Real Girl Power

If this does not make you tear up, you have a heart of stone.

For those who can’t watch the video (no, seriously, watch it) a young pregnant mother named Ashley Bridges was told she had bone cancer while pregnant. To get life-saving treatment she would have had to kill the baby. The mother refused. She delivered the baby early and received treatment, but has still only been given a year to live.

So why did she do it? Easy answer: “’There’s no way I could kill a healthy baby because I’m sick,’ Bridges told CBS2’s Kristine Lazar.”

Despite saying that she’s “living a nightmare”, Bridges has no regrets. Contrast this with the incredibly high percentage of women experiencing mental health issues after abortion – some studies showing that over 90% regret the murder of their child.*

I can do nothing here but applaud and deeply admire the courage involved in Bridges’ decision. Look at how simple the logic is – you can’t kill a healthy baby because you’re sick. This is deep, sacrificial love, a beautiful and Holy thing even in the midst of tragedy.

I’m disgusted by the hypocrisy of the media, though. When the mother is a hero who is showing tremendous courage and sacrificing her own life to save her child, it’s a baby.

When the woman has an abortion, it’s a fetus. They should be ashamed.

So, Mrs. Bridges, Malcolm the Cynic salutes you and prays for you and your children (that’s right – she also has a six year old). May the Blessed Virgin Mary, the ultimate pro-life Mother, and the patron Saint of the blog, Saint John the Baptist, watch over your family.

And kudos on showing our twisted modern world what true girl power looks like.

*You’ll find a couple of reports claiming that abortion doesn’t affect women at all, but when I looked at those studies they inevitably interviewed less people, interviewed them less often, and were far less comprehensive then the numerous studies showing opposite results – and there were more studies showing the opposite results as well. Intuitively it makes a lot of sense as well, no?

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Some Shakespeare Fun

I saw a performance of Shakespeare’s Macbeth over the summer. The quality of the production was excellent. There were no weak actors and everything was professional level…as well it should be for forty dollar tickets.

Watching the play reminded me of why I was disappointed when I read Macbeth in High School. On the surface, Macbeth has EVERYTHING – ghosts, sorcery, betrayal, regicide, war…it’s arguably Shakespeare’s most ambitious concept. And when Macbeth is good, it’s really, REALLY good. Lady Macbeth’s famous “Unsex me here” monologue is chilling and creepy, and the witch scenes are a blast.

In my opinion the best scene in the show, and certainly the best scene in this production, was the dinner scene that takes place after Duncan and Banquo’s murder, where the ghost of Banquo returns to haunt Macbeth. It’s frightening, eerie, and utterly compelling. Banquo’s ghost couldn’t have frightened Macbeth more if he’d started screaming at him – it’s a brilliant scene.

But unfortunately, Macbeth is hampered by some really, really slow scenes. Pretty much every scene that doesn’t involve Macbeth or Lady Macbeth, or at least Dunsinane Castle, is as boring as mud – and by this, I mean every scene with Macduff and Malcolm. I mean, DAMN do they take a very, very long time discussing the goings on of Dunsinane. We get it, Macbeth is a tyrant, your family was killed. STOP TALKING.

It’s a shame, because those dragging scenes ruined what would otherwise be a perfect show – and it was definitely the fault of the writing, not the actors.

I always did like “Othello” and “Romeo and Juliet” more. “Romeo and Juliet” is the one I am particularly fond of, partially because it has some of Shakespeare’s most beautiful language, partially because it’s a terrific action yarn, and partially because moderns take Shakespeare’s message all the time and interpret it to mean exactly the opposite of the clear message, which is why so many modern productions and reinterpretations, in my opinion, ring false.

The love story of the show CAN’T be done properly. It’s total mess, and a lack of understanding about this point is where the otherwise brilliant “West Side Story” erred. Shakespeare knew perfectly well that their whirlwind romance was ridiculous and unhealthy – that was the point! It could never ring true, because it WASN’T true. Romeo and Juliet’s romance was doomed from the start, partially because of their family’s feud but also because they were two kids who didn’t understand what they were getting into and who held unhealthy notions of romantic love. Shakespeare is brilliant because he understood the world and how it worked; while he used whirlwind marriages often in his comedies he was no fool, and he knew quite well that in real life those sorts of love at sight matches were probably doomed to failure.

And Baz Luhrman should be dragged into a street and shot for his butchery. Blech.

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I Was Wrong About the Old Testament

But not for the reasons you think.

