Symposium Ideas

by Brad Nelson8/22/15

The last symposium on The Ten Commandments I would say was a success and the best thing we’ve done yet. Someone mentioned we should make an ebook out of it. That’s fine by me if we get everyone’s permission. But easier said than done. Easy to announce projects, much harder to carry them out. I found that out when I started this site. If you don’t do it, it often doesn’t get done.

Which left me flabbergasted at the job Deana, Patricia, Annie, Jerry, KFZ, Pat, Glenn, John Kirke, Linda Harvey, Neil, Avi, and Pete did. You’re not supposed to be able to do anything of this quality online. I mean, pardon me for being honest, but one glance at the typical articles at National Review Online and you see the torrent of words that is little more than mental masturbation. You see word counts being filled, not necessarily wisdom being dispensed.

So if we stopped here and did no more, this site has already been a success. And what you all did here was something worth keeping. But how do you follow that?

That’s why I’m going to be a little fussy and try to offer some useful direction. I will do whatever enough people come to an agreement on, no questions ask. But I want to take a look at two good suggestions for topics that were offered and give a word of caution, and by doing so give you a mindset and an approach to apply to anything we do end up doing…including perhaps one of these two topics.

The Bill of Rights. This could, of course, be grist for the mill, especially with the writers we have here who have some familiarity with the topic. The downside is that I think we’d eventually end up talking about the equivalent of how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. While these Amendments are regularly ignored, it seems absurd to me to dig down into them eking out grain-sized details. That is my objection, but it’s not a veto. If we took up this topic, we’d have to raise our game and not just churn out a word count as you so often see at other sites and that you didn’t see with The Ten Commandments symposium where there was some obvious thought and wisdom that went into those essays. We have to try to make these Amendments relevant to today.

The Seven Deadly Sins. This is another good idea for a topic. The downside that I can see is that it could be gloomy and preachy. And if you all want to do it, that’s fine. But I’d probably sit this one out because I think it would be dull. Scolding the culture for committing every one of these sins three times a day doesn’t suit what I’d prefer to do. But if someone can convince me they can take a creative approach to this, I’m all ears.

Education Reform. Deana changed her mind on this, I think. But perhaps no topic is more important. That’s why perhaps it could be expanded into a large topic called “The Culture Wars.” Education is just one front (although a huge one) in that war. Others are “the media” and “the entertainment industry.” Even religion is a front in that war now. Consider that.

And this-here blog post is a place to, of course, talk about all this, suggest topics, and then (eventually) declare that you’ve signed onto one that we agree upon.

But note that if we do go forward, I want people to think outside the box. If we did The Seven Deadly Sins, for instance, and someone did a short video illustrating, perhaps in a photo-journalistic fashion, the harm of a particular sin in a tangible way, great. That would be fantastic. Who said it had to be all about words? You could do a short still-photo essay to get the point across as well. The point is, I don’t want everyone sounding like Charles Krauthammer.

If you can’t put some of your own creativity and personality into it, then don’t bother. That might be a high bar I’m setting, but I’d rather you pre-screen yourself in regards to whether or not you are up to this and up to the commitment of doing a series which — I would imagine, depending upon the topic — would be mercifully short at perhaps six different articles or so. Ten was almost too many but then editing God would not be for the fainthearted.

And my overall hope is that we would produce something that you could put in an ebook (whether we did or not is beyond the point) that would be of use to young skulls-full-of-mush (or anyone else) as an honest, clear, and forthright resource into understanding some profound issues. It would not be for the glorification of ourselves but as a potential way to reach people and get them to see things in a new way (outside of the Cultural Marxist way, basically).

We’re writing to communicate, not pontificate. That’s my guiding light on this. What do you think? What do you want to do?


Brad is editor and chief disorganizer of StubbornThings.
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About Brad Nelson

I like books, nature, politics, old movies, Ronald Reagan (you get sort of a three-fer with that one), and the founding ideals of this country. We are the Shining City on the Hill — or ought to be. However, our land has been poisoned by Utopian aspirations and feel-good bromides. Both have replaced wisdom and facts.
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63 Responses to Symposium Ideas

  1. Timothy Lane says:

    I’m not sure how much I could contribute to a symposium on education reform other than blog posts — but then, that’s all I did with the previous one. On the Seven Deadly Sins, one possibility that occurs to me would be to look at my own, and where they have sometimes gotten me. This wouldn’t work with all of them, but it certainly would with gluttony, sloth, and anger. As for the Bill of Rights, I’m sure I could do something — but whether it would be what you would want is impossible to say until it’s written and sent in.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      I would prefer (unless Deana takes the bit in her teeth and runs with it) that Education be one of five or so sub-topics under the overall topic of “Culture Wars.” Whatever the case may be, I can see three kinds of participants:

      1) Former or current teachers (or education bureaucrats)
      2) Parents who have had noted and involved dealings with their school system
      3) Former inmates (all of us) who have something insightful to say on the business end of things, so to speak. Victims of the public school system might have the most to say.

