I'm still somewhat under the weather, but I dislike to go two days without posting anything -- the crocodiles start to look threatening after even one day -- so here goes nothing. Please excuse me if there's an unusual lack of connections among the bits.
To those who've written to ask about the progress of Freedom's Fury, it's approaching completion in first draft. At this time, I'd say the first draft will be complete on New Year's Day or a few days afterward. As I can no longer afford the services of a professional editor, I'll shortly be soliciting for test readers to comment on how well it holds together, both as a novel on its own and as the capstone to the Spooner Federation trilogy. Anyone who'd care to volunteer for this thankless and wholly uncompensated labor will also receive copies of Which Art In Hope and Freedom's Scion, for cross-reference.
"What's coming after that?" I hear you cry. Well, if I allow myself to be steered by fan input, it will probably be a novel based on the setting described in "The Warm Lands." (Yes, it would incorporate the original novelette. Gregor has proved to be as appealing a protagonist as any of my others. Hmm. Josh Hutcherson or Chris Hemsworth for the movie version? And who for Laella? Decisions, decisions...)
Courtesy of the esteemed Doug Ross @ Journal, have a gander at what the Left does when it's caught with its hand in the cookie jar:
That's close to an exact transcript. Do please remember that though President Bush went to Congress for authorization of every one of his uses of force, the Left assailed those actions as somehow unConstitutional, and that his mild "signing statements," intended to clarify ambiguous points in the bills he signed, were viciously attacked by this...person and others of his ilk.
Nothing is better guaranteed to incite your opponents to spittle-flecked, irrational fury than well-aimed ridicule:
Though the tactic was arguably unfair in its setting, I am reminded of the passage in Inherit The Wind in which Henry Drummond calls down massive public laughter upon Matthew Harrison Brady for his assertion that God talks to him. Brady, being a stuffed shirt, was not allowed to make the appropriate riposte: "What? Are you saying God doesn't talk to you? I can't imagine why not. Are you spiritually deaf? Conscienceless?"
It is our great good fortune that Barack Hussein Obama is exactly that sort of stuffed shirt.
Today, as Catholics will know, is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception: our celebration of the conception of Mary, the Blessed Virgin Mother of the Son of God, as without sin. That was an absolute necessity for her role as the vessel by which Jesus was to be delivered into the world, for He was to know no sin Himself, and could not have been borne by a mother tainted by it.
Any number of Protestants denigrate Catholics as worshipping Mary, as if she were as divine as her Son. This could not be further from the truth, but people will always seek a reason to look down on those whose beliefs diverge from theirs. We do not worship the Blessed Virgin. We venerate her as the Mother of Jesus, and as the model for human courage and steadfastness under trial.
Don't quite get it? Consider: Mary was barely of mature years when the angel came to her and asked for her consent to be Jesus's human mother. She knew her culture well; in particular, she knew that it regarded sex outside of wedlock as a stoning offense. Therefore, to accede to God's request, she had to accept the eventual necessity to defend herself against that charge. That required a degree of courage that no one dare denigrate. It makes her the model of womanhood for all of Mankind, and justly deserving of the honor we accord her.
And she took the pitcher and went forth to fill it with water: and lo a voice saying: Hail, thou that art highly favoured; the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.
And she looked about her upon the right hand and upon the left, to see whence this voice should be: and being filled with trembling she~ went to her house and set down the pitcher, and took the purple and sat down upon her seat and drew out the thread.
And behold an angel of the Lord stood before her saying: Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace before the Lord of all things, and thou shalt conceive of his word. And she, when she heard it, questioned in herself, saying: Shall I verily conceive of the living God, and bring forth after the manner of all women? And the angel of the Lord said: Not so, Mary, for a power of the Lord shall overshadow thee: wherefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of the Highest. And thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins. And Mary said: Behold the handmaid of the Lord is before him: be it unto me according to thy word.
And she made the purple and the scarlet and brought them unto the priest. And the priest blessed her and said: Mary, the Lord God hath magnified thy name, and thou shalt be blessed among all generations of the earth.
And Mary rejoiced and went away unto Elizabeth her kinswoman: and she knocked at the door. And Elizabeth when she heard it cast down the scarlet and ran to the door and opened it, and when she saw Mary she blessed her and said: Whence is this to me that the mother of my Lord should come unto me? for behold that which is in me leaped and blessed thee. And Mary forgot the mysteries which Gabriel the archangel had told her, and she looked up unto the heaven and said: Who am I, Lord, that all the generations of the earth do bless me?
