God Was Vexed, and Gave All Power to Michael*

We should have put a storm notice up yesterday afternoon, but we were too lazy — Dymphna and I scamped our duties. And then Hurricane Michael dropped by the southeastern Piedmont and laid us low.

The center of the storm passed by quite a ways to the south of us, somewhere in North Carolina. However, it sent a long writhing arm our way, and we were lashed with wind (not too much) and rain (a lot — six inches [16 cm]). We were lucky: we didn’t lose our electricity, but many thousands of others did. There are still wide swaths of Central Virginia without power tonight.

Our Internet connection gave out in the late afternoon, however, and stayed off for more than 24 hours. The torrential rain must have seeped into the equipment and shorted out the transverse hypertonic fimbrilator or something. Or maybe a family of raccoons escaped the high water, gnawed their way through the wall of the server box, and made a nice comfy dry nest inside on top of the digital switching unit.

Anyway, that’s why we disappeared for a day. Dymphna is approving your comments even as I type this. I’ll merge last night’s news feed material with tonight’s, and I prepared several posts and queued them up, waiting until the Intertubes were fixed. Maybe I’ll enlist the younger raccoons to help me put them up quickly…

*   The title is a reference to this poem by Wilfred Owen:

Soldier’s Dream

I dreamed kind Jesus fouled the big-gun gears;
And caused a permanent stoppage in all bolts;
And buckled with a smile Mausers and Colts;
And rusted every bayonet with His tears.

And there were no more bombs, of ours or theirs,
Not even an old flint-lock, nor even a pikel.
But God was vexed, and gave all power to Michael;
And when I woke he’d seen to our repairs.

 

Having and Not Having

Under heaven all can see beauty as beauty only because there is ugliness.
All can know good as good only because there is evil. *

This is a meditation on the vagaries of time as instanced on this, the 14th anniversary of Gates of Vienna. It is also a contemplation of the tensions that surround any notion of goodness, beauty or truth. At least these are my beginning intentions, but bear in mind that essays are ornery critters. They are often heedless of their author’s aims, developing their own signification.

We’ll see what transpires, eh?

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What began as an intellectual distraction from the deep grief due to my daughter’s sudden death has changed gradually into a pilgrimage of sorts; we’re marching to the end, wherever that is. Picking up fellow-travelers along the way, we’ll journey on until Fate intervenes. Some may stay for the entire trip while others drop out as their interests shift. Not everyone can abide the effluvial current that underlies our reality. I certainly can’t.

The often sad and tragic stories we’ve collected over the last fourteen years may be a reflection of a downward spiral of Western civilization as we understand it. How could it be otherwise with the twined efforts of Islam and its fellow-travelling radical socialists? That the former will devour the latter while the mindless sing “Kumbaya” is one possible fate to be contemplated. The coda to that song is probably “Imagine” as sung by China’s National Choir.

But wait! What is that we hear whispering in the wings, waiting to appear? Could it be the muffled voices of a new conservative-populist alliance rising in tentative unison throughout the post-globalist post-empire? They comprise a new chorus rightfully beginning to take themselves seriously as they enter stage right.

Much like the Christian Reformation (credited to Luther, but not possible without the simultaneous populist religious uprisings across Europe), should widespread changes occur, there will be counterattacks, but eventually… if history is any example…

There are severe limits built into the present socialist ethos, where no greater sin than “racism” is possible, nor any greater virtue than “tolerance”. No doubt there will be similar transgressions in the post-secular age. Pray they do not become mirror images of the old sins. Otherwise we will move from chaotic socialism to rigid authoritarianism in our restless search for ontological certainty.

Here’s the thing: Our knowledge of reality has outpaced our ability to digest and comprehend that reality. The human mind flees from ambiguity, is often unwilling or unable to stand in the face of doubt, even if that stance leads eventually to understanding and wisdom. Thus did science and religion draw swords against one another. Yet working together they could inform a far greater comprehension than presently exists.

Will we have the courage to say “who knows?” and wait to see what happens? It takes great patience to wait to see what floats up from the abyss.

The psychiatrist Eric Berne came of age in a time when all American men served in the military. During his stint, Berne created a questionnaire for soldiers he encountered, and from that survey of a cross-section of young American men he created two perceptual categories, two temperaments. He called them Farmers and Mechanics.**

Farmers are those who know they cannot control the greater forces of weather events or pestilence that ultimately affect their crops. While they weed and cultivate, they wait to see what happens. Mechanics are fixers. Things can always be improved or invented out of whole cloth. Though Berne never said so, Farmers are dependent on Mechanics for the inventions that have made their livelihood far easier. But then, Mechanics need to eat, so there you go — another necessary interdependence.

