Alternative Economies: i.e. put your money where your mouth is

I’d anyone else finding it difficult to go out into public these days? I find myself sniping at everyone who tries to enforce Covid rules, some of which are the corporation’s and not the state’s rules. The majoriry complicity in these nonsensical rules does not give me hope for the future. On the other hand, I find that locally run franchise stores and small businesses are more inclined to leave people alone and not enforce restrictive rules, which has caused more people to shop at these stores. One example is a local supermarket that I rarely shopped at prior to Covid that now gets almost all my business. I go there because they don’t enforce rules and have made a huge effort to keep their store stocked during shortfalls. Because of their new sales volume, they have added fancy gluten-free foods to their product line. This was one reason I didn’t shop there regularly before. I’m spoiled these days and no longer want to make homemade gf tortillas and bread for my children (who have bonified wheat allergies; no it is not a fad for us).

This has made me wonder again about the emergence of parallel economies thriving alongside the corporate taskmasters… because you and I both know that it will be our corporate taskmasters that will try to force even greater restrictions on us. I know this because they already have, e.g. closing down dressing rooms. Last weekend, we went to an underground concert that was an astonishing parallel economy. I won’t give the name of the bands or venue, for that reason. I simply want to note that we stumbled across it unwittingly — the entrance was at the backside of a building. Nobody wore masks, and everyone danced. The bands (or venue owners, perhaps) provided their own security with metal detectors, etc. By contrast, a more conventional concert venue that is hosting a band we’d like to see has a list of Covid restrictions a mile long. We will thus not be attending that concert, even though we were willing to plunk down over a hundred dollars for the bands at the alternative venue.

For all those who claimed a holier-than-thou it’s-all-just-temporary attitude, I would like to remind you that there are pastors and priests being jailed in so-called free anglophile nations more than a year after these temporary restrictions were put in place. I don’t like getting apocalyptic, but there are at least negative echoes of a fascist future in what is happening now. For heaven’s sake, I was joking a year ago that they would soon invent technology that will prevent us from leaving our homes if a virus I’d detected at too high levels in our bodies. Guess what? They’ve invented it: Covid chips. Again, I don’t go apocalyptic. I’m not a nutjob, but I’d be a fool if I didn’t pay attention to this nonsense. Did you think a year ago that our respective governments could indefinitely shut down businesses, including grocery stores, and churches? It’s been a year. That’s it. Let that sink in.

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Ghosts From the Past

I’ll admit right now that I haven’t been able to give up my YouTube habit. I’m addicted to podcasts. My favorites include Gospel Simplicity and Pints With Aquinas. The men who run these podcasts, Austin [I don’t know his last name] and Matt Fradd respectively, conduct great interviews. I also appreciate Dr. Taylor Marshall, as he’s a very conservative Catholic and the author of the book I enjoyed reading most last year. There are a number of other Catholic YouTubers I listen to, as well a number of Protestant ones I’ve recently dropped due to their smug anti-Catholicism. I don’t like smugness from any arena, but willfully ignorant smugness re Catholicism gets my ire up.

With these types of podcasts encompassing my YouTube experience, one wonders why I suddenly began seeing recommendations for video stories of people who had walked away from Christianity on my YouTube homepage. I suppose it’s not as nefarious as it seems, but merely YouTube giving me what I want: videos tagged under religion. One, however, caught my eye because I recognized the name, Jen Fishburne, only I couldn’t remember why. While I listened to her story of walking away from Christianity, I remembered why.

Jen Fishburne ran, or still runs, the Jen’s Gems blogspot. I had read this blog with some interest many years ago, when my homeschooling friends were heavily invested in Vision Forum and the “Dougs,” as I liked to call them. Okay, this might take a bit of an explanation. Deep breath.

Although I don’t talk much about my family on the internet, most people know that I spent many years homeschooling my older children, and now that Covid has changed the landscape of schooling, I’m back to homeschooling my younger set once again. This brought me close to the world of hyper-conservative homeschooling world. And at one time, Vision Forum and its creator, Doug Phillips, were all the rage in these circles. So was Doug Wilson. When one very ardent mother passed around Doug Wilson’s book, Reforming Marriage, it got passed around and passed around until it finally landed in my house. It had been meant for my husband, but my husband studiously avoids such books and wouldn’t read it. Being the obsessive human I am, I read it because I can’t stop myself from reading books that are sitting around. It’s like a compulsion that I can’t control. I’ve tried, God help me, I have tried, but I will probably read your grocery list on your fridge — if you ever invite me over to your house, and I’ve exhausted your other literature. I’ve even been known to add items to friends’ grocery lists, usually products that the person would never buy, such as a gallon of Jack Daniels and a carton of cigarettes. I’m apparently a pre-internet original troll, along with being a compulsive reader.

