which were combined into the novel A Canticle for Leibowitz which was published in 1959.  He won the Hugo award for this novel.  He never published another novel or story in his life after this novel, as he descended into mental illness and left the Faith.  Towards the end of his life he worked with Terry Bisson on a dreadful novel, Saint Leibowitz and the Wild Horse Woman, published after his death and which is best forgotten.

Spoilers warning for those who have not read A Canticle for Leibowitz:

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2 Responses to Quotes Suitable For Framing: Walter M. Miller, Jr.

  • It is a masterpiece, and one that rewards each and every reading.

    I genuinely hope for mercy on Miller’s tormented soul–his life was tragic, indeed.

  • One of my favorites works. I enjoy the cyclical view of history in it. Interestingly enough, Joseph Michael Straczynski, the creator of the incredible SCI-FI series Babylon 5, actually gave a nod to Canticle in the final episode of season 4. The episode is called “The Destruction of Falling Stars.”

Science Fiction as Politicized Drek

Thursday, July 24, AD 2014

Science Fiction Leftism

They began by controlling books of cartoons and then detective books and, of course, films, one way or another, one group or another, political bias, religious prejudice, union pressures; there was always a minority afraid of something, and a great majority afraid of the dark, afraid of the future, afraid of the past, afraid of the present, afraid of themselves and shadows of themselves.

Ray Bradbury, Usher II (1950)

 

John C. Wright, Science Fiction author and a convert to Catholicism, laments the ruin wreaked on Science Fiction by leftist ideologies and pathologies:

Establishment SF is Politically Correct SF, in that it pays slavish homage to all the tired tropes and foolish dogmas of Political Correctness. With its emphasis on collective rights, victimology, and radical egalitarianism, there is no place in the PC SF universe for things like heroes, adventures, inventors, exotic locations, space princesses, or technology portrayed as beneficial.

Politically Correct SF is astonishingly parochial, because it is always assumed that the society of the future will be caught in the grip of the selfsame political controversies as the Victorian Age, which is the age when this worldview was first formulated by Marx. Hence, for all other SF stories, the future differs from the present. For PC SF, the future is just like the past, and nothing changes.

In other words, the stories of PC SF promote the opposite of SF.

SF is about a sense of wonder. PC is about a sense of despair. The two are opposite. Hence, PC SF is a contradiction in terms. What it produces is simply not science fiction.

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9 Responses to Science Fiction as Politicized Drek

  • The clip reminds me…

    Just for fun Don, you ever watched the Star Trek videos on http://sfdebris.com/? I think you’d get a big kick out of his analysis.

  • Everything’s got to be political, so of course scifi can’t escape. 🙁

    It’s sad when the only place my husband and I can come out with a pile of books is a second hand store. When we were kids, B&N was a crisis of budget; now, the only question is if I’ll find one of those big picture books that the kids might like.

  • One thing I have begun to enjoy Foxfier are science fiction collections for a buck to 2.99 on Kindle. A good way to cheaply get a library of classic science fiction along with good work from new authors who are publishing on their own on Amazon. I have been pleasantly surprised at some of the new work I have found for Kindle.

  • There’s also those stepping into the gap. John C Wright’s recent ebook releases are good (I reviewed them) and you can sometimes find indie gems out there.

  • My mom reads metric tons of the 99c/free stuff on Kindle, plus all the random reduced stuff I send to her.

    Dear husband bought me a kindle for Christmas, and it took about… oh… two days for me to be addicted.

    Then I finally upgraded my phone to a “smart” one, and started using the kindle on that while my husband uses “my” kindle to read his game background PDFs….

    Oh, it’s delightful. If fanfiction.net can figure out how to be accessible without formatting issues, I’ll be in hog heaven.

    ************

    Sarah Hoyt (accordingtohoyt.com) does a lot of ebook promos, my library system has an OK ebook selection (through amazon) and I’ve started reading Dorthy Sawyers and Agatha Christie’s (only the Marples) publications when I can afford them.

    It’s delightful to see what is different right after WWI, WWII and now, and I can start to see what on EARTH was going on in, oh, Ann McCaffery’s head with some of her assumptions. Even Mercedes Lackey, though figuring out when she’s thinking and when she’s being a loon can be tough, and figuring out what is her and what is co-writers. Ugh, I wonder what similarly ginormous blindspots I have…. (suggestions without a decent support will be treated like the trolling they are)

  • So you’re saying that if I can get this fan stuff put in epub format you’d be set? lol

  • I greatly suspect that at some point a smart person will come up with a way to RSS to e-readers.

  • Foxfier: Aren’t these books at the free public library?

The Closing of the Science Fiction Mind

Tuesday, May 13, AD 2014

If you don’t want a man unhappy politically, don’t give him two sides to a question to worry him; give him one.

Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

 

 

I have read science fiction since I first learned to read as a child.  I enjoyed the exposure to new ideas and the frequently iconoclastic opinions, many of which I disagreed with, by the great authors of the field:  Asimov, Heinlein, Anderson, Dickson, etc.  Their imagination and writing skills took me far away from the small town in which I lived and enlivened my life by revealing to me that books could be tickets to strange worlds and stranger people.  They helped to teach me to like to read and to like to think, both of which I have found handy throughout my life.  It is sad then to see that science fiction in this country is now beset by those who wish to impose a stifling political orthodoxy on it.  John C. Wright, a science fiction writer and a convert from atheism to Catholicism, gives us the details:

Robert Heinlein could not win a Hugo Award today.

If you are a fan of science fiction, you know how shocking that statement is. If you are not a science fiction fan, I salute you for having better things to do with your time than read stories about space princesses being rescued from bug-eyed monsters by stalwart and clean-limbed fighting men of Virginia; but please let me explain why this is shocking.

Robert Heinlein is without doubt the leading writer in the science fiction field. He was the first to break into the slick magazines or into hardcover. Were it not for him, science fiction would still be languishing in a literary ghetto, no more popular than niche-market stories about samurai or railroad executives.

He was a gadfly. Heinlein’s two most famous novels are Starship Troopers and Stranger in a Strange Land. The first challenges the orthodoxy of the Left as much as the second does that of the Right. But in his day, few science fiction readers were offended by his or anyone’s ideas. Science fiction was proud to be a literature of the new and startling. A spirit of intellectual fearlessness was paramount.

A darker time followed. The lamps of the intellect were put out one by one, first in society at large, then in literature, then in our little corner called science fiction. What we have now instead is a smothering fog of caution, of silence, of an unwillingness to speak for fear of offending the perpetually hypersensitive.

Science fiction is under the control of the thought police. The chains are invisible, but real. For a genre that glories in counting George Orwell as one of its own, this is ironic, to say the least.

Myriad examples exist. Orson Scott Card publicly expressed the mildest imaginable opposition to having judges overrule popular votes defining marriage in the traditional way. The uproar of hate directed against this innocent and honorable man is vehement and ongoing. An unsuccessful boycott was organized against the movie Ender’s Game, but he was successfully shoved off a project to write for Superman comics.

Got that? The award-winning Mr. Card, one of the finest science fiction writers today, was forced off the project because the dictates of his religious faith (not to mention his faith in democracy over rule by activist judges) did not agree with the political beliefs of the thought police.

No one accused him of attempting to write a Superman story belittling homosexuals, or belittling anyone. Sales would have grown, not fallen. This was not about money or hurt feelings. It was about this: if a man thinks what St. Paul thought about homosexual acts, he cannot write a children’s yarn about a friendly alien Hercules saving a spunky girl reporter from mad scientists or moon-apes.

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7 Responses to The Closing of the Science Fiction Mind

  • Excellent and very thought provoking.

  • Robert Heinlein was my all-time favorite. His “Time Enough for Love” was first on my list.

    Isaac Asimov with his “I, Robot” series and his “Foundation” series was second favorite.

    I did not agree with much of what either man wrote regarding philosophy or politics, but they challenged me to think and to dream.

    With liberal progressive Democrats all I get are stifling nightmares where I cannot even scream.

    I hate godless liberal progressive Democracy – two wolves and one sheep voting on what’s for dinner.

  • I think I’ve replied to a similar post previously. I too am (was?) a science-fiction fan,
    since the 30’s and my first issue of Amazing stories, with a dragon-like alien menacing a full-breasted beauty in a transparent space-suit.
    I’ve stopped reading because of the political correctness. Forty or fity years ago Theodore Sturgeon, Ursula Le Guin and others explored novel types of sexuality in a thought-provoking way. Issues of mind control, political authority were dealt with as debatable.
    I’ve restricted myself now to rereading classics that adhere to faith–Robert Hugh Benson’s “Lord of the World”, C.S. Lewis’s “Out of the Silent Planet” trilogy, Walter Miller’s “A Canticle for Liebowitz”, R.A. Lafferty’s and Gene Wolfe’s stories.

  • (Great writing and good timing. Watching an episode of Cosmos last night with all the solemn references and flashy graphics on global warming made me ill.)

    Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy is my personal favorite. Trying to include warped same sex relationships in that story, is to tell a story of a doomed civilization. But we have hope, and assurance…

    I have come to believe that in the end, this war on the nature of: man, woman, marriage and family, will not end well for those who promote such things. (something of the Logic in the Foundation series is there in this thinking… ) And the True Church, having alone survived, will rise from the dead. As,, “it has happened before, in fact many times before. G.K.C.”