To judge by the comment threads, most of our readers are Mechanics, methinks, though there is an admixture of folk who are content to observe what is, without demanding that anything be “fixed”. Sometimes there simply is no fixing for lies, evil or ugliness. Not in this world; but in the next, who knows?

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Trouble With the Intertubes

We’re having trouble with our home network — specifically, the wireless router. The problem is intermittent for the moment, but we may have outages from time to time until I get a long enough Ethernet cable to reach the desktop. Then I can maybe replace the modem…

Anyway, if you find nothing is happening here for a while, and your comments aren’t getting approved, that’s probably why.

Sturm Und Drang

The long drought is over!*

We’re having thunder and lightning and wind and heavy rain right now, and you all know what that means: our Internet connectivity could be flushed away without warning at any moment. So if we disappear from view for a while, you’ll know why.

It could also be full of sound and fury, but signifying nothing — you just never know.

*   Residents of the Piedmont and coastal areas in these parts understand the irony in that statement. We haven’t gone more than 36 hours without rain in the past two months. The rivers are swollen and the ground is sodden. We’ve had at least fifteen inches (40 cm) of rain since the beginning of September, which is probably four times the average for the whole month.

I can’t imagine what those folks in coastal South Carolina are going through right now.
 

Gremlin Attack

Late last night, when I was just starting to put together the news feed, our Internet connection was suddenly attacked by gremlins. Or it may have been djinns, or even kobolds — I get all those species of imps confused.

Anyway, our Internet connection mysteriously disappeared. There was no wind, no lightning, no rain, no ice storm — nothing that you would expect to affect the connection. Maybe a skunk sprayed the phone company’s server box. Who knows?

We waited awhile to see if it would come back, and then gave up and went to bed.

That’s why there was no news feed last night. Rather than try to compile it this morning, I decided to collect any material left over from yesterday and put it into one big news feed, which will be posted tonight.

If the gremlins don’t come back.

Eyeballing It

I went to the retinologist today to have my eyes scanned and get an injection in my left eye to prevent further damage from wet macular degeneration. The doctor said the scan looked good, with no indication of any further vascular eruptions, so I can go seven weeks this time before I get the next one.

It’s somewhat difficult to work at the screen right now, so posting will be light this evening. To tide you over until I get back up to speed, here’s a recording of a lovely young lady named Elisabet Wimark playing the “Little Fugue” in G minor (BWV 578) by Johann Sebastian Bach on the organ in Sollentuna Church in the suburbs of Stockholm (recorded and edited by Anders Söderlund).

This is possibly the most exquisite piece ever composed by Bach. It’s short, and densely packed with the fully-developed counterpoint at which the composer was so adept. This isn’t the best rendition of the Little Fugue that I’ve ever heard, but it’s fully competent, especially for an organist so young:

I chose this performance for a couple of reasons:

1.   You can see the organist’s hands and feet clearly and thus get a feeling for how the piece she is playing is structured; and
2.   Sweden is facing an important historical moment in the parliamentary election coming up next Sunday.
 

This is to remind our readers that there is another Swedish culture — a civilization, if you will — besides the lunatic asylum that we see in the news reports featuring metastasized feminism, rampaging political correctness, and an absolute surrender to aggressive immigrant invaders.

That other Sweden exists. It trained and mentored this young woman (in a church, of all places). It appreciates her work and comes to listen to her performances. She’s far from alone; just do a YouTube search on J.S. Bach’s organ works and you’ll find dozens of Swedish organists right there alongside the Germans, the Dutch, the French, and the Hungarians.

That other Swedish civilization may well be in its death throes. Its citizens may be largely unaware of what is about to happen to their country, which makes their plight even more poignant. So we should do all we can to celebrate and promote the existence of that other Sweden.

For the next few days — before, during, and after the election — I’ll ask readers to refrain from nasty, spiteful comments about Sweden and Swedes, as if they could all be lumped together as simulacra of Mona Sahlin and Fredrik Reinfeldt. They aren’t all like that, obviously. And we do them an injustice when we talk about them that way.

If we are witnessing the death of a civilization, we should pause to remember Sweden-That-Was, because that is what is in the process of being destroyed.

And don’t forget: Sweden isn’t fundamentally different from the rest of the West. It’s just a little further down the primrose path that leads to the Multicultural Utopia. We’re all on that same shining path, not far behind all those Swedes skipping gaily towards a doom they can’t even recognize.

