By Bill Etem
The aim here is to write something quick and easy to read. Get it out fast. I like that ecstatic rhapsodical prose you find from authors like Hart Crane and Malcolm Lowry, Jack Kerouac and Jules Michelet. Maybe I can offer up something like that. After finishing The Girl on Fire: the Christian Symbolism in the Hunger Games, I’ve spent most of my free time lifting weights, watching movies, reading advanced math and physics, reading novels etc. etc. I haven’t spent much time thinking about any possible plots to any possible novels. The genesis behind one plot came about in this way. It was Thursday – June 8, 2017 – I was at work. I was working with 4 women. I can’t use their real names, but we can call them, oh, let’s see, let’s call them: Heather, Jocelyn, Juanita and Maria. We’re sitting around a table. There’s lots of chit-chat round this table. But we are also working in the manufacturing sector of the economy of the USA. We are putting eight inch long cotton swabs into plastic pouches, bags which will later be sealed and coded on a Van Der Stahl machine. After the pouches are put through the Van Der Stahl machine they will be packed in groups of 50 into shippers – aka cardboard cases – 50 pouches per case = 300 swabs per case – and theses cases / shippers will then be palletized, and then eventually the pallets will grouped into consignment lots and shipped out of the factory via 5 axle tractor trailers – big rigs – 18-wheelers. Did you ever see Duel? That was an early Steven Spielberg production where Dennis Weaver plays a nerdy sort of guy who is being terrorized out on some desert roads by a psycho truck driver driving a dirty old fuel truck that’s got this supercharged diesel under its hood. Anyway, enough about trucks and Dennis Weaver and early Steven Spielberg productions. So the ladies and me are sitting round the table having some conversation while we inspect the swabs for imperfections prior to placing the swabs into the pouches. The company also manufactures 18 inch swabs, and that sort of gets your mind asking questions like: where exactly and into what part of a person’s body would a nurse insert an 18 inch cotton swab? Anyway, I like to talk and talk and talk when I work with the ladies. I like it when the women listen to me as I chat about whatever topic which pops into my head. Jocelyn will laugh at what I have to say but I’m getting some resistance, some resistance to laughter – from Maria – she’s the line lead / assistant supervisor – and from Heather – she’s also a line lead, but not today, because Maria outranks her. Juanita will listen to me, but she too can be critical of the words coming out of my mouth, but then, truth be told, so can Jocelyn, so can all four of these women if you must know the truth. Juanita likes my dancing, who doesn’t like to dance at work? and she tells me she likes my eyes. So Juanita is muy simpatico in my eyes. But, I suppose, at times, I can really get the nerves of all four of these women with my incessant chatter. If they had to listen to me drone on for hour after hour, for 40 hours per week, for week after week, for year after year, at the factory, then, I suppose, they would be bored with my act maybe 50% of the time. So, a guy, a guy we might call Kang, enters the picture. He’s Hmong – the Hmong are from a mountainous region of Laos, a nation which is wedged in somewhere between Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. Pardon me if I don’t consult Rand McNally to give you perfectly accurate geographical info on this matter! Kang is not his real name of course, but Kang comes into the work area where me and the woman are working, and he starts in with all his double-entendres and all of his sexual innuendos. That’s really all he’s got, comedy-wise. He’ll say stuff like: `On the bottle line, right after the filler, you’ll often see a man and a woman screwing…you know, they’ll be screwing right out in the open! You’ll see them screwing right there in public. Yeah, that’s right, a dude and a chick will be screwing the bottle sprayers onto the bottles which have just been filled by the big machine.’ Kang smiles a lot. He’s popular with the other workers, more or less. I don’t really mind him, but then you start thinking that these women I work with are the mothers of various people. They are the daughters and sisters and wives of various people. Say for instance your mom is working at some place, at some factory. Would you like it if some guy who happens to be Asian – and I don’t bring up the fact that he is Asian for any racist reason - but you have to know that he is Asian to understand this anecdote I will now relate – would you like it if this Asian guy came up to your mom and said, `hey baby, when you and me go out on a date I know what you want to eat. You want to put the Asian sausage in your mouth. Yeah, baby, that’s what you want.’ He actually said the words `you want to put the Asian sausage in your mouth’ to one of my coworkers, loud enough for everyone to hear. I heard him say it on 6.8.17, in the Swab Room. This one guy named Manuel, not his real name, told me that Kang’s act really bothers him. Manuel told me that he spoke to Kang’s supervisor about him. Evidently the company is not too worried about litigation, about a sexual harassment suit. I’m not real conversant with recent case law on this sort of stuff. I spent some months studying American Constitutional Law, but unless you keep on studying it you tend to forget the stuff you once learned, such as where exactly under American law one’s right to Free Speech in the workplace ends. No doubt some of the women at the place where I work detest the stuff coming out of Kang’s mouth. But many of the women might not be all that outraged at his banter, and I know some are amused by it. They might not always be fans of his sexual commentary, but they have a boring job, we have a boring job, and sometimes even lame-ass sexual banter from Kang is preferable, in the eyes of the ladies, to the sort of lame-ass conversation which I offer them, which can be sort of mocking, or polemical, or sarcastic, or overly analytical, or overly autobiographical, or overly something or other, overly boring or overly mocking or overly cynical I suppose would be the main complaints if there were any complaints. So, what these women that I work with want is to be entertained. They would rather not be degraded, dragged through the gutter and dehumanized while they are being entertained, but when the tedium gets really and truly tormentingly tedious at the big boring factory they don’t mind some X-rated words thrown their way. Some of them never want any of that, but most of them, you know, I mean you know how some women can get…They don’t want to have to listen to some guy like me analyzing their lives and their opinions. Sometimes they’d very much prefer to not to listen to me, and they would rather listen to some guy like Kang telling them stuff like: `If we go out on a date, I know exactly what you want to put in your mouth. I know what you want to have for the main course, baby! Hey, sweetie, if you and me go out on a date, I know how to get you off big-time. I know what sort of orgasmic ecstasy you’re looking for. I know exactly what sort of earth-shattering sensual pleasures that chicks like you crave.’
