Oh I Didn’t Mean You…

More and more I’m of the opinion that most people don’t know why they do the things they do. Perhaps the writers of Rogue One weren’t even aware they shifted the context of the entire Star Wars universe. I mean: Do hipsters know that they started wearing long beards after several years of watching Muslim rebels on the news? Are old tabletop gamers (grognards) aware that the resurgence of tabletop RPGs is because of the insurgence of hipsters who are essentially mocking bourgeois American standards? That goes for all of comics, sci-fi, and fantasy media. It’s a way to say, “Screw you, your work-a-day job, and your football, Dad!” without going homo.

 

More Like Vogue One

Rogue One spoilers ahead.

Up until this past weekend I strenuously resisted the new Star Wars movies, but one of my friends insisted–multiple times–that I see “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” so that I could witness the Darth Vader scene at the end. Before the age of 10, I’d changed my favorite character allegiance from Luke–the obvious hero–to Vader. As far as I know, my mother’s phone still plays the Imperial March when I call her. It was obvious to even my young mind that Vader was in control of himself in a way that no one else in the movies is; except Yoda and Kenobi. And they don’t fight much so where is the fun in them?

Yes, Vader is cruel, but he is disciplined and religious. That’s one of the plot holes in the original series: While we are told Vader is ruled by hate and that hate leads to emotional impetuousness and thus to the Dark Side, we never see Vader lose his cool and lash out. They tried to correct that plot hole in the prequels. Young Anakin is shown as rash and emotional. But it didn’t work. That kid wasn’t Vader.

Rogue One attempts to explain another (supposed) plot hole of the original three films: How did it come to be that the Death Star could be blown up by one torpedo from one small spacecraft? Isn’t that a terrible design for a space station? The old answer was the simple recognition that the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.

The new answer is that a crucial engineer of the Death Star sabotaged his own design so that fifteen years later the rebels could defeat an enormous planet-destroying battle station–which was littered with anti-spacecraft weapons, supported by multiple Star Destroyers, and guarded by hundreds (thousands?) of fighters–and that it worked. Talk about your best laid plans!

My problem with Rogue One is deeper. They fundamentally changed the Star Wars world. Unlike the 1-3 prequels, Rogue One looks and sounds like Star Wars, but the context is wildly different. In films 4-6 the Rebels are openly rebellious, and so they are constantly on the run from the Empire. The Empire knows who they are, and more importantly, the Rebels know who they are themselves. It’s a rebellion with at least a sense of honor. They are overtly–superversively even–against the Empire. Though outmatched they skirmish, flee, and hide only to skirmish again one day. They take small victories where they can, and wait for the time when circumstances are on their side. Whole planets, as separate sovereign entities, chose to ally and rebel against the Empire. They have their own defense contractors, their own academies, and so forth. In short: It’s the medieval pattern of how nobles rebelled against kings and emperors. Such rebellions happen throughout the history of medieval England. The medieval pattern of episodes 4-6 makes sense in a world with religious knights such as the Star Wars universe.

Rogue One’s Rebels look like Star Wars Rebels, but they act like Muslim insurgents. The leadership of the various planets is minimized; almost wholly cut-out. Their equipment is scavenged or improvised rather than products of their own civilizations. They are assassins and saboteurs rather than warriors; men and women “fight” side-by-side with effeminate tactics of subversion instead of straightforward attacks. The Rebels in Rogue One are ISIS and Al Qaeda rather than warring Christians.

The whole Star Wars series is now a piece of filmic history that documents the anti-Christian spiritual tides that swamped the West, and which are very fashionable even among many so-called rightists.

Just to Get Back in the Habit

of writing: here’s a thought I had a couple months ago as I was planing some trim for the house. (I’d be very surprised if it’s new to all my readers, but it was new to me.)

According to the story, Jesus starts his ministry at (about) 30. I always figured that–up until then–he led a relatively normal life. Perhaps it was punctuated by thoughts about his later crucifixion, but also, you know, relatively normal. Besides, He had ultimate faith in the Father, and outright knowledge that He would rebuild the Temple in three days…so perhaps a bit worried, but also secure in the knowledge that before He started His ministry it was basically a different later life. Before the Wedding in Cana is was just a normal life; a basically comfortable pause before the storm.

As I wondered about that previous normal life it occurred to me that His ministry had probably already started, and that for Him there had been one whole life which was not sectioned off as “pre-ministry” and “post-ministry”. Because Jesus, sent from Heaven to die on a wooden cross for our sins, was a carpenter from his youth. He knew the wood by earthly sight and touch. He would have known the beams’ other uses; what they were good for, and not good for. He knew how its grain ran. He would have known the skill (or its lack) of the carpenter who made the cross. Every day He got up to go to work to get better acquainted with the very stuff that would be used to kill Him.

Go to the Mattresses, Female Edition

New commenter Joe was kind enough to drop some hilarious history here which does not speak well for the shield maiden trope.