  • I’m not a reader of science fiction but when I do get into it, the part I like is the religious or moral overtones. We live on a scientific age and science is a great mystery – which leaves plenty of room for imaginative play and ontological speculation.
    So the story thread in science fiction flights of fancy, is morality and meaning and purpose. Just like in any good story. We love mystery and we love God ( at least allusions to) the import of life and love even in our tales of “what if.”
    I had never heard of Mr Card and his troubles, but I am not surprised.

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Science Fiction and Tolerance

Tuesday, April 29, AD 2014

Nothing is so unworthy of a civilised nation as allowing itself to be governed without opposition by an irresponsible clique that has yielded to base instinct.

From a White Rose resistance pamphlet (1942)

 

 

I am happy that Dale Price is back to blogging on a fairly regular basis since it gives me a renewed opportunity to steal borrow blogging ideas from him.  He turns his attention at his blog Dyspeptic Mutterings to the insane purge going on within science fiction fandom of anyone who has political beliefs that do not coincide with the politically correct bromides du jour:

Orwellian group-think comes to real-world science fiction writing.

 
A little recondite, but instructive: the Hugo Awards and SFWA are the latest (if minor) institutions to have succumbed to the left’s jackbooted tolerance enforcers. The issues have risen to the attention of USA Today, so it’s newsworthy instead of merely nerdworthy.
Larry “Monster Hunter” Correia explains part of the problem (the Hugos) in a link within the USA Today column.
Finally, Sarah Hoyt (not exactly a charter member of the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy herself) and John C. Wright both lower the boom.
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3 Responses to Science Fiction and Tolerance

The Ten Commandments of the Science Fiction Writer

Tuesday, March 26, AD 2013

Ten Commandments

 

 

My co-blogger Darwin has a good post at his blog, Darwin Catholic, expressing his irritation at three laws proposed by the late science fiction writer Arthur Clarke.  Go here to read it.  The proposing of laws seems to often go with the territory of being a science fiction writer.  Asimov had his laws of robotics, for example.  Reading Darwin’s post propelled me into imagining the ten commandments for science fiction writers, and here they are:

 

 

1.  You are a science fiction writer, and will write only science fiction:  no fantasy, no (spit) urban fantasy, no (gag) romance novels disguised as fantasy.  This rule is subject to being overruled if you really, really need the cash.

2.  You will not bow down to the idols of popular taste or to what will sell in the mass market.  Kindle and e-publishing will have your sole worship.

3.  You will not take the name of science in vain and have more than three scientific absurdities in each story that you write.

4.  All the rest of creation labors for only six days.  For science fiction writing wretches remember the words of Heinlein:  “Six days shalt thou work and do all thou art able; the seventh the same, and pound on the cable.

5.  Honor your father and your mother as they may well be the ones supporting you as you seek fame and fortune by scribbling endlessly for a living.

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4 Responses to The Ten Commandments of the Science Fiction Writer

  • Speaking of murdering science fiction writers, did you ever read the two fun “murder at SF convention” novels Bimbos of the Death Sun and Zombies of the Gene Pool, Don?

  • No Darwin I missed those two. The best parody of a science fiction convention I have read is contained in Heinlein’s Number of the Beast, a dreadful book unless one realizes that Heinlein meant it as a parody of science fiction in general, and his own work in particular.

  • Donald,

    I know of no other way to contact you, so this is a bit off topic. Have you read Joe Holland’s Modern Catholic Social Teaching? I am through the first chapters and I’ve noticed your interest in history, so I was curious what you thought of it.

    I am trying to brush up on my history of CST (especially pre-Rerum Novarum) to better understand the more contemporary encyclicals, do you know of any other good sources for this?

    I’d also welcome your thoughts, Darwin!

    Thanks!

  • “Joe Holland’s Modern Catholic Social Teaching?”
    No, but I will put it on my ever lengthening lists of books to keep an eye out for!

A Foundation of Determinism

Monday, July 18, AD 2011

Paul Krugman recently did a Five Books interview with The Browser, talking about his five favorite books. The books are: Asimov’s Foundation series, Hume’s An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, two books by Lord Keynes, and a book of essays by economist James Tobin, one of Krugman’s old teachers. Of Foundation he says:

This is a very unusual set of novels from Isaac Asimov, but a classic. It’s not about gadgets. Although it’s supposed to be about a galactic civilisation, the technology is virtually invisible and it’s not about space battles or anything like that. The story is about these people, psychohistorians, who are mathematical social scientists and have a theory about how society works. The theory tells them that the galactic empire is failing, and they then use that knowledge to save civilisation. It’s a great image. I was probably 16 when I read it and I thought, “I want to be one of those guys!” Unfortunately we don’t have anything like that and economics is the closest I could get.

