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Rugaru: Chapter One
2020.10.19 08:00 JrubasRugaru: Chapter One
First chapter of a longer story. **** Jeffery Morgan stared absently out the wet back window of his Uncle Tim’s station wagon, his mind in turmoil. His delicate chin rested in his upturned palm and his clear hazel eyes swirled with secret worry. A green rucksack containing all of his most important possessions sat on his lap, its weight comforting, like a hug. Fifteen and bookish with lank brown hair and clad in a maroon zip-up hoodie, Jeff liked to think he was smarter than the average kid...because that was the only advantage he had. He was tall and willowy, limbs too long, and the polar opposite of athletic. He didn’t like sports or roughhousing, and video games failed to hold his interest for very long. He wasn’t like his peers and both he and they knew it: Some picked on him, but most left him alone...totally and soul-crushingly alone. He didn’t have any real life friends, but he did have friends online. He sometimes wrote fan fiction for a cartoon show that he no longer watched but once loved, and through that he met a group of guys on Discord that he really got along with. They were slightly older and edgy - they laughed about Nazis in voice chat and called everyone they didn’t like the N-word or the F-word. Jeff didn’t really like that, but it’s not like they were really racist or anything. Like one of them once pointed out to him, they were teenagers rebelling against their middle class liberal parents, so what else were they going to be but dumb and racist? Even with them, though, he sometimes got lonely. If he wasn’t reading or writing, he’d start to feel his isolation the way one might feel the flu or a toothache. It was all the worse because he couldn’t just go out and meet people if he wanted; he was shy and self-conscious, which made meeting people hard. He sighed. Next to him, his sister Kelsy folded her arms over her chest and fixed the back of Aunt Margaret’s headrest with a petulant expression. Twelve and bratty, she wore a sleeveless dress and sandals despite the November chill and her dirty blonde hair in a sideways ponytail that she thought made her look fashionable but actually made her look like something from the nineties. Like him, her features were soft and her eyes light. Her pert nose was different from his pug, and her lips were just a little poutier, as they should have been. Up front, Uncle Tim fiddled with the radio and Aunt Margaret endlessly scrolled through her iPhone. They were currently making their way through downtown Keyser, a working class community perched on the muddy banks of the Potomac River separating West Virginia and Maryland. Antiquated brick structures dating back to the 1880s lined the slanted streets and the spires of the stately Potomac State College building loomed high over town. Rain hissed on the pavements and traffic moved at a crawl. Jeff craned his neck to see, and spotted a crumbling concrete bridge spanning the gap between states. A confused tangle of train tracks followed the shore, old tankers and rail cars sitting motionless along its length, their bodies rusting like unburied skeletons in the rain. Westernport, Maryland, their final destination, lay ten miles downstream, a collection of comfortable houses, narrow lanes, and shady trees edging one of the many bends in the Potomac’s course. Jeff’s grandparents lived there, and now, after the accident, that’s where he and Kelsy would live too. Thinking of the wreck that killed his parents turned Jeff’s stomach. They were out celebrating Dad’s Big Promotion at work. It started to rain, much like it was now, and on their way home, Dad lost control of the car. Jeff’s morbid curiosity - a longstanding trait that had never served him well - got the better of him and he looked up news reports online. The car skidded, struck the retaining wall, flipped, then burst into flames. The police said they died instantly, but Jeff wondered if they did, or if that was just another empty platitude meant to lessen the sting, like they’re in a better place. Most words of consolation are. Grown ups tell you and each other whatever they can to ease the pain, whether they actually believe it themselves or not. People, Jeff had already learned, almost always prefer pretty lies to ugly truths, and if you give them a choice, like that guy in The Matrix with a red pill in one hand and a blue in the other, they’ll go for the lie and clutch it like a scared little kid with a teddy bear. He was no different when you got right down to it. Uncle Tim settled for a station playing Taylor Swift and Jeff grimaced. He didn’t like Taylor Swift, or most music for that matter. On the other side of the bridge, the highway curved up and out of sight. Uncle Tim turned left and followed another road matching the swollen river bend-for-bend. Kelsey glared at Aunt Margaret’s seat and impatiently tapped her foot. She didn’t want to move to Westernport. Unlike Jeff, she had friends back home in Franklin. Her life couldn’t be picked up and moved as easily as his. Sometimes, Jeff envied her. “You guys excited?” Uncle Tim asked. He was a pair of limpid brown eyes in the rearview mirror. “No,” Kelsey said before Jeff could reply. Uncle Tim shrugged one shoulder, at a loss for how to reply. He and Aunt Margaret didn’t have kids and they always struck Jeff as uncomfortable around them. “You gotta give it time,” he said. “You’ll settle in, make new friends, and before you know it, you’ll love it there.” “No I won’t,” she said sullenly. Jeff didn’t think he would either, but he didn’t like Franklin, and if his memory was correct, he didn’t like Parkersburg before it. They lapsed into silence and Jeff vacantly regarded the river, flashes of brown and white peeking through gnarled trees. A sheer rock-face loomed over the highway on the right, putting Jeff in mind of ancient ruins, and the blacktop angled up with the terrain. Now the river was below and the misty, time worn mountains of West Virginia directly across. From here, Jeff could just make out Westernport in the distance, white clapboard buildings clustered among dense stands of trees. He picked out the green roofed steeple of the Methodist church on Front Street, named (presumably) because it fronts the river. A mile outside of town, a foul smell crept into the car, and Jeff’s nose wrinkled. Kelsey sniffed the air and threw her head back with an exasperated groan. The highway wound out of the hills and hit a straightaway. A brown sign with gold writing stood on the right. WELCOME TO WESTERNPORT, MD. The smell was stronger now, burning the insides of Jeff’s nose and sending his stomach rocking like the pitching deck of a ship in rough swells. He looked off to the left, and there, screened behind barren trees and a chain-link fence, was the source. The sewage treatment facility. Big, boxy, and drab, like a prison, it sat on a rounded peninsula jutting into the river, thick white smoke billowing from its single funnel. Kelsey pinched her nose and Jeff breathed through his mouth. The stench produced by the plant - which treated wastewater and sewage from Westernport, Luke, and Piedmont - permeated every inch of town, as inescapable as sand in the desert; shutting windows didn’t help, spraying Fabreeze didn’t help, nothing helped except for getting far, far away. No matter where you went, no matter what you did, the cloying whiff of shit would forever haunt the inside of your nose. “I don’t wanna live here,” Kelsey whined. She sounded like she was going to break down crying. Uncle Tim chuckled knowingly. He and Dad grew up here, so he understood. Even so, Jeff detected a mocking inflection - he, at least, got to go back home to Moorefield. “It’s not like this all the time,” he said. “Only certain parts of the day.” “That’s still too much,” Aunt Margaret said and waved her hand in front of her face as if to dispel the odor. “It’s bracing,” Uncle Tim said dismissively, “puts some hair on your chest.” Aunt Maragret sneered in distaste, and he erupted in hearty, not entirely good-natured laughter. In town, Westernport Road turns into Church Street. A gas station, a McDonald’s, and a Dollar General crowded the left flank and a gentle hill topped will houses fell back from the right. Near the river, tumbledown row houses with dirty siding overlooked 1st Street, and closer, Westernport Elementary, an archaic two story brick deal with big windows, huddled where it had since the twenties. Because of the village’s cramped layout, the houses on Church Street were virtually on top of the road, front yards consisting of cracked sidewalk or, if you were really lucky, a sliver of grass just wide enough to attract fallen leaves. A diner, a bank, a barber shop, and a hardware store gathered around a four way intersection comprised Downtown. Ahead, Church Street crossed over George’s Creek, which bisects Westernport before filtering into the Potomac, and slithered off into the highlands to the north. On the left, Victory Post Road entered the neighboring town of Piedmont, West Virginia, by way of a bridge with no name. Uncle Tim turned right, taking them deeper into town, and Jeff took a deep, calming breath. The sooner they got there, the sooner he’d have to start school, and of all the things he wasn’t looking forward to in the coming weeks and months, that was number one. On the very first day, he would walk in there an outsider, and everyone would know he didn’t belong, that he wasn’t one of them. He didn’t want that. He wanted to be invisible. Victory Post Road weaved through the rest of Westernport. Jeff spotted the library, a Lutheran church, an auto shop - big roll-top doors open to reveal the shadowy interior of a garage - and the American Legion Post 155. Just across the town limits, Uncle Tim turned into a dirt driveway wedged between two hillocks. At the top, Grandma and Grandpa’s house, a squat American Foursquare with red siding and a pitched roof over the porch, occupied a wide clearing ringed by woodland. Smoke drifted from the chimney and warm, inviting light shone in the first floor windows, lending the place a rustic charm that put Jeff at ease...even if only a little. The tires spun and squelched in the sodden yard, and Uncle Tim gunned the engine to keep from getting stuck. “Every time it rains or snows, this place turns into a swamp,” he commented as he killed the engine. “Didn’t your dad say he was going to put gravel down or something?” Aunt Maragret asked. Uncle Tim snorted. “He’s been saying that for twenty years.” He opened the door and climbed out, and Aunt Margaret followed. Jeff lingered a moment, delaying the inevitable, then got out himself; thin drops of cold rain beat down on his head and shoulders, dampening his hair and hoodie. Kelsey, arms still defiantly crossed, sat where she was, brows furrowed stormily. His first instinct was to leave her alone, but now that Mom and Dad were gone, he was sort of responsible for her. “You coming?” he asked. “No,” she spat. The venom in her voice was strong enough to kill a grown man ten times over. Jeff’s resolve wavered and he almost walked away. “You have to,” he said. Uncle Tim and Aunt Margaret stood by the trunk, Aunt Margaret with her head ducked against the rain and Uncle Tim grabbing Kelsey’s bags. “I don’t want to,” she said, “I wanna go back to Franklin.” He couldn’t believe he was saying this - well, thinking it - but he did too. “I know, but you can’t.” She drew a deep breath and pushed it back out again in a savage rush. Jeff opened his mouth, then reconsidered what he was going to say. Uncle Tim doesn’t want us so it’s this or an orphanage. He glanced at his uncle through the rear window, then leaned in. “We don’t have a choice,” he said, “we can’t stay with Uncle Tim.” “I could have stayed with Kendall.” Kendall Kramer was Kelsey’s best friend. They did everything together, from putting on make-up to talking back to the teacher, and leaving her behind hurt Kelsey more than she would ever admit. Jeff was starting to get annoyed, but forced himself to be patient. Losing Mom and Dad was just as hard on her as it was on him, if not harder. “No, you couldn’t have. Her parents didn’t want you living with them, no one wants you living with them but Grandma and Grandpa.” That came out much, much harsher than he meant, and Kelsey flinched. Great job. You should be a councillor one day. Why yes, little Susie, your mommy probably does hate your guts. “Me too,” he quickly added. “We just have to make the best of it. I don’t want to either but…what else am I going to do?” She turned her head pointedly away, and Jeff rolled his eyes. Whatever. Slinging his bag over his shoulder, he slammed the door and went around to the trunk. The mud sucked at his Vans and he almost stepped out of them. Grandpa had come outside and stood on the porch, a cup of coffee clutched in one hand. Tall and lanky with white hair and a Wayatt Earp mustache, he wore a thermal undershirt tucked into dark brown trousers. His face was rugged and weatherbeaten, but unlined, and his blue eyes were sharp and crystal clear. He was sixty-six but if he dyed his hair, he could pass for fifty, maybe even forty-five. He flashed a tight smile and nodded, and Jeff nodded back. Grandpa was what the books might call a salt-of-the-earth type. He worked at the paper mill in Lucas for thirty years, voted Democrat until they got too far left, and raised chickens and pigs out back (today only a few hens and a single rooster remain). He looked tough because he was, and he looked mean but wasn’t. Uncle Tim slammed the trunk lid and, with a bulging bag in each hand, he struggled to the porch, Aunt Margaret trailing behind. Jeff glanced at the car to see if Kelsey was going to get out, and when she didn’t, he went on without her. Fine, he thought, be that way. “What’cha got in there?” Grandpa asked and nodded to the bags. With a grunt of exertion, Uncle Tim sat them on the top step and leaned back as if to crack a troublesome muscle. “Kelsey’s stuff,” he said. “She brought everything we could fit.” Because Uncle Tim only had the car, Jeff and Kelsey couldn’t bring much. Grandpa was going to hire a moving truck to get the rest and bring it out. Kelsey, laboring under the delusion that whatever she didn’t pack was going to be thrown in the garbage (or worse, given to charity) stuffed every single outfit, plush teddy bear, shoe, and keepsake into her bag that she could. Jeff came up the stairs to get out of the rain and Grandpa looked at him. “That all you got?” he asked. “Yeah, I don’t bring anything else.” The corners of Granda’s mouth turned slightly up in one of his muted quarter-smiles that you’d be forgiven for mistaking for gas. “There you go,” he said, “a real man travels light.” “A real man helps his uncle with heavy things,” Uncle Tim put in. “Grab one of these bags, will you?” Jeff picked one up, and his arm nearly came out of his socket. Uncle Tim wasn’t lying, it was heavy. Grandpa scurried ahead, opened the door, and stepped aside. Jeff stopped, got a better grip, and fought the bag across the threshold. The living room was a pit of gloom, lit only by the blue glow of an ancient TV and the light falling in from the kitchen. The local news was on, a weatherman standing before a map of the area and chattering about low pressure systems and umbrellas, and metal clanging sounded from the kitchen. Jeff took a deep breath through his nose then coughed. Moth balls, old people, and rump roast. To his left, an armchair and a canned rocker bookended a wing-back loveseat with an Afhgan draped over the back. Framed photos dotted the green-papered walls. Knick-knacks, doilies, and ornamental plates packed a scarred oak-wood hutch that looked as old as Grandpa, if not older. A broad set of oaken stairs to Jeff’s right provided access to the second floor. Being careful not to knock any of the pictures down or trip on the runner, Jeff carried the bag to the top. The hall was pitch black and he stopped to feel along the wall for the lightswitch. He’d been coming here every summer since he was a kid and still had trouble finding it. When he got it, dim yellow light filled the hall, chasing the shadows to the corners, where they nested and plotted their return. Up here, the walls were split in two by brown chair rail molding, beige paper with a floral pattern on top and wood paneling below. A vase full of artificial flowers stood on an end table in a little alcove, and scuffed wood flooring creaked under Jeff’s weight. The spicy scent of age seasoned the warm air and black and white photos of relatives Jeff had never met stared down at him as he passed. There were three rooms up here. Grandma and Grandpa’s was at the end of the hall and Jeff and Kelsey’s on either side. At Kelsey’s door, he turned the knob and went inside. Back home, Kelsey had a TV and a computer in her room, ditto Jeff, but here the accommodations were little more Spartan: A single neatly made bed, a dresser, and a rocking chair by the window. Wan light fell through lacy white curtains and suffused the darkness. A florid landscape panting hung above the bed and a full length mirror took up one dusty corner. With only her phone to keep her occupied, Kelsey was going to be bored. And when Kelsey was bored, she bellyached. Leaving the bag on the bed, he went downstairs. Uncle Tim and Aunt Maragret stood in the foyer with Grandpa, and Grandma doted on Kelsey, who finally decided to join them. Grandma brushed her fingers through the little girl’s hair and cooed like she was the most adorable thing ever. “It’s so good to see you,” Grandma said. “You too,” Kelsey said, partly to be polite and partly honest. Grandma unhanded her and turned to Jeff. “You get taller every time I see you,” she said and held out her arms. A short, rotund woman with long, messy hair the color of burnished steel and a pleasant face, she wore a red flannel shirt over a billowy black T-shirt that rustled with her movements. She believed in comfort over style and preferred men’s clothing to women’s because they fit better. Her hands were calloused and mannish from years of carpentry and tending the land, and her arms, when she wrapped them around Jeff’s lithe frame, thrummed with power like high tension wires. All those decades of chopping wood really paid off, he guessed. “I’m only six,” Jeff demurred. “Almost as tall as your grandfather,” she said. “6’2,” Grandpa said. He looked at Uncle Tim, who barely reached 5’7. “It skips a generation.” Uncle Tim snorted. “At least I don’t have to duck under everything.” “You have to stretch,” Grandpa said. He patted Uncle Tim’s belly. “Think you’d have less of this.” ‘I’m saving up for the winter,” Uncle Tim said. “Must gonna be a long winter,” Grandpa said. After Uncle Tim and Aunt Margaret left, Jeff took his own bag to his room and sat heavily on the edge of the bed. Like Kelsey’s, it was sparsely furnished with a bed, a dresser, a high boy, a wardrobe, and a desk and chair set. Jeff drew a deep breath and looked around, taking in every detail. He loved his grandparents and their house was a place of good feelings and good memories, but he didn't want to live there. As filled with love as it might be, it wasn’t home. Home was his parents, home was his room in Franklin, home was the lax rules and minimal oversight Mom and Dad employed. His grandparents weren’t overbearing, but they were different, older, and their ways weren’t his parents’. He’d just have to get used to it, though. Because his parents were dead and from now on, this place, this town, was his life. Like he told Kelsey in the car, they just had to make the best of it. And he honestly believed that. But the question was: Could he? And for that, he had no answer. *** Robert Dunham, chief of the Westernport Police Department, started Thursday morning as he did any other: With whiskey, coffee, and a visit to Faye’s Diner. A tall, lank man with black hair beginning to gray at the temples and icy blue eyes that belied his genuine warmth, Dunham had lived his entire forty-three years in Westernport, and had been eating breakfast at Faye’s every day since he was fifteen. It was a ritual for him, and if Dunham was anything, it was a creature of habit. He woke at the same time every morning, went to bed at the same time each night, and did the same things he’d been doing for twenty years in exactly the same way. His philosophy was this: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Change isn’t a bad thing, but too many people these days just aren’t happy with consistency. With all the computers, Facebook, and iPhones, the human attention span had shrunk and now everyone had ADHD and just can’t sit still. Dunham’s parents, like many of the old timers inhabiting the hills around Westernport, were livestock farmers, simple people with simple ways and conservative values. They went to bed at the same time every night, had dinner at the same time every evening, and watched the same TV programs every week. They rarely deviated from course, and alterations came few and far between. For example, Dunham’s folks had the same living room set for forty years. It was plaid, threadbare, and ugly, but comforting too, because while everything outside changed, it - and everything else in the house - remained the same, an island of stability in the shifting sands of time. He didn’t always feel that way. When he was younger, Westernport bored him to tears; outside of mudding, swimming in the river, and watching the mountains erode, there wasn’t much to do. If you had a car, you could drive the twenty miles to Cumberland where there were restaurants, a movie theater, the YMCA, and the mall, but if not, you were pretty much out of luck. As a kid, he wanted action, adventure, big cities, all the things you’d expect a rural farm boy to pine for. But he never got them. He stayed right here in town, married, joined the department, divorced, and passed his days doing his best Andy Griffith - which was pretty good, if he said so himself. Like the fabled town of Mayberry, Westernport was clean, polite, and safe. No one left their doors unlocked - even Aunt Bea wouldn’t do that - but if they forgot to before turning in, well, chances are nothing would happen anyway. Unfortunately, that was beginning to change. Meth production (and consumption) was quickly becoming a popular pastime in the area just like it was in small towns across the nation. Last year, the state police raided a house on Pine Street and seized enough meth to power a fleet of truckers for a month, and the year before that, a tweaker attacked someone at Dell’s Tavern and nearly killed him. Dunham likened it to cancer. Right now, they were in the early stages, but give it time and it would spread. Another sign of the times, he supposed. Whether change was good or not, it was beginning to creep in like the rising tide, and sometimes, it left him feeling lost. That made his daily visits to Faye’s all the sweeter. Situated on the corner of Church Street and Victory Post Road, Faye’s was housed in a converted rail car, long and narrow with big plate-glass windows and a chrome finish. Neon letters spelled DINER across the roof like a beacon to the hungry, and a special board by the door listed all of the things you could buy inside...which wasn’t much. Faye kept the menu simple and cheap. It wasn’t fancy food, but it was good, stuck to your ribs, and didn’t break your wallet. Just past eight, Dunham pulled into the gravel parking lot and frowned at the pick-up truck in his usual spot. Such a small thing and inconsequential, but it still nagged him as he drew alongside it and parked. His greatest flaw, his ex-wife Jeni said, was being “OCD.” He liked things done a certain way and when something wasn’t the way it ought to be, it bothered him, like a loose pebble in his shoe. He didn’t see that as a flaw, but he could admit that he took it a little too far sometimes. Obviously, or else Jeni wouldn’t have left him. Shoving those thoughts away lest they sour his mood, he killed the engine and got out. Cold drops of rain pelted his green canvas coat and mud squelched beneath his meticulously polished boots. Inside, a lunch counter flanked the back wall and booths with red vinyl upholstery lined the front. A Pac-Man cabinet that hadn’t worked in twenty years sat next to the bathrooms, and the warm smells of sizzling bacon, frying eggs, and hashbrowns drifted from the order window. A fat man in a green vest and a John Deere cap with a mesh back took up one of the stools, his hairy ass crack bared to the world, and a waitress in a pink uniform refilled his coffee, then went to the window, where a plateful of pancakes waited. Dunham unzipped his coat, brushed the hem behind his gun, and sat, leaving two spaces between him and the trucker. “What’d you say, Curt?” he asked. Curt Fields glanced at him, then grinned when he realized who it was. “Hey, Bobby,” he said, “cleaning up the streets?” Another lifer - one who had grown up in Westernport and was fated to die there as well - Curt drove for P.H. Anderson Trucking out of Cumberland. He and Dunham went to school together and were good friends in seventh and eighth grade. They drifted apart in high school. There was no reason...no bad blood, no umbridge...it just happened. “Not on an empty stomach,” Dunham said archly. The waitress came back, grabbed a mug, and sat it in front of Dunham in one fluid motion, as though she had been doing this for thirty-five years. To be fair, she had. Tall with bushy blonde hair streaked through with gray, Maud Anson was like Faye’s itself: A permanent fixture by which you could set your watch. Deep lines radiated from the corners of her mouth and eyes and her skin had gradually taken the appearance of cracked leather. She had to be in her sixties, but Dunham didn’t know and had never asked: It’s not polite to ask a woman her age. “Mornin’, Bob,” she said and filled the cup. “Morning, Maud.” “Usual?” Dunham mulled that over a moment. Creature of habit though he may be, he did enjoy occasionally mixing things up. Normally, he had an egg (sunny side up), two strips of bacon, two sausage links, and a piece of white toast, lightly burned. It was good, it filled him up, and that’s all that mattered to him. These days, he was starting to think Jeni was right. You’re too predictable, she huffed once, it’s irritating. In his defense, Jeni was one of those people who fetishize leaving their small town. When they first started dating in high school, they both wanted to get the hell out of Westernport, and some evenings, they’d park on Prospect Hill, lay in the bed of Dunham’s battered hand-me-down Ford, and gaze up at the stars while talking about all the places they wanted to go. Dunham eventually grew up and got practical, Jeni didn’t; she was a near forty-year-old woman with stars in her eyes and still dreaming of New York City, as though it weren’t an overtaxed, anti-cop hell hole. She hated the mundane and the predictable...and unfortunately, he was both of those things. Maud was looking at him funny, and he sighed. “Switch out the sausage for grits,” he said. Nodding, she jotted his order down in her notepad, ripped it out, and stuck it to the wheel. While he waited, Dunham sipped coffee and went through his mental to-do list. The dining room filled by degrees until every seat was taken and the roaring din of three dozen voices talking at once choked the air. Willey Harper, Westernport’s resident drunk, sat on Curt’s left and conversed with Dan Strode, the minister. Tall and willowy with a shock of white hair, an unkempt beard, and perpetually bleary eyes, Willey was the janitor at the high school before he hurt his back and went on disability. For nearly ten years, he’d been cashing other people’s tax dollars and drinking himself stupid. Dan, short and pudgy with glasses and a combover, had conducted every burial, marriage, and Baptism in Westernport since George Bush Sr. was president. After eating, Dunham laid a twenty down on the counter and left. The rain had slackened and a chilly breeze washed over him. He zipped his jacket up, ducked his head, and went to the car. Behind the wheel, he started the engine, backed up, and swung right. A truck hauling timber blasted by on Victory Post Road, and Dunham’s eyes went to the rusted chains keeping the logs together. Ever since Final Destination 2, those trucks made him nervous. All it took was one weak link and BAM, Armageddon in downtown Westernport. Turning left, he drove the three blocks to the police station, a modern brick-and-glass building on Church Street with a blue awning over the door. He parked in the side lot, cut the engine, and got out. In the lobby, he wiped his feet on the carpet and shook himself dry like a fussy dog. Tammy Reid, the secretary/dispatcher, sat behind a counter shielded from the public by durable plexiglass, her plain face buried in paperwork. A man-sized door to its right provided access to the squad room, and Durham went through. Cluttered desks dotted a wide, tile-floored room, and metal filing cabinets stood sentry against dingy white walls. Billy Norton, the station rookie, got up from his terminal and carried a sheet of paper over to the fax machine. Tall and thin with blonde hair, his brown uniform fit him perfectly, but still seemed somehow too big, as though he were a kid playing dress up and not a real cop at all. The illusion was strongest when he laughed. Mike Van Scoy came out of the break room with a styrofoam cup of coffee and took a long, languid sip, looking for all the world like a man who wasn’t on the clock. A ten year veteran of the force, he was Billy’s opposite in every way: Short, olive complexioned, and cynical to the point of parody. Crime wasn’t ubitious to Westernport the way it was to larger towns, but listening to Mike talk, you’d think he’d seen everything from serial killers to terrorism. In actuality, the worst thing he ever saw was - Dunham’s lips settled into a sour frown. “Morning, Chief,” Mike said. “Morning,” Dunham said. Mike fell in next to him. “Anything exciting happen?” Mike worked the overnight shift along with Gavin Holmes. “Just Craig Donner beating his girlfriend up again.” Dunham made a disgusted noise in the back of his throat. Every town over a certain size has its designated Bad Boy, and Craig Donner had been Westernport’s since he was fifteen. A few years older than Dunham, he started small, egging windows and fighting, then graduated to theft, assault, and manufacture and sale of meth. Willey Harper might be the town drunk, but Craig Donner wasn’t far behind, and whereas Willey was a happy drunk who didn’t bother anyone, Craig got mean. In the nearly twenty years Dunham had been with the department, he ran Craig in on thirteen different occasions, five of them for slapping his girlfriend, Candy, around. “Is he in a cell?” Dunham asked. There were ten holding cells in the basement, all of them empty as of yesterday afternoon. Mike shook his head. “Nah, Candy begged me not to so I left him.” That was Candy alright. When Craig got liquored up and started hitting her, she called, then when it came time to put him in the back of the car, she went to pieces. Dunham didn’t believe in victim blaming, but Candy had every opportunity to get away from Craig and be done with it, but she never took it. Hard to feel sorry for someone being bitten by a rabid dog when they refuse to leave its kennel. “Anything else?” Dunham asked. “No, sir,” Mike said and took a sip. “Alright, you can go home.” Mike nodded and rushed off, and Dunham went into his office. A small but tidy space with blue carpet, white walls, and a large oak desk that gleamed in the overhead lights, it was an oasis of order and stability and here, surrounded by plaques, certificates, and commendations from the state (some signed by the governor himself), Dunham found the peace that he had long missed at home. Sitting, he powered on his computer, then slipped a glossy photograph from the desk’s center drawer. A pretty girl about sixteen smiled up at him, her blonde hair spilling over her shoulder like waves of wheat and her crystal blue eyes still like mountain lakes. The atmosphere darkened with tension and Dunham’s lips screwed up in a puckered grimace. Veronica Nicely was three weeks shy of her seventeenth birthday when someone killed her in September. Her body was found in a farmer’s field west of town. She was fully clothed and face down, arms and legs splayed like the broken appendages of a discarded mannequin. Her chest and stomach had been slashed with razor sharp talons and her entrails fell onto the ground with a sickening wet plop when the medical examiner turned her over. Shedded fur salted her tacky skin and the ground around her. Dunham concluded that she was attacked by either a large dog or by the wolves who lived in the surrounding hills. Then the M.E. found the bite marks on her legs and inner thighs. They were human. Later on, the M.E. ascertained that the other wounds were made with a razor, not claws. They’re too clean, he said and traced one with his gloved pointer finger. Claw marks are messy, they tear the flesh. These are clean and precise. The killer wanted to make it look like an animal attack and did such a good job it fooled Dunham. If it weren’t for modern forensics, they might have gotten away with it. In the near two months since, Dunham had been following leads, asking questions, and compiling evidence...of which there wasn’t much. Veronica was pretty, popular, and kind; she never got into trouble, didn’t have a boyfriend, and didn’t drink or use drugs. At first, Dunham surmised that she was known to the killer, but by now, he had to admit that it was probably random, the work of an itinerant killer just passing through, here and gone like a shadow in the night. That nagged him. Having a cold case on his hands triggered his OCD and left him feeling restless. Thinking of her...a bright and vivacious girl with a promising future snatched rudely away...pissed him off. Her killer was out there right this very second while she lay under six feet of dirt in Mount Carmel. The unfairness of it all weighed down on Dunham’s shoulders and if he wasn’t careful, it would start to consume him. “We’ll find him,” he promised, and the croak of his voice in the silence disturbed him. This was one of his daily rituals, soothing in its monotony. At this point, he didn’t know if they’d catch her killer or not, but as long as he was out there, Dunham had hope. Returning the photo to the drawer, Dunham logged onto his computer and started his day.
2020.10.10 04:05 abclucid“Religion is a Tool Used To Divide Us”
How many times am I going to here this as a response to Christian posts? As long as they exist? I want to establish to everyone reading this right now that Christianity and it’s premise is very different from other religions. I will come full circle on this later.
“The definition of religion is a controversial and complicated subject in religious studies with scholars failing to agree on any one definition” -Wikipedia Oxford Dictionaries defines religion as the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods. There is a lot of western bias in defining religion. I am in a religion course right now in college and my professor took the first 5 weeks of class to go over what religion really means. A number of scholars have pointed out that the terminology used in the study of religion in the west derives from Judeo-Christian tradition, and that the basic assumptions of religion as an analytical category are all Western in origin. Daniel Dubuisson, a French anthropologist, argues that the idea of religion has changed a lot over time and that one cannot fully understand its development by relying on consistent use of the term, which "tends to minimize or cancel out the role of history". "What the West and the history of religions in its wake have objectified under the name 'religion' is ... something quite unique, which could be appropriate only to itself and its own history." George Lindbeck, a Lutheran and a postliberal theologian says that religion does not refer to belief in God or a transcendent Absolute, but rather to "a kind of cultural and/or linguistic framework or medium that shapes the entirety of life and thought ... it is similar to an idiom that makes possible the description of realities, the formulation of beliefs, and the experiencing of inner attitudes, feelings, and sentiments." The scholars of philosophy of religion see the definitions of religion tend to suffer from one of two problems: 1) they are either too narrow and exclude many belief systems which most agree as religious, or 2) they are too vague, wide, generic and ambiguous, suggesting that just about any and everything is a religion Thus given all of this it is pretty much a nothing sandwich to ignorantly make the claim “religion is a tool to divide us”. That is such a vague blanket statement that is being applied to any and all things in the world that involve anything remotely close to what we think of as religion. Extrapolating your “religion” definition outward (requiring generality) will lead you to the conclusion that things you normally wouldn’t consider religion could be thrown under that definition, thus making the statement too vague and unreliable. Minimizing your definition of religion to be more strict will ultimately exclude certain ways of spirituality as presented, leading to the conclusion that you cannot cover all of the religions you wish to demonize. There is also this idea that is somehow floating around here that just because a religion can be used to divide people, that it’s somehow automatically not true. This is just foolish. ANYTHING YOU CAN THINK OF can be a tool. ANYTHING. And guess what? If there really is a group of men that control the world in various ways, THEY ARE GOING TO USE EVERYTHING THEY CAN FOR THEIR PURPOSES. Duh, right? So let’s just assume for a second that Christianity is 100% true, the Bible is all true. Can the (might I remind you they are proven Luciferian) ritualistic child molesters use the Bible in ways to discredit it? Yeah... they can... So let’s just stop right there, there absolutely is no logical connection from Can be used for evil -> to -> is inherently wrong That much is fact. You cannot take point A and say because B then C. It just does not work. Now I hope we can agree on that much. You don’t have to concede your atheism based on that, just please recognize how general a statement that is, and stop chucking it around wildly when people of faith make posts here involving religion. You’re not enlightened, woke, illuminated, or above anyone in any way shape or form by vomiting that phrase. The only thing you can say is that they use the religion for evil, not that it is wrong. You are not taking down their entire belief with such a dumb statement, you are instead making a fool of yourself, demonstrating an ignorance of the truth of how each and every religion is a CASE BY CASE BASIS of truths and lies and working out philosophically, logically, and many other ways whether they hold up or not. I argue that no faith stands up to the scrutiny except Christianity. But here’s the thing; Christianity, for the purposes of this conversation absolutely cannot be interchangeable with what the world on the surface perceived as “Christianity” It is for this very reason you will have plenty of Christians that choose not to use the label “Christian”. They go out of their way to separate themselves from the corruption that the world sees as representative of Christianity. The best way I can summarize this, is that “modern Christianity” is not synonymous with the Bible. Mega churches are preaching the prosperity gospel. I will be the first to say don’t go to them. They ARE AGENTS OF SATAN. Destroy the system from within, I mean why the hell wouldn’t you if you were Satan? You act like things can’t be tampered with and corrupted. And when I say that, don’t start typing about how the Bible is all corrupted. I will demonstrate things to you that you ought to know, atheist or Christian alike. As atheists, you should know the reliability of the Bible is absolutely unparalleled in history. The Catholic system and church system has resulted in many pedo related things as you know. Again, find where the Bible promotes that? I can give you a verse that utterly condemns it: Matthew 18:6 But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Now, that being said you CAN say the Bible is not true, separately, which is an entirely new discussion to be had. However you guys have some pretty terrible arguments for why it’s not true. I have been slandered in the comments and heavily downvoted for things that once pressed on, you guys have no logic or actual substance of argument. Almost no one here has proposed anything substantial in the way of discrediting my ReLiGiOn. Consider the following statements: -The Bible says that God helps those who help themselves. -The books of the New Testament were written centuries after the events they describe. -Cleanliness is next to godliness is in the Bible. According to the Bible, the earth is flat. -The earliest New Testament manuscripts go back only to the fourth or fifth centuries A.D. -The Bible teaches that the earth is the center of the universe. -The English Bible is a translation of a translation of a translation (etc.) of the original, and fresh errors were introduced in each stage of the process. How many of these statements do you think are true? The answer is that all of them are false. Yet these false impressions persist in the minds of many, and misinformation like this produces a skeptical attitude toward the Bible.
How can you be sure that the Bible is the same now as when it was written? “The Bible has been copied and translated so many times! Haven't you ever played the game where people sit in a circle and pass a sentence from one person to the next until it comes back around in a completely distorted version? If that could happen in a room in just a few minutes, think of all the errors and changes that must have filled the Bible in the centuries since it was first written!” There are three lines of evidence that support the claim that the biblical documents are reliable: these are the bibliographic test, the internal test, and the external test. The first test examines the biblical manuscripts, the second test deals with the claims made by the biblical authors, and the third test looks to outside confirmation of the biblical content.
