Sunday, December 04, 2011

Printed in China

My wife recently bought for herself an ESV version of the Bible, published by Crossway, headquartered in Wheaton, Illinois. In the colophon, near the bottom it says "printed in China."

Somewhere there is something ironic about this. The communist government of the People's Republic of China has had a long history of persecuting and harassing xtians with various degrees of harshness. But now we Americans have our Bibles printed in China and shipped to us. Was it cheaper for Crossway to have the Bibles printed in China than either here or elsewhere? Also, I wonder if the Chinese who worked in the printshop are allowed to purchase Bibles in their own language?

Is any of this good news? I wonder if progress has been made now that Americans no longer prints their own Bibles. It does look like an odd reversal of roles but maybe not. Given how heathenish and degenerate our country has become, perhaps the Chinese should send missionaries here as well.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Funeral in Genesee

On top of a rounded hill sprinkled with trees which overlooked the small town, the man they buried that day, name Joseph Schooler, came from a family that had farmed the land there near Genesee for years and years. The wooden casket lay on a bier positioned next to the grave. The casket itself had heads of wheat carved into the light brown wood, a beautiful touch of artwork. Short's Funeral Home in nearby Moscow, Idaho, had supervised the arrangements for the family. The wheat wood carving fit the occasion because Joe (as Joseph was known) had lived and worked most of his life in this small town, which lies 13 miles south of Moscow in the wheat growing region known as the Palouse. The nearby rolling country was covered, nearly every square inch planted that summer, with wheat ripening beneath the cleary sunny sky. In the last few years of his long life, after his wife died, Joe had stayed with a daughter further north in the larger city of Hayden, Idaho.

Many of the gravestones had the name of Schooler inscribed into them, all relatives of Joe, for the family had a long history here, mostly now unknown to the world. Other gravestones there atop that hill had dates inscribed in them which takes one as far back as the Civil War days, people who were born in the early 1800s. An honor guard from the Genesee chapter of the American Legion came to conduct the funeral rituals. There was no church minister, which was Joe's request, although the Legionaire who spoke and led the brief prayer could just as well had been a minister for he spoke with a clear and firm voice regarding God and the last things common to all men.

During World War II, as a young soldier, Joe had been a pilot who flew a variety of aircraft, including bombers, for the Army Air Corps. During the funeral, there in the Genesee City Cemetery next to Becker Road about a mile southeast of the town , the Legionaires had arranged for a vintage B-17 to fly over the hill during the funeral. This was their salute to Joe, who it was said had loved flying. The funeral was short; they gave Joe a salute, a squad of riflemen firing three volleys; they played taps. We then left to go to the Genesee Community Center for a brief lunch with Joe's relatives and friends before returning home.

In Genesee, the grain silos make their stand and pierce the blue sky as they had for many years. This place was as American as America can ever get. —2011 Aug 1

Friday, August 19, 2011

Secular CityVille

By now everyone has heard of Zynga's social network games, which you can easily find as Facebook applications. Facebook constantly advertises them and they are nearly unavoidable. You have FarmVille, FrontierVille, CityVille, and dozens of other games that you can play inside your browser when you are logged onto Facebook, provided your web browser can run the Adobe Flash Player at a reasonable speed. For a time, I played FrontierVille, having managed to build up for myself a nice little homestead out in the electronic frontier, which had what I thought was a lovely orchard of fruit trees. A short distance away from it on the other side of my homestead, I placed a small cemetery and flower garden. And I recollect having a doctor's office, and land office, several other buildings, and a corral where I kept my livestock. I liked growing mint and harvesting the crops from my orchards.

Zynga also likes to throw game "projects" your way, which have some kind of reward if they're successfully completed. Unfortunately, Zynga rained so many of these projects down on me in FronterVille that it became tiresome trying to keep up with them all. Besides this, FrontierVille could be on the buggy side, where things didn't always work correctly or exhibited quirky behavior. After a time, I called it quits and shut down my little homestead and pulled up stakes, so to speak, and moved to Zynga's CityVille. I really don't have time to keep up with more than one game.