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9 Responses to A Foundation of Determinism

  • I read the original Foundation trilogy and found them fascinating. Following the fall and rise of a civilization a la Gibbon was an intellectual treat. The idea of mathematics being able to predict history struck me as complete hokum. The only thing Hari Seldon and his followers couldn’t predict was the appearance on the scene of a mutant nicknamed The Mule. Asimov wrote quite a few histories for a general audience and they weren’t bad reading, but they were all flawed because Asimov the atheist had a tin ear in regard to religion. This was on full display during the “Dark Ages” portion of the Foundation trilogy when Seldon’s followers start up a fake religion to help guide the course of human history.

    “The religion– which the Foundation has fostered and encouraged, mind you– is built on strictly authoritarian lines. The priesthood has sole control of the instruments of science we have given Anacreon, but they’ve learned to handle these tools only empirically. They believe in this religion entirely and in the …oh…spiritual value of the power they handle…The Foundation has fostered this delusion assiduously (pp. 106-107).

    I started that way at first because the barbarians looked upon our science as a sort of magical sorcery, and it was easiest to get them to accept it on that basis. The priesthood built itself and if we help it along we are only following the line of least resistance (p. 86).

    To the people of Anacreon he was high priest, representative of that foundation which, to those ‘barbarians’ was the acme of mystery and the physical center of this religion they had created– with Hardin’s help– in the last three decades (p. 89).”

    When it came to religion Asimov had as much insight as a blind man trying to explain his favorite color.

  • I think of “determinism” in a technical sense, meaning not random. Not having the read the novels, do the psychohistorians have a mastery of probability to the point that their equations can account for outcomes drawn from a probability distribution?

    It sounds like Krugman has not matured beyond the undergrad economics honeymoon stage. A lot of economists exhibit stunted growth in the wisdom department.

  • I did not read the novels.

    Apropos to today’s developing economic/political cataclysms is the blind faith of geniuses in elitist control over everything and everybody.

    Old Druidic (I just made up) proverb:

    “Never misunderestimate the insensibility of congressmen, credentialed eggheads without real world experience, Fed Chairmen, Fed Open Market Ops Committees, and presidents.”

  • Not having the read the novels, do the psychohistorians have a mastery of probability to the point that their equations can account for outcomes drawn from a probability distribution?

    This is where the fact that I knew less about statistics at the time I read the novels and that it’s been a while will come into play, but there was a lot of hand-waving on this. Overall, the idea was that given that the Galactic Empire involved so many people, it was highly subject to statistical predictability, such that the psychohistorians could predict when it would fall, how, where the strongholds would be, where invasions would come from, how things would start to come back, etc.

    To add to the silliness, the “one thing they couldn’t predict” was an interruption in their plans by a warlord of sorts names The Mule, who could not be predicted by their calculation because he was a genetic mutant (somewhat deformed) and thus could not be calculated by their statistical models.

  • Krugman isn’t the only economist to be inspired by the Foundation series. Hal Varien (chief economist for Google) apparently read the book in high school and had exactly the same reaction.

    Personally I found the whole idea of pyschohistory so self-evidently absurd that I couldn’t really get into the book. I’d like to think that if only I’d been a little better at suspending disbelief I’d have become a world famous economist like Krugman or Varian. I’d like to think that.

  • Interesting. I really liked the books too, and went on to get a degree in economics. The connection never occurred to me. I’ll give Krugman this – he’s got to have some real self-awareness to have made that connection.

    But a person won’t get too far in studying economics (shouldn’t get too far…) before noticing the wiggle room built into all the equations. People’s choices are based on their preferences, and while economists can note them, they can’t predict them. There’s a catch-all term that economists sometimes use, “fads and fashions”, which refers to the fact that some element of human behavior is unpredictable. You can aggregate across individuals and get something like a consistent pattern, but there’s always going to be women’s soccer or ciabatta bread or something that wasn’t predicted, not because there was a lack of accurate data, but because human behavior depends on the wills of individuals.

  • I find the idea of Paul Krugman commenting on David Hume disturbing.

  • I enjoyed reading the Foudation! It’s great fiction! Like all science fiction you have to suspend beieif or disbelief in somtiing for the plot to work like the possibilty of realtime intersteller travel with only minor improvements in current technology. The amazing thing about the series, and any thing else Asimov wrote on politcs or econmics, was that real time star travel required much less suspension of belief than the political and economic process of his novels.

  • Krugman’s desire to be “one of those guys” shouldn’t tarnish the idea that a science of “psychohistory” might be possible.

    I prefer Michael F. Flynn’s “Country of the Blind” in which various groups independently invent “cliology”. Some are interventionist, trying to mold events to their ends, others have ceased doing so because their models aree too imprecise and their meddling has caused unforeseen “blowback”.
    Flynn, who is Catholic, goes to some lengths about free-will implications.

