Faith, Family, and Work

Scott Rasmussen’s Number of the Day last Friday caught my attention:  according to Rasmussen, 49% of voters say their highest loyalty is to their families.  Another 22% identified their faith as their highest loyalty.

That’s certainly encouraging.  In theory, my faith to Christ is my highest priority, although like many Christians, that’s not always the case in practice.  In practice—and in a practical, day-to-day sense—my family is my top priority, even if they’re an hour or two away.

The two, however, seem inextricably tied.  Some years ago I heard someone (probably Dennis Prager) say that the three keys to happiness are faith, family, and work (most likely in that order).  Faith in God gives us purpose (indeed, God gives us our Creation—our very existence).  Family gives us people who love us, those we support and those who support us in turn.  Work gives us a sense of accomplishment—the satisfaction of a job well done.

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Lazy Sunday XCIII: 2020’s Top Five Posts

It’s the last Sunday of 2020, so in keeping with last year’s tradition, today’s Lazy Sunday is dedicated to reviewing the Top Five posts (in terms of views) for 2020.

The posts below are not the top five in terms of views all-time.  Instead, I’m featuring the top five published in 2020.  Indeed, there were several posts from 2019 that blew these out of the water (all view totals are at the time of writing, 22 December 2020):  “Tom Steyer’s Belt” (2864 views), “Napoleonic Christmas” (295 views), “Christmas and its Symbols” (212 views), and others.

So, again, these are the Top Five Posts of 2020, published in 2020.  All numbers are as of 22 December 2020, so there could be some shifts:

1.) “The Cultural Consequences of the American Civil War” (254 views) – This post was adapted from a lengthy comment I made on a post at Nebraska Energy Observer, “What Do You Think?” by Audre Myers.  The comment sparked some good feedback, so I made it into a post.  Rachel Fulton Brown shared the post on her Telegram chat and her personal Facebook page, which really boosted the numbers.  The post discusses the oft-forgotten cultural and spiritual consequences of the Confederate loss to Yankee materialist imperialism.  I’m no closeted Neo-Confederate, but I tried to offer up a nuanced take on the downside to Union victory, and what was lost when the South fell.

2.) “Thalassocracy” (201 views) – This post really surprised me with its success.  I wrote it mostly as an after-thought—the situation with many posts when I’m churning out daily material—but the topic interested me.  Based on the limited search term information WordPress gives me, it turns out that many people were searching the unusual term for the same reason I was:  the video game Stellaris.  In searching for the meaning of “thalassocracy,” I stumbled upon a lengthy essay on the fragility of thalassocracies—nations and empires that build their fortunes on naval prowess, rather than substantial ground forces.  It’s an interesting (and long) essay, but hopefully my humble post sums it up well enough.

3.) “You Can’t Cuck the Tuck III: Liberty in The Age of The Virus” (87 views) – As you can see from the numbers, the posts begin dropping off a bit in views from here on out, though I consider anything over fifty views pretty solid for this humble blog.  This piece explored the destruction of liberties in The Age of The Virus, something that I find has occurred with shocking ease, and which continues to ever more ludicrous extremes.

4.) “Big Deal” (78 views) – This post was about Joe Rogan’s move to Spotify, and his own implicit sell-out to social justice cuckery.  I can’t account for its mild popularity, other than it was a timely post that touched on a widespread sentiment on the Right.

5.) “The God Pill, Part II” (76 views) – This piece reviewed former pick-up artist Roosh V’s dramatic conversion to Orthodox Christianity (covered in “The God Pill“; read the whole series here), and his decision to unpublish his bestseller, Game.  That decision has really cost him financially—he recently took a gig doing construction work in Alabama for a few weeks, and is apparently back living with his parents in Maryland—but it was the right move spiritually.  Many thought Roosh was converting as a way to reinvent himself to make an extra buck, but he really seems to be putting his faith first.  Kudos to him.

That’s it!  It’s hard to believe another year is in the books.  Thanks to everyone for reading, and for your ongoing support.  It can be difficult to maintain the pace of posting at times, but your feedback and comments really keep me going.

God Bless—and Happy New Year!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

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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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TBT: Christmas Eve

Here we are—another Christmas Eve.  It’s a night full of magic, mysticism, and wonder—the Light and holy version of Halloween, when the tenuous division between our corporeal existence and the supernatural world is thin.