At one moment the line lead – Maria – turns to me and gets on my case for not smiling at what Kang is saying. And I’m not smiling because I just don’t think what he’s saying is funny. I bored with his act. And then the bickering sort of escalates between me and Maria, because I don’t like it when people tell me what I should find funny and what I shouldn’t find funny, so I give Maria a shot – she was recently promoted to the position of assistant supervisor, so I give her a shot by saying something like, `You’re a funny sort of supervisor. You don’t even say anything when a guy is sexually harassing your workers.’ So that’s a shot that she’s not going to like. And I really like Maria. She’s pretty, married, has like five kids, super competent at work but also stressed out with all of her responsibilities at work and at home. So, you know, she doesn’t need me taking any shots at her in a bickering feud. We sit together at break times. She just looks at her phone usually, but we have friendly conversations now and then. But I have noticed that she’s not really thrilled with having to work with me, with having to listen to me ramble on for 8 hours.
The truth of the matter is that these women could fire Kang’s ass any time they wanted to. They could get him canned pretty fast if they wanted to get him canned. The truth of the matter is they don’t want to can his ass. He’s popular. He smiles a lot. He’s pretty down to earth, really really down to earth actually. So, truth be told, I might be less popular among my co-workers than Kang is.
So, analyzing this situation from all angles, women, to generalize somewhat, but perhaps not without excellent reason behind the generalizations, nevertheless, women, especially women trapped in tedious jobs, want to laugh and have fun, so that the tedium of the job is mitigated. They will take some X-rated talk from guys like Kang, to relieve the boredom, as they toil in the factory – they will take it and smile for a little while – but, on the other hand, for the most part, they don’t like to get dragged through the gutter and dehumanized. They don’t want to hear too much sex talk at work! So, I’m asking myself, what sorts of words do these women that I work with want to hear coming out of my mouth? How do I entertain them without dragging them into a gutter of nasty sexual innuendo or even nastier blatant hardcore chit-chat? Imagine that I am at the factory, in the Swab Room, sitting at the table with Heather and Maria and Juanita and Jocelyn, and we’re sticking the swabs into the plastic pouches, into the pouches which will later be sealed and coded by the Van Der Stahl machine, and I’m telling them….
`You know, Juanita, I was trippin’ on acid last night and the most beautiful visions were popping into my brain, you and me were in Hawaii and there was no more of this polar Minneapolis cold for us to endure, no more scrapping the ice off our windshields after work and yes we had taken a morning flight to L.A., then caught an afternoon flight to Hawaii, and here we are walking at night, under the moonglow with the palms swaying above the sea-grass on the dunes in the Kona, in the warm Southwest wind which blow over the Hawaiian islands warming us as we walk down the beach, feeling the Pacific wash over our ankles. That was a genius idea of yours to bring the daiquiris with us after leaving the party at Jay’s place. But this idea of yours to swim out to that island, 200 yards offshore, drunk as we are, is, as far as I can discern, is only yet another genius idea emanating from Juanita’s beautiful head. Here we are crashing through the moonglow shining off the crashing surf. Good idea of mine to shed myself of this shirt. Why don’t you do the same. How’s that blouse going to help you swim, baby? So I’m trying to paint the picture for the ladies at work. I don’t want to act like Kang and paint an X-rated picture, you know? It’s got to be PG-13 at the most, and I know where to draw the lines between PG-13 and an R-rated story, and I know where a R becomes an NC-17 etc. I’m not going to venture into anything beyond a PG-13 story because I’m at work, you know, and there are certain standards of professional decorum that must be upheld, you know? So listen up Maria, Jocelyn, Heather and Juanita as I relate to you what happened to me and Juanita as we swim out to that little island 200 yards off of the Big Island of Hawaii at midnight the other night. I’m in my bathing suit and she’s wearing some flimsy little strip of expanded spandex stretching over her exquisite curvatures as we’re swimming out to the island, see. You know how it is when the breakers are throwing you down to the sandy bottom and your heart is pumping because you’re not quite sure if you’re going to drown or not, and then you get to the surface and grab some air and then the next wave pounds you down, but you just got to keep fighting and battling until you get past the breakers and out into the calm waters of the open ocean, and that’s what Juanita and me were doing, but we are quite drunk to put it quite bluntly, and, of course, as any non drunkard could have foreseen, Juanita was tiring muy rapido in the violence and tumult of the crashing surf, and by the time I got to her she was breathing so hard and so frantically I was like: What? Your heart and lungs haven’t exploded yet? The waves had washed whatever clothing she once had right off her body, that’s what pounding surf will do to you when you are a drunken woman like Juanita was that night. It wasn’t me who stripped her! So get that nasty thought out of your heads right now. So, I then got behind her naked body, OK, do you see what I was doing there, in the water? I put my arm around her neck, so it sort of looked like I was trying to strangle her, but I was trying to save her life not kill her, of course, so I’m dragging her out to the little island. No reason to stray from our mission to swim to the island merely because I have to tow her there, as if she’s some old tub of a boat that can hardly stay afloat, right? There are some palm trees visible in the moonlight on the island, so there’s no chance of me shooting right past the island and drowning the two of us in some lonely desolate place somewhere between Japan and Hawaii. So we get to the little island, and, trying to keep this PG-13 still, we sort of collapse in each other arms and roll around in the waves, making out like Burt Lancaster and Deborah Carr, in From Here to Eternity. She was really young and hot-looking in this film with Trevor Howard called Bridie Quilty. Anyway, you know, we’ll have to skip ahead some, and leave matters to your imagination. She’s naked you know, Juanita, my lovely co-worker, and she gaining strength fast. Juanita is an amorous woman, OK? Her heart pounds with all the riotous passions and with all the hot blood of her Latin race, OK? The bloody bull-fights and all the amorous escapades of the people and nobles across the Iberian peninsula are not dissociated from the exuberant sensuality found throughout Latin America, you know. We rest up some, eventually, Juanita and I. It’s not all constant unending exciting sensual action and nonstop pleasure from time we left the Big Island until the time we left the little island to get back to the Big