Spring Break Short Story Recommendations, Part II: “Thus I Refute Beelzy”

As I noted yesterday, Spring Break is an excellent time to catch up on some reading.  I am particularly fond of short stories, especially ghost stories, which can thoroughly explore one or two ideas in a relatively bite-sized chunk.  They’re perfect for casual reading while enjoying some downtime.

Like yesterday’s selection, today’s short story recommendation, John Collier‘s “Thus I Refute Beelzy,” comes from 11 Great Horror Stories, a collection of short stories that are not entirely horrific in nature, the title notwithstanding.

Thus I Refute Beelzy” definitely is a horror story, with touches of The Omen and Children of the Corn; that is to say, it’s a little bit of “terror-tot fiction,” a term I learned recently from Alan Jones’s review of the film Let’s Be Evil, one of the scores of bad horror films on Hulu.

The whole story is very short—about five pages—and can be read in around ten to fifteen minutes.  Indeed, there is a chilling recording of Vincent Price reading the story that is just shy of thirteen (mwahahahaha!) minutes long:

Within those five pages, though, Collier crams a great deal of characterization—and terror.

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Lazy Sunday LII: Democratic Candidates, Part I

The last week saw some major momentum for Joe Biden, as he smashed through big chunks of the Super Tuesday primaries.  Then his most logical competitors, one by one, dropped out, no doubt after receiving some threatening phone calls from the DNC.  That’s narrowed the field, essentially, to Biden and Bernie, with Congressbabe Tulsi Gabbard out there with some Somoan delegates and a dream of a debate appearance.

What seemed so unlikely even ten days ago—but was the conventional wisdom last summer—now seems plausible:  Biden, possibly struggling with dementia, is on track to become the Democratic nominee for the presidency.  There’s still a chance for a brokered convention, which would no-doubt devolve into chaos as angry Bernie Bros watched their doddering hero stripped of any chance at the nomination, but the safe bet at this point seems to be a narrow Biden win.

It’s a good reminder that these primaries can be incredibly unpredictable, but also that the establishment choice usually wins.  I remember the 2012 Republican primaries, in which, week after week, one of the second-tier candidates would take the lead, only to fall behind or get knocked out of the race.  Romney was the presumed front-runner, even though he was second in most of the polls, but none of the other candidates could stay out in the lead for long.  It finally came down to Rick Santorum to offer some kind of alternative to Romney, and he, too, fell.

It’s why so many of us were dismayed when the media was trumpeting JEB! Bush as the Republican front-runner in early 2015.  I was Trump-skeptical in those days (how wrong I was), but the thought of another Bush, even a capable one (JEB! was a great governor in Florida), getting the nomination was disheartening.  Fortunately, Trump upended everything like a bull in a gold-plated hotel china shop.

Trump’s nomination now seems like an historical aberration—one for which I am extremely thankful.  I’m hoping it’s the start of a new trend of populist firebrands (at least on the Republican side), but the circling of the DNC wagons around Biden suggests that the elites are still running the show, at least on that side of the political spectrum.  Republicans do seem to listen to their base a bit more—sometimes.

Regardless, I thought it would be interesting to look back at some posts regarding the Democratic primaries to see some of the figures that rose and fell during the process.  I’ll continue this review of recent history next Sunday.

  • Box Wine Aunties for Williamson” – a social media savvy, New Age-y guru, Marianne Williamson was all the talk in the early days of the Democratic debates.  That was during the point when the party, chastened by claims of a rigged primary season in 2016, was letting everyone and their brother get on television if they had enough small-ball donations.  Thus, Williamson became an Internet sensation.  In reading back through that post, my analysis relies a great deal on symbolism, which is increasingly important in an age in which memes and images convey complex meanings.  Buuuuut the moon-bat dropped out.
  • The Collapse of the Obama Coalition?” – The identity-politics-obsessed Left now bemoans the fact that the Democratic primaries are down to two old white dudes.  It turns out there are many Democrats that don’t care about identity politics, but in 2019 the candidate I most feared was Senator Kamala Harris, the concubine-turned-prosecutor-turned-pandering-politico who seemed to check off all the intersectional boxes.  She was a woman, black(ish), exotic—like Obama.  If anyone could revive the frayed Obama coalition of the “marginalized,” it would be her.  Of course, her inauthentic pandering to blacks was so transparent, they rejected her out-of-hand.  Turns out black folks don’t like a half-Jamaican prosecutor who pretends to know about African-American culture and who spent her career locking them up.
  • Iowa Caucuses: Disaster on the Prairie” – The Democrats love to sell themselves as do-gooding technocrats who “know how to get things done” (I’m pretty sure Elizabeth Warren has said that, with all the earnestness of every girl who cried over making a 98 on a quiz, constantly over the past year).  Yet they botched the much-watched Iowa caucuses in spectacular fashion, using suspect technology with close ties to some of the candidates to calculate the results.  Sometimes good old pencil and paper really are the way to go.  Of course, that muddying of the waters screwed up the momentum for both the Bernie and the Buttigieg camps, and may have had downstream effects on both campaigns.

