Saturday, December 26, 2015

The Abolition of (the Imperium of) Man

The future generations, for all their technology, shall hold the least power of all.  So it is according to C.S Lewis in the Abolition of Man, a most excellent work on the folly and absurdity of trying to exist with purpose outside of universal and yes, traditional, morality (Tao, Lewis calls it, and I shall too).  Now Lewis is a great thinker, and what he writes has application even to this day and for generations to come.  Yet at the same time, I can't help but to be reminded of the history of the Imperium of Man as a fulfillment of Lewis's "planner society".

Now in a planner society, humanity has advanced itself so that via totalitarian government and the removal of tradition and a liberal education to foster morality and critical thinking a small group of planners are able to shape humanity into whatever they desire with an artificial Tao.  At first, this may be well intended, base upon the planners' airy notion of good and ideal societies.  Eventually, however, this gives way to whims and impulses, as the society's planners exist outside the society and do not share in its' members purpose and morality, they create it, being of the same nature but ultimately separate.  If the brain washing and the eugenics is good enough, the individual man is indeed in a stranglehold and has no power over his future or self, he is no man at all.  Does this sound familiar to anyone?

Hello friends, the Emperor protects!  Pay no mind to the cyborg slaves.... 
Gosh I love John Blanche's art, but it's dark.

It ought to, because it's the Imperium, not quite blow for blow, but in effect.  Horus Heresy stories like "the Last Church" show us the Emperor's dark side (which is most of him), destroying human traditions and societies to better fit his vision of a unified and powerful mankind.  Being an ├╝bermensch rather than Superman, the Emperor knows he is powerful and uses it it to gain more power, ostensibly for the betterment of mankind.  Eventually, the time before the Emperor is all but forgotten, as 40k fans know well, and the people of the Imperium are molded into fanatics from birth.  All mankind's amazing technological prowess of course is granted to the Mechanium, backwards agents of the Emperor, our 'planner' in this case.  They are able to carefully control it's impact on mankind, but in an interesting reversal of Lewis's fears have mystified technology rather than reducing anything simply to what is physically apparent and observable.  Anyone who's reading this blog should be able to fill in with more details himself, unless he has somehow fooled himself into believing that the Imperium as a monolithic faction is good.

Lewis was a medievalist, not a feudalist mind you, but a medievalist.  Not only in the sense that he was a medieval historian, but also in that he would have preferred for society to pace itself and would not so much have minded a more distant government that allowed local communities to flourish.  So it is somewhat ironic that his dystopia should be so well illustrated by a neo-feudal fantasy.  Now there isn't a greater point to this, I simply could not find any writing on the subject at all, but thought it was well worth pointing out.  (Having recently received a new collection of C.S Lewis's greatest writings for Christmas to replace my old copy that had been damaged, the Abolition of Man was fresh in my mind.)

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas!

Tomorrow (and today), Christians around the world commemorate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and soon, we'll be moving into a new year, 2016 (61 years and 10 months from the Great War, 257 years and 5 months from the invention of the Shaw-Fujikawa Translight Engine).

At that time, 3 Acres will be back with a vengeance.  For now, enjoy some family time and Church services and pies and new books!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Your Rights Went Out The Window?

In the wake of the recent shooting in San Bernardino, we're forgetting the victims, as we always do.  Robert Adams really sounds like my kinda guy.  But of course, in the finest tradition of the Washington cartel a tragedy can never go to waste, so we honest Americans are left to defend our right to keep and bear arms rather than genuinely help those left behind.  I'm not going to spill any more digital ink over the gun debate.  If you want my opinion, I'll direct you to look at the AR-15 lovingly kept unloaded under my bed.  Instead, I'm going to discuss something disturbing that I was told in what could generously be called a debate (I was defending the truth, he was well intentioned but ultimately wrong and uninformed).

I was informed that my "rights went out the window" after the maniac at Newton opened fire several years ago.  Pardon me?  Obnoxious mantras aside, it sounded as if a curfew privilege were being discussed rather than a constitutionally enumerated right.  There's something seriously wrong there.  Rights are universal, inalienable.  They don't disappear for everyone the moment somebody abuses them.  Now I was not thinking quite quickly enough to ask my opponent just where his rights came from, but I have a serious doubt that the answer would have been "God".

Oh no, not the Third Amendment,
I don't wanna quarter no troops!