3 Responses to Star Trek’s Final Mission

Death Comes For The Brigadier

Wednesday, February 23, AD 2011

A sad day for Dr. Who fans everywhere.  Nicholas Courtney, who brilliantly portrayed the Brigadier in over 100 Dr. Who episodes, has died at age 81 of cancer:

Nicholas Courtney (born William Nicholas Stone Courtney on 16th December 1929) played first Colonel and then Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart, beginning in “The Web of Fear” and finally in “Battlefield”. He reprised the role for the fan video “Downtime” (later adapted into one of the Virgin Missing Adventures), and for several audio dramas for the BBC and Big Finish Productions.

He was born in Cairo, Egypt, the son of a British diplomat and educated in France, Kenya and Egypt. He served his National Service in the British Army, leaving after 18 months as a private, not wanting to pursue a military career. He next joined the Webber Douglas drama school, and after two years began doing repertory theatre in Northampton, and from there moved to London.

His first appearance in Doctor Who was in the 1965 serial The Daleks’ Master Plan, where he played Space Security Agent Bret Vyon opposite William Hartnell as the Doctor. The director Douglas Camfield liked Courtney’s performance, and when Camfield was assigned the 1968 serial The Web of Fear, he cast Courtney as Captain Knight. However, David Langton, who was to play the character of Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart, gave up the role to work elsewhere, so Camfield recast Captain Knight and gave the Colonel’s part to Courtney instead.

Lethbridge-Stewart reappeared later that year in The Invasion, promoted to Brigadier and in charge of the British contingent of UNIT, an organization that protected the Earth from alien invasion. It was in that recurring role that he became most famous, appearing semi-regularly from 1970 to 1975. Courtney made return appearances in the series in 1983 and his last Doctor Who television appearance was in 1989 (in the serial Battlefield).

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5 Responses to Death Comes For The Brigadier

  • Donald – I always suspected you were a man of class and good taste. This post confirms it. To the TARDIS!!

  • Never trust a man or a woman Larry who doesn’t like at least one of the Doctors!

  • God rest his soul. Certainly, the years when the Brigadier was paired with Jonathan Pertwee and then Tom Baker were just about the best Dr. Who ever had.

  • DC,

    When I was a kid I lived in England and we only had three TV channels. Dr. Who was one of the best things on and since I lived there in the late 70s, I thought Tom Baker was the only Doctor. I even had a Dr. Who-like scarf that I wore on cold wet days, which on that little island is quite often.

    I can’t remember the last time I discussed Dr. Who with anyone because I am trying to hide my inner geek.

    Mr. McClarey, thanks for the memories.

    Since the geek is out. When I watch NCIS, I don’t recall Ducky from The Man From UNCLE, I remember him as Steel, from Sapphire and Steel. If any of you know about that series then you must be ultra geeks.

  • May God rest his soul.
    Tom Baker Doctor Who episodes are an enduring favorite for easygoing after-midnight entertainment. Nostalgic (for seventies kid), and most enjoyable.

The True Star of the Fringe

Friday, October 15, AD 2010

My credentials as Chief Geek of this blog need refreshing.  The smartest, and best written, science fiction show currently on the air is The Fringe.    The show relates the adventures of a team working for the FBI that explore fringe events involving advanced science, extra-terrestrial aliens and other paranormal events.  It is a much better written and funnier X-files.  The team consists of two FBI agents, a mad scientist, the mad scientist’s son and a cow. John Noble does a superb job as mad scientist Walter Bishop as indicated in the above video where he engages in an inflora experiment on the friendliest of fruits.  Go here for some of the best of Walter clips.

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6 Responses to The True Star of the Fringe

Junk Science Part II

Wednesday, November 25, AD 2009

A follow up to my initial post here on what is becoming known as Climategate.  Now news comes from New Zealand about massaging of data by global warming proponents.

The New Zealand Government’s chief climate advisory unit NIWA is under fire for allegedly massaging raw climate data to show a global warming trend that wasn’t there.

The scandal breaks as fears grow worldwide that corruption of climate science is not confined to just Britain’s CRU climate research centre.

In New Zealand’s case, the figures published on NIWA’s [the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric research] website suggest a strong warming trend in New Zealand over the past century.