      I would likely not participate in this, leaving it more to the specialists (and I don’t have any children and haven’t been on the business end of public education for some time). And that’s fine. But I would definitely want to narrow this down so that personal experience is first and foremost. I have lots and lots of opinions about education, but I’m willing to step aside and hear from those who are involved in it now or have been (especially as a teacher).

      I think your approach to The Seven Deadly Sins would be a good one. As for the Bill of Rights, what I would encourage (if we go in that direction) is to make it meaningful to your typical low-information voter. That doesn’t mean dumbing it down, per se. But there are likely many misconceptions about the Bill or Rights that have to be dealt with. Free speech is taking a walloping, especially on college campuses. But is this technically a First Amendment issue considering that this amendment pertains to what Congress can or can’t do?

      One of the problems with dealing with any of these Amendment is that thought on this has become both a social and legal quagmire. And I’m certainly not expert enough to delve into the legal end. I know that some of the later amendments (such as the “equal protection” one) has been used to then say that these amendments also apply to the states and any other entity that takes state (or Federal) money, etc.

      Maybe the best way to do the Bill of Rights would be for ten people (or teams) to take each one, do a little research, and then come back with a summary that fulfills goals such as this:

      1) What the Amendment initially intended.
      2) How it is interpreted today.

      I still see it as a big quagmire. When some Paulbot gets pulled over for drunk driving and complains to the officer that his Constitutional rights are being violated by being pulled over, you can see to the extent that the Constitution, and law itself, has been trivialized and corrupted. To me, there’s no way to delve into these Amendments without dealing with the cultural and legal quagmire that now surrounds them. And my eyes glaze over just thinking of trying to do so. But maybe you and others can do so concisely, precisely, understandably, and readably. That’s likely an unfair standard because who is doing that today? I can think of only two places offhand: Mark Levin and Dennis Prager (include Prager U).

      Certainly if we decide on a topic, it will be off to the races and everyone will do what they think best. I don’t want “what I want,” per se. But I want people to understand that they need to think about approaching these topics in ways that are not just a recitation of various checked-off points and facts. That can be as dull and meaningless as watching paint dry. Make it relatable and relevant.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        My experience with public education is limited, and very old such as it was. From 1961 go 1964 I was in Greece, attending a Catholic school for 3 years and then a more standard public school — but how standard would that be really? My next 2 years were at an army high school at Fort Campbell, and then 3 years at a private school in Louisville. (My senior year, when we went to a state math/science contest held at Eastern Kentucky University, we won #1 in both math and physics — I was the math winner. It was our second year in a row with the #1 in physics.)

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          My experience with public education (government schools) is old as well. And where I went to school, if it was subpar (as it surely was), it was mostly because of so-so teachers and a sometimes make-work curriculum, not because of a “Progressive” curriculum. Elementary school was the best. Things got crappier in middle school. And high school got a little worse (where there were indeed some newfangled teaching techniques being tried which were a disaster).

          I was lucky to have some brilliant teachers and not too many who were just punching a time card.

          If we do an education symposium, someone who could contrast the generally excellent Catholics schools with their government counterpart would be instructive.

  2. Pst4usa says:

    Your analysis of the likely direction is correct Brad, angels on the head of a pin indeed. But you are more than up to the task of reigning in the mustangs. I have a thought for a shorter list, it is the Dennis Prager line of the American Trinity, Liberty, In God We Trust and E-Pluribus Unum. A little less specific than the Bill of Rights, maybe less pin head dancing? (No Bill O Riley pun intended)

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Pat, if enthusiasm is high enough, we can do two of these things at the same time, with two separate groups (or including some overlap). Prager’s American Trinity is indeed a good subject. If we go this direction, there should be an article or three by Prager that can be used as a primer. Also, Timothy and I have come up various formulations of the Left’s trinity that would be interesting to talk about as well. And as Mr. Kung says “culture is everything,” this is a meaningful topic because that trinity sort of triangulates and focusses everything we think about our culture.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        I would consider “E pluribus unum” especially important today. Al Gore once “accidentally” mistranslated it as “Out of one, many” — which is in fact what modern liberalism seeks.

  3. NAHALKIDES NAHALKIDES says:

    I wouldn’t have too much to contribute on the subject of The Seven Deadly Sins, Brad – whether that’s because I’m not enough of a sinner or too much of one I leave to the imagination.

    Much as I love the Constitution, I have the same reservations you do about a series on The Bill of Rights. A related topic might be the failure of the Constitution, that is, how is it that the Constitution failed to protect us from tyrannical government as it most assuredly has? I’d like to write an entire book on that subject, but haven’t gotten around to it.

    The culture wars has some real possibilities and could be our best bet. Some possible specific topics that leap immediately to mind are (1) How government control corrupts and destroys education; (2) How Leftism has destroyed “mainstream” journalism; (3) How the caliber of television drama has declined over the past 40 years (i.e. since the 60’s worked their destructive influence on it) – I could practically write that one in my sleep.