That’s it for this (unintentionally long) Lazy Sunday.  Part II of this retrospective will be next week.

Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

Lazy Sunday XLII: 2019’s Top Five Posts

2019 is winding down, and with this being the last Sunday of the year, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to look back at the most popular posts of 2019.

These posts aren’t necessarily the best posts—although that’s an entirely subjective measure—just the ones that received the most hits.

When looking through the most popular posts, there were a few surprises.  One thing I’ve learned from blogging is that posts I pour my heart and soul into may walk away with five views (and, oftentimes, only one!).  Then other posts that I dash off in a hurry to make my self-imposed daily goal take off like Rossini rockets, garnering dozens of hits.

Some of that is timing and promotion.  I find that the posts I have ready to launch at 6:30 AM do better on average.  But some generous linkbacks from WhatFinger.com really created some surprises here at the end of the year, surpassing even the exposure I received from Milo Yiannopoulos.  Writing posts about hot, current news items, the dropping links about said items in the comment sections of prominent news sites, also helps drive traffic, but I often lack the time required to do such “planting” (and it is a practice that can come across as spammy if not done with finesse).

Some posts take on a life of their own; I see consistent daily traffic from one of the posts on this list, “Tom Steyer’s Belt.”  Apparently, a bunch of people are as mystified as I am with Steyer’s goofy, virtue-signalling belt.

Well, it’s certainly been an adventure.  And while it may be premature—there are still two days left in the year!—here are the Top Five Posts of 2019:

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Milo on Romantic Music

The Christmas season always gets me excited for music, because there are so many wonderful carols and hymns about the birth of Jesus.  I will write more on the topic of Christmas carols later on in the month, but today I wanted to touch on a really niche topic:  Milo Yiannopoulos‘s love of Romantic-era music.

What got me on this topic is not just my musical mood; it was an epic Telegram thread Milo had going about… classical music.

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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.

MILF on a Hot Tin Mic

America’s favorite Dukakis-hugging moon maiden, box wine auntie, and power crystal aficionado Marianne Williamson experienced an endearing epiphany on a hot mic after a recent Fox News appearance: that the Left is really mean!

After being treated civilly by someone with different political opinions—gasp!—Williamson expressed surprise at how kind Eric Bolling was to her. The bigger realization was that her own side can be terribly cruel, even to its own (of course, conservatives have long recognized the tendency of the Left to eat its own).

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Box Wine Aunties for Williamson

Yesterday I wrote of a “New Great Awakening,” an awakening of the fast swath of forgotten men and women to the realities of the progressive Left’s destructive ideology.  Blogger photog at Orion’s Cold Fire inspired the post with his piece “The Great Awakening,” which brought to mind a key point about our national debates:  our concerns are primarily theological, not political, in nature.

I’ve written quite a bit about Americans’ desperate search for meaning (also here), for a deeper spiritual Truth that motivates our culture and our lives.  Increasingly, Americans are abandoning traditional Christian faith, embracing instead alternative forms of spirituality, from the mundane and trite —“living your best life”—to sinister, like witchcraft.

It’s no surprise, then, that the dark horse—or, perhaps, the black cat—candidate in the Democratic presidential primaries is self-help guru and author Marianne Williamson.  Williamson made waves during the first set of debates with her “Love is a Battlefield” pronouncement, and has become something of an Internet meme.

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The Desperate Search for Meaning, Part III: Progressive Power Crystals

As I watch my niece and nephews grow up, I often think about their practical and spiritual educations.  It’s heartening to hear the older two sing hymns of praise to God.  In an age of progressive indoctrination in public schools, they’re going to need a lot of prayers and Christian parenting to grow up to be men and women of God.  Fortunately, my brother and sister-in-law are no-nonsense Christian conservatives.

Unfortunately, many Americans 40 and under grew up with a great deal of relativistic hogwash, and have imbibed deeply from the solipsistic brew of the “if it feels good, do it” and “I can define my own truth” culture.  Satan comes as a being of light, surrounded by overpriced power crystals.

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