Classics of western lit.
[STUDY] CLASSICS-These are just posts where I mentioned some of the classics of western literature. Hopefully it will encourage people to become more familiar with the classics
The Iliad and Odyssey [Homer]
I want to cover some of the classics of Western Literature- when I do the philosophy and science stuff- the purpose is to show how God- and ‘religion’ are an inescapable thread that we see all thru out history- and in fact- the rise of what we call ‘intellectualism’ did indeed come from the Judaic/Christian tradition [for instance- the modern day university system did come from the Church].
Ok- lets start with what most believe to be the greatest work from antiquity- outside of the bible.
These are 2 poems by Homer- the Iliad and Odyssey.
These poems were written in the 8th century BCE- and cover the Trojan war- which most believe was a real war- that took place in the 12th-13th century BCE.
In Homers works we read about this epic battle.
The war starts with- once again- a ‘woman’ issue.
Prince Paris of Troy steals Helen of Greece- from her husband King Menelaus [king of Sparta].
The Greeks- led by Achilles- lay siege to Troy.
In Homers telling of the event- the Greeks are actually defending the honor of marriage- and are carrying out a just retribution against an unjust act.
Sort of the same themes we read in scripture- when the sons of Jacob defended the honor of their sister Dinah- when she was treated unjustly by the pagan nation that took her- forcefully- to be the wife of a kings son.
The brothers meted out justice- by tricking these pagans to get circumcised- then- while recovering ‘from surgery’- the sons went in and wiped out the city- to their fathers dismay!
In the story- Achilles is a warrior- who displays extreme violence- and also the human traits of a man who acts out of selfish motives.
At one point in the war- he removes himself from battle- because he feels his honor was betrayed.
The only thing that brings him back is the killing of his close friend Patroclus- by Hector.
Achilles leads the Greeks to victory- and reflects the struggle between living a long life- or dying young- yet dying for a just cause.
One of the more famous quotes form Homer’s Poems- attributed to Achilles- is ‘I carry 2 sorts of destiny to the day of my death. Either, if I stay here and fight beside the city of the Trojans, my return home is gone, but my glory shall be everlasting; but if I return home to the beloved land of my fathers, the excellence of my glory is gone, but there will be a long life- left for me, and my end in death will not come to me quickly.’
There has been some debate over the historicity of the war itself.
Some scholars believe it was Myth [I’ll get to this in a moment].
That is- they believe the war itself was not true- but a sort of Oral Tradition- that encompasses the reality of the human condition- and that Homers Poems are simply mythological ways to reveal the true condition of man.
Yet- much like the debate that took place in the 19th century German universities- over the ‘Myth’ of the bible- later on- the rise of what we now call Archaeology [because of the Industrial revolution- a new field arose- men started digging up the ground- for the primary purpose of extracting materials from the earth- and at this time we also discovered ‘lost worlds’- that is we could actually trace cities and lands that were once deemed fake].
So- as with Homers Troy- and bible lands- these archaeologists did indeed find Cities that matched the stories.
In 1870 the German Archaeologist Schliemann discovered remains that seemed to find the city of Troy- the area is known today as modern day Turkey.
This same thing happened with the bible- we did indeed find historical evidence that seemed to back up the historicity of the stories we find in the bible.
As a matter of fact- a famous doubter of the bible embarked on a search- to prove the bible was ‘myth’ yet- after researching carefully the historical names and places we read about in the book of Acts- he came to believe that the book of Acts- written by both an historian and doctor [Luke] was the most historically accurate writing that came from the first century [Acts has lots of names of political figures- court proceedings- stuff like that- and when doing research like this- it is quite easy to debunk the historical reality of a fake work- but- when these names and places were researched- from actual historical records dating back to the first century- it was amazing how the pieces fit].
The Trojan War is found in many works of Greek literature- and art.
But the most comprehensive account comes from Homer’s 2 poems.
Now- in Homer’s poems there are obvious references to Mythology- Goddesses- Golden apples- the Greek gods intervening in the affairs of men.
So yeah- we see that there are obvious mythological aspects to the work.
Yet- the ancient Geeks did indeed believe the war itself was a real war that took place at around the 12th century BCE.
Some believe that Homer never actually wrote the poems- but that he told the stories- like Oral Tradition- and they were later written down by others.
Sort of like the classic- Paradise Lost- by John Milton. Milton was blind- and told the story to his daughters [oral tradition] and the actual work was penned by those who heard it.
Jesus himself used this method- he never wrote a book- or letter in the New Testament- yet the gospels were compiled by his men after his death.
We read about this when Luke [who I mentioned above] gives the reason for his documenting stuff in the book of Acts [read Acts chapter one].
Luke also wrote his gospel a few years after the death and resurrection of Christ.
So- some believe the same thing happened with Homer- those who heard him tell the story multiple times- simply put it together later on.
Most scholars believe that Homer did indeed write the poems- and that the famous Trojan War was a real historical event.
Last year- when in North Bergen- my atheist friend Daniel said he watched a PBS show- and he said ‘even a priest said the bible was Myth’.
I explained to Daniel that when the more liberal scholars use this term [like in the writings of Bultman] that they do not mean ‘fake’- like Greek Mythology.
But they mean that some of the stories in the gospels might be a compilation of the many Oral teachings of Jesus- and they were put together as one story [some think the Sermon on the Mount was actually multiple teachings Jesus did- and they were compiled into one event].
Now- when I explained this to Daniel- he said ‘see- even you believe it was Myth’.
I told Daniel that no- I do not hold to this theory [not 100%] but that I was simply telling him that even those who use the term Myth- when talking about Theology- they do not mean Myth- as in fake.
So- I find it interesting that both the New testament- and Homers poems- got the same scrutiny.
In these poems we do indeed see the condition of man- which Homer depicts as one of constant war- not peace.
The letter of James in the New Testament says- James 4:1 From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?
James 4:2 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.
James 4:3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.
Homers poems are considered by some to be the beginning of the great works of Western literature- of which there are many.
The great writer C.S. Lewis- who rejected Christianity for many years- later became a believer.
He attributed his conversion to the fact that he could not escape the reality of the Church- or Christian themes- found in all the fields of study.
Whether it was the classics- or history- philosophy.
