Monthly Archives: February 2009

On a personal note.

Well, I had a first today.  It has been coming for 18 years.

I was a little kiddo when my dad said I could keep two kittens out of a litter belonging to some close friends of ours who were moving out of the country.  We named the little boy and girl and fell in love with them.   As an only child, I would play with my cats in lieu of siblings when I went outside; they were my babies.  Blanco, the boy, has always been very affectionate, and he put up with a lot when I was a kid– in the form of baby clothes, bicycle rides, etc.  I remember all my life having a deep, dark terror of losing them.

They have grown old now.  Stormy is on thyroid pills and Blanco has been losing weight lately.  I’ve been concerned, and unsure of what to do, since taking him in and submitting him to testing would mean emptying my bank account of very necessary funds.

Tonight, Stormy came inside (they have always lived outside and come into a garage or shed at night), but we couldn’t find Blanco.  Mom and I walked the street, the neighborhood, the goat pastures and horse pasture for an hour or more.  So many times I’ve had to look for him, calling and calling, and then, there he would come, trotting home, bright, long, beautiful yellow fur showing up even in the dark.

Finally my brother came out to help.  He found him.  Blanco was stretched out in the neighbor’s pasture, about twenty feet beyond our back fence.  There was no blood, but he was so stiff he must have been there long before we all got home from school and work.

So now, I’ve burried a pet.  Which is something so small and commonplace in the arena of life, but that doesn’t stop my heart from hurting.  It sure does.


Confidence

What confidence is mine!

    that now at last I see,

Your purpose sure in every trial

    is working good for me.


Social Darwinism

After finding the link between Darwinism and Nazism mentioned in the writings of Charlotte Mason (actually to the pre-Nazi social climate that had brought on WWI, and would make the way for Hitler)– per a previous post– I did an internet search on the subject.  It turned up a large number of consternated responses to the “alleged” link in the movie Expelled; and the only really scholarly-looking result (granted, I didn’t go very far down the list) was a lengthy ten-year-old journal article by scientist Jerry Bergman entitled “Darwinism and the Nazi Race Holocaust”.  I’ve been taking my time reading through it, but already, in the first few pages, have found quite a bit of food for thought.

There are several books on his reference list which I think would be good for further perusal, such as the original works of Ernst Heackel (“Darwin’s distinguished follower”, as Mason put it), published from 1876-192o; also Evolution and Ethics (1946), by Sir Arthur Keith, and Race and Reich (1956), by Joseph Tenenbaum; along with many more recent publications.

What has really struck me is the realization that the seed was planted, and the soil of people’s minds fertilized for many years before Hitler ever came to power.  Darwinian Evolution rolled right in with other philosophies and was seized on and expanded:  “Darwinism justified and encouraged the Nazi views on both race and war.”  (from the article)

“The political philosophy of the Prussian, then the German State, was built on the ideas of struggle, selection, and survival of the fittest, all notions and observations arrived at later on by Darwin in the animal world, but already in luxuriant bud in the German social philosophy of the nineteenth century, which culminated in Hegel’s political philosophy of the State. Thus developed the doctrine of Germany’s inherent right to rule the world on the basis of superior strength coupled with a divine mission.”  (Race and Reich)

“Furthermore, the primary reason that Nazism reached the extent of the holocaust was the widespread acceptance of Social Darwinism by the scientific and academic community.” (article)


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Ben Stein, Darwin, Hitler, and… Charlotte Mason?

I was struck, while watching the documentary “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed“, with Ben Stein’s point that Nazism was directly influenced by Darwin’s evolutionary theories– which (no doubt displaying my very spotty knowledge) was a novel thought to me.  I’ve done some surfing on the web this evening, and have found some further information on the subject, and a lot of rather knee-jerk negative responses to the claim as put forward in the film.  It merits much further study, to be sure, and I’ve printed off an article to get myself started.

I hadn’t given it much further thought after watching the film, until I came across the same link in a totally unexpected place.  Last night, on a whim, I decided to delve a little way into the writings of  Charlotte Mason on education.  I printed off the intruduction of volume 6 (what better place to start?!), and was rather surprised to find, three pages in, a lengthy reference to pre-Nazi Germany (this was written soon after WWI, which is obviously very fresh in the minds of Mason and her audience) and Darwin!

