7 Quick Takes (2/1/13)

— 1 —

It has been a busy week for me, so lets all kick back and enjoy some slow motion video of burning gasoline being thrown through the air.

— 2 —

Meanwhile, around the internet, some of my college chums had some great essays this month.  Helen Rittelmeyer has a great piece on the Leopold half of Leopold and Loeb:

We know that Leopold was seduced by Nietzsche and then saved from death by Clarence Darrow’s closing statement, and it’s possible that he found faith, in his own way, by the end. Damned by romantic nihilism, rescued by liberal humanitarianism, redeemed by belief—it certainly would have gratified Leopold’s outsize ego to learn that he could plausibly claim to have lived the 20th century in miniature.


— 3 —

And over at Super Flumina, Eliot Milco is talking about the theological possessiveness of converts and reverts:

Most of us go through a period of inquiry that marks the transition between the thoughtless practice of our parents’ faith and the adoption of faith as a living force in our own lives. This period of inquiry is sparked by different events in different people. Sometimes, as our friends shift toward the comfortable agnosticism of the age, we pause and look back and ask what we’re leaving behind. For others, after a period of rejection or doubt, some merit in the old ideas is revealed, or the tassels of popular theology brush up against us and alleviate our sorrows. Whatever it is that strikes us while we are ungrounded and brings us gracefully back to earth, we tend to see those first intimations of eternal glory as the touchstone and key to our theological lives. In my generation many people are touched this way by the Theology of the Body, or by the works of Chesterton and Lewis and their descendants. A spark of grace and hope leaps from these fringes of the Christian Tradition into the lives of young people and they hold fast to it.

Once we grab hold of faith, we tend to enshrine the voices that first called us to it, and, in accord with our delight and satisfaction with the gifts received, we tend to take these first hints of meaning and insight as fundamental: the most important, the most wonderful, the most accessible and upbuilding and beautiful. This tendency springs from our longing to have finished, to have understood once and for all what’s in store for us, not to need to strive for further transformation and development as participants in the divine truth handed down to us from the Apostles.

— 4 —

This week I shared my Chicago talk on Ideological Turing Tests with you all, and I’ve since discovered that there is an Ideological Turing Test Wikipedia page as well as an Ideological Turing Test subreddit.  The latter is a bit more interesting, since it’s meant to help people set up their own tests, but the former is a bit more personally useful to me, as it decreases the proportion of Wikipedia cites to me that are about Glee.

— 5 —

I’m out of Les Mis posts this week, but, luckily, I’ve got an interesting Hobbit link to sub in instead.  Novelist Drew Bowling has written a two part series for Aleteia on how Tolkein’s Catholicism influences his books.

— 6 —

And in other Hobbit-related links, Oh my tweedy steed (a fashion tumblr I follow), caused me to find this audio track of Tolkien singing.

— 7 —

No transition for this awesome story about a long-running game of tag, but it would be a shame to leave it out for want of a segue:

The game they play is fundamentally the same as the schoolyard version: One player is “It” until he tags someone else. But men in their 40s can’t easily chase each other around the playground, at least not without making people nervous, so this tag has a twist. There are no geographic restrictions and the game is live for the entire month of February. The last guy tagged stays “It” for the year.

That means players get tagged at work and in bed. They form alliances and fly around the country. Wives are enlisted as spies and assistants are ordered to bar players from the office.

“You’re like a deer or elk in hunting season,” says Joe Tombari, a high-school teacher in Spokane, who sometimes locks the door of his classroom during off-periods and checks under his car before he gets near it.

One February day in the mid-1990s, Mr. Tombari and his wife, then living in California, got a knock on the door from a friend. “Hey, Joe, you’ve got to check this out. You wouldn’t believe what I just bought,” he said, as he led the two out to his car.

What they didn’t know was Sean Raftis, who was “It,” had flown in from Seattle and was folded in the trunk of the Honda Accord. When the trunk was opened he leapt out and tagged Mr. Tombari, whose wife was so startled she fell backward off the curb and tore a ligament in her knee.



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  • I LOVED that tag story. We had senior tag at my high school and while my friends and I didn’t have teams, it was sweet to watch the teams go at it, and avoid the businesses with the “no senior tag” markers. It could get absolutely insane.

