TV Series Review: Salem

by David Norris4/2/17
If you want to see how Marxism and Satanism are kissing cousins, then “Salem” is the show for you.  In all honesty though, I cannot recommend that anyone ever watch this program.  I would especially keep young impressionable minds (we know how much children are fascinated by tales of the occult) as far away from it as possible.  On the plus side, the show did inspire me to finally cancel my Netflix subscription.  I watch way too much television and the time would be better spent catching up on my reading and writing.

I will try to be brief with this review. Here are the highlights:  gore, sadism, murder, decapitations, growls, screams, gurgles, choking, hangings, poisonings, vomiting, blood-letting, and incest.  Did I mention gore?  There is so much more of the same, but I will stop there.

What possessed me to binge watch the first two seasons of this show you might wonder?  Well, it was simply the fact that I could not believe that someone had actually captured the essence of the progressive movement in a fictional, chilling horror series.  This is a case of art, or what goes for art these days, imitating life.

The story is set in Salem, Massachusetts in the late 1600’s around the time of the infamous witch trials.  The series is not a reenactment of those events, but rather a period drama.  There is much story to be told when you throw in a few historical figures, some delicious man-candy, and hordes of hot voluptuous witch flesh.  Add some highly trained British actors (love those classical accents), and a theme song by Marilyn Manson (he also plays a small cameo role as a perverse barber/surgeon), and you have a popular hit television series.

To me the most significant recurring theme of this show is one of intense misandry.  Many of the women of Salem have been so oppressed and mistreated, first by the men of England, and now by the men in the new world, that they have no other choice than to turn to the dark arts in order to scrabble together some power for their own protection from these sadistic puritan males.  Many are the scenes of bitter vitriol, hate, and complaint against how the patriarchy has ruined women’s lives and stolen their power.  So whatever heinous act these witches commit is always justified…as in ‘social justice’.

It is quite remarkable how this show reflects current attitudes and events.  There is great animosity against the upper class, and a movement to “tear it all down”.   As the body count increases and the main characters get deeper and deeper into a mess of mayhem and destruction, Satan arrives on the scene as a little boy born to one of the witches.  Now things get really interesting as the dark lord prepares his conspiracy to bring the end times to the earth.  He has a way of torturing everyone around him, including the loyal witches that brought him to this dimension.  They assumed he would award them with more power and prestige, but they are in for a nasty surprise.  It is much like the reality we live in where the left ‘eat their own’.  Whether the creators of this program know it or not, they have produced a beautifully hideous reveal about the heart of cultural Marxism and how its poisonous ideas can destroy a community, or a nation.

There is one redeeming element to the story which is a surprising thread of remedy that exists for all the horror that is Salem.  Surprising, in that it seems so small, clichéd, and sentimental, when compared to all the dramatic malevolence.  But in the end, what else except Love could conquer all this hate? • (1508 views)

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59 Responses to TV Series Review: Salem

  1. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Thanks for the review. I can now look forward to not watching yet another trashy Netflix series although I’ll keep my subscription for now (if only to keep up with the diminishing, but still okay, “Longmire”).

    Violence for the sake of violence has become this post-Christian culture’s favorite form of entertainment. I read a very good historical fiction work a year or two ago that was set in Rome wherein one of the emperors covered Christians in pitch, put them inside large cages, and used them as torches during gladiatorial or chariot-racing spectacles.

    So it is good and right to draw the line on this stuff. Some will say “It’s only pixels on a screen. It isn’t real.” And thank God it’s not real today. But there is something sick and savage about gaining entertainment value from violence for the sake of violence, when the violence isn’t peripheral but front-and-center and the very point of it all. “Game of Thrones” quickly devolved into that, for example, although I would not argue against those who say that it started out that way from the get-go.

    Speaking of Miss Andry, I just watched the Star Trek body-swap episode featuring Kirk’s female foe, Janice Lester, played wonderfully by Sandra Smith in “Turnabout Intruder.” This script was so ahead of its time it couldn’t be made today. Man-hating is portrayed in this episode as a bad thing. Today it is mostly considered a good thing, or at least an understandable thing given the obvious and prolonged oppression of women for various reasons, mostly fabricated.

    Take a step back in time and watch this episode. It was a forerunner of where we were going even if it couldn’t presage the horrible instance of female-for-the-sake-0f-female in the guise of Kate Mulgrew as Captain Janeway in the atrocious series, “Voyager,” whose five-year mission seemed to be to explore multiculturalism and Leftist feelgoodism. Hell will have me put into a cell where every wall is a floor-to-ceiling flat screen TV showing episodes of this series.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Note that in “Turnabout Intruder”, Kirk in the woman’s body points out that she wanted to be a starship captain but wasn’t qualified for the post. Note too that the Roman gladiatorial games were clearly “violence for the sake of violence”. Up to a point, showing this is reasonable. When does the violence become gratuitous? One would have to check each individual movie.

      Since such violence (other than the 19 hangings, and the pressing to death of Giles Corey) wasn’t a part of the Salem story, the violence in Salem would have to be gratuitous. They key to the story was the acceptance — and, crucially, the eventual rejection — of spectral evidence.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        It is left as ambiguous as to whether or not Star Fleet in the 23rd century allowed female captains. There is a strong suggestion from Lester that they did not. Kirk’s parting words (the very last words in the episode) were “Her life could have been as rich as any woman’s, if only. If only.” If only she had accepted her limitation? The episode is ambiguous on this point. But it is not at all ambiguous on the man-hating and female self-loathing. One of the first things out of Janice Lester’s mouth (after the body swap) is:

        Now you know the indignity of being a woman. For you this agony will soon pass, as it has for me. Quiet. Quiet! Believe me, it’s better to be dead than to live alone in the body of a woman. It’s better to be dead.