I. The Bibliographic Test
A. THE QUANTITY OF MANUSCRIPTS In the case of the Old Testament, there are a small number of Hebrew manuscripts, because the Jewish scribes ceremonially buried imperfect and worn manuscripts. Many ancient manuscripts were also lost or destroyed during Israel's turbulent history. Also, the Old Testament text was standardized by the Masoretic Jews by the sixth century A.D., and all manuscripts that deviated from the Masoretic Text were evidently eliminated. But the existing Hebrew manuscripts are supplemented by the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Septuagint (a third-century B.C. Greek translation of the Old Testament), the Samaritan Pentateuch, and the Targums (ancient paraphrases of the Old Testament), as well as the Talmud (teachings and commentaries related to the Hebrew Scriptures). The quantity of New Testament manuscripts is unparalleled in ancient literature. There are over 5,000 Greek manuscripts, about 8,000 Latin manuscripts, and another 1,000 manuscripts in other languages (Syriac, Coptic, etc.). In addition to this extraordinary number, there are tens of thousands of citations of New Testament passages by the early church fathers. In contrast, the typical number of existing manuscript copies for any of the works of the Greek and Latin authors, such as Plato, Aristotle, Caesar, or Tacitus, ranges from one to 20. B. THE QUALITY OF MANUSCRIPTS Because of the great reverence the Jewish scribes held toward the Scriptures, they exercised extreme care in making new copies of the Hebrew Bible. The entire scribal process was specified in meticulous detail to minimize the possibility of even the slightest error. The number of letters, words, and lines were counted, and the middle letters of the Pentateuch and the Old Testament were determined. If a single mistake was discovered, the entire manuscript would be destroyed. As a result of this extreme care, the quality of the manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible surpasses all other ancient manuscripts. The 1947 discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls provided a significant check on this, because these Hebrew scrolls antedate the earliest Masoretic Old Testament manuscripts by about 1,000 years. But in spite of this time span, the number of variant readings between the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Masoretic Text is quite small, and most of these are variations in spelling and style. While the quality of the Old Testament manuscripts is excellent, that of the New Testament is very good--considerably better than the manuscript quality of other ancient documents. Because of the thousands of New Testament manuscripts, there are many variant readings, but these variants are actually used by scholars to reconstruct the original readings by determining which variant best explains the others in any given passage. Some of these variant readings crept into the manuscripts because of visual errors in copying or because of auditory errors when a group of scribes copied manuscripts that were read aloud. Other errors resulted from faulty writing, memory, and judgment, and still others from well-meaning scribes who thought they were correcting the text. Nevertheless, only a small number of these differences affect the sense of the passages, and only a fraction of these have any real consequences. Furthermore, no variant readings are significant enough to call into question any of the doctrines of the New Testament. The New Testament can be regarded as 99.5 percent pure, and the correct readings for the remaining 0.5 percent can often be ascertained with a fair degree of probability by the practice of textual criticism. C. THE TIME SPAN OF MANUSCRIPTS Apart from some fragments, the earliest Masoretic manuscript of the Old Testament is dated at A.D. 895. This is due to the systematic destruction of worn manuscripts by the Masoretic scribes. However, the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls dating from 200 B.C. to A.D. 68 drastically reduced the time span from the writing of the Old Testament books to our earliest copies of them. The time span of the New Testament manuscripts is exceptional. The manuscripts written on papyrus came from the second and third centuries A.D. The John Rylands Fragment (P52) of the Gospel of John is dated at A.D. 117-38, only a few decades after the Gospel was written. The Bodmer Papyri are dated from A.D. 175-225, and the Chester Beatty Papyri date from about A.D. 250. The time span for most of the New Testament is less than 200 years (and some books are within 100 years) from the date of authorship to the date of our earliest manuscripts. This can be sharply contrasted with the average gap of over 1,000 years between the composition and the earliest copy of the writings of other ancient authors. To summarize the bibliographic test, the Old and New Testaments enjoy far greater manuscript attestation in terms of quantity, quality, and time span than any other ancient documents.
II. The Internal Test
The second test of the reliability of the biblical documents asks, What claims does the Bible make about itself? This may appear to be circular reasoning. It sounds like we are using the testimony of the Bible to prove that the Bible is true. But we are really examining the truth claims of the various authors of the Bible and allowing them to speak for themselves. (Remember that the Bible is not one book but many books woven together.) This provides significant evidence that must not be ignored. A number of biblical authors claim that their accounts are primary, not secondary. That is, the bulk of the Bible was written by people who were eyewitnesses of the events they recorded. John wrote in his Gospel, And he who has seen has borne witness, and his witness is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you also may believe (John 19:35; see 21:24). In his first epistle, John wrote, What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we beheld and our hands handled concerning the Word of life . . . what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also (1 John 1:1, 3). Peter makes the same point abundantly clear: For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty (2 Peter 1:16; also see Acts 2:22; 1 Peter 5:1). The independent eyewitness accounts in the New Testament of the life, death, and resurrection of Christ were written by people who were intimately acquainted with Jesus Christ. Their gospels and epistles reveal their integrity and complete commitment to the truth, and they maintained their testimony even through persecution and martyrdom. All the evidence inside and outside the New Testament runs contrary to the claim made by form criticism that the early church distorted the life and teachings of Christ. Most of the New Testament was written between A.D. 47 and 70, and all of it was complete before the end of the first century. There simply was not enough time for myths about Christ to be created and propagated. And the multitudes of eyewitnesses who were alive when the New Testament books began to be circulated would have challenged blatant historical fabrications about the life of Christ. The Bible places great stress on accurate historical details, and this is especially obvious in the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts, Luke's two-part masterpiece (see his prologue in Luke 1:1-4).
III. The External Test
Because the Scriptures continually refer to historical events, they are verifiable; their accuracy can be checked by external evidence. The chronological details in the prologue to Jeremiah (1:1-3) and in Luke 3:1-2 illustrate this. Ezekiel 1:2 allows us to date Ezekiel's first vision of God to the day (July 31, 592 B.C.). The historicity of Jesus Christ is well-established by early Roman, Greek, and Jewish sources, and these extrabiblical writings affirm the major details of the New Testament portrait of the Lord. The first-century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus made specific references to John the Baptist, Jesus Christ, and James in his Antiquities of the Jews. In this work, Josephus gives us many background details about the Herods, the Sadducees and Pharisees, the high priests like Annas and Caiaphas, and the Roman emperors mentioned in the gospels and Acts. We find another early secular reference to Jesus in a letter written a little after A.D. 73 by an imprisoned Syrian named Mara Bar-Serapion. This letter to his son compares the deaths of Socrates, Pythagoras, and Christ. Other first- and second-century writers who mention Christ include the Roman historians Cornelius Tacitus (Annals) and Suetonius (Life of Claudius, Lives of the Caesars), the Roman governor Pliny the Younger (Epistles), and the Greek satirist Lucian (On the Death of Peregrine). Jesus is also mentioned a number of times in the Jewish Talmud. The Old and New Testaments make abundant references to nations, kings, battles, cities, mountains, rivers, buildings, treaties, customs, economics, politics, dates, etc. Because the historical narratives of the Bible are so specific, many of its details are open to archaeological investigation. While we cannot say that archaeology proves the authority of the Bible, it is fair to say that archaeological evidence has provided external confirmation of hundreds of biblical statements. Higher criticism in the 19th century made many damaging claims that would completely overthrow the integrity of the Bible, but the explosion of archaeological knowledge in the 20th century reversed almost all of these claims. Noted archaeologists such as William F. Albright, Nelson Glueck, and G. Ernest Wright developed a great respect for the historical accuracy of the Scriptures as a result of their work. Out of the multitude of archaeological discoveries related to the Bible, consider a few examples to illustrate the remarkable external substantiation of biblical claims. Excavations at Nuzi (1925-41), Mari (discovered in 1933), and Alalakh (1937-39; 1946-49) provide helpful background information that fits well with the Genesis stories of the patriarchal period. The Nuzi tablets and Mari letters illustrate the patriarchal customs in great detail, and the Ras Shamra tablets discovered in ancient Ugarit in Syria shed much light on Hebrew prose and poetry and Canaanite culture. The Ebla tablets discovered recently in northern Syria also affirm the antiquity and accuracy of the Book of Genesis. Some scholars once claimed that the Mosaic Law could not have been written by Moses, because writing was largely unknown at that time and because the law code of the Pentateuch was too sophisticated for that period. But the codified Laws of Hammurabi (ca. 1700 B.C.), the Lipit-Ishtar code (ca. 1860 B.C.), the Laws of Eshnunna (ca. 1950 B.C.), and the even earlier Ur-Nammu code have refuted these claims. Quotes from Former Atheists: Jim Wallace, former cold-case homicide detective, assistant professor of apologetics (Biola University), once vocal atheist:
“If skeptics were willing to give the Gospels the same ‘benefit of the doubt’ they are willing to give other ancient documents, the Gospels would easily pass the test of authorship”
Frank Tippler, mathematical physicist, cosmologist, joint appointment in the Departments of Mathematics and Physics at Tulane University:
“When I began my career as a cosmologist some twenty years ago, I was a convinced atheist. I never in my wildest dreams imagined that one day I would be writing a book purporting to show that the central claims of Judeo-Christian theology are in fact true, that these claims are straightforward deductions of the laws of physics as we now understand them. I have been forced into these conclusions by the inexorable logic of my own special branch of physics”
“Atheism, I began to realize, rested on a less-than-satisfactory evidential basis. The arguments that had once seemed bold, decisive, and conclusive increasingly turned out to be circular, tentative, and uncertain.” “Christianity offers a worldview that leads to the generation of moral values and ideals that are able to give moral meaning and dignity to our existence”
Rick Oliver, member of American Federation of Herpetoculturalists, California Science Teachers Association, and New York Academy of Science:
“I remember how frustrated I became when, as a young atheist, I examined specimens under the microscope. I would often walk away and try to convince myself that I was not seeing examples of extraordinary design, but merely the product of some random, unexplained mutations”
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (1918 – 2008), Russian writer, winner of 1970 Nobel Prize in literature. Reveals life under the the state atheism and communism of the Soviet Union:
“Over a half century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of old people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.” Since then I have spent well-nigh 50 years working on the history of our revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous revolution that swallowed up some 60 million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened”
Antony Flew (1923-2010), once leading atheist philosopher, part of analytic and evidentialist schools of thought. Strong advocate of atheism, criticizer of the idea of life after death, free will defense to the problem of evil, and the concept of God. 2003 signer of the Humanist Manifesto. Converted to deism in 2004, held to an Aristotelian notion of God:
”It now seems to me that the findings of more than fifty years of DNA research have provided materials for a new and enormously powerful argument to design.” “I now believe there is a God…I now think it [the evidence] does point to a creative Intelligence almost entirely because of the DNA investigations. What I think the DNA material has done is that it has shown, by the almost unbelievable complexity of the arrangements which which are needed to produce life, that intelligence must have been involved in getting these extraordinarily diverse elements to work together.” “…we have all the evidence we need in our immediate experience and that only a deliberate refusal to “look” is responsible for atheism of any variety.”
Francis Collins, geneticist respected for discoveries of disease genes and leadership of the Human Genome Project. Director of the National Institutes of Health. Author of numerous books on science, medicine, and spirituality:
“I believe God did intend, in giving us intelligence, to give us the opportunity to investigate and appreciate the wonders of His creation. He is not threatened by our scientific adventures.” “The God of the Bible is also the God of the genome. He can be worshipped in the cathedral or in the laboratory. His creation is majestic, awesome, intricate and beautiful – and it cannot be at war with itself. Only we imperfect humans can start such battles. And only we can end them.”
Peter Hitchens, well-known English journalist, author, and brother of anti-theist Christopher Hitchens:
“I thought this gesture [burning his Bible] was a way of showing that I had finally rejected all the things that I had been brought up to believe, and I went on to behave for the next 20 years of my life exactly as if I didn’t believe in him [God], and that’s how I discovered in the end that what I had rejected was right.” “The current intellectual assault on God in Europe and North America is in fact a specific attack on Christianity – the faith that stubbornly persists in the morality, laws, and government of the major Western countries. . . .The God they fight is the Christian God, because he is their own God. . . .God is the leftists’ chief rival. Christian belief, by subjecting all men to divine authority and by asserting in the words ‘My kingdom is not of this world’ that the ideal society does not exist in this life, is the most coherent and potent obstacle to secular utopianism. . . . the Bible angers and frustrates those who believe that the pursuit of a perfect society justifies the quest for absolute power.” “…when it comes to the millions of small and tedious good deeds that are needed for a society to function with charity, honesty, and kindness, a shortage of believing Christians will lead to that society’s decay.”
Philip Vander Elst, freelance writer and lecturer of over 30 years in politics and journalism. Works for Areopagus Ministries:
“So, confronted by all these facts and arguments – philosophical, scientific, and historical – I surrendered my sword of unbelief to God, and asked Jesus to forgive my sins and come into my life during the hot, dry summer of 1976. In the years that have followed, I have never regretted that decision, despite many ups and downs and trials of my faith.”
Craig Keener, leading scholar, professor of New Testament at Asbury Theological Seminary, expert in Christian Origins:
“I thought that atheism was “smart.” When my grandmother argued for a first cause, I replied by postulating an infinite regression of causes (my arrogance left me unaware that my response violated modern physics!) Yet unknown to me, my father’s mother, sister, and the sister’s family were praying for our family. When I was 13, reading Plato raised for me the question of life after death, but Plato’s answers did not seem adequate. I began to realize that only an infinite Being could guarantee the hope of eternal life. Yet if such a Being existed, there seemed no reason why that Being would care about me, even if that Being were perfectly loving enough to give life to some. I was incurably selfish and undeserving of a loving Being’s attention; it seemed to me that if I pretended to love, it was only for the self-serving purpose of getting that Being’s attention. Yet shortly before I turned 15, I began to secretly cry out, “God, if You are there—please show me.”
What do so, so many testimonies have in common? Reaching a place of humility and calling out to God to reveal himself. Now if you do this with a hardened heart, for example praying for God to reveal himself to you with the expectation that nothing will happen, then you can go prove Christians wrong, you won’t be met with God’s love likely. You must come from a place of humility. As if to say “god I don’t know if you’re real or not. I don’t know what to think about all of the conflicting things I’m feeling but I’m going to just throw myself upon you and put my trust in you, pleas reveal yourself to me” or a variation thereof, but ultimately keeping Jesus in the equation, since biblically Jesus is God. A refusal to open your heart will result in you being atheist your whole life. You may open your heart to humans, to plants, to their animals, to spirits and principalities, but you will harden your heart when it comes to God. Pray for Jesus to reveal himself to you with all your heart. Put your trust in him and you WILL be saved. Stop equating all religions, and wrapping them up in a blanket of generalized conspiracy statements that are also true about many other things. Stop acting like Christianity is similar to other religions, it’s really not. In all other major religions the focus is on man and his works, what he does with his life and how he is, “the way”, etc etc. Christianity stands out in that it is not about woman reaching up to Gods standard, it is recognizing that that is impossible, (place of humility in comparison to God) and that he is the only way for you to be saved, Jesus. The minute you put your faith in him you are SEALED with the Holy Spirit, one of the persons of the triune Godhead. The Holy Spirit then begins to work in you to try and conform you to the image of Christ. This is sanctification, and never ends as long as we are alive. When we die, that is glorification, when we are finally departed from our flesh nature part of our being, and receive glorified bodies, the same as what Jesus appeared to his disciples in after he rose from the dead. We could probably fly, walk through walls, and more. The Holy Spirit will never leave you, you cannot be separated from Gods love. Becoming a Christian means you put your faith in him and align your will with his. You choose to be part of Gods family, then he adopts you into it, and will never leave you. You may leave him, but God is always right there for when you come back to him. God will not “straighten out” those who are not his children. Atheists, you choose not to be in Gods family so God will not spiritually guide you and conform you to be better. Part of a Christian “walk” is that you encounter things that purposely are meant to strengthen you in your relationship with God. That could include many hardships. God doesn’t promise us the world, because we are in this world but not of it. Our minds are set on the things above, not on the treasures of the earth, which are transient, and will ultimately be destroyed or corrupted. Build up your treasures in heaven, where thieves do not come to steal, where the air doesn’t corrupt it, where only peace and love in Jesus exists. Pure joy in Christ. God gives us small glimpses of that joy on earth if you’re a Christian. I’ve felt them. But it’s nothing compared to what is next. Take the leap of faith, or don’t, it’s up to you. But don’t sit here slandering us for trying to follow Christ, someone we should all be able to agree was a fantastic model of excellence in human life. The “Gospel” is not to be a good person. That comes with love for Jesus and what he did for us. This is the gospel: 1 Corinthians 15 1 ¶ Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. 3 ¶ For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: Amen.
2020.10.07 07:48 e_c_verra2I am in love with my best friend. I am 90% sure she is too, but I don't know what to do next.
Okay, so fair warning this is going to be long, complicated, and there will be ALOT to unpack here. Tl;dr will be at the bottom. So I (M22) have been friends with "Jamie" since we were 15-14 respectfully. We have been best friends since we were both 17. Before I get into what the post is about I want to explain who each of us are as individuals. Jamie is a project oriented person. When we were in school, she was heavily involved with our school's ROTC (JR.) program. Rising to the top three by our third year and saving it from the brink of collapse her freshman year, and again the year after we graduated. She is a member of the LDS Church (for the uninformed, she is a Mormon.) and very proud of her faith. That said however, her and her family are unorthodox members, mainly sticking to the Theology of the religion and only engaging with their local church rather then participate in the majority of the culture of the world wide organization. (let me know if that doesn't make sense and I'll do my best to explain further). Then there is me, I was raised as a Lutheran, but I abandoned the church and my faith when I was 15. I am also not straight. I usually just tell people I am Gay, so I can explain my sexuality simply to those who ask. If I were to explain it more specifically however, I am somewhere on the spectrum between Bi and Gay. I rarely find Women physically attractive, but I find them completely irresistible in every other aspect when it comes to relationships of every kind. When it comes to Men, it is Vice Versa, even though I have pretty much exclusively only tried dating men. My relationship with Jamie has always been strictly platonic, and aside from being there for each other when it comes to talking about what we are struggling with, we have amazing intellectual conversations about every subject from Religion, to Science, to Games, to the News, to Politics without leaving a sour note between us. For at least 2 years now, we mutually say to each other "Bye, I Love you" when we part ways. Now in regards as to why I am making this reddit post, that story starts with my mental health. Between the ages of 13-17 I was suicidal, ending up in the hospital on one occasion. I have been fine for almost 5 years now, being free of those kinds of thoughts, until about 6 weeks ago when they reared there ugly heads again. Now, I have been fortunate enough with all the world wide affairs happening recently, to be working for Jamie's parents, who own their own medical clinic, archiving old patient files at their office. I was driving home last night when those suicidal thoughts popped up again. So I pulled off to the side of the road and called Jamie, just so I can have someone to talk too. I head over to her place, we hop in her car, and we drive out to this lake that is just outside of our home town. We spent a solid 2 hours talking about all kinds of things before we headed back to her place. At some point I asked Jamie what she has been struggling with recently. For her, it is being single. She hasn't really have had much luck with dating, and she is the last of her siblings to be in a LTR, (her younger sibling makes fun of that fact to her quite often) and I know that it bothers her. She went into detail about her struggles with it, why men in general suck, and where her problems might be rooted. She then finished it off by saying "e.c.verra2, I just want to date a guy like you; like you would make the perfect straight boyfriend to any women if you would choose to be straight". She followed this up by saying that she was not trying to tell me to go straight, but she also didn't clarify why she said that. I was taken a back by this comment for several reasons. One of which is obviously her choice to use the word "Choose " in regards to my sexuality. (For the uninformed, no one gets to choose their sexuality). I addressed this and she replied that she knows that people are born gay, but they do not have to choose to be gay if they don't want to. (the LDS church's position and teachings of homosexuality is that they know people are born with same-sex attraction, but it is a 'sin' if they act upon it). Jamie then added that she wasn't trying to say I have to do this, or that was suggesting I should go straight, but then she told this story about how a man and a women from her church who were married and spent 12 years together and had kids until one day the man said to his wife, "I am gay, and I think we should separate". Briefly they did, the husband went out and pursued men, and after a period of significant time when he came back, his wife had not signed the divorce papers. After asking why, the wife explained that she still loved her husband, and she wasn't ready to give up on their relationship. The Husband apparently said that despite him trying to have a relationship with men, he couldn't find the same amount of love with them as he had found with his wife, so after a bit of counseling, they got together. She then again explained that her intention wasn't to tell me to go straight (and once again she did not clarify what she meant). Now I know there is ALOT just there to talk about, but that is not what I am seeking advice on. The conversation continued, I offered to explain my position on God and the afterlife, using fables and teachings from Buddhism to do so. (We have had this conversation 5 or 6 times before this, so it is not a heavy convo). Pivoting back to the topic of relationships, I said that whatever relationship I end up having, I want it to be at least as strong and as amazing as our friendship is. She replied that she has set a standard for me, just as I have for her. At this point the conversation ended, but before we went our separate ways for the evening I asked her point blank, to make sure I wasn't misreading anything, if she thought about us being together. She hesitated briefly, and said no, that we wouldn't work together. The thing is, I feel like this conversation ended with an open ending. How do I bring this question up again, if at all? I don't know what she wants from us, and I don't know how to approach the conversation again without obviously crossing some boundaries. Now obviously there would have to be ALOT to discuss between her and I *if* we were to be together, including career aspirations, s3x, children, and what each of us would need from a romantic relationship. EDIT is for spelling and grammatical errors TL;DR Me and my best friend had a heavy conversation last night that has left me wondering if she wants something more between us, despite a mine field of things that would need to be discussed in order for us to move from a really great solid friendship to a romantic one.
2020.10.04 22:36 pimpdaddy_69What even is the point of all this bickering when Faith is all that matters?
I mean not Sola Fide but the foundations of the Faith. If one does not believe that Jesus resurrected and was born from a Virgin and performed miracles then one cannot be a christian. I've been doing research on Luke 1:28 and it makes sense that Our Lord would not be a fetus and grow within a body of sin and so Mary must be sinless for Him to be born sinless himself and therefore "full of grace" MUST be the correct translation. I've heard the argument that Jerome had access to all kinds of ancient manuscripts that are now lost so his Vulgate was the most reliable. It was completed around 382 and the councils that added Revelation and made final corrections to the Canon were around 393/397. We have "new" texts like the Codex Vaticanus that date from 300-325. I do not see how Jerome would NOT have had access to that text and other older, now lost texts. I believe Catholics must have faith that he knew of it and used others to make the Vulgate translation. So when it comes to Luke 1:28 Jerome includes "full of grace" using the resources of the 4th century. Later, much, much later, protestant translations make changes to "favored one". "new texts" and also new translators choose "favored one" as their preferred translation of the greek. I've seen KJV protestants use the Nestle-Aland they hate so much to attack "full of grace". If protestants hate the Vulgate why do they still trust the canon that the Church set up around the time the Vulgate was made? I am now of the belief that most protestantism is total garbage. The only valid Churches to me are "maybe" lutheranism since Luther accepted a "few" mainstream ideas and didn't reject the the "theotokos" was free of sin, Roman Catholic, and Orthodox, and maybe a few other churches here and there that I do not know about so cannot denounce. but back to Luke 1:28. Who do we believe? St. Jerome and the 4th century Church or later "reformers" and modernists who want to downplay miracles and reject catholic dogma for seemingly its own sake? any Sola Scriptura people must just by faith accept that the Councils were good natured and produced the true Bible. They must then choose who to believe when translating particular verses and why this or that is correct. Without learned people and councils to decide then the faith will split into the 30 thousand denominations we see today who hate each other. At this point, being a protestant means that its all a matter of personal faith in yourself to decide what is true. I do not think a single person should decide. It should also be a matter of faith that we should trust representatives or educated people to decide collectively what is proper doctrine and what is not. Faith in the wrong thing has lead protestants astray and the modern Church has put its faith in modernism and we now have heresies. I don't even know anymore but will believe that the 4th century Church is more correct than modern scholars. I'll accept the Vulgate and Douay-Rheims as correct and that includes "full of grace". As for the Pope and Vatican ii, I still need to work it out.
2020.09.22 16:50 ValleyOfLightMy (30M) wife (30F) and I have changed a lot. I want us to last but need guidance as how to move forward.
(warning: this may drag a little but I feel its very crucial. If you wish to skip some, go to the paragraph marked** ) To paint the picture: When we began dating 10 years ago (age 20) we really enjoyed each others company and thinking back on it we were both a bit different back then, especially myself. At that time I was at the beginning stages of being brainwashed by a "cult like" church that prayed on my inability to come to grips with my fathers death at age 14. I had a very hard time coming to grips with his death because it was at such a crucial time in my life so I fell into drugs and escapism that were very unhealthy for me. So a few years into this deep slide into the world of drugs a friend of mine (25M) brought me into this church. At first it seemed to be a very positive environment so I clung onto that positivity and became very preachy about my new found escape our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I just knew that everybody that ever wronged me would burn in hell forever and I would be washed clean of all my sins and would be saved! So anyway I was a happy camper needless to say and on top of that I had lost touch with everything that I ever was prior to my involvement with this church. So i was a happy guy who didn't really know who he was and I was in love with this girl who was a pure at heart, Irish catholic raised, bubbly vibrant soul. (Btw my wife was never into any of my churches malarky, she could see through it but for some reason stayed with me) Fast forward 3 years later. We decided that we would find an apartment together. Excited, I shared this news with my friend, who congratulated me, and my pastors, who were reluctant to share any sort of reaction. The following Sunday at church as I walked over to my guitar (i was in the worship band) I was pulled aside by, I'll call her pastor B, and she told me that her husband, pastor T, wanted to talk with me. I met him in the other room, where he told me that I could no longer be in the worship band because he and pastor B prayed on it and God told them that if I was moving in with my gf that I was on a decent into perversion or some nonsense like that. So I walked back into the hall and told my gf we were leaving. She was happy to leave and I was confused and angry. Over the next couple years we went to a few different churches but mentally I was beginning to check out of the church scene. Everything between me and her was still going very well at that time, we were happy with each other. **At age 25 we got married at a more traditional Lutheran church that we had been attending for a few months but after the wedding I had decided I was done going to churches. Over the next couple years I completely lost my christian complex (not a knock on believers) and rediscovered who I was before I had been manipulated. I am now who I should have been before I met my wife, without the depression and hard drug usage and drinking. My wife has seen me change, and I think it has really started to change her. Like I mentioned before, she was a bubbly vibrant soul, and now there are only shades of that left in her. The bubbly part appears occasionally but she isn't the vibrant girl I remember when we met. I have my suspicions of why that is and I think that it is weight related, self esteem, sex appeal issues. When I was in my christian heyday, sexiness or provocativeness was the last thing on my radar and my wife never had much sex appeal what soever. She was a virgin when we met, and when she lost it to me a couple years into us dating it was not a good experience for her (I was well experienced from my drug years and wasn't aware of how to treat a first timer, and I believe she had body dysmorphia from how she was raised). She began gaining weight rapidly because of our clunky sexual encounters and over time I became un-attracted to her physically. I still think shes beautiful but her weight became an issue and I think it shows with me (im not super touchy with her and have been reluctant to sleep with her at times). So now my non sexy, overweight wife has really bad self esteem issues (in know some of this is definitely on me). I try to be encouraging to her and I show her that I lover her all of the time but for some reason I suspect that she thinks at any time I may leave her because we don't have a strong sexual relationship. I'm trying VERY hard to assist her in getting her confidence back. She knows that I want a fun, healthy, vibrant, sexual wife just from different talks we've had over the years. She has even said herself that she see's my point of view and that she wants to get back in shape and be healthy for me and our 2 1/2 year old daughter so that she can be a beacon of good health for her. Also she recognizes that she isn't her bubbly self anymore and it has to do with her self esteem. This has been out there for a while now and i'm only seeing minimal progress every year. I know shes trying but it's at a snails pace so sometimes I wonder if maybe I'm not worth it for her. When she had our daughter a couple years ago it did set back some progress that took her and i months to dig her out of. I know she loves me and I love her but it's mostly personality, which is fine, but I need a woman who is confident in herself, that feels and knows shes sexy, that takes pride in her health/appearance and has that vibrant fire that i know she has hidden in her. This is stuff that was seemingly unimportant to me when we first met, which is where the problem lies because i'm not who i was when i met her and these are characteristics that i would have wanted from a woman if i were single and on the market. I love her and our beautiful daughter and i don't want to give up like my parents did (which is a huge battle for me). I just need some guidance. Is this worth staying in? Who knows how long, if ever, my wife gets back to her bubbly self that she once was (which is more so the most important thing). I don't want to give up and I don't want that to mean that someday we are just unhappy which is just as bad or worse for our daughter in the long run. In short
I've rediscovered who I am
My wife is struggling to get back her confidence
I try very hard to assist her in any way I can
Many slivers of hope for us are still there
I don't want to mess this up for the sake of our daughter
I don't want to lose the life we have made with each other
2020.09.16 14:00 cincbusIntroducing: The Norwegian Royal Family
Royal Family Instagram https://www.instagram.com/detnorskekongehus/ Crown Princess Mette Marit Instagram https://www.instagram.com/crownprincessmm/?hl=en Princess Martha Louise Instagram https://www.instagram.com/princessmarthalouise/ Princess Martha Louise Instagram #2 https://www.instagram.com/iam_marthalouise/ (I believe she was asked to no longer use the Princess title) King Harald V (b. 1937) Ascended the throne in 1991 after the death of his father, King Olav V. He was the third child of the King, however his older siblings were both females. At the time of his birth he was 16th in line to the British throne as a descendant of Queen Victoria. He spent part of his childhood in Sweden and the US after his family went into exile during WW2. Harald has executive power granted to him by the constitution, however he is not politically responsible for exercising it. His acts must be countersigned with a member of the Council of State (generally the Prime Minister). He also has the power of veto, however no Norwegian King has exercised it since the dissolution of union of Sweden in 1905. Interesting Facts: Represented Sweden in the 1964, 1968, and 1972 Olympic Games in the sport of sailing. Marriage: Harald married commoner Sonja Haraldsen in 1968. They dated (in secret!) for 9 years prior because his father, King Olav, would not allow him to marry a commoner. Olav only relented when Harald told him he would remain unmarried for his lifetime unless he was allowed to marry Sonja. They met at a dinner party. See photos from their wedding here:. As part of his official visit to Washington and Alaska in May, His Majesty King Harald V of Norway spoke at Pacific Lutheran University’s Commencement ceremony, where he received a Doctor of Laws jure dignitatis. Gave a speech that publicly supported LGTBQ+ Queen Sonja (b. 1937) Born to a clothing merchant in Oslo. She received a diploma in dressmaking and tailoring as well as a degree from finishing school. She also attended the University of Oslo receiving a degree in French, English, and Art History. One of my favorite photos of the Queen at age 33. A fun article on Sonja and her love of art Listen to an interview with Sonja (in English) Crown Prince Haakon (b. 1973) CP Haakon is heir apparent to the throne of Norway although he has an older sister, Princess Martha Louise. He has served in the Royal Norwegian Navy, attended classes at the University of Oslo, and completed his education in development studies at the London School of Economics. Marriage: Married Crown Princess Mette-Marit, a commoner, in 2001. Then a single mother, Mette-Marit had a known “party” background that included involvement in the rave scene in Oslo, which included a significant drug-subculture. Additionally, the father of her child, Marius, had prior convictions of drug-related offenses. The Norwegian people were unhappy with CP Haakon’s choice of bride. Many Norwegian conservatives were also upset with the pair when it was made public that they were living together before their marriage. In a heartfelt press conference before their wedding, a tearful Mette-Marit explained her past and apologized for her youthful rebelliousness. Quotes from her press conference: “My youthful rebellion went further than it did for others, and I learnt some hard lessons.” The single mother has what has been described as “a colourful past in Oslo’s famously drug-ridden ‘house party’ scene.” “We tested the limits. It has taken time for me to deal with this. I know it has been difficult for many people. It has been difficult for me. But I can’t make those choices over again, even if I could wish that that were possible.” The Crown Prince told the assembled media that the Royal Family had spent time discussing how the questions around his future wife’s past should be dealt with before she brought up the issue herself. “What we shared was so important that I could not let it go,” said the heir to the Norwegian throne about his decision to marry Mette-Marit. “I think that together we are stronger than I am by myself.” The couple also talked about how both of their mothers were giving lots of marriage advice, and about Mette-Marit’s four-year-old son Marius, who will be a page boy at Saturday’s nuptials. “I think he thinks that he is getting married as well,” commented his mother fondly. See photos from their wedding (including some of your other favorite royals!) here. Watch their wedding: Mette-Marit appeared to weep throughout much of their wedding. Watch a speech from Haakon (in English!) Crown Princess Mette-Marit (b. 1973) Mette-Marit was born in Norway. Her father was a reported alcoholic who, once his daughter’s relationship with the Crown Prince was public, was paid up to $45,000 USD annually by a magazine to share private information and photos of his daughter. His relationship with MM was strained, however they reportedly reconciled sometime before his death in 2007. She completed her high school education before taking preparatory college courses at Agder College. She then worked as a waitress in Oslo before meeting the Crown Prince at a party during Quart Festival, Norway’s largest music festival. Years later, after becoming a single mother, she met Haakon again and their relationship began. Since becoming Crown Princess, MM has taken several college course and completed a master’s degree in Executive Management. In 2018 it was announced that MM had been diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, which will limit her official duties. Watch a speech (in English) from MM. Princess Ingrid Alexandra (b. 2004) The Constitution of Norway was altered in 1990 to introduce absolute primogeniture, meaning the crown will pass to the eldest child regardless of sex. It was not considered retroactive, however, thus Crown Prince Haakon remains the heir ahead of his elder sister Martha Louise. As a result, Princess Ingrid Alexandra will become the country’s second female monarch behind Queen Margaret, who reigned over Norway, Denmark, and Sweden from 1380-1412. Her godparents include Crown Prince Fred of Denmark, Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden, and the King of Spain. She was a bridesmaid in Victoria’s wedding – see a photo of her and fellow future queen Catharina-Amalia of the Netherlands here. Ingrid is second in line to the throne behind her Father, Crown Prince Haakon. Prince Sverre Magnus (b. 2005) Known for dabbing on the royal balcony. He was confirmed in Asker church earlier this month. Marius Borg Hoiby (b. 1997) Marius is the son of CP Mette Marit from a prior relationship. Marius is not a working member of the royal family. He does not hold a title and does not appear in official portraits. On January 10, 2017 (shortly before his 20th birthday), Crown Princess Mette-Marit posted an open letter on the royal family's website, asking the press to let her son get peace, as he is not a public person or wants a life in the public light. "Marius does not want to live a life in public. My commitment to him as a mother is to take the responsibility that was given me at Aker Hospital 20 years ago seriously,” she wrote, before asking some Norwegian media to let him drop from their radar “as he wants, when he now partly for that reason chose to go abroad to study.” You can follow him on Instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/marius_borg/?hl=en Princess Martha Louise (b. 1971) Princess Martha Louise is the eldest child of the King and Queen, however due to Norway’s then-agnatic primogeniture rules she was replaced in the line of succession by her younger brother, Haakon. Princess Märtha Louise is a certified physiotherapist following education in Oslo and internship in the Netherlands. She has not practiced her profession, however, choosing instead, from her fascination in traditional Norwegian folk tales as well as a love of music, to establish her own commercial entertainment business based on giving public and televised performances reciting folk tales and singing with well-known Norwegian choirs. After studying physiotherapy at an academy for holistic medicine, she decided to open her own business in 2002. The King, after consulting her, issued a royal edict which removed Princess Märtha Louise's style of Royal Highness (she is conventionally accorded the lesser style Highness abroad, although this style has no legal standing in Norway), in order to provide her freedom from her constitutional role as a princess. She claims she can communicate with animals and angels and started an alternative therapy center named Astarte Education. Founded as Astarte Education in 2007 and dubbed an “angel school,” the company changed its name to “Soulspring” three years ago. The school offered classes in “healing, reading and touching,” and various treatments and therapies aimed at teaching clients “how to find yourself.” The school closed in 2018 due to financial issues. Marriage: Married commoner Ari Behn, an author, in 2002 and they divorced in 2017. He passed away from suicide last year. Together they have 3 children: Maud Angelica Behn (b. 2003) Leah Isadora Behn (b. 2005) Emma Tallulah Behn (b. 2008) See photos from their wedding here. Current Relationship: Is in a relationship with an American citizen, a shaman named Durek Verrett. Durek claims to be able to aid in the recovery from illnesses such as cancer and leukemia, however faces a lot of scrutiny from the Norwegian public, often being called a “conman”. You can read more about him here. Read more about their relationship here. Durek and Martha Louise now hold seminars and workshops in Norway titled “The Princess and the Shaman”, which promise to take attendees “on a self-discovery into wisdoms to reveal to you your divine self activated”. HH Princess Astrid (b. 1932) Sister to the King. After the death of their mother died, Astried (then 22) was the senior lady of the court and acted as first lady of Norway for her father. Like her brother, Astrid married a commoner. They had five children together and he passed away in 2015. You can read about their wedding here. The Princess still takes on some official duties on behalf of the Royal Family. According to one article I read, she is well-liked by the Norwegian people and considered to be funny, friendly, and unpretentious. Interesting Fact: One of her godmothers is Queen Elizabeth of England. Nobels Like their Swedish counterparts, the Norwegians play a role in the Nobel ceremonies. The Peace Prize is handed out in Oslo in the presence of the monarch, however it is a much more muted affair than the Swedes. No tiaras are at this event ☹ Jewels The Norwegians have an interesting collection of tiaras at their disposal. Check out their collection here: http://www.thecourtjeweller.com/2016/01/sunday-sparkler-special-norwegian-royal.html Royal Family v Royal House The Norwegians have a clear distinction between the two. The Royal House (kongeheset) is the King and Queen, CP Haakon and CP Mette Marit, and their daughter, Ingrid Alexandra. The Royal Family includes all of the monarch’s children and their spouses, grandchildren, and siblings. See a photo of the family here: https://images.app.goo.gl/sLb4xJzqreemMyfV6 Have anything to add? Want to add your favorite photo or event? Feel free to do so in the comments :)