  • Kristin

    To those of you needing a Les Mis-theology hit, I found this over at Standing on My Head:

  • Kristin

    Also on the theme of Christianity in culture, would you consider writing about Buffy sometime? Joss may have a similar background as you, as he’s a secular humanist, but the religious themes in Buffy are insane. I’m working my way through Season 5, and – rot13 for spoilers for all those who haven’t gotten to Season 5, ‘Fool for Love’:
    V’z ng gur cneg jurer Fcvxr snyyf va ybir jvgu Ohssl, naq V pna’g uryc ohg guvax nobhg gur vqrn bs n qrzba orvat genafsbezrq ol ybir. V nyfb qba’g dhvgr haqrefgnaq jul gurl qba’g rkcyber zber nobhg npghnyyl gelvat gb znxr Fcvxr *tbbq* nsgre gur puvc vf vzcynagrq va uvf oenva. Pbhyq n qrzba sebz gur uryyjbeyq yrnea gb npghnyyl nccerpvngr uhznavgl? (www.rot13.com)

    • Darren

      Not to give out spoilers of my own – you have good questions; keep watching.

    • Darren

      BTW, feel lucky. Avoid spoilers. You are mid-season 5? You thought it was good before, you haven’t seen anything yet!

      • Kristin

        Ahhh! Thank you for sharing my Buffy love. It really is Joss’s magnum opus. I could write a book on the awesomeness of Buffy (cinematically – the dreamy season coda of “Restless”, the sparse dialogue of “Hush”, the characters – Xander as the “Zeppo”, Buffy herself, Willow, Tara, Angel in “Amends”…) , so I’m always excited to encounter other Scooby-ers!!

        • Darren

          Season five is about where I got hooked, and it only went up from there… Soooo much awsomeness lies still ahead for you; I really am jealous!

          So… hard… not… to… spoil!

          Once you are done, check out “Firefly”. It is… different… but also the same…

          • Kristin

            I’ve seen Firefly/Serenity, and Dr. Horrible, of course, and Dollhouse (which…. I just – there aren’t any words for Dollhouse…). I haven’t seen Cabin in the Woods yet, which I really want to. I’ll be delving into Angel immediately at the conclusion of Buffy Season 7 to mitigate withdrawal symptoms. Firefly is good, and extremely original in that the concept of what-happens-to-the-losers-after-the-war is seldom explained. I’m trying to pace myself at an episode of Buffy a day, because the characters are so well-realized that I’m addicted to them. Especially Spiiiiiiiiike.

          • Darren

            I’ll have to check out Dollhouse.

            I never quite got sucked into Angel the way I did Buffy, but it certainly has it’s moments.

          • Darren, if you loved Buffy, you’re going to . . . well, Dollhouse was pretty disappointing. To second Kristin: intriguing concept, wasted potential. Have pity on me: my wonderful wife has been made wary of trying to watch Buffy by having seen Dollhouse (and had her experience of the original Star Wars trilogy shaped by having seen the prequels first).
            Favorite Firefly bit, btw:

            Wash: A ghost? That’s like something out of science fiction.
            Zoe: We live on a spaceship, dear.
            Wash: So?

          • Darren

            And that is one of the beauties of Firefly, the great quotes…

            One of my favorites:

            ”Mal: Well, look at this! Appears we got here just in the nick of time. What does that make us?

            Zoe: Big damn heroes, sir!

            Mal: Ain’t we just?”

            Too bad about “Dollhouse”, thanks for the expectation management.

            Tough news about Buffy and the wife. I got hooked in season five, course it was broadcast then, and only saw the earlier shows after.

            Feh, George Lucas… Summing up nicely how I feel about that one:
            (you’ve probably already seen it. But being work safe and a Monday morning…)

            Star Wars that I Used to Know

    • leahlibresco

      You may be interested in seeing Warm Bodies

      • Darren

        That looks pretty awesome! (if they don’t go all “Twilight-y” with it)

        If you like that, try this one, Night of the Living Dorks. The trailer gives a pretty good impression of the rest of the movie…

        (Warning, R rated for nudity and occasional flesh-eating)

        • Darren

          Did you fix my wonky link?


          • leahlibresco

            Yup, I do quick housekeeping when I spot it.

      • Kristin

        I hadn’t heard about that yet – up my undead alley! Thanks for the rec.

        • Darren

          Since we are on the theme of Buffy and zombie teen movies:

          Idle Hands” with Seth Green (Oz!)

          (Also R, more for comic violence and drug use, but there might be some nudity)

          • Kristin

            I have also seen Idle Hands and can recommend it for campy horror shlock! Very good.
            Re: Dollhouse. There are many opinions on DH, some in the Joss Can Film No Wrong camp, others, not in that camp. I’m more in the latter. I thought the concept was great, and the show has some fantastic high points, but it could have been so much more than it was. Alan Tudyk in this show, however, is absolutely not to be missed, and it is worth watching (just two seasons), but there was a lot of unrealized potential in the show, imho.

      • grok87

        Thanks for the tip, just saw it. It was really good. funny and touching. The audience clapped at the end.