He said every were he read- studied- he could not escape this scarlet thread that ran thru out all the fields of knowledge.
Yeah- in the end- his thirst for knowledge- his intellectual search- led him to the Cross.
Jesus- in a way- was a 1st century Achilles- he battled the forces of darkness- for the honor of a woman- the Bride- the church.
He- Like Achilles- chose a just death- for a just cause.
There’s a prophecy in the Old Testament- it speaks of Christ ‘the zeal of thine house has eaten me up’.
Jesus was a righteous warrior- a prophet, priest and king- and he had a zeal for the church- that far exceeded anything we find in Homers poems.
 I’M JUST NOT ONE OF THOSE ‘WORD TALKERS’
Caught the debate last night- didn’t go to well for my gov. I mean I still thought he had a fighting chance- not any more. I mean even Cain started looking good compared to Perry.
When Perry could not remember the 3rd govt. dept. that he wanted to shut down- that was it. Even Ron Paul tried to throw him a lifeline ‘the E.P.A.’ Yeah- that’s the one! I even guessed ‘maybe he means the energy dept.’ [you know- that’s always been kind of a joke- like having a ‘sky dept.’].
Sure enough- the next time Perry ‘spoke’ that was the one.
I read a Conan joke the other day- he was mocking Perry because he was going to start skipping the debates- he said Perry’s excuse was he was not a skilled debater- you know- he wasn’t one of those ‘word talkers’ yeah- guess he’s right.
I went thru a few news articles the other day- when I read the papers during the week I cut the articles out that I think are important- and then in the morning before I post I’ll look them over to see what looks relevant.
Out of the 2 I saved- one was on a possible looming crisis in Italy. Sure enough- yesterday everything hit the fan.
The reason the stocks took a big hit was out of fear that the European debt crisis might spread to Italy. Italy has a big economy- not like Greece. The main reason Greece was important- was that many observers feared that if Greece went bankrupt- that the ‘contagion’ might spread to the other Euro Zone nations- like Italy- and that would be bad- very bad.
Well- that looks like what might be happening. Greece’s Debt to GDP ratio is 144 %- not good. Italy is at around 120%- not as bad- but still not good. This coming year they have about half a trillion dollars coming to maturity [bonds they must pay out on] and they owe 2.6 trillion [not like our 14 trillion- but for the size of their nation- it’s a lot].
So the interest rate just went up for Italy- it will now cost more for them to borrow- and when you’re paying a little over 7 % on 2.6 trillion- well that hurts.
Italian bonds are not like Greek bonds- Italian bonds are in all of the big banks that we are familiar with- many of our investments are in the same banks that hold Italian debt- so if Italy goes bust- that’s a huge problem- that will indeed drag the U.S. down.
I mean Greece already seems to be a lost cause- even their own people are pulling all their money out of the Greek banks and putting it in Swiss banks. Geez- if your own citizens don’t trust you- forget the other nations bailing you out.
I find it funny [sad] that a few weeks ago- Fahreed Zakariah [a CNN guy] was mocking the Tea Party crowd- because he said that the Europeans were handling their debt crisis well- like adults- and that even the Europeans were saying ‘geez- cant you be mature like us- you stupid Tea party Repubs’!
He said it in the same mocking way that Martin Bashir [I think they are both Brits? I know they of course are both foreigners] made an on air accusation the other day. I mean- it was bad. Bashir said a certain Repub referred to injured Iraqi war vets as injured ‘dogs’.
Now- for the life of me- I could not imagine this charge to be true. Then I heard the rest of the story. Some Repub said the occupy protestors were leaving a huge mess at the camps- ‘like dogs’.
And Bashir applied this to the Iraqi war vet. who was hit with a gas canister in Oakland- so yes- this Iraq war vet was a wounded protestor. But to then go on national TV and say that Repubs are referring to wounded Iraqi war vets as wounded dogs- I think this network [MSNBC] is very dangerous for the country.
We need to hear both sides of all arguments- but this stuff is incendiary.
Being I already mentioned Italy- let me finish with some history/philosophy that might be relevant.
In the last post I mentioned saint Thomas Aquinas- and after Augustine [and Anselm- 11th century] he is the next main character I wanted to cover [in our ongoing philosophy study].
Aquinas is referred to as the Doctor Angelicas [angelic doctor] by the catholic church. Aquinas lived during the time of a cultural/philosophical reawakening that was beginning to take place in the Western world- the Renaissance.
Renaissance means ‘re-birth’. It was a rebirth of the ancient Poets and philosophers of days gone by. Men like Cicero and Aristotle were once again brought to the fore front of many thinkers and lovers of culture.
The catch phrase for the Renaissance was Ad Fontes- which meant ‘back to the sources’ [source- Fountain- Fontes]. In the 14th century a famous and influential Catholic family- the Medici’s- were a catalyst for mixing this cultural movement in with the church.
The Renaissance sort of challenged the historic view of education- up until this time most learning was done thru the prism of the church. In the universities of the day Theology [study of God] was called the Queen of the sciences- and philosophy was referred to as her Handmaiden.
Well the Renaissance thinkers said they wanted to study things for what they are- they did not want to see everything thru the lens of the church.
Eventually the theme of the movement [back to the original sources] would play a major role in the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century. Men like Erasmus [the famous 16th century Catholic Humanist] would re discover the original Greek New testament- and it was thru the study of the Greek text that many of the Reformers made their case to get ‘back to the bible’ and eventually break from Rome.
This was also the beginning period of modern capitalism. Recently when Libya had her ‘civil war’ and the new leaders started talking about a new constitution- one of the interesting things that came up was they wanted to do away with interest on loans.
Why? Well Muslims teach that interest itself is a bad thing. ‘Gee- wonder where they get that idea from John’ Oh- from a little book- called the bible.
Yes- to the surprise of some- this is very much taught in the Old Testament. Now- it was God’s law governing the nation of Israel- but they were forbidden to charge interest.
‘So John- is it wrong for us today to make interest’? Not really- Jesus used interest [usury] as an example in some of his parables- and overall- we as believers are not under the Old Testament laws that govern natural Israel.
But- for many centuries- the world did not see interest on money as a legitimate way to earn a living. So during the Renaissance you also had the rise of exploration- and explorers like Columbus would go on their voyages with the financial backing of investors.