Now, this might not seem like a big deal.  Why does it matter where rights come from as long as they're respected?  I'm going to let you in on a little secret, straight from John Locke to me.  Man's rights exist naturally because they are rights, not alienable, and certainly not privileges.  This might sound like semantics, but it isn't.  Privileges are given from one man to another as a trust or reward, and can be taken away.  Rights, on the other hand, are natural.  Not because they come from nature, but because they are a part of the nature of man.  We have rights quite simply because they are, beginning with the right to think, the right to realize that we ought to expect certain treatment.

Now man's nature was given to him by God.  He is the author of the laws of the nature of man, which happens to include our rights.  What God has given and has made a part of our nature may be taken from us by force to a degree, but they should not be, and can never be fully taken without destruction of the man who holds the rights.  Even under the worse of tyrannies, an individual has the right to say as he pleases and to stick up for himself, it is only by the tyrant's abuse of free will (part of the nature of free will) that the exercise of these rights are punished.  What man gives, man can take away, but man can never truly rob his fellows of that which is given by God, rights.  Oh yes, he may be physically capable of imposing a degree of control, but man is not the Sovereign,  he lacks the authority with which he acts, which means that when he does a great wrong it is justified and moral to oppose his actions, perhaps with force.

There will always be men who try to rob other men of their rights, and I'm not talking about the guys who try to outlaw porn ("but, but, First Amendment!") or the leaders who use Eminent Domain to build an airport (See the "Just Compensation" clause, 5th Amendment).  I'm talking about "Alien and Sedition Acts" or "Assault Weapons Ban" type guys.  Many of these people even have the best of intentions.  Good intentions do not justify the theft of essential rights.  A right is something which is truly intangible, to do so would be an evil act.  If somebody tries to tell you that your rights have gone out the window, and you aren't sitting in a jail cell (in which case many of your rights still apply), do me a favor and defenestrate the guy. (OK, don't do that, even the wrong-headed have rights).

Monday, November 2, 2015

Stand Tall

I've explained before that reason is important, very important, but ultimately reliant upon faith.  There are some things that we simply know to be true in our heart of hearts, and it is from here we build our worldview.  I  cannot imagine a world where Jesus Christ is not Lord and Savior, and where Principle is of little importance.  It simply doesn't compute.  Now, as a young Conservative, it can be hard to get that across sometimes.  My beliefs cannot be rationally defended as far as I'd like, because they are extrapolated from the knowledge which simply rests in my heart of hearts.

Sometimes, it is easy to uphold these beliefs anyways.  Looking out for strangers and friends alike, whether coming across an accident and doing your very best to help or giving generously and keeping quiet about it, that's still lauded in today's day and age.  The acts themselves take effort, they take sacrifice, but one retains popular opinion.  Some beliefs take more conviction to uphold.

Now I will admit to having backed down to hang on to respect with the masses, on rare occasion.  In particular, I confess that I touted a pro gary marriage stance recently, on the grounds that it's not really marriage, and that people ought to have equal rights, and that moral legislation is bad.  And you know what?  It was a mistake on my part.  I don't hate homosexuals, but that doesn't mean that I have to condone or facilitate their wrongdoing in any fashion, any more than I would make it easier for a kleptomaniac friend to steal, or permit myself to slander or cheat.  Personally, I would say that the government has no place in marriage, which is a sacred arrangement between man, woman, and God, not a legal arrangement.  The point is, one shouldn't conform their beliefs to society, one should work with passion and compassion and reason to conform society to their beliefs.

I can assure you being the cool kid was not
a concern for Urban II or Godfrey of Bouillon

Happily, this is something I do far more often.  It can be a challenge to put yourself out in public as Pro-Crusades, as sympathetic to Joseph McCarthy, as believing Islam to be an inherently evil faith.  These are not popular stances, to say the least.  None the less, I have found truth in them, truth based upon principles of Biblical teaching and upon fact, essentially.  I haven't earned many friends amongst my trendy liberal peers for the views I hold, to say the least, but I know that I am right, and that is enough. "Here I stand.  I cannot do otherwise, God help me. Amen!".