Video Overload

Due to a death in the family and a (separate) family health crisis, Dymphna and I have experienced somewhat of a shortage of time for blogging during the past week or so.

I’ve mostly kept up with the editing of subtitles and the file formatting that I do to help Vlad with video production, but I haven’t posted all those videos yet. I have a backlog of more than a dozen waiting in the queue. In addition, Vlad has done several videos without my input, so there is a lot of material out there that you may not yet have seen.

I’ll gradually be catching up on those videos, but in the meantime, visit Vlad’s YouTube channel and the Vlad Tepes blog if you want up-to-the-minute material.

Good News and Bad News

I went away overnight to meet up with the future Baron and go see our relative who was in a very bad car accident last January. That’s the good news part of this, but let’s get to the bad news first.

While I was at dinner with our son and that relative, another close relative — this one older, Dymphna’s son and the fB’s half-brother — had a massive heart attack. So I had to turn around and hurry home. He had surgery, and two stents were put in. He is lucky to be alive — they think his heart was not beating for 7-10 minutes. Fortunately he got CPR before the ambulance arrived. He is also lucky that his brain didn’t get anoxia or whatever you call it — it managed to get enough oxygen, and there’s no brain damage. So we are guardedly optimistic.

Also (and I haven’t mentioned this before) yet another close relative — this one considerably older, Dymphna’s brother — died a few days before all this happened. So it’s been a rough week.

With all this going on, I will be in and out, depending on what happens. I intend to maintain the news feed, at least, and will do other odds and ends when they come up, as time allows.

The good news: The young man who had multiple broken bones and severe brain trauma last winter has made a miraculous recovery over the past four months. He is almost completely back to normal functioning, although he will remain in rehab for a while longer. He has a slight limp on one side, and the arm on the same side doesn’t quite extend all the way, but that is a result of neurological damage to the brain, and not damage to the limbs themselves. His speech faculties are fully restored; he sounds just like he always did. He says the damage messed up his memory to some extent, but I can’t detect it.

It was great to see him so completely recovered — it was like the sun coming out from behind dark clouds for me.

That would have been a wonderful dinner the three of us had last night, if it weren’t for the grim news about our mutual relatives.

Heading Out

I’m going away on an overnight trip; I’ll be back sometime tomorrow evening. There won’t be any news feed tonight, but I should be back early enough to put one up tomorrow night.

As usual, y’all will be under the gracious care of Miz Dymphna while I’m gone. With only one person to moderate comments, it may take longer for your comment to appear. So please be patient.

Arrivederci!

Another Updated Locations List of Donors to the Fundraiser

More snail-mail donations have come in since I last posted a list of places for people who contributed to the recent fundraiser. One of those was from Wisconsin, and another from New Brunswick, and those places hadn’t appeared on the list before. Here’s the updated roster:

Stateside: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming

Far Abroad: Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden, Thailand, and the UK

Canada: Alberta, British Columbia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Ontario, and Saskatchewan

Australia: Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Victoria, and Western Australia

There have also been donations from Wales and Scotland (but not Ulster). I haven’t broken up the UK (yet), so those don’t show.

An Updated Locations List for Donors to the Fundraiser

Dymphna and I have been cranking out the thank-you notes to people who donated during last week’s fundraiser. A donor from WYOMING wrote back to let us know that his state didn’t appear in the list of locations. He asked us to post a revised list that includes WYOMING, so here goes:

Stateside: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming

Far Abroad: Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden, Thailand, and the UK

Canada: Alberta, British Columbia, Newfoundland, Ontario, and Saskatchewan

Australia: Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Victoria, and Western Australia

It seems that our Wyoming donor — who has been kindly giving to Gates of Vienna for a number of years —previously lived in other states (also way out West), and I had inadvertently picked up one of those states from the record of an earlier donation.

ALSO: My email to another long-time donor bounced this morning. The server at the other end notified me that it would keep trying for 72 hours, and it did; then three days later the final bounce message came in.

So if you’re a long-time (12 years!) donor who lives in Alberta and didn’t get a thank-you note, that may be the reason. I’ve used the same email address every time, but for some reason it didn’t work this time.

Stormy Weather

UPDATE: The mighty darkness and storm rolled through, shutting off the lights momentarily. Disconnected our wifi. Left over three inches of rain in a half hour or so. And then moved due east, even as it faded…

Ah, August rains. My flowers thank you, but ask for a morning drench instead. Me, I’m happy for what we got.

