Archive for September, 2008

Toil mastered everything…notes on historical examples of prosperity through industry

September 29, 2008
…So Rome flourished as a center of commerce and trade by the end of the sixth century, though she was to have a long struggle to win control of the Tiber Valley from her rival, the Etruscan city of Veii.

This urban life could only be supported on a basis of agriculture.  The extent of the first farmlands of the Roman people can be judged by the Ambarvalia, a sacred procession conducted by the priestly college of the Arval Brethren to bless the crops of each year.  Four of the stopping places of the procession are known, set five or six miles from the city on the roads radiating south and east. A territory, then, on the east bank of the river, some twelve miles long and about six in depth, with a bridgehead west of the river including the Janiculum and Vatican hills, this was the first countryside (rus) which fed the city of Rome.  Later it was extended to cover most of the plain of Latium.

It was not an easy land to farm.  Only after the construction of an elaborate drainage system could the soil be made dry for crops and healthy for man and animals.  At the end of the nineteenth century, archaeologists explored the amazing system of channels (cuniculi) cut in the tufa which extend over practically the whole of the Roman Campagna.  They are about five feet deep and two or three feet wide, and represent a major piece of engineering carried out under central direction and maintained by successive generations.  As the Dutch won their land from the sea by patience and toil, so did the Roman people win theirs from the marsh.

from pg. 19-20 of “The Civilization of Rome” by Donald R. Dudley, A Mentor Book published by The New American Library, New York and Toronto, Copyright 1960, 1962.

Related to that last comment on the Dutch reclaiming their land from the sea, there are some interesting web sites that talk about a ridiculous reversal of that centuries long engineering, all in the name of environmentalism.  Environmentalism in this sense is an organization of those against human management of natural resources, an organization against human industry alltogether, an organization that would have us return to a caveman like existence.  Here is an article about the Dutch being pressured to surrender their hardwon lands back to the sea in order to comply with the European Union’s environmentalist groups’ powers:

Dutch Told To Return Land They Won From The Sea (230 Years Ago)

Technology also played its part in the unification of Italy.  In 312 B.C., the censor Appius Claudius Caecus began the building of the great highway from Rome to Capua (132 miles) that still bears his name – the Via Appia. It was the first of the great Roman roads that have meant so much for the civilization of Europe.  Constructed in four layers, flags, rubble, cement, and top dressing, carefully graded, crossing rivers by bridges or paved fords, and the Pontine marshes by a viaduct, it provided an all-weather artery for the movement of men and goods between Rome and Campania.  After the war with Pyrrhus it was extended to Brundisium (234 miles).  At the same time a great northern highway, the Via Flaminia, was built from Rome to Ariminum (Rimini, 230 miles) on the Adriatic coast.  In the next century an extension from here to Placentia (176 miles) was called the Via Aemilia, and played the same part in the opening up of Cisalpine Gaul that the Canadian Pacific Railway did in that of Canada.  Other trunk roads connected Rome with the principle towns of Etruria on the northwest and Samnium to the southeast.  The modern reader may perhaps think more readily in terms of motorways than of railways.   It is a useful comparison; in particular, these roads may well be compared to the autobahn and autostrada of Germany and Italy in the 1930’s.  For, like theirs, the prime purpose of the great Roman roads in Italy was strategic – the safe and rapid movement of troops and supplies.  Later, their economic importance became dominant, though for the movement of heavy freight they could never play the same part as a modern highway.  In the ancient world, where only draft animals and pack mules were available for land haulage, heavy goods went, where possible, by sea.

from pg 40 of  “The Civilization of Rome” by Donald R. Dudley, A Mentor Book published by The New American Library, New York and Toronto, Copyright 1960, 1962.

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Notes on Ayn Rand’s book “Anthem”

September 29, 2008

Ayn Rand weaves a beautiful tapestry whose threads illuminate the concept of the sacred dignity of the individual.  This dignity should be fought for and all attempts made to place this dignity on the highest ground and make it unassailable to the debasing tyranny of the masses and their doctrines of communal living and platonic ideologies.