Last year I wrote of my family’s Christmas Eve traditions, which are changing up a bit again this year.  In lieu of the usual evening candlelight service, we’re going to an afternoon service at a church in my younger brother’s neck of the woods.  Afterwards, we’ll be enjoying Chinese food—a newer tradition for us—and some fondue, a tradition from my sister-in-law’s side of the family.  We’re beginning to sound like 1970s Jews on Christmas.

Here’s wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas tomorrow—and some Christmas Eve merriment tonight!  With that, here is 24 December 2019’s “Christmas Eve“:

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Lazy Sunday XCII: Christmas

It’s almost Christmas!  It’s been a wonderful Christmas season, and I’m looking forward to time with friends and family.

Seeing as Christmas is just five days away, I thought I’d dedicate this week’s Lazy Sunday to posts related to this most joyous of holidays:

  • Napoleonic Christmas” – As featured in “Lazy Sunday XCIV: 100 Week Review,” this post improbably became my second most popular post thanks to WhatFinger News sharing it on their main page last December.  The post examines an interesting revisionist take on Napoleon from a PragerU video, and the Prager connection is why WFN shared the post.  Napoleon is a fascinating figure, a man Beethoven admired—then reviled—and someone who completely changed the trajectory of modern European history—for better or for worse.
  • Christmas Eve” – My brief riff on Christmas Eve, which I characterized as “the most magical, mystical part of Christmas time,” this post explores that mysticism—that sense of ancient legacy and tradition—inherit in the night Christ was born.
  • Christmas and Its Symbols” – This post features analysis of a daily devotional from Daily Encouraging Word, which discussed the symbols of Christmas.  We Protestants tend to be practical, literal folks, but we lost some of the magic and mystery of the season—and of our faith more generally—when we abandoned symbolism for literalism.  Christ and Christianity took old pagan symbols and repurposed them to tell the Good News of the Gospels.  Talk about meeting potential converts where they are.
  • Singing Christmas Carols with Kids” – I’m blessed to teach music for a living, and a substantial portion of my side income comes from teaching private lessons.  This post celebrates the fun and joy of singing Christmas carols with young people, an activity which links us to our ancestors and our faith.

That’s it for this pre-Christmas Sunday.  Stay warm, have fun, and have a Merry Christmas!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

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Building Community

The outcome of the 2020 election is still up in the air, but whether we’re enduring President Biden (and then—Heaven help us—President Harris) in a couple of months or still partying under President Trump‘s second term, it’s important for conservatives and traditionalists to consider what comes nextAnother four years of Trump would be an extension of our current reprieve from progressives dominating the executive, but there’s no guarantees that a Republican will hold the White House after 2024.

As such, we need to begin planning and preparing for the worst immediately.  Indeed, many Americans have already done so, and I’ve spoken with many conservatives who believe the worst is yet to come.

Aside from stockpiling and gardening—and generally moving towards greater degrees of self-sufficiency—one important aspect to consider is community building.  By that I do not mean the kind of Leftist, Obama Era pabulum in which we’re all “community organizers” mobilizing nihilistic welfare queens into a low-information progressive voting bloc.  Rather, I mean genuine community building—the formation of those multitudinous, invisible bonds that bind a people together.

Doing so may very well be the most important step Christians, conservatives, and traditionalists can take to survive for the long-term.

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The Joy of Hymnals II: The Cokesbury Worship Hymnal

This week I’ve been teaching and learning a great deal about George Frideric Handel, the great German composer who became, over his long life, a great British one.  In discussing Handel and other Baroque composers with my students, we also veered into the world of hymns.

Hymns were and are important in Protestant congregations as simple, memorable tunes with theologically rich texts.  Hymn melodies are often based on folk tunes or popular compositions.  In some cases, such as the lovely Christmas carolSilent Night,” the text is written first, then set to music (indeed, most hymns, being based on Scripture, evolved this way).  Sometimes the tune is written, then an enterprising poet sets the text.  Such was the case with Isaac Watts, who set his text for “Joy to the World” to a Handel melody.  And, of course, there are hymns written and composed by the same person.