The normal rate for these voyages was a 75/25% cut. When the explorer returned- the investor [Spain- or whoever] got 75% of the goods- and the explorer kept 25.
So there were a lot of changes taking place in the world at the time- and the rise of modern capitalism was one of them- money of course existed way before this time- but as a commodity- this was a new way of viewing the world.
Okay- just thought I would throw in a little history along with the current events of the day. As we see the current turmoil in the Italian markets [the original renaissance started in Florence- Italy] maybe seeing money/interest as a commodity- and ‘usury’ as a major way to increase ones wealth- well maybe that’s not such a smart way to do things after all.
When Jon Corzine's global investment firm went bust the other day- it was a direct result of taking a gamble on the ‘gullibility’ of the common man.
What his firm did was they took a huge risk by investing in European bonds- bonds from Greece that everyone knew was a terrible 'bet’. Then why did he do it?
The risk was so high- that the interest [usury] on the bonds was also high- you would make lots of money- if you got your money back.
But how would you get the money back- if the company [or nation- or bank] is in such bad shape that they might go bust? Your basically betting that the other nations around them [and the 1% crowd] would never let this happen [too big to fail] and when the nation [or company] gets ‘bailed out’ well then you get the money back- at a huge gain- all at the expense of the ‘99’ %.
‘Gee John- that doesn’t seem right to me’. That doesn’t seem right to me either- and to the legitimate ‘occupy Wall st. guys’ that’s not right to them as well.
Basically Corzine did the exact same thing that the big banks did during our 2008 bail out crisis- the banks can’t do that anymore- we did pass regulations that forbid this. But private investment firms can- they take a risk if they do- but that’s their choice.
Corzine took the risk- and lost [besides the fact the there is also about 600 million dollars ‘missing’ from private investors money!].
Okay- that’s it for now. We will keep an eye on Italy for the next few days [Germany is already talking about bailing out of the Euro Zone] and if things keep going downhill like this- well we might all be better off if we moved our money into less interest bearing accounts- safe places to ‘park’ your money- and after the dust settles- then maybe get back into the market.
But right now- I would trust getting a bigger return from a Columbus voyage than the market- yes- maybe ‘usury’ is not all that’s it’s cracked up to be- maybe the Libyans are right [and the Old Testament]. Yeah- maybe they know something we don’t.
 Philosophy and Politics.
This last week the media circus has centered around the Herman Cain ‘sex scandal’. Yes- it does seem like good old brother Herman [Christian ‘brother’ to you racially sensitive types] has a little problem with the ladies.
Yes- I have heard both sides on the thing- the conservatives [Limbaugh] have used Cain as an example of how the ‘left’ castigates Black conservatives- while they cover up for liberal ones.
And the left wing media types- well they sure do like to go thru every detail of the Repub candidates lives [no- the sex harassment issue is a real issue- I’m talking about all the other stuff]. It’s funny [sad?] to see some of the commentary on how Cain’s ‘worst’ mistake was in the way he handled it- that it was his mishandling of the scandal that worries folk.
Look- I like good old Bill Clinton- and for those who remember- Bill also had quite a few dalliances with the ladies. Paula Jones even sued Bill- And won!
Yes- the pres settled for 800 thousand and paid the girl. How did Clinton deal with his sex scandals? Those who say ‘see- Bill knew how to deal with them’ they seem to forget that his defenders- they ridiculed all the women- Kathleen Wiley [he groped her]- Jones- well- he pulled an Antony Weiner one day when Jones walked into the office- and oh yeah- lest we forget [well- actually I do forget the name] one woman had some very credible claims that Clinton did indeed rape her.
And of course- he ‘received’ oral sex from Monica in the oval office- and all these women were described as ‘off balance’ or greedy women seeking a pay day- or these women ‘asked for it’. Yes- this was the way the Clinton defenders went about it- yet these same media savvy folk [Carville] are saying ‘Clinton knew how to deal with scandal- Cain does not’.
Would they be happy if Cain’s people went after all the women? Not only have they not revealed the name of the lady who got a settlement but they have been pretty silent about all the women.
Not Clintons people- you know- the ones who handled it ‘right’ oh yeah- they had his ladies looking like a bunch of trailer park bimbo air heads- even a young intern- who worked for the govt.- even she was demonized at first- for engaging in an act that would have called for the firing of any CEO who was caught doing this with any young female staffer- yet in his case- the women were all at fault.
So it’s just a sad thing to see this play out. Do I think Cain ‘did it’ of course he did!
‘How do you know John’- one statement- from Cain himself. He was asked by Hannity ‘did you ask this girl to come to your hotel room’ his answer ‘I don’t recall’ yeah- if someone says ‘did you string up that Black man in the south 40 years ago’ and if you say ‘I don’t recall’ well that’s a problem.
Okay- enough of that.
I really want to cover a little bit more on the few Philosophy posts we did last month.
If you remember we stopped at the 4th-5th century B.C. and we left off with Aristotle. Now- Aristotle [and Plato and Socrates] ruled the day for hundreds of years- most Western thinkers were shaped by their ideas.
So for that reason- lets skip about 800 years forward- to the time of Saint Augustine. Augustine lived in the 4th/5th century [A.D.]. When studying Philosophy you will study this man. But you run into him in the fields of Theology and church history as well- he’s considered by many to be the ‘best’ theologian of the 1st thousand years of Christianity- and to some- the best ever.
I have covered Augustine before- so let’s go light right now and hit a few high points.
Augustine had early influences that led him to the philosophy of ‘Neo Platonism’ [an offshoot of Plato’s thought] and he dabbled [well more than dabbled] in a sort of early metaphysical cult called Manichaeism [like a 3rd century type of Christian Science- the movement in our day].
As Augustine carried out his traveling teaching ministry [he was a teacher who was skilled in Rhetoric- and these traveling teachers would charge for their services] he eventually converted to Christianity [the Catholic Bishop Ambrose played a major role in Augustine’s conversion] and became the Bishop of Hippo- North Africa.
Augustine came to defend the Christian world view against his former belief in Neo Platonism. Platonism taught a Pantheistic view of God and creation. This view teaches that God and creation are one in the same. Many eastern religions still hold to this view in our day.