2020.08.09 01:49 JacobInAustinIn re End Childhood Marriage Act, 2020 DX 1
Supreme Court for the State of Dixie
In re End Childhood Marriage Act
Williams v. State of Dixie
No. 20-04 Decided on April 13th, 2020
Justice dewey-cheatem delivered the opinion of the Court. I. Background ¶ 1. On grounds of purported infringement on the free exercise of religion and the fundamental right to marriage, Petitioner challenges the constitutionality of the operative section of the End Childhood Marriage Act, B.093 (hereinafter “the Act”), passed by the Dixie Assembly on April 14th, 2019, and signed into law by Governor blockdenied on April 15th, 2019. ¶ 1A. The challenged section provides as follows: (a) No child under the age of eighteen has the right to get married in the state of Dixie (i) Any Civil or Religious person found guilty of breaking this law shall be found guilty of a felony crime against a child (1) Position shall be removed from them (2) No less than 5 years in prison for neglect of the welfare of a child (b) There shall be no religious exemptions to this law ¶ 2. Today we uphold the law in its entirety with the exception of section (a)(i)(1), which would require the removal of religious personnel from their offices. INTERPRETING THE MEANING OF THE STATUTE II. Interpreting The Meaning of the Statute ¶ 3. The wording of the statute is not entirely clear, requiring us to discern the practical operation of its provisions. For example, section 2(a) declares that “[n]o child under the age of eighteen has the right to get married in the state of Dixie.” This provision does not itself prohibit child marriage, it merely declares there is no right for persons under eighteen to marry. Taken alone, this provision would simply mean that municipalities and local governments are permitted to decline to recognize child marriages. ¶ 4. However, the canons of statutory interpretation require us to read the entire statute and give effect to all of its provisions. As a result, we conclude that section 2(a), read in conjunction with the other provisions of the statute, not only allows municipalities to prohibit child marriage but further prohibits all child marriage, including both effective participation in it and issuances of licenses recognizing it. ¶ 5. For example, subsection 2(a)(i) imposes criminal sanctions against “any civil or religious person” (emphasis added). Because only judges and clerks may issue marriage licenses, the language encompasses “any” civil or religious “person”--as opposed to limiting the language to clerks or judges--compels the conclusion that the statute reaches both civilly-recognized and privately-practiced child marriages. ¶ 6. This understanding is supported by the Act’s legislative history. The persons speaking on the floor in support of the bill spoke about the prohibition in broad terms. For example, cold_brew_coffee called for the body to pass the Act so that “no minor can be coerced into an unscrupulous marriage.” Likewise, GuiltyAir said: ¶ 6A. It's without a doubt that I fully stand in support of this bill and I question the morality of those who don't. I know a lot of you see this bill today are probably already thinking that child marriages are already banned, but that just isn't true. It happens in America more than any one of us would like and I'm glad that Dixie is tackling the issue head-on. There is absolutely no reason nor should there be of someone under the age of 18 getting married, which is the age of consent and generally regarded as the age when someone becomes an adult. ¶ 7. In speaking this broadly about the breadth and likely effect of the Act, these commentators confirm that the purpose of the Assembly was to reach beyond declining to recognize a “right” to child marriage to withdraw all legal recognition and to impose criminal sanction upon those practicing child marriage in private. III. Statute Constitutional Generally A. Free Exercise ¶ 8. We hold that, while strict scrutiny applies due to the free exercise standard announced in Carey v. Dixie Inn, 2020 U.S. 1, and due to Dixie’s religious freedom law, the law is constitutional except for the single provision addressed infra because it is narrowly tailored to advance a compelling government interest. 1. Strict Scrutiny Applies ¶ 9. The high standard of strict scrutiny applies for two independent reasons. ¶ 10. First, it has become increasingly apparent that the standard governing First Amendment free exercise claims is no longer the relaxed standard of “rational basis” set forth in Employment Division v. Smith, 494 U.S. 872 (1990), but rather strict scrutiny, as previously articulated by this Court in Carey v. Dixie Inn, Dx. No. 19-21 (Sept. 2019) (“We concur with the appellee that Smith is simply no longer an applicable test as the United States Supreme Court has since moved on from its usage”) and reiterated on appeal by the Supreme Court in that same case, Carey v. Dixie Inn, 2020 U.S. 1, ¶ 12 (“When . . . thoughts or words turn to behavior -- to ACTION -- those actions, as manifestations of the religious beliefs (whatever they are) can be regulated, but only when such regulations are necessary to a compelling state interest, are narrowly tailored to achieve the purpose, and use the least restrictive means of achieving the purpose.”). See also In re Stopping Abuse and Indoctrination of Children Act, 100 M.S. Ct. 111 (2016) (applying strict scrutiny to neutral and generally applicable statute challenged on free exercise grounds). ¶ 11. Second, Dixie statutory law, Dx. Stat. § 761.03, requires that where the government “substantially burden[s] a person’s exercise of religion, even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability” the government must “demonstrate[ ] that application of the burden to the person” is “in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest” and “the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.” See Carey v. Dixie Inn, 2018 Dx. App. 1, at 3 (2018), *aff’d Dx. No. 19-21 (Sept. 2019) (applying section 761.03). ¶ 12. Because we find strict scrutiny applies for these two distinct reasons, we need not reach the question of whether the law is “neutral” or “generally applicable.” 2. The Statute Survives Strict Scrutiny ¶ 13. Notwithstanding that strict scrutiny applies, the statute is constitutional because the statute advances a compelling government interest and does so in a manner narrowly tailored to achieve that government interest. ¶ 14. We reach this conclusion pursuant to an independent analysis because while once strict scrutiny was considered “strict in theory but fatal in fact,” Gerald Gunther, The Supreme Court, 1971--Forward: In Search of Evolving Doctrine on a Changing Court: A Model for a Newer Equal Protection, 86 Harv. L. Rev., 1, 8 (1972), this is no longer the case. E.g., Note: Strict in Theory, Not Fatal in Fact: An Analysis of Federal Affirmative Action Programs in the Wake of Adarand v. Pena, 11 St. John’s J. Legal Comment 101 (1996). Most recently, the United States Supreme Court in its decision in Dixie Inn applied strict scrutiny but nonetheless upheld the statute in question. See Carey v. Dixie Inn, 2020 U.S 1. ¶ 15. We begin by noting that the statute advances a compelling government interest in preserving the health and well-being of minors. The legislative findings of the Act, for example, notes that under child marriages girls “are more likely to face health risks and the families are more likely to perpetuate the cycle of poverty.” ¶ 16. It is well-established that preserving the health and well-being of the public, and of minors in particular, constitutes a compelling government interest. See, e.g., Regents of Univ. of Cal. v. Bakke, 438 U.S. 265, 310 (1978) (“It may be assumed that in some situations a State's interest in facilitating the health care of its citizens is sufficiently compelling to support the use of a suspect classification.”); Buchwald v. Univ. of N.M. Sch. of Med., 159 F.3d 487, 498 (10th Cir.1998) (citing Bakke to conclude that “public health is a compelling government interest”); Legatus v. Sebelius, 901 F. Supp. 2d 980, 991 (E.D. Mich. 2012); Mead v. Holder, 766 F. Supp. 2d 16, 43 (D.D.C.2011) (“The Government clearly has a compelling interest in safeguarding the public health by regulating the health care and insurance markets.”); Dickerson v. Stuart, 877 F. Supp. 1556, 1559 (M.D.Fla.1995) (“The State of Florida has a compelling interest in the health of expectant mothers and the safe delivery of newborn babies.”). ¶ 17. Furthermore, the statute is narrowly tailored to advance these compelling interests. The statute here targets harms specific to child marriage, which are well-documented. E.g., Nour, Nawal M. “Health consequences of child marriage in Africa.” Emerging infectious diseases vol. 12,11 (2006): 1644-9. doi:10.3201/eid1211.060510. Indeed, the United Nations has identified child marriage as a serious global problem, explaining “[c]hild marriage threatens the lives, well-being and futures of girls around the world.” E.g., Child Marriage, UNICEF, available at https://www.unicef.org/protection/child-marriage. One study, for example, has outlined the harms that necessarily result from child marriage and specifically cites to research conducted by the United Nations: ¶ 17A. The negative consequences of child marriage are considerable for girls, their families, their communities, and ultimately their countries. At the individual level, child marriage deprives girls of basic human rights and marks an abrupt end to childhood, bringing on a rapid transition to adulthood and forcing girls to take on adult roles and responsibilities before they are developmentally ready (UNICEF 2001 and 2005; Mathur, Greene, and Malhotra 2003; Jain and Kurz 2007). Moreover, because child marriage in most societies is quickly followed by childbearing, the risk of maternal mortality and morbidity and infant mortality increases (UNICEF 2001 and 2005; Bott et al. 2003; Mathur, Greene, and Malhotra 2003; Save the Children 2004; Mensch, Singh, and Casterline 2005). Young married girls are also at greater risk of intimate partner violence (IPV) (Santhya et al. 2010) and HIV/AIDS (Clark 2004). Child marriage is negatively associated with girls’ education as well. Although the direction of causality in this relationship likely runs in both directions, the evidence is strong that girls with low levels of schooling are more likely to be married early, and child marriage typically puts an end to a girl’s education (Jejeebhoy 1995; Mathur, Greene, and Malhotra 2003; Mensch, Singh, and Casterline 2005). Lack of education and restricted access to peers limit a child bride’s support systems; without skills, mobility, and connections, her ability to overcome poverty for herself, her children, and her family is hindered (Preston-Whyte et al. 1990; Singh 1998; Zabin and Kiragu 1998). Susan Lee‐Rife, et al., What Works to Prevent Child Marriage: A Review of the Evidence, 43 Studies in Family Planning 287 (2012). ¶ 18. These harms are specifically linked to child marriage and are demonstrably caused by child marriage. While the state can seek to advance the general interest of child well-being in other ways, prohibition of child marriage is the only way the state can address the harms caused by child marriage itself. ¶ 19. For similar reasons, Petitioner’s insistence that the state is able to address the evils associated with child marriage, such as sexual abuse and rape, in the absence of prohibiting child marriage carries no weight. Notably, statutory rape statutes do not extend to the marital relationship. ¶ 20. Petitioner also claims that the state could achieve its interests more narrowly by requiring parental and judicial consent and by raising the minimum age for marriage to 17.1 This argument is unpersuasive. 1 Meta: In briefing, Petitioner invoked Florida Statute section 741.04, which restricts the circumstances under which a certificate to marry may be issued to persons under 18, is proof that the Act is not “narrowly tailored.” However, that statute was passed and signed into law before (March 2018) the date of canon divergence (July 2018) but not effective until July 2018, subsequent to the date of canon divergence and therefore is not in effect in the Model US Government Universe. Instead, we treat this argument as a hypothetical alternative proposal advanced by Petitioner. ¶ 21. First, Petitioner herself is 16 years old. Accordingly, even if Petitioner were right that the instant statute is unconstitutional, she would still be unable to marry under her own hypothetical proposal. Second, Petitioner’s arguments aimed at the instant statute apply with equal force to her own hypothetical proposal. ¶ 22. Third, and most important, however: the proposal’s “narrower” prohibition on child marriage does not address all concerns the legislature sought to address. For example, Petitioner’s hypothetical may require parental consent and judicial approval of certain child marriages but such consent and approval often fails to prevent egregious harms. In one column in The New York Times, Nicholas Kristof recounted the tale of a child who was forced by her parents to marry her rapist; the judge approved the marriage “to end the rape investigation” and told her “[w]hat we want is for you to get married.” Nicholas Kristof, 11 Years Old, a Mom, and Pushed to Marry Her Rapist in Florida, New York Times (May 26, 2017), https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/26/opinion/sunday/it-was-forcedon-me-child-marriage-in-the-us.html. While the hypothetical would also raise the minimum wage, the requirement of parental and judicial approval is obviously insufficient. In addition, all minors, not just those under 17, suffer under childhood marriage because by virtue of being minors they face greater barriers to objecting to or leaving the marriage than non-minors. ¶ 23. Fourth, the Act recognizes and reacts to the reality that child marriage is practiced both through legal recognition and without such recognition. Famously, the leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints took on several child brides, notwithstanding his inability to obtain marriage licenses for those marriages. Chris Baynes, Warren Jeffs: Child bride reveals horrors of life under fundamentalist Mormon sect leader, The Independent (Feb. 20, 2018), available at https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/warren-jeffs-child-bride-horrors-mormon-sect-leader-elissa-wall-a8219246.html. The Act furthers the government’s interest in protecting children from these situations because, first, many of the harms associated with child marriage still exist without legal recognition of the union and even if the child spouse is not subjected to sexual activity and, second, because prosecutions for statutory rape in this context is extraordinarily hard. Jeffs, for example, is currently serving a prison term for sexually assaulting two underage girls--but he had dozens of wives, many of them underage. ¶ 24. For these reasons, we find that the Act is narrowly tailored to advance a compelling government interest and, therefore, is constitutional. B. Fundamental Right to Marry ¶ 25. Petitioner also claims that the Act violates the fundamental right to marry as guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment and also, supposedly, by the Dixie constitution. We address each contention in turn. ¶ 26. First, there can be little doubt that there exists a fundamental right to marry guaranteed by the United States Constitution. [cite]. Even assuming, without holding, that such a right applies to Petitioner, this does not mean the statute must fail: a fundamental right triggers strict scrutiny, not necessarily a finding of unconstitutionality. In a case considering a constitutional challenge to a ban on same-sex marriage, for example, the Ninth Circuit specifically addressed child marriage: ¶ 26A. "[F]undamental rights may sometimes permissibly be abridged: when the laws at issue further compelling state interests, to which they are narrowly tailored. Although such claims are not before us, it is not difficult to envision that states could proffer substantially more compelling justifications for such laws than have been put forward in support of the same-sex marriage bans at issue here." Latta v. Otter, 771 F.3d 456, 478 n. 2 (9th Cir. 2014). ¶ 27. Although this passage is dicta, it is also an uncontroversial proposition: that, even assuming the fundamental right to marry applies to child marriages, the standard of strict scrutiny is met because, as outlined above, because prohibiting child marriage is narrowly tailored to advance a compelling government interest. ¶ 28. Petitioner also invokes a “right to marriage” putatively guaranteed by Article I, Section 27 of the Dixie Constitution. Yet that provision guarantees no right: it merely “defines” marriage as “the legal union of only one man and one woman as husband and wife” and bars recognition of any “other legal union.” This provision was adopted as a constitutional amendment in 2008 to prevent recognition of same-sex marriage; it was adopted to restrict the rights of Dixieans, not expand them. In fact, if anything, Section 27 precludes any recognition of child marriage under state law. By defining marriage as between “one man and one woman,” section 27 restricts marriage to two adult humans: the definition of “man” is “an adult human male” and the definition of “woman” is “an adult human female.” IV. Removal of Ministers Unconstitutional ¶ 29. By demanding the removal of offenders from “civil and religious” positions, section (a)(i)(1) of the Act violates the constitutional right to free exercise of religion and prohibition on the establishment of religion. “The Establishment Clause prevents the Government from appointing ministers, and the Free Exercise Clause prevents it from interfering with the freedom of religious groups to select their own.” Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church & Sch. v. Equal Emp't Opportunity Comm'n, 565 U.S. 171, 184 (2012). Thus the Supreme Court has recognized a “ministerial exception,” a constitutional principle which prohibits such interference. ¶ 30. Were Section (a)(i)(1) permitted to stand, it would result in the government dictating to religious entities who could and could not serve as their clergy or other ministerial positions, an unacceptable outcome that flies in the face of all constitutional jurisprudence. Id. at 190-191 (noting appellate court consensus that “the ministerial exception is not limited to the head of a religious congregation”). ¶ 31. We therefore find Section (2)(a)(i)(1) unconstitutional and enjoin its enforcement to the extent it applies to the removal of persons covered by the constitutional ministerial exception. V. Conclusion ¶ 32. For the reasons set forth above, we find that the statute is constitutional except as to Section 2(a)(i)(1).
2020.08.09 01:10 Illustrious_Use_8781My Sister "Karen" and her wedding
So, sister "Karen" hijacked my wedding announcement toast; wanted to wear my gown before me; stole/picked my bridesmaid dresses...whatever else fun could happen? Turns out she had been planning her wedding long distance to happen at her hubby-to-be's family church. Her mom in law was helping with the planning via many phone calls - but evidently Karen could get in trouble for doing this at work. Not for too many personal phone calls; she bragged that although the company that employed her and her betrothed had a strict nepotism policy; and he was higher up in the organization; she simply deflected all questions about it that she was discussing/planning my wedding - which was to take place a month after hers. Wedding invitations go out, including info on hotels in the small town. She called me to let me know that she had arranged for a "family discount" at one, but that I had to hurry up and reserve two rooms before they sold out. Why 2, you ask? She said that even though I had been dating for over a year, and we were getting married in another month - it would be too scandalous if my darling and I were to rent a single. (Hmm, this may be a good point to mention that husband to be was 26 and I was 24 of age.) Glory be, hubby turned out to have relatives in the next town over, and that problem was solved. Karen's wedding was on a blazing hot mid-August sunny afternoon, in a church with no air conditioning, with the meal to be held in the basement afterwards. The service was officiated by 2 celebrants because of the Lutheran/Catholic mixed marriage - and was twice as long. The poor brides maids in their fire engine red taffeta dresses sweat through the waistlines, but no one fainted thank goodness. One funny I have to share was when the bride walked down the aisle in her high-neck, lace trimmed dress that had a sort of deep lace ruffle at the bust - my darling whispered in my ear "where did she get those?" Seems my pretty sister augmented what nature had given her to make the dress fit properly. So, ceremony over and out to the parking lot everyone goes to hopefully find a bit of a breeze until the meal is ready. When we file back in, we find that everything prepared has cream, or something of that sort in it. Think potato salad, coleslaw; even the flowers on the cake were melting. My dear husband to be was and still is a picky eater, so we went across the street to the bowling alley for pizza. When we stopped back in for the dancing, he impishly asked "where did they go?" You see, Karen and her guy had changed into shorts and tee shirts for the dance - and her, enhancements, were now gone. We danced for a bit, and then excused ourselves for the ride - since country roads aren't well lit at night. Turns out that it was a good thing, since all of the people who stayed and ate - including the bridal party, got food poisoning. Not deathly ill, she just said that she spent her honeymoon taking turns running for the toilet. While there was/is a happy ending, of sorts, since sister and I are still married to the same men all these years later. But I didn't escape a very stern lecture from my mother - for "not showing up for the family/bridal pictures." Mom just couldn't believe me that Karen had not invited us to the picture taking. Whether it was Karen's petty revenge, or simply her oversight during the wedding commotion - but she gave me a wonderful family photo showing every one of my extended family, but my husband to be and me.
2020.07.08 07:36 MidlandsRepublic2048I haven't had a true date in about 4 years at this point (27M). Am I hopeless?
As I said, my last date was a little over 4 years ago now and, let's just say, it didn't end well. I'm definitely motivated to not be single anymore, but I feel like there's just some kind of block in my brain on how I communicate with women. From what people have told me, I'm considerate and reasonably empathetic, and at least somewhat interesting. But yet, nothing ever seems to happen. And my future profession (Lutheran Pastor) could be a little off putting to many. I get that. I'm just kind of lost people. I could use some help. For the record, I didn't really get any dating advice in my teenage years. So I've pretty much had to make everything up as I went along.
2020.07.05 19:57 inkspringWhy don't Chinese people hate their authoritarian government as much as we think they should? — Kaiser Kuo explains
I've been PMed by multiple people to repost this after my original SSC post was deleted, so here it is again: The following was originally written by the talented Kaiser Kuo as an answer to a question posed on Quora, but for the sake of easier readability, shareability, and the mobile users who don't want to create a Quora account, I've decided to repost it in text post form. I've also added the last part of the answer and postscript in the comments because of Reddit's character limit. Apologies in advance if that breaks any rules. Anyway. Why do many people feel that the Chinese can't possibly be basically okay with their government or society? I’m going to attempt an answer in three parts. First, I’ll look at the gap in political culture between China and the liberal western democracies, especially the United States. I’ll argue that there is little appreciation among most WEIRD individuals—that is, Western, Educated people from Industrialized, Rich, and Developed nations—for just how highly contingent political norms they take for granted really are from an historical perspective. I’ll sketch the outlines of the major historical currents that had to converge for these ideas to emerge in the late 18th century. Then, I’ll compare this very exceptional experience with that of China, which only embraced and began to harness those engines of western wealth and power—science, industrialization, state structures capable of total mobilization of manpower and capital—much later. And late to the game, China suffered for over a century the predations of imperial powers, most notably Japan. Hopefully, I’ll show why it was that liberalism never really took hold, why it was that Chinese intellectuals turned instead to authoritarian politics to address the urgent matters of the day, and why authoritarian habits of mind have lingered on. Next, I’ll argue that a lot of unexamined hubris lies not only behind the belief that all people living under authoritarian political systems should be willing to make monumental sacrifices to create liberal democratic states but also behind the belief that it can work at all, given the decidedly poor record of projects for liberal democratic transformation in recent years, whether American-led or otherwise. It’s important to see what the world of recent years looks like through Beijing’s windows, and to understand the extent to which Beijing’s interpretation of that view is shared by a wide swath of China’s citizenry. Finally, I’ll look at the role of media in shaping perspectives of China in the western liberal democracies and in other states. A very small number of individuals—reporters for major mainstream media outlets posted to China, plus their editors—wield a tremendous amount of influence over how China is perceived by ordinary Anglophone media consumers. It's important to know something about the optical properties of the lens through which most of us view China. Part I — The Values Gap: The Historical Contingency of Liberal Western Thought and Institutions One evening, I was chatting online with a friend here in China, another American expatriate living in another city, about the great disconnect in recent Western understandings of China—the thing that this question and answer seeks to get to the heart of. He suggested that at least for Americans (we’re going to use Americans here, mainly, to stand in for the Anglophone western liberal democracies) the question underlying the disconnect boiled down to this: “Why don’t you Chinese hate your government as much as we think you ought to?" The modern Chinese party-state, after all, is a notorious violator of human rights. It cut its own people down in the street in 1989. It prevents with brutal coercion the formation of rival political parties and suppresses dissent through censorship of the Internet and other media. It oppresses minority populations in Tibet and in Xinjiang, depriving them of religious freedoms and the right to national self-determination. It persecutes religious sects like the Falun Gong. It behaves in a bellicose manner with many of its neighbors, like the Philippines, Vietnam, and India. It saber-rattles over disputed islands with its longstanding East Asian adversary, Japan. It presses irredentist claims against Taiwan, which has functioned as an effectively sovereign state since 1949. It has pursued breakneck economic growth without sufficient heed to the devastation of the environment. It has not atoned for the crimes committed during the Cultural Revolution or the Great Leap Forward, when tens of millions died because of absurdly misguided economic policies. It jails rights activists, including a Nobel Peace Prize laureate. I could of course go on. Why then would any American not ask this question? Seems pretty obvious from the perspective of anyone from a liberal western democracy that this is a political system that needs to go, that has failed its people and failed to live up to basic, universal ideas about what rights a government needs to respect and protect. They’ll have heard the argument that China’s leadership has succeeded in other ways: it has allowed China to prosper economically, lifting hundreds of millions out of poverty, creating a substantial and comfortable middle class with expanded personal (if not political) freedom. And the Chinese Communist Party has managed to ensure a relatively long period of political stability, with orderly leadership transitions absent the political violence that had accompanied nearly all others until Deng Xiaoping’s ascent. "Yeah, but so what?" asks the American. "Anyone who would trade a little freedom for a little personal safety deserves neither freedom nor safety,” he asserts, quoting Benjamin Franklin. He quotes this as gospel truth, ignoring the irony that many Americans advocated just such a trade in the aftermath of September 11. That aside, why shouldn't he quote it? It’s deeply engrained in his political culture. Political liberty is held up practically above all else in the values pantheon of American political culture. The American myth of founding sees the Puritan pilgrims, seeking a place where their brand of Protestantism might be practiced freely, crossing the Atlantic in the Mayflower, creating en route a quasi-democratic quasi-constitution, the Mayflower Compact, landing at Plymouth Rock in 1620, and over the next 150 years growing into the colony that would lead its 12 sisters into rebellion for freedom from the "tyranny" of King George III. Americans hold the ideas enshrined in their founding documents very dearly, and can't really be blamed for doing so: they are, after all, some very high-minded and frankly very beautiful ideas. What he doesn’t quite appreciate is the precariousness of the historical perch on which these ideas—ideas he holds so strongly and believes so ardently to be universal truths—ultimately rest. Americans, like everyone else for that matter, tend not to take much time to understand the historical experiences of other peoples, and can't therefore grasp the utter contingency upon which their own marvelous system rests. I'm going to grossly oversimplify here, in this grand backward tour of European history, but the political philosophy that gave rise to modern American political ideals, as even a fairly casual student of history should know, emerged during the 18th century in the Enlightenment—an intellectual movement of tremendous consequence but one that would not have been possible save for the groundwork laid by 17th century naturalists who, taken together, gave us an "Age of Reason" (think Newton and all the natural philosophers of the Royal Academy). Their great work could be pursued because already the intellectual climate had changed in crucial ways—chiefly, that the stultifying effects of rigid, dogmatic theology had been pushed aside enough for the growth of scientific inquiry. That itself owes much to the Protestant Reformation, of course, which people tend to date from 1517 but which actually reaches back over a century earlier with John Wycliffe, Jan Hus, arguably Erasmus, and the other pre-Lutheran reformers. And would the Reformation have been possible without the rediscovery of classical learning that was the animating spirit of the Renaissance? Would the Renaissance have been possible without the late medieval thinkers, such as Abelard, who sought out to subject theology to the rigors of Aristotelian logic and reason? Would all this have been possible, if not for the continuous struggles between Emperor and Pope, between Guelph and Ghibelline factions—partisans for the temporal power of the Vatican and Holy Roman Emperor? The fact is that this series of historical movements, eventually carving out politics that was quite separate from—indeed, explicitly separate from—theocratic control, was only really happening in this small, jagged peninsula on the far western end of the great Eurasian landmass. And in the rest of the world—the whole rest of the world—none of this was happening. Political theology remained the rule with rare, rare exceptions. What we've now taken as the norm and the correct form for the whole world—liberal, secular, democratic, capitalistic—is truly exceptional, recent, rare, fragile, and quite contingent. Let’s turn and look for a moment at China, which is arguably much more typical. China is a civilization that didn’t until much later and perhaps still doesn't fit neatly into the modern conception of the nation-state; a massive continental agrarian empire, a civilization with an integrated cosmology, moral philosophy, and political philosophy which together formed the basis of a holistic orthodoxy, deep knowledge of which was required for any man (alas, only men) who wished to climb the only real available ladder of success: the Civil Service Exams. The China that the West—in this case, chiefly the British—encountered in the late 1700s was really at or just past its peak, ruled by a reasonably competent and conscientious Manchu emperor who history knows as Qianlong, ruling a land empire matching, roughly, the contours of the contemporary People’s Republic, almost entirely self-sufficient but willing to sell its silk, porcelain, and especially its tea to anyone who brought minted silver bullion—two-thirds of the world’s supply of which, by the time of the American Revolution, was already in Chinese coffers. What followed was a crisis that lasted, with no meaningful interruption, right up to 1949. Foreign invasion, large-scale drug addiction, massive internal civil wars (the Taiping Civil War of 1852-1863 killed some 20 million people), a disastrous anti-foreign uprising (the Boxers) stupidly supported by the Qing court with baleful consequence, and a belated effort at reform that only seems to have hastened dynastic collapse. The ostensible republic that followed the Qing was built on the flimsiest of foundations. The Republican experiment under the early Kuomintang was short-lived and, in no time, military strongmen took over—first, ex-dynastic generals like Yuan Shikai, then the militarists who scrambled for power after he died in 1916. China disintegrated into what were basically feuding warlord satrapies, waging war in different constellations of factional alliance. Meanwhile, China's impotence was laid bare at Versailles, where the great powers handed to Japan the colonial possessions of the defeated Germany, despite China having entered the Great War on the side of the Allies. During this time, liberalism appeared as a possible solution, an alternative answer to the question of how to rescue China from its dire plight. Liberalism was the avowed ideology of many of the intellectuals of the period of tremendous ferment known as the May Fourth Period, which takes its name from the student-led protests on that date in 1919, demonstrating against the warlord regime then in power which had failed to protect Chinese interests at Versailles at the end of World War I. (The May Fourth period is also referred to as the New Culture Movement, which stretched from roughly 1915 to 1925). The "New Youth" of this movement advocated all the liberal tenets—democracy, rule of law, universal suffrage, even gender equality. Taking to the streets on May Fourth, they waved banners extolling Mr. Sai (science) and Mr. De (democracy). But with only very few exceptions they really conceived of liberalism not as an end in itself but rather as a means to the decidedly nationalist ends of wealth and power. They believed that liberalism was part of the formula that had allowed the U.S. and Great Britain to become so mighty. It was embraced in a very instrumental fashion. And yet Chinese advocates of liberalism were guilty, too, of not appreciating that same contingency, that whole precarious historical edifice from which the liberalism of the Enlightenment had emerged. Did they think that it could take root in utterly alien soil? In any case, it most surely did not. It must be understood that liberalism and nationalism developed in China in lockstep, with one, in a sense, serving as means to the other. That is, liberalism was a means to serve national ends—the wealth and power of the country. And so when means and end came into conflict, as they inevitably did, the end won out. Nationalism trumped liberalism. Unity, sovereignty, and the means to preserve both were ultimately more important even to those who espoused republicanism and the franchise. China's betrayal at Versailles did not help the cause of liberalism in China. After all, it was the standard bearers of liberalism—the U.K., France, and the United States—that had negotiated secret treaties to give Shandong to the Japanese. Former liberals gravitated toward two main camps, both overtly Leninist in organization, both unapologetically authoritarian: the Nationalists and the Communists. By the mid-1920s, the overwhelming majority of Chinese intellectuals believed that an authoritarian solution was China's only recourse. Some looked to the Soviet Union, and to Bolshevism. Others looked to Italy, and later Germany, and to Fascism. Liberalism became almost irrelevant to the violent discourse on China's future. For anyone coming of age in that time, there are few fond memories. It was war, deprivation, foreign invasion, famine, a fragile and short-lived peace after August 1945, then more war. Violence did not let up after 1949—especially for the hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, who were "class enemies" on the wrong side of an ideological divide; or for the hundreds of thousands of Chinese soldiers sent to fight and die in Korea so soon after unification. And even with peace, prosperity didn't come: 1955 saw Mao announce a "high tide of collectivization," which was followed by the tragic folly of the Great Leap Forward and ensuing famine, in which tens of millions perished. A friend of mine named Jeremiah Jenne who taught US college students at a program here in Beijing once said something to the effect of, “When Americans create their movie villains, when they populate their nightmares, they create Hitler and the SS again and again: Darth Vader and the Stormtroopers.” The fear of the liberty-loving American, he implied, is of a surfeit of authoritarianism. What of the Chinese? The Chinese nightmare is of chaos—of an absence of authority. And such episodes of history are fresh in the minds of many Chinese alive today—only a handful are old enough to actually remember the Warlord Period but plenty can remember the Cultural Revolution, when Mao bade his Red Guards to go forth and attack all the structures of authority, whether in the classroom, in the hospital, in the factory, or in the home. And so they humiliated, tortured, sometimes imprisoned and sometimes even murdered the teachers, the doctors, the managers, the fathers and mothers. In the 25 years since Deng inaugurated reforms in 1979, China has not experienced significant countrywide political violence. GDP growth has averaged close to 10 percent per annum. Almost any measure of human development has seen remarkable improvement. There are no food shortages and no significant energy shortages. Nearly 700 million Chinese now use the Internet. Over 500 million have smartphones. China has a high speed rail network that's the envy of even much of the developed world. China has, by some measures, even surpassed the U.S. as the world's largest economy. So try telling a Chinese person that anyone willing to trade a little personal liberty for a little personal safety deserves neither liberty nor safety, and they’ll look at you like you’re insane. Therein lies the values gap. Part II — The View through China’s Window: Liberal Hegemonism in US Foreign Policy In the first part, I laid out a case for why it’s quite natural, given the tendency of Americans (as with all people) to ignore or understate historical contingencies and recognize their own privileges and prejudices, for Americans to be puzzled by Chinese acquiescence toward—indeed, by their often quite vocal support for—a political system so execrable by certain American standards. The hubris of some Americans about their own political system seems to me especially natural, even forgivable, in the years following the collapse of the Soviet Union. From the vantage point of 1991, a kind of triumphalism was inevitable: the liberal west, with America at its vanguard, had just vanquished the second of the century’s great ideological enemies. First was Fascism and Naziism with the defeat of the Axis powers in 1945 (never mind that Bolshevik Russia, from the time Hitler invaded Russia, never faced less than two-thirds of German divisions in the field), then Bolshevism with the end of the Cold War. And what was on the minds of Americans—who had watched the Berlin Wall come down, Lech Walesa and Vaclav Havel assume the Polish and Czech presidencies, Yeltsin defend the Russian parliament and Gorbachev declare the Soviet Union’s end—what was on their minds as they turned thoughts to China? Tiananmen, of course, with its incredibly potent imagery: a million people in the Square, Tank Man, and the Goddess of Democracy. Looming ever present in nearly every conversation about American perception of China in the last quarter century—now in the background, now in the fore—is the bloody suppression of the 1989 student-led protests in Beijing. (Fun Fact: The first democratic elections in Poland were held on June 4, 1989, the very day of the crackdown on the Beijing protests). The years that followed the end of the Cold War would see gathering in American foreign policy a new ideology that would come to supplant the realist school that had dominated from the time of Richard Nixon. This is what the MIT political scientist Barry R. Posen calls Liberal Hegemonism: an activist, interventionist thread that believes in the pushing of liberal democratic politics and capitalism through all available means from “soft power,” to operations aimed at destabilizing authoritarian governments, to actual preemptive war (the Bush doctrine) and the “regime change” of the Neoconservatives. Some of its basic assumptions—not all, but some—are shared both by liberal interventionists and NeoCons. For American liberals, it was guilt from failure to act in the Rwandan Genocide, or to the “ethnic cleansing” that characterized the wars during the breakup of Yugoslavia, that gave impetus to this; for NeoCons, it was the unfinished business of Desert Storm. They found much common ground in their support for “color revolutions” in the former Soviet republics. They may have debated tactics but the impulse was to spread American values and institutions, whether or not doing so would serve a specific and definable American interest. That could be done the Gene Sharp way, or the Paul Wolfowitz way. Neither way was something Beijing wanted done to it. And I don’t think it takes a whole lot of empathy to see what things have looked like from Beijing over the last 25 years. Deng Xiaoping, while he was still alive, pursued a policy of “biding its time and hiding its power” as he focused on building China's domestic economy, avoiding any real confrontation and trying to rebuild relationships post-Tiananmen. But it wasn’t long before tensions sparked. In May of 1999, US smart bombs fell on the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, and virtually no Chinese believed the American explanation that it was a mistake, the result of an out-of-date map that showed the embassy as an arms depot. Later, in April of 2001, the collision of an American EP-3 spy plane with a Chinese fighter jet off of Hainan Island, off China’s southern coast, sent another chill through Sino-American relations. And things looked like they might have taken a turn for the worse, had not September 11 taken the pressure off. The “War on Terror,” which China could notionally join in, distracted the U.S., which quickly found itself fighting two long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Meanwhile, the Chinese economy was in high gear, chugging along at double-digit growth rates right up to the eve of the Financial Crisis. The Sino-American waters were probably never calmer than in the years between 2001 and 2008. Perhaps history will see 2008 as an important turning point in these attitudes: during the same year that China staged its first Olympic games, the financial crisis, which China weathered surprisingly well, walloped the West (and much of the rest of the world) with what was arguably its signal event, the bankruptcy filing by Lehman Brothers on September 15—happening just three weeks almost to the day after the closing ceremony of the Beijing summer games on August 24. It was China’s turn to feel a kind of triumphalism, which often took the form of an unattractive swagger. Meanwhile, a sense of declinism gnawed at the American psyche. After 2008, China became the object of global (read: American) attention again, fueled for some by anxieties over the rapidity of its rise, in others by anger over major flare-ups in western China: riots in Lhasa, Tibet’s capital, in March, 2008, and in Urumqi, Xinjiang’s capital, in July, 2009. Factory conditions became a growing concern as Americans realized that even the most sophisticated electronics they sported—everyone had an iPhone by then, right?