During the late stages of the [American Civil] War, the town of LaGrange, Georgia, had an armed all-female militia unit which drilled with weapons and which mustered in the street apparently ready to fight when the Federals arrived. The Yank in command, a gentleman and a diplomat, sent a messenger under a white flag to tell them that their homes would not be burned and that (as I recall) “they could surely do more damage with their eyes than with their old squirrel-rifles”.) Reassured, they stood down. LaGrange was not burned, but in a touch suitable for the worst of novels, the Federal in command later married one of the members of the “Nancy Harts” girl militia unit.

Otherwise: They would have been slaughtered. The Union force was strong enough that the Confederate cavalry fled them; according to a link provided by Dalrock.

In mid-April 1865 Major General James H. Wilson led a Union raid on west Georgia. As the Union troops approached LaGrange from West Point, the local Confederate cavalrymen fled, and the Nancy Harts stepped in to protect the town.

…which was accomplished by entreating the Union soldiers to spare the town, and then surrendering to the strong handsome Union soldiers; even unto the mattress.

He Put Her Boots on Like Any Other Man

Oscar left a link to an article about a Wyoming homesteader named Elinor Pruitt Stewart. She is presented as an American heroine, but turns out to be more of a fantasy. Here’s the short version:

Elinor was born after the last Comanches had been sent to reservation. By her adulthood, the American West had been tamed, but not yet settled. After divorcing her first husband of three years she moved to Wyoming and took a job as a housekeeper. Then she married her boss. He built an add-on to his house so that she could live in it and pretend to be an independent homesteader. This pretension went on for years, as she hid the fact that she had married her boss, and that his family controlled “her” homestead; even after Atlantic Monthly began to publish her accounts. For years readers of her letter accounts were misled to believe she was single instead of married and supported by a husband and his family. According to those who published her letters: The greatest (conscious) threat to Stewart were coyotes; which are skittish creatures. 

She didn’t own her homestead. She didn’t build her house. She didn’t depend on herself. She didn’t fight off anyone or anything. She told lies that she homesteaded independently.

I will continue research, so please point me towards more historical books and articles.

Research Request: Fighting Frontier Women

In Texas, where I live, it is not uncommon for a man to speak of his wife as a crack shot, or even as a hot-headed gunslinger with an itchy trigger finger. Yet I have never detected a sense of obligation and responsibility which was attached to such boastings. What I mean is this: Suppose a man is away on business. While he is gone a burglar invades his home while his wife and children are there. If she hid, fired no shots, and in fact did not even make a peep: He would be fine with that as long as she was unhurt. If she ran, he’d be fine with that, too.

Afterwards, when nerves had settled, he or she might crack a joke that the burglars were “lucky” that she didn’t pump them full of lead. But in no way would the husband actually be disappointed in his wife because she fled and hid instead of fought. The reverse is not true.

Several times now someone has written in comments that frontier women were regularly expected to defend the homefront from Indians, bandits, and wild animals such as bobcats, cougars, and bears. I find the idea preposterous. It seems much more likely to me that frontier husbands either:

  1. Left their wives in trusted communities, i.e., near family, friends, or gov’t authorities.
  2. Expected their wives to flee/escape to safety.
  3. Foolishly hoped that danger never came.

So here is my request: Can anyone give me a historical account or source for the widespread notion that frontier men actually expected their wives to actually fight off dangerous marauders?

We Do Not Box the Air

Scott over at American Dad Web writes:

All of spiritual discipline is like that. I figure, if its something that you personally find hard to do–but God asks you to do it anyway, you should probably do more of it. Struggle with overeating? Restrict your calories more. Struggle with loving your wife even when she is acting unlovable? Love her more. Struggle with obeying your husband because you think you know better? Submit and get over yourself.

So good.

Our conversations in the Men’s Sphere instruct me in the mystery of communication; of how information is transferred and processed; particularly among men. It is amazing. I mean: You talk about one thing, and I disagree. I say so, and then I talk about something else…but that something else has been influenced–pulled towards agreement–by your first statement, and I don’t even know it. And vice versa, and so on back and forth.

And there is the matrix-ing of information. Months ago Oscar recommended to me Mark Rippetoe’s Starting Strength. Well, Oscar is a big strong guy so I listened to him. I buy Rippetoe’s book and listen to his podcast, and do you know what he says is the best recovery for injury? Lifting weights with the injured limb. He says that physical therapy is a sham which trains one to be weak. Compare that to the words I quoted of you.

Meanwhile, last year someone somewhere linked to an episode of Joe Rogan’s podcast which featured a clinical psychologist and professor named Jordan Peterson. His prescription for solving problems (say, a phobia) is athwart our mass media’s prescription. They say that we should make the problem go away, or that the problem isn’t real. Peterson says (I paraphrase), “No, the problem is real and it’s not going to go away. What you have to do is become stronger than the problem. And you can just like everybody else. Use a tool, chop up the problem into approachable pieces, and then overcome them one by one. The problem doesn’t stop being scary. You just learn to become stronger.”