Augustine argued that God was the creator of all things- but that he himself was not created- or a part of the created world.
He developed a very sound theology on creation- which most Christian traditions hold to this very day.
He had a few theological battles in his day. With Pelagianism and Donatism- these were early Christian movements that broke away from the standard teaching of the church- they derive their names form the Bishops/priests who espoused these ideas.
Pelagius denied the doctrine of original sin- and he taught that men were indeed capable of obeying Gods law- out of their own moral integrity- and thus ‘save themselves’. Augustine rejected this view and taught that men were saved only by the grace of God- that men were indeed sinful and corrupt- and if left to their own designs would end up in hell.
There were various adherents to Pelagius’ view- and his ideas have carried down thru the centuries to varying degrees- sometimes you will hear [read] the term ‘Semi- Pelagian’ this refers to those who have various ideas about man’s ability to save himself through good works.
Some in the Reformed church [the original Protestant belief system that came out from the 16th century Reformation] accuse the Catholic Church of this very thing- yet the Catholic Church has made it clear that they do reject Pelagianism- and they agree with Augustine on the matter.
The Donatists taught that the Sacraments were dependent upon the ‘holiness’ of the Priest who ministers them. That if you were in a Parish where the priests were bad- lived in sin- rejected a holy life- then if you were Baptized by these men- that the Baptism didn’t ‘stick’.
The Donatists formed there own break away church in the 3rd century- and a few very influential men would join the group. A well respected early church father- Tertullian- eventually joined their ranks.
Augustine argued against the Donatists teaching- and taught that Gods grace- and the grace given to believers thru the sacraments were not derived from the holiness of any priest or preacher- but if a believer in good conscience received the sacraments- that that’s what really counted.
Saint Augustine is one of the titans of church history- he is loved by Protestants and Catholics alike. He is famous for his belief in the doctrine of Predestination [that those who are saved were chosen by God before they were born] and for this reason he is loved by the original protestant theologians [Luther, Calvin, etc.]
He also taught a very ‘Catholic’ form of Ecclesiology [church govt.] and is well loved by many Catholics as well.
The Catholic Church refers to him as the Doctor of Grace- later on in the 13th century we will meet Saint Thomas Aquinas- who the church refers to as the Angelic Doctor.
Both of these men played a major role in the development of western thought and Augustine made an effort to distinguish true Christian thought from the philosophy of Neo Platonism which was very strong in his day.
When reading Augustine [he wrote a lot] you need to be careful to distinguish some of his earlier writings from his later ones.
Early on you still see forms of Platonic thought in Augustine- but as the years rolled by his thinking progressed more and more towards historic Christian thought.
For those of you who are interested- the Confessions of Saint Augustine is considered one the classics of Christianity- you can pick up a short version at most good bookstores- it’s well worth the time to read.
 THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA
I was gonna wait till next week to post- but there has been some important news stuff going on- and last night S&P actually downgraded our rating [from AAA to AA+]. So let’s do some today.
Of course last week we finally raised the debt ceiling- our debt will now hit around 17 trillion [wow] until the next raise. I found it interesting to see how the media try’s to tell the public what they think is best- and they actually lie quite a bit.
A few weeks back CNN started a new show with Fahreed Zakariah- I thought I would like it- Fahreed is somewhat of an intellectual and I have heard him in debates before. The only drawback I saw [in the past] was he seemed to take one position- and defend it vigorously- and then take the other side at another time- and sware that this time he was right.
Okay- during the debt ceiling debate- many on the left described the ‘Tea Party’ as nuts- terrorists, psycho’s- the whole deal. It did get a little ridiculous after a while. I saw Fahreed- you know- the smart guy- he tried to give an in intellectual argument to why the Tea Party was ‘subverting the constitution- and actually bringing down the Democracy’ what? Yes- he explained how our govt. has 3 branches- and when one party [Dems] hold 2 [Pres, Senate] that if a minority of the 3rd branch [Tea Part- minority in the house] ‘take hostage’ the country- then they have actually subverted the Republic.
He then went on to attack the whole Tea Party mantra- their idea of cuts without taxes- everything. He then explained that the entire world has compared us to Europe [now it gets bad] and that even Europe looks good compared to us- he said that the Europeans have actually ‘shown the world’ that they are very reasonable compared to the U.S. in their dealing responsibly with their debt crisis.
Now- the very next day- because of European fears [no matter what anyone says- they have not solved their debt problem- it has actually spread this week- Italy is on the edge right now] we began to see the market collapse [dow went to 11,300 from a high of 12,500]. There are many reasons that this happened- but one of the main ones is the fear that the European debt crisis might spread to the globe.
So- the night before Fahreed said the world compared us to Europe- and the reasons we are in trouble is because we did not act responsibly- like Europe.
Then when asked ‘overall- is it at least good that we made the deal and avoided default’ he said no- and then made the actual Tea Party case to defend his position. He said that the deal only cuts a few billion in the beginning years [which he has advocated before!] and then he said- the way congress spends- ‘there’s no guarantee that they will ever stick to the cuts’. This is the exact argument the Tea Party made- to the tee!
That’s why they fought for a constitutional amendment- which Fahreed does not want.
Okay- then MSNBC had on an addiction specialist [I kid you not] to analyze the mental health of the tea party. Martin Bashir asked this guy to explain the danger of the Tea Party. The shrink went on to explain that when addicts have unrealistic expectations [Tea Party- cuts and no taxes= want dugs to make me happy] that they will resort to any means to get what they want [Heroin addict- give me your money or I’ll shoot. Tea Party- do the cuts or well not vote for a debt increase] when addicts do not see the danger of their unrealistic expectations- then yes- you get Oslo, Norway. You must be kidding- they had a guy on the air- comparing the position of the right to the guy who killed 80 people in Norway- and he [like Fahreed] tried to make it sound respectable.
On the news last night- before the downgrade- the jobs numbers came out for July. Now- news addicts like myself watch these things closely. The ‘left’ wants real bad to have some good news for the average folk. If the numbers are bad [under 200,000 new jobs is bad] then that doesn’t help. But there was no way the numbers would be above 200 thousand- I mean no one predicted that. They were hoping that they would at least be around 100,000- and not like the last report- where they hoped for 100 thousand and got around 18,000.