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6 Responses to Junk Science Part II

  • Jim Salinger was fired from NIWA earlier this year, but the reason never came out into the public domain. Now the reason is obvious.
    The revised data seems to show similar data to the graphs I have seen on OISM.org , in refutation of the AGW scenario.
    Locally, we have just had the coldest October since 1945. Winter last year was the coldest since 1973 – this winter just gone was colder – we had more snow on the Southern Alps than before – some say the most in living memory. The Cabbage trees are flowering about a month early – nature’s indication of a warm dry summer.
    Is this a proof of AGW?
    Nope – I recall in my lifetime this happening fairly regularly. I think this summer will be cooler than those in the 60’s when I was a callow youth – those lazy hazy days of summer were warmer then, and again warmer in the 90’s. Recent summers are cooler than previous.
    Maybe our bro’s across the Tasman in Australia would disagree – they are heading for one of the worst bush fire seasons in quite some time; will be interesting to see what the AGW pundits make of it.

  • I think around the world Don science bloggers are going to be checking data that has been amassed by global warming advocates. This whole thing is beginning to stink of group think and outright fraud.

  • Thanks Rick.

    Actually we do get large iceburgs floating past the bottom of the South island fairly regularly, some come part way up the east coast of the South Island not far from Dunedin and Christchurch, and tourist operators offer helicopter flights to them – they land on those that are stable and flat enough.
    But we’ve had a pretty wet winter as well as a cold one – so the Aussies should send out a ship and lassoe this ‘burg because they’ve has a fairly dry winter – they could do with the water.
    Both the NZ and the Oz governments have been focussing on pushing through Emission Trading Schemes over the past few days, in time for the Copenhagen conference – just so they can wave and say “look at me, look at me” for doing something about CC. What I want to know is, all the extra taxes (carbon) that are going to be levied, where does the money go? Our ex PM, Helen Clark, who is now in charge of the UN Development Fund is going to give all our hard earned dollors to “third worls countries” like China and India – that’s where the money goes. Clark “bought” her job with the UN by donating millions to the UNDF while she was PM, thus giving her a shoe in for the job.
    Its all part of a Marxist plot (Helen was a Labour -read marxist/left wing politicion, and radical feminist to boot) – wait and see. Don’t have time right now to expand – will later if I can.

  • > he claims NIWA has a good explanation for adjusting the temperature data upward. Wratt says NIWA is drafting a media response for release later this afternoon which will explain why they altered the raw data.

    In a reliable scientific study, such adjustments would be documented, explained, and justified as part of the methodology. It would be in the original publication.

    To say ‘we have good reasons for this, which we did not disclose before, but don’t worry, we will come up with an explanation’ means one thing: they got caught.

  • Hopefully this will be one more step towards scuttling plans to hamper the private sector with ever-increasing regulation… could we see both cap-and-trade and ObamaCare die in the Senate?

4 Responses to "Hope and Change" Lizards Are Here!

  • That V looks suspicously like an O.

    Can’t they come up with anything new. I enjoyed 80s TV but aren’t we in a new millenium. Hollywierd is overwhelmingly Progressive, yet they can’t seem to create anything new. Remaking shows from the era that introduced the VCR, odd? Is that irony or stupidity?

    I admit I’ll watch out of curioustiy I just hope that I don’t change and all of a sudden crave free health-care, undefined change and a tasty live rat.

  • I’m hooked for at least one episode.

  • I’ve seen some conservative bloggers pick up on the same point. It sort of surprised me that I didn’t see anything about the negative Obama analogy in the show Kings. For those millions who didn’t watch it, there was a character named Michelle who was idealistic but not awfully bright, who championed causes like health care and green energy, but she couldn’t ever get things to work right.

  • I think if the show “Kings” progressed, it would’ve undoubtedly presented the Obama platform in the character of Michelle, which, if you saw the latter episodes, were reaching that sort of conclusion as David himself appeared to concur with much of her ideas (well, it kinda helped that she was his GF, too, with whom he subsequently had child).

Movie Review: District 9

Wednesday, September 2, AD 2009

MrsDarwin and I grabbed a rare chance to take an evening out last night and went to see District 9, a science fiction movie that came out a couple weeks ago. Contrary to stereotype, it was actually MrsDarwin who had latched onto this as the movie to see, and I’m glad she did as it was one of the more enjoyable SciFi flicks that I’ve seen in a while. (Movie Trailer here.)

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3 Responses to Movie Review: District 9

  • I was also impressed with the movie.

    Your abortion citation is dead-on and the direction that our nation is heading if we let it continue this way.

    The aliens were well done and it was clear that most were worker-aliens while Chris Johnson was a leader-alien, or some sort of mid-level manager.

    I would say it’s worth a second viewing, that’s how good it is.

    I liked the part where he speaks “louder” when communicating! Hilarious!

    I think it’s the sleeper hit of the Summer and the best Sci-Fi film of the year.

    I want to add that the movie is also open for a prequel, or several prequels, which I’m actually wanting to see more than a sequel, but either way, I’m watching it if they make it!

  • And why was it so good?