One might falsely interpret her writings to endorse wholesale selfishness, especially in light of her having written a tract establishing the virtues of selfishness.  However such a hasty conclusion would ignore the fact that her main characters often live with a passion to love and be loved but struggle to do so amidst the furies of a godless state or society that demands they sacrifice their souls and beings for the benefit of the intangible whole.  Her characters discover their precious egos in a world too devoid of soul mirrors to gaze into.  These self-discoveries result in her characters finding freedom from society’s imposed slaveries even if such freedom only comes at last by death (her main character end the story in “We the Living”  bleeding to death in the snow while trying to escape her communist country after being shot by a border patrol soldier who thought he saw something human-like moving in the distance).

In the end man must live for himself, but if he still has love and hope to share then the flames of charity will warm not only his own heart but the hearts of those he blesses with his love.  Then he can experience the godly gift of his true inheritance.

“Anthem” is a short story about a futuristic society where no one talks in the singular even when referring to themselves.  The story is written in the first person by Equality 7-2521 who tells us a little about himself in the beginning of the story by saying: 

Our name is Equality 7-2521, as it is written on the iron bracelet which all men wear on their left wrists with their names upon it.  We are twenty-one years old.  We are six feet tall, and this is a burden, for there are not many men who are six feet tall.  Ever have the Teachers and the Leaders pointed to us and frowned and said: “The is evil in your bones, Equality 7-2521, for your body has grown beyond the bodies of your brothers.” But we cannot change our bones nor our body.

This main character starts out living like the rest of his collective, medieval brothers.  But his assignment to a profession approaches and he resents being assigned the life-long role as street-sweeper when he really wanted to be a scholar who might question the laws of nature and make discoveries for the good of the whole community.  The rest of the story progresses from this struggle to continue his ambition to question and ponder things on his own regardless of the views of the authorities.  Although his life is highly regemented to him by his leaders, he finds a way to escape from society for a few hours a day during their mandatory entertainment hours.  He eventually discovers how close minded and backwards the scholars of his people are.  He finds a way to have a relationship with a woman even though contact with women was forbidden except once a year at the time of mating.  After being nearly beaten to death after being caught not coming to his communal home at the right hour of the evening, he escapes from prison.  He then vainly tries to impress upon the scholars of his community the valuable knowledge (he rediscovers electricity) he has learned in the ancient tunnel he found where he has been able to find daily solitude by slipping away from the mandatory entertainment (public theatre).  They aren’t impressed by his showing them a lightbulb light up (such a discovery might put their candle makers out of business) and reprimand him for his original thinking.  He quickly runs away into the forest on the outskirts of town where no one has gone and returned from.  His woman friend follows him into the forest and they survive together in the wilderness.

Like “We the Living”, Ayn Rand develops her story to a point where one or more of the main characters deliver profound speeches or is portrayed in such a manner as to teach us concerning the dangers and failings of communist societies and the necessity for man to preserve his dignity in living and thinking for himself and thereby deciding his own destiny.   Ayn also emphasizes through one such speech how important the autonomy of the family unit is in preserving the dignity of the individual.

Excerpt demonstrating how the “we” in its negative connotations doesn’t apply to the sacred bond of man and woman in establishing a family:

It was on our second day in the forest that we heard steps behind us.  We hid in the bushes, and we waited.  The steps came closer.  And then we saw the fold of a white tunic among the trees, and a gleam of gold. 

We leapt forward, we ran to them, and we stood looking upon the Golden One.

They saw us, and their hands closed into fists, and the fists pulled their arms down, as if they wished their arms to hold them, while their body swayed.  And they could not speak.

We dared not come too close to them. We asked, and our voice trembled:

“How come you to be here, Golden One?”

But they whispered only:

“We have found you…”

“How come you to be in the forest?  we asked.

They raised their head, and there was a great pride in their voice; they answered:

“We have followed you.”

Then we could not speak, and they said:

“We heard that you had gone to the Uncharted Forest, for the whole City is speaking of it. So on the night of the day when we heard it, we ran away from the Home of the Peasants. We found the marks of your feet across the plain where no men walk.  So we followed them, and we went into the forest, and we followed the path where the branches were broken by your body.”

Their white tunic was torn, and the branches had cut the skin of their arms, but they spoke as if they had never taken notice of it, nor of weariness, nor of fear.

“We have followed you,” they said, “and we shall follow you whereever you go.  If danger threatens you, we shall face it also. If it be death, we shall die with you.  You are damned and we wish to share your damnation.”