So as I perused the talking heads [ABC, CBS, NBC] of course they talked about the ‘number’ of unemployment dropping to 9.1 from 9.2- the number that I was waiting to see was the actual jobs number- how many new jobs were created last month?
Instead- I saw a screen graphic [you know- Lemmings like graphics- they think if they show the public anything- well they will never know] and it showed 230,000 new jobs [what!] and the unemployment dropping to 9.1 [from 9.2].
I immediately new they were lying- they were gonna show what they wanted to show you- and if they can tell you their story- any way they can- they will.
So- the small print [under the 230,000 jobs number] was the total manufacturing jobs gained- get this- since 12-09. What? Why take one sector- and go back to Dec. of 2009- and then add it up and show on the screen ‘230,000’ new jobs. Well, that’s the only jobs number [230,000- for total jobs from July] that would fit with the picture ‘unemployment went down to 9.1’. [Note- the reason 130,000 new jobs does not lower the overall rate is because that does not even keep up with the population growth of the country- we get over 100,000 new people seeking jobs every month]
No other jobs number would work. So they simply lied- they gave you a picture- false- and thought ‘you know- the average folk- we tell them what we think they should hear’.
So how did the unemployment number drop to 9.1? There are various factors that make up the number- some months you have natural weather disasters [snow storms] and people simply don’t go looking for work- that skews the number. Other months- people have been out of work so long- they give up- that skews the number.
But if the total jobs were only 130,000- then you know for a fact- that the real number didn’t drop a decimal Point- cant happen.
So more than likely some people didn’t go job shopping last month- and that skewed the number. But- the media knew they needed you to see the headline ‘230,000 new jobs’ and ‘unemployment down- 9.2 to 9.1’ and by golly- they found a way to make that happen.
Now- I hate to say [well actually I don’t hate it] ‘I told you so’ but heck- I did! If you go back and read/check the last months posts- somewhere in there I said ‘people must be nuts to be in the stock market right now’ now- I gave the caveat ‘I’m not telling you to get out’ but I then went on and said ‘if you’re smart- get out’.
Every media financial guy that was on the air- bar none- said ‘to the average investor- don’t panic- stay in the market’. Yet- in the past few weeks- 98% of trades that were done by these professional fund managers- who manage 401 k’s- 98 % were trades fleeing the stocks and going into bonds. Why? The Dow was at 12,500 [too high in my view] and we were facing all types of bad news. The Greek debt crisis [now more than Greece] the entire U.S. housing market is still a mess- and will be for a long time. The jobs numbers are terrible- and every indicator tells me these next few years are not going to be good.
So- if the odds of the economy getting worse are very high- then why take the risk of staying in right on the verge of a possible collapse? I know we can’t ‘time the market’- but heck- all those fund managers thought you could. Look- there was [is] no chance that the market was gonna hit 13,000 in the next few weeks- and a very great chance that it would collapse- then get your money out for the danger week/month- and if the sky doesn’t fall- then you can get back in- there was no chance you were going to miss a bull market- none.
But all the guys on the news said ‘stay in- hang in there’ and at the same time they- and all the professional funds they managed- they all jumped ship- left the stocks and fled for safety- while telling you ‘you can’t time the market’ yes- we are the lemmings.
Okay- then last night- well the S&P downgraded us- for the first time ever. Why? Well besides all the stuff I just mentioned- they felt the debt deal did not go far enough- that we needed to at least cut 4 trillion in spending over 10 years- we did about half that.
The defenders of the president were out in numbers- blaming the S&P for bad math [yeah- they did make a mistake- but that doesn’t change the overall picture one iota] and the reality is- the global economy is in trouble. Now- when you downgrade an entity [state, city, nation- bank, etc.] that means that entity has to pay you more interest if you buy their debt [treasury bonds]. But the last few weeks we have seen all the professional money fleeing stocks- and yes- going into U.S. bonds. Look- these investors know the scoop- S&P didn’t reveal anything that we didn’t already know- so the fact is- yeah it’s bad that we got downgraded- but the other investment options are so bad- that at the end of the day- people are still buying U.S. debt.
In high school I had a teacher- Mr. Steinberg. Mr. Steinberg was not ‘cool’ as a matter of fact- he seemed a little nerdy. He was Jewish- and at times wore a Star of David necklace- it was big- it was like he was asking for the persecution.
I liked Mr. Steinberg- and respected him for not being ashamed of his faith. It was in his class [English] that I was introduced to the great classics. Grapes of Wrath, Old man and the sea- all the classics. After we covered a book- he would check the TV Guide and when the made for TV movie was on- he assigned us to watch it.
Both of the above books/movies became favorites of mine- till this day I’ll watch them when they pop up on the classic channel. I actually have the Grapes of Wrath book sitting right here.
But the movie- Old man and the Sea- enthralled me. The struggle of the old man- his fight with the great fish- his arm wrestling bouts with the younger guys- the whole mystique was my thing.
The author- Hemingway- was himself a ‘mans man’ he lived large- took in all the experiences of life- and embraced a philosophy of life called Nihilism. This world view was popularized by men like Sartre, Camus and Freud. It basically is atheistic and says ‘there is no real meaning to life- man is a ‘useless passion’- he exists, only for the purpose of experiencing life- when the pain exceeds the pleasure- that the responsible thing to do is check out’. Yes- this philosophy advocates suicide.
Sartre [John Paul Sartre] actually said that the only philosophical question left is suicide- that we need to ask ourselves- as a society- should we allow ourselves to check out- for the good of the whole- when the pain exceeds the pleasure.
Another great work of Hemingway is titled ‘the Sun also rises’. He took the title from the biblical book of Ecclesiastes- written by Solomon [you know- to everything there is a season]. Solomon also embraces a sort of nihilistic view in this book- though it is in the bible- it is a form of literature called ‘pessimistic wisdom literature’. Sort of the philosophy Hemingway embraced.
Hemingway spoke about this view all thru out his life- though he was a brilliant writer- he had no hope ‘in the world’ [Apostle Paul]. One night, after he went to bed with his wife- he woke up- went downstairs and rigged up his favorite hunting rifle- and blew his head off. His daughter followed him a few years later.
