I am re-publishing this column in observance of Veterans' Day, and in honor of my Dad, a veteran of World War II and D-Day. They must never be forgotten, especially now that fascism, the very plague my dad and his comrades fought and bled to exterminate, is gaining power in Europe and even in the United States.
"For at any price, we must keep those who have too clear a conscience from living and dying in peace." -- E. M. Cioran, "Thinking Against Oneself" in The Temptation to Exist
Given how short Americans’ collective historical memory has become, many people – and it may be all “millennials” – would be hard-pressed to attach any significance to today: 6 June 2017. But before someone cues up the theme music from “Final Jeopardy”, please allow me to enlighten you: as of today, it has
Like most everyone else – that is, except probably for the actual actors and staff of Game of Thrones (hereafter GOT) – I have only watched the penultimate episode “The Bells”. So I know no more about how the series ends than anyone else. Least of all do I know who ends up sitting on the Iron Throne. That question presumably is answered in the final-season episode next week, as this is written (14 May). But if the Westerosi elite were to ask my counsel about who is best suited and equipped to sit on the Throne, I could recur to some ancient Greek texts, specifically Plato’s Republic, for some very wise advice.
But first a solemn
warning: If you have not seen this next-to-last
episode of GOT, then read no farther,
because reading past this paragraph will almost certainly
Like any other ideology-based group or community, Christian communities – churches and even entire denominations – have their own hortatory idioms, their own shibboleths, often drawn from the biblical text itself. One of the biggies for me, growing up as a fundamentalist Baptist, was “Saved by grace through faith,” right out of Ephesians 2:8-9. As a Catholic, I remember being admonished to “Follow your [i.e., my] vocation [or sometimes ‘calling’]”. As a non-fundamentalist but still conservative evangelical Christian, I well remember assurances that “God has a wonderful plan for your [my] life” (usually those exact words). Now, just so there is no misunderstanding, most of the time, these exhortations are just harmless rhetoric. (Usually … there are exceptions, e.g., the “Follow