    Reading what I just wrote reminds of an aphorism which I may have originated, although I’m not sure: Whatever Leftism touches, it corrupts; whatever it controls, it destroys. That too could be the subject for a symposium.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      That last aphorism is very similar (though not quite identical, I think) to one that Dennis Prager makes.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Thanks for your input, Nik. And remember, this is mostly about what you guys want, not what I want. I have an opinion like the rest of you, but if there is something that enough of you feel strongly enough about doing, we’ll do it.

      Here’s roughly how I see the general categories under which we might classify our symposiums:

      + Changing the world for the better
      + Howling at the moon
      + Defending Western Civilization
      + Giving practical advice
      + Creative expositions
      + History

      If people wanted a symposium on the best recipes for American standards (apple pie, chocolate chip cookies, Thanksgiving turkey/stuffing) I’d be all for it. Again, think outside the box. More importantly, understand that whatever we do does not have to be overtly political. It can be. But it doesn’t have to be.

      A few topics off the top of my head

      + Why Libertarianism is a heresy, not an offshoot of conservatism
      + How to live a good life in a vulgar world
      + How to raise good children in a corrupt world
      + The gods of the Left: Darwinism, Marxism, Freudianism
      + Space: The Final Frontier
      + Computers: History, the Future, and Practical Uses
      + Social Justice: Today’s Largest Christian Heresy
      + Intelligent Design: The debate about life’s beginnings
      + What science means and doesn’t mean
      + The Religion of Leftism

      I like your idea #2 which would fit into the Culture Wars suggestion, as does your #1. #3 is also another front line of the culture wars.

      The Bill of Rights is a good topic. But the quandary is delving into it in micro detail when in the real world it is being ignored on the macro. It’s like worrying about a hair on a pimple on the butt of a man while his legs are being pulled into a pulverizer. The real issue is not likely legal. It’s the rule of man vs. the rule of law, or something like that.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        The meaning of science would be interesting, but it comes down to the difference between the scientific method (which I learned in high school) and the cultish version of modern liberals (which is based on treating politically convenient scientists as the Prophets). I would have little to say on modern TV given that I haven’t watched a new regular show in a couple of decades (other than a few mini-series).

        The gods of the Left clearly need to have Moloch (god of child sacrifice) added, and perhaps a sex-god of some sort (Priapus, perhaps) — though that may be counted under Freud or Darwin.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          Science is indeed a broad category. We could delve into strict dictionary-definitions of science. (David Berlinski, for one — and I agree — says there is no one definition of science or way to do science.) We could also delve into the culture of science, or what is often called “scientism” — a narrow, dogmatic way to view the world, which has a constrained epistemology and a decidedly atheistic outlook . . . as you say, one that portrays scientists as some kind of privileged prophets.

          There are also the enormous benefits that have been drawn from scientific discoveries — so much so that probably nothing fuels our “Progressive” age like the belief that any problem we face today can be solved by science tomorrow. This has also squeezed the human moral element out of the equation. Man is nothing. He is but a cog formed by the society he lives in. Therefore things such as “scientific social” (Marxism was also thought to be a “scientific” approach) can shape the world as it will. And such approaches guided by supposed “reason” are then said to trump all other approaches (such as a good religious upbringing, for instance). Science doesn’t require atheism. But the conceits of science lead inexorably to it.

          The success of science (more directly, of technology) has had a profound effect on how we think about our world. I would wager that the typical person — including often the most devoutly religious — parses the world in terms of what material adjustments we can made to it via science (and, by extension, government) rather than seeing mankind on a larger metaphysical stage (thus the emphasis, which is economic-based, on “social justice” from increasing numbers of the religious). The GOP, for instance, may all claim to be against abortion and to be church-goers. But the truth is that they are all technocrats, almost devoid of a sense that society has a component outside of what can be “scientifically” adjusted via government. This is also why the Republican Party needs to be scrapped. It is not in opposition to the atheistic/technocratic ways of the Left despite the gloss of their talk.

          I’m sure if we went with “Science” as a subject, we could easily enough find five or six sub-categories to focus on. But at the end of the day, I would put this under the uber-category of “Howling at the Moon.” It might be fun to do, but the monster of scientism/atheism has already bolted and there may be no closing the barn door. Still, perhaps it would help to inform a few low-information voters out there.

        • NAHALKIDES NAHALKIDES says:

          I understand about modern TV, Tim – that would have to be one article in a broader symposium about the culture wars. I could handle that topic, and maybe you could do one about the state of science fiction, if the modern culture is attacking and/or corrupting that genre which you know so well. The state of modern sci-fi isn’t something I know anything about, although the difference between the old Star Trek series and TNG is something I would certainly tackle in showing the general decline of television drama.

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            I think it’s also okay just to have a light and fun symposium. The Left doesn’t own me. They do not live in my mind rent-free, therefore it might be fun to talk about just good TV programs and other good forms of entertainment. One doesn’t always have to be shadow-boxing the Left. To some extent, because of the degrading factor that the Left has had on all forms of art, it’s somewhat unavoidable at least as a side topic. But why not toot the horn of some of the great entertainment that is out there?