I don’t know what’s down the road for our world right now- there are many people feeling hopeless today because they have lost- yes once again- a big portion of their wealth. As Christians we can say ‘yes- life is hard- we struggle at times- but in the end our struggles are working out a higher purpose- we have meaning in life’ but the atheist/nihilist- to them there is no redemptive purpose to the struggle- when the pain exceeds the pleasure- well yes- they check out.
Over the next few weeks- wherever you are at- think for yourself. If all the professional investors take their money out of stocks- and at the same time they advise you different- then stop listening to them. If your mad at the right [or left] then don’t keep watching people who are coming up with diagnosis’ that say the country is being run by actual Oslo killers- that’s just not true- no matter how much you might hate their point of view.
And at the end of the day- we as believers- we do have hope in the world. Mr. Steinberg wore that star of David- proudly. And in a recent post [Last?] I spoke about the promise that God made to king David- that he would raise up one of his sons and this Son would rule on the throne for ever. Yes- today this promise has been fulfilled through Christ- who sits at the right hand of God.
I don’t know- maybe I’ll rent the Old man and the Sea later [I tried in the past but couldn’t find it] and I’ll see the struggle of the old man [played excellently by Spencer Tracy] but instead of embracing his creators view [that is his earthly creator- Hemingway] I’ll ‘give’ my sufferings up- as the Catholics say- I’ll offer them to the Lord. Hemingway took the cowards way out- at the end of the day- he wasn’t the man we thought he was- he copped out.
 HE QUOTES SHAKESPEAR!
A few years ago my city appointed a new police chief- he was a local guy who rose through the ranks and made it to the top. Lots of times the city hires out of towners who apply- but this time they went with a local. At the time the news was ‘He quotes Shakespeare’ I mean over and over again. Our local news is funny- all 3 major networks do a local news format 3 times a day- each. They run a show at 5 p.m. - 6 and 10. They run the exact same show [each channel does their own show- but the repeats are exactly the same]. So for some reason the big story at the time was the police chief quotes Shakespeare. I mean I heard the story- 3 times a day [actually 9] all day. Read it in the paper- saw the news ads about the ‘news at 10’ the thing was everywhere- I was tempted to write a letter to the editor of the paper- the headline being ‘NO MORE SHAKESPEAR- PLEASE!!’ Anyway the chief eventually became embroiled in a few scandals and he quit/was fired.
The reason the Shakespeare thing was popular was because in our day we have a tendency to neglect the ‘more refined’ things in life. I know there's always a danger of doing stuff just so others can think your more refined- Jesus did warn against it [don’t pray, fast and do charity just to make a show of it] yet at the same time we do want to be wise- to become informed about stuff. A while back I took my computer to a friend who offered to help me with the web site- I was/am a total amateur at web stuff- I know I write a lot- but I didn’t even have an email account until the last 5 years or so. Anyway as an amateur I try and seek wisdom from others who have been at this longer than me. So my buddy indicated he was a computer whiz and he offered to show me how the system works [it was when I first set up the blog]. As I was explaining to him that all I’m trying to do is have a site where people can click a link and read the books/studies separately [at the time everything was just one long scroll] he mistook what I was asking- he thought I wanted to do a PDF type file so people could download the materials. As he told me that this is what I wanted [which I really didn’t want] I tried to humbly say ‘I’m sorry, I must not be too clear- what I really mean to ask is this’ and I tried to say I don’t need what he’s telling me. He got silent- he stared at the screen and said ‘this is what you mean’- he was mad. Now- I didn’t want to get my friend mad- he was doing this for free- as a favor- but I began to realize he really was not much wiser than me on some of this stuff. At one point- being perturbed- he explained to me that the blog/web site only exists on my lap-top. That there is no ‘viral realm’ where the site exists. He was trying to say if I dumped the laptop in the bay- that the web site would be no more. Now- even as an amateur I realized my friend was not as wise as he made himself out to be- obviously a web site continues to exist- even if your laptop takes a drink in the bay.
Sometimes we simply need to check the source- a person might mean well- but not be capable of the task at hand. Fine- they meant well- but they didn’t have the capability to do the job. When the local news were enamored with the new top cop- they mistook ‘quoting Shakespeare’ with the ability to do the job. It’s good to be refined- to learn the classics- to have a grasp on world events- to be well rounded in your education- but at the end of the day if you can’t do the job- all the Shakespeare quoting in the world doesn’t help.
 ARE THE JAPANESE DISPROVING FREUD? One of the narratives coming from the Japan disaster is the response of the Japanese people. In contrast to our Katrina tragedy the Japanese are very self reliant. Jack Cafferty [CNN] read an email from some elderly lady who contrasted the 2 responses. She called the Louisiana residents who looted, killed, complained and wined- she said ‘those scumbags’ [ouch!] What are we seeing in the Japanese people? The media are referring to them as Stoic’s- the philosophy [ancient Greek- one of only 2 philosophies mentioned by name in the bible- Acts chapter 17 mentions the Stoic’s and Epicureanism] that said the secret to life is living on an even plane. Don’t get too ‘up’ or too down- just ride the wave of life as moderately as you can. The other side of the coin is Hedonism- the philosophy of men like Freud- who taught that the problem with man is that he is taught to restrain himself [by religion] and that this restraint is itself a product of neurosis. Freud was a strange fellow, the father of modern Psychoanalysis; his ideas were actually quite weird. As a Jew [non practicing] he embraced the higher criticism of his day [a way of interpreting the bible as not being actually true- just good stories] and he sought to come up with an explanation for mans religious bent. So he came up with the idea of the Oedipal Complex- a strange view of man that said the real problems of man are they have this view of love and hate for the father figure- and the ‘real’ story of Moses and the children of Israel was the Jews killed Moses in the wilderness [hatred for the father figure] they then felt guilty about it- and out of this guilt they would eventually develop a ‘religion of the Son’ [Christianity] and Walla- that’s the real story. You would be surprised how many people hear silly stuff like this in life [or college!] and they never give it a second thought. Like Pope Benedict says in ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ [1st book of a trilogy on the life of Christ] he mentions the theories of the critics [men like Bultmann] and he then responds ‘and how do you know this’? Bultmann [one of the famous liberal theologians of the day] would come up with ideas like this- and he would just espouse them. The funny thing about these critics was they were trying to challenge the historical accuracy of the bible- are the gospels true- stuff like that. And in their challenge they would ‘make up’ their own stuff [Oedipal complex] and simply expect everyone to believe it. So Freud taught that we need to free man from this neurosis of religion- this thing in society that says ‘restrain yourself’ and if we teach man to do and be all that he feels like doing- then we will have healed him of this destructive religious belief that developed out of a secret love/hate relationship of father. Wow. I can think of no greater philosophy to not live your life by than that. How did the Freudian experiment turn out? It was/is a disaster- I’m not just saying this as a Christian who rejects Freud’s atheism- but many of his ideas have also been roundly rejected by the psychologists of the modern day. Freud actually taught that when you counsel a person [yes- he was the originator of the idea of the patient lying on the couch while the counselor listens] that the patient is ‘transmitting’ psychic energy from himself to the doctor- and that’s what makes him better. Freud wrote Moses and Monotheism [his fictional account of the origins of Judaism/Christianity] Totem and Taboo- the fictional idea of the primitive religion of man- and Civilization and it’s Discontents, his explanation of the conflict between mans psychic life and the demands of society. The basic view of Freud [Hedonism] is a failed system that does not work in the real world. To live your life based on the philosophy of ‘if it feels good- do it’ does not work in any area of life- for the long term. In food, shopping, family life, marriage, sexual expression- the basic principle of self restraint and discipline [the Japanese response] is in great contrast to the ‘unrestrained’ view of life [as seen in some of the Katrina response- many of the looters and rioters were raised with a welfare mentality- they were dependant on the state/govt. to do things for them. When things went bad- they blamed the govt. for it]. In the end of the day- the society that practices self discipline- that teaches their children to be self reliant- those are the ones who have the most successful lives. Those who practice Hedonism blame stuff on everyone else.