    • I couldn’t agree more – there are some very interesting religious themes in Buffy, Angel, and Firefly. I’m surprised by just how right Joss gets it at times in his shows, only to miss it in his life. Two particular moments so stuck in me that I had to start a blog to get the ideas out – and many more have followed as I watch the shows again and again.
      The first is Jayne’s difficulty at the end of “Jaynestown”. Who am I that he should die for me? Indeed.
      The second is an admittedly loose reading of Job 42:5-6, which sheds a very different light (forgive the pun) on Spike’s scene at the end of the last episode of the series.

  • Mike

    1. Burning gasoline flying through the air sounds like something I’d like to see in person. Can’t see the video here but I am sure it’s cool. Also, in case anyone is wondering, I like the smell of gasoline. Yup.
    2. Interesting article. I’d never heard of Leopold and Loeb. Sounds like a law firm though, not the name of 2 murderers. Nihilism seems to have that effect on people. Wasn’t it all the rage in pre-war Europe? The will to power, the superman inside, the raw exhilarating fury of a stampede of wild stallions rushing past, wasn’t that what was on the minds of the intellectuals in the 30s?
    3. Good points. It’s hard to go beyond the familiar, the thing that brought you back, and into the unknown. It takes guts to join to come back and to keep going.
    4. Sometimes I think this test would be perfect for my uber-lefty friends, most of whom are for example positive fox news is wrong, but then also admit to never having watched it in the first place to actually find out if it is in fact wrong.
    5. Yeah I thought I knew it all until I found out Tolkien was a serious Catholic, who knew? Same goes for the medium is the message guy, Marshall Mcluhan, who was also a daily mass goer. Oh and of course Mark Walberg 🙂 BTW Ted sucked. It was vulgar and stupid , most of it was.
    6. Love it! I wish I had friends like that…sigh.

    • deiseach

      Mike, Hitchcock’s film Rope is based on the Leopold and Loeb case. Famous for being filmed in one continuous take (although it was actually edited to make it appear as such). Stars Jimmy Stewart as the teacher whose glib lectures produce an unexpected effect on two of his students.

      You’re probably too young to have seen this old film, though 😉

      • Mike

        No I’ve seen it, I downloaded it and watched it a couple of months ago. It’s good. It takes place in NY in a penthouse. But obviously I didn’t know it was about L&L. The killer thinks the law doesn’t apply to him because he’s above it or something. It reminds me of Raskolnikov and his theory about great men and about how they are exempt from the moral law. BTW Have you ever noticed how much dialogue there is in those old movies? It’s hard to keep up.

        PS If you’re looking for another great movie check out the decalogue by Kieslowski. It’s 10 movies and it’s really quite good. You’ll need the subtitles though. Lantana is also good, it’s aussie. And so is Brazil with Robert DeNiro as a vigilante plumber. It’s a cult classic and really weird.

    • Darren

      1 – If so, please, please, please have a flamable liquids fire extinguisher handy, not a garden hose… those two are lucky they are not sporting skin grafts now…

    • Arizona Mike

      It’s always kind of interesting to find out people are Catholics (and regular communicants) that you didn’t think were. Hitchcock was, of course – his film “I Confess” is a classic mystery about the bonds of the confessional. The Wall Street Journal had a moving piece recently about Hitchcock’s last communion before his death.

      Despite his somewhat hedonistic posse, Andy Warhol was a (Ruthenian Rite) Catholic who went to Mass daily and remained, by his own admission, celibate through his life.

      Plus, Alec Guinness (he converted after appearing in a movie based on a G.K. Chesterton novel, so another Chesterton convert), Patrick McGoohan (used to see him at Mass in Santa Monica), Peter Weller (so we have a Geek Catholic 3-pack, here: Obi Wan Kenobi, Number 6, and Robocop), Babe Ruth, Bill Murray (his sister, a nun, is appeared here in Phoenix tonight in a one act-play she wrote about “The Life and Martyrdom of Sr. Dorothy Stang”), Chloe Sevigny, Doc Holliday, John Ford, John Wayne (like Oscar Wilde, a late-in-life convert), Squanto (freed from slavery by the Franciscans), Levar Burton (almost became a priest).

      • deiseach

        I didn’t know that about Peter Weller; it makes me enjoy all the more that line in “Robocop 2” about Irish Catholics making the best cyborgs (when the Evil Corporation execs are discussing how come Murphy is functioning when all their other specimens blew up or went nuts or went nuts and then blew up).

        Yes, I very nearly cheered out loud in the cinema at that bit: yay us! 🙂

  • deiseach

    Fire makes everything better 🙂

    And, in an association of fire with today’s saint, one of the Three Patrons of Ireland, Lá ‘le Bríde shona daoibh! It’s also traditionally the first day of Spring in Ireland, so the weather is as you’d expect – extremely windy and gusting showers of rain.