    Because of Peter Jackson – a Kiwi. That’s why 🙂

  • That is a great Kiwi. He did good with the Lord of the Ring trilogies.

    I look forward to more of his films along District 9 and Lord of the Rings.

Krugman's Foundation

Tuesday, April 21, AD 2009

This Newsweek article about Nobel Prize-winning economist and NY Times columnist Paul Krugman contained an interesting biographical detail:

Krugman says he found himself in the science fiction of Isaac Asimov, especially the “Foundation” series—”It was nerds saving civilization, quants who had a theory of society, people writing equations on a blackboard, saying, ‘See, unless you follow this formula, the empire will fail and be followed by a thousand years of barbarism’.”

His Yale was “not George Bush’s Yale,” he says—no boola-boola, no frats or secret societies, rather “drinking coffee in the Economics Department lounge.” Social science, he says, offered the promise of what he dreamed of in science fiction—”the beauty of pushing a button to solve problems. Sometimes there really are simple solutions: you really can have a grand idea.”

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6 Responses to Krugman's Foundation

  • I remember finding this aspect of the Foundation series ridiculous as well (in fact, it was one of the main reasons I didn’t read beyond the first book).

    It’s probably not a coincidence that the first Foundation stories were written just as the Socialist Calculation Debate was winding down. A lot of economists back then really did believe that they could do something kind of like what Seldon did, if only they had enough computing power.

  • I read the Foundation series, the original trilogy, in High School back in the seventies. I enjoyed the broad sweep of History in the books, but I found prediction of History via math preposterous in the extreme. Purportedly Asimov was inspired by Gibbon’s Decline and Fall, a book I have devoured footnotes, the best part, and all. Gibbon is the best bad historian of all time in my opionion. His style is a take it or leave it affair: I take it and love it. His erudition for his time was immense. His history however was his biases against religion and “barbarism” writ into a fairly mechanistic formula that does injustice to the actual facts.

  • I also read the Foundation trilogy and the two that followed after a long hiatus and I enjoyed them all (thought the original 3 were the best).

    Reading about the Mule and how Hari Seldon mathematically calculated the demise of the Galactic Empire with the fall of Trantor mesmerized me as a high school student.

    As far as Gibbon, I just started reading the Rise and Fall recently and it’s good so far. Though I’m biased towards Warren Carroll (just finished reading the Last Crusade… magnificent)!

  • Tito, if you like The Last Crusade, you should try reading Jose Maria Gironella’s trilogy on the Spanish Civil War: Cypresses Believe in God; One Million Dead and Peace After War. Gironella fought on the side of the Nationalist’s in the Spanish Civil War, but his novels are remarkably even-handed and give a view from the inside of the war on the ground level among ordinary people. His books are suffused with a strong love of Catholicism and of Spain.

  • Donald,

    Thanks! I am simply enthralled with the Spanish Civil War and I’m wary of getting anti-Christian leftist authored history books.

    You have just made my next book purchasing decision on Amazon!

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8 Responses to Adama v. Adama

  • I still prefer the little-known Battlestar Galactica of the 1940’s and 1950’s. I think it’s available on DVD, if you’re interested.

  • Thanks for the comments and link to the amusing remarks by Dirk Benedict. As a member of the (original 1977) Star Wars generation, Galactica was a favorite show! But your comments prompt me to a related subject. You mention that the current iteration, like many shows since the 1990s, features soft-porn. Without wanting to appear sanctimonious or guilt-free, how do you justify watching it? Is it for the entertainment value? If so, what makes you (or me) different in that respect from any non-Catholic? It’s just that I think Catholics have fought shy of this issue in the last forty years. There used to standards for entertainment based on the catechism. As far as I still know I have no good reason to watch simulated sex or erotic content. Those things in some way or other fall under the 9th commandment. Granted there are shades of grey. And one could talk of subtle distinctions in mature entertainment before the 60s, but things are so in your face now, that those arguments no longer apply in many cases. I throw this out there for the sake of debate. Ultimately there must be an objective standard. As Catholics we object to porn, hard or soft, in our popular culture. How do we counter it? Do we allow ourselves to participate in it just because we like James Bond movies, etc.? What makes our stance any different from that of some antinomian “Christianinty” that has emasculated our religion and rendered us impotent in the face of neo-paganism. Again no judgementalism here but I’d like some answers. Thanks!

  • The only thing I would take exception to is the “sour grapes” comment. It skews where the article is coming from – using the new show *only* as a jumping off point for the state of television (and society) as a whole. The whole “career peak” thing comes from the fact that he chose parenthood (gasp!) over acting, something to be applauded and which is too often overlooked.

  • “How do you justify watching it? Is it for the entertainment value?”