Island. So, we’re swimming back, alright, and Juanita doesn’t have to fight the surf so strenuously in the return journey to regain the Big Island. We never found her blouse, or her bra, or, for that matter, if you must know, we never found a single strip of her clothing: these thin items of feminine swim apparel were all swallowed up in the immensity of the Pacific ocean, so vast and illimitable is that great sea, so cosmic and omnipotent in the length and breadth of its mighty proportions. So she’s stark naked and I’m wearing just my swimming suit. I suppose the gentlemanly thing to do would be to give her my swimming suit to put on and cover up her private area. But then I would be stark naked so why both. No matter what you do one of us is going to be indecent. So why would I conduct a transaction which would leave me the indecent party? That wouldn’t make any sense. It’s after midnight so you would think it would be too dark to see anything. But with the full moon shining so brightly it wasn’t all that dark. It was one of those times when I bet Juanita wished she was even drunker than she was. I suppose she was stricken and oppressed, laid low by that awful sense of shame and self-consciousness that usually hits people whenever they are walking around naked in public? In the Bible it says the prophet Isaiah had to walk around naked in public for three years, but I’m sort of getting lost on a tangent here. We were on the subject of Juanita being stark naked as the two of us walked down the beach. If I was the one who was naked I’ll bet she would have stolen some glances at my private part, and then she would have laughed one of those laughs that women give you in that sort of situation. If I looked at her area where her loincloth should have been I bet she would have shot me a really nasty look. I mean we’re walking arm in arm down the beach but I can sense she wants me to look her in the eyes if I’m looking anywhere in her direction. I manage to steal a few glances in order to check out her naked breasts, and I do so without getting caught, but I dare not take any risks greater than that, not when she’s sobering up fast and feeling sort of self-conscious in her naked state. This part of the whole awkward comedy comes to an end when we stumble upon a beach shack and its owner. I prevail upon the guy to lend me one of his old shirts, so that Juanita can at least be made decent or semi decent again. He wasn’t going to help at all so I had to threaten to return some time and set his beach shack on fire if he didn’t fork over the old shirt. What a pig! I mean, some people! I don’t like it when I have to pretend I’m Al Pacino pretending he’s a gangster whereby I have to threaten to torch a guy’s place just to get him to hand over an old shirt so I can use it to cover up my naked girlfriend. If people would just do the right thing and hand over the old shirt in the first place!
So, to refresh your memories of what’s going on here, I got these female co-workers, and I want to tell them some sort of story, to keep them entertained as we work our repetitive factory job. I don’t want to go down that road of offering up sexual innuendo, but I sort of strayed into it, evidently I felt I had to spice up the some, to make it interesting in the eyes of my co-workers, but I don’t think the story ever became X-rated. So you can image my co-workers asking me, so what happens next? Juanita’s got some guy’s shirt on, but no bra and no panties, and this other guy, that is, me, Bill, doesn’t have much clothing on either, and the two of you are still sort of drunk, so naturally my co-workers will want to know what happens next in the story. How crazy do you want to make the acid trip? I think it is unwise to bring in upper management or Human Relations people and make them part of the story. You don’t want to paint a party scene where a drunken half-naked CEO is chasing after a comely half-naked CFO etc., etc. The thing to do is to weave a tale involving me, Juanita, Maria, Heather and Jocelyn, and maybe a few more of our co-workers, but you have to be real careful that you don’t write anything that could really piss off anyone at work. Basically the story is at an end. Or if not, we could go back to the beach. We could go back to where Juanita and me are walking arm in arm, she is in that old shirt which hangs down on her to mid-thigh. It’s a white button-down thing, actually, on closer inspection, it’s an expensive shirt and Juanita has hardly buttoned it at all. The plunging décolleté is really quite exciting. Her breasts are just as prominent and as uncovered as they were earlier when she was stark naked! She’s sort of shoving the side of her hip into the side of my hip every now and then as we walk along the beach. Pretty soon, and who says fact is stranger than fiction? – pretty soon Maria and Heather and Jocelyn meet Juanita and me on the beach. The former three co-workers are wearing skimpy little bikinis. So where is all this going? Remember in Norman Douglas’ South Wind there was that pagan fertility shrine on the island of Nepenthe, which was really Capri. Anyway, we could have the four women and me rush off to some pagan fertility shrine in Hawaii, where the god of stone has his lips drawn back in a hideous grin, making him look like a ravenous hyena in rut, but I don’t want to go in that direction. It’s too X-rated, and too depressing, and I’m trying to get this a PG-13 rating, and I want to keep it somewhat uplifting. But what am I supposed to do? Keep on writing lines such as: With the moonlight accentuating their marvelous physical feminine enchantments, their gleaming hair and shining eyes, with the warm wind off the Pacific caressing the luscious bodies of these four beautiful women, I took hold of the hands of two of them, Maria and Heather, while neglecting neither to gaze at Jocelyn and then at Juanita. I then dragged Maria and Heather into the warm water washing the beach above Hilo. This time the swim to a sand bar 50 yards off shore was simple and not life-threatening. I wasn’t sure what moods might strike my four companions are we rolled together in the waves. Might their nymphomania become uncontrollable….’
So you see how you sort of have to keep the romance flowing or else you’ll never hold the attention of your female co-workers. These women don’t want to hear me read War and Peace to them as we work in the Swab Room. They don’t want me to recite to them The Count of Monte Christo, OK? Even something as naughty as Lady Chatterley’s Lover is far too mild and slow paced for the immediate needs of these female co-workers of mine. Never read 50 Shades of Gray. But they want something which will lift them out of their workaday doldrums. I don’t believe Kang has coarsened them and made them ready to submit to any thrill no matter how decadent, no matter how far sunk in barbarous lustful Asiatic debauchery that thrill might be. No sir. I do not believe that to be the case. They are good women, even excellent women perhaps, though that might be stretching things a bit. I think what we want to have happen next, in the story, is that the five of us – me along with my 4 half-naked co-workers: Heather, Jocelyn, Maria and Juanita – should meet some nuns out on that sandbar in the Pacific ocean.