    If you want to make your own St. Brigid’s Cross (to hang up over the kitchen door, in the cow byre, etc.), then instructional video is here.

    • Lá Fhéile Bríde sona duit, Dhéiseach!

      My mother was always a big believer in having St. Brigid’s Cross over the door. My wife and I might now be one of the only families in Texas to have it over our door, but I can’t imagine not having one.

    • grok87

      I loved the video of making a St. Brigid’s Cross.

      • deiseach

        Belated reply to you both, but thank you for the good wishes.

        grok87, I would demur about the association of Bridget the Goddess(es), daughter(s) of the Dagda, with Síle-na-gig; the Síles are apotropaic symbols, and although some of them are very cheerful little idols, some are grim and ghastly. Myself, I think their association is the Earth as womb and tomb of Man (so the exposure of the vulva coupled with the very prominent ribs as featured in some of the carvings) reminds us that we came from there and we go back there.

        Which would be Danu the Mother Goddess, not Brigid; the famous Paps mountains in Kerry being associated with her. But then again, exposition of Celtic pre-history is anyone’s game!

  • Darren



    Nietzsche =/= Nihilist.


    Leah, I know that you know better (or _should_), but apparently Catholics are not any more sophisticated than the “fundies” on this one…

    Nor did the Ubermensch have anything to do with murdering one’s fellows (or lording over them, for that matter).

    The irony being that Nietzsche spent so much of his time criticizing Christianity for _its_ Nihilism…

    You want to understand Nietzsche?

    I have _the_perfect_educational_tool_, and considering that today is February 1st, it is the perfect time to share it with Leah’s readers.

    Groundhog Day

    Go watch the movie. You will then have as strong an understanding of Nietzche’s concept of the Ubermensch and of his Eternal Recurrence as any undergraduate level course would give you. Really.

    • ACN

      I’d recommend Daniel Fincke’s blog (also on the fine patheos network):


      He’s a philosopher who’s blogged EXTENSIVELY about Nietzsche, and in fact, wrote his doctoral dissertation mostly on Nietzsche. “Nietzsche” is one of his post categories!

      • Darren

        Yes, a fine read. I was hoping he might magically appear to defend the honor of Nietzche… then thought I would take a stab at it myself… 🙂

        • ACN

          Don’t you have to say his name three times in a bathroom mirror or something?

          Or am I thinking of beetlejuice? 🙂

          • Derp. That’s what I get for not reading all the comments before posting. What ACN said.

        • Darren

          Or Biggie Smalls (Southpark)

        • Maybe if we say his name three times he will appear?

          …it works on reddit, anyways…

    • Mike

      But wasn’t Nietzsche all about there being nothing but the will to power? That we are really supermen but don’t know it. I don’t have a degree in this but I am pretty sure that that was the intellectual milieu of the time. That religion is dead and that the future belongs to those who seize it, by force if necessary. There was no moral law, no limits. That’s what gave the national socialists their in so to speak. They exploited a culture that was embracing nihilism at break neck speed.

      BTW are fundies fundamentalists? I’ve never heard that before. I love it Nietzsche as Bill Murray the hapless self-absorbed weatherman.

      • ACN

        I don’t think you have an accurate understanding of either the history you’re describing, or of Nietzsche’s philosophy.

        Dan has a number of approachable pieces that would be worth your time to check out.

      • Darren

        Almost exactly the opposite.

        Nietzsche was very distressed, as it where, by the loss of the moral certainty that belief in God had provided. He feared Nihilism most of all. He did not kill God, he found God already dead at the hands of the Enlightenment. Nietzsche just tried to pick up the pieces and figure out what to do next…

        He also loathed the proto-Aryans that eventually became the National Socialists. To put words into his mouth, he would have considered them arrogant assholes who replaced real introspection and the search for meaning with slogan shouting and groupthink. After his illness and death, his sister, who was an Aryan supremacist, portrayed her brother’s work as supporting of that philosophy, as a very superficial reading would give that impression. She helped thing along with selective publishing and some “creative” editing of her brothers work.

        Really, what you are describing is more in line with Aynn Rand, which is a bit ironic as the Christian Right has a great fondness for Rand…

        The Ubermensch was Nietzche’s ideal human who was defined primarily by his _moral_ courage, having the courage to tear everything he ever knew to shreds and hold fast to only that which was true in himself.