They looked upon us, and their voice was low, but there was bitterness and triumph in their voice.

“Your eyes are as a flame, but our brothers have neither hope nor fire.  Your mouth is cut of granite, but our brothers are soft and humble.  Your head is high, but our brothers cringe.  You walk, but our brothers crawl.  We wish to be damned with you, rather than blessed with all our brothers.  Do as you please with us, but do not send us away from you.”

Then they knelt and bowed their golden head before us.

We had never thought of that which we did.  We bent to raise the Golden One to their feet, but when we touched them, it was as if madness had stricken us. We seized their body and we pressed our lips to theirs. The Golden One breathed once, and their breath was a moan, and then their arms closed around us.

We stood together for a long time.  And we were frightened that we had lived for twenty-one years and had never known what joy is possible to men.

Then we said:

“Our dearest one.  Fear nothing of the forest.  There is no danger in solitude.  We have no need of our brothers.  Let us forget their good and our evil,  let us forget all things save that we are together and that there is joy as a bond between us.  Give us your hand.  Look ahead.  It is our own world, Golden One, a strange unknown world, but our own.”

Then we walked on into the forest, their hand in ours.

And that night we knew that to hold the body of women in our arms is neither ugly nor shameful, but the one ectasy granted to the race of men.

excerpt serving as a Creed of individualism: (this is sheer poetry)

I shall choose my friends among men, but neither slaves nor masters.  And I shall chose only such as please me, and them I shall love and respect, but neither command nor obey.  And we shall join our hands when we wish, or walk alone when we so desire.  For in the temple of his spirit, each man is alone.  Let each man keep his temple untouched and undefiled.  Then let him join hands with others if he wishes, but only beyond his holy threshold. 

For the word “We” must never be spoken, save by one’s choice and as a second thought.  This word must never be placed first within man’s soul, else it becomes a monster, the root of all the evils on earth, the root of man’s torture by men, and of an unspeakable lie. 

The word “We” is as lime poured over men, which sets and hardens to stone, and crushes all beneath it, and that which is white and that which is black are lost equally in the grey of it. It is the word by which the depraved steal the virtue of the good, by which the weak steal the might of the strong, by which the fools steal the wisdom of the sages.

What is my joy if all hands, even the unclean, can reach into it?  What is my wisdom, if even the fools can dictate to me?  What is my freedom, if all creatures, even the botched and the impotent, are my masters?  What is my life, if I am but to bow, to agree and to obey?

But I am done with this creed of corruption.

I am done with the monster of “We,” the word of serfdom, of plunder, of misery, falsehood and shame.

And now I see the face of god, and I raise this god over the earth, this god whom men have sought since men came into being, this god who will grant them joy and peace and pride.

This god, this one word:

“I.”

an excerpt that demonstrates the inevitable fall of mankind when they embrace socialism and communism:

…I look upon the history of men, which I have learned from the books, and I wonder.  It was a long story, and the spirit which moved it was the spirit of man’s freedom. But what is freedom?  Freedom from what?  There is nothing to take a man’s freedom away from him, save other men.  To be free, a man must be free of his brothers.  That is freedom.  This and nothing else. 

At first, man was enslaved by the gods.  But he broke their chains.  Then he was enslaved by the kings.  But he broke their chains.  He was enslaved by his birth, by his kin, by his race.  But he broke their chains.  He declared to all his brothers that a man has rights which neither god nor king nor other men can take away from him, no matter what their number, for his is the right of man, and there is no right on earth above this right.  And he stood on the threshold of the freedom for which the blood of centuries behind him had been spilled.

But then he gave up all he had won, and fell lower than his savage beginning.

What brought it to pass?  What disaster took their reason away from men?  What whip lashed them to their knees in shame and submission?  The worship of the word “We.”

When men accepted that worship, the structure of centuries collapsed about them, the structure whose every beam had come from the thought of some one man, each in his day down the ages, from the depth of some one spirit, such spirit as existed but for its own sake.  Those men who survived — those eager to obey, eager to live for one another, since they had nothing else to vindicate them — those men could neither carry on, nor preserve what they had received.  Thus did all thought, all science,  all wisdom perish on earth.  Thus did men — men with nothing to offer save their great number — lose the steel towers, the flying ships, the power wires, all the things they had not created and could never keep.