I’ve realized, now, what my mistake was. In retrospect, it should have been obvious.

There is nothing intrinsically immoral with waging war against the enemy.

There is nothing wrong with the execution of those who have earned this as a just punishment as long as you are a legitimate authority.

To that extent, I fully agree with Chad, Deuce, and the many people they quote. The Old Testament wars could be fully explained as just given the proper context, the context of God giving authority to His people to give just punishment to sinners.

The problem here is the killing of the infants. The infants are innocent. They committed no sins. And we have no mention in the Old Testament of God ordering the killing of infants. Moses? Yes. Joshua? Yes. Both men claiming to speak for God? Yes.

God? No. It’s not there. You won’t find it.

Now, the debate in my combox then turned to whether or not it is just in theory to kill infants on God’s orders. But this doesn’t solve the issue, since we know that the killing of infants is immoral; we would need to be MORE sure that the voice telling us to kill infants is actually God, and not a human lying or a demon in disguise, than we are sure that we should not kill infants. I submit that this is a call that should not be made. If God orders us to do something we know for a fact is definitely immoral, then we have a problem, and the answer is not to do the immoral thing, because if we’re wrong we just listened to a liar or a demon telling us to kill a baby. And we can ALWAYS, always be wrong.

All of the quotes about just war theory as supported by Aquinas and Augustine have nothing to do with this, since the slaughter of innocents is not covered by just war theory. They have no relevance.

I note when going through the comments on my own blog and on Free Northerner’s blog the killing of babies is not addressed in the quotes Chad gave from either Aquinas or Augustine. War with the Canaanites, yes. Baby-killing? Not mentioned. As I look through all of the posts, both from Deuce and Chad, the killing of babies is not addressed by Aquinas or Augstine in any of the quotes given.

And if God can give us the right to take life away from infants that does not solve the problem, because we would have to be convinced that the voice giving us the commandment to do something that is despicably evil in any other circumstance is God, and not a liar or a devil.

I was wrong about the genocides. But I don’t think I’m wrong about the baby-killing.

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Since I Doubt Chad is Going to Respond…

…Though I hope I’m wrong…

…I’ve decided to take a page out of Vox’s book and actually respond to people’s criticisms of me, however petty I think they may be. I do think it’s important to refute accusations against my character, lest rumor spreads.

Chad says this in response to this post:

And, so far, you have shown yourself to be a feckless man, behaving like a little girl afraid to get her hands dirty. To say you’re done and then retreat to here to take a last stab…

Me saying I was “done” refers to this comment I made on Free Northerner’s blog in the thread “A Quicker Response”. At the end of my fairly long comment I wrote this:

Frankly, I’m tired of the discussion. The more your (general “your”, not you specifically) view is clarified the more and more convinced I am that it is nonsense.

You get the official last word of the discussion. Thank you for the time. I’m cynical and biting but thankful regardless of your, and everybody else’s, discourse with me. Come down to my blog if you’re ever bored.

Now, to address Chad’s accusations:

1) I wasn’t responding directly to Chad, who apparently thinks my world revolves around him.

2) I made this exact point almost word for word in the original discussion, giving him every chance to respond to me.

3) My username links to my blog, making this ridiculously easy to find – so much so that he found it within a day of my writing it.

4) Chad also neglected to mention that in the same comment where I said I’d be ending the discussion on Free Northerner’s blog I also invited him to mine. Perhaps I need to understand how to retreat better?

5) Chad thinks this blog is a “retreat” to get in a “last stab” because I “don’t like getting my hands dirty”, despite arguing about this subject in at least two, possibly three if I remember correctly, threads on Free Northerner’s blog, and on What’s Wrong With the World, and with people on Zippy’s blog, and with people on Cane Caldo’s blog, and with people on my own blog. Man, my retreating needs some serious re-tooling.

6) And finally, and most importantly, the post that supposedly was an example of me continuing the discussion after I agreed to end it (though it wasn’t a continuation of my discussion with him and was responding to a general bone of contention I saw continually crop up) was written about five and a half hours or so before I said I was interested in ending the discussion on Free Northerner’s blog.

So, any way you slice it, Chad was completely and unequivocally wrong, and rather bitchy about it besides.

I await my apology in due time. *Holds breath*

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Review: “The Walking Dead” Video Game, Season 1 (Mild Language)

Spoiler warning, of course.