OK, so I've talked enough about the specific application of truth, beliefs I can defend with reason.  Here's where we get to something more basic.  The strong ought to protect the weak.  Why?  Because helping people is the right thing to do.  Why?  Because that's the way the Good Lord made us.  I cannot go much further.  Being good is simply what we as men and women were meant to do.  That means protecting people, from violence, from government overreach, there are many implications for the way we exist as people and as voters simply from the presumption that there is a proper way to conduct ourselves and it is not based exclusively upon self interest.

It falls to us to do right and to build the Kingdom here.
It is simply what we are meant to do.

Now if the government should declare wars to help people, why not help them with hand out programs?  A good question, but not the point here.  I'll be happy to discuss that (as well as my idea of the Church's role in running a society) at length later.  My point is this: I see a world, a world brutalized by Jihadist warlords and Communist despots, and those who claim to want to help offer nothing but sympathy.  It would not transform Western culture to declare a war on Evil.  Not at all.  First off, by fighting so that the oppressed may live decent lives in their own homes, we prevent them from being forced to dwell as aliens who don't integrate into our society.  Second, defending the weaker civilized peoples is a long standing tradition amongst the more pious men of the West.  We see this in the efforts of the Crusaders against the Saracen empires and of Gustavus II Adolphus against the Habsburgs, of the Knights of Saint John against Ottoman Turkish expansion and in British efforts against the Mahdi, in the West's war on fascism, in America's battles in Korea and Vietnam.  Currently, the Evil empire known as the Islamic State is raping and pillaging their way across the Middle East.  Rather than acknowledge the suffering they cause, the ability the U.S has to destroy them with our Righteous Might, and our responsibility to fight, there are many who would have us put our heads in the sand.

The good man does not simply know what is right, the good man does what is right, and does so willingly.  Jesus says "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst for righteousness: for they shall be filled".  There's a good chance that deep inside we know that which is right.  There are times when we will allow fear of rejection or repercussion keep us from speaking the truth.  No more.

So, to close, I say, come, let us plant our feet upon the rock and speak the truth together, no matter the cost.

Monday, October 26, 2015

What's On My Painting Table?

OK, So I've been a bit slow in getting my painting done.  Piles of lead soldiers await their turn.  So more for self motivation that anything else, here's what I've got in the pipes:

15mm Fantasy RPG and Skirmish Characters:  OK, I'm half done on these.  I've got a variety of knights who simply need a drybrush before they can be called done, they'll be great for Lion Rampant too, half have normal heraldry and half are painted as members of Holy Orders.  There's some rogue and wizard types who need a little more work, and a witch hunter I tried doing in blue who's going to be stripped and redone in black and crimson.  I've got a unit of spearmen ready to go, and some pikemen who need a LOT of work.

15mm Alien Project:  The squad of colonial marines and their autoguns are done, but I need some gray basing sand, as I hadn't discovered the process of adding basing material pre-priming when these guys got started.  The xenomorphs need to be de-flashed and primed, but then a few coats of black with a gunmetal drybrush should suffice.

15mm 40k RPG Characters: Some Ion Age Retained, a few squats, some specialists in carapace armor, some cultist and ganger types.  31 figures or so all told.

Forest:  I've got some wooded hills that are almost done, you should see these at the same time as my knights.  They're simple, but they look pretty nice.

6mm Mahdist War: This is a tiny project, and I'm not talking about the scale.  About 10 strips of Mahdi and 3 strips of Highland rifles, this is just a pocket game basically.  So, hey, if you need some extra Highlanders, we can work something out.

Dark Angels Company Master: Yup, just one figure from the Evil Empire.  I like their fluff, OK?

28mm Fantasy RPG:  I'm painting up a nice metal dragon by Reaper and some sort of death elemental thingy as a favor to my D&D buddies.  I believe the exact word's were "I'm gonna make them pretttty!".

Is this is for 3 Acres and a Tau?  Of course not!  I've got pretty clear plans for my next set of projects:

10mm Fantasy:  I'm gonna paint up a trinity of armies for Warmaster and Mighty Armies.  Some sort of humans are a given, either Bretonnians or English Civil War types.  There's also gonna be elves for sure, most likely from Pendraken's range with some Wood Elf auxiliaries from Microworld.  As a third army, I'm drifting back and forth between doing Warriors of Chaos Warhammer style or going for an orcish army.  It's a tough choice.  Not that it matters for now, considering my budget right now is looking at shoestring budgets with envy.