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

It has gotten quite dark, even Lear-like, outside. The storms are coming down from the direction of our electric company in the next county.

…will we lose our connection? It remains to be seen…

If all goes quiet, it means (the) Gates are closed for the moment. We’re home, but disconnected.

Taking a Breather

Most of you already know that we just wrapped up our summer fundraiser. As promised, here is the final tally of places from which donations came:

Stateside: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, North Dakota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington

Far Abroad: Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden, Thailand, and the UK

Canada: Alberta, British Columbia, Newfoundland, Ontario, and Saskatchewan

Australia: Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Victoria, and Western Australia

The amount was a little thinner than usual, but we’ll definitely have enough to squeeze by for another three months. And the number of gifts was considerably higher than it normally is, with a lot of first-time donors in addition to the usual suspects. There were just lots of modest donations, and those add up. The turnout pleased me, because it means we have a robust, distributed funding base.

Anyway, now I can relax for a few hours, and maybe catch up on my sleep…

Dymphna and I are very grateful to you all for your generosity, both the recidivists and the first-timers.

Pennies From Heaven, For a Whole Week

This post was first posted on July 30 and was a “sticky” feature for a week. Scroll down for more recent posts, including death threats for a Dutch Muslim mayor, the latest repression of the Copts in Egypt, coverage of Tommy Robinson by the Hungarian media, “cuddly justice” in Germany, a report on Muslims in northeastern India who are being made stateless, and last night’s news feed.

Summer Fundraiser 2018, Day Seven

Dymphna’s Sunday Update: What Is Love’s Worth?

Okay, y’all. Time to step up to the plate and hit one out of the park. Inflation will be here any minute (or so they tell us), so might as well part with your denarii while they’re still meaningful, right? That’s one way of looking at twisting your arm.

[Here’s the new direct PayPal link.]

Tip jarAs we come to the final day of the Summer Fundraiser, it’s good to see a mixture of new people among the old faithfuls (and some not so old, just enduring contributors). Our golden oldies’ contributions are heartening, and the newbies encourage us to believe that despite the Baron’s decrepitude, we’re still putting subjects and predicates together in a way that’s meaningful. Me? I’m Gates of Vienna emeritus.

I am also encouraged that our reach remains global. Two people in Virginia wielding keyboards on a less-than-speedy connection can still find Aussies and Kiwis and Eastern Europeans, plus the more ‘usual’ folk who’ve always come here. When we begin seeing new donors from New York City (as we have this time) we know we’re hitting all the right notes.

Or maybe they’re saying, “All right, shut up already.”

I will make a promise to all our donors: when any given quarter meets the previous quarter’s goal (plus inflation), we’ll quit at that point. I’ve realized it doesn’t need to be a whole week if our goals have been met. And yes, the B has spreadsheets galore to show me comparisons from previous quarters any way you care to slice it. He’s the numbers guy. But successful or not (and we always have been so far), when it’s over it’s over. We close up our sideshow and get back to whatever atrocity awaits all of us.

[But before we close entirely, it is always my great pleasure to send Vlad Tepes our quarterly tithe. The subject line is “Funny Munny” and I always admonish him not to spend it all in one place. Yeah, he thinks I’m real amusing… The funniest part is that he never remembers that we’re in the process of our quarterly, so the PayPal donation always surprises him. I like dependable people, and Vlad is definitely that, in more ways than I could name.]

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The song I chose for my final Fundraiser update has a back story. Be patient; the nuances are complicated.

When I was five years old, I went to live in a girls’ “home”. St. Mary’s Orphanage was set up after the Influenza Epidemic of 1918, but by the time I arrived generations later, it had long since morphed into an institution for girls whose parents couldn’t keep them for one reason or another. It was the end of May when I got to St. Mary’s and it would be five years before I went home for good in August of the year I magically turned ten. Ten is the legal age for being a latchkey kid.

Yes, it was a long, long time, but it was the best my mother could do in the circumstances. As an immigrant, she wasn’t entitled to welfare. As a middle-class Irish woman, I don’t know if she could have borne the (self-inflicted) humiliation, but the law precluded her having to make that choice. And by the time she put me in Saint Mary’s we’d been through nightmares of temporary placements.

Back then, Florida had a small Catholic population at somewhat less than two percent. The nuns and priests were mostly from Ireland: what American would live in Florida’s climate and what Irish clergy/nuns could resist the temptation of living in America? So they came and suffered. Thus the majority of professed religious people I knew growing up sounded more or less like my mother. The few times I heard an American accent coming from one of them, I was certain they weren’t kosher.