I consider CityVille adorably cute. I am forgiveably proud of how over time I have laid out the little town that I created, which now has a population of a little over 6000 virtual souls. The place has a post office, a large city hall, two schools, a factory, a pub, a museum, a library, other "community" buildings, a small farm where crops are grown, a colorful mall, restaurants, and many other places to go shopping. Recently, I managed to expand to the other side of the river after having built a bridge. On that side, there is a sandy beach which I have big plans for. And I have put in on the "north" side of town what can be called an big amusement park. As I recall, my town has reached level 47, mediocre as far as towns go within CityVille. You should see some of my neighbors' sprawling megapolises. Now if the virtual souls enjoy anything while living there in my virtual city, they very much love to go shopping. When I deliver the "goods" to my various virtual stores, the inhabitants will begin all at once to troop out of their little houses, perambulating up and down the streets and sidewalks, and finding their way to the stores so as to spend their virtual incomes. And also I collect the rent from the virtual houses they live in, the virtual funds being spent expanding and furbishing the town. It's all a curious sight to behold. Some of inhabitants even stroll along with baby carriages as if they had families, and some even ride motor scooters up and down the streets. It's a bustling little town, and some of the animation is genuinely amusing.

However, I do have one complaint. Zynga allows you to build a imaginative array of very cute virtual buildings. But there's one thing glaring for its absence. In CityVille, Zynga allows no churches. That's right. You can't build a church in your little town, let alone a sprawling megachurch campus with an enormous parking lot. You can have anything else, but no churches. Nor you can have cathedrals, nor synagogues, nor mosques, nor zoroastrian shrines, nor buddhist temples. You can't even have a Masonic Lodge, or a sweat lodge, as far as I can tell. I guess Zynga's virtual universe allows only for the purest, most unadulterated atheism imaginable, as if the virtual people inhabiting my town had no virtual souls as they live on in their Godless Zynga universe. Can we call this Virtual Existentialism? Or Zyngaism? Even though Gene Roddenberry's Star Trekian universe was relentless for it humanist outlook, at least the Klingons there were allowed to have their sanguinary quasi-shamanistic paganism, and the Vulcans their New-Agey, matriarchal, somewhat cornball spirituality. And in George Lucas's galaxy, long ago and far far away, the coldly impersonal and dualistic Force is always with you, in a way that somehow manages to be both good and evil, darkness and light. But in Zynga's virtual world, everybody is a hardcore secularist and any sign of religion is strictly verboten, or so I would guess.

[Update, 2011 Sep 05] Later on, after what I wrote above, Zynga came out with a new game called "SunnyTown," which is similar to CityVille in several ways. However, my wife has pointed out to me that in SunnyTown you are allowed to build churches. I wonder if someone at Zynga has been reading Lunar Ossuary for hints. I hope they will extend the same feature to CityVille.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Lost Postcard

While making a trip to Starbucks the other day, I found a postcard lying in the parking lot. The front of the postcard had a reproduction of a very old, grainy, black and white photograph. In it there are three women wearing long ruffled dresses and enormous hats repleted with what looks like flowers or feathers. They are standing on what appears to be a train station platform, for rails stretch in the background. To the right of the ladies, a man dressed in a derby hat, a suit, and sporting a thin, disheveled tie, leans on a umbrella. His hat shades his eyes as he gazes at the camera. Behind two of the ladies, is another man whose face cannot be distinguished.
On the bottom of the photograph a caption says "Vollie Fox and Ernest Hemmingway Up in Michigan". The back of the card remains blank as no one wrote in an address or message. But another caption appears saying "Vollie Fox, owner of the Red Fox Inn, three unidentified women, and Ernest Hemingway c. 1918. Vollie taught Ernest to fish on Horton Bay in 1909." I guess the man behind the women must be Vollie Fox, and Hemingway must be the person leaning on the umbrella.

Horton bay is on Lake Charlevoix near the northern tip of the lower half of Michigan. Hemingway committed suicide at his home in Ketchum, Idaho, in 1961. This lost postcard connects itself to a member of the Lost Generation.

If someone out there values this lost postcard, please contact me. Any reward money will be cheerfully accepted.