    In the same way that I justify reading the Satyricon by Petronious, to learn. I find the soft porn moments intensely annoying and not at all erotic, just as I find the ultra violence more sickening than exciting. The problem that has developed in our society is that many aspects of the culture are of questionable morality or intensely immoral. To avoid it entirely on tv, in movies, the internet, in books, etc, would be to adopt an amish way of life as it comes to the culture. I do not criticize Christians who adopt that approach, but it is not the path I have chosen. When I find some aspect of the culture that I believe has something to teach me, I decide whether the good that I am exposing myself to, justifies the intermingled bad. It’s hard to draw lines, and I wish our culture was not such an open sewer, but it is the interaction I have chosen with our culture for the present.

  • Thanks for taking the time to reply. I didn’t want to be overly contentious, but I’m not sure it’s the answer I’m looking for. Whether your approach works for you or not remains subjective and some might say indistinguishable from the mainstream view (“don’t look at it if you don’t like it”). It’s not “Amish” to say that what passes for entertainment now would have been totally inadmissible to the clergy and most laypeople fifty years ago. We had moral continuity for centuries and now it’s gone. Can definitions really change that much? Granted there are grey areas and room for prudential decisions. (Let’s avoid “puritanism” as a red herring.) But as I think you admit, there are excesses which no one should realistically be expected to grapple with. The problem is that today’s immorality is the rule and less easily avoided than an obscure piece of literature (e.g. Petronius) was in the past. If the standards have fallen then presumably we need to restore them rather than acquiesce to evil in the interests of aesthetic urbanity. On the other hand, if it means that we have to view lingerie displays and groping for the sake of some pulp sci fi show… well, that’s a bid of a hard sell for me, I admit! All said in charity.

  • “Whether your approach works for you or not remains subjective and some might say indistinguishable from the mainstream view (”don’t look at it if you don’t like it”). ”

    The truly foolish might say that.

    “Can definitions really change that much?”

    The definitions haven’t changed at all, but the people have. Where there was moral consensus, we now have moral anarchy. When I first started my legal career, I was shocked by how many marriages were ending in divorce. Now I am shocked by how many couples have several children, are now breaking up, and have never been married at all. I am also seeing more parternity cases where not even a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship had been established, but rather a few incidents of “hooking up” resulted in a child.

    “If the standards have fallen then presumably we need to restore them”

    Agreed. I am all ears as to how you think we can go about doing that. In the past such alterations in public taste have usually been acomplished through censorship, either voluntary such as the Catholic League of Decency, or through government action. Of course these attempts to enforce standards of decency in public entertainment were effective because there was broad public agreement as to what the standards should be, and an entertainment company that crossed the line would pay a price with the general public. Regrettably such a consensus as to standards in entertainment clearly no longer exist. Now, any attempt at censorship, leaving aside all the current legal difficulties that would entail, would probably simply increase the money that the “banned” show would bring in. Not to mention that the internet means that any censorship regime would probably make no sense anyway since even totalitarian states like the PRC have great difficulty controlling the internet. So the censorship route is out the window.

    The best alternative I can think of is for Christians to produce entertainment that does reflect Christian values and is entertaining. Too often what passes for Christian entertainment one would be hard pressed to get people to watch even if they were paid. The vast success of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Passion of the Christ, and, to a lesser extent, the two Narnia films, does indicate that there is a strong market for well made and performed Christian entertainment. We are aided also by the fact that most of the entertainment that does not present Christian values is often pretty poorly made and acted, this is not the case with the current Battlestar Galactica, and so Christian entertainment in order to beat out the competition, does not always have to be a masterpiece, but merely professional in both the peformances and the production. One reason the culture is such a sewer is that Christians have not been active enough in providing alternatives, and this is a portion of the problem that can be addressed successfully if there is enough will, time and money. In my experience Christians who wish to reform the culture usually have the will and time, but money often is the sticking point.

  • “It’s not “Amish” to say that what passes for entertainment now would have been totally inadmissible to the clergy and most laypeople fifty years ago. We had moral continuity for centuries and now it’s gone.”

    From where I sit -and given the general direction of this reply- Matt is seeing things fairly clearly. Well spoken.

    My best friend is a nominal Catholic (his mother practiced, he never did) and seemingly obsessed with “BG 2.0”. As I liked the original as a child I thought I’d give the new series a chance, and joined my friend to watch up to the second season, but I won’t watch beyond that point. Among other issues I have with the new series there’s simply too much moral relativism, too much violence, and too much sexuality on display for me to find much redeeming about its story arc. Naturally, my friend thinks I’m taking my moral objections too seriously while I on the other hand wonder how any practicing Catholic could do anything else!

    As opposed to the original series “2.0” is nothing I’d show my fiancee, much less any children we might one day have.

    Still, I will thank you for this humorous and thought-provoking entry!

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