St. Mary’s was part of the city parish which served Catholics mostly of Italian descent, and, during the week, working people who dropped in for daily Mass on their lunch hour. There was a school going all the way to 12th grade for the whole parish not just St. Mary’s, and a church with the number of priests needed for a full regimen of Masses, plus a rectory to house the priests. The teaching nuns from the school lived at St. Mary’s and took their turns raising us while they were at it. This whole plant took up a square block.

When I was six, a Dublin-born priest came to live at the rectory. I thought of Father Doyle as quite elderly, but that didn’t turn out to be the case. When you’re six, most adults look old. At any rate, he took a particular shine to me because I was so obviously Irish to the bone — to the freckle, that is, many of which dotted my face and arms. Like my mother, Father Doyle was Dublin-born-and-bred. Like my mother, he enjoyed making me laugh — I was usually searching for a reason to laugh. I was a perfect audience.

Father Doyle found out my weakness for Waldorf salad, so he’d have the rectory housekeeper fix it for me. Oh, heaven! The nuns, of course, didn’t approve of this “special” relationship, but a priest outranks a nun, so there you go: Waldorf salad on Wednesdays after school. And Saint Valentine’s Day cards with little girls with freckles on the front. [No, there wasn’t any funny stuff. Just a lonely old man homesick and longing for home but unable to afford the fare, so I was the substitute.]

The good father liked American popular music, though he was a better listener than performer, but his lack of talent wasn’t an impediment. He’d often sing along with the Big Girls (any girl over the age of ten was officially a Big Girl). Back then, genres weren’t so rigid as they are now; “country” music and “pop” were played on the same stations. One song he used to sing to me was “If I Had a Nickel”. He only ever sang the first few lines, since they were the most entertaining.

One cold, overcast morning — January 18th, to be precise — the nuns told us in chapel that Father Doyle had died in his sleep during the night. I was inconsolable for days. Not all the threats of punishments could quell my tears. No threats they could devise compared with my utterly bereft sense of loss. Children are resilient and eventually I quieted, but I never forgot Father Doyle. Every January 18th I recall our brief friendship, healing on both sides. He was only forty-seven when he died, and it would be many years before I considered that “too young”.

The first two lines of his song stayed with me, too, but it wasn’t until the advent of YouTube that I found the song, in its earliest versions:

If you read the comments on that song, you’ll notice that many people came looking for it because they remembered its fragments the same way: a song their father or grandfather sang, one they thought had been made up especially for them. It is a child’s song, I think, because of its simplicity.

I’ll bet each of my children remember that song. I sang it to them as babies — it makes a good lullaby. Maybe that’s why some of them became musicians?

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Saturday’s denarii arrived from:

Stateside: Hawaii, Massachusetts, North Dakota, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Texas, and Virginia

Far Abroad: New Zealand, Sweden, and the UK

Canada: British Columbia and Ontario

That’s it for the Summer Fundraiser! Sometime tomorrow the Baron will include an overall summary in the wrap-up post.

Summer Fundraiser 2017, Day Five

The Baron’s Saturday Update: I shoulda learned to play them drums

This was supposed to be Dymphna’s update, but she’s feeling poorly this morning, so I’m filling in. Part of the reason for her indisposition is Tommy Robinson’s situation — since she suffers from PTSD, Tommy’s suffering resonates with her to the point that her symptoms flare up.

For today’s money-themed video, I’m using the one she would have posted herself if she were well enough. But before I get to that, I’ll recapitulate what we’re doing here for readers who had to work all week and are just checking in for the first time this weekend.

This is our quarterly effort to wheedle you into donating money to help keep this site alive for three more months. Inflation is a scourge: what began as “Pennies from Heaven” on Monday became dollars by midweek, and they’re now twenties, as can be seen from the graphic at the top of this post. What will the image be tomorrow…?

[An aside: During the reign of Hussein it was announced that Andrew Jackson’s gloomy mug was to be removed from the twenty-dollar bill and replaced with the face of some politically correct chick of color — Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Maya Angelou, somebody like that. Does anyone know what became of that innovation? Obviously Mr. Trump will not be replacing Mr. Jackson anytime soon. But maybe The Donald was able to put the brakes on the Modern Multicultural $20 Bill.]

Anyway, your job is to drop a Trump or two (or six! Live dangerously) into the tip cup on our sidebar. Or, if you prefer, you can use this new direct PayPal link.

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