—were manufactured in China. Remember, too, that excitement over the political potency of social media was also enjoying something of a heyday in this period of liberal hegemonic ascent. As one color revolution after another was live-tweeted (Moldova was perhaps the first, but not the only, of the street movements to be called “The Twitter Revolution”), as every movement had its own Facebook page and Youtube channel, China’s reaction was to censor. There is, after all, one belief about the Internet that the most hardline Chinese politburo member shares with the staunchest American NeoCon: that the Internet, unfettered, would represent an existential threat to the Communist Party’s hold on power. They have of course very different views as to whether that would be a good thing or a bad thing. But can we really be surprised that, able as they are to open to the op-ed section of any American broadsheet and find this idea that Internet freedom is the key to toppling authoritarian single-party rule, the Communist Party leadership would conclude that their approach to censorship is correct? But this of course has created another potent issue over which Americans, very naturally, express outrage—and puzzled frustration that Chinese aren’t (literally) up in arms over Internet censorship. Beijing obviously lamented the Soviet empire’s incredibly rapid implosion. It doubtlessly chafed at how NATO expanded its membership practically up to the Russian doorstep. It certainly hasn’t loved it that American troops are operating from Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, and were present in great numbers in Afghanistan (which by the way borders China, if only at one end of the narrow Wakhan Corridor). Beijing has surely fretted as American-backed NGOs (the National Endowment for Democracy, or NED, is the big boogeyman for pro-Beijing types—perhaps as Confucius Institutes are the bête noire for their anti-Beijing American counterparts) conspired, or so they believe, with the instigators of color revolutions. And it certainly sees the Pivot to Asia—now rebranded the “Rebalancing”—as a species of containment. But what I suspect really has Beijing freaked out, what really seems to have confirmed that America still has its cherished liberal hegemonic ambition, was the Arab Spring. Is Beijing so wrong, looking out on the smoldering wreckage of Libya and Syria, at the mess that Egypt still remains, to want to avoid that outcome at whatever price? Or to think that America’s true, ultimate intention might be regime change in Beijing? Kissinger once famously said that even a paranoid can have enemies. What does all this foreign policy stuff have to do with Chinese attitudes toward their government? It’s fair to ask this; after all, the question I’m trying to answer isn’t specifically about the Chinese state and how it sees things, but rather the Chinese people, and the attachment they seem to have toward a state that comes up so short by American measure. It’s the rare person who can truly separate, at both an intellectual and an emotional level, criticism of his or her country from criticism of his or her country’s government—especially if that government is not, at present, terribly embattled and is delivering basic public goods in a reasonably competent manner. States tend to try to reinforce that conflation of people with state (and in China’s case, party). They encourage the basic state-as-family metaphor, something that in the Chinese case is part of the deep structure of Confucian political thinking and is therefore probably easier to nurture than to extirpate. I don’t doubt that propaganda has a role in this, but I would assert that its role is generally exaggerated in American thinking about China. In any case, if you’ll indulge some pop psychological speculation, I’ll go out on a limb and posit confidently that external criticism of a leadership will tend to, if anything, reinforce a citizenry’s identification with the state and blur the lines even more between “government” and “people.” Perhaps I’m wrong. But most people I know who are known to bitch occasionally about their own parents get awfully defensive when people outside the family offer unsolicited criticism. This seems especially to be the case with mothers. And so it is that many ordinary Chinese citizens, online and inevitably aware now of the timbre of China discourse in English-language media, tend to elide criticism of the state and Party with criticism of China, and take it personally. They feel a distinct sense of having been singled out for unfair criticism and will reach easily for handy explanations: Hegemonic America can't abide another serious power rising in the world, and just wants to sow discord and strife to keep China down; America needs to create a boogyman, an enemy to replace its fallen Cold War foe and placate its military-industrial complex. And in any case, America doesn't appreciate just how far we've come under the leadership of this party, however imperfect. People will debate what the Party’s real role has been in poverty alleviation: is it accurate to say that the Chinese government “lifted 300 million people from poverty” or is it more correct to say that they mostly got out of the way and allowed those people to climb out of it themselves? (I tend to like the latter phrasing). That’s not the only accomplishment in China’s 35+ years of reform that will be fought over. But the simple truth is that by many, many measures of human development, the great majority of Chinese people are undeniably better off today than they were before Deng inaugurated reform. The grand unofficial compromise, in a kind of updated Hobbesian social contract, that the Party made with the Chinese people—“You stay out of politics, we’ll create conditions in which you can prosper and enjoy many personal freedoms”—has been, on balance (and to date), a success. No thinking Chinese person of my acquaintance believes that the Party or its leadership is anything close to infallible. Most can be quite cynical about the Party, the venality of officials, the hidden factional struggles, the instinct for self-preservation. They’re fully appreciative of the Party and leadership's many shortcomings. They don’t shrink from criticizing it, either; they aren’t reflexively careful of what they say and who might be listening. But they don’t bandy words like “revolution” about casually. They tend to have a sober appreciation for what’s at stake, for the price that would have to be paid. They’re realistic enough to understand that the Party is not apt to tip its hat adieu and go gently to history's proverbial dustbin. They still believe, and not entirely without evidence, that the Party leadership is attuned to public opinion and will respond when the will of the people is made manifest. They support reform, not revolution. I’ve little doubt that desire for more formal political participation, for a renegotiation of terms in that unwritten contract, will grow stronger. That’s in the cards. You’ll get no argument from me that it’s been a raw deal for many people with very legitimate grievances. There are many who’ve broken with the Party-state, who openly or secretly dissent, whose relationship with it is entirely and irreversibly oppositional. Among these are many whose courage of conviction and towering intellects I deeply and unreservedly admire, and others who I think are mere gadflies or attention-seeking malcontents without a sense of what’s at stake. In the case of all of them, regardless of what I think of them personally, I regard it as a black mark on the Chinese leadership each time a dissident is locked up for ideology, speech, religious belief or what have you. But most Chinese people tend to be pragmatic and utilitarian; the state’s ability to deliver social goods gives it a kind of “performance legitimacy." The good (prosperity, material comfort, sovereign dignity) and the bad (a censored Internet, jailed dissidents, polluted rivers, smog) go on the scales. For now, it’s unambiguous in which direction those scales are tipping. Part III — The Anglophone Media Narrative on China and Sources of Bias If you're a denizen of the Anglophone world, your impressions of China are almost certainly formed primarily by the media that you consume. There are of course exceptions: some 100,000 Americans have, in the last five years, spent time working or studying in China; there are several thousand enrolled in East Asian Studies graduate programs, or taking serious upper-division undergraduate coursework on China, or pursuing an academic discipline that focuses on China; and there are probably a few thousand more who, for personal reasons, have taken more than a passing interest in China and have read a good number of books on contemporary China or on modern Chinese history, have undertaken the study of Chinese, or have otherwise immersed themselves in trying to gain a deeper understanding of China. Taken together, though, these people represent a small percentage of the general media-consuming audience—the college-educated American who, say, reads a paper once in a while, watches cable or network news with fair regularity, listens to NPR on her drive to work, and occasionally clicks on a China-related tweet or on a friend's Facebook page, or her counterpart elsewhere in the Anglophone world. All told, that's several tens of millions of people, I'm guessing, in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand. It's worth reflecting on that, for this majority of news-consumers, impressions of China are almost entirely dependent on the reporting produced, at least regularly and in the main, by probably fewer than a hundred individuals. I'm talking about the reporters for the major newswires like Reuters, Bloomberg, Dow Jones, and AP, whose stories appear not only in the major papers and on news portals online, but also in smaller metropolitan and even local markets; the journalists who write for the major newspapers and news magazines; television news reporters; and the foreign desk editors, subeditors, and producers working with the reporters. There are also the news assistants, unsung heroes without whom many of the China-based reporters who haven't mastered enough Chinese to read local media or documents, or conduct interviews in the native tongue of their interviewees, would be unable to do their jobs. If we include them, the number perhaps doubles but it's still no more than 200, perhaps 250 individuals whose contributions to the gathering, reporting, writing, and editing of news and the creation of news-related commentary actually matters. What, though, do we really know about these people? If this is the lens through which so many Americans (once again, I'll remind folks that "American" here is really shorthand for Anglophone westerners) view China, it seems to me very sensible that we should wish to understand something about the optical properties of that lens. Does it distort? Of course it does; it could notbut distort, could notbut offer only a partial and selective view—this mere few score of reporters trying to present a picture of the world's most populous nation as it hurtles ahead with unprecedented force (in the f=ma sense). This is not an indictment. These are people who I very much respect—indeed, the very people who these days comprise most of my personal circle of friends—and they are people who have my sympathy for what they must often endure in reporting from China. It's not an easy place to report from, especially if you're reporting on things that the Chinese government, or someone at least, doesn't want reported—and what else, after all, really qualifies as news reporting? They are subjected to some pretty shabby treatment, everything from the talk-to-the-hand they'll get from government ministries, to veiled and not-so-veiled threats related to visa renewals, to roughing-up by local thugs or plainclothes cops or even uniformed ones, to surveillance and harassment. I think if there's a source of bias with which I'd start my list, it's this. Seems only natural that this kind of treatment of a journalist anywhere would beget less than rosy coverage of the institutions doling it out. Negative coverage begets more of that nasty treatment, and so on in a most un-virtuous circle. Should the journalists be faulted for focusing on the things that power, whether political or corporate, wants to hide? No, I don't think so. Rightly or wrongly—and I'm unambivalent in my personal belief that it's "rightly"— this is what gets the journo juices flowing. Journalism is not about the quotidian. The historian Will Durant once wrote in The Age of Faith, "We must remind ourselves again that the historian, like the journalist, is forever tempted to sacrifice the normal to the dramatic, and never quite conveys an adequate picture of any age." I would note that while the historian can write enormously lengthy monographs in which some of that normal can be restored and that picture made more adequate, the journalist just doesn't have that leisure, and his sacrifice of the normal is more forgivable. And yet it has an impact on perception; it's still a source of distortion, of bias. This failure to focus on the more "normal" is, I would assert, one of the major reasons for the disconnect at the heart of the original question: the prevalence among Americans of "Why don't you hate your government as much as I think you ought to?" One of the more regrettable outcomes of this particular bias in the way China is reported reflects in the (notional, educated, mainstream-media-consuming) American public's understanding of the Chinese intellectual. Reporters tend to focus not just on critical intellectuals but on the more outspokenly critical ones, on the full-blown dissidents, on the very vocal activists, on the writers who challenge the establishment on human rights issues, on freedom of speech, on rule of law, on religious policy, on minority nationality policy and so forth. Of course they focus on these people; they're "the dramatic," in Durant's phrase. They set out to excite so no wonder that many of them are exciting. They play to the American love of the underdog. They flatter American values. It's right, I believe, to focus on intellectuals. One could make a very serious argument that China's history is at some important levels driven by the dynamics of the relationship between intellectuals and state power, whether dynastic or Party. Dissidents and the more stridently critical intellectuals certainly are part of that dynamic. But I would submit that it's actually more important to understand another type of intellectual, and another mode of relations between the intellectuals and state power, between, if you will, the pen and the sword: the "loyal opposition," who during most times—including this time—comprise the real mainstream, and who see it as their role to remonstrate and to criticize but not to fully confront. It's these voices, a kind of "silent majority," to use an apt phrase whatever its connotations in the American polity, who go too often ignored in our reporting. Because "Noted Chinese scholar is basically okay with the government, though he thinks it could be improved in X, Y, and Z" is not a particularly grabby headline or a compelling read. There's also a kind of source bias that's related to this and it's regrettably caught in a bit of a feedback loop, too. The general impression is that Anglophone media is pro-dissident, and so dissidents will tend to go on record with or speak at greater length with Anglophone reporters; moderate or pro-Party intellectuals will tend to decline interviews and comment, and the impression that Anglophone media is biased in favor of the dissidents gets reinforced: the narrative that they want is buttressed while the other is marginalized or weakened. Another almost ineradicable bias in Anglophone media reporting, so prevalent that it's almost not worth pointing out, is bias in favor of democratic polities. Authoritarian states like China tend to get reported on unfavorably because they behave like authoritarian states. They don't allow, by definition, rival political parties to freely form. They don't allow a free press. They censor the Internet. And of course journalists in the Anglophone world are themselves on the front lines of these speech and press issues. It's almost tautological that the press of the free world would want to free the press of the world.
2020.06.30 21:18 Millero15Crusader Finns Developer Diary 21: Favor, Flavor, Future plans and Imminent Release!
Obligatory Discord link: https://discord.gg/FZ5Ky5P Hello again. This will be the last Developer Diary before the mod is released. I'll try to say everything that I want to say before the mod is released. We'll see how big this one will be. FAVOR AND FLAVOR Flavor is one of the big things I've been concerned with this mod is the amount of flavor there is. A fear I've had is that different cultures, religions, and religions are all too identical. For that reason I've done my best to add in flavor for major religions and some regions/cultures. I've also sought to add in things which make this mod unique when compated to vanilla or other total conversion mods, such as ATE:FF, which inspired this very mod. Before anyone passes judgement on the mod for a lack of flavor, they should remember that the mod's dev team only concists of three people, and the two others have spent most of their time on things that most take for granted as well as the mod's offmap empire. Essentially all main features of the mod were actually made by a single person, me. But the folks over at the Discord server have sure helped with their ideas and suggestions. In total, there are over 500 new events in this mod, in large part flavor. Some religions and regions get a bigger slice of the pie than others, which should be expected. As an example, the Pekoist religion remains very raw, while religions like Karelianism and Laestadianism have gotten much better treatment. Latvia, as a region, is quite bland in comparison to, say, Southern Finland or even the Arctic Coast. Some cultures also have something unique alongside a good number of possible dynasty names, while other cultures don't. THE VISION Since the beginning I've wondered how this mod will turn out. As I've often mentioned before, After the End: Fan Fork. Yet I've known from the beginning that my mod won't be as massive in scale, and I doubt that I've managed to recreate the same magic. After the End is like a second CK2. It covers a massive area with no shortage of cultures, religions or place names. Recreating the same experience with Finland and the surroundings is simply impossible. There is not enough to work from, but I've done my best. In terms of province count and map size, Crusader Finns is well behind both vanilla and ATE:FF. The same applies to number of unique cultures, culture groups, religions, and religion groups. Again, I can atomize certain cultures only so much. But I won't let that get in the way. It is my aim to make Crusader Finns as interesting as any mod could be. This is in part done with lore that is hidden around the mod, as well as elsewhere. In fact, creating lore is perhaps the one thing I loved the most when making this mod. But there's surely a lot more for the mod to offer than that. The idea of Crusader Finns is to recreate Crusader Kings 2 in an unrealistic yet convincing post-apocalyptic environment. I wanted to create something like After the End in my native country and the surroundings. It was a wild and crazy idea, and it's amazing that Crusader Finns has not joined the numerous mods and projects that were abandoned mid-way. But here we are! My aim is for there to be something for everyone in this mod. I've repurposed a lot of things from vanilla in this mod. Lutheranism is an obvious ripoff of Catholicism, while the latter reselmbles religions like Nestorianism mechanically. Orthodox Christianity largely behaves like it used to, and there are always the Pagans. But there's plenty of new too! Svecomania and Karelianism are religions centered around a culture, making them powerful culture conversion tools, while the latter is also dedicated to the reconquest of a geographical area. But I can't list all the stuff here, as I've covered it all in previous DD's. THE DEVELOPMENT PROCESS Crusader Finns started as a little personal pet project of mine back at the end of July and the beginning of August 2019. It was never easy. From the very startm I've been tormented by crashes. The most difficult part of the mod was indeed the very beginning - getting the game to launch at all with the bare minimum of the map added. After many difficult days, I finally succeeded in getting the mod to launch, and to this day I don't know what the problem was. From the very start, since when Crusader Finns was but a thought in my head, the mod has gotten some attention. The first part was making the map. I had a clear idea about what it should cover, and I went around to look for maps I could base mine off. But I could find none, so eventually I had to cut a part of the HoI4 map and mess around until it was the right size and scale. Then I had to add detail to the map, largely the coastline, lakes, and major rivers. First time around I didn't do such a stellar job with the lakes, so I had to redraw most of them at a later point. After the map was drawn, I started filling the map with provinces. It was a tedious process, but thinking about it makes me almost nostalgic now. Again, the work I did at that point was amended quite a lot later as the shape, size, and number of provinces was greatly modified. Alongside that I also started filling the map with realms and characters. For many months most of what I did was fill the map in various ways. Crashes to desktop and other issues were always a nightmare, no matter what I did. As the map expanded and more Developer Diaries were released, more and more people started expressing interest in the mod. It is around then the two other developers, Galaxion and Boomer Kaiser, joined and eventually became devs themselves. I don't know if I would have ever finished without them, as they largely filled the map with coats of arms, and there's no way I could have done a good job with that. By January the whole map was filled, and I could properly get into converting all the events and decisions from vanilla onto the mod. Over the months I started also adding all sorts of things, probably everything that the mod is known for thus far. Ever since then it's been more or less smooth sailing, except for the part where I decided to expand the map into Latvia. That was a total and utter nightmare. But that too was done and dealt with. Since January I've been further amending the map, converting vanilla stuff, making lots and lots of event, making sure that DLC features work, and a massive number of other tasks that I won't get into. And now release is right around the corner. It's been great! The release date for Crusader Finns is JULY 5 FUTURE PLANS I won't be able to work much after the release since I'll be conscripted the very next day. Of course I'll have free time to fix any bugs and issues that may appear. But I'll likely not develop this mod that much further even when I get back, as I already have my eyes set on CK3. I see great potential in a CK3 port of Crusader Finns, let's call it "Crusader Finns 3". I'll likely make Crusader Finns 3 greater than the original Crusader Finns ever could be. But who knows how things will go? As always, if you have any questions, be sure to ask them. I'll happily take any feedback you have!
2020.06.24 05:04 AltienHolyscarI was cheated on a long time ago and I still think about her.
This is a long story, I apologize for that, but I have never talked extensively about it, or properly vented. I fell head over heels in love with a girl, we will call her A, and it was really the first time I had felt this way about someone. We spent a lot of time together, to the point that I neglected my school work and my family. We dated off and on for a total of 2 years. For the entire time I'm talking about cases of infidelity I'm going to talk about events as she explained them to me. I think that there is far more to all of these stories than I was led to believe. A also had depression. I had just started college after finishing Army training in the National Guard and I met A when I was hanging out with a friend of mine from high school. We clicked that night and we ended up getting each others contact information. We started hanging out and we both expressed interest in each other. But I did not know that A had already had a fling with someone else, and that it was still an active relationship. A told me about it when things started to get a little more serious, and said that she would need to end things with him before we could continue seeing each other. This was a red flag for me, but I liked her, and I was willing to do just about anything to be her boyfriend. From what I was told by A, this was not a serious relationship and things ended somewhat peacefully and the important thing was that we could now start dating each other. We began dating officially as boyfriend and girlfriend. I was blinded by the feelings I had for A, so blinded that I ignored a lot of obvious red flags that I will mention. I am a religious person (Catholic), and A told me that she was Lutheran, but she was willing to learn about my religion so that our relationship could be more harmonious. A even told me at one point that she would be willing to convert. This excited me to no end! I thought I had met my wife. But while we were in this honeymoon phase, I was not a good Catholic. When A and I would hang out, we would almost always end the night making out, even heavy petting, but not having sex. I was a virgin, despite having had a few girlfriends previously, and I believe that sex is reserved for married people. A knew my beliefs on this, because we had talked about it. A told me that she had sex one time with one of her ex-boyfriends from high school. I didn't mind, if God could forgive her, then so could I. And who was I to wish anything different? A's past had made her who she was, and I was beginning to realize that I loved her. And A said that she loved me. This is now several months into the relationship, and up to this point she told me that she was still friends with her ex, we'll call him R. I didn't mind, I assumed that they were just friends, but I did find out years later that A had cheated on me with him, this will become relevant later. It was also around this time that A confessed to me that she had lied to me about her sexual past, it was more than one time with her ex, and there were several other guys. I rationalized this news the same way I rationalized the first time she told me she wasn't a virgin. I loved A. But I shouldn't have been ok with this, because a few weeks later, she was hanging out with a guy friend of hers. They were alone and she told me that he kissed her and made her put her hand down his pants. She left and felt guilty enough to send me a text explaining what had happened that night. I was furious at this guy. I never met him but I swore I would do terrible things to him if I ever did. This was the moment that I should have ended things with her. After that incident I began to lose my trust in A. A would constantly be texting other guys while we were hanging out, but they were all just "friends." Eventually it got to the point where she was texting one guy a lot, and to my guilt, while she was in the bathroom I looked at their messages. The conversation was very similar to how ours went when we had first met, there was a lot of flirting and the guy had asked what kind of flowers he should get her. I confronted her about this but she just got angry and yelled at me. She wasn't mad that I had gone through her phone, but she was mad that I had a problem with her talking to other guys this way. While we were fighting, A admitted that she had kissed this guy one night while she was drinking with her friends. This revelation made me even more angry, but I said we should try to work things out. After a few days, we came to the agreement that she wouldn't talk to this guy, or see him ever again. Our relationship became happy again. After we had been together for some time we met each others parents. Mine lived only a short drive away, but A's parents lived several hours away. We decided that I would meet her parents when spring break came. I was very nervous about meeting them, but I killed it! Her parents loved me! They even wanted me to stay for the entirety of spring break but I had already made a commitment with my family for the last few days of the vacation. On my last day at her parents house, I had caught a glance of a text message A had received from a guy. It said "hey cutie." Remembering how emotional A had gotten after the last time I confronted her, I didn't say anything until we met again after spring break. This time A was calmer, she told me that this was a guy she used to hook up with when she was in high school, and D texted A because he was looking for a booty call. A told me that she told him off. We will call this guy D. Also, when she got back from her parents, she didn't want to make out with me anymore. A moved back home for the summer and got a job at the same place she worked in high school. I visited her a few weekends over the summer, but on one trip she seemed distant and had been texting another new guy, who we will call Z. I went to my summer training with the military, and one night I got a text from her. A was drunk and was telling me that Z and some of his buddies were telling her it would be a good idea to come into a room with her. She also said it seemed like a good idea. I protested and Z took the phone from her and taunted me while he and his friends had their way with my girlfriend. They even told her when they were done that I had broken up with her. I had tried calling her multiple times throughout, and immediately after the event, but she never answered. This event affected my performance at training, and I had gotten pulled aside to see what was wrong. My platoon sergeant helped me through the situation, and he was a former cop. I gave him my phone and he did some investigating through my conversation with the guy and came to the conclusion that this situation was very fishy, and that I should seriously consider breaking up with A. He was right, it was a fishy situation, she went to drink with a bunch of guys she claimed to barely know, but I rationalized this case as rape, and didn't blame her for it one bit. A never called the police and never did anything to report it. A didn't even seem different from the last time I saw her at our next meeting. After I went to see her, she was even more distant, but kept telling me that she loved me. But seemingly out of nowhere, she told me that we needed to take a break. I asked why, but never got a good answer and we came to the agreement that we would not see anyone until we both mutually decided what would happen with us. I was saddened by this. About a week later her grandma died, and A asked me to come to the funeral to help support her. I happily did, I helped her grieve and while I was with her she acted like we weren't on a break. She would hold my hand, kiss me, and we would cuddle and stuff like that. I thought this meant now that we were off the break, but as I was leaving she told me that we weren't together yet, she just needed to "figure some things out." I am still confused what was going on to this day. But a while later my whole world would be flipped upside down. I was on vacation with my family, and A was still texting me, even though we were on a break, and she told me that she was pregnant. I was still a virgin, so I knew it couldn't be mine, and I assumed it was probably conceived from the event with Z (it was still early enough after that this could have been when she first noticed her period stopped). I was willing to stay with her, because I thought of this as rape, but I wanted to know who else could possibly be the father. I wanted to know if she had broken the promise we made to each other before we were on a break. It turned out she had, with a guy that she worked with that we will call T. I had briefly met T, and he was a deadbeat pothead. I was heartbroken. I was a soldier, who was going to school for engineering. I am also quite tall, and not ugly by any means. But T was the guy you imagine when you picture an incel, or a loser. And he emanated failure. I told A to leave me alone. But she pestered me and pestered me for weeks until I relented and agreed that I would come to her place and give each other our things back. She was now in the same town as me and school was starting again. I still wish I hadn't gone that night, because I ended up staying with her all night and we did things we shouldn't have. But we didn't have sex. But after that night we didn't touch each other romantically for a long time. Without telling me she had started dating her ex, R, that I mentioned earlier. But I didn't learn of this until after he broke up with her. After she learned of her pregnancy, A was very depressed, and I was worried that if I stopped talking to her and spending time with her she would do something she would regret. She would talk about suicide often during this time, and I would spend a lot of time talking her off the ledge, so to speak. A also told me often that she regretted ever putting us on a break and wished we stayed together. One day she even said she would get an abortion if I would be with her. I stayed up all night talking her out of the abortion, I didn't want this baby to die because of mistakes he didn't make. All of these emotional conversations gave me a sort of "Stockholm Syndrome." Eventually we started dating again. We even bought each other promise rings, because this time we would make it work.This was around the beginning of her third trimester of pregnancy. A moved back with her family and we had both dropped out of school from the stresses in our lives. I would go to see her just about every weekend (remember, this was a 4 hour drive for me). And everything seemed fine with us while she was pregnant and even after the baby was born. Our relationship seemed normal and A's depression seemed to go away. I even felt as if the baby was my son. After all, I saved him from abortion. He even seemed to see me as his dad. We were a family and I wanted to have my own kids. Even if I did consider this baby as mine. But A went back to the old habits of talking to other guys and I would occasionally see fishy text messages. I never mentioned them because I was afraid it would spark her depression again. When I would visit her we would share the same bed and I began to lose my faith. I would try to have sex with her, because I thought it was what she wanted from me, and it would make her "love" me again, as at this point she wouldn't even kiss me hello or goodnight, or do much to show affection at all. One night we had sex. She was talking dirty to me on our car ride home from a gathering and we went to the bedroom as soon as we got home. I wore a condom, but I never finished. She got off of me claiming that she had finished and it was really good. I was not a good Catholic and this was something I never should have allowed to happen. She seemed more attached to me for a while, but I couldn't visit her every weekend because of my drill duties. On one of those drill weekends she called me in tears and told me that she had slept with T. Again, I was heartbroken. But I stayed with her still. We had talked about getting married and I gave her my virginity. After this she would fight with me about being Catholic, she would say that I resented her for all that had happened and my family hated her for what she had done to me. I knew the relationship was ending, and she had been texting her ex, R, and talking to another of her exes, M. Looking back I realize that she was trying to make excuses to break up with me, but I kept fighting to stay with her. She put us on another break. R was abusive to her, she had cigarette burn marks on her arms and shoulders because of him. But she claimed that because of the on/off nature of their relationship, she had to "go out with him so she could break up with him and get him out of our lives." This time I stopped talking to her. For weeks she kept trying to talk to me so that we could "stay friends." She claimed to care about me. By this time I had wisened up and realized that A wasn't capable of having platonic friendships with guys. And she was still talking to M. I stayed strong and committed to keeping her out of my life. This is the official end of our relationship. But I was still very sad, and didn't think I would ever find someone again, and I still wonder if I deserve to find another woman. After this she would text me on approximately a monthly basis, to try and keep me in her life. I would be nice to her for as long as I could, but the longer I talked to her the more the pain would come back. I would remind her, harshly, of all the things that she did to me, and all the things I did for her. And then she wouldn't talk to me. The thing that hurt the most about this, is the second time she messaged me on Facebook (she deleted my number when I last saw her) she had M's last name. I thought that I couldn't feel any more pain because of her, but seeing that she was married only a few months after we had broken up truly broke me. I loved A. I loved her son. I began to gain weight and my military career suffered because of it. This was my fault, but that is how bad this hurt. She would continue to try and talk to me for about a year and a half after we broke up. A would ask about my religion, and things she would need to do to become a part of it. She would also say things about how she wished it was me she was married to, and how she was thinking of divorce with M. Every time I would tell her that she made a vow to M, and she has to stay with him. The last time I talked to her, I asked her to tell me the truth of all the times she had cheated on me. She told me that she saw the first guy one more time, as well as the second, and she slept with D, R, and T, a few times during our relationship. I had suspected it, but it still hurt to hear the truth. Then I asked her if she was actually going to get an abortion that day I stayed up talking her out of it. She told me that she doesn't believe in abortion, and she wasn't actually going to go through with it. This hurt me, because now, the only connection I had with her son was gone. And we got back together under false pretenses. This made me angry and she said that I shouldn't care because it is all in the past. I told her that she was my past and I wanted her to stay there. Those were the last words I said to her. A's parents talked to me a few times during the time after our breakup, telling me that I should consider this: they told me that she was very happy when I was around, and that I was their favorite guy she had dated. They also thought that A's relationship with M was just something temporary and that A would realize the mistake she made. They tried to keep me around, and I feel bad about this because I can't help but think that I shut them out with no explanation. I don't think they know how unfaithful A was to me, and I often think that they may have thought of me as part of the family, and I left with little explanation. I feel as though they might think I'm ungrateful, but that couldn't be any less true. I loved A. It's been about 5 years since we broke up, and I know that I am an idiot for staying with her as long as I did, but I still check her Facebook account to see how she's doing. I know that a lot of the pain I endured was self-inflicted, and I know that I was a bad Catholic throughout our relationship. I feel mostly normal today, but I don't want to think about her anymore. I also haven't had a serious relationship since we broke up. I met one girl at a singles gathering from my church, but she lived on the other side of the country and the distance didn't allow things to work out. But I'm afraid I'm just using the distance as an excuse because I didn't think I deserved this new girl, being that I gave my virginity to someone who treated me so poorly. I'm back in school and living a normal life, outside of meeting new girls, but I am fine overall. I'm not depressed anymore but I don't want to think about A anymore. I know that it is weird to still be thinking about her after it has been this long, and I don't know why I still think of her, but I do. I have renewed my faith and started taking it more seriously, so now I hope that I don't make the same mistakes again. Sorry if this post is incoherent in places, but this took me several hours to write and I became quite emotional as I remembered everything to give you guys the whole story. If any of you are kind enough to give advice, you have my deepest gratitude. A, if for some reason you found this, I will pray for you to live a happy life, and to beat your depression. Edit: A's mom made this delicious mushroom sauce that you put on steak, would it be weird if I asked her for the recipe after all this time? Thank you for the help.
2020.06.24 00:09 Valkist_Fylkir"Development" Diary No. 0: "Acquaintance with the Universe"
Gesunde Kompromisse machen aus Konflikten chronische Krankheiten. «Faust»Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Greetings, we're development team of the mod "From Grunwald with love", and today we will try to briefly introduce the universe of our mod to you. Immediately, you need to make a reservation that despite our name, the battle of Grunwald itself is not the main event that served as a link to the alternative history of the world of our mod - this name migrated into it from the early versions of our lore that was created in 2018. It (name) nevertheless, managed to take root, in addition, partly conveys the spirit of our mod and the region on which we decided to make our main emphasis - the Central and Eastern Europe, as well as Germany and the Scandinavian countries. In addition, we consider it necessary to warn those who might think that our world is suspiciously similar to the world of Godspeed: flame for a winter mod due to the one territorial formation... However, please note that this is nothing more than a coincidence. Naturally, we do not want and do not seek to steal ideas from other modifications - it just so happened that our ideas coincided back in 2018. In addition, the way this will be presented... The state will, in our opinion, be significantly different from how it is shown in the Godspeed mod. And now, perhaps, we will finish this prolonged introduction and proceed to the main part.
The Connecting Concept of the "From Grunwald with Love" world:
What if the Crusades were much more successful for European countries? What if the countries of Central-Eastern Europe in XIII-XV could not contain the onslaught of German expansion? What if the Reformation and Enlightenment failed before they could really begin? What would Europe and the rest of the world look like if the Habsburgs were able to create a united “Christian empire”, without bourgeois revolutions and the fall of the ancient monarchies?
How did it all started?
To begin with, I propose to briefly describe the turning point at which the history of the world of our mod began to differ from the real story (in fact, besides it, there are several events of different importance within our history, but, I think, it makes little sense to talk about them now, therefore, we will try to concentrate only on those that have most significantly influenced the fate of the European continent), namely, the overall success of the Crusades. The history of Europe in the world of mod begins to change dramatically ever since the Third Crusade. Friedrich Barbarossa did not drown in the Kalikadnus River, but continued to lead the German crusaders, while trying to smooth out the growing contradictions between Richard the Lionheart and Philip II. In this regard, the siege of Acre and subsequent events for the crusader army were much more successful. After the surrender of Acre, the crusaders did not waste their strength in seizing the coastal cities, but resolutely went on the offensive on Jerusalem, having besieged the city in the fall of 1191. The center of the holy land was taken in 1192 and was returned to the Kingdom of Jerusalem. On this, the crusade ended, on the whole, on a victorious note for Christians. In addition, in the captured Acre in 1190 there was a foundation in the future of the powerful Teutonic Order. https://preview.redd.it/5dgxzpm24o651.jpg?width=800&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=3ee6ad479c6bd0aa6514bc12e8f3a280d17265c4 The next episode of the wars in the east, which became more successful for Catholics, was the Fourth Crusade, or rather, the time immediately after it. Unlike our history, the first emperor of the Latin Empire was not elected Baldwin de Flandre, but his more capable brother - Henry de Flandre (he was emperor after the death of his brother IRL from 1205). Henry behaved more far-sighted than his brother irl, and decided not to reject the union proposed to him by the Bulgarian kingdom, so the war with the Bulgarians and Polovtsians was avoided. The Latins were able to concentrate on the destruction of the last remnants of the Byzantine Empire, especially the Nicene Empire, which was crushed before gaining much influence. With it, the empire transferred to the rich and vast territories in the west of Asia Minor, which contributed to the influx of knights from Western Europe into the possession of Emperor Henry. Sack of the Constantinople by the Crusaders Further, we shall cover a little later period - the period of the Seventh Crusade it is. Unlike our reality, the French army, led by Louis IX, did not go to Cairo, but to Alexandria - the largest port of Egypt, through which a stream of slaves from the Caucasus and from the Great Steppe came from, from which the Mamelukes were recruited - the best soldiers in possession of the Sultan. After the capture of Alexandria and the Nile Valley, the crusaders were able to take control of most of Egypt by 1251. Most of the Mamelukes fled to the Ayyubid emirs to Syria, and Egypt itself became the crusader kingdom, headed by Louis’s brother, Charles, who renounced the possessions on the continent in favor of his brother, in particular, the duchy of Anjou. The first king of Egypt and the future king of Jerusalem - Charles of Anjou
1254 - after the death of Conrad IV von Hohenstaufen, Charles I becomes the baliff of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, which gives him almost royal power. 1256 - 1260 - Middle Eastern campaign of the Mongols. The army of Charles of Anjou, acting together with the Hulagu soldiers, annexes inner Palestine and the coast of Syria to Jerusalem. With the fall of the Ayyubid principalities of the Levant - a bastion of Islam in the Middle East, the region is divided between the crusader states and the Mongol empire. 1266 - Pope Clement IV entered into an agreement with Conradin Hohenstaufen aimed at eliminating Manfred Hohenstaufen and transferring the Sicilian kingdom to Conradin. His uncle, Louis of Bavaria, was obligated to help him (to whom Сonradin sold his patrimonial possessions in Swabia). Conradin also contractually renounced the rights to the throne of the Holy Roman Empire and transferred the title of King of Jerusalem to Charles I. 1268 - the Guelph coalition defeats Manfred’s troops at Tagliacco, Conradin ascends to the throne of Sicily under the name of Conrad II. Karl of Anjou eliminates the de facto power of the Cypriot branch of the Lusignans in Jerusalem. 1269 - 1270 - Eighth Crusade - Conrad II attacks Tunisia with the support of Charles of Anjou and Louis IX. As a result, the Sicilians annex Tunisia, and Karl of Anjou incorporates Tripolitania into the Egyptian kingdom. 1275 - the death of Conrad II during a campaign in Algeria. His titles were inherited by his daughter - Manfreda Constance, who were married to the heir to the kingdom of Aragon. 1276 - the death of the King of Aragon - Jaime the Conqueror, formation of a dynastic union between the kingdoms of Sicily and Aragon. 1286 - death of Charles I, king of Egypt and Jerusalem. He is succeeded by the eldest son, Count of Tripoli and Prince of Antioch, Charles the Lame . 1298 - Battle of Curzola during the Venetian-Genoese war 1293 -1298: Venice's victory strengthens the republic's trade dominance in the Eastern Mediterranean 1298 - 1308 - the ongoing internal civil strife and, ultimately, the collapse of the Koni Sultanate, forced the Ilkhanate to take extreme measures to restore order - three tumens were sent to Paphlagonia, which, together with the troops of the Latin Empire, cleaned up Turkish tribes suspected of disloyalty. The little-known Osman beilik was not lucky to turn on the bad side of Ilkhan. Pitiful remnants of it's population, like many other Turks, are moving to the Balkans. 1301 - suppression of the Arpad dynasty on the throne of Hungary. The main competitor of Wenceslaus III is not Karl Robert of Anjou, but the King of Germany Albrecht I von Habsburg. 1308 - after a conflict with Otto III of Bavaria, Albrecht I, shortly before his death, seeks for himself and his son Frederick the rights to the throne of Hungary, but soon this is met with discontent from the new king of Germany, Henry VII of Luxembourg. 1335 - death of the last ruler of Ilkhanate, Abu Sa'id. The subsequent collapse of the state allows the King of Jerusalem and Egypt, Robert the Wise, in the last years of his reign, to return Jerusalem to Christian rule. 1343 - The death of Robert the Wise, the profligacy and cruelty of the new Queen Giovanna seriously destabilize the situation in Utremer. 1345 - Queen Louis’s husband revolts against his own wife, supported by most of Egypt. 1364 - death of the emperor of the Latin Empire Robert II. The new emperor was the adopted son of Robert and his wife Giovanna of Jerusalem, Louis of Anjou. The end of the long war between the empire and the Jerusalem-Egyptian kingdom. In subsequent years, the last king, Louis the Great (1364-1382), taking advantage of the confusion among Muslim states that arose on the ruins of the state of the Hulaguids, moves the borders of the kingdom up to the Euphrates. Louis the Great, King of Jerusalem and Egypt (1364-1382) 1365 - the death of the Hungarian king Rudolf von Habsburg, the division of the dynasty between the Albertine (Hungary) and the Leopoldian lines (Austria, Styria, Carinthia, Krajna, Tyrol). 1370 - death of the Polish king Casimir III. His nephew ascends to the Polish throne, son from the dynastic marriage of his sister of Casimir - Elizabeth with the Czech king Johannes of Luxembourg Wenceslaus (1337 - 1383). 1382 - the death of the King of Jerusalem and Egypt, Louis, his and Constance of Aragon daughter, Mary (1363-1401) ascend to the throne. 1383 - the death of Wenceslaus I, his nephew, King of Germany and the Czechia Wenceslaus IV, becomes successor on the Polish throne, but in Poland the rule of this not-so-capable monarch spills over into a long period of instability, during which representatives of the local nobility resist the German king. 1384 - Neopolitan Union between Lithuania and the Grand Duchy of Moscow, under the terms of which Prince Jogaila swears allegiance to Moscow Prince Dmitry and is married to his daughter Sophia. 1389 - The Neapolitan Union between the Aragonese and Egyptian-Jerusalem kingdoms: the wedding of Mary of Jerusalem with the nephew of King Aragon Martin The Younger . 1389 - Jogaila's displacement in Lithuania, the new Prince Vitovt suspends the Christianization of the country. 1394 - capture of the Wenceslaus IV by the displeased Czech and German nobility. Using the moment, in 1394-1396, power in Poland was seized by Prince Siemowit IV from the Mazovian line of the Piast dynasty. The beginning of a serious cooling in relations between Poland and the Teutonic Order. Age of Discovery: from the end of the 14th century Venetian merchants begin to regularly visit the ports of Suakin and Massawa on the coast of Sudan and Ethiopia, actively participating in the trade on the Red Sea.
