What spurred me to ever-so-tentatively extend a toe over the starting line?
Dread. My immersion in the concerns of the larger world brought me to a tipping point. Any last iota of intention that the name of this blog be cleverly hyperbolic, wry, or ironic was wrung from my purpose in so naming it.
I looked at the landscape of the three levels that preoccupy my observations - cultural, economic, and foreign-policy - and the word "demonic" kept arising in my thoughts.
And that was two-plus years ago.
Consider the current state of our "civilization":
Ours is a society in which high-school football coaches allow their teams to take a knee during the national anthem, in order to coddle their players' utterly uninformed view that our society is fundamentally racially unjust.
Ours is a society in which the Supreme Court creates from whole cloth a "right" to something that is impossible by definition.
Ours is a society in which major corporations, sports leagues and the biggest stars of the music world grandstand against a state because its legislature refuses to open school restrooms to individuals suffering profound mental disturbances about their basic identities.
Ours is a society that has narrowed its viable presidential choices to the two most unpopular candidates in anyone's lifetime.
Ours is a culture the art forms of which are devoid of beauty, romance, dignity or humor above a juvenile level.
Ours is a nation the "president" of which has baldly lied to the citizenry about the results of a massive governmental intrusion into the way people care for their health.
Ours is a society the government of which wages war on the least expensive and most reliable forms of energy, forms that gave the human species a quantum leap in its standard of living over a two-century period, in favor of forms that cannot pay their own way in the marketplace, all in service of a "scientific" fiction.
Ours is a government the diplomatic arm of which spent years getting publicly humiliated by a mortal enemy in order to reach a meaningless "agreement" about that enemy's nuclear ambitions. Since reaching that "agreement," that enemy has conducted three missile tests, held a crew from our Navy hostage (on the night of the State of the Union address), and routinely harassed our ships in international waters.
Ours is a world in which Russia has troops and tanks amassed at eight staging areas on the Ukraine border.
Ours is a world in which China makes artificial islands in international waters and outfits them with landing strips for its fighter jets.
Ours is a world in which North Korea conducts missile tests and even nuclear-weapon tests with increasing frequency.
Ours is a world in which the parties influencing events in the hellhole that is Syria are Russia, Iran, Turkey and ISIS. Post-America is not among them, having given up any capacity for influence when its "red line" concerning chemical weapons proved to be meaningless.
I was faced with an existential question: In such a world, where is one to look for basic sense, basic wisdom, a love of truth, basic dignity, actual love?
As much as I'd bristled at the notion of a devil, the world came to appear as being in the grip of a dark force. I was forced to confront what C.S. Lewis had to say about that force:
I know someone will ask me, "Do you really mean, at this time of day, to re-introduce our old friend the devil - horns and hoofs and all?" Well, what the time of day has to do with it I do not know. And I am not particular about the hoofs and horns. But in other respects my answer is "Yes, I do." I do not claim to know anything about his personal appearance. If anybody really wants to know him better I would say to that person, 'Don't worry. If you really want to, you will. Whether you'll like it when you do is another question.'Last Sunday, my minister's sermon was about how to get past worry. I'll confess he was nearly to his wrapping-up point and still about to lose me. It looked like that escapism that had been sticking in my craw, an exhortation to shut out the pressing issues of the day and focus on one's own attitudes. But then he said this: "Trust me, this world is not going to conform to your standards for a satisfactory place to live. It hasn't ever done so, and it won't start now."
And that's the crux of it. About the time some light comes into this realm, darkness once again encroaches.
If there is any escape route, it's to be found in another realm entirely.
And how to learn about that realm, that route?
There is a compilation of sixty-six books that spans a three-thousand-plus-year history of a particular region of the world where that route was revealed to particular people, who then made it available to all.
The key, as stressed over and over throughout those books, is a one-on-one conversation with the author of the light.
It's essential if one is not to be devoured by the Father of Lies.