            I’d be fine with just an exposition of the greatest “no one has ever heard of this one” movies out there. One could also do an entire symposium on nothing but Sherlock Holmes.

            • Timothy Lane says:

              In dealing with Sherlock Holmes, there are several categories here. We have analytical writings of one sort (usually based on the assumption that Doyle was the literary agent for Watson, and thus virtually irrelevant). We have writings for fun (which can include something like T. S. Eliot’s “Macavity”). We have pastiches and parodies (including many of the movies, and also stories about characters such as Moriarty). And there are adaptations of actual episodes (such as the numerous versions of The Hound of the Baskervilles). One can probably come up with other categories as well (e.g., annotations, of which I have 2 — one by William S. Baring-Gould, and one by Leslie S. Klinger, who also did an annotated Dracula).

              • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

                An exegesis of Sherlock Holmes is likely a one-man project. But a scholarly (and clear) history of the character, along with a summary of the various major movie or TV adaptations, might be interesting.

                But like any sort of history, as they say, one must have some kind of guiding principle or point of view to drive it. We all think Sherlock Holmes is pretty cool. But it wouldn’t be quite enough in my opinion just to bullet-point him into significance. What does the character mean? What does he say about us? Why do we like him? Why is he so memorable? Etc.

  4. Pst4usa says:

    I am not sure this one could be a topic in a list format, but Education, or more specifically, why we are not teaching, as it should be, how to think, not what to think. The death of the common innovators, or some such thing. Maybe, America, the first disposal society? Random thoughts.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      why we are not teaching, as it should be, how to think, not what to think.

      Let’s perhaps put that idea to rest once and for all, Pat. We need to teach children both what to think and how to think. Without a lot of rote learning (what to think, such as the times-ten tables) they would have no way to think about mathematics. Without teaching children the rote learning of the alphabet and how to read, they’d never be able to think about books or read their own books.

      Maybe, America, the first disposal society?

      I think many aspects of our society reflect a disposable society. And this is one area where libtards and conservatives sort of converge. There is a granola-eating, crunchy-con instinct making the rounds (for health reasons, aesthetic reasons, economic reasons, artful reasons, or to “heal the planet”) to make your own soap, to make your own candles, to grow your own vegetables, or whatever. And both the Left and right are doing it.

      The tie-dye hippies really do believe that by voting for Obama and his ilk they will “heal the planet and lower the oceans.” There is a deeply pagan need in hippie man that defies all reason. He remains an ideological child (and probably most conservative here had some kind of a hippie stage, and then later grew up). Hippie Man is a health nut and yet votes for legalizing destructing drugs such as marijuana.

      But there is some general agreement or convergence on this “back to nature or to the natural or home-made” issue between the Left and the right. That could indeed make for a good subject. Americans used to be for wasting nothing…they had to be, for only recently has material abundance allowed the reverse. Few who vote for these Marxist fiends understand that their ultimate goal is to dispense with private property. But what gives the hard-core Marxists such power is that most people really do want to take on that old-style ethic as expressed in modern lingo to “reduce, reuse, recycle.” Conservatives have done this since time immemorial. You couldn’t run a proper farm or business without those ethics. It’s an interesting and bizarre bit of irony therefore that those who are for disposing of the unborn and ballooning the laws and national debt are so parsimonious when it comes to the environment.

      So obviously there are some who take to this “natural” craze as a hobby or a bit of effective industry, and others who treat it like a religion. And when I heard a (presumably conservative) religious friend of mine a couple weeks ago talk about farming techniques they were implimenting that were meant to “heal the planet,” I wonder if there is any neat dividing line on who is reverting to paganism and treating environmentalism as a religion and who is doing so from more practical motivations.

      Anyway, certainly we could pick up your topic under the broader heading of “Environmentalism” with one of the subcategories being “The Disposable Society.” And it is convenient to subdivide each main category into subtopics so that the essays can be focused on the subtopics. Some other subtopics could be “Environmentalism as a Religion,” “Home-made vs. pre-packaged,” “Conservation vs. private property,” “The anti-humanism of the modern environmental movement,” etc.

      • Pst4usa says:

        Brad, I was talking more about indoctrination of the left and the impact on the yutes of today’s college grads, not so much about real basic education. I am all for rote learning, no argument there. But the very definition of a basic education has become about leftist indoctrination. In Washington, we have a legal definition and it begins something like this, (after all the legaleze of course), The definition goes like this, “basic education is an evolving program of instruction that provides students with the opportunity to become responsible and respectful global citizens,”
        So there you have it, now you know what we are supposed to teach our children.
        As far as disposable, I was thinking of the human life aspect of disposability, at both ends of the spectrum, abortion, assisted suicides, and nursing homes. But I like your twist on the disposable-ness of stuff, who keeps a computer for more than two months anymore, (a slight exaggeration I know), they are out of date by then and your browser will not work after that.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          Brad, I was talking more about indoctrination of the left and the impact on the yutes of today’s college grads, not so much about real basic education.