Succinct Bumper Stickers I Enjoy Reading

September 29, 2008

Here are some bumper stickers I’ve either seen or heard about that I like:

IT’S NOT A CHOICE,
IT’S A CHILD.
TED KENNEDY’S CAR HAS KILLED
MORE PEOPLE THAN MY GUN.

Here’s one I’d like to have custom made that I thought up this last Sunday:

ROME HAD 
BREAD AND CIRCUSES, 
SO DOES OBAMA.

While I still have hope in America rediscovering its Republican roots and restoring the glory of the original U.S. Constitution and the pre 1895 virtues of its jury system, I do sympathize with the anti-governmental sentiments of some who feel oppressed under our currently over-socialized, over-regulating, pork-barrel degraded form of government that our Founding Fathers would have been appalled to see.  Our current government is too ripe for the plucking by those like presidential candidate Obama who would further weaken our former greatness with their socialist ambitions and demagoguery.  

Here’s an interesting website that expresses such anti-governmental sentiment in terms of repulsion at the “bread and circuses” style of politics so present today:
Bread and Circuses by Mike Wasdin

The Secret Ambition of Every Imperfect Government

September 29, 2008

It is the secret ambition of every imperfect government to make all things private public and all things sacred profane.  In order to prevent such abuse and work towards retaining such individual, private rights it is in the best interest of the public to keep such governments chained by a sound constitution and enlightened under the brightest spotlights of scrutiny.

Variety is the Spice of Life: Quote from Aristophane’s Ecclesiazusae

September 29, 2008

I’m not sure which translation of Aristophane’s he quoted from, but I like the following quote that appears in “Sailing the Wine Dark Sea, Why the Greeks Matter” by Thomas Cahill that I heard on the drive home from work last week while re-listening to his book on tape (excellent book on Greek history and culture, although I wouldn’t recommend it for younger audiences due to the use of some vulgar language, e.g. the “F” word scattered throughout the book):

women’s chorus:

…You’ll come up with something brand new 
if you’re hoping to launch a real winner.  

The banqueters won’t fail to boo
if you dare serve them yesterday’s dinner.

However if you take the advice of William James in his essay on Attention in Chapter 11 of his Talks to Teachers, it is perhaps wiser to serve your intellectual dishes not dressed as completely new meals but as somewhat familiar yet intriguingly fresh morsels to the palate of the mind:

…And the maximum of attention may then be said to be found whenever we have a systematic harmony or unification between the novel and the old. It is an odd circumstance that neither the old nor the new, by itself, is interesting; the absolutely old is insipid; the absolutely new makes no appeal at all.  The old in the rim, is what claims attention,  — the old with a slightly new turn.  No one wants to hear a lecture on a subject completely disconnected with his previous knowledge, but we all like lectures on subjects of which we know a little already, just as, in the fashions, every year must bring its slight modfication of last year’s suit, but an abrupt jump from the fashion of one decade to another would be distasteful to the eye…

The Grinch who stole Easter, or How Muhammad the antichrist deprives his followers of the greatest Hope

September 27, 2008

One of the saddest aspects of the Qur’an and its false teachings is the dismissal of Christ, His Divinity as God’s son, His crucifixion,  and His resurrection and victory over Death and Hell.  The whole Easter story is thrown out and discarded into the trash heap by Muhammad and his revelations from the dark side.  Hear these verses from the Qur’an that reduce Christ to the role of Elijah:

Surah IV 157-158:

157. And their saying: Surely we have killed the Messiah, Isa son of Marium, the apostle of Allah; and they did not kill him nor did they crucify him, but it appeared to them so (like Isa) and most surely those who differ therein are only in a doubt about it; they have no knowledge respecting it, but only follow a conjecture, and they killed him not for sure.

158.  Nay! Allah took him up to Himself; and Allah is Mighty, Wise.

Surah IV – 171:

171. O followers of the Book! do not exceed the limits in your religion, and do not speak (lies) against Allah, but (speak) the truth; the Messiah, Isa son of Marium is only an apostle of Allah and His word which He communicated to Marium and a spirit from Him; believe therefore in Allah and His apostles, and say not, Three. Desist, it is better for you; Allah is only one God; far be it from  His glory that He should have a son; whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth is His; and Allah is sufficient for a Protector.