“…Much thoughtful care has been spent in ascertaining the causes of the German break-down in character and conduct; the war scourge was symptomatic and the symptoms have been duly traced to their cause in the thoughts the people have been taught to think during three or four generations. We have heard much about Nietzsche, Treitschke, Bernhardi and the rest; but Professor Muirhead did us good service in carrying the investigation further back. Darwin’s theories of natural selection, the survival of the fittest, the struggle for existence, struck root in Germany in fitting soil; and the ideas of the superman, the super state, the right of might to repudiate treaties, to eliminate feebler powers, to recognize no law but expediency––all this appears to come as naturally out of Darwinism as a chicken comes out of an egg….   There is a tendency in human nature to elect the obligations of natural law in preference to those of spiritual law; to take its code of ethics from science, and, following this tendency, the Germans found in their reading of Darwin sanction for manifestations of brutality….  Darwin himself protests against the struggle for existence being the most potent agency where the higher part of man’s nature is concerned, and he no more thought of giving a materialistic tendency to modern education than Locke thought of teaching principles which should bring about the French Revolution; but men’s thoughts are more potent than they know, and these two Englishmen may be credited with influencing powerfully two world-wide movements. In Germany, “prepared by a quarter of a century of materialistic thought,” the teaching of Darwin was accepted as offering emancipation from various moral restraints. Ernst Haeckel, his distinguished follower, finds in the law of natural selection sanction for Germany’s lawless action, and also, that pregnant doctrine of the superman….”

Do I hear an echo?


Correspondence

“You don’t really know a woman until she writes you a letter.”

Ada Leverson


The Flu, or Dark Night of The Soul…

Last week we had the flu. It put both of my very, very energetic brothers in bed for days. Neither Mom, Dad, nor I had it quite so bad, although I did “take to my bed” for most of one day.  I suppose I was actually getting more sleep than usual, because I started having strange, vivid, multitudinous dreams every night– the last one I remember was Monday morning, and it involved septuplets which I couldn’t keep fed and cared for, but which (I think?) at some point, mercifully, metamorphosed into dolls so my neglect didn’t bring on some tragic end.  The last several days, I admit, I have not gone to bed early, which has helped to silence (or at least exhaust) my subconcious.

Being home, feeling aimless and unable to really do anything or go anywhere, made the week seem like an eternity– which is only a slight exageration.  One of my brothers stretched his fever over into Sunday, which meant I had to take off another day to stay home with him on Monday.  Thankfully, he did finally get over it, so he didn’t miss another week of school.

The oddest part of it all, for me, was the feeling of gloom that settled over me.  It really felt like a torturously long exile from life– a few days of the flu!  I couldn’t shake it.  Not only was I having wierd, paranoid dreams, but I was waking in the morning overshadowed by worry over something or other.  Things that, in the course of life, I just shake off, hand over to God, and don’t worry about.  All the spiritual questions that lay quietly in the back of my mind waiting for an answer rose up and knocked the universe out of whack.  My normal view of life, the desire to cheer, the trust in God, had mysteriously evaporated in a few days.  Laugh if you will; right now, writing this, I realize the overcast skies are clearing, but a few days ago, it was real and I couldn’t shake it!

I suppose times like that are inevitable in everybody’s life.  I know there are those who descend into that overcast valley for months and years at a time– perhaps I can sympathize a little with how they feel, stuck with the world passing by.

I feel challenged to reevaluate my own spiritual foundation, to strengthen the faith that so easily, amazingly, wavers.

This evening I came across a quote (from “Seeking the Face of God”, by Gary Thomas) which seemed particularly apropos:

When we love Christ only for what He brings us, including spiritual feelings, we are loving ourselves, not loving Him, regardless of the sacrifice we think we are offering. The dark night of the soul purifies our motivation and keeps us from becoming like the crowds in the New Testament who followed Jesus, not for His teaching, but for the miraculously supplied bread.

When we live by faith and not feelings, when we persevere no matter how dry we feel, Teresa of Avila said, we show we are among those souls who “would want the Lord to see that they do not serve Him for pay.” That is, we want the Lord to see that we will serve Him regardless of whether it gives us pleasure or pain. We will serve Him because He is God and Lord and because He has captured our hearts and our wills.