In talking about hymns, I brought to my students a slender little hymnal in my small collection of them, The Cokesbury Worship Hymnal.  From what I can gather, my copy was published in or after 1966, when the copyright from 1938 was renewed.  There is a stamp on the inside front cover stating that the hymn book once belonged to Carteret Street Methodist Church, which I thought was in Charleston, but appears to be in Beaufort, South Carolina.  The hymnal includes 296 hymns, with fifty responsive readings—a good collection, but slim by the standards of a pewback hymnal.

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Music Among the Stars

Back in 1977, NASA launched Voyager I, which is some 14 million miles from Earth.  The super nerds behind the mission stowed two golden records on board.  Those golden records included various selections to represent life on Earth, from “Johnny B. Goode” to nature sounds to classical music.

Over the Labor Day weekend a colleague e-mailed me Classical Archivesweekend newsletter, which includes some musings about why humans developed the ability to create—and their interest in—music.  The newsletter features the blog posts “Can E.T. Carry a Tune?” and “Music for Extraterrestrials… Sampling the Music Selected for NASA’s Voyager I.”

The former explores the possible deep origins of humanity’s music-making abilities.  It posits several theories developed from evolutionary biology.  As  a Christian, I find these explanations ultimately wanting, though they each make interesting points (the second proposed theory, for example, suggests “that music arose because it was a social glue that helped our ancestors bond with one another and with a group”).  Music serves many purposes, even if those purposes are not strictly utilitarian (and even then music can serve that function, such as coordinating workers’ movements via work songs).

Chiefly, though, music is intended to praise God.  Like the other arts, music is God’s grant of a small sliver of His Creative potential to His Creation—Tolkien’s “sub-creation” of Middle Earth serving as a prime literary example.  The highest form of musical expression, then, lifts up songs of praise to God.

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Things That Go Bump in the Night

Audre Myers over at Nebraska Energy Observer always has some interesting observations about the world around us (indeed, once a week she writes a post called “Random Observations“—check it out).  Her latest post—the whimsically titled “ooOOoo – BOO!“—explores the world beyond our observation, the world of ghosts, spirits, demons, and “haints.”  It’s also the world of angels, and of God.

Myers makes a point that that really hit me when I was in college taking a senior seminar history course called “Society and the Supernatural”:  that as Christians, if we believe in the Holy Trinity, we also have to believe in a broader supernatural world.  For Christians, there is ample scriptural evidence of not just the presence of the Holy Spirit, but also of angels—with their own hierarchy and roles—and demons, those fallen angels that joined Lucifer in his prideful rebellion against God.  The Bible speaks often of “principalities” and spirits that rule over ungodly nations.

How far beyond Scripture such supernatural creatures extend is a source of speculation and debate, and I suspect we won’t truly know until we’re on the other side.  There is a danger in exploring the non-godly supernatural, as it opens spiritual doors within us that could make us susceptible to demonic influence—or, at the extremes, possession.  Compulsive sinning can have the same effect, but messing with the occult—even out of an innocent curiosity to understand that world better—seems far likelier to result in catastrophic unintended consequences.

What I did learn in that college course, though, was that at least one member of the Scottish Enlightenment (whose name and work I cannot locate—blast!) expended a great deal of energy trying to discover fairies (apparently, people are still looking for them).  He reasoned that if fairies, giants, and other mythical creatures of Scottish folklore existed, that would prove the existence of the supernatural.  If the supernatural is real, God is real; if God is real, then fairies can exist.

Our groping, grasping attempts to understand the supernatural are, well, natural—it’s certainly a fascinating subject.  But the Bible makes it clear what fate awaits us if we accept Christ—and what awaits us if we reject Him.

Still, I do not discount out-of-hand the possibility of supernatural presences beyond what we know from Scripture.  I don’t want to go poking around in their domains for the reasons stated above, but it’s intellectually arrogant and shortsighted to assume we know everything.  That’s the folly of our modern age—we applaud ourselves for demystifying the world, yet we’re more lost and in the dark than ever.

And what of those Scottish fairies?  Surely their existence is more than the feeble attempts of ancient minds to explain the natural world, as the priests of scientism and materialism would argue.  No, there is too much anecdotal evidence—across thousands of years and cultures—to discount the existence of such things.

All I know is that Jesus is alive—and all this talk of ghosts has me excited for Halloween.