(1332) Been doing some reading on church history/philosophy, it’s interesting to see the role that theology/Christianity played in the universities. Theology is referred to as ‘the queen of the sciences’ and philosophy was her ‘handmaid’. They saw the root of all learning as originating with the study ‘of God’. Many modern universities have dropped the term ‘theology’ and call it ‘the study of religion’. The study of religion is really the study of how man relates to God, his view of God; this would fit under anthropology/sociology, not under theology. Modern learning has lost the importance of the study of God and the role it plays in all the other sciences. The classic work of Homer [8th century BC] called the Iliad, has Achilles debating whether or not he should ‘stay and fight along the city of the Trojans’ and attain the legacy of a warrior; or to go ‘back to my homeland and live a long life’. He chooses to fight and lay his life on the line. The themes of the classics [courage, heroism, etc.] are biblical themes, even if God is not directly mentioned. The point being to try and exclude God from learning is silly, you can’t do it. Around the 17-18th century you had the philosophy of Existentialism rise up, as an ‘ism’ it really is a misnomer; ‘ism’ is a suffix that you add to the end of a word that makes it a system- ‘humanism’ ‘secularism’ etc. but existentialism is a word that means ‘anti-system’. Nevertheless the person who popularized this belief was a Christian, Soren Kierkegaard. The system he was rebelling against was the dead institutionalism of the Danish church, he felt that Christianity devolved into dead orthodoxy and lost all of its passion for true living and experiencing God. Nietzsche would pick up on this philosophy and apply it to atheism, and in the 20th century men like Albert Camus and John Paul Sartre would also embrace it from an atheistic worldview. They would say things like ‘man is a useless passion’ or write books titled ‘Nausea’ summing up the human condition. Though the 19th century atheistic humanists tried to give value and exalt the state of man, in their rejection of God and Christianity they were taking away the foundation for mans value. If you tell society that they arrived on the scene by some cosmic accident of evolution, and when you die you dissipate into nothingness, then how do you at the same time glory in his natural abilities to reach some point of Utopia? As the late Frances Schaeffer said ‘they were philosophers who had both feet planted firmly in mid air’. The point being when you neglect the reality and role that God and Christianity play in every sphere of life, you are then removing the foundation that these spheres were built on, true science and learning derive their basis from God. The greatest scientific minds of the past were either Christians or Deists, they were too smart to try and reject the reality of an eternal being.
(1346) In Luke’s gospel the parable of the pounds [money] has the master giving 1 pound to each servant and when he returns he takes the 1 pound from the brother who hid it and gives it to the other guy who made 10 more pounds with the first pound. Moral of the story, don’t squander your capital! One of the most influential works on human government was Plato’s ‘Republic’ Plato lived 4 centuries before Christ and in the famous work he has Socrates [his mentor] having a dialogue and discussing the elements needed for ordering a just society. The leaders must be educated and put the good of the people/community above their own personal desires. Leaders should be statesman and not politicians. As I was watching the news over the weekend they are still debating health care and both sides have stooped so low as to use the Haiti tragedy for political gain. On one of the Sunday shows, the person representing Bush was trying to be non partisan and praised Obama for his actions. Then the Democrat had the gall to contrast the quick response of Obama with the poor response of Bush to Katrina, these guys are never going to learn. Why are the Democrats willing to be the first party in history to push thru major legislation in secret meetings against the majority public opinion? They have calculated the cost, politically, of not passing something and have come to the conclusion that it would be better politically to pass something and take the heat, than to not pass something. Bill Clinton and others have openly said this, they have been found out on more than one occasion to have made this crass political choice. So in the minds of many of them it’s not a matter of telling many American workers ‘you are going to pay an extra 40 % tax on your health ins.’ and then tell the other worker, doing the same job ‘you do not have to pay the tax because you are a union member and we need your votes’ this is not statesmanship, this is political expediency- do whatever it takes to get your side to win, even at the expense of the public. President Obama [who I just finished praying for, and his family!] had lots of political capital at the beginning of the year, much more than any other president in recent history; but he took the ‘1 pound’ and squandered it, he blew it by making these terrible political calculations. As this new year begins it seems as if he really hasn’t made much out of the ‘pound’ that was given him at the start. It looks like the voting public is about to say ‘take from him the pound and give it to someone else’.