Insatiable Appetites for Endless Variety (IAEV)

September 27, 2008

 

Mankind has always been obsessed with variations on a theme. Whether that theme is music, cars, fruit, butterflies, or plants, people constantly strive to compose, produce, plant, harvest, provide and catalogue endless variations on that theme.

Sometimes it is the work of individuals that enriches the world and their posterity with new selections of things to use or contemplate upon.  Mozart for instance took a French tune  ‘Ah, vous dirai – je Maman’ and produced twelve variations on it (K. 300e (K.265)). Jules Verne rattled off countless oceanic species in his “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”. Other times it is groups of individuals that provide us with new flavors to savor.  Baskin-Robbins ice cream stores adopted the title “31 flavors” to mean that they would provide a different flavor for each day of the month (they’ve since produced over 1000 different flavors of ice cream!). 

Note: I use the male pronoun throughout my writing in the traditional sense of the word (the pronoun “he” often was used to mean “some person” regardless of gender before the Equal Rights Amendment ERA came to the forefront of history — abusing the word “equal rights” in much the same way as proponents of gay rights do today) since I grew up in the time right before the feminists insisted that we confuse everybody by sometimes changing the convention of pronoun gender (based on our Germanic language roots) to some mishmash of he-shes or she-hes or she-shes instead of the traditional he-hes which is more in line with the sound that I make to myself when I laugh at the nonsense of the feminists who forget that in our English language’s Germanic roots the word “man” often meant “one” or “person”, i.e. either sex.  And no, I’m not some chauvenist pig – I’m very grateful to have a loving wife who I hopefully respect as my equal. And I rather enjoyed Dan Brown’s reference to the sacred feminine and the masonic traditions embodied in Mozart’s Magic Flute in which it is sung “Mann und Frau, Frau und Mann, reisen an die Gottheit an…” (Husband and wife, Wife and husband approach godhood [by reason of their marriage]).

The consumer as well has encouraged the trend towards more selection.  John Naisbitt wrote in his popular 1982 book “Megatrends, Ten New Directions Transforming Our Lives” how consumers in free market economies had witnessed a marvelous growth since the end of WWII in not only the number of consumable market niches, but in the selections available within those niches. As soon as technology caught up with mankind’s aspirations for variety, man was no longer slave to his own production lines and the uniformity of interchangeable parts that had fueled the initial industrial revolution.  Man had discovered that he could continue to produce such uniform and interchangeable parts but assemble them in customizable ways using more flexible, adaptable production lines that responded to customer feedback more like a living organism responds to its environment through the mechanisms of homeostasis.

On a finer level of granularity, mankind  has made much progress in the last century in the realm of chemistry and synthesizing compounds.  The constituent identities and proportions of aromatic compounds of flavors and fragrances in nature have been discovered via gas chromatography and spectroscopy.  Artificially synthesized versions of these constituent flavor compounds have been mass produced.  The efforts of countless man hours and persistant dedication on the parts of scientists, lab technicians, manufacturers, etc. led to an end product in the 1980’s:  the miraculous Scratch N’ Sniff stickers!  I still remember scratching and smelling a few — they had ones that smelled a little like pizza, one that smelled like peppermint, ones that smelled fruity, and others that were designed to smell yucky (e.g. skunk).

As hunger is most apparent in the midst of a famine, so is the appetite of man for variety most apparent when faced with a depravity of selection. A notable example was demonstrated by the East Germans after the Berlin Wall was erected.  They, like most people’s enslaved under the Soviet Union’s communist rule, had little variety when it came to consumer consumption of goods and services. For instance, tropical fruits like bananas were very uncommon and often had to be obtained from visitors from the west.