        Spoilers – Not the hapless weatherman, but Murray on his very last Groundhog Day. No consequences, no repercussions, he can rob, rape, murder, rule his fellow men, indulge every vice, but what does he do instead? He reads, he plays music, he improves himself, he is kind to others, not because they will even remember his kindness, but just because it pleases him to be kind. The Will to Power is Murray’s will to be true to this ultimate version of himself. He becomes this Ubermensch, content in his own virtue even if he remains in Groundhog Day for eternity. Only then does he escape the Eternal Recurrence.

        • ACN

          “She helped thing along with selective publishing and some “creative” editing of her brothers work.”

          Specifically, virtually the entire content of “The Will to Power” is this. His sister quote-mined, and re-wrote, and crudely assembled a bunch of his final notes that a) he or may not have ever intended to publish and b) were basically written as he was going insane anyway.

          • Darren

            Thanks ACN;

            I never could make any sense of “The Will to Power”.

            My insight into Nietzsche is far from complete; a “PHIL102 – Intro to Ethics” GTA who _loved_ him, and thus found every chance he could to work him into the curriculum; an early college GF who focused her undergraduate on him and spent a lot of time telling me how great he was ( 🙂 ), and a stint of reading post-deconversion, him being such a boogieman that it felt luxuriously decadent to be seen in public with a copy of “Thus Spoke Zarathustra”…

            Ah, to be young and reactionary again…

          • ACN

            “I never could make any sense of “The Will to Power”.”

            Heh heh heh.

            In retrospective you should probably be relieved since it’s basically a bundle of disjointed nazi apologetics 🙂

        • Mike

          I see. So is N. some sort of atheist hero? Serious q. are atheists proud of him? Like of his work? He gets a pretty bad rap all around, theists atheists whatever he’s generally viewed as the intellectual force behind national socialism.

          • Darren

            Not really. Nietzche is notoriously difficult to understand; he is not exactly accessible.

            Christians like to bash him along with Darwin, who ironically Nietzche also did not like…

            He is the farthest thing from the force behind National Socialism…

            NS was viewed by most of the pro-religious, pro-family groups as a tough, hard-minded, but neccesary opposition to Godless Communism. This is why it, and Hitler, was quite popular in the US, and the RCC, right up until he rolled tanks into Belgium…

          • Mike

            I see. Yes, there is nothing worse not even Nazi Germany than Communism – the most heinous de-humanizing ideology ever invented.

          • Darren,
            National Socialism was *not* popular with the Church “until [it] rolled tanks into Belgium”:
            If you’re looking for a “the Church was too soft on fascism” stick (or axe wrapped in sticks?) to beat us with, you’ll have more luck with Franco than Hitler.

          • Darren


            It really was not meant as a criticism, politics makes strange bedfellows and Hitler and the Nazis were seen as a bulwark against an even worse foe.

            If I overstepped and gave the impression that the Church was _enthusiastic_ about Hitler, I appologize. Such a claim would be outside of my knowledge, and so I will defer to you.

            Claim withdrawn.

          • ACN

            I think calling real human beings heroes is almost always a bad idea.

            Nietzsche was was a philosopher. He was an atheist. He had a lot of complicated views. The ‘bad rap’ he gets is basically because his sister turned him into a nazi sock-puppet after he’d died/gone insane. I don’t know who you’re polling to get this “general view”, but it sounds like no one who is at all familiar with his work.

          • Darren


            Thank you for the link.

            As mentioned before, many received an unwelcome wakeup after Hitler rose to power. The article does show that the RCC received that long before Belgium.

          • Darren

            Why do all my discussions end up at Hitler?

            Lest I be accused of oversimplification (which I do), the situation in the US was also complex. The descent of Hitler from his position as anti-Communist strongman/hero to Evil Enemy was more of a stairway than one single jump.; death by a thousand cuts, as it were. Americans, also, were divided. We had our own socialist / communist sympathizers, and those for whom the “excesses” of National Socialism were seen as too extreme by any justification.

            I should also add that just because National Socialism convinced German Family Values voters in the late 20’s and early 30’s to vote them into power, this in no way implies they were acting in their own best interest in doing so… They were being reactionary to strange and frightening social changes, coupled with economic strain. The National Socialists capitalized on this fear to their own benefit, and the ultimate detriment of German families.

            A worthy cautionary tale, I think…

    • Mike

      Oh Hesse and Sidhartha is (I think) another exploration of nihilism. Funny how it seems to find a natural home in eastern philosophy. And weird how the national socialists ended up with a buddhist symbol on their flag! eek! BTW I am not suggesting in case you think I am that N. was a nazi or anything like that. I just think his philosophy fits in nicely with theories of national superiority.