CLASSICS (1379) HOW SHOULD WE RESPOND TO UNJUST GOVERNMENTS? One of the most famous dissidents of the soviet era was Alexander Solzhenitsyn; Alexander was a simple school teacher who would serve in the military when Stalin was in power. He had written some critical things about Stalin in a letter to a friend and was put in the communist prison camps. While doing time he met believers and returned to his early faith as a Christian. In the year I was born  he wrote the famous ‘A day in the life of Ivan Denisovich’ it was a fictional account of a man in the prison camps and how he dealt with his captors. The main character would meet a Baptist believer while doing time and sort of represented Alexander’s own plight. Alexander came to fame when Khrushchev would permit him to publish his book, Khrushchev was advancing his own program of Destalinization and he underestimated Alexander’s criticism of all communist type systems, not just Stalin. He would also expose the evils of the prison camps in his other work titled ‘The Gulag Archipelago’. Eventually he was exiled to the U.S. [Vermont was his home] and received much notoriety as a prophetic voice who spoke out for justice. He gave a controversial speech at Harvard [1978?] and the western media came to dislike him; he was critical of loose morality and the evils of western society as well, he was not the sort of liberal crusader that they mistook him to be. Eventually he would return home to Russia and live to see the fall of the system he despised. History is filled with people who stood for what was right against all odds and impacted society for the better, Alexander was a school teacher whose life took a turn of events that he simply followed; he was not ashamed of the gospel and did not tailor his message to please the audience. I like that style; it reminds me of another revolutionary who gave his life to save the world.
 LIVING IN THE REAL WORLD?
I read an article the other day- some guy got busted for assault- because of Facebook. It went on to say how he posted a status update when his mom died- and he was waiting for his estranged wife to ‘like’ it.
She never responded- so he did what any normal person would- he jumped in the car and drove over to her house. Okay- I’m gonna ad lib here ‘knock knock’ she comes to the door and he says ‘go into that damn computer room right now and Like the status’!
One thing lead to another- and he got busted.
What’s wrong with this picture? I mean he was talking to her- in the ‘real world’ face to face- yet instead of saying ‘ex- are you sad that mom died’- no- he says ‘go like the post!’
Okay- this will be the last post for a while on philosophy- I think I did about 3 or 4 the last week or so- I used to do one subject and stick with it for around a month.
Then at the end of the study [Physics, History, etc.] I would stick them all together on the blog as a single study.
But I realized that new friends who are just reading the site- post by post- they might think that’s all I write about- so now I’m trying to just do a few at a time.
Okay- we made it all the way to Plato and his famous school that he founded at Athens [Greece]. Though Socrates was his teacher- yet Socrates never founded an actual school.
Like I said earlier- Plato had a view of Reality that was a bit strange. He was an Idealist- not in the way we use the term today [mostly] but he believed that Ideas themselves were the real world- and what we see/experience in the material world are not ‘as real’.
Plato believed that knowledge was A Priori- which means the actual knowledge about a thing exists before the thing comes into being.
The famous example he used was a Chair. He would ask ‘what is that’ pointing to a chair. The student would respond ‘a chair’ Plato would say ‘and how do you know this- how did you obtain that knowledge’ and he argued that in the Idea realm- there is a perfect form of Chairness that exists- and that’s why we can identify ‘the chair’ in the material realm.
Now- Plato’s most famous student was a man named Aristotle. He actually respected his teacher a lot- but there was some tension between the 2. Plato was more of a down to earth type guy- liked to wear plain clothes- did lots of his teaching by walking around the classroom- interacting with people.
Aristotle was more of a ‘Fancy Pants’ type guy. He had a little bit of the elitist thing going on. He was more of a book worm than Plato- and he would eventually start his own school to compete with Plato’s Academy.
Aristotle’s school was named the Lyceum. Aristotle was more of a Realist than an Idealist. He believed that this material world was more than just a copy of the Idea world. He taught that Substance and matter were very real- and that contained within the thing is the actual form and future potential of ‘that thing’.
For instance- the Acorn has within it the actual form of the Oak Tree. This form did not come from an Idea world- it came from the thing itself- the Acorn.
So matter has within it both the potential of its future form- as well as eventually becoming that thing.
For Aristotle- knowledge is more A-Posteriori- that is we obtain knowledge about a thing- from the very thing itself. We see/touch and experience that thing- and by our senses interacting with the substance- we get knowledge- after the fact.
Okay- to Aristotle all substance has both Form and Matter. Then what he called substance- had 2 categories as well. The ‘substance’ [actual thing it is] and the Accidens [not accidents- not a typo].
The Accidens was simply the outward appearance- what we see on the outside. It might not be what the substance really is- or it might.
This teaching would eventually become a major way that our Catholic friends would come to define the doctrine of Transubstantiation- during the 13the century the great thinker Thomas Aquinas would re-discover [and introduce] Aristotle’s teaching back into the church.
In his theological works [Summa Theologica] he would use Aristotelian thought to explain how the Bread and Wine become the actual Flesh and Blood of Christ. Thomas explained that the actual substance of the thing was Flesh and Blood- but the Accidens- what you’re seeing on the outside- looks like Bread and Wine.
Catholic scholars have debated for centuries on whether or not they should stick to the hard line teaching from Thomas on this. They are not challenging the belief in the Real Presence [that Jesus is really there at the Eucharist] they simply wonder whether or not explaining it this way is right.
Finally- after many years of certain Catholic scholars asking this question- in 1965 the Pope [I think it was Paul the 6th?] put out a Papal Encyclical [an official Vatican teaching] and he stated clearly that the way Aquinas taught it is the official doctrine of the church- so that settled that.
Okay- Plato was an Idealist [Dualist] and Aristotle was a Realist. That’s the major difference.
I will note that Aristotle’s most famous student was Alexander the Great. And during the great conquests of Alexander he took with him a whole team of scientists who brought back all types of specimens of things and he gave them to his famous teacher Aristotle- to advance the cause of learning at the Lyceum school.
It has been said that Alexander’s efforts at collecting and bringing these things back after their victories- that this was probably the most expensive scientific endeavor of all time- right up until the modern space Era.
Note- I try to avoid too many ‘big words’ in these posts. Not because people don’t understand them- but because I forget how to spell them! And in this post- there are around 10 words that my spell check has no idea how to spell- so just a warning- there might be a few misspelled words in this one.