          It’s probably time then to retire that “teach them how to think, not what to think” cliché for the Left is indeed teaching them what to think (and how to think). That old slogan just confuses things.

          “basic education is an evolving program of instruction that provides students with the opportunity to become responsible and respectful global citizens,”

          In other words, they are to become socialists. The point of education isn’t to teach them basic skills that will then enable them to go out into the world, choose their jobs, choose their politics, choose their family, etc. They are to be pre-loaded on the front end how to think about everything. There is no room for disagreement with the Progressive agenda. In that sense it is indeed indoctrination.

          Those who hope to reform education need to point out this huge difference in goals. And many don’t. It doesn’t even appear on the radar. Peripheral things such as “class size” and even the power of teacher’s unions do not get to the heart of what is ruining public education.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            Remember, John Dewey was a socialist and wanted education to create good new socialists, not people thinking for themselves (which might lead them away from socialism). He (and modern liberals, including all too many teachers) would prefer the indoctrination of totalitarian societies (such as 1984 or Brave New World) to the idealized education they claim to favor.

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              An overarching symposium topic could be “What Should Man Be?”

              Socialists have one goal. Christians another. Libertarians another. Atheists another. Low-information “Progressives” another. And on and on (and there is, of course, lots of overlap). It’s been central to Western Civilization (and certainly a major part of his “liberal arts” education) to both impart what a man should be and to open him up enough to various ideas so that he is able to synthesize wisely and make his own determinations.

            • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

              A symposium illustrating how all others who played Holmes pale in comparison to Jeremy Brett.

  5. Pst4usa says:

    How about something else almost as old and just as ignored as the ten commandments, the Boy Scout Law;

    A Scout is
    TRUSTWORTHY. A Scout tells the truth. He keeps his promises. Honesty is part of his code of conduct. People can depend on him.
    LOYAL. A Scout is true to his family, Scout leaders, friends, school, and nation.
    HELPFUL. A Scout is concerned about other people. He does things willingly for others without pay or reward.
    FRIENDLY. A Scout is a friend to all. He is a brother to other Scouts. He seeks to understand others. He respects those with ideas and customs other than his own.
    COURTEOUS. A Scout is polite to everyone regardless of age or position. He knows good manners make it easier for people to get along together.
    KIND. A Scout understands there is strength in being gentle. He treats others as he wants to be treated. He does not hurt or kill harmless things without reason.
    OBEDIENT. A Scout follows the rules of his family, school, and troop. He obeys the laws of his community and country. If he thinks these rules and laws are unfair, he tries to have them changed in an orderly manner rather than disobey them.
    CHEERFUL. A Scout looks for the bright side of things. He cheerfully does tasks that come his way. He tries to make others happy.
    THRIFTY. A Scout works to pay his way and to help others. He saves for unforeseen needs. He protects and conserves natural resources. He carefully uses time and property.
    BRAVE. A Scout can face danger even if he is afraid. He has the courage to stand for what he thinks is right even if others laugh at or threaten him.
    CLEAN. A Scout keeps his body and mind fit and clean. He goes around with those who believe in living by these same ideals. He helps keep his home and community clean.
    REVERENT. A Scout is reverent toward God. He is faithful in his religious duties. He respects the beliefs of others.

    These are so far from today’s values in our society, that I doubt Scouts of today would recognize this.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      Tut, tut.

      This formula is for producing good, strong, responsible and reliable men. That is no longer the goal.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Jeepers, Pat. I’m going to have to give you a warning about all this hate speech. Please clean your posts up a little in the future. I found the Boys Scout list highly “divisive” and prejudicial.

      You want “clean,” for example. But there are some people who (likely because of George Bush and his Wall Street cronies) don’t have two pennies to rub together. Thus your glorification of “clean” is dirty-phobic. What an insensitive man you are.

      All your other “family values” are equally flawed, merely the outgrowth of a stifling reactionary patriarchy. Please take your hate speech somewhere else.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        The sad thing is thinking of how many liberals would say all that seriously. But then, that’s why it works as a caricature of liberal rhetoric.

      • Pst4usa says:

        OK I’m so sorry for my hateful, insensitive and intolerant writing, that I make this vow, I will never do it again until the next time I do it. And when I do, I promise to feel just as badly for my transgressions as I do right now.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          I came *this* close to deleting your account here. Reverent? Friendly? Courteous? None of that is in the Rules for Radicals. What in the world are they teaching kids these days? It’s simple: texting, tattoos, and television. Sometimes I wonder about you.

  6. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I’m not hearing a lot of ideas. Come on, people. Don’t be so shy. This is a brain-storming session. Just chuck anything out. And maybe something will strike a chord. So far nothing has. We don’t have to do anything. But us semi-professional writers like to have something to keep our instruments tuned. I’d like to hear from Annie, Deana, and some of the other regulars. What floats your boat? What subject would you like to write about? It could be turnips for all I care. But let’s find something that at least five or six people will sign on to for the duration.

