Thursday, May 24, 2007

Societal Collapse

I just finished the recent book by Susan Wise Bauer entitled The History of the Ancient World. It's a very good read and puts in one volume an compact overview of ancient history up till the time of the Roman emperor Constantine. Ancient history is fascinating for me. I could hardly put the book down.

I did notice that toward the beginning of the book, the chapters tend to be shorter. That's mostly because the further back in time one goes there is less and less that is known for sure.

I must say, after reading about the Roman Empire and how its emperors actually operated, for the Church to have cozied up with Constantine seems even more appalling to me than it did before.

Formula for Societal Collapse
After studying Susan Wise Bauer's book on ancient history, it wasn't too hard for me to come up with a formula for societal collapse:

B × ( D + I + C ) = Societal Collapse Metric

  • B = Breakdown of internal civil order, lawlessness, etc.
  • D = Disease, pestilence
  • I = Massive and unstoppable infiltration by outside invaders
  • C = Climate disruptions, often producing famines

Now lets tally this up for the U.S.:

  • B…increasing internal dissension, laws not enforced…check
  • D…increasing number of drug resistant diseases…check
  • I…unstoppable mass migration from Mexico…check
  • C…Climate change, long drought in Western U.S.…check

I guess it all tallies up. Of course, societal collapse doesn't happen overnight. But Rome wasn't destroyed in a day either.

So please continue with your usual shopping plans.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Virgins' Day

Today was Mother's Day. About a half-hour before church, we went over to Starbucks for some liquid wake-up. On Ms. Moonbone's cup, the following was printed:
The Way I See It #225

People don't read enough. And what reading we do is cursory, without absorbing the subtleties and nuances that lie deep within—Wow, you've stopped paying attention, haven't you? People can't even read a coffee cup without drifting off.

—David Shore, Creator and executive producer of the television drama House.
This is very funny for being self-referential. But who has time to read the stuff printed on the cups at Starbucks? We're too busy blogging, writing witticisms that nobody reads.

As I said, today was Mother's Day, and of course the entire service at church was a big whoop-dee-doo for all the mothers. There was a big tent set up outside where chocolate was being served, along with other treats. After the service, the moms filed out first to go to the tent to commiserate with one another.

Now Mother's Day is one of those funny American cultural traditions which are accepted without any question. According to The Fount of All Knowledge, the Wikipedia, Mother's Day was originally imported from England by social activist Julia Ward Howe, after the Civil War. Yes, she was the Unitarian lady who wrote the jingoistic "Battle Hymn of the Republic", but who later decided to promote pacifism and women's suffrage. However it came about, Mother's Day is here; and its perpetuation also serves the interests of various merchants by way of drumming up more sales of flowers, cards, candy, and whatnot.

And it's completely infiltrated the churches; there's no escaping it. Every church I've ever been in always has Mother's Day. Furthermore, there's absolutely no way that anyone would dare criticize this. To do so would be viewed as something so odious, so horribly unspeakable, that it would be regarded on the same level with pulling out a gun and shooting one's own mother. Yet I can't help but wonder how those women in church who don't have children must feel about it. Judging by all appearances this morning, they seem to be a tiny minority. I guess they have learned to demurely bear with the festivities and to be patient. There's nothing to stop them from sneaking into line for the chocolate. Who's going to check?

But there is something I've always wondered: why isn't there a Virgins' Day? Now if I were to ask out loud at church a question like this, I am sure a strange silence would fall over the room and people would stare at me. But why not a Virgins' Day? Long ago, virginity was considered a good quality to have. It was a state that once was held in high esteem by the Church. Having a Virgins' Day at church would be a public reaffirmation of the value of virginity, as well as the virtuousness of continence and purity. But, sadly, when we consider how much the evangelical church has compromised with the larger American culture, the answer is obvious: there are just not that many virgins.

Try to imagine a Virgins' Day, when the pastor asks all the virgins in church to stand up to be applauded and to receive some token of honor.

Okay, let's just drop the subject.