Wilson’s book didn’t bother me, per se. It was the culture surrounding the book that bothered me. What should have been considered extrabiblical advice was touted as law and gospel. I’m not exaggerating; when the relationship between a husband and wife is said to resemble the relationship between Christ and church, and thus the gospel, it becomes an integral part of the gospel. And that was what the culture surrounding Wilson’s book was touting. Some called it biblical patriarchy. Some liked to use the fluffier “complementarianism.” Whatever one chose to call it, it created artificial rules on how husbands and wives and their male and female offspring were to behave.

When arbitrary rules are imposed on a subset of a larger culture that doesn’t accept those rules as the norm, it’s difficult to pull off. The biblical patriarchy movement was bound to fail for that reason. Even the Pearls — God love them, another favorite within the conservative homeschooling set — came out against the movement. Consequently, I don’t hear much about the movement now, albeit there were a few scandals that hastened its collapse in my circles: one involving Doug Wilson marrying a pedophile to a woman in his church, and another involving Doug Phillips and an extramarital affair. There were peripheral scandals involving other pastors in the broader movement, such as Mark Driscoll. Honestly, I can’t remember all of them now, and I don’t care to. Some of these stories were and still exist in the realm of internet gossip. For example, do I really know what happened in the Doug Wilson controversy? No, I certainly do not. Propaganda is what it is, even if it backs up one’s personal bias.

Yes, I was personally biased against the movement from the get-go because it was pushed by controlling men and women prone to being hyper-critical and/or perfectionistic. Often, it wasn’t the man at all pushing patriarchy, but his overbearing wife. I tend to “slip, slide, and away” from such types. I’m a slippery eel. No matter how my friends tried to convince me of the rightness of their positions, I chose to stay away from such fringe movements. Fringe movements, not being the core of culture, fall apart and away, leaving broken people behind them.

And so I’ve seen it happen to the conservative patriarchal families, too: Christians marriages ending in divorce, adulterous affairs conducted by hurting people, and worst of all, once strident Christians walking away from Christianity altogether.

When I began to piece it altogether and remember who Jen Fishburne is, I thought, “Oh, great, another one from the movement has left the faith.” Back when she was detailing her awful dealings with Doug Phillips on her blog Jen’s Gems, she was still a believer. Now she’s not. I don’t wish to overanalyze her beliefs now, or insinuate that she’s operating off of misery and brokenness. She might be. Or, conversely, she might be quite happy to no longer be under the stress of Christian fundamentalism. But I view her walking away as an inevitable end to what people in this movement did, and that was to replace a relationship with God with their own intellectualism and perfectionism. According to her walking away video, it was a preterist viewpoint that spelled the demise of Christianity to her, as well as determining through hours and hours of study that the Bible is only for and of the Israelites, and that, while it’s true in many ways for them as a nation, it falls in the realm of historical fiction.

I’ll admit right now that I tend to overintellectualize the world around me. I’m firmly trapped in my head. But I also understood very deeply by the time I was in my twenties that I was deficient as a human because my spiritual and emotional censors didn’t work as they ought to have. Why was I this way? I don’t know; God doesn’t make mistakes, but the world can beat God’s voice out of a human. Hence, I’ve sought to remedy this problem over the years. Man’s wisdom is foolishness to God — that is what the Bible says, and it’s true. When men seek knowledge, when they get trapped in the labyrinth of words on a page, they miss the forest for the trees (a cliché, but useful). And certain types of people try to find God through yet more studying and reading, even though it hasn’t worked for them in the past. It’s a banal pursuit after a while. The only remedy for me was to seek a relationship with God through Jesus.

When you step away from the parsing of words on a page, you begin to see something else: an epic story that’s been played out through history. And you want to be a part of it. This is, by the way, why I eventually turned to Catholicism because their greatest thinkers looked for the grand pattern of history and connected the dots rather than isolating the minutia. They also seemed to recognize that experiencing Jesus, as part of the godhead that bridges the gap between us and our creator, was what really repaired the hearts of men. Not perfectionism. Not intellectualism — the truth was in experiencing Jesus, which was and is the entire point of going to mass.

By the way, that’s why Taylor Marshall’s book (Sword and Serpent) resonated with me so much when I read it. It collects the patterns of history and puts them together in a story, in this case both the legendary story of St. George and the dragon, and the myth of Andromeda chained as a sacrifice to the monster. I believe Jen Fishburne asked the question in her video, “What do we need saving from?” though perhaps it wasn’t couched exactly in those words. This is my answer: from the dragon. The monster. And that story is not unique to one culture; it couldn’t be said to exist as only the history of the Israelite nation. It’s a story that exists throughout time and history. Even antichrist men like Jung recognized it as being a universal archetype.