        Whoa. That’s probably tattooed on the ID of Gloria Steinem’s brain. In Spock’s trial for mutiny, Kirk (in the body of Lester) says about his previous one-year relationship with her years ago in Starfleet academy:

        But her intense hatred of her own womanhood made life with her impossible.

        It is with this kind of background knowledge that I understand, if not agree with, Bill Clinton’s many infidelities. He’s not Captain Kirk. But still.

        • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

          I watched the same program last night on MeTV.

          And who would believe it? I picked up on the same points you mention! But I could understand Kirk’s initial attraction to Lester.

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            Yes. Lester is a looker but maturely so. We know the string of babes he’s been through (at least some of them) But his greatest love was apparently Ruth (played by Shirley Bonne) which comes up in the episode “Shore Leave.” She’s also gorgeous but in more of a “This would be the mother of my children, not the other countless floozies” sort of way.

            • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

              As I am what one would politely call “mature”, (sigh) I guess it is appropriate that I find mature women attractive.

              I had to look up Bonne. She was a looker as well.

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              You are in the vast minority, Mr. Kung. For better or for worse.

            • Timothy Lane says:

              I think Edith Keeler from “The City of the Edge of Forever” has to be mentioned — and then, at the end, he had to watch her be killed. They handled this very well in the episode.

  2. Timothy Lane says:

    Clearly, the connection of this series to the actual events is minimal. One wonders if the producers were aware that many of the accused were men, at least two of whom were executed (George Burroughs was hanged for witchcraft, and Giles Corey was pressed to death in an unsuccessful effort to force him to make a plea and thus permit the trial to occur).

    An interesting TV movie from the later 1960s, Crowhaven Farm, dealt with the subject much better. Some scenes are knock-offs from Rosemary’s Baby, and it misuses the pressing with stones. (Because trial had a voluntary aspect, there was a torture known as peine forte et dure to force it, and pressing was an example of this. In the movie it’s used to force an actual confession. Even that may have happened on occasion.) But overall it’s pretty good.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      One wonders if the producers were aware that many of the accused were men, at least two of whom were executed (George Burroughs was hanged for witchcraft, and Giles Corey was pressed to death in an unsuccessful effort to force him to make a plea and thus permit the trial to occur).

      There you go again!. Never let the facts get in the way of a good story. I have found this to be the motto of most politicians, reporters, zealots and writers of fiction. I can understand the latter.

  3. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I watched exactly 19 minutes of episode one, season one, today while having lunch. The episode starts with a couple yutes in the stocks. The young man is guilty of seeing her naked and “abusing himself” and the girl, one presumes, is guilty of simply being naked.

    Woo hoo! Down with the sexual Puritans! Down with religion! Down with male domination!

    Okay. I get it. Truth be told, bastardy is such a runaway crisis that a few minutes in the stocks followed by a light whipping might be the thing, although I think branding an “F” on the forehead of the male yute (stands for “*ucktard”?) is a bit much.

    As it turns out from what you can see early-on, there really are satanic forces at work. Mary Sibley and millennial-yute, John Alden, (they all look like cookie-cutter millennials with the same douche-bag beards and slightly effeminate presence) have done the horizontal Mambo. Mary, fearing oppression by the white-male-religious-oligarchy, is taken off to the woods to have an abortion, although it’s quite clear the baby is not lost but has been given to Planned Parenthood (Satan…whatever…same difference) to raise.

    So although the religious fundamentalist kooks are a little harsh, there really are Satanic forces out there.

    My first thought upon seeing this episode and getting the general gist was how every college student should watch this. The only Puritans who exist today are on those campuses regulating people’s social behavior and speech to suffocating standards. But a series such as this likely is a way to diffuse and deflect such realizations and point people’s anger elsewhere. Still, there is a good lesson here for yutes, especially those who’ve gone off to college.

    My second thought was how devoid the characters were of charm and talent. These are the same types of c-list millennial-yutish plain-vanilla cookie-cutter no-talent hacks who typically populate these cookie-cutter series. Seth Gabel as Cotton Mathers shows us all that we need to get a Hollywood agent pronto because you, too, could be an actor. If this guy can be in a series, anyone can. And that’s sort of how the entire cast looks, although it’s nice seeing (briefly…only the first episode) Kevin Tighe of the old “Emergency” TV show playing a friend of the main yute-tagonist.

    I’ve certainly sat through my share of mediocre series, including 3 seasons (often painful…same types of bland actors — other than the bad guys — after they lost Sean Bean) in “Game of Thrones.” You can get caught up in almost anything if you stay with it.

    But the material here is not unique. You’ve seen it all before. And what there is of it is not very well done. I’ll leave it at 19 minutes and call it done.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      I’ve read several accounts of the outbreak, and checked out what they had on wikipedia today. There are many suggested explanations for the hysteria (including panic from Indian attacks on the frontiers; many of the young girls throwing fits were in families that had escaped such attacks). Sexual motives have not come up any of my reading. Most of the accused actually confessed, particularly after it became clear that those who admitted their guilt weren’t executed.