Sister Hildegard and Sister Claire have a rebellious streak in them, in that they will sometimes sneak away from the nunnery and go swimming in the moonlight. Naturally, they take prudent steps to ensure that they are each modestly clad in one piece bathing suits.
Sister Hildegard: `No Sister Claire, the practice of having masses celebrated in the vernacular was not adopted at the Council of Vatican I., but, rather, at Vatican II. Vatican I. is most notable, I suppose, because it was then, in 1870, that what had been the informal doctrine of papal infallibility was enshrined as a Dogma of Mother Church. Good Heavens! I suppose next you will be confusing homoouisianism with homousianism, or perhaps you will be confusing the heresy of Eutyches with that of Nestorius! Sometimes I wonder about you, Sister Claire. I wonder what sort of painful penance one of those saints from the Dark Ages would prescribe for you, recall St. Colomban – two days bread and water for the monk who has transgressed with a woman, one day if he did not know it was a fault, one hundred stripes for him who does a work apart, ten stripes for him who strikes the table with his knife or spills his beer…The chastity of the monk, writes St. Colomban, is judged by his thoughts. What avails it that he be virgin of body if he be not so of mind?’’
Sister Claire: `Nay, Sister Hildegard, be not contentious of spiritand beholdened to strife, but listen to these sweet sounds that striketh my ears. Hark ye to the merriment of these four half naked savage women, and that savage gentleman, who have swum out to us, and who we now see languishing in the warm Pacific waters at our feet.’
Sister Hildegard: `What vile cocktail full of deviltry and immorality and immodesty must we now drink? What leprous intrusion has penetrated our quiet haven of peaceful repose?’
Bill: `I’ll play along with the antiquated lingo. Two specters of haunting beauty and profound erudition riseth up beforeth my eyes on this remote sandbar.’
Sister Hildegard: `Are ye honest pagans, lost and damned assuredly, unless ye be sincerely converted to Mother Church? Or do you brazen hussies have the demonic pride to call yourself good Catholics?’
Maria: `We are not brazen hussies, good sister, at least not all of us are, anyway. And if we be now lost and damned in mortal sin, I can only pray that God will find a way to lead us unto sincere repentance and salvation.’
Juanita: `Yeah, I’ll play along too…Let not my feminine curves and the man-enslaving cleavage which parts my succulent breasts prejudice your minds to me, sisters. Let not the wonderously silken soft lusciousness of my naked flesh – flesh sun-bronzed to the most splendid of golden hues – mark me in your eyes as an enemy of the Church which Christ founded on a rock, dear sisters.’
Sister Claire: `Pray that your humility and your chastity may someday be seen as assured facts in the eyes of heaven. No doubt that naked golden flesh of yours is now as precious in your eyes as it is in the eyes of stupid men, like this guy you got with you.’
Jocelyn: `Be honest spiritual advisors please and tells us the truth now, ye most noble and devout representatives of the Roman Catholic Church. How exactly are we to stifle our natural human desires? Everywhere we look there are temptations set before us, temptations which we are too weak to resist. At the place where we work this one guy, perhaps you sisters would liken him onto the devil, this one guy tempts us with unholy desires of the flesh by constantly speaking of sex. It’s always sex, sex, sex……..sex, sex, sex……..sex, sex, sex. He’s constantly dropping double-entendres and innuendos, you know? Sometimes the other men at work weaken, and are led astray by his sinful example.’
Sister Hildegard: `Woe unto such men! Surely they are those who will provide, with the burning of their own wretched bodies, the fire that cometh. Thou art a weakling girl, it is true, but resist the devil and he will flee from thee. If the devil was to approacheth me with such sexualized talk issuing from his lips, he would soon have reason to curse the womb that bore him. Yea, he would feel my wrath, most assuredly.’
Sister Claire: `Some of the more liberal sisters at our convent would offer you guys some condoms, as you look like you could use some rather urgently. We agree abortion is far worse than fornication and adultery, still, giving you guys some condoms would be like giving a guy a gun to shoot himself with, after he asks for a rope to hang himself. Fornication, adultery, abortion. It’s all mortal sin which lead straight to hell, you see. The damned liberals are too far damned to see something as obvious as this.’
Bill: `I know we look a little suspicious, so scantily clad and all that, but we’re just platonic friends and co-workers at a factory in suburban Minneapolis. You don’t have to worry about us committing any mortal sins. At least I can speak for myself. I really don’t know about these women here, if you want the truth.’
Sister Hildegard nodded in her imperious way and then climbed abourd her jet-ski, and then Sister Claire climbed on behind her, and then the two of them roared off in the direction of the convent far to the north. My four co-workers and myself watched as they slowly dissolved into the murk as the roar of their ski-doo slowly faded away. We lay there on the sand. And what became of all our lusts and all of our uncontrollable desires of the flesh? Funny you should ask, but let’s not go there. What are the chances that we – the five of us – all became like unto virgins again, in our minds at least? What are the astronomical chances I was not captivated by the feminine curvature of…what are the chances that that which is natural in man and woman would never begin to reassert its hegemony over our minds and bodies? We were after all dressed like half-naked pagans after all, though our minds strived to bring our savage, lusty bodies under the lash of discipline, to live as good Christians, though our lusty bodies strove furiously to live as licentious pagans….We looked up at the moon and the stars shining down on as. Surely God would see us sinning, if indeed we did sin, what with all this brilliant moonlight raining down upon us. Surely the wrath of God will strike down all fornicators and adulterers. We dragged our bodies upon the sandbar and talked of those other co-workers of ours, talked of those frigid frozen paganized Christians, or those frozen frigid Christianized pagans, whatever they were, now shivering in the polar cold of Minneapolis, as we luxuriated in the warm Pacific waters of Hawaii.