    • Anniel says:

      Brad, I’ve been thinking a lot about this, I liked the 7 Deadly sins a lot, but preferred the Proverbs biblical version that begin with “haughty looks”‘ not the other version. Then I got caught up in everything going back and forth. How long of a duration are you proposing? Right now I would probably go ahead with a personal article on the 7 Deadlies, but for a Symposium I kind of like the Scout Law or what and how we should be teaching.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Go ahead and write your own essay on The Seven Deadly Sins. It would be redundant to do that and the symposium. And I don’t really want that topic for the symposium…unless updated to be a little peppier. And whatever we do, I would want to start out with at least six or seven writers. Writers tend to drop off over time, for whatever reason. Ideally we’d start with ten or so. Kudos to the stalwarts here who stuck it out. And I would think five to eight essays would be the desired duration.

        And with all due respect to the topic, The Seven Deadly Sins — lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, pride — are somewhat self-explanatory. I’m sure you’ll do well. But I can’t imagine this as a symposium topic where we weren’t just all repeating ourselves. “Gluttony is bad. Don’t eat so much. If you’re lacking fulfillment, try one of the other deadly sins, see a shrink, or try to branch out a little in your life…put in some effort. Next.”

  7. Tim Jones says:

    I’m with Anniel. I think covering the Seven Deadly Sins would be a good fodder for a symposium. What’s gotten lost over time, at least since the rise of the secular age, is the inherent ‘badness’ in people, no matter who you are. I read somewhere that everyone is born corrupt and that will always be the case regardless of who you become, hence the need to strive for redemption and salvation in a broken world (and one that will always remain that way). Ministers, pastors, priests, etc., no longer tell us what we don’t want us to hear but are always preaching to the choir, to use an old but very appropriate cliche, and to a large degree turned into self-help Bible-lite gurus. I once heard the Bible described as a love story but I think that’s way off base. It’s a rule book that is no longer considered as such, at least from what I can tell from what I read and hear. People need to be constantly reminded of their sins, which have been turned into personal failings of being a victim in our therapeutic society led by the new age gurus of therapeutic priests: psychologists, psychiatrists and many that take to the pulpit every Sunday morning.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Here’s my thoughts on that Tim (and Annie). I’d prefer that we do something a little more fun, light, and creative. I would think this topic would be too much of a scold. And I never wanted that for this site. A good rant now and then? You bet. But I’m not going to get all hot and bothered because some people are having more fun than I am even if it is because they are enacting a couple of those deadly sins.

      I thought The Ten Commandments worked well. But I wouldn’t want to do that every week. Plus, this is not a Christian site, per se. And I don’t want the emphasis to be too one-sided. The only way I’d want to do the Deadly Sins is if we updated them. Maybe something like:

      + Texting
      + Tattoos
      + Libertarianism (and other Smarter-Than-Thou cults)
      + Environmental Wacko-ism
      + Andy Warholism (everyone trying desperate to get his 15 minutes of fame)
      + Ass-Kicking-Female-ism (and other modern movie cliches)
      + Pansie-ism (the chick-i-fication or bubble-boy-ification of society)

      Something like that I could sign onto. If you like that concept, feel free to suggest a couple of your own modern deadly sins.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        Pepsi or Coke?
        Coffee or Tea?
        Soup or Salad?
        Sugar or Equal?
        White or Dark Meat?

        The possibilities are virtually endless.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          Well, the Coke Vs. Pepsi one does take on a cultural issue. It’s why New Coke (at the time) failed. New Coke did good in tastes tests (because of it’s sweetness) but was not what Coke drinkers wanted long-term.

          That’s the sort of culture we live in now. We want the short-term stimulation — aka “The Pepsi Degeneration.” I would fold the “Coke vs. Pepsi” thing into a subtopic of the broader topic of The Culture Wars.

          I would also fold the “Sugar or Equal” into it as well. It would be in the science vs. pseudo-science sub-topic. There’s a lot of baloney regarding what is “natural,” for instance. Well, arsenic is natural. Poison ivy is natural. In fact, one could get into a discussion of genetically modified foods. And there’s probably no strict right-left divide regarding that issue. There’s reason to be cautious, of course, but a lot of hysteria has been whipped up about strains of grain, for example, that have been modified to be drought and disease resistant and are feeding a lot of people in third-world countries. But people freak out at the term “genetically modified.” Well, so technically is the poodle in your lap. That used to be a wolf.

          So I like the way you think. And I assume in regards to “white or dark meat” you’re intersecting one of the Seven Deadly Sins. In this case, lust.

          • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

            And I assume in regards to “white or dark meat” you’re intersecting one of the Seven Deadly Sins

            I like to leave a little ambiguity here.

            As to the overall topic, I think there is something to be said for the obsession we have for “choices”. Of course, this is a cultural question.

            Let me give an example of how this is so.

