Flashback Friday: Veterans’ Day 2018, Commemoration of the Great War, and Poppies

It is Veterans Day here in the United States, what was once called Armistice Day, the day the cease-fire went into effect, effectively ending the First World War—the “Great War,” as it was then known.  The men that day never dreamed there’d be a Second World War, but in hindsight, it’s easy to see how the cease-fire and the subsequent Treaty of Versailles of 1919 were, indeed, mere stopgaps.  It was a cease-fire of twenty years, not a lasting peace, and the two great, terrible wars of the twentieth century are, perhaps, best understood as being one larger conflict, a la the Hundred Years’ War between France and England.

But I digress.  Every Veterans Day—which I stylized with a plural possessive apostrophe until finally looking it up this year and realizing my error—I repost this short talk I gave in 2018.  At the time, I was involved actively in the Florence County (South Carolina) Republican Party, and would give a brief Historical Moment talk at the start of each meeting.  This speech—from the 12 November 2018 meeting, one of my last with the organization—is the one of which I am most proud, and the one I feel most privileged to have given.

With that, here is “Veterans’ Day 2018, Commemoration of the Great War, and Poppies“:

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TBT: Flashback Friday: Opening Night

Last night my students had their big Spring Concert, and I am hoping it went well.  I’m writing this post a day before the concert, but barring any wardrobe malfunctions or massive technical failures, it probably went well.  My students are well-rehearsed and know the songs they’re doing, so I think we’re in good shape.

Tonight the Drama students open their two-night run of Twelve Angry Jurors (Twelve Angry Men originally, but we have a mixed male-female cast).  A couple of students had to back out last-minute due to illness, family emergencies, etc., so I have to step in as Juror Ten, the bigoted one—gulp!  Fortunately, I’m not expected to memorize my lines, but I’m going to try to conceal my script in a legal pad so it’s not quite so obvious that I’m reading directly from the script.

Acting is very difficult.  This week’s TBT post looks back to when I played the lead in a play one of my former students wrote, Catching Icarus.  It was easily one of the most difficult and rewarding things I’ve ever done—and I’ve steadfastly avoided acting ever since.

I am somewhat mercenary in my artistic habits; acting is too much of a time (and mental) commitment relative to the gains (both artistic and financial).  I can slap together a good concert in a fraction of the time it takes to write, rehearse, direct, and stage a play.  And if a couple of kids can’t play on a concert, it doesn’t derail (typically) the entire event.

In other words, for me, acting is too much investment for too little return.

That said, it’s also very fun when everything clicks, and I see the appeal for those who are really into drama.

With that, here is “Flashback Friday: Opening Night“:

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Flashback Friday: Opening Night

The concert was last night and, presumably, it went well.  I’m actually writing this post two days before the concert, so you’ll have to wait until Saturday for a full rundown.

Due to my illness earlier in the week and the hectic nature of the Fine Arts Festival, I’m throwing back to another old post this Friday.  Our High School Drama students will give their performance of their own adaptation of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.  The Drama teacher asked me to play the part of Leonato, but once I fell ill, I did something I rarely do—I backed out.  Fortunately, he is a massive Shakespeare buff, so I think he is covering the part… I hope!

Anyway, it seemed like a good time to look back to opening night of my own brief theatrical career, playing “Brett” in Catching Icarus, a two-act play a former student wrote.  The details are below in the original post, but I will add that it was extremely challenging—and rewarding.  It’s also something I have little desire to do again, as the amount of mental and emotional energy acting demands is too much.

With that, here is January 2020’s “Opening Night“:

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Flashback Friday: Christmas and its Symbols

It’s Christmas!  Another magical day to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

2020 was a tough year, but Christ is mightier than The Virus.  Thank God—literally!—for sending His Son.

Have a wonderful, safe, loving Christmas Day.  God Bless all of your for your support and generosity, and for being such amazing readers.

Here’s 25 December 2019’s “Christmas and its Symbols“:

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Flashback Friday: Brack Friday Bunduru: Workers Need a Break

I’m embracing the lazy logic of Thanksgiving Break with more throwback posts than usual this week.  After Christmas Break, this little Thanksgiving reprieve is my favorite short break of the year.  It combines family, fun, and food, with enough time to enjoy all three.

Last year when I wrote “Brack Friday Bunduru: Workers Need a Break,” I was growing increasingly burned out and fatigued from my job and my various obligations.  Between work, music lessons, and various ensembles, I wasn’t getting home most nights until 9 or even 10 PM.  That clearly showed up in my argument here for giving workers the day of Thanksgiving—and at least Christmas Eve and Christmas Day—off from their toils.

That said, I still believe it.  What’s humorous to me, in re-reading this post after a year of lockdowns and shutdowns, is that my call for “[s]hutting down everything but essential services… would be an admirable goal for at least Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, as well as Thanksgiving” came to pass—with deleterious effect—for not three measly days but for months on end.  That’s certainly not what I had in mind, but I think workers have had all the breaks they can stand this past year.

Still, in normal times, having a couple of days for Christmas and a day or two for Thanksgiving isn’t going to tank the global economy.  Workers could use the break, and the reminder that all that hard work is in service to something greater:  family, faith, and God.

I love hard work—indeed, I think it’s one of the keys to happiness and purpose, particularly for men—but there’s hard work, and there’s exhausting yourself for a pittance.  Let’s reward the former with some downtime.