So, I was on the subject, earlier about how there was some bickering at work the other day – June 8, 2017 – between bickering between Maria and me. Perhaps my conversation can be sort of hellish and oppressive in her eyes, I don’t know. She never went to college. I went to college. I’m super well read. She’s intelligent but not at all what you would call book smart. I’ve read thousands of books, and not just novels either. I read history books and philosophical and scientific treatises. I understand advanced mathematics and physics. The trick to learning lots of math and physics is to read the Schaum’s Outlines. The beginning chapters of Modern Physics clearly explain Special Relativity. The best approach to learning General Relativity is to start with Murray R. Spiegel’s Vector Analysis with an Introduction to Tensor Analysis, Advanced Mathematics, Theoretical Mechanics and then tackle Donald Menzel’s Mathematical Physics. I’ve looked over the work of Einstein, Levi-Civita, Minkowski, Pauli, Dirac, Weyl etc., etc., and you need a lot more than a good grounding in calculus to have any hope of understanding these authors. McVittie’s General Relativity and Cosmology seems rather elementary at the beginning, but then it goes from comprehensibility to incomprehensibility in about half a second. Menzel does a great job in explaining, for instance, the advance of 43 seconds of arc per century of the perihelion of Mercury. He makes it all understandable, assuming of course you first understand Murray R. Spiegel’s Vector Analysis with an Introduction to Tensor Analysis, and it only takes a few months to learn this material, though you’ll need to understand calculus before you can hope to understand Spiegel’s book. And then, of course, I’ve been all through books like Fishers American Constitutional Law. I’ve read or reread Herodotus and Thucidides and Tacitus and Gibbon and Graetz and Guizot and Gregorovius and Guicardini and Grote and Tocqueville and Tuchman and Trevellyan and Bury and Belloc and Buckley and Baron and Lea and Lecky and Lactantius and Milman and Mommsen and Michelet…
So let’s paraphrase my other books here at Shakespir. Let’s begin by paraphrasing Christianity, which is almost the same as paraphrasing Western Civilization.
When we say a person has the Holy Spirit we mean he is kind and gentle and slow to anger. If someone cuts you off in traffic, and then you give him the finger, then you are not acting according to the Holy Spirit. The 13th chapter of St. Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians is perhaps the pre-eminent expression of how we Christians are to comport ourselves. But then, merely because one is loving and kind and generous and diplomatic doesn’t mean one is not a heretic bound for perdition, of course, of course. There are loving Jews, kind Buddhists, gentle Atheists, diplomatic Hindus, but if you more or less come right out and say that Jesus is a bogus deity, well, you know, that’s no way to attain salvation, that’s no way to escape damnation. So, you want to be loving and kind and gentle and diplomatic. And you want to profess the Divinity of Jesus – Psalm 2, Isaiah 9. 6, John 1. 1-14, Colossians 2. 8-10, 1 Timothy 3. 16 etc. And you don’t want to stray into any heresies – which are serious theological errors which lead offending souls straight to perdition. There are errors which do not lead to hell, but there are errors which do lead to hell, and you don’t want to hold to any errors which lead souls to hell.
I suppose the toughest parts of the New Testament for people to obey are the parts which pertain to 1) excommunicating sinners, 2) the parts which pertain to rich people, and 3) the parts about fleeing sexual immorality.
The New Testament is really really tough on rich people. It just is. You have to be rather delusional if you can’t understand what the New Testament says about rich people! You’d have to be whacked out of your mind if you can’t understand what is so plainly written! And if you are celebrating communion with people who you ought to know are not worthy of receiving the Eucharist, then you are celebrating the Eucharist in an unworthy manner. And St. Paul tells us you are guilty of the body and blood of Christ if you celebrate the Eucharist in an unworthy manner. Most people, I presume, know the New Testament is pretty tough on people sunk in sexual immorality.
When we Christians speak of the True Faith, we mean this new covenant which was mentioned by Christ at the Last Supper.
Jesus stated at the Last Supper the following words found in Matthew 26. 28,
`For this is My blood of the new covenant, shed for the remission of sins of many.’
Mark 14. 24,
`This cup is the new covenant in My blood which is shed for you.”
Luke 22. 20,
`This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.’
The first mention in the Bible of a new covenant, a New Law to amend the Old Law, the Mosaic Law, is found in Jeremiah 31. 31-34:
`Behold, the days come, sayeth the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers, in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of Egypt; which My covenant they broke… but this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days sayeth the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and I will be their God and they shall be My people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, sayeth the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.’
Obviously, at least I think it is obvious, one of the first things that strikes you about most Christians is that they do not appear to have any sort of exhausitive and well-organized sort of Divine Law written on their hearts. A lot of Christians, a lot of modern Christians I mean, would probably choose martyrdom over renunciation of the faith. I imagine 90% of modern Christians, or some such high percentage as that, would prefer to be killed rather than to become apostates or Judas-traitors, you, know, say for instance they were held hostage by Muslim terrorists and were offered two choices: either convert to Islam or get your head cut off. So, in some sense, if a Christian would choose martyrdom over apostasy, then you might say he has a Divine Law written on his heart. But then if a person really doesn’t know up from down about Christian theology, if he has never read the Bible or any books of Christian theology, if he doesn’t even know that Christians are not to celebrate the Eucharist in an unworthy manner, as this is seen as a crime akin to shedding the blood of Christ, if he doesn’t even know that Christians are not to celebrate the Eucharist with heretics etc., etc., then you ask yourself: how can this person have the Divine Law mentioned in Jeremiah 31. 31-34 written on his heart?
To review the scriptures which tell us there is a True Church recall John 14. 23-26,
`Jesus answered him and said unto him, if a man love Me, he will keep My words: and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth Me not keepeth not my sayings…But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in My name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.’
John 14. 23-26 is similar to Jerome’s famous observation: `Ignorance of scripture is ignorance of Christ’. If one accepts John 14. 23-26, then one will keep Christ’s words in Matthew 16. 13-19,
`When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the son of Man, am? So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven and earth, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.’
Matthew 16. 13-19 tells us that Jesus founded one Church – not two or three or four Churches – but, one Church, the True Church.
Jesus says in John 15. 6,
`If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.’
If one abides in Christ then one is in the True Church.