In all three cases (Scott’s post, Rippetoe, and Peterson) what is brought to mind I will quote below. And it makes sense of why we have a physical body which must die; yet why we are to have hope for an eternal life after that. Here is St. Paul from Romans 5:

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

That hope is that this–life–isn’t just a game. It’s not futile to get stronger (mentally and physically) now only to get weak and die later. Nor is it just of temporal utility; the strength gained isn’t just to make our short lives easier for now. Suffering here is the opportunity to learn to have faith and so to train for eternity.

(Taken almost unmodified from my comment on Scott’s post.)

Real Men Make Riots Safe for Women.

That thought is at the heart of the the conversations about Ann Coulter’s decision to bail from Berkley. The idea that Real Men make _________ safe for women is a particularly effective seduction to use against men. It infers that he–who wants to be a Real Man–has the power and authority to do something about whatever circumstance some woman or women wants to be made safe so that she or they can participate. He usually doesn’t.

Enjoy the Reprieve, Fish

A week ago today I bought a house built in the Craftsman style. Previous owners kept it from structural ruin, but, over time, handyman repairs eroded the character. Broken drawers were nailed; wood floors covered in linoleum, then plywood, then more linoleum; two 3×5 light doors lost; a French doorway and wall haphazardly removed; built-ins demolished. The dining room was converted into a den, and the huge butler’s pantry into a small dining room; a breakfast nook into a closet for laundry and the water heater; the laundry room into a tiny back porch.

It all goes back…except the French doors and the wall between living and dining. That will be raised to match the window casings. Pillared knee walls with built-in shelves will bookend the new opening.

The back porch will be closed-in to go back to a laundry room, with ironing/folding table and cupboards. 

The butler’s pantry is large enough to serve its original purpose, and as a work area for homeschool and artwork. 

Some of the original flooring must be repaired, as well as several of the original double-hung windows. The wooden screens are missing, too. Everything needs four layers of paint removed and then repainted, doors re-hung, and drawers fitted. The bathrooms and closets are pitiful, and there is a room’s worth of space unused in the attic. The original shed probably needs to come down; though I do like the big rolling doors.

It’s exactly what I’ve been looking for.

I will continue to write. Some time is free now which was not. Buying a house is a part-time job, and that’s done. Homeschool ends this week, thank goodness. Work always falls off in the summer. 

Fishing will suffer most.

A Crime Boss or a Captive

In some comments SFC Ton made a counter-argument that power is manliness, rather than authority.

Authority comes from power, masculinity is power
You can be a good man and use your power and authority in ways the Almighty would approve of and be a good man.

Or you could use power and authority counter to God’s word. Makes you a bad man

But a man either way

Desire is femininity was settled in my mind a long time ago, and in a future post I will talk about some of that. The nature of manhood took a little longer, and a big part of the reason was because of the way we use the word power. As a word, power is like love in that we use it to mean so many things. It confuses our thinking; mine included. I recognized that, but it still took time to work out.

My first answer was: Manliness is competence. I told this to a friend, and two things happened. First, I was frustrated by my inability to explain what I meant in a way which sounded clear as I said it out-loud. The second was that, while my friend agreed, he wasn’t visibly enthused. My friend is sharp. That lack confirmed my frustrations and I knew I hadn’t got it.

I went through capability, forcewill, and a bunch of words–including several returns to power–each time thinking through the ways each word could be used. That power can be used in so many ways forbade it from me every time I went back to it. Power can mean legitimacy in discrimination. It can mean the force used to exercise discrimination. It can mean the will to make discriminating choices. It can mean the ability to persuade another person to do one or all of those, or to manipulate circumstances to make such events likely!

As I thought about these things, I realized that a common formulation which I learned as a child, was slightly, but significantly, wrong. I had been taught that men have responsibility, and that men who properly handle that responsibility are then given authority. That is wrong because we cannot separate responsibility from authority. We sometimes talk as if we can separate them; as if we are responsible for things over which we have no authority. But that only seems to be true either because we believe lies (like modern marriage “vows”), and because other men in authority sometimes abuse their power. Men are susceptible to this because authority is our thing. We want it to be true when we are told we are responsible. We intuitively grasp that to give us one handle of responsibility should gain us the second handle of power and so the whole of authority. Women, though, are quick to point out their own powerlessness when it true, or even when it merely suits their purposes.

So there is one thing: authority, with two parts: power, and responsibility. When we try to separate them, the effort fails and things go badly because men lose their hearts. Any authority with a those two parts out of balance creates, instead of a man, either a kind of moral monster (power without responsibility), or a pitiful wretch (responsibility without power); a crime boss, or a captive.