      One also wonders how many modern critics realize that the Salem witches were the last executed for it in America. The key came when they decided to reject the use of spectral evidence. They continued to believe these fits represented actual satanic torments, but finally went along with Increase Mather’s view that the devil could imitate anyone, not merely his worshipppers. (His son, good old Cotton, believed that if you said you were tormented by someone in the image of, say, Rebecca Nurse it meant that Nurse was involved, one way or another.)

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        I think it’s an interesting point that David made that these witches, who have used Satan as a wedge against the oppressive religious patriarchy, have found that Satan isn’t quite the supportive touchy-feely woman-loving ally they had wanted. Is that sort of like getting into bed with Planned Parenthood (if one is a black and/or a woman) and then bemoaning the fact that millions of your kind are being exterminated?

        I think a little light caning is what many yutes in our country need. The problem is, and apparently what the witches are finding out in “Salem,” it all depends on who is holding the whip. The oppressive moral structure of the white male religious zealots has apparently been replaced by . . . well . . . Satan himself. And Satan is bound by no moral code.

        I would watch more of this series if you, Mr. Kung, David, or my brother would watch it with me. Series such as this can be hilarious to mock. But I’m not so sure I want to watch this alone. I can make comments to myself, but it’s not nearly as entertaining as sharing a jab with friends.

        • David N. says:

          Oh Brad…thanks I needed a good laugh…LOL!

          You are quite right to be cautious about not wanting to watch this program alone. If you do, you definitely run the risk of not only making comments to yourself, but you may wind up roaming around the streets, dressed in a robe, and speaking in tongues.

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            If I watch any more of this, David, I have you to blame.

            I’ve certainly watched my share of “guilty pleasure” series, including Dexter, Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, Deadwood, and a few others. Most I burnt out from after a couple of seasons. But it was a guilty pleasure while it lasted.

            If I watch more of this particular “Salem” series it’s because it might provide a splendid chance for humor. And I can always say “The devil made me do it.”

            • Timothy Lane says:

              Well, hey, in this case you can always go watch The Exorcist. The book is actually be a Catholic writer who has complained about the lack of orthodoxy at his alma mater, Georgetown. (Of course, it’s a Jesuit school., like the Peron Pope.)

            • David N. says:

              “If I watch more of this particular “Salem” series it’s because it might provide a splendid chance for humor. And I can always say “The devil made me do it.”

              Another example of how Marxism and Satanism are cousins, in the way they take control…little by little..they push and they pull, and at a certain point one has to say yes of their own accord, willingly giving themselves over, and inviting the darkness inside.

              I just got an e-mail from Netflix…they want me back…I didn’t finish the last four episodes of season 3…don’t I want to at least finish season 3?

        • Timothy Lane says:

          In one of Sharyn McCrumb’s novels, she has a Civil War round table group that watches Civil War movies and then discusses each person’s list of historical errors.

  4. David N. says:

    “The oppressive moral structure of the white male religious zealots has apparently been replaced by . . . well . . . Satan himself. And Satan is bound by no moral code.”

    Bullseye Brad!

    We have at least two generations of our youth that have been indoctrinated to the idea of western oppression and how horrible we are in the Unites States. It is the natural proclivity of the young to rebel against rules and authority, and the Marxists have taken full advantage of this by force-feeding them these doctrines of progressivism.

    The young leftists imagine that they are part of some wonderful Utopian fantasy which is almost a religion in itself. However they are never told about the dark side of Marxist history and all those tens of millions that payed in blood, so they never see the devil coming…until it’s too late.

    Perhaps for the witches and the SJW’s an old saying applies…”better the devil you know”?

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      I believe in Utopia, David. In fact, I was just watching the first of an old two-part episode of “Wonder Woman” on MeTV this weekend. Featured in the plot was Wonder Woman’s secret homeland called “Paradise Island.” And they had a good, long shot of a couple dozen scantily-clad fellow-Amazonian females doing various exercises and calisthenics out in the open sun on cool lawns of emerald green grass. But who’s looking at the grass? And Morticia Addams was their queen (mother of Diana and her little sister in one of her very first roles, if not the first, Debra Winger). Forget Fantasy Island. Send me to Paradise Island where I can throw Frisbees all day with this fair tribe of females who are in very good shape indeed.

      So, yes, paradise (Utopia) is certainly possible. But note that it has to be all-female because as soon as you add the sexual element, well…there goes paradise, as Dr. McCoy famously said in “The Apple” when Akuta tells Bones:

      Akuta: Ahh… Yes. The holding. The touching. Vaal has forbidden this.
      Dr. McCoy: Well, there goes paradise.

      So I’ll indeed bring my Frisbee. You can’t have everything in this life. But I could sure pull up a lawn chair and watch those girls work out.

      So what’s this got to do with witches? I’m not sure. But there’s probably a connection.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        Well, if Carolyn Jones (aka Morticia Adams, and for that matter Marsha Queen of Diamonds from the old Batman show) is involved, can witchcraft really be included? Particularly if you look at the original Charles Addams cartoons (and I have a complete set).

      • David N. says:

        Morticia Addams?!?!

        Wherever Carolyn Jones goes, there go I…”cada mia!”