Yet this hunger for variety is insatiable.  One only has to remember the frenzied sharing of digitally copied music during the early days of such file-sharing services such as Napster to appreciate how strong a desire many had to greatly expand their selections of music overnight.  Others were overjoyed at the digital revolution of being able to consolidate their records into libraries that could be stored much more compactly via computer storage media.  While our parents may have owned 25-50 LP vinyl records that were about the diameter of a frisbee but still thin like modern cd’s, today many households easily own hundreds of compact discs that often hold more music than their bulkier predecessors.  Compact discs may give way to flash drives and portable hand held hard drives that can hold the equivalent of hundreds if not thousands of compact discs.  The turn of this century saw the launch of Macintosh’s ipod product line of portable and independently browsable flash and hard drives tailored to allow the independent playback and browsing of music, picture and video files as well as the storage and transfer of binary data to and from computers.  Macintosh also marketed the concept of selling music online on a per song rather than a per album basis at the reasonable price of just under $1 for most songs. Napster file sharing had already been shut down under the pressure of recording artist companies that complained that they were losing out on big profits when people were sharing music for free. Now that the cheap ipods are under $100, my wife and I bought one for ourselves — although we have over 4GB of music stored in our computer’s library, the 1GB of music you can download to the cheap ipod shuffle or nano’s is enough music to last you at least 8 hours.  And buying those $15 prepaid music download cards at Walmart can be addicting (my wife still teases me about how I tend to hog the songs on each card we buy).  I have to remind myself that I’ve already bought one card this month and can wait till at least next month (I mean, do I really need another handful of songs on top of the hundreds we already have?  Yes, but it’s a yes that can wait for discretionary money to be available.)   There’s also music provider websites such as mp3.com (a guy at work suggested it as a good site for cheap music), although I haven’t tried their site yet (I couldn’t find the classical music genre listed on their home page) and there are rumors that they may have ties with the Russian Mafia (but hey if their music is cheaper why not? — you’re probably paying the devil for your music regardless of from what source you purchase it from!).  The best suggestion I have regarding these new devices I got from reading the paper in some article discussing how ipods were alienating people from each other (a father discussed how his daughter would plug in her ipod earphones and not talk to him anymore on their trips in the car).  The suggestion is to use these devices as a tool for sharing your music with the ones you love — i.e. plug your ipod into the radio so that everyone in the car can share the same music.  While my wife’s music tastes are a little bit different than mine, I’ve grown to appreciate her tastes more and feel less alienated than I might if I shut out her music from my life.  It reminds me of college — I had a roommate who loved country music and I had grown up hating it.  Well after living in a small dorm room together with him for a year and even going out on double dates with him to go country dancing (I still can’t dance worth beans), I began to appreciate this genre of music a little more.  I don’t flip the channel to country as often as I do to classical, jazz and light rock stations, but I’m not as hesitant as I might have been if I hadn’t had this roommate in college.

How can one comprehend or even manage seemingly infinite variety present in the world?  One way is through use of hierarchial models. Large hierarchial models are used in the classifications of the plant and animal worlds of biology.  One fascinating way to visualize such large hierarchies of data was given in a paper entitled “Cheops: A Compact Explorer For Complex Hierarchies” by Luc Beaudoin, Marc-Antoine Parent, Louis C. Vroomen. I tried their Cheops Lite program (no longer available?) and was thrilled to see how one can navigate a very large hierarchy from one screen via their idea of recycled, tesselated, overlapping child nodes. I searched the web for animal hierarchies and found many sites on biology and scientific classifications.  I ran across one site that showed all the butterflies of Utah – an astounding variety!

Where does this insatiable appetite for endless variety come from?  I must admit I’m a little bit old fashioned and share the views of William Paley who wrote in 1802 the book “Natural Theology” in which he describes God as a designer who loved and harnessed the variety in life in tailoring this world to our needs.  So it is from God that we get this insatiable appetite from (like father like son or daughter).  As C.S. Lewis implied, it is this same insatiable appetite that will drive us to become either more godlike or more devilish in nature.

Man isn’t the only creature to love variety either.  As David Rothenberg states on pg. 39 of the 2005 paperback edition of his book “Why Birds Sing”: “In England it was determined that sedge warblers who sing many different kinds of songs mate earlier than those with a more limited repertoire.  The females then prefer males that know a lot of tunes; they approve of diversity. Female canaries are more excited into building nests when they hear a large repertoire than a small one…”.  Rothenberg also demonstrated how birds appreciate the diversity of other species by going into the details of the ritual mating song of the Albert’s Lyrebird of Australia on pg. 31-32 of the same book: “…Then he begins a series of flawless imitations of many of the other birds that share his home – satin bowerbirds, rosella parrots, yellow honeyeaters, kookaburras.”