Another important “variable” we'd like to introduce as a part of our alternative history was the death of the failed Emir Timur at a young age, before he committed his large-scale aggressive campaigns. In his youth, Timur, like Temujin, was the leader of a company he personally recruited, while repeatedly endangering his life. According to one version, his famous limp was acquired by him precisely at that time. In our history, he did not survive one of these skirmishes, and Asia never heard the name "Tamerlane." In particular, the invasions organized by him were avoided by the crusader states of Outremer and the Golden Horde. Due to that, history of the Horde has undergone significant changes: first of all, the Battle of Kulikovo did not occur due to the fact that Mamai needed to collect an increased tribute to fight Tokhtamysh (there was simply no one to support him in our timeline). Secondly, in the absence of Timur’s campaign against Tokhtamysh itself, as a result of which the Volga cities suffered terrible ruin, the Horde retained a significant part of its economic potential, which delayed the collapse of the state for several decades. Proclaimed in 1384 the Moscow-Lithuanian Union led to the formation of an alliance of states against a common enemy - the Horde and an attempt to deflect itself from it in 1388. The Russian-Lithuanian army suffered a crushing defeat in the decisive battle, and the Prince of Moscow Dmitry Ivanovich found his death in it. Upon his return to Lithuania, Jogaila was quickly overthrown by Vitovt, who curtailed the orthodox rite Christianization of his country. The decisive battle against the Horde Due to the fact that Dmitry did not had time to resolve his conflict with his cousin, the apanage prince Vladimir the Bold, the rota order of inheritance was preserved after his death: the new prince was chosen the Vladimir the Bold, who had to wage a protracted internecine war with his son Vasily Dmitriyevich. All this also delayed the folding of the centralized Russian state. After the overthrow of the power of the German king Wenceslaus (1394) in Poland, relations between the kingdom and the pro-German Teutonic Order deteriorated, as well as the rapprochement of the country with Lithuania. According to the Union of Krewo (1395) Vytautas converted to Catholicism. The hope that the alliance with Poland had discouraged Vytautas from concluding a peace with an Order that had plundered its lands. This led to a large-scale conflict, called the Great War (1399-1401). In the course of it, the talented order hochmeister Konrad von Jungingen opposed the Poles and Lithuanians. In 1399, the Order's army under his leadership invaded Lithuania and besieged Vilna. At the same time, von Junginen managed to win over Svidrigailo's cousin Vytautas, who had significant influence in the Orthodox lands of the principality. The Tatars, who began to ruin the southern regions of Lithuania, also sided with the order. In the summer of 1400, a general battle took place at the Grunwald between the Teutonic and Polish-Lithuanian armies, during which Russian troops in the Lithuanian army were given a slack. After the first unsuccessful onslaught of the Lithuanians, the Smolensk regiments under the command of Lengvenis Olgerdovich went over to the side of Svidrigailo and exposed the Polish rear to the attack of the Teutonic knights . Soon after this, mercenaries from the Czechia and Moravia left the battlefield, in the heat of battle the Krakow banner with the image of a white eagle was lost. After entering the battle of order reserves, King Siemowit was defeated in the battle for the Polish camp, which painfully hit the morale of the Poles. Having hardly withstood the last onslaught of the allied forces, the order forces managed to turn their armies into a random runaway. Grunwald Battle After the defeat in the battle and the subsequent overthrow of Vytautas, the countries were forced to sit at the negotiating table, having no more strength to continue the war. Svidrigailo was recognized as the Grand Duke of Lithuania in exchange for a concession to the Order of Zemaitiya, and Poland lost the Dobrzyn. After the death of Siemowit II, his son Siemowit III sat on the throne for some time, warded in infancy by the council of the aristocracy for a short time, but this did not last long: in 1404 the young king was overthrown by the Czech king Wenceslaus, who decided to regain the lost kingdom. As a reward for helping in the war, the Teutonic Order was awarded with the lands of the rebellious Mazovian princes north of the Vistula.
1410 - death of the great Moscow prince Vladimir the Bold. In the next 15 years, the son of his predecessor, Vasily, had to wage a long bloody war with the sons of Vladimir, claiming the Moscow throne. A significant role in these events, as well as many decades ago, was played by Tatar squads that were sent in support to one, or another applicant. 1419 - the beginning of the Hussite wars. Over time, centers of movement similar to the Hussites and directed against the power of a foreign Luxembourg dynasty also began to appear in Poland, where they reached a peak in 1433 during the Baltic Hussite campaign. The Polish kingdom led by Siemowit Rawa was briefly restored, but in 1440 it was conquered by the King of Germany Albrecht II, the first to unite Austria, Czechia, Hungary and Poland under the rule of the Habsburg dynasty. The Teutonic Order is finally consolidated in the lands of the rebellious Mazovian piasts. Battle of Lipany 1435 - death of the Queen of Jerusalem Giovanna II, the new ruler of Outremer becomes king of Aragon Alfonso adopted by her. Until 1442, he had to assert his rights to power in the East in the fight against the Latin emperor Rene. 1440 - Age of discoveries: the Venetian traveler Niccolo Conti was the first European to visit the port of Aden on the east coast of Arabia. In 1445, King Alfonso equipped a military expedition in support of the war of the Ethiopian emperor Zar Yaykob in his war with the Muslim sultanate Adal. Thanks to this, the Europeans got the opportunity to gain a foothold in the former capital of the defeated sultanate, Zayle, turning it into their naval base on the Indian Ocean. 1457 - the collapse of the first united Habsburg state in Eastern Europe: in Hungary, the Czech and Poland, local rulers returned to power for a while (Matthias Corvinus, George of Poděbrady, Siemowit VI). 1457-1470 - 13 year war of Poland against the Teutonic Order. 1458 - death of King of Aragon, Sicily, Egypt and Jerusalem Alfonso the Magnanimous . The power over the father's possessions in Outremer is inherited by his illegitimate son Ferdinand, which provokes an uprising against Ferdinand and the intervention of the Latin Empire in 1458-1473. 1462 - completion of the almost 50-year period of feuds in the Grand Duchy of Moscow with the rise to power of Ivan III. However, due to frequent conflicts with Lithuania and the weakening of the princedom due to constant unrest, the unification of northeastern Russia and the liberation from the Horde yoke is postponed to a later date. 1471-1478 - the Hungarian conquest of Poland by Matthias Corvinus in an effort to create a strong state in Eastern Europe, able to repulse German expansion. 1471 - the invasion of nomadic Aq-Qoyunlu tribes into the territory of the Latin Empire weakened by the war with Egypt. Thanks to the supply of firearms from Egypt and the folkish performances of the Turks in Asia Minor, the Turkomans managed to reach the shores of the Sea of Marmara by 1472, after which the empire requested peace from their enemies. 1478-1479 - Age of discoveries: the expedition of the Kingdom of Jerusalem establishes a sea trade route with India, as well as the rich port of Muscat on the coast of Oman. The Venetian Republic immediately takes the initiative in developing trade contacts with the East. https://preview.redd.it/4wiat5akdp651.jpg?width=807&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=a24a92ba48999383a2f12189a2acaedd6f86ff64 1483 - dynastic crisis in the Latin Empire. Due to the suppression of the Anjou branch of the Valois house, France nominates its candidates for the imperial throne in Constantinople, but this causes great resistance from Aragon, HRE and Jerusalem. This results in a fierce civil war between applicants for the imperial throne. 1490 - the death of Matthias Corvinus and the collapse of his Central European power, new attempts by the Piasts to achieve independence of Poland. 1494 - death of the King of Jerusalem Ferdinand I. The beginning of the Mediterranean wars between Spain, France and the Holy Roman Empire for influence in the Eastern Mediterranean. 1504 - the capture of Constantinople by the combined army of Spain, HRE, Jerusalem, as well as the Balkan allies - Serbs and Bulgarians. Ferdinand of Aragon, with the consent of the emperor of the HRE, Maximilian and Pope Julius II, proclaims himself emperor of the Latin Empire. In subsequent years, as a result of military campaigns in the Balkans and in the East against the Turks, the state of Ferdinand within its borders acquired similarities with the Eastern Roman Empire since Justinian. Italy becomes the center of the struggle of two empires and their enemy, France. The cessation of the Polish-Hungarian war, after peace between Poland and the Teutonic Order in 1505 in Eastern Europe, a period of peace begins for a short time. 1519 - Charles V first unites under his rule the Holy Roman and Latin Empires, as well as Jerusalem, Egypt, southern Italy, all of North Africa and Spain. 1525 - the battle of Pavia, which marked the beginning of the reign of the empire of Charles V in continental Europe. The defeat of France and its allies. Battle of Pavia 1526 - Austrian invasion of the Czechia, Hungary and Poland and restoration of the rule of the Habsburg dynasty that was lost in 1457 over them. Thus, the entire Danube region falls under Habsburg authority, taking into account the new possessions in the Balkans. In those same years - the birth and development of the heresy of Copernicanism (an analogue of Lutheranism from our world), with which the authorities almost immediately began an active struggle. https://preview.redd.it/ey0mh7z8fp651.jpg?width=559&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=6f2a537544ef527fc0f230f8de9fc22308600861
Thus, as a result of a series of dynastic marriages and wars between monarchs by the second quarter of the XVI century. Europe has developed a huge Habsburg empire, covering the territory of Central, Eastern and Southern Europe, as well as a significant part of North Africa and the Middle East. It was the eastern provinces, the lands of the Egyptian, Jerusalem kingdoms, and also the Latin Empire that became the economic center of this power. Lacking major barriers to trade with the East, the Europeans, based on these lands captured during the Crusades, began their geographical discoveries. Italy, even despite the consequences of the Mediterranean wars, remained a thriving region and a center of birth of capitalist relations. In the 1540s, the Portuguese competing with the empire reached the shores of a new continent - America (the pace of marine exploration in the Atlantic slowed down but did not stop due to the opening of a shorter route to India), which later gave an impetus to the economic development of Western Europe. But this discovery also marked the beginning of a colonial race in those regions of the earth where the influence of the Habsburg empire had not yet had time to establish itself, and became the cinder, whose flame flashed in a bright fire later, during the reign of Philip II. Huge profits from the trade in oriental goods allowed the empire of Charles V to have a powerful army of its time, one of the most combat-ready parts of which were the famous Spanish terti. In the years and decades following the battle of Pavia, the empire continued to strengthen its influence in the world. Charles was able to secure the return of the fiery Catholic Christian II to the Danish throne and revived Kalmar Union. The wars in the Czechia, Poland and Hungary were followed by an imperial invasion to the territories of Lithuania,where for the most lands of duchy were created Kingdom of Ruthenia which were subordinated to the court of Constantinople was created, and the actual Lithuanian lands were transferred to the Teutonic Order. A series of wars against Safavid Iran ended with the entry into the empire of Mesopotamia up to the Persian Gulf. France remained as a state that resisted the Habsburg expansion, longer than others on continent . But even it could not resist the almost pan-European invasion of it's territory in 1550-1558, in the last years of the life of Emperor Charles. After its subjugation, almost all of the continental Europe was essentially under the rule of one man, but soon the emperor of East and West, Charles V, suddenly died. After his death, his vast empire was divided into 2 main parts with centers on the territory of the former Holy Roman and Latin empires. Spain, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Germany, as well as Hungary, Poland and the Baltic countries fell into the sphere of influence of the empire in the West. The Eastern Empire, with its capital in Constantinople, swept the Balkans, Asia Minor, the Levant, Egypt, Mesopotamia, as well as part of Transcaucasia. Charles V, Emperor of East and West, creator of the European Habsburg Empire The new emperor of the HRE was the son of Charles - Philipp. During his reign, the main rivals of the empire were the Portuguese and the British, but both of these countries ultimately fell under the onslaught of the imperial forces. The Great Armada ensured a successful invasion of the British Isles. Philip I multiplied the achievements of his father, and with him the empire was at the zenith of its power and glory. In the future, fate, however, was not so supportive of the Habsburg monarchy. The new ruler, Philip II (1598-1621), turned out to be less capable than his father and grandfather, but so far the economic impulse given by the empire thanks to its colonial expansion on the American continent continued to be significant. The beginning of stagnation was quite clearly indicated in the reign of Philip III (1621-1665), during his period Empire once again faced revolutionary movements, like the bourgeois revolution in Britain, the Netherlands and partly in France. The imperial army suppressed the revolutionaries, yet over time it became harder and harder to do. Despite the fact that under the rule of the Habsburgs, Europe virtually united into a single economic space, economic ties alone could not bind its body together. Because of this, the bureaucratic apparatus was expanding more and more in the empire, the maintenance of it, together with the army and the magnificent Vienna court, had withdrawn huge percent of the treasury. With each new monarch, taxes increased more and more, as well as cheap coins were issued to maintain a high level of expenses. So, in the XVI - XVII centuries. almost entirety of Western Europe, had to face the spread of Spanish "Alcabala" tax, which soon became a household name. High state pressure on the estates has seriously slowed down economic development in Western Europe. Since business activity in the West was under heavy taxation, the most reliable bank was the military monastic order that had long been involved in financial operations. As well they participated in numerous operations to suppress the activity of Protestant heretics, concentrating more and more land holdings and money in their hands. On the other hand, this resulted in the degradation of orders as military organizations, since it became much easier to hire mercenary units using available means than to risk the lives of order knights. Significant scope in the XVI-XVII centuries. in Western Europe acquired the activities of the Inquisition, which was actively supported by the Habsburg monarchy. With the help of orders, the empire and the church, it was even possible to organize several crusades to the north of Germany, just as in the past centuries, the struggle against the Albigensians and Hussites was waged. Under pressure from Catholics, the Copernican heresy was driven into a deep underground, which seriously affected the development of Protestant ethics in the West. Under Charles II El Hechizado (1665-1700), the Habsburg monarchy in Western Europe entered the stage of its decline and decay. In the last quarter of the XVII century. the empire began to lose power over its territory. Against the background of the increasing frequency of conflicts with its eastern neighbor, it was Constantinople that most often claimed claims to primacy in the Christian world. The culmination of the collapse of the Western Empire was the so-called The War of the Roman Succession(1701-1714). On the eve of her in Britain, the convened parliament elected the Scottish king James as king of England. In France, the Navarran ruler Louis was proclaimed a king in a similar way. In Portugal, related to the previous dynasty, dynasty of Braganza, seized power, and in Spain - de la Cerda. A republic was proclaimed in the Netherlands. After the death of Charles II, the Eastern Empire declared its claim to all the lost lands, which led to a long and bloody war between it and a number of newly formed states. By it result, the power of the Habsburgs was saved in Italy, Germany, Hungary, Poland and the Baltic states. As a concession, the south of Italy was transferred under the jurisdiction of Constantinople. The parties licked the wounds to prepare for a new decisive clash, this time during the Second War of the Roman Succession (1740-1748). Taking advantage of the situation when a woman appeared on the throne of the united empire - Empress Maria (1740-1780), the revived national states put forward their claims, intending to put an end to the Habsburg empire forever. However, at the time the war began, they were fragmented due to the fierce division of the colonies in the Western Hemisphere, which they inherited from the Western Empire. During the war, Western states failed to destroy the Empire, which led to the establishment of a dubious status quo in Europe. https://preview.redd.it/067auy0bcq651.jpg?width=760&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=5d50e023d05dbbb09770cd92f83b7153a128a35d Despite the fact that the Empire managed to resist, in the following decades its position remained unstable. After the death of Empress Maria, her state was divided between her sons Joseph (1780-1790) and Leopold (1780-1792). Since their father, Frederick, was king of Scandinavia, the emperor of the West, Joseph, also inherited it. After his death, the empires reunited for 2 years, and after the death of Leopold they completely disintegrated. The period of the struggle for the preservation of the unified Christian power of the Habsburgs and its division went down in history under the name of the Crisis of the 18th century. The crisis led to a serious weakening of imperial power, resulting in increased influence of a number of small German states, for example, Brandenburg. The latter took a sharply antagonistic position with respect to the already weaker but still battle-worthy Order State in Prussia, which the Habsburg monarchy very skillfully guided in its efforts to maintain its precarious control over the situation in the country. However, for too long, peace in Europe could not be maintained. In 1807, the last king of England and Scotland from the Stuart dynasty, Henry IX, died. After him, the next 17 years in Britain were ruled by invited kings from the Stuart-related Savoy dynasty. But with the death of King Victor I, a dynastic crisis broke out between the two main contenders for the English throne - Victor's daughters, both of whom had the right to inherit the crown. And the dispute would not have been so complicated if two powerful European dynasties - the German Habsburgs and the French Bourbons - did not stand behind two parties. Further events were called the War of the English Succession (1824 - 1829). The coalition of England, France, the Netherlands and Portugal not without a difficulty, but were able to defeat the alliance of the Holy Roman Empire and Spain. A rather inconsistent position in the war was occupied by little Corsica, which, under the leadership of the talented commander Napoleon Bounaparte, was able to declare itself throughout Europe. However, a series of successful military campaigns was interrupted by the sudden death of a promising ruler in 1828. One way or another, the anti-German coalition managed to push through the coronation of Mary of Savoy as Mary III, Queen of England and Scotland (1824 - 1879). The War of English Succession finally put an end to Habsburg dominance in Western Europe, but led to the extreme depletion of both sides of the conflict. The result was the First French Revolution of 1830, which led to the overthrow of the French king Charles X and the establishment of a republic. The sharp reaction of other European powers, especially England, where the Bourbon-Parma dynasty came to power, resulted in a series of revolutionary wars (1833 - 1848). Despite the fact that the French in their course managed to quite successfully act against the forces of the coalitions gathered against them, in the end, a continuous war with all of Europe undermined the ability of France to continue the war. In 1849, the monarchy was restored in France, the first republic fell. Almost a quarter century of continuous war in Europe led to a radical change in the existing system of international relations. Italy was ravaged by a long war. Spain was virtually withdrawn from big European politics and regressed to the degree of a second-rate country. The Holy Roman Empire was not destroyed only due to the help of its eastern neighbor. France barely maintained its independence, but in fact it was provided by the British, who gained great influence in the country. French Revolution From now on, the picture of events in Europe was determined by revolutionary activity, the seeds of which were sown by the French Revolution. They sprouted in 1878 - 1879, during the so-called "The Spring of Nations." Then the unrest swept France, Italy, Germany, partially spread to England, Scandinavia, the Latin Empire. The Second Republic was proclaimed in France in 1880, and the outbreak of the German-French war for influence in Italy in 1887 led to the escalation of the conflict into another pan-European war with the participation of influential German and Italian princes, as well as the United Kingdom. The Second Revolutionary War (1887 - 1899) ended with the defeat of the Second French Republic. It was also the last major war in Europe, which was achieved success by battles of individual field armies, without the active use of automatic small arms. The plans of the winners, obviously, interfered with the suppression in 1883 of the senior line of the Bourbon dynasty. The most influential at that time was the line of the Parma Bourbons, ruling on the British Isles, but for reasons of legitimacy, the eldest branch of the dynasty headed by King Charles X (1899-1909) was restored to the throne. In exchange for recognition of their authority in France, the English branch of the dynasty acquired vast land holdings on the continent as hereditary titles. https://preview.redd.it/q97n2p65eq651.jpg?width=807&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=cef723ecb2049c3d1bbf8bce0b13e3d9d7f81bbb The devastating wars could not stop the onset of the industrial revolution, which laid its foundation in the Mediterranean region in the 1820-1860s. Revolutionary changes and the deconstruction of the estate system contributed to the formation of bourgeois society in France in the 1870s, in the 1880s a wave of industrialization captures England, the Ruhr. By the beginning of the 20th century industrial society has established itself in most of the HRE, except for the easternmost regions of the empire. Industrial development in the Holy Roman Empire pushed the country's authorities to carry out reforms aimed at unifying the country. But after a 12-year war with France, relations between the conservative emperor Franz Joseph I and the German princes (especially the northern ones) were tense, finances were undermined, and revolutionary rebels continued to operate in Italy. Therefore, the reforms begun in 1900 turned out to be half-hearted and could not achieve complete unity of the country. For the next third century, Europe lived relatively peacefully, but the accumulating tension within and between states threatens to result in a new large-scale conflict, during which the old world order, which existed during the XVIII-XIX centuries. may go into oblivion. In France, after the death of King Jacques I, who bequeathed to transfer the throne to his daughter Maria, bypassing the rights of his uncle Charles, the Duke of Aquitaine, a dynastic crisis has arisen, which is superimposed on the tension associated with the presence of English influence in the state and the activity of revolutionaries, who are once again determined try to end the monarchy and establish their power over the country. Relations between the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire and the German princes are strained as never before because of stalled attempts at territorial integration within the empire and the devastation of the financial system due to the need for a constant struggle against revolutionary organizations in Italy and other nationalist regions. Social tension threatens to develop into the largest popular uprising within Germany itself, which will sweep away the power of hereditary rulers. In the British Isles, relations between Parliament and Regent Elia are similarly formed with their legally incompetent brother, King Henry IX. The intrigues surrounding the royal throne are taking place against the backdrop of preparations for a large-scale intervention in the internal affairs of France, where instability threatens the possessions of the English ruling house. A political crisis has also matured in Spain, exacerbated by the fact that the previous king was killed by a group of terrorists associated with underground left-wing radical organizations. In Scandinavia, local nationalists are determined to break the century-long union with the Habsburg power in crisis, elect a new monarch and reconsider the archaic territorial structure that has remained in the state since the time of the Union of Kalmar. At the same time, the sleeping giant - the Latin Empire and its emperors do not want to meekly watch the chaos unfolding around and even despite the internal tension between many peoples of the empire, they are ready to start a new series of wars for domination in Western Europe, just as the empire had already done years ago. Finally, in Russia, local revolutionaries also seek to put an end to the decaying monarchy, to reconsider the country's unequal position in the system of international relations in Europe, and to put an end to industrial backwardness and create a new combat-ready army. However, the generals of the newly formed “army of the new order” do not always share the enthusiasm of the Republicans, moreover, they have long been mired in corruption and mutual hostility. One thing is clear - difficult times await Europe. Long-drawn out religious and interethnic conflicts, which for centuries have been suppressed by the institutions of monarchical states and the church, make their way out. But the power of emperors and kings, the church and military orders has long weakened, and therefore a new outbreak of revolutionary elements may be the last for the old world. The face of a new Europe will depend on the next few years, which promise nothing but constant wars and uprisings. The new world is born in agony, and it will depend on you which states and regimes will shine, like stars in heaven, and which will forever plunge into the depths of the river of oblivion, lost in the past and unknown to the future. https://preview.redd.it/xa4wwum8eq651.jpg?width=791&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=ef6d6b1c769f185d5c6d3c9515101f9b362d9008
2020.06.15 18:31 Millero15Crusader Finns Developer Diary 20: Christianity
Obligatory Discord link: https://discord.gg/FZ5Ky5P Hello there again! This developer diary will be all about the Christian religions in the mod and such. I've talked about some of these in some previous dev diaries, so some information given is likely old, but there should be lots of new information about all the religions shown. There won't be that many pictures in this DD, so don't read this to your 5-year-old. Anyway, let's get to it. GENERAL CONTEXT Christianity, for the longest time, was the dominant religion in all parts of Northern Europe. Yet the Apocalypse has greatly disrupted this, in addition to causing minor mutations in the traditions and doctrine of Christianity in the north. Christendom has lost lots of ground in the north and elsewhere, which they will have to recover in various ways. In former Christian lands there are now pagans both old and new, strange cults dedicated to pre-apocalyptic legends and anything in between. There are different Christian faiths spread all throughout the map. Almost everywhere on the map there is some Christian presence, varying greatly from region to region. Now let's take a look at each individual one. LUTHERANISM The Lutherans were on of the two historically dominant denominations on the map, along with the Orthodox Christians. Now it should first be noted that there are multiple Christian faiths on the map which are Lutheran in doctrine, but the label "Lutheran" is used for the mainstream Lutherans headed by the Archbishop of Turku. It can be a little confusing at times, so keep this in mind. There's more to it. In any case, these Lutherans are mostly concentrated in Southwestern Finland, in the old Finnish counties of Finland Proper, Satakunta, Pirkanmaa and the neighboring regions, in addition to some more remote areas such as the Curonian coast in Latvia. The history of the Finnish Evangelical-Lutheran Church in the post-apocalyptic times is quite interesting. After everything collapsed, the Church managed to keep some cohesion thanks to its bureaucracy and infrastructure. But due to the destruction and loss of technology, this was limited to areas easily accessible from Turku, the HQ of the Finnish Church. Still, the Church gained power and the Archbishop became a powerful man in his own right. His position would be strengthened by the rise of the Kokemäkean Empire in the 24th century. After the conquest of Finland Proper by the Kokemäkean Kingdom, the Archbishop offered the king an imperial crown in exhange for a terrible deed we'll talk more about later. In any case, the new Kokemäkean Empire united most of Southwestern Finland, expanding its influence into Uusimaa and Tavastia, and into Ostrobothnia and the Archipelago of Åland. This greatly helped the Finnish Church consolidate in the old imperial lands. Indeed, the religious map of Lutheranism in 2517 and the old borders of the empire closely match each other. But where has this all exactly lead the Finnish Church? I'll tell you. The increase in secular power and influence caused the Finnish church to become authoritarian and politically assertive. The Archbishop is the most powerful person in Christendom, and all kings must be crowned with the approval of the church. To consolidate its power, the church gradually started to enact policies and promote doctrine that gave it power over the centuries. Additionally, to preserve information more efficently, monasticism was reintroduced, something the Lutherans had never practiced. With an politically powerful head, saintly cults, indulgences, holy war, and so on, the Lutheran Church in 2517 is something that would make Martin Luther bash his head into the nearest wall. It has more in common with the medieval Catholic Church than Luther's teachings about the church. Notably, the church still accepts women into the clergy, a practice that somehow survived the apocalypse. It is a controversial issue that has caused quite a lot of conflict within it, but it is certainly not going away without external interference. Some have noticed this state of the church, but their complaints have not been adressed. As a result, parts of Sweden and Latvia formerly loyal to Turku have broken off, being known as the Iconoclasts for their opposition to various church policies. It is the sole heresy to the Lutheran religion in this mod. Mechanically, the Lutheran religion functions similarly to the Catholicism of vanilla. Just imagine the Archbishop of Turku in the position of the Pope, and you get a fairly close image of the Lutheran faith in Crusader Finns. Crusades, papal mechanics, coronations, sainthood, and so on. Lutheran heartlands Religion screen ICONOCLAST LUTHERANISM Iconoclasm are the sole heresy of Lutheranism. The origin of the Iconoclasts lies in the transformation of the Finnish Church in the post-apocalyptic era. The Iconoclasts are dissidents who have noticed that the church has strayed far from what Martin Luther taught. They demand that the church not be materially wealthy and ditch all the obviously Catholic things and adhere to classical Lutheran doctrine. Yet this the church does not want, and because of that the so-called Iconoclasts are ruthlessly persecuted. However, in parts more removed from the Archbishop, such as Sweden and Latvia, the Iconoclasts achieved predominance. The Iconoclast religion is similar to Lutheranism, but with many of the obviously Catholic stuff disabled. Additionally, should an Iconoclast hold Turku, they can install an Iconoclast Archbishop. As a minor heresy, there is nothing much to talk about besides that. So let's move on. Iconoclast regions EVANGELICISM The Evangelics are a Lutheran subgroup independent from the Archbishop of Turku. They are a group of independent churches that federated out of necessity. They inherit their name from the Evangelic revival movement, perhaps the most important of the groups that make up the Evangelics. Their religious doctrine varies a little bit, as it is a collection of multiple groups, but generally Lutheranism defines it. These Evangelics should under no circumstances be confused with the Evangelical Christians of America, as they have nothing to do with each other. The history of the Evangelics in the post-apocalyptic era has been eventful. The original Evangelics were concentrated in Finland Proper, and despite some disputes they were very much a part of the Church of Finland. However, the fact that much of the surroundings of Turku were dominated by a distinct subgroup of Lutherans made some Archbishops a little uneasy, and this unease reached a climax in the 24th century. It begins with a wicked Archbishop whose name was unfortunately lost to history as the Imperial Archives of Tampere burned down in the Great Fire of Tampere in 2486. Anyway, this Archbishop despised the Evangelics and other Lutheran sub-groups for acting indepentently and sometimes refusing to conform. To solve the problem, he - or she, we don't know - decided to invite the Kokemäkean King, Artti I, to invade Finland Proper. To rid the region of the Evangelics, the Archbishop offered the king an imperial crown if he were to enslave every last Evangelic and deport them from Finland Proper. Many tens of thousands of Evangelics were such made to work as agricultural slaves in the Kokemäki river valley. But their story didn't end here. After some years of slavery, unrest began to spread among the Evangelic slaves. This finally resulted in a great slave rebellion while the Emperor was busy campaigning elsewhere. After local forces failed to contain the revolts, the revolting Evangelics joined into a single group and marched north towards the Ostrobothnian frontiers to claim their freedom. There was nothing to stop them, and almost all Evangelics managed to escape slavery in the Kokemäkean Empire. They would settle down in the region of Southern Ostrobothnia, a chaotic mess both back then and in 2517. They formed new principalities and largely assimilated into the local culture. Eventually the Evangelics would lead the unification of all the churches in Southern Ostrobothnia to form the Evangelic faith as seen in 2517, giving it their name. Despite the forced enslavement, the Evangelics eventually forgave the Emperor in exchange for peaceful relations with the empire. As a result, most of Southern Ostrobothnia was eventually formed into the Ostrobothnian Frontier Protectorate of the Kokemäkean Empire, finally bringing order to the region. Yet the empire eventually fell, and thus the Evangelic principalities of Southern Ostrobothnia reverted into their previous state of balkanization. In 2517 the Evangelic religion has not spread beyond the Finnish-speaking parts of Southern Ostrobothnia, save for parts of Västerbotten in Sweden, where some local churches have joined the federation of churches. Mechanically there is not much to talk about when it comes to the Evangelics. They're there, and that's kind of it. Evangelicism on the map BAPTISTS The Baptists are the only non-Lutheran Protestant Christian faith represented in the mod. As Lutheranism has always been the dominant form of Protestantism in this part of the world, it should be no surprise that they are only limited to a small part of the map, the part of Finland with the greatest density of Baptists - Coastal Southern Ostrobothnia. The history of the Baptists shares some things with that of the Evangelics. Both Christian groups are situated in Southern Ostrobothnia right next to each other. From the Apocalypse to 2517, little has changed for the Baptists. There they still are, sitting in their corner of Finland. When the Evangelics federated the churches of the region, an attempt was made to include the baptists, but if failed for multiple reasons. First of all, the Baptists were far more numerous than any of the other groups who got incorporated. Second of all, the Baptists are not Lutherans so there was some theological conflict, particularly when it comes to the issue of infant baptism. The third reason is more cultural than anything. The Baptists are almost entirely Swedish-speaking, while few of the Evangelics in Finland were. Being so arrogant and proud, they were reluctant to place themselves under a Finnish-dominated church. Following the fall of the Imperial Protectorate, the Baptist areas fractured into multiple principalities like the rest of the region. The Finnish Pampas, like the Land of the river Kyrö, is in pieces. There also exists a small Baptist enclave in Laukaa, part of the Republic of Jyväskylä, which also has a Baptist patrician. It's a little thing. The Baptists, as of right now, do not have anything special as mechanics. I've not had the time to come up with something for them, being one of the minor religions and all. You already saw the map on the Evangelic section too. LAESTADIANISM The Laestadians are another distinct Lutheran group in this part of the world. Their origins trace to Lars Levi Laestadius, a Swedish Sami preacher who was influential in early 19th century Lapland. The Laestadian teachings spread the most in Finland, with Laestadians being around 2% of the Finnish population, largely concentrated in Northern Ostrobothnia. They are morally strict, abstaining from alcohol (except when taking the eucharist), and generally avoiding tattoos, makeup and piercings, among other things. Yeah, I know a lot about them, and for a good reason. In any case, they have been rather succesful in the post-apocalyptic world. Thanks to the strength of their commuities they managed to weather the storm, and with nothing to resist them, Laestadianism emerged as the dominant form of Christianity in Northern Ostrobothnia, essentially taking over the local Lutheran Church. Indeed, like before the Apocalypse, they are part of the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church, although more nominally than ever before, essentially acting on their own. In addition to Northern Ostrobothnia and spillover, there are Laestadians enclaves in different parts of Lapland. The Kingdom of Oulu, the greatest Laestadian power, is key to understanding post-apocalyptic Laestadian history. Oulu was close friends with the Kokemäkean Empire, and the two developed a close relationship. It is through this that the relations between the Laestadians and the mainstream Lutherans were handled, and they often depended on the personal relationship shared by the two monarchs. It is no surprise that ever since the Kokemäkean Collapse the Laestadians have strayed ever further from the Archbishop in Turku. The Laestadians organize their church differently than the Lutherans traditionally have. Rather than having a strictly hierarchical clergy, the Laestadians largely rely on laymen to do the preaching. Indeed, the tradition of laymen preachers is very strong with the Laestadians, which is why they lack offices like bishop or an extensive church bureaucracy, as local communities essentially govern their own church. Important church matters are discussed in an annual council which accompanies the summer services, a grandiose event where a great portion of the Laestadian faithful attend. Due to its strict morality, Laestadianism borrows the decadence mechanics of vanilla Muslims, causing disaster for those who stray from righteousness. Laestadian rulers may also choose to host or attend summer services occasionally, which has some unique flavor too. I also forgot to mention this in the Lutheran section, but both Laestadians and Lutherans can render the other into a heresy of they control their heartlands. If the Laestadians do this, they can install their own Archbishop and "take over" the Finnish Church. Laestadianism also has a heresy, Firstborn Laestadianism, so watch out for that. Laestadian heartlands ORTHODOX CHRISTIANITY Out of all the forms of Christianity listed Orthodox Christianity is definetely the most widespread. Obviously most of Orthodox Christendom is within Russia, but not all of it is. Still, it is largely isolated from the other Christians by a sea of pagans and Old Worldists. Orthodoxy has largely stayed intact in its traditional form after the Apocalypse, even if some things have somewhat altered. Russia was hit hard by the Apocalypse, with most of the enomous country rendered uninhabitable, at least the old Russian heartlands west of the Urals. Yet the northwestern part, once part of the Republic of Novgorod, managed to make it. Due to this all, the Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia had to move to Saint Petersburg, by far the most significant Russian city that survived. And he did not come alone. There was a massive Muscovite exodus in particular to St. Petersburg, and Muscovites would hold the Patriarch's position for a long time. Yet this too would come to an end as Muscovite culture greatly declined in the early 25th century. The last person known to have spoken Muscovite Russian was Patriarch Plato I "the Last Muscovite", who died in 2481. Obviously, communication with Constantinople and her Patriarch has been severed ever since the Apocalypse. Expeditions have been attemped, of course, but none have actually made it. There are rumors of one's existence, but concrete proof has not yet been produced. It is likely that the Orthodox world is split in two by the Great Russian Wastes. The Orthodox Christians to its north are under the influence of the Russian Patriarch, while those in the Black Sea coast and the Mediterranean are under Constantinople's patriarch, if one indeed exists. In the immediate aftermath of the Apocalypse, it was not known what would happen to the church. As a drastic emergancy measure, the Metropolitans of Finland, Latvia, and Estonia were elevated into proper autocephalous patriarchs. Naturally, some objected to this, but in the face of the end of the world they were simply ignored. Later on Karelia would be given its own Patriarch due to the geographical divide between the Orthodox Christians in Karelia and "Russia Proper". This whole arrangement is known as "the Northern Pentarchy". Yet the Patriarchates of Helsinki, Tallinn, and Riga did not last, fading away at some points in the post-Apocalyptic era. But Orthodoxy is not the only thing that made it through the Apocalypse, the Old Believers, a dissident group that split from the church over issues of rites, still persists largely in more isolated areas and places where they were historically strong. They are the sole heresy of Orthodox Christianity. In 2517 the main Orthodox heartland is in Cisvolkhovine Russia, that being the parts of Russia west of the Volkhov. In addition there are other regions which are predominantly Orthodox, as well as smaller enclaves. Olonets Karelia, largely the ethnically Karelian parts, are Orthodox, as well as the Vepsian regions. Far in the north, the Murmansk Republic is also Orthodox despite being so distant to their brethren in the south. In Finland there are large Orthodox populations in some parts of Karelia and Savonia, and the Russian populations in Latvia and Estonia are largely Orthodox too. Mechanically Orthodox Christianity is very close to the original which fits the religion well. There's the pentarchy mechanics and autocephaly, and all the stuff from Vanilla you know and love. Orthodox regions Orthodox religous tab CATHOLICISM Finally, we reach Catholicism, ironically the least widespread if all the main Christian faiths. Catholicism, of course, was arguably the main religion in vanilla, and it is familiar to everybody. But if Lutheranism has absorbed most features of vanilla Catholics, what is Catholicism in this mod all about? Like with all other Christians, the key to understanding the state of Catholicism is the Apocalypse and its aftermath. In particular the European Empire is important to this all. Communication with the Vatican was possible even after the Apocalypse, even if significantly harder. Yet the eventual rise of the European Empire changed it all. With this new non-Christian hegemon in the way, communication got harder. Though the European Empire provides protection to the Papal State and nominally guarantees some religious liberties for some groups, it still intentionally restricts communication with the Catholics of the north, particularly doe to fears over the Pope supporting an invasion of the Catholic Polish nomad hordes to topple the Empire. It is for this reason that the Pope has rather reluctantly delegated much of his authority to local archbishops. The one relevant within the mod's map is the Archbishop of Riga. The Catholics of the map are a small and relatively isolated bunch, being stuck in the southeast of Latvia. The best comparison would be the Miaphysites or particularly the Nestorians of vanilla, a relatively small Christian group with their own religious head. They still have access to stuff like sainthood, but all the papal politics and crusades are off the table. Catholic lands Catholic religious tab That, I believe, is just about it. As always, questions and comments are more than welcome. Stick around until the next diary, 'cause the release date is ever closer!