  5. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Speaking of mediocre entertainment on Netflix (although I would suppose that “Salem” is at least binge-watchable), I watched an hour and a quarter of The Discovery last night. It stars Robert Redford as a scientist who has somehow objectively proven that there is life after death.

    This causes a rash of suicides worldwide as people look to upgrade their existence.

    Although this 110 minute movie starts out with promise, it devolves into little more than the kind of superficial philosophy and dialogue one would find in a class of 13-year-olds (or what used to pass for 13-year-olds). And it’s not that such speculation and dialogue wasn’t interesting in your early teens. But coming out of the mouths of adult actors, you just wonder if there are any grownups anymore.

    A much better look at the phenomenon of the brain, technology, and the afterlife is in the movie, Brainstorm, with Christopher Walken, Natalie Wood, Louise Fletcher, and Cliff Robertson.

    Eventually I put “The Discovery” on as background music as I read a book. The first hour and a quarter had established that Redford had discovered an afterlife, people were killing themselves in droves to reach it, and his skeptical son (whose on-his-deathbed images inspired his father’s work) believes that all that Redford’s hi-tech has done is access people’s memories.

    I wish I could say that this was at least full of annoying liberal/atheist philosophy, it would then at least have some entertainment value. It could be (as other reviewers have noted) that the whole point of the film is to establish a love story between Redford’s skeptical son and the snarky girl he saved from suicide. Jason Segel is sympathetic and believable as Redford’s skeptical son, but Rooney Mara (as the love interest, Isla) plays a horribly stereotypical character…unless this really is where all yute are going these days.

    And although there are liberal/progressive influences obviously in the movie (if only because of its mediocrity), it sits more in the background as a dull pain.

    I’ll watch this to the end (most likely having it on in the background to notice the resolution of the only point of interest…did Redford indeed discover the afterlife?) Much like fast-forwarding a naughty movie for the sex scenes, that’s all this one is good for now. The only thing that is of interest is whether Redford has tapped into the afterlife or merely invented a machine to tap memories.

    The high-school-level (if that) dialogue and philosophy just becomes a blur. Nothing to see here. And you might be asking yourself, this movie must present some pretty good evidence in favor of the afterlife if people are offing themselves all over the globe. Well, no. There is no demonstration of this whatsoever (at least so far). All we hear are assurances from Redford that it’s been proven without a doubt. Is this more “settled science” of the “climate change” variety? Well, considering that there are religious (Church of Global Warming) idiots all over who are willing to spend trillions on this fraud science, perhaps it’s no stretch of the imagination that people all over the world would kill themselves on the mere word of one scientist.

    And had this movie been a commentary on just this, perhaps they would have had something. But it’s just a mash of artless dialogue and unrealized plot points. It’s not a movie so much as it is the exposure of film (or videotape). More evidence of an artless society. At least the crude and violent one (if not also man-hating) of “Salem” provides some entertainment value.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Glutton for punishment that I am, I watched the end of “The Discovery” last night. For a moment there, Jason Segel (as Robert Redford’s skeptic son) almost pulls this picture above mediocrity. He’s the best actor in it, and they finally feed him some good lines (including the idea that perhaps this life’s challenges need to be met before casting it off in hopes of something better).

      But in the end, it’s literally nothing new. It wasn’t memories that Redford’s machine was recording, as his skeptical son had supposed. (And Redford had assumed he had captured the afterlife.) What they are seeing on their fancy machine is alternative realities. To cut to the chase, basically Jason Segel is caught in a Groundhog Day situation where he is repeating events over and over until they come out right. Yawn. But I do give credit to Segel for his performance which is the only one of merit.

  6. David N. says:

    Brad, this is another example of why I gave up my Netflix subscription. When I saw a preview for “Discovery”, and saw that it had as a plot point, people committing suicide, my stomach turned.

    There is already a suicide epidemic in our culture, and they want me to watch a program that normalizes suicide even more, as well as portrays it as a good thing because it will return me to my deceased loved ones sooner?

    I keep hearing a mentor from years back, shaking his head as he looked around our troubled society saying, “the herd is sick David, the herd is sick”

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      What I suspect this was, David, was someone thinking they were doing something extremely clever. But I can guaran-damn-tee you that you, I, Timothy, Mr. Kung and some others could have a richer conversation about death, suicide, and the afterlife in the burps between our sips of diet soda. This movie wasn’t pseudo-intellectual, per se. It was just more of the “bland” dressed up to look like more than it was….typical of blockbuster movies these days which rely on often quite good special effects to substitute for story.

      I would have no problem with a movie exploring the subject of suicide. But this one does it in the most superficial way. We don’t see hordes of the terminally ill making this decisions. We (consistent with a Progressive outlook) see perfectly healthy people simply choosing to “level up” because, I guess, their teenage (whether they are teenagers or adults) angst is just too much for them to deal with.

      So, yeah, there’s a lot of Snowflakeville presented in this. But it’s not quite bad enough to be good. The general point of interest — whether Redford has indeed found proof of the afterlife — is a mere afterthought as we’re presented with what is little more than filler, including some kind of cultish “home for the destitute” that Redford runs in his huge mansion of a home.

      Nowhere (yet…like I said, I still have a little bit to go) is there a discussion about perhaps fulfilling our purpose here and then moving on, if that be our destiny. But as an example of the kind of low-level and chronic vapid sense of underdeveloped taste coming out of Progressive culture, this movie should perhaps be burnt onto a gold disc and sent out with the next Voyager spacecraft.