And she abode three months with Elizabeth, and day by day her womb grew: and Mary was afraid and departed unto her house and hid herself from the children of Israel. Now she was sixteen years old when these mysteries came to pass.
Now it was the sixth month with her, and behold Joseph came from his building, and he entered into his house and found her great with child. And he smote his face, and cast himself down upon the ground on sackcloth and wept bitterly, saying: With what countenance shall I look unto the Lord my God? and what prayer shall I make concerning this maiden? for I received her out of the temple of the Lord my God a virgin, and have not kept her safe. Who is he that hath ensnared me? Who hath done this evil in mine house and hath defiled the virgin? Is not the story of Adam repeated in me ? for as at the hour of his giving thanks the serpent came and found Eve alone and deceived her, so hath it befallen me also.
And Joseph arose from off the sackcloth and called Mary and said unto her O thou that wast cared for by God, why hast thou done this? thou hast forgotten the Lord thy God. Why hast thou humbled thy soul, thou that wast nourished up in the Holy of Holies and didst receive food at the hand of an angel?
But she wept bitterly, saying: I am pure and I know not a man. And Joseph said unto her: Whence then is that which is in thy womb ? and she said: As the Lord my God liveth, I know not whence it is come unto me.
And Joseph was sore afraid and ceased from speaking unto her (or left her alone), and pondered what he should do with her. And Joseph said: If I hide her sin, I shall be found fighting against the law of the Lord: and if I manifest her unto the children of Israel, I fear lest that which is in her be the seed of an angel, and I shall be found delivering up innocent blood to the judgement of death. What then shall I do ? I will let her go from me privily. And the night came upon him.
And behold an angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying: Fear not this child, for that which is in her is of the Holy Ghost, and she shall bear a son and thou shalt call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins. And Joseph arose from sleep and glorified the God of Israel which had shown this favour unto her: and he watched over her.
Now Annas the scribe came unto him and said to him: Wherefore didst thou not appear in our assembly? and Joseph said unto him: I was weary with the journey, and I rested the first day. And Annas turned him about and saw Mary great with child.
And he went hastily to the priest and said unto him: Joseph, to whom thou bearest witness [that he is righteous] hath sinned grievously. And the priest said: Wherein ? And he said: The virgin whom he received out of the temple of the Lord, he hath defiled her, and married her by stealth (lit. stolen her marriage), and hath not declared it to the children of Israel. And the priest answered and said: Hath Joseph done this? And Annas the scribe said: Send officers, and thou shalt find the virgin great with child. And the officers went and found as he had said, and they brought her together with Joseph unto the place of judgement.
And the priest said: Mary, wherefore hast thou done this, and wherefore hast thou humbled thy soul and forgotten the Lord thy God, thou that wast nurtured in the Holy of Holies and didst receive food at the hand of an angel and didst hear the hymns and didst dance before the Lord, wherefore hast thou done this?
But she wept bitterly, saying: As the Lord my God liveth I am pure before him and I know not a man.
And the priest said unto Joseph: Wherefore hast thou done this? And Joseph said: As the Lord my God liveth I am pure as concerning her. And the priest said: Bear no false witness but speak the truth: thou hast married her by stealth and hast not declared it unto the children of Israel, and hast not bowed thine head under the mighty hand that thy seed should be blessed. And Joseph held his peace.
And the priest said: Restore the virgin whom thou didst receive out of the temple of the Lord. And Joseph was full of weeping. And the priest said: I will give you to drink of the water of the conviction of the Lord, and it will make manifest your sins before your eyes.
And the priest took thereof and made Joseph drink and sent him into the hill-country. And he returned whole. He made Mary also drink and sent her into the hill-country. And she returned whole. And all the people marvelled, because sin appeared not in them.
And the priest said: If the Lord God hath not made your sin manifest, neither do I condemn you. And he let them go. And Joseph took Mary and departed unto his house rejoicing, and glorifying the God of Israel.
Not too shabby for a girl of sixteen, eh? But it gets better: Mary had received a Judaic religious education, and was familiar with Judaic Scripture -- what we of today would call the Old Testament. She knew the fate in store for her divine Son, and that it would be her responsibility to accompany Him to the end of it. Add that to her willingness to risk death by stoning. Find me another human woman willing to court such a destiny.
Praise be to Mary, the Virgin Mother of God, the highest of the saints, who intercedes for us with her Son as we request.
And may God bless and keep you all.