FROM: https://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/berlin-fears-populists-will-exploit-protest-movement-a-3a4702b8-6701-401d-b712-6d3e19453a56 ————- NOTE: 17 authors! Also, due to DerSpeigel’s privacy insecurities that prevent waybackmachine from archiving their pages, I’m providing the full text below. ————QUOTE Germany's Corona Divide Berlin Fears Populists Will Exploit Protest Movement A vocal minority in Germany opposes the restrictions put in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, including right-wing radicals, but also people at the center of society. How can the government best address the protest movement? 15.05.2020, 18.52 Uhr By Felix Bohr, Markus Feldenkirchen, Florian Gathmann, Julia Amalia Heyer, Valerie Höhne, Martin Knobbe, Dirk Kurbjuweit, Veit Medick, Ann-Katrin Müller, Christopher Piltz, Lydia Rosenfelder, Jonas Schaible, Christoph Schult, Christian Teevs, Severin Weiland, Wolf Wiedmann-Schmidt and Steffen Winter ———- German parliamentarian Franziska Brantner recalls how in the beginning, the emails were sporadic. She says that four or five weeks ago, the main issue in the mails was the question of herd immunity. Why, people asked in the mails, can’t we do things the way they are in Britain and Sweden? Weeks later, she now receives around 100 complaints each day. There are complaints about the government, "this emergency regime,” and sometimes critical questions and expressions of hatred. "Why don’t you stop this harassment from the government,” one asked? Brantner, who is 40 and has served in the federal parliament as a member of the Green Party representing the district of Heidelberg since 2013, says she answers the emails from people who don’t insult her. She has expanded her office hours for her constituents and she has also hired a half-time employee just to answer letters from concerned citizens. No Longer a Given Brantner responds to some of the mails herself, like one that arrived on Tuesday night. "I can understand both your frustration and your criticism very well,” she wrote to a person she knows. She closed the message by writing, "And thank you for expressing your displeasure in democratic circles, which is no longer a given these days" Brantner says that many of the concerns people are expressing are justified or at least comprehensible. What worries her is the sheer speed of the political debate, the controversy surrounding calls in Germany for immunity certification for people who have survived COVID-19 and rumors about an alleged vaccination requirement once a vaccine is developed for the coronavirus. "Sometimes members of our own party don’t even grasp our positions,” she says. Brantner says she was taken aback when, a few weeks ago, a long-time member of the Green Party, a retired judge, sent an e-mail declaring the end of the constitutional state because of the measures imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus. That’s the point when Brandtner realized that the side-effects of the global pandemic could include fundamental doubts about democracy, even among people who hadn’t been receptive to such doubts before. The crisis sparked by the novel coronavirus has now reached its third stage. At first, concerns were focused on health, followed shortly thereafter by worries about the economy. But now there’s a third concern: the health of liberal democracy. The source of this new worry are the protests against coronavirus lockdown policies by many German citizens on streets, in town squares and on social networks. They don’t share the belief that we need to yield many freedoms in order to contain the virus, and they consider their quality of living to be threatened by measures to slow the spread of a disease that they don’t even think is all that dangerous. These people represent a minority of Germany society right now. A survey commissioned by DER SPIEGEL found that 19 percent of Germans consider the lockdown measures taken to be excessive. The vast majority, 70 percent, consider the measures to be appropriate. Nevertheless, that figure is still 4 percent lower than it was three weeks ago, despite the recent loosening of lockdown measures in states across Germany. A Perfect Storm for the AfD And that is making German politicians nervous, because it is evoking memories of the consequences of the refugee crisis in 2015. At the time, the country’s right-wing populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party began gaining traction, becoming a catch basin for people protesting against established politics, particularly German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and its rise was accompanied by conspiracy theories of every nature. At the time, the AfD had the potential to attract 20 percent of all German voters, and it shook up politics in the country. In the wake of the refugee crisis, Merkel stepped down as the chair of her conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party. Then her successor, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, failed in the position after her party in the eastern state of Thuringia cast its votes together with those of the AfD to elect a new governor, an absolute political taboo. Countries abroad looked to Germany at the time with deep concern: Is there something bad still slumbering in those Germans? It’s through that lens that you have to look at what is happening now. The conspiracy theories are circulating once again and the AfD is stirring up protests. The difference this time is that German prosperity isn’t secure in the way it had been in recent years - this time the economy is crashing and millions of jobs are at risk. This is precisely the kind of opportunity the AfD has been waiting for. That doesn’t mean, of course, that every person who protests or feels uncomfortable with the many incursions into our freedom are disaffected and outraged people or inclined toward the AfD. Indeed, it’s good that there are debates over the state and federal governments’ policies. A clear distinction must be drawn between democratic protest and conspiracy theories, as well, between serious debate and between insults or new forms of protest like shaking hands. The protests have also been accompanied by violence against police and journalists. Are Dividing Lines Blurring? The greatest worry among politicians right now is that the dividing line will blur, that the societal mainstream will meld with conspiracy theorists, anti-Semitism, anti-capitalism and right-wing extremism to the benefit of the AfD or a newer movement like Widerstand2020 (Resistance 2020) in Stuttgart, that the battle to save liberal democracy is entering into a new, even more difficult round. How can politicians prepare for this threat? And what are the possible solutions? The parties are struggling to form positions, they face dissidents and the disaffected sowing confusion within their own party and what seems to be the particularly German question of how a country that has coped comparably well so far in the coronavirus can also get so easily rattled. Friedrich Merz, who still has dreams of taking over leadership of the conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) and ending up in the Chancellery, agrees to meet with the reporters for a meeting on Wednesday afternoon in Berlin. Only a few weeks ago, he was homebound in bed after contracting the coronavirus. A tan has once again return to his face, as if he had just returned from a vacation in Tuscany. Despite the decreasing number of infections, Merz does not believe the virus has been beat. In his view, the economic outlook is disastrous and he sees a Europe that is descending into chaos and, meanwhile, a growing movement in the country of people pretending the coronavirus is like a light cold. It’s madness, Merz says. "I find the apparent shift in sentiment very disturbing." Merz doesn’t always say the things his party wants to hear from him, but in this case he does. At the moment, fear is rampant with the CDU – worry that public sentiment will shift and fear that everything could break down again. The party had actually seemed more or less stable in recent months. The leadership quarrels surrounding Kramp-Karrenbauer seemed forgotten and the scandal over the gubernatorial vote in Thuringia had subsided, but unrest is growing within the party again now. Vulnerable to the AfD The images from the recent protests in Stuttgart, Cologne and Munich have alarmed the CDU and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), more than any other party. Back during the refugee crisis, the protests also began in splinter groups before becoming more mainstream and boosting the position of the AfD, which presents more competition for the CDU and CSU than it does any other parties. Many a Christian Democrat is clinging these days to the party’s recent healthy showing in the polls, where it has the support of 38 percent of voters. But Norbert Röttgen, a prominent Christian Democrat who is also a candidate to take over chairmanship the CDU, considers those numbers to be deceptive. "The boost in the polls,” he says, "is likely attributable to the first weeks of the crisis. Many were relieved to that politicians acting quickly and in a united way.” But since then, some have tried to benefit politically from the crisis and are polarizing the handling of the pandemic. "Sentiment is shifting and the frustration is starting now,” says Röttgen. But why? The responses differ depending on who you ask among the Christian Democrats. The fatalists argue that there’s nothing that can be done – sooner or later the internal disputes will return. But others say that two governors – Armin Laschet of North Rhine-Westphalia and Markus Söder of Bavaria – are to blame because they were in a competition to prove who was the best at crisis management and, in doing so, at times created the impression that they were less interested in peoples’ health than in their own political careers. Röttgen says the chancellor also bears some responsibility. "Merkel has long been perceived as a bulwark,” he says. He says she did "very well” for several weeks. "But then she may have gotten caught in a rationalist trap. She has pursued her policies persistently, but she also should anticipated a shift in the sentiment and registered it when it started happening. By not reacting, she left herself vulnerable to the politicians who were trying to build pressure for a loosening of the lockdown measures. The skittishness is particularly palpable in the party’s parliamentary group in the Bundestag, where many members of parliament are sensing firsthand the growing doubts of people in their constituencies toward the measures. Andreas Mattfeldt, a CDU member of parliament from Lower Saxony, says he had hoped that the opposition parties, like the business-friendly Free Democrats, would express criticism of the government’s crisis strategy. "Instead, it is now becoming an issue for the AfD, and I’m afraid that the uncertainty in the population is getting out of hand.” He warns: "The crack running through this country is much bigger than we thought.” Mattfeldt, an uncomfortable parliamentarian who has been a thorn in the side of leaders of the party group for years, says he believes Merkel’s initial response to the crisis was the correct one. He also supported shutting down public life for a time. But he was bothered by the fact that the virologists the government was relying on for advice proferred contradictory assessments. He was also unhappy about public appearances made by the head of Germany’s Robert Koch Institute, the country’s center for disease control. But most importantly, the events on the ground in his own constituency didn’t match the actions that were being taken in Berlin. As Merkel, German Health Minister Jens Spahn and virologist Christian Drosten all warned of the possibility that Germany could become the next Italy, with its overrun hospitals, and state governors competed to see who could impose the strictest lockdown, the messages coming out of many hospitals in his constituency were different: There was no onslaught of patients and the situation remained calm. In April, Mattfeldt canvassed parliament for possible allies sharing his skeptical view and soon assembled two dozen others who were dealing with similar concerns. Three weeks ago, they met in the offices of the German parliament for their first exchange. They were also joined by colleagues from the business-friendly Free Democrats. A ”Dangerous Mix” Absent at the meeting were members of the center-left SPD, who have had less traumatic experiences with the AfD than the CDU and CSU have, and are thus able to brush off the protests more easily. SPD General Secretary Lars Klingbeil says he understands the uncertainty people are feeling and that he even engages in discussions with people who believe in conspiracy theories. But there are also limits to his tolerance: He says anyone who fights for fundamental rights, but then goes to protests attended by "Reichsbürger (a movement that rejects modern Germany), neo-Nazis and Holocaust-deniers at which journalists are attacked” must also be aware of who they are keeping company with. He calls it a "dangerous mix.” Klingbeil says that people who took to the streets to protest the government’s refugee policies are back at it again. "There are intellectual firebrands there who create the kind of climate that results in attacks against police and journalists. They’re exploiting the coronavirus crisis to divide people and incite them.” German Family Minister Franziska Giffey of the SPD also finds it frightening to see all the different segments of society attending the protests, not to mention how fast conspiracy theories are spreading. "I fear a spill-over into mainstream society, also because fabricated news is spread so fast through digitization.” But it’s the SPD of all parties, that is currently creating difficulties for the government on the corona policies front, specifically an official at the Interior Ministry. "A Global False Alarm” In an email that Interior Ministry official Stephan Kohn sent last friday to state interior ministries, he wrote: "There was probably no point at which the danger posed by the new virus was beyond the normal level.” He also issued a strong recommendation that the government’s protective measures be "completely lifted.” Kohn’s paper is more than 190 pages long, including attachments. He also poses the question of the undesired collateral damage caused by the coronavirus containment measures – through postponed operations, for example. He writes that more deaths through heart attacks and strokes are to be expected because those with ailments are less likely to go to the doctor. In the paper, he also draws attention to the suffering of people in need of care and the mentally ill. All things that are certainly worthy of consideration. All in all, however, the paper exaggerates on a grand scale. He calls the coronavirus pandemic a "global false alarm.” Some of the sources in his paper are dubious blogs that no serious government official should be relying on. Kohn has been raising his concerns for weeks at the ministry and had even sent out abstracts of his paper, although in a more reserved tone. People conveyed to him that some of his ideas were interesting, but that on other points, he is either wrong or out of date. His superiors signaled to him that he should stop, that he isn’t even responsible for these issues. But Kohn didn’t. One day, when his boss wasn’t there, he sent out his paper as "expert advice” from Department KM4 at the Interior Ministry. In it, he also writes that the state could ultimately turn out to be "the biggest producer of fake news.” Speaking of Kohn, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer says: "Everyone knows that I maintain a high degree of liberalism in my ministry. So, I have no problem with him having his own opinion. What’s not OK is that he used the ministry’s infrastructure and letterhead to create the impression that it was the ministry’s opinion. Despite all the liberalism, there also has to be loyalty." Kohn has since been suspended from duty. He was advised to obtain a lawyer and his work laptop was confiscated. Kohn’s family has experienced plenty of negativity in the past. Three of his brothers were sexually abused by a Lutheran pastor, with their family sharing their woeful story with DER SPIEGEL in 2010. Later, Hamburg Bishop Maria Jepsen resigned from office in response, even though she bore no personal responsibility. Kuhn also ran to become the chair of the SPD against Andrea Nahles and failed spectacularly. A Difficult Situation On the internet, the suspended government official has since become a hero to those bucking the coronavirus line. The right-wing conservative blog Tichy’s Einblick is portraying Kuhn as a kind of whistleblower. Hans-Georg Maassen, the controversial former head of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, which is responsible for monitoring extremism in Germany, has also voiced his support for Kuhn on Twitter. Kohn’s paper has put the government in a difficult situation. One the one hand, he expresses some warnings that are justified. On the other, though, he places one foot into the world of the conspiracy theorists. The very groupings that are now trying to shift the mood against the government’s lockdown policies. The same people are now alleging that the Interior Ministry is suppressing criticism. At a meeting of the parliamentary group on Tuesday, several members of parliament with the Christian Democrats brought up Kohn’s paper, including digital expert Christoph Bernstiel of Saxony-Anhalt. "What’s our communications strategy for this paper?” he asked participants. He warned against ignoring the document and appealed to the Interior Ministry to respond to the accusations officially and soberly. Bernstiel has been quoted as saying that if the work is just dismissed as that of some nutcase, it "will just be throwing fuel on the fire of conspiracy theorists.” Interior Minister Seehofer didn’t attend the virtual meeting, so his representative in parliament, Günter Krings, responded for him. He expressed his firm opposition to treating the document seriously. If you start analyzing papers like that, Krings warned, "then pretty soon you’ll be inviting the guys with the tin foil hats to parliamentary hearings.” Men in tin foil hats is a term used to describe people who believe in conspiracy theorists. Veronika Bellmann, a CDU member of parliament from the eastern state of Saxony, accuses Seehofer of prematurely rejecting the paper. "The basic premise of the paper, that the threat posed by the coronavirus has been exaggerated, is one I share completely," Bellmann says, adding that the public official was just doing his job. "That he has now been portrayed by the Interior Ministry as a crackpot bothers me. By doing so, we are adding fuel to the conspiracy theory fire. I have the expectation that we give his ideas serious consideration." Almost all parties are dealing with dissidents who are disinclined to follow the general course of action that has been laid out. In the Green Party, it is Tübingen Mayor Boris Palmer, who said that we are "likely protecting people who would have been dead within half a year anyway." More Contentious Debate This comment has divided the Greens into two camps. The larger camp, and therefore the strongest, consists of those who had already lost patience with Palmer and his provocations. Numerous Green Party members thus welcome the proposal from party leaders to withdraw all party support from Palmer. But the old guard is opposed to the idea, convinced that the party could benefit from a bit more contentious debate within its ranks. After all, they say, the Green Party is a civil rights party. Just a few days ago, a group of Greens released an appeal demanding that both state and federal party leaders engage in dialogue with Palmer and to abandon the "reprimand reflex." One of the signatories was Antje Vollmer, a former Bundestag vice president. Party leaders, though, would rather ignore the Palmer issue. When approached by DER SPIEGEL for comment, party heads Annalena Baerbock and Robert Habeck said only that they had nothing more to say on the issue. Within the FDP, meanwhile, the most prominent dissident is Thomas Kemmerich, the politician from Thuringia who triggered a massive political scandal in Germany by initially accepting his election to the post of state governor, despite landing the position thanks to support from the far right AfD. He quickly stepped down once the uproar could no longer be ignored, but the damage was done. In Gera, he recently spoke at a demonstration made up of conspiracy theory enthusiasts and AfD supporters. He was welcomed as the "only currently legitimate governor" of Thuringia - and he didn't say anything to contradict that characterization. In a special session of FDP leaders held to address that incident, Kemmerich apologized half-heartedly and announced that he was resigning from his position as part of the party's federal executive committee. Parliamentarian Alexander Graf Lambsdorff responded by saying Kemmerich should consider whether that step was sufficient, with other meeting participants agreeing with Lambsdorff. The FDP's political adversaries, of course, were more than happy to take advantage of Kemmerich's most recent misstep. "That the FDP is taking part in conspiracy demonstrations in Thuringia is shocking," tweeted Marco Wanderwitz, a CDU politician who is responsible for eastern German issues for the federal government and a native of Saxony. "I'm afraid such ideas also have widespread support in Saxony." Raw Tones Such accusations anger FDP members who have clearly distanced themselves from the AfD and the corona truthers. People like Frank Müller-Rosentritt, 37, who has been head of the state FDP chapter in Saxony for the last six months. "The FDP in Saxony stands for cosmopolitanism, diversity and tolerance and took part in a demonstration, to name one example, with the CDU general secretary in Saxony against PEGIDA, the AfD and other tin foil hats," Müller-Rosentritt says. In response to the tweet to Wanderwitz, he wrote: "I don't know what you sprinkled on your breakfast this morning, but the ignorance and maliciousness of this disgraceful accusation cannot be topped." The tone is getting rawer. The Saxony FDP head says that members of his party don't belong at demonstrations that include people from the hardcore right or extreme left. "Many take part who have grown comfortable in their fake news bubble," he says. Freedom, though, "is not the opposite of reason," Müller-Rosentritt emphasizes. "We have to be careful that extremists and conspiracy theorists do not misappropriate the term freedom for their own purposes and reinterpret it." The demonstration where Kemmerich spoke was organized by Peter Schmidt, until recently a senior member of a CDU economic council in Thuringia, although he is not a member of the party. In 2018, Schmidt's company won a prestigious prize awarded annually to mid-sized companies. One acclamation noted that the company emphasizes the integration of foreigners. Schmidt's company also apparently donates money to help children suffering from cancer and sponsors a cycling team. "I registered the demonstration of my own volition and did not receive outside support," he wrote on Facebook in defense of the Gera demonstration. He added that he would not allow himself to be instrumentalized by any party or organization. But if someone shares his views, he wouldn't "subject them to an ideological examination." Schmidt sees himself as a victim, saying he warned that people with competing views were either being ignored or accused of being Nazis. Now, he says, he has personal experience with the phenomenon, but isn't planning on organizing another demonstration. "It was an honor to me to light the spark, now you have to carry the flame." Gera is in Thuringia, and Governor Bodo Ramelow has a large favor he would like to ask of his electorate: Namely that they not allow themselves to be deceived by global conspiracy fantasies, anti-vaxxers, those who accuse Merkel of being a dictator and other delusions. "There are many legitimate questions and misunderstandings," Ramelow says. And that is completely normal and appropriate, he adds, particularly in a democracy that thrives on a diversity of views. "Speaking nonsense is also covered by the democratic right to free speech. But intentionally misleading people, taking advantage of their fears, inciting them against each other and thus endangering their health is dishonorable, obscene and morally abhorrent." Whereas most parties tend to be suffering from the protests, the right-wing radical AfD is ecstatic. Functionaries at all levels are hoping that those who are now taking to the streets, insofar as they aren't yet voters, will choose the AfD in future elections. Many of the demonstrations are now being registered by AfD members, doing their best to pose as the original corona skeptics in an effort to pull the rug out from under Widerstand2020 ("widerstand" is the German word for "resistance"), the new party that is currently being formed. "Fundamental Democratic Rights" Senior AfD members have also begun joining the fray. Party head Tino Chrupalla has taken part in demonstrations in Zittau and in Weisswasser, two towns in Saxony. Chrupalla considers the measures imposed by the federal government to be "totally disproportionate," adding "it's no wonder that people are taking to the streets." He professes not to understand the criticism that has been leveled at the protests. "Citizens that protest are exercising their fundamental democratic rights," he says. When it's pointed out that there have been attacks on police officers at some of the demonstrations, Chrupalla says that he knows nothing about such things. But he nevertheless insists: "The interior ministers want to play the police off against the populace." Chrupalla is pleased that other milieus can also be found on the street. "The fact that resistance is also prevalent in the center of society," he says, "should make the government think." He predicts that the demonstrations will grow, and he isn't bothered by the fact that extremists are among them. It is an open question whether the AfD can attract new voters, particularly from eastern Germany. A survey commissioned by DER SPIEGEL found that 20 percent of people in western Germany find the anti-pandemic measures to be excessive, but only 13 percent of those in eastern Germany. In the East, satisfaction with the government's measures is slightly higher than in the West, which is hardly ever the case. Saxony Governor Michael Kretschmer of the CDU considers the protests to be legitimate and is at pains to avoid giving the impression that anyone's viewpoint is being suppressed. The government, he says, was democratically elected and those who have a problem with the anti-corona measures should "be able to express that at any time in a reasonable way." But, Kretschmer is quick to say, "such a crisis becomes lethal when populists are in power." As such, he says, he has great faith in people's restraint. His counterpart in Saxony-Anhalt, Governor Reiner Haseloff, likewise of the CDU, says it is frightening to see the degree of anger that is present at the demonstrations. But he also says that it in no way reflects majority opinion. The majority, he says, is not pushing to return to normality as soon as possible, but is concerned for their health and are uneasy about loosening the lockdown. Every day, he says, he receives emails and letters expressing such concerns. The Fury Hotspot Indeed, the German hotspot of corona fury is not in the East, but deep in the West – in the city of Stuttgart in Baden-Württemberg. On Saturday, the movement called Querdenken 711 (the German word Querdenken essentially means "thinking outside of the box") brought 10,000 people onto a fairground in Stuttgart. Baden-Württemberg Governor Winfried Kretschmann of the Green Party found the demonstration "extremely unsettling." One of the main reasons that political leaders and security officials find these demonstrations so concerning is their diversity. There are, to be sure, plenty of conspiracy theorists, anti-vaxxers and Merkel-haters present, but they have been joined by workers who have lost their jobs as a result of the economic crisis and by single mothers. And, of course, by citizens who believe the rights guaranteed by the German constitution are under fire. Last weekend, there were 70 such marches with a total of around 19,000 participants. What should be done? Essentially, there are three possible strategies: communication, the rule of law and money. Friedrich Merz is in favor of taking decisive measures. "Many people can hardly point to an institution that they still believe in," he says. "For that precise reason, politicians cannot be too defensive. All of us must stand up more strongly to those seeking to attract insecure milieus with crude conspiracy theories." By contrast, however, Tilman Kuban, head of the CDU's youth chapter, is demanding that critics be taken seriously and that measures to combat the crisis be better explained. "I want an open culture of debate," Kuban says. There are "good arguments" both for the lockdown and for measures to loosen it. Lars Klingbeil of the SPD, meanwhile, would like to get the authorities involved. "We should not look away from such groups out of fear," he says. The authorities, he says, "have to take a close look at what is happening." Things such as the focused attack launched on Saturday against Rhineland-Palatinate Governor Malu Dreyer. Her Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts received around 7,000 posts that day, including calls to assassinate Merkel. Dreyer's team forwarded the most serious threats to the office of the federal prosecutor. "Insults and threats must be addressed by the judiciary. The freedom of opinion doesn't cover everything," says Dreyer. "The Situation Is Explosive" Ultimately, though, it will likely be money that talks the loudest. The greatest open door to the AfD and to the conspiracy theorists would be the widespread economic suffering of people who lost their jobs because of the crisis. Those sitting at home with much less money than before, or those who are worried about being able to provide for their families could begin looking around for a scapegoat. The answer that such a person would find from the AfD or in social media channels is clear: The German government and the policies it implemented to stop the spread of the virus. The result could be a further loss of support for liberal democracy. "Of course the situation is explosive," says Interior Minister Horst Seehofer. "We have 10 million people furloughed from their jobs, three times as many as during the financial crisis. For me, we are now entering the most important phase for taking the wind out of the protesters' sails. We quickly need a stimulus program to remain liquid and to save people's jobs." The first laws to that effect have already been passed. The money that will now be spent is essentially the price that must be paid to support our liberal democracy. —— END QUOTE
A Fairytale for Grownups “Once upon a time...etc.” Once upon a time there was a very wise African King in Egypt who thought it would be a stroke of genius to get the Old Testament Hebrew Bible translated into Greek, so all of the apostate Jews in Egypt (who were told not to go there: Jer. 44:25–26, 42:13–22) could read their own Bible.1 (Had enough yet? There is “more to come!”) This spiritual powerhouse was named Ptolemy Philadelphus II (PP II), and he reigned around 285–250 B.C. If this had not been his motive—you can find every kind of motive in the world theorized by the Alexandrian Cult—then his motive must have been to make the Old Testament available also to Egyptians in Africa; after all, they were his people. His people were not JEWS. The capital idea behind this motive would be so his own people could see how the Jews massacred them in Exodus chapters 4–15, and how God, from the start, always held Egypt and its rulers in CONTEMPT (Gen. 49:29, 50:25; Ezek. 32:2, 31–32; and Isa. 19–20:4). A real bonanza if you ever saw one, buster! Man what an “illuminative symposium!” Had enough yet? We haven’t got out of the hanger yet. Well, this scintillating, spiritual, African Promise Keeper decided to “cope” with the problem by “sharing” such wonderful passages as Zechariah 14:16–21 with the Egyptians and Jews. So (theoretically) he sent to the high priest at Jerusalem (an unidentified “Eleazer”) who, if he were legit (see Mal. 2:1–3), was a Levite from the Tribe of Levi (see Exodus, Numbers, Ezra, etc.).2 Ptolemy requested some Jewish linguistic experts, who majored in Greek and Hebrew grammar, to come down to Egypt and do the translating there instead of at Jerusalem. We can only assume that he realized he must have Greek scholars and Greek grammarians as well, and they would be in Jerusalem. But then “the funniest thing happened! The Giant started down the beanstalk to catch Jack, but Jack...etc.” Excuse me! I was carried away with higher scholarship there for just a moment; the academic standards were too high for me! The funniest thing did happen. Not one Greek scholar showed up in Egypt to participate in the production of a Greek Old Testament! Not one. Trusting implicitly in seventy-two orthodox Jews to handle twenty-two Old Testament books in Greek, old PP II didn’t ask one Greek scholar to “sit in” on the entire translation of the Hebrew into the Greek. (PP II stands for “Putrid Punk, the Second.”) Had enough? Wanna try Little Red Riding Hood for something credible? Well sir, as old Uncle Remus said, “Dey done sent sebenty-two of dem dare Hebrew chillun—dee ones wid dee smart—down to Egypt an land sakes! What do you ’spose dey done did?” They took six “scholars” from each of the twelve tribes, and “Eleazar” the high priest sent them packing on their way: “Shalom Elechim!” He did this knowing that he was violating the entire Hebrew Old Testament Law from Numbers to Malachi (see 2 Chron. 17:7–9; Ezra 7:25–26; and Mal. 2:1–7). Eleazar was as stupid as Putrid Punk, the Second. They were both “spiritual giants” in the cliché vocabularies of the twentieth-century Scholars’ Union. “Well suh what do ’spose happen next? Well suh! ole Brer Fox he done seed Brer Rabbit a coming down de lane and he...” (Excuse me, wrong story. I got carried away with the “accurate scholarship” of Augustine, James White, Hort, Nestle, Aland, Eusebius, Philo, and Josephus!) These anonymous, faked, false, phony “scholars” (seventy-two of them), who were substitutes for the Levitical priesthood, went down into Egypt, carrying vellum scrolls with GOLD LETTERS written on them. It was a sort of Joe-Smith-Moroni-the Angel bit.3 They were met by a Demetrius Phalereus, who was supposed to be PP II’s librarian (see pg. 17). He took them to the Island of Pharos, and there his royal highness, PP II (the Pernicious Polecat), examined them. He wanted to check their scholastic backgrounds to make sure they could “communicate to the receptor” the “dynamic equivalents” and “formal correspondences” of his people on a “contemporary cultural level.” But then a funnier thing happened than when Jack started down the beanstalk (see above) or when Brer Rabbit hit the Tar Baby. The Letter to Aristeas, describing all of this, was written in the best tradition of The Three Billy Goats Gruff or the Marx Bros. at the Circus. I have read this “Letter to Aristeas” (out loud) to my students every year from 1964 to 1996. The fairytale was supposed to have been written by an unidentified official in the Court of PP II—the Pixilated Peacock—and he is writing it to his brother, an unknown, unidentified brother: “Philocrates.” Note the first five letters: Philo. But when ole’ PP II (the Putrefied Prince) examined his translating committee, he forgot to ask them ONE single question about the Bible, Hebrew grammar, Greek grammar, vocabulary words, punctuation, spelling, Greek and Hebrew syntax, genders, modes, conjugations, and declensions, or even about anything that ANY of them ever translated in their lifetimes, secular or sacred.4 Not exactly a “clutch performance.” Who was this STUPID IDIOT who ordered an “LXX” to be translated and then quizzed the translators? Why, he was the ruler of Alexandria, Egypt; an African King, Ptolemy Philadelphus II—PP II: Puking Poodle, the Second. The quiz is forty pages of Greek Philosophical questions about everything except the Bible. The Letter To Aristeas is nothing but a condensation of the conversations held on the Stoa in Athens when Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle were “chairing” bull sessions that would make a Congressional filibuster look like a three-line telegram. When you read that “an anonymous official wrote a letter to Philocrates,” you are reading (in modern, up-to-date, American koine): Bugs Bunny sent a carrot to Elmer Fudd. You are reading the movie scenario for a teenage “gross-out flick.” And then do you know what happened after these fake substitutes for the Levitical priesthood were sent to “separate cells” to translate? “Well sir! The Good Fairy touched Cinderella with her magic wand, and...!” Pop! Out came a verbally inspired Greek Old Testament containing Bel and the Dragon, Tobit, and Judith! The seventy-two Jewish “elders” (miscalled the “seventy” ever since), working in isolated companies, each did all twenty-two (or twenty-four) canonical Hebrew books, and they all came out matching “word-for-word, perfect!” Shazam! Wonder Woman! (Excuse me, again. I meant Captain Marvel!)5 Aurelius Augustine (354–430) believed that depraved nonsense just like you read it (see pg. 118). Philip Schaff calls Aurelius Augustine the first real “ROMAN CATHOLIC.”6 That checks out. That’s a “shot from the slot” (Canada, circa 1940–1990). This great, new, “up-to-date, modern version,” this miraculously inspired “original,” was immediately called The Septuagint, meaning “The Seventy.” The acronym LXX signifies “seventy.” The Alexandrian Cult, to this day, calls it The Seventy (The LXX) because seventy-two translators were involved: not seventy.7 You say “why?” Well, when you are an habitual, pathological liar you don’t need any reason to lie: you just lie because it is your nature. Some godless, carnal “Christian” read Exodus 24:1 and Numbers 11:24 (it was probably Philo of Alexandria) and decided to hoodwink the next forty-five generations of Alexandrians into thinking that this depraved pile of Egyptian nonsense was an official production of the God-appointed leaders of the nation of Israel; hence, seventy-two (Aristeas) was converted to seventy (Nestle, Aland, Metzger, et al.). Lying is a life style in the Alexandrian Cult. It has been for 2,300 years. They are professionals (see The Christians Handbook of Biblical Scholarship, Chapter 7). They all believe in “pre-success positioning.” In the words of my grandson’s generation: “You pull yourself up by our own Reeboks.” Now, since this Letter of Aristeas was taken seriously by three Bible-rejecting fools (Aristobulus, Philo, and Josephus; the latter being the personal aid to the Roman General Titus, while he was destroying Jerusalem),8 Augustine felt that he must be on sure ground, up in A.D. 400. You see, by then, the Children’s Bedtime Story had been altered, revised, subtracted from, and added to (and edited) considerably by the professional liars in the Scholars’ Union; men like Burkitt, Swete, Skehan, Custer, Neal, Panosian, Afman, Rahlfs, Price, Martin, Duncan, Nestle, Aland, Bruce, et al. It had been altered by “re-evaluating the evidence” to “fit the changing times.” The Scholars’ Union has been doing that for 2,000 years. Want to see this depraved godless Christian “canon” in operation in 1980? Here it is. This is the rock-bed foundation upon which “Scholarship Onlyism” is built: rejection of Absolute Truth. This is the “basic concept” for capitalizing on degeneration and apostasy. “Every age has its own methods and seeks its own forms. Thus lexicography, like other disciplines, even when they have done what they set out to do [all critical editions of the New Testament, all revisions of the AV, all material on the LXX, etc.] is never at its goal [i.e., “EVER LEARNING, AND NEVER ABLE TO COME TO THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE TRUTH” (2 Tim 3:7).] but is always on its way to NEW INSIGHTS”:9 which means nothing. If the “insight” is not into THE TRUTH or never succeeds in finding THE TRUTH (John 14:17, 17:17; 1 Thess. 2:13), how do you know it is not just another new “insight” into DEATH AND HELL? One must understand that every educated, destructive critic of the Holy Bible from Origen to James White has to turn, duck, twist, dodge, feint, readjust, “rethink,” and “re-evaluate” everything at least once a year in order to alibi for the mountains of nonsense and lies that his own crew (the Scholars’ Union) has been engaged in piling up since the time of Christ. Deissmann (1907), for example, was supposed to have proved that the New Testament was written in common, ordinary, street language Greek. But on page 653 of Volume 10 of Kittel’s Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1964), you read that “not merely the content of the New Testament writings is unique but also the language in which they are written or translated.” Here comes another “News Media orgy.” You go in circles. These circular movements, at the back of dead-end alleys, are called “gaining new insights.” The deceived dupes who get trapped in them don’t even get an insight into their own spiritual condition. The man who indexed Kittel’s work (Ronald Pitkin; faculty at Bethel Theological Seminary, St. Paul) says the Dictionary “ENRICHED and DEEPENED my ministry.”10 Pitkin is a hard-shell, Amillennial, baby-sprinkling Calvinist who never led a soul to Christ in his life. He bills himself as a “Parish Minister.” “Enrichment” and “new insights” are NEA “buzz words.” Like all News Media “double speak,” they simply mean: condoms, rock music, and abortions in Middle School. (You educated idiots can skip the “cloak and K-bar act.” We’re “out of the closet” now: you can “Boogie in public!”). By now, ignorant Bible critics like Jimmy White, Doug Kutilek, Stewart Custer, Bob Ross, and Robert Sumner (Scumner) will be scurrying around in some library trying to prove that “Ruckman caricatured” the true position of the LXX. Or else, “Ruckman is being too sarcastic or bombastic” because he has no facts. “Ruckman is not scholarly because he does not approach the origin of the LXX in a scholarly fashion”: meaning, “Ruckman” has never honored, admired, revered (or even treated courteously) the most ungodly pack of carnal LIARS who ever tried to steal a Christian’s Bible from him. So for these Twinkies and Dipsy Doodlers, I will lay out all of the evidence which they either tried to hide or else couldn’t find. I have done this on numerous occasions before (see How to Teach the Original Greek, The Scholarship Only Controversy, The Anti-Intellectual Manifesto, [Pensacola: Bible Baptist Bookstore, 1992, 1996, 1991]), so it will not require any particular effort on my part. I have four different editions of the Septuagint in my office, which are as many as Origen had: I have a Septuagint Concordance, with cross references to three more Septuagint Concordances, and then four standard works on the “Dead Sea Scrolls,” written between 1950 and 1993. I also have photocopies of Sinaiticus and Vaticanus and P52 in the New Testament, which show how the writers of the “LXX” AFTER A.D. 140–220 simply transferred the New Testament readings back into their spurious Old Testament so it would match the New Testament. All of this, of course, was done more than 240 years after John finished the book of Revelation. If Sinaiticus and Vaticanus copied Origen’s LXX, the “original” was still done more than 110 years after John finished the book of Revelation (A.D. 90). The only “extant” LXX manuscripts which actually displayed these New Testament readings were not penned until 140 years after the Jewish council of Jamnia (A.D. 90) had settled the Old Testament canon; that council excluded every Apocryphal book found in the “Septuagint”: all fourteen of them. Since the days of Augustine, the Scholars’ Union (Jerome, Ximenes, Erasmus, Hort, et al.) have invented nifty little “doo dads” and “whatchamacallits” to maintain the fairytale that there was an entire Greek Old Testament “extant” before 4 B.C., and the writers of the New Testament quoted it instead of a Hebrew Bible. You see, this is a Gentile fairytale that must be preserved at all cost, for it glorifies Gentile Greek scholarship. Many of the professional liars in the Alexandrian Cult have gone so far as to praise and glorify the mythological LXX as the means whereby all of the non-Hebrew speaking people of Africa, Asia, and Europe could learn about the Old Testament. The idea is, they never could have learned of its contents without a Greek Old Testament. But like every other pagan superstition, the whole fantasy breaks down when one realizes that the official language of the Western world became LATIN, not Greek, after Constantine. When Jerome shows up, no one needs a GREEK Old Testament; they need a Latin Old Testament. Greek becomes a dead language almost as soon as the extant “Septuagint” (A.D. 330–350) is produced. But a Latin Old Testament was around before Origen was born. Although the Holy Spirit was supernaturally careful to insure the great truth of Romans 3:2, in both Testaments—all the authors of all sixty-six books are Jews—the German, American, and British apostates between 1700 and 1930 (including Dr. A. T. Robertson of Louisville) tried desperately to prove that at least one had to be a Gentile: Dr. Luke. They were willing to take “a crumb from the table” if they couldn’t get credit for the whole meal. They would be satisfied if they could just steal the glory from Israel for Acts and the Gospel of Luke. These same arrogant, ignorant, conceited ASSES (Rom. 11:25) were (and are) the same ones who insisted that at least ninety citations in the New Testament, from the Old Testament, were Law-abiding, Orthodox JEWS going to Greek scholarship in AFRICA (Alexandria) to find the words given to them by the Holy Spirit. Had enough yet? The “best is yet to come.” Enter Road Runner and Speedy Gonzalez!