      • Darren

        BTW, the National Socialists rode into power on what we would call a “Family Values” platform: returning society back to its traditional roots, most especially the traditional role of marriage, women, and family. This was a large part of the reason that the German Catholic party, tremendously influential in the 20’s and early 30’s, went along with the National Socialists

        – note, they did not explicitly help, but when asked to oppose the NS by the smaller opposition parties, they chose to “remain neutral”, which considering they were the only roadblock to Hitler’s victory, and they knew it, effectively put Hitler into office…

        • Mike

          Those family values, and Catholics! Eek! No wonder Santorum never stood a chance :). BTW let’s not forget the effect of reparations on the economy either.

          • Darren

            Not at all… Idle hands are the Devil’s Workshop, and unemployed young Germans had time on their hands to get all kinds of angry at the rest of the world and the “liberal-elite” German government that had come into power after WWI…

            And middle aged Germans had time to get worked up over the “redefinition of marriage” caused by the scandalous practice of women going off to work instead of staying home and having babies…

          • Mike

            I see. Interesting. Now do you understand just how important the definition of marriage really is? 🙂 But seriously I am curious if atheists really do consider N. a role model for lack of a better word.

          • Darren

            I understand how it can backfire.

            After comming to power on the pro-family vote (among others), Hitler promptly kicked all of the women out of his government and told them to go home and have babies!

            Carefull what you wish for.

          • Darren

            ” But seriously I am curious if atheists really do consider N. a role model for lack of a better word.”

            Insofar as he devoted his life to figuring out how we could live happy, fulfilled, productive, just, and virtuous lives? Yes.

            So far as having his work suppressed due to his open, and loud, criticism of German nationalism – to the point that he died in near obscurity?

            In his suffering from intense migraines, neurological ailments, having a stroke in his forties, and living the last ten years of his life as an invalid?

            In having his name and work stolen to support ideas that were the antithesis of everything he ever held true?

            That’s not exactly what most people would aspire to, if that is what you mean…

          • Mike

            Kind of like Romney and his binders full of women! 🙂 And again, the family, oooh the family! Evil isn’t it? Always rearing its ugly little menacing head where it doesn’t belong. You’re very well read Darren.

          • Mike

            Darren, sometimes you sound like a Christian. You’re always saying this and that are wrong and unjust and that he lead a virtuous life and so on and so forth. Amazing you don’t think there’s more to life than the chemicals in our bodies. Truly.

          • Darren

            Believe it or not, Christians did not invent virtue…


          • Darren

            Scared humans are easy to manipulate, Mike. Politicians have learned this. Politicians have also learned that few things scare a human more reliably than a perceived threat to their family.

        • This sounds a lot like crude (very crude) secular mythologizing.

          The truth is that until recently “family values” were obvious default mores, so every regime that was savvy about media use and propaganda trumpeted their commitment to them. Politicians kissing little babies has a LONG tradition.

          We should be no more surprised that the Nazis pushed their commitment to family values than that they pushed their commitment to prosperity and happiness and fairness and beer. Seriously, its hard to take seriously someone who takes this kind of sophistry seriously.

      • Darren

        It has nothing to do with national superiority.

        Take a quick read, and you will notice the one group he criticizes more than the Christians were the Germans… He even “faked” Polish heritage to avoid being thought of as German…

    • EXCELLENT idea. I will do this tonight.

      • Darren

        Great! Have you seen it before?

        Give us your thoughts after!

    • Whether L & L were inspired by Neitzsche is a historical fact. That is the claim and nothing you’ve said rebuts it. If Catholics can misread Nietzsche, according to you, then you have no reason to think that L & L couldn’t have done the same.

      • Darren

        They may very likely have been.

        Charles Manson said the Beetles were sending him secret messages in the White album, and yet most reports of his crimes did _not_ claim that such messages were actually to be found…

    • The worst thing about Nietzsche is those who’ve used his writings to buttress ideologies ranging from the murderous to the puerile. But then I consider this comparison:
      Nietzsche: often unfortunate in his enthusiasts. Our Lord Jesus Christ: also often unfortunate in his enthusiasts. We Christians live in a glass house on this one….

      • Mike

        Are you really comparing the adherents of national socialism to Christians? Geez, why don’t you tell us how you really feel about Christianity :). Ouch!

        • National Socialism is pretty much straight-up Satanic. Christianity, obviously, is not. However, there have been some stupid, murderous Christians over the centuries, as you know.

          • Mike

            Oh yes, there have, of course.

    • If you had actually read the piece, Darren, you would know that there is no link identified in the article between Nietzsche and nihilism but between Leopold’s reading of Nietzsche and nihilism. If you honestly don’t know about the role of Nietzsche in Leopold’s trial, or Clarence Darrow’s famous summation, I recommend you look up at least the latter; it’s a classic speech, and a good summary of how Nietzsche was popularly understood at the time — which, of course, was as a nihilist. It’s not as if the nihilistic interpretation of Nietzsche just magically came out of the blue, invented by “fundies”; there’s a complicated history to it, of which the Leopold and Loeb trial is one of the more surprising and interesting moments.

