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Tuesday Open Thread


The Walking Thread: Four Walls and a Roof (S5, E3)

“Four Walls and a Roof” immediately picks up where the last episode left off, with poor Bob having unspeakable things done to him by the “Termites”, aka the survivors of Terminus. Their leader, Gareth, continues to be a smug bastard to his victim, until Bob turns the tables on his captors in a delightfully gruesome way. (It takes a lot to make cannibals retch, but Bob pulls it off, God bless him). This scene plays out in such a satisfying way that it will no doubt become a classic among the show’s many rabid fans.

From there, things move inexorably toward a confrontation between Rick’s group and the Termites, who return Bob to the church and use him as bait. In the meantime, though, we discover Father Gabriel’s dark secret: that he has survived the zombie apocalypse by keeping his church locked to anyone who came there looking for sanctuary. In a sense, this was understandable, as he was simply doing what he had to do to survive, and virtually everyone on this show has been in a situation where they’ve had to let someone else die so that they could live. In this world, it kind of goes with the territory. But for a man of God like Father Gabriel, choosing to save his own life at the expense of others is an unforgiveable sin. Coincidentally, while attending mass yesterday, I listened to a lovely sermon about how one of the fundamental ideals of the Catholic faith is living an others-centered life rather than a self-centered one, and the guilt Father Gabriel feels about betraying this principle (he heard his own parishioners being torn apart by Walkers while he hid behind a locked door) overwhelms him to no end. He feels that he has turned his back on God, and the episode’s title refers to what his church has become, now that it is no longer a house of the Lord.

So Gareth and the rest of the Termites launch an attack on the church, and aided by stealth and the dark of night they seemingly get the upper hand. They offer Father Gabriel a chance to once again save himself and give up everyone else to be slaughtered, but he earns his redemption by refusing to do so. Rick and his group manage to strategically outwit the Termites, and now at Rick’s mercy, Gareth begs for his life. But having spared them before in “No Sanctuary” and been rewarded with more bloodshed, Rick knows better, and in a truly brutal and bloody scene he and his group hack and beat the Termites to death, right there in the church while Father Gabriel watches in shock.

Their enemies dispensed with, Rick and his group say their goodbyes to Bob, a tragic character that nevertheless retained his trademark optimism up to the very end. (There’s a touching but incredibly tense scene where his girlfriend Sasha sits by his body weeping, and we’re unsure if he’s going to turn into a Walker and attack her as other characters have done in previous seasons.) This scene is also significant because on his deathbed, he takes the time to thank Rick for taking him in and saving him back at the prison, pointing out that no one else would have done that. Rick is often criticized by fans for serving as the group’s de facto leader, when they have no real reason to follow him (he used to be a Sheriff, but his badge is just a piece of tin now). However, he’s actually a great leader, the only one who’s willing to step up and take responsibility for everyone’s lives, and his attempts in previous seasons to step back and defer leadership to others have ended in disaster. Quite simply, he leads the group because he’s the only one who can, and everyone else knows it. He does his best to keep his friends and children alive, while still trying to help people wherever he can. What else can one ask for in a leader during the zombie apocalypse?

Overall, this was a great episode that keeps the momentum of Season 5 moving forward, while retaining the high quality of storytelling and thrills, despite there being almost no actual Walkers in this one. No doubt they’ll be back in a big way in the next episode. The only wrong step is a scene in the middle of the episode when Abraham, a soldier who is supposedly trying to get an anti-zombie cure to Washington D.C., suddenly decides he’s done with the group and is going to leave, with him and Rick nearly coming to blows over it. He even convinces a few of Rick’s group to come with him. This is completely unconvincing (particularly given that the group had just reunited after Terminus), and made no sense other than that the screenwriter needed an excuse to split the group up for the rest of the season. It’s the first time so far this season that such a contrivance has occurred, but hopefully it’s a fluke and not a trend for the rest of the season. Only time will tell. The episode ends with fan favorite Daryl returning to the group, claiming to have found missing group member Beth, but with an unsettling look on his face that doesn’t bode well. The next episode promises to fill us in on where Beth has been all this time; knowing this show, I’m guessing it wasn’t Club Med.

This Afternoon’s Broadcast is brought to you by…

Alice Cooper. Feed my Frankenstein!

Monday Open Thread

Calvin and Hobbes, Halloween 1985 by Bill Watterson

Calvin and Hobbes, Halloween 1985 by Bill Watterson

Rufus T. Firefly — Capitalist Opportunist


Threedonia has received no royalties from these… methinks Rufus has an illegal deal with Party City.

Marginalization Leading to Persecution

Ecce Homo by Antonio Ciseri (1871)

Ecce Homo by Antonio Ciseri (1871)

The Christian Post has a sobering and insightful report on a lecture given by Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University Robert P. George on gay marriage and religious liberty at the Institute on Religion and Democracy’s 2014 Diane Knippers Memorial Lecture in Washington, D.C. on October 16, 2014.

While some liberals and conservatives believe there can be a “grand bargain” in which gay marriage is allowed and the religious freedom of dissenters is supported, George pointed out that he has long argued that could never be the case, because liberal secularism is a comprehensive doctrine in competition with other comprehensive doctrines.

“Liberal secularism,” he said, “never was and never will be what the late John Rawls depicted it as being and hoped it would be, namely, a purely political doctrine, as opposed to what he called a comprehensive view (a view of human nature, meaning, dignity, and destiny) that competes with other comprehensive views.