To be fair to patriarchals, I believe they were and are trying to live out the imagery in the Bible of a man who rescues the enchained woman who is being sacrificed to the dragon. But it’s not the husband’s job to be a savior, and it’s not a wife’s job to be perpetually rescued by him. Trying to intellectualize something that happens in the soul, to codify it into a set of rules, is a recipe for disaster. What happens when these “savior” figures fall, as they will? People who have poured their faith into that system walk away. It’s especially easy for someone prone to study to walk away, as it’s not that hard to read your way into the cell your logical conceits have left you with.

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Corporate Fascism

That’s what we have, ladies and gentlemen of the United States. Recently, Biden backed away from being responsible for a “vaccine passport,” instead stating that it would be the responsibility of private companies to create their own.

Snort. No, really, I mean it. I’m snorting with laughter. The problem with the world today is that everybody has given up subtlety for openly declaring what is going on. Come on? Private companies are going to produce their own vaccine passports? Of course they are. And fools will claim that it’s right and good that they do so because “we didn’t want to bake the cake,” or some such nonsense.

Yes, at one time, I would have stood with private businesses. At least, I would have stood with normal businesses, not these international conglomerate corporations that destroy competition and waive themselves of all responsibilities. Sure, they ought to be able to censor what we do and say and force the average Joe to get vaccinated in order to conduct business or travel abroad. Because freedom.

Years ago, I noted that liberalism, i.e. freedom, is an incoherent philosophy on which to build a nation. It does not lead to freedom when there is no other foundation to stand on. It does not lead to freedom of the average Joe when it allows corporations to have the freedom to monopolize markets and to force customers — who don’t have the wherewithal to, out of the blue, create their own airline companies, their own internets, their own publishing venues — to jump through all their fascist hoops.

Of course, Mr. Biden wants to leave it up to private corporations, i.e. our oligarchy. What a joke. Private corporations should have no access to our medical records and should not be able to demand access to them in order for us to have the privilege to do business. Period.

The only recourse most of us have at this point to fight against overt censorship, cancellation of beautiful things, and the new-world-order of Covid medicine to be jammed down our throats is to support whatever small businesses we can through our cashflow. I get it — you can get it cheaper on Amazon, but conglomerates like Amazon are soulless harridans of the beast. I’ve already started doing my shopping at a small locally-owned franchise grocery store, even though I have to pay more for fancy things. To be honest, I can’t even get very many fancy things there, but I can buy meat and vegetables and dairy, and what else does a family need? Not much, to be honest. Also, start collecting and archiving for the future. The more people who collect and archive books, films, and music, the better off we’ll be after these times of stupid cancellations are over.

I’m sorry I don’t have anything more uplifting to say, but our president is a total sham. I think we all knew that, even those who honestly voted for him just to oust Trump. I don’t know what they were hoping for when things “went back to normal,” except for the aims of Bush-Obama et al when they spread war across the Middle East and built cages on the border. I mean, maybe they were hoping their college loans would be erased or for free healthcare, but I doubt we’ll even get that out of the deal. Not that I want free healthcare. I’ve seen what happens when our incompetent government takes charge of a sector: see the VA for an example.

On a positive note — because, to be fair, there’s always one — I’ve also been collecting used books wherever I go since things are more or less open now. I don’t have a place to store them, but I don’t care. The more books, the merrier. I buy them from the Goodwill and other second-hand shops; I have a daughter who scouts out old vinyl. Anyway, it’s not much, but it’s something. Have a blessed Easter, as Jesus surpasses all this worldly nonsense. Yes, he wants us to be active in our times. After all, we weren’t born randomly, not one of us. We were born to respond to these weird days. Respond accordingly, but do take time out to worship the Savior, as we can this year. We can! The churches our open. They should never have closed, but that’s another discussion.

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Politicians are Fools and Lunatics

Every year, I get enraged by daylight savings time, but this year I’m especially done with it. Maybe it’s the year of screwy shutdowns. Maybe I’ve reached my level of madness, where I can no longer be patient with others. Maybe, maybe, maybe…I just don’t want my life screwed with any longer.

It’s maddening that I have to explain the concept of the sun to anyone. Isn’t is right up there in the sky? Hasn’t it been regulating our hours here on earth since the beginning of time? Aren’t our bodies in time with the circadian rhythms it brings us? Yes? Then why, in the name of all that is good and holy, are our mad idiotic politicians trying to keep us in permanent daylight savings time? I get it. There are a boatload of delusional office workers who want to pretend that they work from nine to five and still have plenty of hours of sunlight left after work to play and spend money. But why can’t these nutjobs just work from eight to four, which is what they are actually doing, and spare the rest of from pandering to their lunacy?