I had a very long review over halfway written that was swallowed up by the internet gods, and so here is “The Walking Dead” Video Game Review, Take 2:

TL;DR: I tentatively recommend the game but only if you can get it on sale, because the story and gameplay are simply not good enough to justify paying the full price.

Full Review:

I have never played a more joyless, depressing, nihilistic game in my entire life. Major scenes include

  • You dying
  • A child getting bit by a zombie
  • You having to shoot that child in the head
  • You having to shoot that child in the head immediately after his mother shot herself
  • All of this happening directly in front of the father
  • Rescuing a character only for them to die later anyway (so, so many times)
  • Chopping off your own arm and then later learning that it did nothing at all to help you in the slightest
  • And, finally, lest we forget, you die. Get bit by a zombie and die. The end!

This game was more than depressing. It was nihilistic. It had no meaning except to say that life was shit and we’re all going to die, and nothing we do really matters.

The choice system of the game is an excellent example of this. First, the good: It’s probably the best I’ve ever seen such a system handled. Instead of saddling you with a “good” choice or an “evil” choice a la BioShock, “The Walking Dead” gives you a ton of situations where you need to make snap judgments and decisions. Instead of judging you for them later and sticking you with the moniker of “good guy” or “bad guy” the game merely takes the consequences into account and moves on. Whatever happens, you live with it. This is a major and laudatory development in the design of choice systems in gaming, and “The Walking Dead” is rightly praised for it.

Unfortunately, this is also one of the game’s biggest weaknesses. For all of the illusion of choice that you get in the game when you actually get right down to it the game is incredibly linear. Each episode (the game is split into five “episodes”) starts and ends at the same location no matter how you played through the game. No matter what happens, you’re going to die. No matter who you save, if the game decides they need to die later, they’re dead, and they just take the choice out of your hands next time. All of those little alliance-building decisions you need to make throughout the game? Window dressing, ultimately.

It took me a while for the light bulb to finally click on, but when it did I immediately started taking more risks. Run into the zombie horde for supplies instead of holing up? Why not! I’ll make it to the final episode! The most egregious example came during a point late in the game where you (Lee) have the choice to either leave Clementine (an 8 year old girl who has become a daughter figure to you) in a house while you go off on a supply run or bring her with you. Of course, I brought her with me. Why wouldn’t I? I knew Clementine had to survive, after all. For one thing, there was no way they were killing an 8 year old girl. For another, she’s on the cover of the sequel. And so here was Clementine sneaking into an area that is notorious for killing children, and I had absolutely no fear that this was the wrong move because I knew Clem would survive anyway. Spoiler: Yep.

The absolute worst decision in the whole game, though, comes in Episode 5 – the last episode. After you get bit by a zombie you have a choice to either have your arm cut off in an attempt to slow the infection or even stop you from turning, or to keep the arm under the theory that it’s not going to work and you like that arm.

Of course I got the amputation. And I was honestly, seriously hoping that, hey, maybe Lee would survive if I took this option. Maybe it would at LEAST be ambiguous. But nope. All they did was give you the choice to gruesomely chop off your own arm with the sole goal of grossing you out. It was cruel and unnecessary. It seemed like the game’s entire goal was just to impress upon you the fact that life is meaningless and hope is wasted. Sure, you save Clementine, but save her for what? A world where everybody is royally screwed over. And Clementine has had a lot of time throughout the game to come to the inescapable conclusion “I need to become a killer in order to survive, and not just of zombies”.

Now, these sorts of characters can be interesting, but this game made a sincere and concerted effort to beat you over the head with its special brand of ultra-nihilistic horror and depression. Wheeeeeee.

The plot hit so many zombie apocalypse cliches that somebody who was listening to me play in the background actually burst out laughing. It wasn’t that the dialogue was bad; it wasn’t. It was just all said a billion times before. And the plot of Episode 5 was just ridiculous. My one-armed character who just lost a ridiculous amount of blood and is dying slowly of a zombie bite was able to run across rooftops, make flying jumps, and at one point just take a meat cleaver and slash his way through a horde of thousands of zombies (in an incredibly badass scene, to be fair). I know I’m saying this about a zombie apocalypse game, but I’m going to say it anyway: It made no sense.