When Does Life Begin? – The Bible’s Clear Answer

September 27, 2008
41 And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:

  42 And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.
      •  •  •
  44 For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.

Luke 1:41-44 (King James Translation)

Really the question is when does sentient mortal life begin?  To those that regard the soul of man as nothing more than an attunement of physical elements into a sentient organization as did Simmias in Plato’s “Phaedo”, the answer can be given simply as an elapsed gestational time.  To those who regard the soul as something that lives before and after the body as did Socrates, the answer is beyond mortal definition, for man doesn’t know when the soul enters the body.  From the scripture above, we know that John the Baptist’s soul had posession of his body while still in the womb.

Some Christians dispute the existence of premortal spirits, similar to the degenerate faith of some of the Jews of Christ’s time who didn’t believe in a concrete resurrection.  The bible again gives an answer with respect to premortal existence:

Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.

Jeremiah 1:5 (King James Translation)

There is a famous painting whose name I wish I could remember that a german once showed me and told me how it had originally had angels painted behind a veil, the angels having been later doctored by subsequent artists to disappear.  This painting by early Christians demonstrates early Christian belief in premortal life.  However with the apostacy and the fall of the church from the truth to the error and darkness of the middle ages these beliefs were repressed.

To all mankind however, the words of Jeremiah should be heeded.  Although written as a warning to an ancient Israel that had fallen into idolatry and the awful practices of some carnal religions, it still rings as true in our day.  The following verse could be directed at those who take abortion lightly:

34 Also in thy skirts is found the blood of the souls of the poor innocents: I have not found it by secret search, but upon all these.

Jeremiah 2:34 (King James Version)

Many woman in our day consider it their choice to abort the unborn child, as if it were an unwanted growth, like a third breast that had sprouted on their chest due to unfortunate circumstances.  They claim that it is their body, to do with as they please.  They fail to acknowledge the fact that life once conceived is no longer a choice, and choosing to terminate a life that has begun is a serious thing indeed.  Some say, what about rape or incest?  I say, that is what makes these acts so detestable, because they take away the woman’s choice.  Only when the woman’s life is at risk should abortion even be considered.  Let those that lament being victim’s of boyfriend’s folly’s remind themselves that either they mustn’t shirk responsibility for their own bodies, or must hold accountable those that violate their trust.

What does Legal Recognition Afford?

September 2, 2008

In current debates over civil rights issues such as abortion, gay marriage, animal rights, etc. the whole concept of what legal recognition implies and the underlying ramifications of such legal recognition is often swept under the proverbial rug.  The various advocates clamor for tolerance, rights and personal choice, but often fail to mention the widespread effects that any change to the legal framework can have.  They may not want the public to be aware of just what legal recognition affords.  In summary legal recognition affords at least the following:

  1. legal protection of various assumed rights granted by the legal recognition
  2. prospective public funding and public education supporting such legal recognition
  3. legal status and recognition engendering new traditions and social acceptance of certain behaviors
  4. new protocol entailing new domestic and foreign policy at the various levels of government affected by the legal recognition.

Thus civil rights issues have inevitable consequences and costs to the public as well as to the individual that activists often fail to mention.  For example, if Fido had been granted the same status of a U.S. citizen and had been dognapped and eaten by some hungry Chinese family while his owner visited the Beijing olympics, would this have been cause for international incident?  It sounds ridiculous but is not too far-fetched if one assumes the legal ramifications.  Likewise if a husband abandoned his wife for another man, are the courts to grant a new civil union of the former husband with his new gay lover the same rights to child custody as the traditional family union?  If gay marriage is recognized wouldn’t it follow that tax money would go towards public education, teaching our children about the viability of alternative lifestyles?  Would transgender operations come under the scope of federal public health funding much like planned parenthood and abortion clinics?

Clearly legal recognition affords much more than some civil rights advocates would like to admit.  It requires much more scrutiny and jealous defense of the rights of citizens that could be affected by the legal ramifications of any such changes to the legal framework.  Clearly it is not simply a matter of tolerance and understanding of others.  It is a matter of maintaining the very integrity of the existing legal and moral framework under which we live.