The True Church is not a cathedral or any sort of building. It is a collection of people, a collection of saints, who teach doctrines which lead souls to heaven, and who do not teach a single doctrine which leads souls to perdition.
The saints in the True Church are not perfect and sinless. Only God is perfect. And the True Church can teach errors. The key attribute of the True Church is that she leads souls to heaven and she does not lead anyone to perdition. Whatever mistakes the True Church makes are minor – or at least these mistakes don’t lead anyone to perdition. If a church leads souls to perdition then it can not be the True Church, the Church which Christ founded on a rock.
We also have the words of St. Paul in Ephesians 4. 4-6
`There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.’
In St. Paul’s terminology this phrase – `there is one body’ – means there is only one True Church. Note Ephesians 5. 30, where St. Paul says of the Church and Christ,
`For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones.’
Matthew 7. 13-16 indicates the True Church is rather exclusive,
`Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits…’
Revelation 20. 12-15,
`And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works [note here that it does not say they were judged according to their faith, but they are judged according to their works], by the things written in the books…And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.’
Those who have their names written in the Book of Life are members of the True Church. Those who are cast into the lake of fire are not members of the True Church. So that’s simple enough to understand, right?
So much of my work pertains to the Roman Catholic Church. We have to determine if Rome is God’s True Church. If Rome is God’s True Church then there is no reason to ever rebel against Rome, such as by rejecting one or more of her official doctrines. You can never lose, you can never be led astray, you will never be led to hell, you will never be cast into a lake of fire, if you could just enough sense to understand that you must always obey the Roman Catholic Church, assuming of course Rome upholds the True Faith, assuming of course Rome is the Church which Christ founded on a rock – God’s True Church.
Now if Rome does not uphold the True Faith, if the Roman Catholic Church is not the Church which Christ founded on a rock, if Rome is not God’s True, if Rome is a fallen church which leads people to perdition not to heaven, then, obviously, everyone should renounce the Roman Catholic Church.
I’ll reprint most of my Shakespir bio page. It fits in with the above, plus, I seem to recall books need to be at least 10,000 words long to be published at Shakespir.
So often it helps to explain things by breaking matters down into two clear-cut options. Henry VIII either upheld the True Faith or else he didn’t. Henry VIII was either a true leader in God’s True Church at one time, or else he was never a true leader in God’s True Church. 2 options. The evils perpetrated over the centuries by people under the cross are either reflected in the cross or else they are not reflected in the cross. The cross either reflects some evil or else the cross reflects no evil. 2 options. Jesus is either God or else Jesus is not God. 2 options. Psalm 2, Isaiah 9. 6, Matthew 1. 23 (Immanuel = God with us = Jesus), Colossians 2. 8-10, John 1. 1-14 and 1 Timothy 3. 16 tell those of us who are Christians that Jesus is the Divine Son – that He is God as surely as God the Father is God.
The Koran is either trustworthy or else it is untrustworthy. The Koran is repetitious in stating that all who reject Allah will burn in hell. If you will burn in hell if you continue to reject Allah, then you don’t want to continue to reject Allah.
If the Koran is untrustworthy, if the Koran is fiction, if Islam and the Koran drag people down to perdition, if Islam is a big fraud, then every Muslim would be wise to immediately renounce Islam.
The Christian scriptures tell us there is a True Faith and a True Church. Those of us who are Christians have some choices to contemplate: the Roman Catholic Church either upholds the True Faith or else Rome does not uphold the True Faith. Rome is either God’s True Church or else Rome is not God’s True Church. If Rome is God’s True Church, if the Roman Catholic Church leads people to heaven, then everyone on earth should obey Rome. It makes no sense to risk hell by rebelling against Rome if Rome is God’s True Church.
If Rome isn’t God’s True Church, if Rome does not uphold the True Faith, if Rome leads people to perdition, then, obviously, no one should be a Roman Catholic.
These 2 options with Rome might seem rather mind-boggling and extreme, cataclysmic and shockingly contrary to the status quo, where, roughly estimated, a billion Cafeteria Catholics on earth have grown accustomed to neither obeying Rome nor renouncing Rome. Common sense tells us Rome is either good enough to qualify as God’s True Church, or else Rome is not good enough to qualify as God’s True Church. If Rome is the Church which Christ founded on a rock, then you can’t lose, you will never be shipped off to hell, and your kids will never be shipped off to hell, if all of you always obey Rome. But, on the other hand, if Rome has fallen away from the True Faith, if Rome is not God’s True Church, if Rome drags souls down to perdition…
Merely because one can find kind and generous Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists Catholics, Protestants, Mormons, Eastern Orthodox believers etc., this doesn’t prove their various doctrines are any good. Just because you can find 4 nice people, or 40 nice people, or 400 million nice people who support Religion X doesn’t prove Religion X leads people to heaven.Look at the account in Genesis of the Garden of Eden and the fall of Adam and Eve. We have to choose between two main options. The account is either trustworthy or else it is untrustworthy. Whether the account is literal history or whether it is a parable from God is somewhat irrelevant. It's central message is either trustworthy or it is untrustworthy -- it's central message is that a person will suffer anguish and lots of it if he rebels against God. So, if this message is trustworthy, and if Rome is God's True Church, then this is only more reason to never rebel against Rome. But if Rome leads people to perdition, if Rome has fallen away from the True Faith, if Rome is not the Church which Christ founded on a rock....
Romans 14. 12 tells us that everyone will eventually have to stand before the Creator of the Universe and give an account of himself / herself. John 14. 23-26 tells us that those who love Christ keep His words. Christ, in Revelation 2. 9, calls the Jews a synagogue of Satan. He didn’t mean they prayed to the devil. He meant they are heretics, and heretics are people who, unwittingly, teach false doctrines which drag souls down to perdition. Though heretics don’t mean to lead people away from heaven and to perdition, nevertheless, that’s what they do. Protestantism has no reason to exist if either Rome or Eastern Orthodoxy is God’s True Church, the Church Christ founded on a rock. But if neither Rome nor Eastern Orthodoxy uphold the True Faith, if neither is the Church Christ founded on a rock, if both drag souls down to perdition, then Protestantism has a reason to exist!