Team Yankee:  The upcoming Flames of War spin off set during a hypothetical Soviet invasion of West Germany in the mid '80s.  Supposed to be 15mm, and I'm waffling back and forth between actually doing it in 15mm or going with 6mm.  On one hand, I could do two full size armies in 6mm at a reasonable price, but again, my budget is 0, so who cares at this point, plus it'd be easier to play pick up games in 15mm.  Lots and lots of tanks, and that would be the killer for doing it in 15mm.  Tanks are pricy.

And that should keep me busy until I go to college and get a forced break from painting next Fall.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Why I'm Not Afraid of Cthulhu (It's Not Hipsterism, I Promise)

“We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far.” -H.P Lovecraft

OK, I love the Cthulhu mythos.  There are some great, if nihilistic tales of a secret history and a thin veil between civil society and a world of uncaring "elder gods" and crumbled empires.  That being said, the mythos falls into the genre of "cosmic horror".  I derive a lot of enjoyment from this genre, sure enough, but I've never really found it, well, horrifying.  Cthulhu is no more scary to me than one of the big bad monsters I've cut down in D&D, even though he's supposed to be a kinda big deal.  Why?

Simple, cosmic horror requires a certain buy in, or worldview to be scary.  Of course, all fiction requires a buy in.  However, it takes a special kind of fiction to require somebody to believe the exact opposite of what I believe to fully appreciate it.  Yes, the thought of cultists lurking in the night in scary.  The thought of turning into a deep one is pretty creepy, and I have no inclination to be a snack for Yog-Sothoth.  But without being able to get the proper vibe of hopelessness, these stories are just dark fantasy.

The first part of buying into cosmic horror is a sort of nihilism.  'The universe might have a purpose, but even if it does, it's so much bigger than you that your life holds no meaning, you just sit by the fire of civilization and science like a neanderthal who figured out that he's gonna be eaten by a sabretooth tiger smarter than himself made of fractals from another reality in the vein hope the fire will protects him, too afraid to warn his oblivious friends.  You, the reader, mean nothing, because you are tiny and weak minded.'  

The problem sort of splits into two issues here.  I believe in an omnipotent being who is benevolent, the Judeo-Christian God.  That's simply something I can't separate from my conception of reality, whether I'm on cloud nine or Johnny Raincloud, whether the right thing is the easy thing or I'd rather take the rather shabby course of action.  Now, why should this make elder gods less scary?

First of all, it means that the concept of something bigger than myself doesn't quite hold the terror it ought to.  Not being the undisputed supreme being is nothing new for me, and a High School Varsity player might be way over me, but he doesn't match up with an Olympic Champion, or the Good Lord as the case would have it.  Satan is big and nasty and tends to work in subtle ways, through people, in a much more manipulative and terrifying way than Cthulhu, with worse consequences.  And he still doesn't terrify me, because I've got Jesus going to bat for me.  

This first issue of being OK with being the magikarp of the universe sort of takes on a more mental role as well as one of physical strength.  Part of Lovecraft's gig is that we have no clue what the Hell the elder gods want, or if they like each other, or what their purpose is, what their civilization is like, and when we get a clue, the cost is our sanity.  Truth be told, I don't care to know "things man was not meant to know".  God hasn't explained everything to us.  The concept of the Trinity is pretty confusing in all honesty, along with the specifics that come with that, like Jesus and the Holy Spirit not knowing when the End Times are coming.  That, like so many things in the faith, is a mystery.  We don't have to or get to know, and that's ok.

The second issue here is the fact that Lovecraft plays at readers' self worth on a really high level.  Your purpose is a lie, your civilization is one of thousands that meant nothing.  Going back to God, that doesn't really surf with me.  God made us with the purpose of loving Him, one another, and ourselves.  We have a meaning because He gave it to us when he crafted us by hand, and when the Almighty says you're worth something, you're definitely worth something.  Since we have that value, our civilizations have value, and they won't end up cold and forgotten like the many that have gone before in Lovecraft's works.

Am I cosmically missing the point?  Yes,, my worldview means that what I'm getting out of Lovecraft's work is nothing close to what he intended.  You know what though?  I get enjoyment reading it the way I do, and using it as plot ammo in my RPGs, so, I'm OK with that, it's not as if I'm doing a deep literary analysis.  So you can run and hide next time you think your local abandoned mansion is the base for a cult, or you can join me in an 'Our Father' and burn that place to the ground.