            In Japan, it was very much a point of etiquette to offer a guest something to drink. I experienced this tradition in every customer’s office, as well as in the homes I was lucky enough to visit. One said yes and some drink was brought to you. I was never asked exactly what I wanted to drink, so depending on the place and time of year I received a variety of drinks including green tea, hot coffee, iced coffee, black tea, iced tea and occasionally Coke. But at any given meeting, everybody got the same drink.

            Of course it was good to have something to drink on a hot day, but the point of the act was the host showing hospitality and the guest showing his appreciation of the same.

            If one asked for a specific drink and the host did not have it the host might lose face. Furthermore, it was sometimes too bothersome to make such a small decision. Better leave it up to the host giving the host further face for having good taste.

            Given this tradition, the American habit of presenting a multitude of options could be a little disconcerting to Japanese. After accepting the offer of a drink they did not want to be given a list of options available to them. They just wanted a drink so as to follow protocol.

  8. Pst4usa says:

    How about a symposium on the list of words that have been hijacked or made to mean something other than what they started out meaning. The left has a million of them, tolerance, inclusive, fair, equal, right, wrong or marriage, just to name a few.
    I suppose I just have some of them wrong, I mean if flammable and inflammable mean the same thing, then I guess that intolerant and tolerant could mean the same thing right?

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      I like that idea, Pat. That’s a possibility.

      Another thought on that, Pat, is that could be one of the seven or so sub-topics in regards to an overall topic of “The Culture Wars.”

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Nice idea. There’s a reason I try never to refer to homosexuals as “gay”. Words do evolve in meaning, but that was a hijacking, not evolution.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        I’m with you Tim. I refuse to call someone gay. The word Nazis must be fought.

        Every time I hear someone call a homosexual “gay” I think of Nietzsche’s “The Gay Science”. I wish they had translated the title a little more faithfully.

        Before the lavender Nazis got a hold of the word, it was used as a more literary substitute for carefree, happy or joyful. Now it is associated with degenerates and deviants like those one sees in the San Francisco parades.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      In addition to words they’ve stolen, there are the words they seek to ban on the grounds of being “racist” and “insensitive”. The purpose of these bans, as was the purpose of Newspeak in 1984, is to eliminate “thoughtcrime” (i.e., dissent from liberalism) by making it literally impossible to come up with the words to express it.

  9. Tim Jones says:

    I agree. Pat’s idea is a good one, too. The left has turned the world inside out, basically where white is black and black is white (simplistically put), and have conflated words to the point where they no longer have any meaning.

  10. Pst4usa says:

    How about a founding fathers list, top five or top ten. Jefferson, Adams Franklin, Washington, Madison, Hamilton, or go to some of the more obscure Goubenor Morris, John Hancock, Benjamin Rush, Roger Sherman or many others.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Let’s see. I have biographies of Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe among the presidents, as well as Franklin, Jay, Boone, Samuel Adams, Robert Morris, and Hamilton among non-presidents. I also have biographies of such military leaders as Greene and Jones (and I’ve read one of Baron Von Steuben, who’s worth consideration as well). Hancock would also be a good choice, along with Henry Knox, Patrick Henry, and George Mason. (I also have a bio of Noah Webster, but he’s probably a stretch.)

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      That’s a possibility, Pat. If we did so, I’d want to take a livelier approach. Maybe something like “The Top Five Founding Fathers Most People Have Never Heard Of.” Something like that would lend better toward a serial approach to a symposium: You write the bio for this guy this week, I write the bio for that guy next week, someone else does a third guy the week following, etc. Otherwise, I think most people know who Washington, Jefferson, and Madison are — they were all slave owners. 😀

      • Timothy Lane says:

        Robert Morris would certainly fit in that group, and probably George Mason and Henry Knox as well. Nathaniel Greene, John Jay, and John Hancock might also be in there (and Samuel Adams if you don’t count those who just associate him with beer). These days, I wonder how many even recognize Patrick Henry. We would probably need to know who we were discussing in advance.

  11. Pst4usa says:

    Or we could do a discussion or comparison of which one is worse for America; Feminism or Neo-Nazism, Leftism or Nuclear Winter, or Socialism or Giant planet killing meteor? Maybe those are just to tough to figure out. Just a thought.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Hey, at least the Nazis had cooler uniforms than these guys. Neo-Nazis 1. Feminists 0.

      The nuclear winter (or, better yet, the supposed catastrophe that was supposed to happen when Saddam set his oil wells on fire) would be a good essay for you under the subtopic of science-vs.-pseudo science under the master topic of “The Culture Wars.” I’m not trying to push the culture wars on you guys. But I’m just letting you know that I think it difficult to get seven or eight people to write on the topic of the nuclear winter for several weeks in a row.

      But a lot of these topics that you guys are bringing up are battles in the overall culture wars. Perhaps only Feminism is a big enough topic to do on its own. And yet I wouldn’t want to immerse myself in feminism for more than one essay.

      • Pst4usa says:

        Brad, you know you are just so sensitive and all that, you could spend a long time espousing the wonders of feminism…. No wait that’s someone else…never mind!