      I second ACN’s recommendation of Camels with Hammers; Fincke has some fascinating discussions on the subject.

      • The core problem here is that nihilist has several meanings, some of which do apply to Nietzsche very accurately, while others obviously don’t.

        Once again, the modern world suffers for its ignorance of the secundum quid.

  • Mike

    Ok friends good sparring today! See you soon.

  • Darren

    ”We know that Leopold was seduced by Nietzsche and then saved from death by Clarence Darrow’s closing statement, and it’s possible that he found faith, in his own way, by the end. Damned by romantic nihilism, rescued by liberal humanitarianism, redeemed by belief—it certainly would have gratified Leopold’s outsize ego to learn that he could plausibly claim to have lived the 20th century in miniature.”

    OK, sure, no implied connections there…

    “Charles Mansion, after listing to the secret messages imbedded in the White album, chose to act upon them with horrifying effect…”

    Perhaps I also should have been clearer. Over on another of Leah’s posts, there has been extensive misunderstanding of what Nietzsche intended – thus my statement that Catholics _apparently_ were also subject to similar errors as their protestant cousins. This was not based solely on the contents of this linked article.

    • I didn’t say ‘no implied connections’; I pointed out that the connection was between Leopold’s action and Leopold’s reading of Nietzsche, which was typical of the time. That’s a fact easily proven from historical evidence; and, what is more, it is a fact known by anyone who can seriously claim to know anything about Nietzsche at all. If you honestly can’t be bothered to know something so crucial for Nietzsche scholarship as the misreadings that have arisen from (e.g.) Nietzsche’s sister’s meddling with his work or the fact that some of Nietzsche’s works were not widely accessible (a point very relevant to the nihilism issue, since a lot of what we know about Nietzsche’s views on the subject are found in the late fragments), you really don’t have much business lecturing people on Nietzsche: this is basic stuff, things that are required for understanding the scholarship.

      Making absurd generalizations about a population as large as ‘Catholics’ is as thoroughly ridiculous as if I said that atheists were apparently subject to similar confusions about Voltaire as their fundamentalist cousins. It is in fact not difficult to find atheists who make such errors, and, indeed, errors similar to errors made by fundamentalists in interpreting Voltaire; but even a tiny bit of critical thinking shows that this is not a warrant for such a generalization. And the parallel is actually a good one; there are historical reasons why some of the misinterpretations are widespread, and it would be irrational even when the error is obvious to assume that everyone is in a position to have uncovered the mistake, regardless of their “sophistication”. There is really no rational ground for your response. All you did, even if there was a reason for your exasperation, was make a fool of yourself by trying to show off but instead falling on your face by showing your ignorance of the history of how Nietzsche has been read.

      • Darren

        Wow, I am impressed.
        You should consider ghost writing for Edward Feser or William Lane Craig; the level of pompous insult within your reply, and yet the careful avoidance of adding any actual content of your own, is actually rather skillful. I bet you were the most feared GTA in the program…

        • The only content he ‘added’ was to show that you were knee-jerking and out of your league. No surprises that you aren’t gruntled by it.

          • Darren

            Well, I made the claim that:

            1. Nietzche was not really a Nihilist, despite popular (mis) conception that he was; and
            2. An accessible explanation of what the Ubermensch actually meant could be found in a puff Rom-Com from the 90’s…

            Out of my league? Would not be the first time.

            Brandon, or you, or anyone at all is welcome to _demonstrate_ this to my shame and the betterment of all unwary readers. Or at least put up some hyperlinks if that is too much trouble.

            Argue with what I said, prove me wrong, I won’t mind. Make your own claims, that’s good too. Point your nose skywards and claim that failing to understand the prejudices of 1920’s Americans, and how Clarence Darrow successfully tapped into those bigotries and invented the Twinkie Defense fifty years early, that this disqualifies me from having any understanding of what Nietzche actually meant in 1880’s Germany? Well, I’ll be happy to read your proof of that interesting theory.

          • Mike

            Hello, I am back.

            This thread is getting stale no? D. likes N. because he thinks he was a dude and not a dick. He thinks Christians are mostly dicks not dudes and there’s the rub. It really isn’t more complicated than that.

          • You can’t insist that someone argue with what you’re really saying, not some strawman, when you started the whole thing by arguing with a strawman which wasn’t what the post was saying. Just because the whole thing about motes and beams is in the Bible doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

          • ACN

            “Just because the whole thing about motes and beams is in the Bible doesn’t mean it isn’t true.”