If you must know what I do find scary or unsettling, look no further than The Road by Cormac McCarthy.  I didn't get attached to the characters, not the Boy or the Man, but that book brought me to tears all the way.  The very thought of a world that hopeless and lost to evil terrified me, and the thought of anyone with a shred of humanity and civilization having to live in a place where human beings farm one another for food and exist only as cannibal gangs, closed societies with dwindling resources, and solitary wanderers slowly going mad and unable be compassionate and survive had me bawling.  McCarthy did what Lovecraft couldn't.  He showed me a world without God, and it was beyond description.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Pulp Concept: The Phantom Cuirassier

Now, I'm something of a pulp fiction fan, and if you the first thing that comes to mind when I say that is Tarantino, you are sorely deprived.  "Pulp" was a somewhat derogatory, now affectionate, term for escapist fiction of various quality sold month to month in a magazine format throughout the first half of the 20th century, called so for the cheap paper it was printed on.  The stories could vary greatly in content, and writers like Lovecraft, Howard, and Asimov started off in the pulps.  Today they're most strongly associated with heroes like the Shadow, the Spider, Doc Savage, the Green Llama, and G-8, and "pulp" is used to describe any two-fisted heroes in a similar mold, including radio characters like the Lone Ranger and Green Hornet (who are related, by the way).

As much as I enjoy the existing tales, particularly of the Spider, Green Hornet, Lone Ranger, and Shadow, I occasionally devise ideas for heroes who I'd like to try writing a story or two for.  Today, I'm going to share one of those ideas with you.  What follows is in a style similar to a brief prologue for a character or serial, but expanded.

The Thirty Years War, a time of slaughter and chaos across the great continent of Europe.  The greedy mercenaries of the Holy Roman Empire leave a trail of widows and ruins in their campaign against the Protestants, advancing unhindered by the paltry resistance of German princelings.

In one of the many towns of the low country, a band of Spanish cuirassiers scrambles to plunder the homes of the dead Germans left in their wake.  Alfonzo De La Vega has his doubts about the looting, however, unable to reconcile the evil he has done in the name of the Catholic church with the merciful teachings of his family priest.  His mind clouded by a battle of morals, Alfonzo dismounts with his fellows to pursue fleeing civilians into the basement of a church, only to find himself and his six companions in an ancient temple built by heathens of ages long forgotten.

Wreathed in an eldritch light, Alfonzo De La Vega and his companions are transformed, each becoming a reflection of his true self, Alfonzo's form becoming a phantasmic blue, the visor of his helm forming a horrific snarl, a demoniac guardian angel.

His companions began to sprout horns, develop leathery skin and perverse appendages until reduced to little more than bipedal hellbeasts.  

A flash of red smoke, a boom from above, and Alfonzo found himself alone in the Black Forest, trapped in his otherworldly form, knowing by some Holy intuition that he was to redeem and restore himself by hunting and slaying his former companions and their ilk.

Using his blade to mark the sign of the Crucifix into his armor, Alfonzo swore that from that day forth, he would defend Catholic and Protestant alike from abuse, and would suffer no evil to go unchallenged until his quest was complete.  That day, Alfonzo De La Vega became the Phantom Cuirassier...

I figure that the Phantom Cuirassier falls into the rather unexplored category of "weird avenger", and also explores an underused historic period.  The lack of english language sources on the war gives me a lot of latitude with what I'm able to get away with, to be certain.  I figure that 6 "big bads" gives me some variety in style for major villains, as well as allowing me to kill a couple off, giving Alfozo real progress, without ending his quest.  Other foes could include rogue Jesuits or fugitive Templars who fall into the "Secret Satanic Cult" type, monsters from Norse style mythology, German war profiteers, heathen Croats, witches, unscrupulous Swiss mercenaries, and so on.  There's lots of variety for enemies and schemes, for sure.

As to character flaws, I'm thinking that Alfonzo will be easy to sway or confuse, in spite of his supernatural nature, and afraid to use his newfound powers (Passing through walls and setting his sword on fire), which he sees as potentially being sorcerous in nature.  Both of these are particularly useful in that they change his approach to problem solving, distinguishing the character.

Well, I'm reasonably happy with the idea.  The true test will be the first story, of course.