Obviously, the counterpoint to their fun-in-the-sun selfishness is the little children walking to school or standing at busstops in the dead of winter in the dark. These people are not only batshit crazy, but they hate children. Are these delusionally selfish office workers really the people that politicians want to pander to?

There is something worse, of course, than hating children, and that is hating God. When you despise the timekeeping method that he gave us, you despise him. And you despise your health. And you despise mankind because you don’t understand what is good for us.

So I plead with these strange creatures like Marco Rubio, and Roswell’s own Sen. Cliff Pirtle, if you can’t allow us to live by God’s own standard time, please let us continue to have it for four months of the year, in which we try to regain our lost health from the stupidity that is daylight savings. I mean, God will no doubt smile on you if you fight to let us live under the sun in peace without the pretence that we can add sunlight to the day. But I get it. You don’t care about people, children, or God. Or sanity.

If you think I’m being extreme, I’m not. Changing the clocks damages health and enrages me with heightened frequency each year. Mostly, I don’t like pandering to the crazy people. I’m tired of it. Oh, and, no, I won’t vote for you ever again. Not for any office. Anyone who is crazy or panders to crazy or who is evil loses my vote.

Okay, I’m done. For now. If we’re into lunatic laws, why don’t we just pass one that calls for mandatory punches in the face every time a politician tries to mess with our lives for the “economy” or our “benefit”? It would definitely be better for our health than pretending eight o’clock is nine o’clock and generally doing what we’re told all the time.

Pirtle, Ruben, et al, be gone demon spawn. Go back to the father of lies you worship, whose home in the pits of hell.

P.s. if you didn’t get it the first time, this voter wants permanent standard time and wants to be left the hell alone by your lot. Thank you.

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Across the Plains in 1844

I came across this booklet by Catherine Sager the other night, through a circuitous route that I won’t bore you with right now. Across the Plains in 1844 is the firsthand account of the Sager family’s misadventures on the Oregon Trail, and then, later, of the Whitman Massacre. It’s short and to the point, and you can read it in one sitting. It isn’t at all a pleasant read, and all the less so because Catherine Sager tells her story with little emotion. People distanced themselves from trauma in the nineteenth century; they couldn’t otherwise survive the hardships they faced. I don’t wish to neutralize the pain of modern westerners, but our souls haven’t been steeled by the constant trauma our forebears had to cope with.

Catherine Sager was the oldest girl of seven children and was sadly cursed with a father who couldn’t stay in one place. There was always a greener pasture to be explored. For a man like that, the Oregon Trail held great appeal. By the way, my paternal grandfather was like this, and he caused his family to live in poverty and constant mishaps. In my father’s childhood, mishaps were more common than complete tragedy, as the world had long since discovered the cause of infectious diseases and, furthermore, had suppressed the bloody wars on the frontier. Also, a trip across the country could be done in my grandfather’s day by car or by hopping a train and was, hence, much faster. This not being the case for the Sagers, the father’s hunger for greener pastures led his family to near ruin.

First, the father himself died of a slow creeping disease as they travelled westward. Soon after, the mother also succumbed to infection; she’d just given birth to a child and was too weak to fight off disease. This left seven children alone in the wagon train heading west. There was a Dutch doctor who vowed to care for them; they had met the doctor when Catherine’s ankle bones were severed with a wagon wheel. There were other kind folks who made sure the children were loved and cared for until they arrived in the Pacific Northwest. Despite hardship, or maybe because of it, many were willing to give near strangers what little they had. At the end of the trail, the Sager children were left at the Whitman mission, which was located near Walla Walla, WA.

The Whitmans had gone West to be a missionary family to the Cayuse people. Without children of their own, they had already adopted a few children, some of them “half-breeds” that weren’t accepted by either peoples. I don’t know that it would have ever been their intention to adopt seven non-Cayuse children, as they were responsible to a mission board that supported their efforts to preach the gospel and give medical care to the natives. The Whitmans, however, were generous people and adopted all seven children.

This is where the story gets interesting to me. It’s obvious Catherine left out many details of the wagon ride West. I would guess this is because she shut away the deaths of her parents and thus didn’t have as many memories of this time. By contrast, the children’s time with the Whitmans provides many good details. When the children arrived at the mission, the Whitmans had a good relationship with the Cayuse people. Their new father was trained as a doctor but had always wanted to be a preacher. He brought together these skillsets for his ministry, though Catherine criticizes him a little over the untrained nature of his preaching — i.e. she finds it boring. Nevertheless, he managed to hold regular services for the Cayuse and also did sabbath studies every Sunday in his own home.