Now, with that said:

Somehow, some way, by Episode 5 I was really invested in the story. That final scene where Lee dies in front of Clementine is achingly sad, and kudos to the developers for creating such a strong emotional bond between you and her. When another character got overrun by zombies trying to rescue a different character my immediate reaction was one of sorrow. I was always tense, worried a walker (zombie) would come on screen and grab me when I wasn’t looking, a real achievement for the game. “The Walking Dead” excelled in atmosphere. Episode 2, my favorite one, especially had a creepy haunted house vibe going for it that fit the whole horror feel of the game beautifully. When it came to emotion and atmosphere “The Walking Dead” really shined.

And now, the moment of truth: What do I really think about the game?

“The Walking Dead” is a game that basically attempts to be the big-budget equivalent of “To The Moon”. It has extremely basic gameplay and its major selling point is its story and to a lesser extent its beautiful cel-shaded graphics. In “To The Moon”, it’s story and music.

In my “To The Moon” story review I praised the game for taking risks that major developers wouldn’t make by coming out and boldly announcing to the world “I’ve created a story so good that I don’t even need gameplay”.

I was unfair to the big name developers. “The Walking Dead” does exactly that, but with one crucial difference: The story wasn’t as good. It was good, don’t get me wrong. The story was engrossing and in its own way entertaining. But there was no sense of hope, no life, to the game, and it was so cliche-tastic that I can’t possibly just come out and call the plot great. The father/daughter bond Lee and Clementine develop with each other is done pretty well, but it ends up being done even better in “The Last of Us”. And if we’re comparing the story to “To The Moon”, well, forget about it. “To The Moon” blows it away completely. For that matter, “The Last of Us” has a better story as well. The story just isn’t bold enough to back up the big talk.

So, do I recommend it? Hmmmm…yes, I’ll give it a tentative thumbs up. I intend to get the sequel when it goes on sale as well. It was emotionally engrossing, the atmosphere was great, and while the choice system (the one major aspect of this game that sets it apart from everything else) was flawed it was sill an original idea pulled off quite effectively. Still, of the big three zombie games (“The Last of Us”, “Left 4 Dead 2″, and this) “The Walking Dead” is clearly the worst. Don’t get it unless you can get it on sale like I did. I ended up spending about six bucks and change, definitely worth the price. It’s not a great game, but if you’re in the mood for soul-crushing depression and bleak existential nihilism wrapped up within a cool choice system and pretty graphics, you can’t go wrong for six bucks.

And let’s face it, we’ve all had those days, right?

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But it’s all so clear to me!

Lost in the midst of this discussion on the morality of Old Testament genocide is that when one side claims that it is very clear that God is ordering genocide and the killing of infants in the Old Testament what they’re really saying is that that their interpretation of a several thousand year old book, written by many different authors, during different time periods, by a culture vastly different from ours, and in a language they don’t understand is MORE likely to be correct than the fact that killing babies is always evil.

If you’re utterly convinced that your interpretation of the verse means we can overturn natural law I would argue that that it’s a good time to remind yourself that you, in fact, are not God, and not a Sacred Author, and not an infallible interpreter of Scripture. You’re a man who is arguing that, because of your understanding of certain Old Testament verses, that it is okay to kill babies. The problem here is not with natural law; it is with you.

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A Quicker Response

Free Northerner responded to my post about God wanting a woman to commit divorce with this:

a) Is she a prophet through whom divine revelation flows?

b) Where in that mess of self-justification does God directly and undeniably command her to divorce?

All I read looking through the link is someone selfishly deciding to do something, then looking for every possible excuse to not feel guilty.

He has a lot more after that, but it has nothing to do with the point I made. That’s because this is the quote I responded to:

If after a period of prayer, fasting, consultation with trusted Christian leaders, and testing the spirits I understood the spirits were those of the Lord I would obey [and kill infants].

His answer is that the woman’s spiritual discernment process was clearly off. He is right, and what he apparently does not realize is that this illustrates the problem with his position beautifully.

And by the way – divorce was permitted under the Old Covenant. God ordering people to divorce in certain extreme situations while Israel was still under the Old Covenant is not even remotely comparable to divorce after the arrival of Christ, and it’s actually disappointing to see both FN and Cane miss this and try to use it as a “gotcha” (Cane apparently thought that the Catholic response would be that it was really a “mass annulment” that occurred, but both forget that Catholics don’t disagree that divorce was permitted under the Old Covenant, which is why Jesus’s new rule about divorce was so radical).

Anyway, his response is bad and avoids what he actually said. My guess it’s that he realizes it would be incredibly damning, though I suspect it is more of a “rationalization hamster” that’s leading him to avoid facing his own words directly rather than pure dishonesty.

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