‘Rock Island’ and Chapter 1 of ‘Constitutional History of the Western World’ run through the arguments which say that every church under the sign of the cross including ever Protestant church under the sign of the cross leads people to perdition. There’s a Case 1 and a Case 2 with the cross. The sign of the cross either reflects no evil, because God exists and God says the cross is sacred and Holy, or else the sign of the cross reflects some evil. If the sign of the cross reflects no evil, then perhaps it is the seal of God which saves one from torments when this seal is placed on one’s forehead – see Revelation 9. But if the cross reflects evil, then perhaps it is the evil mark which leads one to burn in hell forever if it is found on one’s forehead or right hand – see Revelation 14. 11. So much depends on just being right and not being wrong when one determines if the cross reflects no evil or if it reflects some evil. Sacrilege is a mortal sin which leads unrepentant offenders straight to perdition. Saying that things which God says are evil are holy and sacred, or saying that things which God says are sacred and holy are evil, are examples of sacrilege. If a church tells you that the cross reflects no evil, because it is sacred to God, but if God is actually of the opinion that the cross reflects evil, and, you know, if eternal hellfire will torment all those who put the mark of a cross on their foreheads or right hands, then, that church which advised you that the cross is sacred to God is obviously not God’s True Church. Rather, it is some evil worthless fallen church which has been corrupted by satan. You see, God’s True Church, the Church which Christ founded on a rock, does not lead people to hell: it does not give people the sort of advice which will cause them to be tortured forever in eternal hellfire, you see. But false fallen churches, worthless churches which are not God’s True Church, worthless churches which drag souls down to perdition via their satanic incompetency are indeed worthless churches which drag souls down to perdition. God’s True Church can certainly make mistakes, but the key attribute of God’s True Church, the all-important distinguishing feature of the Bride of Christ, is that she always leads people to heaven, regardless of whatever mistakes she might make, and she never leads anyone to perdition.
As we’ve seen, Protestantism has no reason to exist if either the Roman Catholic Church or the Eastern Orthodox Church is God’s True Church, the Church which Christ founded on a rock, Matthew 16. 13-19. But if both of these churches have fallen away from the True Faith, if neither one is God’s True Church, if both lead people to perdition, then Protestantism has a chance of making sense. Protestants might be more receptive to my anti-crucifix logic than to my anti-cross logic – because the Protestants have a long tradition of rejecting the crucifix. As with the cross, ‘Rock Island’ and Chapter 1 of ‘Constitutional History of the Western World’ also deal with the crucifix. The Roman Catholic crucifix is an image of a Roman Catholic Jesus, that is, a Roman Catholic version of Jesus. But if the True God / True Jesus says Rome is a heretical church which drags souls down to perdition, then a Roman Catholic god, a Roman Catholic version of Jesus, who says Rome leads people to heaven is a false god, a false version of Jesus, and false gods are beastly because they pretend to lead souls to heaven but in actuality they drag souls down to perdition. If the True God / True Jesus says Rome is the True Church, then, of course, of course, it is a blasphemy to say the Roman Catholic crucifix is an image of a beastly false god – and it is blasphemy to speculate that it is the ‘image the beast’ mentioned in Revelation 13 and 14. But if the True God says Rome is a heretical church which has fallen away from the True Faith, if the True God / True Jesus say Rome is a fallen church which drags souls down perdition, then the True God would say the Roman Catholic crucifix, which is an image of a Roman Catholic God, an image of a Roman Catholic version of Jesus, is the image of a false god, the image of a false version of Jesus, and, again, false gods are beastly because they drag souls down to perdition, and so you have to make the connection between the ‘image of the beast’ and the Roman Catholic crucifix, and with the Eastern Orthodox crucifix for that matter, provided of course the Eastern Orthodox version of Jesus is a false and beastly version who drags souls down to perdition.
Rome and the Eastern Orthodox are ruled by their traditions, but then so are the Protestants. Many Muslims say it is a fine tradition to practice female circumcision / mutilation. St. Paul argued against circumcision, seeing it as one of those elements of the Mosaic Law which is not carried over into the New Law, rather as the blood sacrifice of animals for the atonement of sin, rather as the practice of shunning Gentiles while dining, rather as the execution of witches, homosexuals, rebellious children and Sabbath violators, are parts of the Law which Moses carried down from Sinai which are not carried over into the New Law. The Mosaic Law is an eternal law in the sense that it will be remembered for eternity, but parts of it are suspended, put into eternal abeyance, under the New Covenant. Ezekiel 20. 25 tells us that God gave the children of Israel bad laws because of their rebelliousness. A New Law is required to amend the flawed Old Law, the flawed Mosaic Covenant. As you might imagine, there’s a lot of disagreement among Christians as to which Christian Church or Churches uphold the New Law well enough to qualify as being part of God’s True Church. The Roman Catholics say that God says the Roman Catholic Church is God’s True Church, the Eastern Orthodox say…
If neither the Roman Catholic Church nor the Eastern Orthodox Church is part of God’s True Church, the Church which Christ founded on a rock – Matthew 16. 13-19 – if both Rome and Eastern Orthodoxy have fallen away from the True Faith / New Law, if both drag souls down to perdition, one would then naturally wonder about Protestantism. How well do the Protestants uphold the teachings of Christ and the apostles? Do they also drag souls down to perdition? The Protestant churches don’t excommunicate Sabbath violators, don’t excommunicate pro-choicers, don’t excommunicate pro gay marriage people etc. Celebrating the Eucharist in an unworthy manner is a very serious sin – 1 Corinthians 11. 27. If a pastor gives the bread and the wine to someone he ought to know is unworthy to receive the Eucharist, then he celebrates the Eucharist in an unworthy manner.