The children had a good life with the Whitmans: it was a strict but fair household that provided the stability their own parents had failed to provide. They attended a mission school and helped in the garden and with all manner of tasks around the home. Catherine particularly focuses on the washing because with so many people now in the household, they all had to rise at four a.m. on washing day to accomplish the task.

Their lives, then, in this frontier land of Washington were good…until a number of events coalesced to turn it upside down. When Catherine writes about their trip along the Oregon Trail, she mentions that there are many native peoples along the way that offered help to the families on the wagon train. In general, I’d say most people don’t want to live in constant warfare. They want to make peace with other tribes of humans because it makes life easier. But the United States government could not be satisfied with peaceful relations between settlers and Native Americans and, after a series of military campaigns against the natives, this peace evaporated. The government was always doing this — whatever good intentions the average people had were destroyed by the US government. And, obviously, the government produced much propaganda to create its mess, e.g. on the philosophy of Manifest Destiny.

In the case of the Cayuse people, they had their own “turncoats,” as it were. A group of Cayuse men spread lies about the Whitmans because they didn’t want the missionaries around any longer. Perhaps they were opposed to Christianity. Perhaps they were against the Whitmans’ meddling in tribal affairs. When brought together with the US government’s treacherous acts, waves of diseases that were killing both the natives and the new settlers, and the vying groups of Christians trying to proselytize, an explosive situation occurred. A band of rebellious Cayuse slaughtered fourteen adults at the Whitman mission as well as some of the older children, sparing only the youngest.

Because Catherine Sager was a young teenager at the time, she was spared. However, the Cayuse took the children as captives and vacillated on whether they should continue to hold them or simply kill them, too. During this time, Catherine describes one Cayuse man as trying to “make her his wife” by force. I didn’t get a good sense of their living quarters, but the narrative states that there were both Cayuse and white children and adults being housed in one building. I’m not sure who the white adults were. Because Catherine wasn’t alone, whenever this man came around, she would scream and fight tooth and nail to keep him off of her. The Cayuse men ignored her screams, and the white men — according to her — only rescued her because they grew tired of listening to her scream. I only bring this up because it’s obvious that neither ethnic group was courageous or full of honor. In other words, there were scumbags amongst both. I mean, can you imagine allowing a young girl to be raped and only stopping it because the ruckus was preventing you from sleeping?

The problem with moralizing about history is that it’s rarely composed of neat binaries of good/bad and right/wrong. The modern day notion of the “evil white man” is absurd when looking at events like this through eye witness accounts. There were some decent people in the mix, such as the Whitmans who seemed to be very sincere in their desire to help the Cayuse with medicine and education and not simply foist their religion on them. One of their adopted children, in fact, was a half-Spanish, half-Cayuse whom the grandmother had rescued from her own daughter’s neglect and brought to them to care for. She trusted them to care for her unloved grandchild because they had demonstrated themselves to be decent people.

And while it’s tempting to paint the Cayuse as innocents oppressed by white people, that would be glossing over the truth. For a start, most natives in the Americas warred with other local tribal peoples, either from defense or as aggressors. The Cayuse were not exceptions. According to just this short account, some of them rebelled against their own tribal authorities and committed murder. Obviously rape wasn’t out of the question either, if Catherine’s story is to be believed. At the end of the account, the children only escaped due to the Cayuse’s attention being drawn to another military affair, in which their captives no longer mattered.

Catherine Sager and the other surviving siblings went on to live happy enough lives after this series of traumatic events. Catherine married, raised eight children, and lived to a decent age of seventy-five. According to historical documents, the other Sager daughters lived to nearly ninety.

This story has a happy ending…for some people. Others were sacrificed to whims of adventure or the US government or downright murderous mutiny. This is life, I guess, in all its messy and gory details. In short, if you have a couple of hours, read this account. I’m a little obsessed with primary source documents; they are endlessly fascinating to me. One word of caution, though — you have to accept them for what they are. They aren’t works of fiction. Most aren’t tightly plotted or masterpieces of journalism that merit special book prizes. The authors had their own reasons for writing them down. In Catherine’s case, she wanted to publish the story and make enough money to support an orphanage in the name of her adoptive mother, Narcissa Whitman. By the way, she wasn’t able to publish it in her lifetime. Ultimately, though, these types of accounts are simply glimpses into the world as it was through the eyes of the people who were unwitting witnesses to history in the making.

Here’s a link: Across the Plains in 1844.

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