By lex, on May 20th, 2007
Friday was spent ostensibly working on my thesis, if by “working” you can so enlarge your definition to include “staring slack-jawed at the screen, desperately seeking inspiration.” It didn’t help that an old squadron mate that had left the service a few years back and is waders-deep in his own start-up invited me to lunch last week, for to pitch an entrepreneurial opportunity that included the post-retirement intersection of Making Real Money with the potential of pushing Su-27 Flankers ** around, just for the business that was in it – no master’s required. There never was a sailor who had wax sufficient to stop that particular siren’s song from leaking through, but on the other hand I remind myself that having spent the better part of the last two years squandering the diminishing remainders of my misspent youth in systems engineering, marketing, financial management and ops analysis classes I am now a mere 80-100 double spaced pages (including bibliography and reference cites) from a free master’s degree, just in case the entrepreneurial spreadsheets don’t quite add up.
Our man commended us to “Good to Great” and chapter 3, which – as it turns out – is all about getting good people on the bus, and non hacks off. Flattering, but there will be college educations to pay for against an ever-dwindling store of private resources, so it’s nothing like a no-brainer.
But did I mention the Flankers?
This being Sunday, some blathering religious nonsense follows. Consider yourself forewarned.
Tim Russert is a man I haven’t spent much time thinking on, mostly because I don’t watch much TV (oh, apart from BSG when it’s on, 24 and Jericho – a real sleeper that nevertheless has set the hooks) so I wasn’t prepared to discover that 1) Russert is a Catholic and 2) he wonders, as any good Christian ought, whether in fact he’s doing God’s work. On the other hand, given that public avowal of faith, I was not terribly surprised to find just how many progressives out there were ready to engage in a vigorous series of two-minute hates on Russert because he’d been insufficiently murderous towards President Cheney in between his bouts of christer godbothering. Some didn’t like his politics, and some didn’t like his journalistic standards and there were many who thought that these – bad as they might have been – were as nothing compared to the fact that he had the audacity to believe something possible that could not be weighed in a lab. It was tough slogging I can tell you, getting through all of that vituperation, and eventually I felt compelled to inject my own 2 cents:
A deist is a person who believes, based on inconclusive evidence, that God exists. An atheist is a person who believes, based on the same inconclusive evidence, that god does not. Either of those beliefs will inform a person’s philosophical view of the world in a fundamental way. Mr. Russert is asking whether his belief in a God of life, hope and light is being reflected in the work he’s doing in the world – it may or may not be, but that’s an important question for a Christian to ask.
I’ve known atheists of every political stripe. The libertarian and conservative types tend to look at my own faith with a kind of wry amusement if they bother to think of it at all, but they’re generally quite content to let me believe in whatever fantasies I choose – it’s no skin off their nose. But it’s really instructional to see so graphically displayed on this forum how great the overlap is between the other kinds of atheists: The ones that think believers are not just deceived but also stupid and even evil has an evidently significant correlation with the hysterically angry, foam-flecked, hate-filled left, the kind of people that believe that anyone who believes in any political policy different than their own is not just wrong, but stupid and evil.
I bet you guys are fun at parties.
In time I am forced to defend the Roman Catholic Church – this is rich irony indeed, and another kind of proof for those who dare to hope.
Yes, it was just that kind of weekend.
On Saturday afternoon Son Number One pulled his head out of the preparations for final exams in a third-year pursuit of an electrical engineering degree for to share a movie with his old man and comestibles with ourselves his family and five of his best friends from school. The movie was “28 Weeks Later,” and if your idea of a pleasant afternoon includes the sight of red-eyed, flesh eating zombies dining on members of their own family then this is right for you, but if otherwise be warned. It is, in the words of NYT film critic A.O. Scott, almost exhaustingly terrifying.
Supper was nice though: We’ve been home away from home not only for himself, but also for those his classmates whose homes are further away, the Hobbit being a great fan of stuffing a seemingly endless stream of hungry young men and women with home cooked meals just for the pleasure of watching them eat and themselves being college students, eager to please. Four of these have been our guests every month or so for the last two years, and it’s many a fine conversation we’ve had together for they are bright, humble, patriotic and well-read, a combination that endears them hereabouts.
Two of them will be commissioned on Thursday, complete The Basic School of instruction for Marine officers sometime in the late fall before heading to follow-on orders to prepare them to lead young enlisted Marines in combat, the Good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise. This is, as you are no doubt aware, no longer a theoretical exercise in personal development. They’ve broken our bread dozens of times and we will see them pin butter bars on their collars next Thursday and then maybe never see them again.
We are used to saying farewell to old shipmates, never to meet again perhaps. But this feels a little different somehow: We are feeding the best minds, hearts and bodies we can develop into a grinding conflict that conjoins the fate of two very different countries. There are times when I wonder in my heart of hearts if either country has earned it.
Having said our farewells and shipped the youngsters south, certain of us made preparations for horizontal replenishment, while others of the distaff side maneuvered themselves into position for an intramural galling. Hammers and tongs weren’t in it, and there was nothing your correspondent could say – no matter how loudly or forcefully it might be put – that could separate the combatants before each of them had extracted their pound of flesh. There was sufficient blame to go around to make choosing sides a perilous proposition, even given the default position of support. Your narrator withdrew to lodgings profoundly unsettled, wondering again if maybe the monastery wouldn’t have been the wiser choice.
If only for the simplicity that was in it.
It wasn’t just an ordinary service this morning, but a four-soul baptism as well. Good for us you might think, enlarging the circle, etc. but it parking can be hard to find on such a Sunday, time does run on and frankly we were still a little unsettled in our hearts from the previous evening’s fireworks. But it’s hard to read this:
Almighty God, our heavenly Father, who settest the solitary in families: We commend to thy continual care the homes in which thy people dwell. Put far from them, we beseech thee, every root of bitterness, the desire of vainglory, and the pride of life. Fill them with faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness. Knit together in constant affection those who, in holy wedlock, have been made one flesh. Turn the hearts of the parents to the children, and the hearts of the children to the parents; and so enkindle fervent charity among us all, that we may evermore be kindly affectioned one to another; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Or this, from the prayer of Saint Francis:
Lord, make us instruments of your peace. Where there is hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.
It’s hard to read that after communion and keep your heart entirely hardened. Which I suppose is the point.
This doesn’t have to work for you – it works for me.
Free tickets we had down to the Copley Symphony Theatre, for to view the locals put Berlioz through his paces in his Opus 5, Requiem. Nothing like so viscerally exciting to the untutored ear as was Symphonie Fantastique, but transporting nonetheless. In fact, it transported our daughters straight to the land of nod for several moments there (and your scribe admits that at times his own lids felt heavy) but as I said, the price was right and we walked out feeling curiously refreshed.
Dinner at Station Sushi in Solana Beach, and now here we are, feeling nearly human again and sharing this moment.
I thank you for your patience.
** 08-07-2018 Original link gone; replacement found – Ed.