With that, here is “Brack Friday Bunduru: Workers Need a Break“:

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Flashback Friday: The Desperate Search for Meaning

Seeing as yesterday was Halloween, I skipped the usual TBT feature to write about one of my favorite holidays.  Never one to waste effort, though, I simply cannot pass up the opportunity to copy-paste old material.  Even I need a break once a week.

So it is that we come to our first ever “Flashback Friday.”  Double-F won’t be a regular feature, but for those times when Thursdays warrant a fresh post, I’ll have this dubious quasi-featurette to assure I don’t have to spend too much time blogging at the end of a long week (seriously, knowing that Thursday’s post is an “easy” one usually helps, as Wednesdays are usually killer for me).

Being the Halloween season, I thought it would be worth looking back at one of the first posts in a currently four-part series (I, II, III, and IV), “The Desperate Search for Meaning.”  The series explores the various futile ways in which Westerners today attempt to find meaning in life without Christ, as well as the shockingly neo-pagan ideas that are regaining ground in our spiritually lost and fallen world.

The original post looked at a New Age fraud, Audrey Kitching, and the gullible, desperate women who literally slaved to help this snake-oil saleswoman sell cheap Chinese crap (if I ever try to sell any merchandise through this site, I promise I will not pitch Portly Politico: The Mug as having curative properties—it’ll just be a crummy mug with the blog’s name on it).  It’s a heartbreaking commentary on people’s willingness to ruin their lives just for the fleeting sensation of being a part of something bigger than themselves—filling their God-hole with Internet detritus instead of Christ.

So, without further soul-searching, here is “The Desperate Search for Meaning“:

Despite this post’s lofty title, the focus is somewhat narrow.  Many Christians and other people of faith believe there is an innate desire in all humans to believe in something higher than themselves—God.  I’ve heard this desire inelegantly (but accurately) described as a “God-hole,” a hole that cannot be filled with anything other than the Divine.

The West today is awash in cynicism and nihilism, and an aggressive form of anti-religious sentiment.  Just witness the amusing, angry lengths to which strident Internet atheists will go to denounce religious (almost always specifically Christian) beliefs.  It’s pedantic to write, but it bears repeating:  atheists ironically fill their “God-hole” with the religion of hating and/or denying God’s Existence.

The net effect of this existential nihilism is manifest in abundant ways:  high suicide rates, debased morality and behavior, the destruction of the family, and spiritual emptiness and confusion.  We overthrew God—or at least, we tried to remove Him from our lives—but the void, the “God-hole,” within us remains.

Nature abhors a vacuum, so something is going to fill that hole.  It was with interest, then, that I read this piece from The Daily Dot that I stumbled upon while mindlessly scrolling through Facebook one day.  The piece is about a “healer” and lifestyle blogger named Audrey Kitching, who by all accounts is a duplicitous fraud:  she resells cheap Chinese jewelry at a huge markup, billing them as “energy crystals” and the like, and her gullible followers/victims eagerly lap it up.

What caught my attention, though, was not that a woman was trading on her looks and Instagram filters to build an online business, but rather the women who sacrificed their lives and good sense to someone who is, essentially, a bubblegum-haired freak with a penchant for codependent, psychologically abusive relationships.  Kitching convinced one of her employees to sever all ties with her family for a full year, and essentially used the poor, misguided woman as slave labor.

Men seem to succumb to the supposed “logic” of atheism, priding themselves on their assumed intellectual superiority for refusing to believe in anything beyond themselves.  Women, on the other hand, love quasi-spiritual garbage like Kitching’s baubles (it’s humorous reading how allegedly “legitimate” healers are opposed to Kitching for diminishing their corner on the medium/spiritualist market—I guess she’s not in their Scammers Guild).

Kitchings and her ilk—palm readers, dime-store oracles, astrologers, “good witches,” etc.—offer spirituality on the cheap:  all the “feel-good” stuff about loving other people and being part of the Universe, without any of the obligations—forming a family, living chastely and soberly, etc.  In the absence of strong men and strong institutions—namely the Church—and in an age of #MeToo feminism and “you go grrrrrl”-ism, women are easy prey for bubbly charlatans (if you’ve followed Hulu’s Into the Dark horror anthology, the fourth installment, “New Year, New You,” beautifully satirizes this kind of Instagram-friendly quasi-spirituality—and its horrifying consequences).

Don’t get me wrong:  I don’t discount this stuff out of hand.  Indeed, I believe we’re always struggling against principalities and demonic forces, which is precisely why we should take this seriously.  Witchcraft and its associated branches are a real spiritual threat, and we’re losing a generation of women (and soy-boyish men) to a new wave of New Age spirituality and feel-good bullcrap.  It’s most insidious in the Church (by which I mean broadly all of Christianity, although I think High Protestant churches are particularly susceptible to this kind of infiltration), where its pernicious influence is far more subtle.

But the rise of witchcraft and other forms of knock-off spiritualism represent physical and metaphysical dangers.  Metaphysically, we shouldn’t be messing around with the spiritual world outside of our relationship with Christ.  Just look at what happened to King Saul when he consulted with the witch at Endor.

Physically, men and women are debasing themselves in the name of a “if it feels good, do it” mentality in a desperate attempt to fill their empty “God-holes.”  Women are literally prostituting themselves via Instagram—a terrifying intersection of online media attention-whoring and real-life whoring.  That kind of cheapness only comes in a culture that discourages traditional values and encourages riotousness and spiritual rebellion.

I always warn my students—I’m sure they occasionally roll their eyes—not to mess around with the spiritual world.  Angels are real—but so are demons.  And Satan always comes clothed in light—and shiny Snapchat filters.