      • David N. says:

        Does it have to be diet soda? Could I have iced tea?

      • David N. says:

        “Nowhere (yet…like I said, I still have a little bit to go) is there a discussion about perhaps fulfilling our purpose here and then moving on, if that be our destiny.”

        Fulfilling our purpose here on earth first, is along the lines I was thinking Brad. That would be a great discussion to have. What do the great religious traditions have to say about whether or not suicide is acceptable?

        Even when life is challenging and tough, isn’t there a moral responsibility to continue on and finish the game out? What if someone is suffering from a terminal disease, do they have a right to make an end of life decision? What if there is re-incarnation, or recurrence, would committing suicide negatively impact our next time around?

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          Fulfilling a purpose is a wholly different mindset than the Darwinian one. The former implies duties and responsibilities. The latter is basically a mindset for slackers, moochers, and hedonists.

          I watched the rest of episode one and a bit of episode two of “Salem.” I finally turned it off because it’s just too dark for my taste. I don’t see any redeeming value in this series even for just entertainment value. But having watched and liked the very crude and violent “Deadwood,” I’m not one to talk. But I’ve loved Ian McShane since “Lovejoy.” His character in “Deadwood” was a big draw for me. He is an under-rated and under-used actor.

          If I could be as succinct as possible regarding the question of purpose, I would answer that we find ourselves in an existence that offers a weird and wild combination of open-ended contingency (chance) combined with definite hard-wired structured (objectivity).

          Note that the word “holy” has “making whole” as a root or synonym. What we often find are not people acknowledging both elements and trying to harmonize them (although many do). What we find are people taking the extreme of one or the other. One example is the strict determinism of everything being “Allah’s Will.” The other is the rampant materialism/nihilism that could be said to be the driving force of today’s culture where consumerism/entertainment is our recurring Sacrament.

          • David N. says:

            “…we find ourselves in an existence that offers a weird and wild combination of open-ended contingency (chance) combined with definite hard-wired structured (objectivity).”

            Your quote Brad reminded me of a recent Ted x Toronto video that I saw. Have you ever heard Jordan Peterson speak before?

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WOgSqHtTtHY&t=471s

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              I watched that clip, David. Not a lot going on in that clip but I understand it’s just a preview.

              One of the realities of this existence is that we form our own fetters. We humans tend to build (and be attracted to) our own earthly purgatories. We are much like George Costanza in Seinfeld who was most distressed when things were going well for him.

              And I believe this is all about control (even if it is just trying to apply control on the limits of the bad stuff by creating our own boundaries in it). And control is important because without a healthy dose of it, we’re eaten by the wolves. Faith is a necessary ingredient (faith…not Jesus Magic) if only as a way to give up being obsessed with control. And “Jesus Magic” (using religion as but a talisman for an attempt at metaphysical control) can just make people crazier.

              To a large degree, we write the scripts of our own lives. Not completely. Not without limits. And it’s hard to know where the boundaries are. But there are boundaries and without acknowledging them we go cuckoo, as we see the pink mafia and others doing as they strive for a human life without limits. And they, too, are creating their own hell.

              There are limits and objective things and standards. But life is also very open-ended, contingent, and free. Although no one can say when and how a Creator manipulates and interacts with his creation, I’m generally at odds with the people who see (which is different from “seek”) god’s will in all happenings. This, in my opinion, is a recipe for going crazy. At some point we have to come to terms with the large element of chance in our lives. Bad things happen all the time to good people. And it’s not necessarily god testing us. It’s just the way things are.

              That’s not to say that these built-in trials and tribulations can’t ennoble us by at least knocking us off our Snowflake. And perhaps this is part of the built-in Grand Plan. But as to the specifics, those seem very random.

              In this highly materially-successful culture, we’ve been able to abandon suffering as a redemptive thing, let alone the wisdom of limits and the acknowledgment of much of objective reality. There are enough easy pleasures, distractions, and entertainment in our lives (lost in fantasy, we are) that we can live under a different banner. Restrictions are passé. Suffering is always to be avoided (and is likely someone else’s fault). The point of life is that there is no point but never-ending distractions and “stuff.”

              So…really…I’ve had it up to my ears with religion because most of the purveyors are simply offering the attraction of more “stuff.” Not all are as blatant as the “prosperity gospel” but I think 95% of churches (and 100% of synagogues) are just another avenue for human beings to lather more beneficial “stuff” onto their lives.

              What do we do with our freedom today? What are we to think about those objective elements of reality, including not just the physics but the ideas and principles? Well, this conversation is likely beyond all but a few monks behind the enclosing walls of a monastery. That is, many of the historically important questions have little relevance to today’s Homo Economicus. And it’s not that material progress is bad. It’s that we measure progress so narrowly and blindly these days.

              • David N. says:

                Brad I’m often impressed by the amount of time and thought you give to your responses, and in this case it is no different.

                For now though I would just like to take the opportunity to reiterate my appreciation for you and for the “Stubborn Things” site; a great place to submit ones ideas to, led by a great editor-in-chief, whose focus, good humor, and intelligence keeps the ship aright and moving forward.

                Maybe I should refer to you as Captain from now on? 🙂

  7. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    The Russians have nothing on the typical spammers, schemers, and obnoxious marketeers who infest the internet. I get all kinds of unsolicited automated submissions for StubbornThings.