“We made a mistake. The seventy-two knuckleheads, who weren’t properly examined about anything but Socratic and Platonic dialogues, didn’t really translate any Greek Old Testament Septuagint. When we had time to “rethink” and “re-evaluate” our “insight,” we realized they just translated the Pentateuch: the first five books of Moses (Gen.–Deut.).11
Which would mean—and they didn’t think about this till later: all apostate Christian scholars are stupid—that if any New Testament writer quoted a Greek “Septuagint” he could not have quoted one verse from a pre-Christian Greek Septuagint if he was trying to cite Isaiah (Matt. 1:23; Mark 1:2; Rom. 11:26, 6:8) or Hosea (Rom. 9:26) or the Psalms (Acts 1:20; Heb. 1:9, 6:8). Your “new insight” created a new problem. If it was true, then there wasn’t any pre-Christian Septuagint extant before A.D. 140–220, and those extant then (see pp. 81, 104) are not extant now.
Correction! Some other books were translated later, because we found a faked Apocryphal book which gave us a new “insight” into the problem.12 This Apocryphal book, written by an unidentified individual, who had an unidentified grandson, said there were “other books” of the Bible translated into Greek besides his granddaddy’s book: which was Apocryphal (Ecclesiasticus).
For example? “Sorry, no one is in right now. At the sound of the tone would you please leave a message and a telephone number so we can return this call...etc.” No, you won’t. You don’t have ONE “other book” of the Bible to show us, or even a piece of one verse from another book to show us, if it was written before 4 B.C
But! “We have just found a Ryland’s Papyrus (No. 458) with some portions of Deuteronomy, chapters 23–28 written on it. We dated it around 150 B.C. And we found another piece of papyrus (No. 848) which we dated 40 B.C., and we found Papyrus Fouad (No. 266) which has a “close affinity” to something we couldn’t list which we dated 160 B.C. It has a few scattered verses from Deuteronomy in it.
One: that is not a Greek Old Testament. Two: that is not Isaiah, Hosea, or the Psalms. Three: no New Testament writer quoted one word from one verse in any of the papyri. “New insights?” Right? Got “enriched” with a “wealth of information,” correct? What does any of that have to do with Aristeas writing to Philocrates about Demetrius conning seventy-two suckers for PP II (Pope Polecat, the Second) back in 285 B.C.?
But Aristobulus says...!13 Aristobulus is a liar. His “Demetrius,” who set up the seventy-two phony Hebrew scholars DIED before Ptolemy Philadelphus II (Pontius Pilate II) got on the throne.
“But we still have proof that there was a Greek Septuagint “extant” in 200 B.C., at least.” No, you don’t. You have four scraps of ONE book, and no New Testament writer quoted ONE of those scraps. Don’t lie just because you enjoy lying; at least think up a good reason for lying (Gen. 3:4). You’re just trying to “shore up” a washout.
6.“But the Scroll of the Minor Prophets” shows.... It must not have showed anything, for you didn’t list one citation of one verse from any of the Minor Prophets.14 This scroll (“R”) is contemporary with events that took place in A.D. 135 (see pg. 48). It has been proved to be Post-Christian, and not 200 B.C. or 150 B.C. or even 50 B.C. When these treacherous, deceitful, “godly” scholars date a “Septuagint” manuscript, they ignore the POTTERY evidence at the “site” and use Carbon 14 to give them an older date. If the pottery gives them an older date than the Carbon 14, they take the jar heads. Double standard. “Final authority” is the opinion of the “godly” scholar. That isn’t all. “R” was NOT a Dead Sea Scroll, and no scholar since its “find” has been able to quote a verse from it that ANY New Testament writer quoted. Where is this “B.C. Septuagint” that Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Paul keep quoting? The copies of the Septuagints I have say that all thirty-nine books of the AV Old Testament are “extant.”15 “EXTANT” means they are here now: you can look at them. Well, where are they? Where is even ONE Old Testament book written in Greek before A.D. 140 or even A.D. 330? Got another “bottleneck,” don’t cha? When do you “get real,” fella? Let’s see one Old Testament book written in Greek before A.D. 330. Let’s see it. Have our cowbirds gotten so “enriched” with their “new insights” that they have changed the definition of the word “extant,” in defiance of the dictionary? Could be; they changed the word “Majority” so that a “Majority Greek Text” (the traditional Textus Receptus) became a corrupt Greek New Testament16 which a “majority” of apostates had adopted since 1898. “Last night I saw upon the stair, a little man who wasn’t there. He wasn’t there again today! Gee, but I wish he’d go away!” “Step this way ladies and gentlemen! Watch carefully! The hand is quicker than the eye! Abracadabra! Now you see it, now you don’t!” You never saw it to start with. You just eyeballed a blank screen. You just lied because it is your nature to lie. Kenyon lists 1,560 Greek fragments. They don’t begin till A.D. 340, and then go on till A.D. 950. Here are fifty-plus identical sentences: “It matches the Septuagint,” “Theodotian agrees with the Septuagint,” “the Fifth column was the Septuagint,” “it is in line with the Septuagint,” “Paul is quoting the Septuagint,” “this reading disagrees with the Septuagint,” “he compared this with the Septuagint,” etc., ad nauseum: cloned robots. These utterly false statements run through 2,000 years of Alexandrian bullshooting. To this day (1999) they are still saying that the Septuagint (or LXX) is NOT: 1. A piece of papyrus. 2. Several pieces of papyri. 3. Fragments of scrolls or codices. 4. Parts of one or two books in the Old Testament. 5. Parts of ten to fifteen books in the Old Testament. 6. The Pentateuch. 7. The Scroll of the Minor Prophets. They are saying (in 1999) in every major Christian college, seminary, and university in Africa, Asia, Europe, England, and the Americas that The Septuagint (LXX) is the COMPLETE OLD TESTAMENT adopted by the Christians because the New Testament writers QUOTED FROM IT instead of the Hebrew Old Testament. You never read a more outrageous LIE in all of your life. But all Scholarship Only advocates claim “executive privilege” when it comes to lying. That is 2,000 years of lying by the “pros.” They never told the truth about it one time in 2,000 years, and they are not telling the truth about it now, and they are not going to tell the truth about it after you put this book down. LYING is as “Christian” and as natural to the faculties and staffs of every major outlet of “higher Christian education” as breathing air. Pensacola Christian College in Pensacola (Arlin and Becky Horton) have advertised a non-denominational campus building on their campus as an “INDEPENDENT BAPTIST CHURCH.” That is how it was listed in the phone book. It has been listed that way for ten years. It is no more an Independent Baptist Church than Schuller’s Glass Cathedral in the land of Fruits and Nuts. Horton’s problem was simple: 90 percent of his students came from homes where the pastor (or the member) who sent them to Pensacola was in an independent Baptist church. If this was not the case—say only 60 percent of them were—then he proselyted Methodists, Charismatics, Catholics, Lutherans, Mennonites, Brethren, Episcopalians, and others, and made them get connected with a “Baptist” church. Horton’s “Baptist” church is the only one on the campus; there are no churches for the other denominations. They were all “exploited” to furnish “scratch” (American: circa 1993) for greased palms. So the Alexandrian fairytale exists, in 1999, as a “fact,” exactly as it persevered through the post-Nicene Period, the Dark Ages, the Reformation, and the Laodicean Apostasy (1880–1990). The mythological legend has been passed down “from one campfire to another” as part of “our precious heritage,” to prove that God wrote a Greek Old Testament which was superior to the one He gave to the Jews (Rom. 3:2). This fairytale for grownups must be preserved even if it costs the integrity and trustworthiness of EVERY Christian scholar in America. It must be preserved because of 1 Corinthians chapters 1–3; Acts 17:18–21; and Colossians 2:8. The Scholars’ Union are Origen’s “elite” (see pg. 72) whose superior wisdom and superior spirituality (see pg. 85) enables THEM, not YOU, to understand the Scriptures (see pg. 88). All Gnostics approach the Scriptures in this fashion: any Gnostic, in any century. They worship Adam’s intellect. That is the position of every translator on the ASV, NASV, RV, RSV, NRSV, CEV, TEV, NEB, and NIV committees. All Alexandrians in the Scholars’ Union worship a stinking miasma of intellectual “Christian” garbage. “Once upon a time...and they lived happily ever after!” Peter, James, Matthew, Jude, Mark, Luke, John, and Paul would no more have corrected their Hebrew Bibles or their Hebrew teacher (Jesus Christ) with an African Greek text containing Roman Catholic Apocrypha than they would have eaten pork or catfish before Acts chapter 10. Imagine Stephen, before the Jewish Sanhedrin (Acts 6:12, 15), trying to impress the Jewish custodians of the Hebrew Old Testament (Scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees) with an African Old Testament when every man in the “Senate” (Acts 5:21) knew what no member of the ASV, NASV, RV, RSV, NRSV, or NIV committee knew: that God’s NAME could not even be mentioned by an Alexandrian Jew who lived in Africa (Jer. 44:26)! -Ruckman
2020.05.03 15:03 peter_j_[EVENT] Politburo of the Peoples Republic of China: Report on the Status of the Divergent Faith known as Christianity in the Republic, 3rd November 2023
The Office of the Executive CPC body between the Standing Committee and Central Committee, Communist Party of China West Building, Zhongnanhai, Beijing
This report chronicles the growth of the counter revolutionary and permitted denominations of the Christian faith in the People's Republic of China to date. As a preliminary remark, the committee note the following:
That the Communist Party's attempts to contain and prohibit the practice and confession of Christianity have been the single most substantial failure of policy to date,
Considering that the growth of Christian denominations show signs of almost exponential growth across the past seventy years,
Considering that the growth and proliferation of the faith has not diminished throughout our most diligent repression, or our policy of limited denominational sanctioning,
Considering that this growth has been across almost all denominations of the faith, and throughout China,
Recognising that the period of societal control related to the treatment of the virus known as Covid-19 precipitated a massive revival of the faith in the homes of the people, and that it was
Aided and stimulated by the proliferation of citizen operated social media
Unable to be restricted by preventative blocking of related internet programs
Not commensurate with any recognised counter-revolutionary tendencies excepting its own confession,
The Politburo finds that an entire reconfiguration of the Policy of the PRC towards Christianity, is mandated by the self-evident fact, which is that none of our attempts to quash Christianity can be said to have resulted in the fulfilment of our policy aims or outcomes.
The following is the summary of our findings regarding the presence and growth of Christianity in China, with data not older than 8th April 2020.
The Catholic faith is one of the largest official denominations in China. The longest established components in the country appear to have proliferated around the embassy buildings of the Vatican and other Catholic countries, where Diplomatic Immunity prevented us from observing church services. Some have existed since before the so called 'Boxer revolution', and have continued to gain many adherents. In total we estimate approximately 82 million adherents in China as of 2023.
Explicitly in Communion with the Roman Catholic Church
There are 152, Latin Communion Dioceses in China, including one in Taiwan. It should be noted that the Apostolic Nunciature for China is based with the permission of the RoC in Taipei, and that pressure on the Vatican to revise their position on the recognition of the government of Chinais recommended at this time. The Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association has in total 104 dioceses, though these have little true function, and most Catholics recognise only the 152, with the Archdiocese, organised around
21 ecclesiastical provinces (including one for Taiwan), consisting of 21 Metropolitan archdioceses and 100 suffragan dioceses
29 Apostolic Prefectures
1 exempt diocese, the diocese of Macau
1 Apostolic Administration, the Apostolic Administration of Harbin
Catholic Communions Without Demonstrable Links with the RCC
The Eastern Catholic (Byzantine rite) Russian Greek Catholic Church has an exempt Apostolic exarchate for China in Harbin, totalling perhaps 120,000 adherents across the region, many informal.
These are by far the largest groups in China, and comprise the majority of the 400m or so Christians in the country. Their diverse beliefs, and house church decentralised organisation makes them very difficult to quantify.
Western Orientated Evangelical Churches with clear links to Emissary Countries
The largest sources of Evangelical Christian Missionaries are undoubtedly the USA and Republic of Korea. Notable additions include the UK, Brazil, and the Philippines, ad well as, increasingly, Indonesia. Revival style meetings have continuously been broken up, but the fastidious commitment this group have to proselytising, and fervent emotional experiences, makes them the chiefest component of the difficulty the PRC has had with regard to eradicating Christianity in China. The opening of our markets has resulted in Christian Missionary activity interlaced with commercial and industrial activity. Perhaps 100m Chinese Christians practice Protestant Christianity with clear links to other Christian groups in other Countries.
Evangelical Churches without Clear Links to outside Countries
In addition to those churches demonstrating clear links with sending countries, an enormous percentage of total Protestant believers adhere to Churches which exist in isolation within China. These house churches, and informal gatherings have shown extraordinary resilience to reeducation and correctional work. Approximately 120m Christians are part of these movements.
Reformed Protestant and Calvinist Groups
A notable subset of the Evangelical groups are those espousing the doctrine of predestination to almost fanatical levels. These are possibly the most indefatigable of all Christian groups, but they are by no means the largest or fastest growing. 11m adherents.
Episcopal Churches of Recognised Denominations
Episcopal Churches were amongst the first groups China permitted to practice state sanctioned services, and the nascent Episcopal Church of China relates to several groups across China, but it has so far proved impossible to say if there is a complete and immutable list. 80m adherents.
Anglican churches have mostly proliferated in Coastal areas, but tends to grow very consistently rather than erratically, and this may become one of the very largest groups.
Extensive Lutheran missionary activity appears to have originated in Siberia, and the Baltic countries, as well as America, but very little from Germany, its point of origin.
Methodist groups run a quasi-Episcopal system, and have been registered in China for some time.
A nascent group of Orthodox churches exists across China, and are especially common in Northern and Western areas. Some claim links with ancient Assyrian and Armenian missionaries from almost 1800 years ago. Confessional groups from the Russian, Ukrainian, Assyrian, Greek, and other Oriental Orthodox communities exist, yet no formal superstructure. We are aware of early correspondence linking known target Yu to the Russian Orthodox Church to this effect. 60m adherents.
The Confessional Groups Claiming Ancient Establishment
An especially noteworthy phenomenon is the attachment of some groups within the Orthodox Confessional Group's "living link" as they call it, with the first missionaries to China in perhaps the Third Century. Connected are the Nestorians (see below), bit they may be as yet unexplored benefits to the State of authenticating those links.
Claiming direct patronage from the groups which erected the Xi'an Stele in the 7th Century during the Tang Dynasty.
Christian and Christianised Cults, and related Excommunicated Groups in China
There are no shortage of groups which other Christian denominations express complete distrust of, and they include the following:
This group is an extension of American exceptionalism and should not be considered part of Christianity.
This paranoid cult live in perpetual fear of the end of the world, as do many of the Evangelical Protestants. What set them apart is their Missionary diligence, and their rigid adherence to centralised ecclesiastical proclamations from an American organisation "The Watchtower".
It falls to the Central Party Committee to determine the best course of action. As we indicate above, these sentiments encapsulate over a quarter of all China. We must move either to begin a programme of repression like none ever seen, or take further steps to designate it lawful. Signed
Wu Xen Chao, Presiding Politburo enquiry into the Status of Christianity in The Peoples Republic of China 4th November 2023
“To the good fortune of the old organization there now advanced a newly arisen order on which the dying spirit of the hierarchy seemed to have poured out its uttermost gifts, which equipped the old with new strength, and which applied itself with marvelous insight and perseverance, more astutely than had ever happened before, to the Papal kingdom and its mightier regeneration. No such society had ever been met with before in world history. Not even the ancient Roman senate had devised plans for world conquest with greater certainty of success. No one had with greater sagacity yet contemplated the execution of a greater idea. This society will ever be a model of all societies that feel organic desire for infinite expansion and everlasting duration – but also a proof forever that unguarded time alone undoes the cleverest enterprises and that the natural growth of the entire species incessantly suppresses the artificial growth of any subsection. All that is specialized unto itself has its own measure of ability; only the capacity of the race is infinite. All projects must fail which are not projects fully consonant with all the natural inclinations of the race. This society becomes still more noteworthy as mother of the so called secret societies, a growth still unripe but surely of genuine historical importance. The new Lutheranism – not Protestantism – surely could not have a more dangerous rival. All the magic of the Catholic faith became still more potent beneath its hand. The treasures of the sciences flowed back into its cells. What had been lost in Europe they sought to regain multifold in other continents, in the furthest Occident and Orient, and to acquire and vindicate the apostolic dignity and vocation. Nor did they lag in their efforts for popularity, and they well realized how much Luther had owed to his demagogic arts, his study of the common folk. Everywhere they instituted schools, penetrated confessionals, assumed professorial chairs, and engaged the presses, became poets and sages, ministers and martyrs, and in their tremendous expansion from America across Europe to China remained in the most extraordinary agreement as to deed and doctrine. From their schools they recruited with wise selection for their order. Against the Lutherans they preached with devastating zeal and sought to make the cruelest extermination of these heretics, as actual confederates of the devil, the most urgent obligation of Catholic Christendom. To them alone the Catholic states, and in particular the Papal See, owed their long survival of the Reformation, and who knows how old the world would still look if weak leaders, jealousy of princes and other clerical orders, court intrigues, and other odd circumstances had not checked their bold course and with them had not all but wiped out this last bulwark of the Catholic organization. It is sleeping now, this dread order, in wretched form on the outskirts of Europe. Perhaps from thence, like the nation that is sheltering it, it will some day spread abroad with new force over its old homeland, perhaps under a different name.”
John Poynder(1779–1849), English lawyer, theological writer and historian, best known for his “A History of the Jesuits: To which is Prefixed A Reply to Mr. Dallas's Defence of that Order”, 1816.
“The Jesuits, from the first, aspired to universal empire. They saw, indeed, the difficulty of their enterprise, and were aware how many had failed in the attempt: they observed, that when any particular Monarch had made the experiment, every other potentate was raised against him, and opposed his designs: they therefore contrived a more skilful method; which was, to leave the Sovereigns masters of their dominions, so long as they could domineer over those Sovereigns, and create their own Vice-Kings, Vice-Princes, Vice-Dukes, in short their Ministers; and thus become, in effect, the Sovereigns of the world, by securing to themselves, insensibly, a species of moral government which should not offend the eye, but produce the same result. As they could not prevail over other Monarchs by force, in opposing them by sea and land, like other adventures; they availed themselves of Religion, as the most effectual instrument for restraining the minds and inclinations of mankind, and of governing them by a power apparently divine; which they employed in directing the consciences of Kings, with a view to their own ends and interests. In order to their success, however, it became necessary to proceed in the least alarming, and most attractive way; especially to conceal the artifices of their Institute; to give it an adaption to places and circumstances; to extend it to Members of other Orders, conditions, and even Religions, to Laymen as well as Ecclesiastics, to the married and single , to Bishops, Popes, Emperors, and Kings. It became essential that the Constitution of the Society should be monarchical and despotic; and that the whole exercise of authority, and the direction of the revenues, should be united in the hands of a single chief; that all the members should be blindly dependant, in every thing, upon his absolute will, for their destiny, for the disposal of their persons, their conduct, and their property; for their doctrine, and mode of thinking on all points, in order that all might be one in their Society, and that the spirit of the head might be universally that of every member of the body; that no authority, temporal or spiritual, neither Councils, Bishops, Popes, nor Kings, should effect any thing against the Society, and that it should be exempt from all their laws, and from all dependance upon them; that the Society should unite in itself, the privileges and prerogatives of all other Societies; and appropriate to itself such rights as should give it superiority over all other bodies; that it should be able to bind to itself all individuals, and all bodies, without ever being itself bound in respect of them; and that it should always sport with obligations and engagements, according to the interests of the Society, and as circumstances should require: that money being the sinew of government, it should amass in the hands of its Director, such possessions and wealth as were necessary to its extensive views; for which purpose the Institute should offer all proper facilities: finally, that, in order to attract the world within its own sphere, and to arrive at general influence, it should, on the one hand, soothe the great and the luxurious, by palatable doctrines, by a convenient morality, and by principles friendly to the indulgence of every passion; while, on the other, it should render itself terrible to every opponent, and even formidable to all who should refuse to join it; formed as it was upon maxims which enabled it to silence or destroy its opponents, and cause even crowned heads to tremble. Volumes must be multiplied if we were to follow the Jesuits into all their Establishments, and to report their intrigues in order to introduce themselves into kingdoms and cities best suited to their design of managing all things at their will; for the purpose of establishing, extending, or perpetuating, the universal Monarchy, which they have projected from their origin. The events of the first century of the Society required a fuller detail, since, being more remote, they were less known: those of the second century, being matters of greater notoriety, and more within the reach of the general readers of History, will require somewhat less of expansion. It will be the object, however, of the present and following chapter to present such a summary of them as may suffice to shew that the more modern history of the Jesuits is of the same complexion as the preceding, and that the “consistency” for which credit is taken by the Jesuits in the close of the last Chapter, is only a consistency in evil.”
John Adams (1735-1826) American Lawyer, Diplomat, one of the Founding Fathers of the Constitutional Republic of the United States of America, 1st Vice President & 2nd President of the Republic of the United States of America. Letters to Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President of the United States of America, 1816.
"My History of the Jesuits is in four volumes in twelves, under the title of "Histoire Generate de la Naissance el des Progres de la Compagnie de Jesus, et l'Analyse de ses Constitutions et ses Privileges" printed at Amsterdam in 1761. The work is anonymous, because, as I suppose, the author was afraid, as all the monarchs of Europe were, at that time, of Jesuitical assassination. The author, however, supports his facts by authentic records and known authorities which the public may consult. This society has been a greater calamity to mankind than the French Revolution, or Napoleon's despotism or ideology. It has obstructed the progress of reformation and the improvement of the human mind in society much longer and more fatally."
Napoleon Bonaparte (1769–1821) the Grand Vindicator of the Jesuit Order, Emperor of the French, King of Italy, Conqueror of Europe, 33° Illuminized Freemason, Rosicrucian, Knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece, Knight of the Jesuit's Order of the Serapahim, Roman Grail Knight, & Trained, Educated, Implemented, Advised, & Controlled by the Jesuit Order, 1821.
“The Jesuits are a Military Organization, not a religious Order. Their chief is a General of an army, not the mere Fr. Abbot of a Monastery. And the aim of this Organization is: POWER. Power in its most despotic exercise. Absolute power, universal power, power to control the world by the volition of a single man. Jesuitism is the most absolute of despotisms: and at the same time the greatest and most enormous of abuses . . . The General of the Jesuits insists on being master, sovereign, over the sovereign. Wherever the Jesuits are admitted they will be masters, cost what it may. Their Society is by nature dictatorial, and therefore it is the irreconcilable enemy of all constituted authority. Every act, every crime, however atrocious, is a meritorious work, if committed for the interest of the Society of Jesus, or by the Order of the General."
Marquis de LaFayette (1757–1834) "The Hero of the Two Worlds", French Statesman, Freemason, "Boy" General of George Washington, speaking to the American People in Boston, 1824.
“It is my opinion that if the liberties of this country—the United States of America—are destroyed, it will be by the subtlety of the Roman Catholic Jesuit Priests, for they are the most crafty, dangerous enemies to civil and religious liberty. They have instigated most of the wars of Europe.”
Luigi Fortis S.J., Italian Jesuit, Polymath, Polyglot, Professor at the Jesuit College of the Nobles of Parma, Jesuit Provincial of the Italian Province (1815–1818), representative of Jesuit Superior General Tadeusz Brzozowski (1814–1819, as Czar Alexander I forbid the General to leave Russia on the grounds of him being a danger to Europe), and 20th Jesuit Superior General of the Society of Jesus (1820-1829) whose principle achievement was "establishing beyond question the historical continuity of the restored Society with the Society founded by Ignatius that had existed until 1773", Mastermind behind the Ecuadorian War of Independence, Texas–Indian war, Niš Rebellion,Ottoman–Persian War, Greek War of Independence, First Anglo-Burmese War, the Brazil War, Russo-Persian War, & the Liberal Wars, Responsible for the Loss of 5,000,000 Lives At-least, Speaking at a Secret Conference within the Jesuit Church Sant’Antonio Abate, in Cheiri, Italy, attended by the Highest Officials of the Jesuit Order Including: The Jesuit Superior General & Regional-Assistants, Multiple European Jesuit Provincials, Vice-Provincials, & Jesuit Institutional Presidents & Rectors; overheard & Written Down by the Pen of Ex-Jesuit Novice Jacopo Leone, S.J. author of “"The Jesuit Conspiracy; The Secret Plan of the Order”, 1825.