      • Timothy Lane says:

        An interesting take on the nuclear winter concept was a very short story by Ben Bova (himself a liberal), “Nuclear Autumn”. In this, the Soviets attacked the US with enough bombs to fall just shy of setting off a nuclear winter. Lacking any sort of ABM system (which would have eliminated the threat), the US was left with little alternative to surrender.

  12. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    So the two main contenders we have are:

    + The Seven Deadly Sins
    + The Culture Wars

    If we do The Seven Deadly Sins, I will take the affirmative just so I don’t go crazy and can have a little fun.

    I think a more useful symposium would be something like “How to live a conservative life in a progressive society.” How does one resist the pull of culture? Should one? What use is there in being an outcast when we are such a social species? What are the various aspects of trying to live an authentic life in a world of plastic dreams?

    I’d feel much more enthusiastic regarding a topic such as this then just endless sifting through the ashes of the Left. Well…we could still do both, obviously, while still forwarding an agenda. Too often what is missing from conservative politics is a clear vision of The Way Things Ought to Be. We usually find ourselves critiquing and playing catch-up to the Left’s agenda which has already been implemented. Screw that. Let’s implement our own. Let’s show people a different and better way to be.

    Or maybe the Progressives are right? Despite their flaws, maybe a no-sharp-corners kumbaya is the best we can hope for. Just “Smiles, everyone, smiles” while we settle safely into our plastic bubbles.

  13. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Here’s another idea: On-the-fly short stories.

    Each contributor takes a turn picking a topic and then we have one week to write (no matter how bad or good) a short story, parable, poem — whatever…a haiku would be fine is that’s what you wanted to do — on that theme. The theme can be fanciful, political, historical, or anything under the sun. And the short treatments can be as fanciful or literal as you want them to be. Someone might choose “George Washington” as a topic and you’d be free to write a faux history of him, including inventing even more eyebrow-raising acts than just cutting down a cherry tree. Or you could write a brief literal history of the man, but the emphasis would be more on creative, fictional writing. But it would be totally up to you.

    This might be good practice and certainly would perhaps help to cultivate new skills — and to show how to make points using stories, which all great political leaders learned to do. There’s a reason Ronald Reagan, not George Will, became president.

    The topics could be anything under the sun. I would think 700 to 1000 words would be fine. But no minimum or maximum. The only requirement is not to be boring, but do be daring. But it would be up to you. You could exercise your pedantic political muscles if you wanted to, thump the bible, try to do your best impression of Charles Krauthammer, or maybe do something a little more full of life and let your hair down. But it would be up to you. Dare you set aside the same-old same-old?

    • Pst4usa says:

      I think that could be very good Brad. No warnings by the author of fact or fiction allowed.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        What I like about it, Pat, is that people can write in whatever style they want. They can approach the subject straight-on and sound like Charles Krauthammer if they want, can write a poem, can write a short (short) story, can be serious, can be irreverent, can do a poem, or whatever. And the topics will at least be a variety. The author can name the topic he or she wants and it’s up to the writer how to approach it. Fact or fiction is up to the writer.

        Yep, no warning about the subject. One week. That’s it. I have a Calvin and Hobbes cartoon blown-up and over my desk that read:

        Hobbes: Do you have an idea for your story yet?

        Calvin: No, I’m waiting for inspiration. . . You just can’t turn on creativity like a faucet. You have to be in the right mood.

        Hobbes: What mood is that?

        Calvin: Last-minute panic.

        • Pst4usa says:

          That’s the one that works for me, but it shows in my writing.

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            I think it all has to do with “the arrow that is not aimed,” or something like that. If you think about something too much, you can screw it up.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          In my last year or so at Purdue, I tended to do my programs that way, waiting until the last minute. This proved especially unfortunate in one course for which the instructor counted off most of the grade if you were late on the grounds that in the real world you had to make your deadline. (As a professional programmer, I would learn how inaccurate that could be.) I ended up dropping that course. (By then, I had enough credits to graduate anyway, and could have done so a semester early. But I was actually making money by then on VA and Social Security, and also had a very low draft number at the tail-end of conscription.)

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            Having a love of programming, and thus of good programmers, my agenda is pure and clean! 😀 I can certainly believe you that being late is no deal-killer in terms of programming. From recent history and personal experience, I believe successful programming is being able to release (in cases of commercial software) beta-ware (rather than alpha-ware) whereby your customers can act as beta-testers who actually pay you for the privilege of doing so.

            A deadline would presuppose a somewhat finished product. And I haven’t seen one of those in years.

            • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

              I believe successful programming is being able to release (in cases of commercial software) beta-ware (rather than alpha-ware) whereby your customers can act as beta-testers who actually pay you for the privilege of doing so.

              I have long thought that any other sector which released the types of faulty products released by the software business would be closed down.

  14. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    If a couple more people would get their essays in, I’ll post this symposium tomorrow and add others if and when they come in.

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