    Well, this one is worth passing along because a book on the Salem witch trials is available for free through April 8: A Witch in the Family: The Salem Witch Trials Re-examined in Light of New Evidence.

    There are no reviews on this, so it might be a case of getting what you pay for. I suspect this book is junk, but there’s that thing about not judging by the cover, etc.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      In considering the matter of actually verifying the supposed proof of an afterlife, one must remember that liberals no longer rely on (and may even be unaware of) the scientific method. As befits adherents of a philosophy based on letting elite “experts” run everything, they depend on the argument from authority — the scientists say so, and that’s that. (We also see this on the claim that Russia’s pro-Trump intervention must be true because “all 17 intelligence agencies” say so. In reality, that means some Obama hacks believe it, and the other Obama hacks go along with it.)

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Of course, I’m sure you’d agree that they rely on the argument-by-authority from their authorities only.

        Speaking about metaphysics requires sheer honesty, openness, adroit reflection, some ability of self-knowledge and criticism, integrity, and the willingness to find probable (if not always definite) truths. “It is the will of Allah” is not a metaphysical argument. It is a Nazi-like argument because there is no reasoning with that kind of argument-by-authority.

        Perhaps the knowledgable Christians here will site the many passages and traditions whereby it is not at all sacrilegious to question things. We are meant to be thinking and feeling human beings with a God-given potential to fill, not robots.

        So…properly understood, it’s the atheists, Marxists, and Islamist who have become an enemy to any kind of reasonable and adroit thinking regarding so many topics under the sun, including the afterlife. We see that in the issue of global warming, Darwinism, Israel-vs.-Palestine, or name your poison.

        We probably shouldn’t burn or hang people who are suspected of being witches. But we should still be aware that there are people who are up to no good. We have let far too many bad people in our society hide under The Big Three Licenses To Do Whatever The Hell You Want:

        + The Salem Witch Trials

        + The Persecution of Galileo

        + Joseph McCarthy

  8. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Brad I’m often impressed by the amount of time and thought you give to your responses, and in this case it is no different.

    There’s very nice of you to say, David. I just figure, on average, that I make most people’s eyes glaze over when talking about this stuff. I could be the “kook.” After all, I’m well aware that my perspective is not a well trodden one.

    I do think the Christian perspective is the best one going. As one snarky philosopher famously said: “Important, if true.” But how many articulate it beyond spouting a few bible versus or saying “Be-LEEVE in Geezuz!”? That’s why I think parts of the long-disparaged (by Protestants) Catholic tradition is so rich and helpful. They have some good stuff, richer beyond the “Dick and Jane” stuff that many people remain stuck in.

    Thanks for the compliments on the site. That’s nice to hear. But I want this site also to be a freeform sandbox for those who have something to say and are willing to put more time into it than a Tweet or typical Facebook complaint.

    And as for title, since that court ruling upholding sexual theatricism (is that a word?), just call me “Loretta.” You know…from that Stan/Loretta Monty Python skit from “Life of Brian.”

    And we so need to keep our sense of humor. The world out there as I see it is socially insane. A good laugh is the best defense.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Needless to say, I caught the “Loretta” reference. LIfe of Brian is easily my favorite Monty Python offering. But I have a hard time remembering which is the People’s Front of Judea and which is the Judean People’s Front.

      When I was in a Catholic school in Greece, we all had to attend the Catechism class, though we non-Catholics didn’t have to participate. But they had some interesting discussions, given that we’re talking 4th and 5th grades. Isaac Asimov once complained that the story of the Good Samaritan has suffered from non-translation — people have no idea of how the Samaritans and Jews got along (i.e., very badly). But this was touched on in the Catechism class. (I also saw a version of this in the TV series of Planet of the Apes, and there’s also a nice take on the Jewish/Samaritan split in Life of Brian.)

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        It never even entered my mind, Giant Chinese Panda, that you didn’t “get” the reference. My only thought was in slowing down and spelling it out because I hate that type of “insiders” club with its own secret-handshake lingo. We mean to be totally transparent here…except, of course, when I’m wearing Loretta’s women’s underwear.

        But look back at that great bit from Monty Python and ask yourself if anyone would do that today. Not likely, which is why there is no Monty Python (or their equivalent) anymore. The Left ruins all forms of art.

        I re-read that Good Samaritan passage a couple weeks ago and I still don’t really have a clue about it. In fact, much of the language of the bible goes right over my head. But I “get,” from reading past exegeses, that the Samaritans were a line that any good Jew did not cross, thus we see that Jesus was not talking about a Super-Sized from of Judaism but something completely universal.

        At least that’s what I understand about it. This story of the Good Samaritan was also no small rebuke of Hinduism and its idea of classes including “untouchables.” (We call them “Occupy Wall Streeters” because of the urine stains and smell, but that’s another story.)

        • Timothy Lane says:

          Note that they not only use a transgender for humor, but even present the logical argument as to why Stan called Loretta (“a confused revolutionary” in the cast of characters) can’t have a child (“Don’t you oppress me” — how prescient). At the time this wasn’t even all that significant — just as the famous scene in Casablanca in which Renault is so “shocked” to learn that Rick’s cafe has gambling became a lot more significant for viewers after Watergate.