"You will excuse me, dear brethren, you will excuse me if I thus interrupted you. You are aware that we have no time to lose. Today, as already resolved, we will enter into a general view of the interests and the plan of action by which our society is at the present to be guided. Hitherto our discussions have related only to local affairs. We must now define the principles which are, henceforward, to regulate our conduct. The men with whom we have now to do, are totally dissimilar to those of past times. The plan must be calculated to meet present as well as future obstacles. And shall not we, with our united efforts, be able to do as much as -- nay, more than was done by one single man, in a few years, to the astonishment of the whole world? Hold yourselves ready then, you who have sufficient understanding to throw light upon the important questions which we have to resolve. You have, before your eyes, the list of those points which form our chief object. What is most important for us is, that our materials should augment, and that a book be ultimately made from them--I will not say a large book, but such a book, as may become, though small in volume, a vast fund, wherein shall be concentrated the experience of thousands, for the benefit of all those whom we shall initiate into our work. For you all know that since quiet is restored, and the genius of war is fettered, the mind of every nation is at the disposal of him who shall most adroitly take possession of it. But let us not deceive ourselves. However good our old swords may be, yet seeing the struggle which awaits us, it is not enough to sharpen them; we must above all things modernize them. We must first decide, then, what course to follow with the multitude who have been bewildered and fascinated by such fine-sounding words as 'right,' 'liberty,' 'human dignity' and so forth. It is not by straightforward opposition, and by depreciating their idols, that we shall prevail. To prepare for men of all parties, whatever may be their banner, a gigantic surprise, that is our task. (Create a tutti i partiti, qualunque sia la lor bandiera, una gigantesca sorpresa, ecco la nostra opera.) Let our first care, therefore, be to change, altogether, the nature of our tactics, and to give a new varnish to religion, by appearing to make large concessions. This is the only means to assure our influence over these moderns, half men, half children. We will first, then, take a review of the arsenal of our forces. The present meeting shall be the pregnant mother of our future proceedings (seance mere), wherein we will concentrate all the ideas we have formed upon the epoch, so as to turn them to the aggrandizement of the church. Here are the minutes of the three preceding meetings, which you may all consult at your leisure. Broad margins have been left in order that you may note down your reflections, your rectifications, and even your objections, should such present themselves to your minds and above all, your new views on the difficulties we shall encounter, and on the best means of vanquishing them. In this manner we shall become more and more enlightened on the grand design of our order, and the course which will most promptly and most surely accomplish it. Bear ever in mind that our great object, in the first place, is to study deeply and bring to perfection the art of rendering ourselves both necessary to the powers that be. I should wish, that nothing should be lost of what we are about to say. I desire exceedingly that all our ideas may be committed to writing, so that others may have opportunity to criticize, develop, or improve them. Let us, therefore, deliver them clearly and deliberately, in order that our friend the secretary (I'amico nostro, il secretario) may lose nothing of what is said. Where is the revolutionist who, as soon as he becomes engaged in any plot, is not obliged to risk his fortune and his life? As for us, we have nothing of the kind to fear. On the contrary, those who load us with favours, to whom we owe these spacious mansions where we hold meetings in perfect safety, not only confide to us their subordinates and their families, but put themselves into our hands. But let us not trust too much to the singular advantages of our admirable position. let us rather take extreme care to avoid the least false step, so as to arrive safely at the result of our efforts." “I would not have any one despair of the great future success of our enterprise because our beginnings are small. What could be more inconsiderable in appearance than was our Company at its commencement? Yet but a few years had elapsed ere it proved to be full of vigor, and was already become rich and powerful. And, in later times, what throne but owned the mysterious ascendancy of our genius? From the review which has been taken of the matter, you must perceive that the Church, notwithstanding the immense aggregate and the value of its materials, is far from being in the condition of an edifice solidly raised upon its foundations and completely finished. It is still altogether in a rough and disorderly state. If, then, it has narrowly escaped an overthrow on the first shock, let us look to the causes of its weakness. It wanted a skillful and rigorous architect, who would have taken care to examine and prove each several stone; who would have rejected the bad ones outright; who would have sought out the hardest granite to strengthen the most exposed parts; and would have seen that the whole was united together by the strongest and most tenacious cement. The greatest amongst the Popes themselves have never possessed a clear and living light, they have only groped in the dark; and this explains to us wherefore a work, which is in itself gigantic, presents so little homogeneousness and harmony. If, when the Barbarian hordes overran our country and took possession of it; when the Roman Empire fell to pieces, and Christianity [Editors note: by this term he means The Ancient Mysteries] was driven to change its abstract form for one better adapted to fascinate imaginations and the senses of the new comers; if, at the moment when the Papacy arose out of the universal degradation, it had fallen into the hands of men of large and enterprising views, it would have been able in times so propitious to efface, secretly and by degrees, all records of the ancient state of things, and to blot out every trace of the transformation of the Episcopal Aristocracy into a Papal Monarchy. It might have effected this by retrenchments from and additions to the writings of Councils and of Fathers, employing on this task minds capable of accomplishing it; and then, what a glorious position for us! The great strife between Catholicism and Protestantism would never have arisen, or at least it would wholly have confined itself to the authenticity of the primitive writings. This work of retrenchment and addition ought to have been confided to a Roman school, well trained to the purpose, so as to imitate with dexterity the style peculiar to each writer. What was wanting in the ninth century was a Pope who should have eclipsed the glory of Charlemagne. Gregory VII with his gigantic, but too vague ideas; Innocent III with his marvelous Institutions, Confession, Inquisition, and Monks, came too late. Five centuries earlier, some genius equal to his, and ourselves to aid with the vast idea that now engrosses us, would have rendered the Romish Church the Sovereign arbiter of the whole world. Instead of this, the two centuries which preceded Hildebrand supplied Popes madder than Caligula, and more monstrous than Nero, so that it is impossible for us to give a color to their History which may be deemed—I will not say excusable, but even tolerable. Neither the fourteenth nor the fifteenth century offers a single example of talent and intelligence capable of foreseeing, and consequently of preventing by the abolition of the most flagrant abuses in the Church, the horrible outbreak of the sixteenth century. What, in fact, do we see in the two centuries which precede Protestantism? The Roman See occupied either by men of less than ordinary abilities, or by haughty voluptuaries. Such beings ruin a construction rather than help to build it up. They have no prudence to guide them; they exhibit to the people in their own persons a spectacle of turpitude, as if the people were brutes, absolutely incapable of reflection. Under such Popes, with a Clergy, Bishops, and Monastic Orders of the same stamp, was it to be hoped that the Church should wax great and strong so as to hold Nations and Monarchs compressed in its great embrace? Can we be surprised that it still remains in a state of abortion in spite of its immense resources? It is my desire that among ourselves everything be spoken out, and that the whole naked truth be uttered; for it is in the highest degree useful and necessary to us to know and to study it, as it is. Are we so blind as not to perceive clearly that whatever was done then was done entirely with greedy and interested views, and that the same observation applies also to the present times? Nothing has ever been contrived as subordinate to the execution of a vast plan. You are acquainted with the infamous abuses of nepotism, and its frightful consequences: what a degradation of the Papacy! That high and inestimable dignity was no longer coveted but as a means of glutting the mad ambition and insatiable avarice of a few families. Meanwhile, a vast catastrophe was impending, and the veil of the temple was about to be rent in twain. Alas! when those selfish dreamers suddenly awoke and everywhere lighted exterminating fires for heretics, it was too late. Men’s eyes were opened, they had learned to think, their indignation was aroused, the fire of it was in their hearts. The death of a great number of heretics only bestowed on a party already strong and filled with the most perverse ideas, the dangerous prestige of possessing its martyrs. Thus, by an excess of imprudence on our part, heresy took its stand as a power, to which novelty and persecution gave attraction and strength. How much time was thus lost; and what conflicts was the church compelled to sustain, no longer for the purpose of extending her sway, but simply to save herself from imminent and utter ruin. Leo X—that Sardanapalus enervated by Asiatic luxury—did nothing but blunder. Those who succeeded him followed but too closely in his footsteps. At length, the hurricane had almost dispersed the riven planks of the Bark, and no one could suggest any practical expedient for keeping them together. All grew pale at the demand for an Ecumenical Council, and it is certain that that of Trent would have been the grave of Rome but for the ability of our Company. We, resolute and unswerving, succeeded in baffling the multitude of heretics who were eager to attack the very foundations of Catholicism. With History in their band, they were prepared to question the Bible, the Fr.s, the Councils, to trace them from age to age, and explore the origin of each institution, dogma, and practice. What secrets would then have come to light! The symbol of the ancient faith [Editors Note: The Cross; Jesus was crucified on a tree.], the primitive mode of solving questions, the progress of the Papal power, the precise date of every innovation and change, the immense chaos of past ages, so well covered until then, would all have been exposed to the eye of day. Sifted after this fashion, nothing would have been preserved but what is expressly supported by some text of Scripture; the rest would have been remorselessly burnt as stubble. Nor could the pope have flattered himself with the hope of remaining an honored Patriarch; this very title of Patriarch, they would have told him, was but of recent invention. There was a general conspiracy against it, bent on reducing it to the measure of what it was when many Bishops of the east and even of the west despised it so openly, and when Cyprian, Ireneus, and Polycarp held it in so little esteem. How many Bishops, indeed, flocked to Trent with hostile intentions! How far might not their boldness have proceeded, had heresy been permitted to spread freely before them its pernicious erudition? But we intrepidly defended the breach, and the young hydra strove in vain to break into the place. Thus, after three centuries of indefatigable labor, after we had been as a cuirass on the breast of Rome, her enemies determined to tear us thence, and almost succeeded, convinced that as long as we remained, Rome was invulnerable. But if Rome, in her weakness, bent for a time like a palm-tree beneath the raging winds, she soon raised her head again; and now, let us trust, she has gained an accession of strength that will enable her for the future to defy storm and thunder. Kings call upon us—they feel the need of our narcotic cup for their people; but they shall drink of it themselves also [Editors Note: Revelation 17], and deeply! We will not, however, forget to wet its rim with honey. Two principles—amongst the many we possess—two principles of inexhaustible power and attractiveness ought to hold the first place in our consideration; and this we must continually call to mind. We must thus argue with men in power, and especially those at court:—Heresy having been the cause of all the complications which arose precisely when Church and State were on the point of entering into a happy alliance, the results of which could not but have been solid and most satisfactory, it is of the highest importance that we should at length realize what three centuries of anarchy have postponed. As soon, then, as positive conclusions shall have been laid down, the following should be the two leading principles of a new code, devised for the regulation and conservation of the vast interests of the two powers at length united:— Whenever Heresy Shall Disturb The Sacred Tranquility Of The Church, Whatever May Be The Nature Of Its Assaults, Be They Slight Or Serious, The Duty Of The State Shall Be To Punish Them With The Utmost Rigor, As Political Crimes. Reciprocally, Whenever Revolt Shall Disturb The Sacred Tranquility Of The State, Whatever May Be The Nature Of Its Attacks, Be They Slight Or Serious, The Duty Of The Church Shall Be To Stigmatize Them In The Face Of The Nations, And To Treat Them With The Same Rigor As Heresy Itself, Which Is To Be Crushed By Terrible And Solemn Chastisements. After this, we have only to be logically consistent, and since it is a maxim of the schools that you cannot be less than, it will not be difficult to contrive that the Spiritual Power, the omnipotent divinity of the Holy See, shall entirely absorb the Temporal Power. Only let them give up to us the souls of the people, let Kings second us with their encouragement and their wealth, and our hierarchy, at present winding about like a river, shall soon spread wide as the sea, and cover hills and mountains. But it is mainly important that we should know how to extinguish, one by one, the multitude of phosphoric flames that glitter in every direction. We must have the art to accustom the mass of the people to look up to none but our men; and thus we shall train them for the day when, excited by some crying injustice, an increase of taxes, or some such cause of discontent, they shall furnish us with an opportunity to hurl forth a thundering manifesto from Rome, a signal of its rupture with all Governments, and consequently of a decisive and final struggle, in which we shall be bravely supported by the innumerable and ardent host which we or our successors shall have so well disciplined [Editors Note: World War I]. Would that we might be certain—but at least we can hope—that when that crisis comes, a considerable portion of the hierarchy will have undergone a radical and complete change; that the loftiest thrones of the sanctuary will be inaccessible to men incapable of understanding us; that Bishops and cardinals well know how to follow up their brave words with braver deeds; and finally, that, after so many sacrifices, we may have to glory in a man embodying, in his own person, the most enterprising Popes of past times, a man wearing one of those heads, in fashioning which Nature expands her compasses to their full stretch [Editors note: Pius XII]. The artisan, when plying his ordinary labor, is never discouraged by the hardness of the wood or the metal on which he works, because he has at hand such implements as will reduce these materials into whatever forms he pleases. Let us so take care to be well provided with implements. When the ebullition which we are secretly fomenting shall have reached a sufficient point, the cover shall be suddenly removed, and we will pour our liquid fire upon those political meddlers, who are ignorant and unreflecting enough to serve as tools in our hands, and our efforts will result in a revolution, worthy of the name, which shall combine in one universal conquest all the conquests that have yet been made. For this purpose, let our unceasing exertions be directed to the conversion of souls, and let us so preach that deathbeds may be the fruitful source of donations, riches, jewels, and all sorts of legacies. Means of action are indispensable to us, and these means must be as vast as our projects. Let nothing resist us; whilst, enveloped in mystery from head to foot, we ourselves remain impenetrable. Friends, we must conquer or die! The higher classes are always very inaccessible to the lower ones; let us nourish their mutual antipathy. Let us accustom the mob, which is, in fact, an implement of power, to look upon us as its warmest advocates; favoring its desires. let us feed the fire of its wrath, and open to its view a golden age; and let the Pope, Rome, Catholicism, or the Church, let each of these words become for the people the expression of all its rights, the point on which its eye is fixed, the object of its devotion, the moving spring of its thoughts and intentions. A day will come—but it will be too late—when it will be seen that expedients the most ridiculous have given birth to marvelous effects, and that those who believed themselves wise, were fools. Yes, brethren! We also are Kings! Our arsenal is perhaps as rich as theirs, and even, if I mistake not, more efficient! Our Chaplets, our medals, our miracles, our Saints, our Holy-days, in fine, all that immense battery which we have this day passed in review, will be worth as much, I imagine, as their powder, their soldiers, their cannon, and their moving forests of bayonets. All depends upon the skill with which we combine this infinity of means, discipline our troops, and by exciting their zeal and their courage, prepare them for the day which must bring to nothing, or crown with triumph, the long series of our labors. Let them make a jest of our processions round the profane Jericho, let them mock us and the sound of our trumpets, provided that at the seventh circuit, and assuredly it will be made, the walls of the city fall down, and those who inhabit it fall a prey to us. What we have to do, then, is to erect again upon its pedestal the prostrate papal colossus. We engineers, here assembled, have to concert a special plan for this purpose, to point out the machines to be used or to invent new ones, to form workmen and place in their hands levers and cables, and then, provided the whole be directed by superior intelligence, success will be infallible. Such is our task. But the day is closing, and I desire that we may not quit this place before some one, who may have considered the subject more deeply than myself, shall have said a few words on the possibly sinister issue of events, which, seeing the dangers around us, it is indispensable that we should coolly consider, while as yet our minds are undisturbed by any immediate apprehensions of such a result.” “We will hereafter take this suggestion into our special consideration. Meanwhile, I thank you heartily for this conference; it has been much more instructive than the three former ones, the minutes of which you had better examine—I have them here for your better information; and I beg that each one of you will note down his observations upon them. But let me suggest that during a discussion on mere details it would be advisable not to allow too much predominance to the poetical elements of the question. These elements may be admitted when we have to consider our whole plan in the fullest light, whilst the analysis of each separate question or problem should present a character as deliberate and cool as that of the synthesis ought to be warm and enthusiastic. I admire these two different kinds of talent, but I have rarely seen them united in the same individual. I have almost always found that those who were eloquent in the one way were mute in the other, and vice versa. Let us strive to combine the calmness of reason with the fire of enthusiasm . . . Let us, therefore, become perfect in the art of loading the proud and the powerful with chains. Let us lay to heart this maxim as the rule of all our efforts—one sole authority—that of Rome; one sole Order—that of the Jesuits. And since our age does not boast a single mind capable of aspiring to Universal Empire, for Kings have enough to do to retain a hold upon their petty kingdoms which are slipping from their grasp, let it be ours to aim thus high, whilst empty heads are dreaming. There is no day without a limit. Let not any opportunity escape us of observing what are men’s tendencies; the better we know them the more useful they will be as instruments in our hands. Let us, at all events, so conduct ourselves that our future glory may compensate for our present abasement; for whether our name be destined to perish, or finally to prevail over kings and nations, let it, at least, be synonymous with the loftiest reach of greatness and daring which the world has ever seen or ever will see. Yes! when future generations read our story, and learn what we have been, let them be forced to assimilate us, not with mankind, but with those cosmogonic agencies which God only puts in motion when it is his pleasure to change the laws of the Universe.”
2020.04.04 02:16 Tyrant778Bible-thumping teacher does seemingly everything in her power to make us think she is a crazy bigot.
It's been a while since I've posted on here, but honestly, after a while of bottling this story up, I decided it was time to tell the full story of the teacher that made me lose my faith in Christianity. Now before I go into this clustercrap of a story, I need to do two things. 1. I need to set up the cast. Tyrant: me, and BT: Bible-thumping teacher. 2. I need to give a little bit of context. You see for Highschool I went to a private Lutheran high school and for Junior High, I went to a private baptist school. Both schools were mostly equally far apart from most of my classmate's houses including mine, so a lot of us ended up going to this high school after we all graduated. This meant I already had a small group of friends going into this high school, and since this high school was on a block schedule, and for freshmen, a mandatory class to take was Old Testament (or OT for short) class, which had two teachers, meaning that some of us took this teacher's class at the same time. So with all of that set up out of way, let's get into this. ok, I lied a bit because there's one more thing I need to explain. You see BT pulled so much crap out of her ass that I decided to make this kinda a list, going from her minor transgressions to the unforgivable shit she did. Ok NOW let's get into this. 1.Talking about subjects she clearly doesn't know about. ok so as an old testament teacher, the period of history the OT takes place in is around the "birth" of humanity to around to a few hundred years before the birth of Christ. This means that you have a lot of historical ground to cover like the "enslavement" of the Israelites by the Egyptians, they're enslavement by the Babylonians, their release by the Persians, all the wars they had with other tribes during they're taking of the holy land, and so on. So with all of that under consideration, you would think an OT teacher would have at least a good comprehension of ancient history back then right? WRONG!! or at least for BT. Bt would constantly make crap up about ancient civilizations that I knew were blatantly false since I took a history class the grade before going over these civilizations. For example, when the fact that there are no Egyptian records of the Israelites leaving Egypt and them losing a large chunk of their army due to Moses closing the sea on them, she said "well the Egyptians were never good at recording their history, especially their loses. This is why their civilization is so mysterious to us!". That would be true...except the Egyptians did, in fact, record their history, a lot. Like we know a TON about them because of just how much they wrote down. But that could have just been a fluke right? maybe she didn't know much about ancient Egypt, except that later on, when we were "learning" about the many wars the Israelites were in, she flat out said "you see in ancient warfare, all both sides would do would be just to line up on opposite ends of a battlefield and charge at each other. this would say unchanged for thousands of years lasting to the early 1700s. This is why the Israelites were so unique! they actually did things like flank, ambushes, and tactical retreats!". There is so much wrong to unpack in that that I could have made an entire essay discussing just how wrong she was, but I'll just say this. Yes, some ancient battles were like that, but those were generally the exception, not the standard for how ancient warfare went. And whenever I, or anyone else who actually paid attention in history class, would point out her inaccuracies, she would simply say "I am sorry but we do not have time to argue this. Let's continue now". However, I am inclined to give her some leeway in this, as she seemed to say all this not out of bias, but more out of ignorance of actual history, since she would always look surprised whenever we would bring up her historical inaccuracies. However, she will not be getting the same leeway for the rest of this.
Giving us unfairly and seemingly rigged tests and quizzes.
A cold hard truth all of us learned in our second week in BT's class was that her tests and quizzes were about as consistent and well made as a bridge made out of straws, wet paper, and rocks. For the first week, we were memorizing the books of the OT, and most of us had it down actually, but when we took the online quiz she made, the way you actually choose the answers took so long that it was a miracle that any of us at all were able to finish it before the 1-minute timer ran out. At least 2/3rds of the class had the same complaint when the quiz finished, that it took to long to actually find the answer and that there wasn't enough time. However, BT wasn't convinced, even after some of the kids who "failed" the quiz got up and recited all the OT books in front of her. It took the whole class protesting before she finally gave in and made us all recite the books. And as if that wasn't bad enough, every single other quiz and test she gave would fluctuate between really damn easy to really damn hard over the span of a few weeks, oh yeah and she would give weekly quizzes and give out tests at the worst of times, even making us take a test directly after Winter break! Needless to say, she quickly became the least liked teacher among us, with her being the butt of jokes outside of classes for this. And unlike the last point where she seemed to just not know that what she was doing was wrong, she would defend her crappy quizzes and tests by saying "well if you had actually paid attention to my lessons, maybe you would actually do good in these quizzes!". Ignoring the fact that she was kinda insulting us by saying we only did badly because we didn't pay attention, but that wasn't even the problem we all had with it at all, it was the fact that all these quizzes and tests were designed so poorly! But it wasn't like it was even worth paying attention to her lessons considering my next point.
Letting her own personal beliefs and crackpot theories get in the way of actually teaching.
This is the point where BT's true colors are shown, turning her from just a bad teacher to a crazy bible thumper. Sometimes in class, at complete random, she would go off into these tangents about how Ninvenah, (the city Jonah was supposed to go before getting eaten by a whale), was actually a warning about how all cities and nations should have Christianity as their primary religion or else they'll all become cities of sin and greed with no good people in them, or how Samson killing people with a donkey's jaw is secretly a metaphor about Jesus sacrificing his body so we as humans can fight off sin. Do those sound like stretches to you? That's because they are. Specifically, BT would try to convince us that literally (and I mean literally in its actual definition) every story, every sentence, and every word in the OT was a metaphor for Jesus's arrival onto Earth. The worst case of her doing this was when we were learning about the portable temples the Israelites would use while waiting to get into the Holy land, and she did something straight out of a conspiracy theorist video and made the dumbest game of connecting the dots, creating a VERY rough-looking cross using the temple doors, lamps, and the arc. It got so ridiculous that my friend actually made a meme using the ancient aliens' guy except it had BT's head on it and the caption said "Everything in the OT? JESUS". Now, this probably wouldn't be as bad if her tangents sometimes didn't get so...political. For example, she was was a Pro-lifer, but only because she believed that because she thought fetuses, while in the womb, could accept Jesus Christ as their savior, meaning killing them would be persecuting Christians, which the abortion clinic industry secretly wants....now I'm not going to go in my stance on pro-life or pro-choice, but I think we can all agree that that is the dumbest reason to take any side in any argument ever! And her proof of this? A story where Mary Magdonline and the elderly mother of John of the Baptist met up and both babies in the room reacted to each other. Two babies, which were both specifically given by God to these women who shouldn't have been able to have children in the first place, was her only source of evidence that fetuses could accept Jesus. And while this point was potentially offensive, I think we can all look at these next 2 points and find them definitively offensive.
Her appalling homophobia.
This one is shorter compared to the other surprisingly but I feel it's still worse than the other 3 points above. When we were talking about Sodom and Gomorrah, BT went out of her way to say "the main reason God struck down these cities was because of their acceptance of homosexuality. If they were not homosexuals, perhaps God would have had more mercy on them.". I don't feel like I need to explain what is wrong with that statement, but I suppose her being at a private Lutheran school meant that she felt she could get away with saying homophobic shit like that, and even though we, of course, called her out on her homophobia, she insisted she was right and ignored our counterpoints, going on with the lesson as nothing had happened. I, like everyone else, cringed when she said that, but I didn't get personally offended, (I mean I am now considering what I've discovered about myself), but the next and final point was what really drove me and most of the class over the edge. Warning though, this point might be sensitive for some viewers so I recommend skipping this part to the conclusion. 5.Her complete disregard for suicidal people. So for those who don't know, before this, I went to a pretty big church whose pastor's son had...recently committed suicide. It rocked our whole community, the news landed on television, and the memory of his death lingered on for us for years to come. Now note that a lot of our class did go to this church, and a lot of us were sensitive about the subject of suicide, which wasn't helped by the fact that a new friend I made at this high school had recently attempted to kill himself. The anniversary of our pastor's son's death had just passed, and it was 2 years since that date, and you wanna know what tangent BT went on? While talking about an OT story where the villain of a chapter committed suicide after losing a battle against the Israelites, she said: "you see class, the reason this man went to hell was because he committed suicide, as suicide only happens because of a lack of faith in God.". The class was normally quiet because of how boring her lessons could be, but the class today was dead silent. I remember looking around and seeing the shocked and appalled faces of the students around me, including my friend who I had known since junior high. For me personally...she had crossed a line that she could never come back from. The raw and unfiltered disrespect to all those people who either had mental issues or were just given too many bad hands in life to handle and felt the need to end it...It was a miracle I didn't chew her out for that right there and then. Of course shortly after everyone recovered from her INCREDIBLY offensive statement, almost all of us were poking more holes in her statement than swiss cheese, asking her how she could be so insensitive to a real problem people all over the world face. Yet at a certain point, she simply must have had enough and said "we do not have time for this class. Now let's move on shall we?". Needless to say, I waited after class for everyone else to leave before I confronted BT and chewed her out with more anger than I had ever felt towards a teacher in my life. I even admitted to her that I had had suicidal thoughts in the past, yet I was still (at the time), a Christian! So in what I had thought was her maybe realizing how much an insensitive prick, she walked up and hugged me, seemingly comforting me, only to ruin it by saying "OH NO NO SWEETIE!!! You don't deserve to burn in hell!! you're much too good for that!". After that, I pushed her off and marched off angrily to my counselor to complain about just how offensive she was being, but as it turned out I was not the first one to go to their counselor and send a direct complaint to them about BT, in fact, our class wasn't even the first to do this. Turns out she had been doing this for as long as she was working at this school, (which wasn't very long since the school was new in comparison to other nearby schools), however, the principle just refused to fire her for some unknown reason, meaning that she could get away with this shit no matter what we did. So after dealing with all of this BS from BT, I was forced to ask myself many questions about my own religion that ultimately lead to me not being a Christian anymore, at least for a while, which is ironic since BT was supposed to be a bible teacher. To this day no other teacher has topped her as my least favorite teacher of all time, and to this day I still feel my blood boil just thinking about what she said that day. If it's any consolation, I thankfully had a much better and more sensitive bible teacher for the rest of my time at the High School who was way chiller than BT, though I still can't deny that that one year I had with BT was probably the worst school year of my life, even worse than 7th grade. I apologize if this was too long for maybe to sensitive for some readers, but I wanted to get this off my chest so I can hopefully put this chapter of my life finally behind me.
2020.04.01 19:14 jcc-writes[Sunday Game Sessions] - Chapter 8
Start here “I feel really badly that we had to kill them. I keep thinking about how colonization efforts treat indigenous people. Maybe those woods were their home…” mused Laura as they recorded the looted treasure from the kobolds on their character sheets. “Kobolds are only there to be killed,” opinioned Dave, as he wrote on his sheet. “I’ll take the copper pieces if no one else wants them.” “Yeah, it’s kind of bad,” Margaret agreed with Laura. “And it’s pretty meager treasure we got off of them. It would have been nice if we’d been able to find some sort of common ground.” Laughing at herself, she continued “We’re such academics! How can we find common ground with the monsters in a fantasy game!” “Speaking of which,” Gary responded. “We’re *THREE WEEKS* into the term and I still don’t have a computer. I don’t know how they expect me to teach computer science without a workstation in my office, but at this point it’s becoming pretty clear they don’t care.” “Yeah, that’s how they roll,” agreed Dave. “There was a workstation in my office, but someone stole most of the RAM out of it. It runs slower and slower through the day until I restart it. I’m up to restarting it 5 or 6 times a day.” “Somehow I got two iPads which I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do with them,” said Anne. “I negotiated a Powerbook and an iPad with my contract, and I got them both, but then two days later a second iPad arrived. I don’t want to get in trouble for getting sent two of them, but I don’t want to return one then have them ask for the other one back or something.” “Keep them both! I’m sure they’ll never realize what happened. Frank can use the second one. If they ever ask for it, just give it back,” Gary suggested. “This place is such a shit show.” “Well, that’s what you get for working at Midwest Lutheran College!” teased Anne. “The Provost was really tough to negotiate with. She told me they had two other candidates for the music position and I could either take the salary offered or leave.” “Really? She was a lot more flexible for CS,” Gary responded. “I was annoyed when they announced she was fired before the term started. I felt like we understood one another a lot better than the new interim Provost.” “So, is there any way we’d be able to talk to the kobold prisoners?” asked Laura. “Well, I’m running languages in the world as a bunch of very regional, kind of pidgin dialects. Any time you move to a new area it has its own language. Each day that you’re there, you make an intelligence check. After your first success you can exchange a single word in that language. After a second success you can exchange simple phrases with occasional misunderstandings and after a third success you’re basically fluent with a thick accent and can interact in that language. Whenever you learn languages in a new area, make a note of it on your character sheet in case it’s relevant in the future.” “And that works for kobolds too?” asked Laura. “Yep! And dwarves, elves and halflings. Each settlement or group will have their own dialect. Sometimes someone in it might understand another dialect you know. The non-human characters can each speak the language of their home settlements. If you want to spend a few hours each day trying to communicate with the kobolds, you’ll potentially learn some of their language.” “What about if we time travel back before we learned it?” asked Andew. “Well, in that case your time sprite would know the language better than your character did and can translate for them or prompt them through pronouncing things in the other language - so you keep language skills even after time travelling.” After rolling a couple of times behind his screen, Gary announces that they make it back to the Fort with their prisoners. “Sergeant Suzie is impressed when you show up with the prisoners. She flexes her biceps at Gevot and leans in and tells him she wants to hear all about the battle later at the tavern.” “Ha! Is she hitting on him?” asked Margaret. “Yes, knowing what you know about the human civilization in this world you’d guess she’s hitting on him,” Gary answered. “Yeah! I’ll meet with her later!” agreed Frank. “The guards lead the kobold prisoners off to the dungeon. What do you want to do next?” Gary asked. “So, can I spend time with the kobolds and try to learn their language and eventually interrogate them about whether or not they’re the ones attacking the caravans?” asked Margaret. “Sure, you can visit them in the dungeons and try to learn from them.” agreed Gary “What’s everyone else doing?” “Nalda and Hernan know different spells, can they teach them to one another?” asked Dave. “Yes” replied Gary “Typically in this world spells would be an intensely personal thing and it would be considered a very intimate act to give someone access to your spellbook. Usually specialized trainers would work with you and help you build your own version of spells for 100 gold pieces times the level of the spell. Because all of you are on a divine mission you’re willing to ignore the standard conventions and you can teach each other spells that you know and the other character is capable of learning. You can also teach yourself a spell from a scroll with that spell on it or you can cast the spell from the scroll as a one time effect. Any of these takes 1 day per spell level of the spell you’re learning. The day isn’t 24 hours of continual effort, but more a work day that you can do while you have meals and take breaks and all that sort of thing.” “Ok, then we could spend the time teaching each other our spells if you want,” Dave suggested to Kate. “I know ‘Charm Person’ and you know ‘Magic Missile’ so we can swap them.” “Sure,” agreed Kate. “Is there a limit to the number of spells we can learn? I thought I could only have one per day.” “The one per day is the limit to how many spells you can memorize and cast. There’s no limit on the number that you can learn, which are spells you have in your spellbook and can choose between when you’re deciding what to memorize.” “And this doesn’t affect me as a cleric, right?” asked Anne. “I don’t need to swap spells with them too?” “No, because you get your spells directly from a god, you can pray for ANY of the cleric spells that you’re capable of casting. It’s like you’ve already learned all of them.” “That’s pretty good, isn’t it?” asked Anne. “Yeah! Clerics are great. Good spell casting, wide range of spells they can use, they can wear any armor, lots of hit points, good fighters. It’s surprising that they aren’t more popular,” Gary agreed. “So, Beler is going to learn Kobold, Hernan and Nalda are learning spells. What are Gevot and Anne doing?” “ANNE is playing Creatures and Caverns!” corrected Anne. “Are there any other clerics or a church or religious people in the fort that Damin could talk to?” “Yes, there’s a chapel and the Curate is the cleric who is in charge of it. She tends, with a number of assistants, to the spiritual needs of the fort. There’s also a travelling priest with two acolytes who is visiting the fort right now that you could meet with.” “Ok, I’ll do that,” said Anne. “I’m going to spend time with Sergeant Suzie and is there a thieves’ guild I could make contact with here?” asked Frank. “The fort is too small for a thieves guild, but if you were in Hope you could make contact with the underworld there.” Gary answered. “Ok, I’ll date Sergeant Suzie and try to scout around the fort and pick up any information I can,” decided Frank. “Ok, so for the first day, make your intelligence check Margaret,” instructed Gary. Margaret rolled and announced that she’d failed. “Ok, so you don’t learn any kobold today. You get chatty with the dungeon guards and they don’t seem to care that you’re coming here meeting with the kobolds. Who is learning a spell today?” Dave answered that he would teach Kate Charm Person. “That takes up all our time for both of us, right?” “Yeah, you still have time to eat and stuff, but that’s your main activity for the day. Damin spends time with the Curate and the travelling Priest. Both are happy to talk to you. The Curate doesn’t have any information to pass on except that she’s worried about the local issues with caravans being attacked. The travelling priest’s two acolytes have taken vows of silence, but the priest himself is a jovial character who is very welcoming and immediately invites you into his chambers. He offers you wine and various delectables and is happy to discuss theology or anything else you’d like to talk about.” “Does he know anything about the caravan attacks?” asked Anne. “Just that they’ve been happening. He travels around the Cursed Colony, spending time at outposts like the Fort trying to spread the faith. He agrees that it’s terrible that the caravans have been coming under attack.” “While you have your date with Sergeant Suzie she keeps cutting off your story about the kobolds to brag about various feats of strength she’s performed or her duties as a guard at the fort. Eventually, you end up back in a secluded area of the guards barracks and she has her way with you. In the morning, she’s noticeably less friendly and basically blows you off and goes back to her routine.” “Did she just have a one-night stand with Gevot?!?” laughed Margaret. Frank shrugged and said, “I’ll start scouting around trying to pick up any gossip or clues around the fort.” “Yeah, she did!” Gary agreed. “You can spend the next day gathering information.” “So, will people at the fort be angry at Gevot for sleeping with her?” asked Laura. “Remember this is a matriarchy,” replied Gary. “Probably the popular view would be that Sergeant Suzie was just doing what guards do. They’d probably view Gevot as having done something that he shouldn’t have.” “Oh well,” Frank replied, clearly not caring. “So can I learn magic missile today?” asked Dave. “Yep, that’s what the two of you can do. Make another intelligence check to learn kobold Margaret.” After rolling she said, “Another failure.” “Wait,” Laura broke in. “What has Yenser been doing?” “That’s up to you” replied Gary. “I’ll learn kobold with Margaret I guess,” replied Laura. “Make two intelligence checks then, one for yesterday and one for today.” Laura said, “I passed the first one and failed the second.” “Ok, so Laura is learning very basic kobold. Not enough to discuss things of importance, but enough to name objects and whatnot.” Rolling behind his screen, Gary said to Frank, “You don’t discover anything investigating around the fort.” “At the end of the day, you return to the dungeon to talk some more to the kobolds and you see their two bodies lying on the floor of their cell. Their dinner is half eaten and spread around them. Both are dead, although the guards didn’t realize it until you draw their attention to the cell. They seem to have been poisoned.” “Oh, great!” Margaret responded. “So someone in the fort doesn’t want us getting information from them.” Gary shrugged. “Should we go back in time and find out who sent down the poisoned food?” asked Margaret. “I kind of feel like we shouldn’t be overusing the time travel,” suggested Dave. “There might be some price to be paid from it that we’re not aware of yet. We can probably get other kobold prisoners and learn the language from them.” “Yeah,” agreed Frank “I think we should head back out to the cave with the energy column and where the kobolds were.” Previous chapterNext chapter
2020.03.09 14:45 TheBrightestSunriseA running list of university closures and actions in response to COVID-19. How is your work changing?
We're up to two dozen US universities and college campuses that have either suspended classes or relocated a bulk of in-person classes to online/distance learning. Some locations have cancelled classes for a few days or a week; others have done so indefinitely or until the end of the current semester or quarter. I'll keep a running list here if there's any interest. It appears in most cases, classes are cancelled or altered, but offices are remaining open. Student events are being cancelled, air travel and international travel cancelled or advised against, but staff are still working. Can any SA professionals share how their university's actions are changing their day-to-day job? As per CDC guidelines here and here, most institutions have imposed restrictions and guidelines on international travel that includes canceling or postponing some or all international travel. Many universities are also employing restrictions on university-sponsored domestic air travel. Many institutions are also recommending students, staff, faculty, and others to follow guidelines from the CDC and stay home when sick, wash and sanitize hands properly, self-quarantine following exposure to known infected individuals or onset of respiratory symptoms. For the sake of simplicity, the list below is only inclusive of institution closures and alterations of academic coursework. In Washington: University of Washington - classes and finals for all three campuses will not be held in person from March 9 - March 20. Campus offices and services remain open. As of March 9, classes plan to resume normally when spring quarter begins on March 30th. UW Law is also impacted. Northeastern University - Seattle and San Francisco Bay Area/Silicon Valley campuses will move to online course instruction on March 9. Campuses remain open with allowances for high-risk faculty and staff. No date for return to normal activity has been announced. Boston campus still operating normally. Pacific Lutheran University - March 9 classes are cancelled. All regular, on-campus classes are switching to distance learning as of March 10, through March 30. Offices remain open. University of Puget Sound - Classes are being conducted remotely the week of March 9-13. The university and offices remains open. The following week is spring break, and faculty and staff are preparing for the possibility that remote classwork will required for the remainder of the semester. Lake Washington Institute of Technology - As of end of business 3/6, the institution is moving to remote operations until the end of the quarter 3/20. The institution appears to be working on plans to allow faculty and staff to work remotely. Those who cannot work remotely appear to be using regular leave. Seattle University - As of 3/9, classes are no longer being held in-person through 3/20. Campuses remain open. Everett Community College - Most courses and final exams are being offered online starting 3/9. Certain courses will still be held in-person using CDC-recommended social distancing and regular disinfection. Campuses and offices are remaining open with some modifications. Bellevue College - Most classes have been moved online or to alternate modalities, effective 3/6, through the end of the winter quarter. Hope to return to normal activities beginning 4/1. Employees that are able to are being allowed to telework through 3/27. Offices and student services are operating with various levels of modification. Students are being advised not to congregate in large (>10) groups. Shoreline Community College - Most classes will be moved online beginning 3/10, through the end of the quarter (3/25). Campus remains open. Seattle Colleges - Beginning 3/10, all locations will be moving to alternative/online classes through the end of the quarter (3/25). Classes are cancelled on 3/9 to allow transition to online and alternate modalities. Offices remain open and student services remain available. Seattle Central College - In-person instruction has been suspended from 3/9 through at least 3/25. Classes on 3/9 have been cancelled to allow for faculty to convert their courses to an online modality. Campus remains open. Public access has been limited to a single entrance. Green River College - Classes 3/9 have been cancelled in order to adapt to an online format. Classes will be held in a manner to reduce face-to-face interaction for the remainder of the quarter, from 3/10 through at least 3/20. The college is exploring options for faculty and staff to work remotely. In California: Stanford University - In-person classes on main campus have been moved online for the last two weeks of the winter quarter, as of 3/9. The university remains open, and student services remain available. Golden Gate University - No in-person classes (outside of the law school) will be held on the San Francisco campus, starting 3/9. All faculty have been instructed to move all coursework online via Zoom. Staff members that believe their condition warrants remote work are being instructed to make arrangements with their direct supervisors. University of Southern California - holding all lectures and seminars online 3/11-3/13 as a test of the university's technical ability to host classes online. This will be followed by the university's week-long spring break, and normal classes are anticipated to be held again upon return 3/23. University of California Berkeley - UC Berkeley will be moving most classes online until at least 3/30. Campus and student services will remain open. In Texas: Rice University - in-person classes and labs are cancelled from 3/9-3/13. Faculty are asked to prepare for the possibility of delivering the remainder of the semester's coursework online during this time. In New York: Columbia University - Classes are cancelled 3/9-3/10, and are switching to remote coursework through 3/13. Most offices remain open. Columbia Law classes are also cancelled 3/9-3/10. Barnard College is following suit. Hofstra University - In-person classes are being canceled from 3/9-3/13, prior to the following week's spring break. Offices and student services remain open. Zucker School of Medicine and Maurice A. Deane School of Law appear to both be impacted by decision; alternatives are being discussed for the medical school instruction. Yeshiva University - Undergraduate classes on the Beren and Wilf campuses are cancelled from 3/9-3/15. Preparations are being made to move classes online in case of further cancellations. Graduate classes in Azrieli, Katz, Revel, RIETS, Syms, and Warzweiler will resume remotely on 3/11. New York Law School - Their main campus was closed for extensive deep-cleaning on 3/6. It is now open again. Fordham University - Face-to-face classes at all New York campuses are canceled for 3/9-3/10, in advance of classes being moved to an electronic or online format beginning 3/11. A plan for some employees and personnel to work remotely is being worked on. All on campus events are canceled from 3/8-3/29 (at least). St. John's University - Though has not announced any plans to transition to online learning due to COVID-19 on university news channels, local news reports that they are hosting a “trial run and deliver classes via electronic channels,” in lieu of in-person lectures on 3/12 and 3/13. Labs and clinical experiences are still taking place. In-person classes are expected to resume 3/16. In New Jersey: Princeton University - As of 3/9, the university will be following CDC social distances practices. All lectures, seminars, and precepts are temporarily moving to virtual instruction as of 3/23 (after the university's spring break) until at least 4/5. Students are encouraged to stay home following spring break. Rowan University - While their COVID-19 response page has not been updated, local news reports that Rowan has extended its spring break (originally scheduled 3/16-3/21) until 3/27, and faculty have been asked to make preparations to provide continuity of instruction in case classes are unable to meet in-person indefinitely. edit: Rowan has confirmed its spring break extension. In Connecticut: Sacred Heart University - has announced that classes 3/10 will be canceled in preparation for classwork to move online from 3/11 through 3/29. Labs and clinical activities will continue to be held in person, so long as it is safe to do so. Offices and services remain open, though campus events are cancelled. Thank you to users like u/suzannem18 for providing information on additional institutions to add.
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