2 Thess 2 deals with the man of sin, the son of perdition. Presumably this is none other than the Antichrist mentioned in 1 John 2. 18, who is probably the beast mentioned in Revelation 19. 19. 2 Thess 2 deals with a falling away, presumably a falling away from the True Faith, and with people suffering from a strong delusion. If a church – and a church is a group of people – is convinced that it leads people to heaven, then that church will be convinced that it has no reason to change. But, if in fact that church has fallen away from the True Faith, and therefore it leads people to perdition, not to heaven, then it has a reason to change! But, unfortunately, the people in this church are too deluded to see that their church leads people to perdition. Somehow, you got to get them out of their delusion.
I’m not dogmatically asserting there will never be mercy – never be admittance into the kingdom of heaven – given to anyone in an heretical church. And merely because there might be some exceptions to the general rule that heretical sects drag souls down to perdition doesn’t mean the general rule is invalid.
Recall the economic collapse prophesied in Revelation 18. Recall also that Daniel 12. 1 prophesies a time of enormous unprecedented trouble on earth when the archangel Michael shows up to deliver the Jews. If Christianity is God’s true religion – and those of us who are Christians say it is – then it stands to reason that Michael will deliver the Jews by converting the Jews to the true version of Christianity, not to some false fallen version of Christianity which leads people to perdition. Consider 5 cataclysmic events. There are the 3 proclamations of the 3 angels mentioned in Revelation 14. 6-11. There is the economic collapse prophesied in Revelation 18. And there is the deliverance of the Jews during a time of enormous unprecedented trouble on earth, prophesied in Daniel 12.1, when the archangel Michael shows up to deliver the Jews.
In `Amanda’s War’ one of the characters changes after a traumatic incident. The theme of people changing after trauma is a big theme in Robert Altman’s `3 Women’, a rather astonishing film. Readers are left to wonder if this character in ‘Amanda’s War’ changes because of benevolent natural forces, or because of malevolent supernatural forces. The setting is the north shore of Lake Superior. I once drove up to the Canadian line in late summer. Isle Royal was a big golden rock rising out of the blue inland sea. From atop Mt. Josephine, wonderfully lush and green, you get a view of thousands of square miles of Canada. It’s a beautiful sight, one that would make any American wish that Ben Franklin, at the Treaty of Paris, demanded that the British fork over to the USA all of these beautiful and intoxicatingly fragrant pine forests that extend up to the arctic regions.
I suppose I ought to talk in this Personal Information, Bio Section about the jobs I’ve had, and whether or not I’m in a relationship, and what she’s like, and what sort of highlights she puts in her hair etc. I’d like to know how some people find the time to write, and do research, and also work full-time at a job, and find the time to have a family, and find time to stay in touch with old friends, and find time to make new friends. I got 45 hours tied up every week working and commuting. There’s lots of history and theology to study. And I like to read advanced math and physics now and then. I like those scenes in ‘My Night with Maud’ where Jean-Louis Trintignant is captivated by math books. And there’s the great Spanish film, ‘Death of a Cyclist’, where that beautiful girl is working the math problem at the board, but then the professor with the guilty conscience is rude to her, and then later she helps him to do the right thing.
Regarding economic collapse and famine and the Great Tribulation – Revelation 18 – I saw this movie called ‘The Island of the Fishmen’ where this doctor and some others are dying of thirst on a small boat at sea. Then they reach an island full of voodoo worshippers and mutant fishmen, people or creatures, who, I dare say, had yet to find the Church which Christ established on a rock. They meet a mad scientist played by Joseph Cotten – he was good in ‘Niagara’ and ‘The Third Man.’ Anyway, the doc is rescued. Some of the people the doc was with got slaughtered, but the doc hung in there and survived.
Look how tough Paul Newman had it in ‘Cool Hand Luke’ – that’s where the line ‘two men playin grab-ass spend a night in the box’ came from. Look how tough Alain Delon had it in ‘M. Klein’. He plays a Gentile who the Nazis think is a Jew, and he ends up in a concentration camp. Charlton Heston didn’t have it soft and easy when those talking apes captured him in ‘Planet of the Apes,’ or when he was kneeling on the beach and looking up at the ruin the Statue of Liberty had become. Evander Holyfield hung in there while Mike Tyson was chewing his ear off. Katniss Everdeen refused to quit when times got tough for her. Just look at all the tyranny, trauma, bloodshed, anguish, hell, hunger and heartache that hit her over the head in the 4 films in ‘The Hunger Games’ series! Despite losing her beloved pop who perished in a coal mine explosion, and a mom who checked-out and left her kids to starve, despite a tyrant and tributes and a hijacked boyfriend all trying to murder her, she hung in there and finally triumphed. Imagine how she felt in ‘Catching Fire’ – in that scene where she’s sitting on the sofa while Snow announces on TV that the tributes for the Third Quarter Quell will be reaped from the existing pool of victors – meaning Katniss has to go into the arena of death yet again, into the arena where 24 people walk in but only 1 walks out! You wouldn’t believe how much Christian symbolism there is in the 4 films and the 3 novels of the ‘The Hunger Games’ series. Like in ‘Catching Fire’ we have some words that get you thinking about Revelation 18 and the Great Tribulation. When Katniss and some other Tributes are fighting for their lives while figuring some things out on that island at the center of the big clock, Plutarch Heavensby / Philip Seymour Hoffman, pretending to be a loyal Snow minion says, ‘Spin it. Let’s see how well they tell time now.’
The Germans have produced in recent years some wonderful films dealing with conflict in the love lives of people living under totalitarian regimes – this is a huge theme in ‘The Hunger Games’ series. Look for instance at ‘The Lives of Others’ and ‘Barbara’. The 4 films in ‘The Hunger Games’ series are great masterpieces of cinematic art. They’re just not art house mode masterpieces.
I saw Claude Chabrol’s ‘The Bridesmaid’ the other day – this nice young guy chases after a beautiful but super twisted girl. As you might have guessed, she drags him down to a bad end. That’s also the theme of ‘Tread Softly Stranger’, an excellent British film from 1958. This one guy chases after a gorgeous young woman played by Diana Dors. Then he and another guy get busted for murder because of her. Talk about throwing your life away chasing after someone who will only drag you down.
I review some recent happenings at the place where I work. I tie it in with the themes of my other books.