  9. Steve Lancaster says:

    OK, I watched the first season and indeed it mostly crap, but its crap in the same manner as True Blood on HBO, only without the graphic sex, well its commercial TV after all. It lacks the campieness of True Blood, so it misses on that point. As for the Puritans, well we must remember that they went on to transcendentalism and then Unitarianism, belief in one G-d at most.

    Mind numbing, and not much entertainment.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Speaking amongst just us guys here, one of the factors that can make this kind of “mostly crap” watchable is the titty factor (although it couldn’t save “The Tudors” for me). Still, I think True Blood had some very good characters (Bill, Jason Stackhouse, Arlene, Eric Northman, and Pam).

      I’m sure if I stayed with “Salem” I could get involved in the plot and characters. But it’s just so uber-serious and dark. True Blood had a fair amount of campy good humor to balance the blood (as you noted). “Salem” is just a downer all the way from what I can see.

      Mind numbing indeed.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      well we must remember that they went on to transcendentalism and then Unitarianism, belief in one G-d at most.

      And then a large percentage of them went on to believe in nothing and everything. I also seem to recall that many have gone on to become a cornerstone of the left in the USA.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        My dictionary defines Transcendentalism as:

        1 (Transcendentalism) an idealistic philosophical and social movement that developed in New England around 1836 in reaction to rationalism. Influenced by romanticism, Platonism, and Kantian philosophy, it taught that divinity pervades all nature and humanity, and its members held progressive views on feminism and communal living. Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau were central figures.

        Perhaps there is no more clear of a divide between orthodox Christianity and Kumbaya Christianity than the lack of a separation between the created and the creator — or at least a proper respect and understanding of both. God may have given the electron a nature. And in some way, given its provenance, an electron is truly divine. And it is surely part of the balance to see this deeply into all things.

        But the other side of the balance is that a crab might pinch your finger, a dog might bite your bottom, and a wolf may eat your intestines if you’re not careful. To see all of nature as a means to fulfill a self-satisfying narcissistic buzz of feel-goodism is to use God like a narcotic.

        Can a mere human be holy (integrate the whole)? Can he blend these two things into a thoughtful alchemy of living, loving, and spirituality? Can he see the divine source of all things, and yet understand that these things somewhat take on a life of their own in this drama we call life? Can he hold both levels of understanding in creative tension?

        Generally, no. So we get the baloney of various “isms” and generally dumb boutique philosophies.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          As I recall, Thoreau was able to live in the cabin at Walden Pond because someone (Emerson, probably) paid all his expenses.

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            As a Catholic friend told me once, and I roughly paraphrase, monasteries and convents are about the only place where communism works productively and friendly. But the mistake modern monks and nuns are making is to forget that their environs are artificial in the sense that monetarily they depend upon a lot of financial support and “free stuff” from others.

            This is not wrong, per se, no more than being a patron of a great artist is wrong (who otherwise might not be able to support himself and his craft). But at the beginning of every chapter of Walden Pond, Henry perhaps should have wrote, “Thanks to the kind support of Emerson in financing my being a glorified bum, I’m able to find the leisure to pen these thoughts.”

            According to Wiki, Ralph Waldo Emerson owned the woods where Hank built his cabin where he could engage in his somewhat thick and pretentious narrative:

            I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms

            It can be very refreshing to get out into nature. Nature is full of beauty and wonders. And it has the main advantage of not being chock full of people. For some people, being away from the natural low-level insanity of people is a must. And I cannot blame Thoreau any more than I can blame St. Francis for following this urge or calling.

            But Walden Pond seems a bit self-indulgent. I realize it’s a fine line between deep poetic and philosophical insights and just navel gazing. But I do think there is that distinction.

            I’ve tried to read Walden Pond a couple times and just couldn’t get through it. One of the hard lessons for any writer is to be expressive in a way the includes and enriches the reader. I think I fail this every day. But I think it’s a good goal to have as a backdrop.

            That said, I like the thought of StubbornThings being an online monastery of sorts. Not touchy-feely to the point of blandness. But a different kind of online presence, hopeful one where the normal Facebook-like social insanity is distilled out of it.

            All of this is extremely subjective, of course. But if Walden Pond has any purpose at all it is as a buttress against blind conformity. If there is fake news there is surely fake society as well.

            • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

              I had to read Waldon and Waldon II in college. As you might imagine, I disliked both.

              Thoreau sounds like another naive’ Rousseau acolyte. Back to nature, blah, blah, blah.

              Getting back to nature is wonderful as long as one has a comfortable abode to return to.

              I tend to agree with Hobbes’ view of nature which is expressed in an oblique manner in his description of life.

        • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

          monasteries and convents are about the only place where communism works productively and friendly

          Perhaps that is because they are finite communities which were formed and are bound by an almost complete commonality of belief and purpose, which overrides all other thought, i.e. everyone thinks alike.

          This is not the case in society as a whole, which is probably the greatest reason communism does not and cannot ever work. There is too much diversity of thought and interest, which is much more powerful than the “diversity” which the Left embraces.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            One reason collective economics doesn’t work is that people will work as little as they have to if they’re not being paid for work (or forced to work — and slaves were only as productive as they had to be). This can be avoided, to some extent, in religious communes due to the moral strictures involved. But in time, they will need to rely on either pay — or force.