“Nowhere is the reality of contemporary liberalism as a comprehensive doctrine, a secularist religion, more plainly on display than in the moral-cultural struggle over marriage and sexual morality. Liberal secularism will tolerate other comprehensive views so long as they present no challenge or serious threat to its own most cherished values. The Amish are probably safe. But when they do, they must be smashed, in the name, for example, of ‘equality’ or preventing ‘dignitarian harm,’ and their faithful must be reduced to a dhimmi-like status in respect of opportunities, in employment, contracting, and other areas, that, from the point of view of liberal secularist doctrine, cannot be made available to them if they refuse to conform themselves to the demands of liberal ideology.”

There are some liberals, George added, that do still value religious freedom, tolerance and diversity who have spoken out against the liberals who have sought to punish or restrict the religious freedom of those who dissent from the liberal orthodoxy on marriage and sexuality. But he believes those tolerant liberals will ultimately lose their battle against intolerant liberals.

I have been saying since the Supreme Court found a constitutional right to homosexual sodomy in Texas v. Lawrence (2003) that gay rights would be the end of religious liberty and that Lawrence was the “camel’s nose under the tent” of Christian persecution. Professor George says it more eloquently and with more authority perhaps. I am now, after the recent Supreme Court non-decision letting stand and effectively legalizing gay marriage in 30 states. firmly convinced that my children will grow up in an America where they will suffer real consequences for their faith — loss of jobs, public marginalization and perhaps criminal consequences as the banner of sexual autonomy eclipses the First Right — the Founding Right — religious liberty.

Will it be like China or the Middle East? Probably not, but then 15 years ago gay marriage was the longshot dream of a handful of hardcore gay activists. The end game isn’t about gay marriage… it is a religious war of sorts — as George talks about — competing “comprehensive views” (sometimes called worldviews). The secular liberal comprehensive view brooks no dissent. Christendom hasn’t always been tolerant of course, but there were enough Christians of true devotion to keep the brakes on largely. As America secularizes those brakes will continue to disappear in the name of “tolerance”. Politics is not our salvation of course — never has been and never will be. Many friends of religious liberty on the Right (and the few on the Left) will be increasingly put to the test as Christians become marginalized. Sadly — I know where the majority of those friends will fall — history is replete with examples and very few people are fellow travelers with persecuted minorities.

I’ve raised my kids to live in an America mostly like what I grew up in… that changes today. I’m not heading for the hills or burnishing my tinfoil hat. I’m not throwing up my hands in despair either and will continue to argue and fight for religious liberty as it is a universal good — not just a Christian good. I have both eyes open clearly. Current events, a clear reading of history and Scripture say it will be so. The blessing is that we had over 200 centuries of a really good run and were able to spread a lot of those blessings around the world. I’m also not turning into a mopey downer. I’ll still enjoy the silly and absurd things of this world. I probably had too much focus on my temporal citizenship and not my true citizenship. The reminders will be coming fast and furious in the coming years.

Sunday Open Thread

Creeptastic Halooween costumes from ca. late 1890s U.S.

Creeptastic Halooween costumes from ca. late 1890s U.S.

Sunday Gospel

The video is coopted from George Michael’s “Freedom 90″ but the song is a cover of the Stevie Wonder song. Excellent cover by Michael.

Top 5 — or Bottom — Biggest American Military Disasters

Artist’s re-creation of the death of Shawnee Chief Tecumseh at the Battle of the Thames, Oct. 5, 1813, lithograph 1833. Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

Artist’s re-creation of the death of Shawnee Chief Tecumseh at the Battle of the Thames, Oct. 5, 1813, lithograph 1833.
Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

Robert Farley, at The National Interest has an interesting piece entitled “The Five Biggest Military Disaster in American Military History“.

In this article, I concentrate on specific operational and strategic decisions, leaving aside broader, grand-strategic judgments that may have led the United States into ill-considered conflicts. The United States may well have erred politically in engaging in the War of 1812, World War I, the Vietnam War and Operation Iraqi Freedom, but here I consider how specific failures worsened America’s military and strategic position.

Invasion of Canada

At the opening of the War of 1812, U.S. forces invaded Upper and Lower Canada. Americans expected a relatively easy going; the notion that Canada represented the soft underbelly of the British empire had been popular among American statesmen for some time. Civilian and military leaders alike expected a quick capitulation, forced in part by the support of the local population. But Americans overestimated their support among Canadians, overestimated their military capabilities, and underestimated British power. Instead of an easy victory, the British handed the Americans a devastating defeat.

American forces (largely consisting of recently mobilized militias) prepared to invade Canada on three axes of advance, but did not attack simultaneously and could not support one another. American forces were inexperienced at fighting against a professional army and lacked good logistics. This limited their ability to concentrate forces against British weak points. The Americans also lacked a good backup plan for the reverses that the British soon handed them. None of the American commanders (led by William Hull, veteran of the Revolutionary War) displayed any enthusiasm for the fight, or any willingness to take the risks necessary to press advantages.

The real disaster of the campaign became apparent at Detroit in August, when a combined British and Native American army forced Hull to surrender, despite superior numbers. The British followed up their victory by seizing and burning several American frontier outposts, although they lacked the numbers and logistical tail to probe very deeply into American territory. The other two prongs of the invasion failed to march much beyond their jumping off points. American forces won several notable successes later in the war, restoring their position along the border, but never effectively threatened British Canada.

The failure of the invasion turned what Americans had imagined as an easy, lucrative offensive war into a defensive struggle. It dealt a major setback to the vision, cherished by Americans, of a North America completely under the domination of the United States. Britain would hold its position on the continent, eventually ensuring the independence of Canada from Washington.

Go read the whole thing above. I gotta run and will give it some thought later.

Saturday Open Thread

creeptastic Halloween skit from Key & Peele