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              I think one thing about religious communities as well is that there are very specific rules regarding what is expected of you (depending upon the Order). You certainly wouldn’t volunteer to be a Kindergartener if you didn’t like finger-painting. And you’d better love hard work if you belong to a Christian religious order.

              I think the various Orders have been muddled quite a bit. But it used to be a strict affair. The only thing in question was how little free time you might have after your obligations were met. It’s a highly regimented life, for the most part.

              Isn’t a good parent’s life much like that as well? Obviously a monk or nun would find it impossible to devote his or her time to the Order if he or she had children to attend to. Children regiment one’s life. Work regiments one’s life. These things give value and purpose to life even if they are not perfect and are not utopia.

              Few seem to understand that it isn’t “nice” to make welfare dependents of people. It destroys them as people, although it fits into the materialist mindset (as long as people have “stuff” they are happy and social justice has been done). And that is likely (or certainly used to be) one of the first filters if you wanted to be a monk or nun. If you were simply trying to escape the world…nope. That’s not a good reason to join. It’s not a life of escape and leisure. (That’s what many government jobs are for, by the way.)

              And as you note, the organizing effect of moral strictures goes a long way. For example, imagine how quickly all government schools could be improved if there were basic good moral strictures enforced (instead of the bad Cultural Marxist or feminist strictures that are proliferating now).

              But that battle has been lost. Public schools are now playtime for both students and teachers. And society as a whole is organized around the idea of entertainment and consumerism. It is what it is. And only a self-conscious effort to do otherwise can allow one to escape from this, thus there is a monastic type of vibe to this place.

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            Commonality of belief, for sure, Mr. Kung. And there’s no doubt that this homogeneity smooths over many things. But the idealist in me says that a homogeneous society of beliefs (ISIS, for example) is no guarantee of a productive *and* friendly community. (Brother Brad always chooses his words with care.)

            A traditional Christian community based upon work, contemplation, obedience to good authority (not the choice of words again) can produce a very fine thing, even if it’s not for everyone. “What virtues has one organized around?” is always paramount in Brother Brad’s brain as I’m sure it is in Brother Kung’s brain as well.

            1 Timothy 2 StubbornThings forces me to say, “To be fair,” there is likely a whole lot of diversity in monastic communities as well. (Have y’all watched the Cadfael series yet?) Whether inside a monastic community or outside in the larger world, I think if the principles and virtues are primarily that of a Christian, Western man, there’s little need to make a specific value of “diversity”….or see it as a problem. Moses had a black wife and all that. Getting along together has always been a problem for mankind, but the desire to transcend that has always been there as well. (And apparently the idea of a black wife didn’t sit well with Aaron and Miriam.)

            Rarely examined specifically outside think-tanks such as this, one of the primary problems of creating a good civilization is how people of various interests can live together without the suffocation of a violent and totalitarian conformist government power. The Christian/Western answer has always been that man must rule himself first. The answer we have gaining ascendence today is that the government will tell us to the nth degree what to think, how to act, etc….all in the name of a creepy Orwellian “diversity,” of course.

            Speaking of something else you likely won’t see on TV, I was watching an old episode from season 5 of Emergency this morning. Remember, this is set in Los Angeles County, so you’re on the cutting edge of many social experiments. Long story short, Roy and Johnny are put in charge of a female paramedic trainee. And she’s an obvious ball-buster. Finally, after hearing her complain about this and that out of one side of her mouth, while out of the other saying “I want no special treatment because I’m a woman,” John says, “Well, I’ll forget that you’re a woman if you will.”

            I don’t see a line like that being written these days, for it would be considered sexist, for a woman has a right to always be a victim and to suspect men of trying to keep her down. But, really, what a great line from John Gage. He’d likely be fired for that now.

            • Timothy Lane says:

              In addition to Ellis Peters’s Cadfael series, I will also mention Margaret Frazer’s Dame Frevisse series — involving a crime-solving nun in the mid-15th series. There are also the more contemporary Sister Ursula stories of Anthony Boucher. (In one of them, the excellent novel Rocket to the Morgue, she comes across a rich woman eager to be a “bride of Christ”, and disabuses her of the notion by simply telling her what the work of her convent is.)

            • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

              But the idealist in me says that a homogeneous society of beliefs (ISIS, for example) is no guarantee of a productive *and* friendly community. (Brother Brad always chooses his words with care.)

              Brother Brad, perhaps I should have been more specific. I was only commenting on why Christian monasteries work.

              Commonality of belief does not necessarily produce good things. But when a group of people withdraw from the world and try to live according to Christian precepts, which they all agree on, I think the odds for cooperation and peace are somewhat better than a society based around the commonality of belief such as that of ISIS or Imperial Japan. Japan had plenty of cooperation amongst the Japanese, but as to peace?

              I cannot comment on Buddhist monasteries as I do not know enough about them. Unlike Christian monasteries, many Buddhist monasteries have a lot of young people joining them as a sort of right-of-passage. They stay for a few months and then get on with their lives.

              • Timothy Lane says:

                I believe many Israeli kibbutzim worked well for a while, though it helped that they got government subsidies of some sort. This may have made up for the high expenses of defense against Palestinian attack. In any case, many fared poorly even with this help. And Judaism obviously has many similarities to its offshoot, Christianity.

              • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

                Buddism, like much of Catholicism and Protestantism, is basically just liberalism with some incense thrown in. My own opinionated view is that it is, today, ideologically bankrupt.

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