            I understand the rhetorical use of the double-negative here, but I’m dubious of the value as I actually had to read it a few times to make sure I understood.

          • Darren

            Oh, no you don’t, Adam G! I never said anything of the sort; once the word ‘strawman’ comes out, that just signals that one has exhausted all of one’s arguments. It requires only a few moments more to reach, “Nuh-unh!”

            You can say I was off-topic – the article, was, after all, about redemption, not whether or not Nietzsche was a nihilist, or even whether or not people thought he was. Fair enough, I will take that hit. Ban every tangent from the com-boxes, and most of us can just go home.

            You can call me needlessly contentious and lacking focus for even bringing up Catholics being non-privileged in their Nietzsche-ology. That is fair as well, it was clumsily done and added nothing.

            But, the article’s introductory paragraph clearly draws a linkage between Nietzsche and nihilism, a linkage that would not pass _unremarked_ were it implying some unsavory linkage between insert-your-favorite-theist and some insert-your-favorite-pejorative instead…

            ”If you honestly can’t be bothered to know something so crucial for Nietzsche scholarship as the misreadings that have arisen from (e.g.) Nietzsche’s sister’s meddling with his work or the fact that some of Nietzsche’s works were not widely accessible”

            Go back and read this criticisms leveled against me, and then notice that I, in other posts on this thread, made _exactly_the_same_ observations about the widespread misreading and Elisabeth Forster-Nietzche’s role in that…

            And I will be _happy_ to let the actual Nietzche scholars take over and fight this rear-guard… I like Hume _much_ better anyways… any time now… Hello?…


          • If you want to go on a tangent, *signal* that its a tangent. Don’t phrase your tangent like its actually a criticism and then get all huffy when people disagree that your tangent is on point. You take far too much delight in saying sophistical or fallacious things and then acting like you’ve been put upon when its pointed out. Get a thicker skin or defter arguments, one of the two.

          • Darren

            ”You take far too much delight in saying sophistical or fallacious things and then acting like you’ve been put upon when its pointed out. Get a thicker skin or defter arguments, one of the two.”

            You’ve made this claim before, as I recall. Exactly _where_ did you ever point this out? Or do you just mean pointing and shouting “Sophist!”?

            Demonstrate that any saying I have made is “fallacious” and you will have the unparalleled joy of having me retract said claim…

          • Darren

            P.S. – Irenest points out where I have said things that are wrong on a regular basis; he is quite good at it.

            Yelling, “Nuh-unh” does not quite suffice, though.

          • Intelligent people don’t need the fallacy of the argumentum ad hitlerum demonstrated to them. Unintelligent people are unable to have the fallacy of the argumentum ad hitlerum demonstrated to them.
            Since I choose to believe that you are intelligent, I presume that your demand to have the fallacy shown to you is sophistical.

          • Darren

            Sigh… Always with the Hitler…

            How many times is this that you have gone out of your way to avoid backing up your assertions? Depending on how we count, I get either 4 or 5.

            I’m thinking we hit the “nuh-unh” phase a step or two back…

          • Yeah, I don’t need to back up my assertion that its a fallacy. Its self-evident for people who have enough logical ability to be worth talking to. As for evidence that you’ve used it, I offer this thread as a source. Granted, my assumptions are that there is only one person posting as Darren in this thread. If the Hitler guy upstream isn’t you, and you somehow missed that part of the thread, I guess your pretended ignorance what I’m talking about may not be so pretended after all.

  • grok87

    Thanks Leah, the Leopold piece was very interesting. I would like to think his repentence/faith was genuine, but I guess we just don’t know. Here’s another case- in this case she is still in jail.

    Thinking of Father Weir, reminds me of today’s gospel:

    Jesus said to the crowds: “This is how it is with the Kingdom of God;
    it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land and would sleep and rise night and day
    and the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how.
    Of its own accord the land yields fruit,
    first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.
    And when the grain is ripe, he wields the sickle at once, for the harvest has come.”

    We just don’t know, do we, how our faith, our words and actions affect others, what fruits they will bear. Or for that matter how the faith, words, and actions of others will affect us. It is all a great mystery. We just need to plant the seeds and let them grow. I am also reminded of Monseigneur Bienvenu and Jean Valjean in Les Mis.

  • Kristin

    I had another thought about Buffy after watching some more episodes last night – grace and works, love as transformative. Rot13 for those who haven’t seen up to Season 5, “Crush” (ep 15 or so):

    Fcvxr jvgu gur tbireazrag puvc va uvf oenva ortvaf gb snyy va ybir jvgu Ohssl. Ohssl ershgrf guvf ybir (guebhtu guvf rcvfbqr, va nal pnfr) jvgu gbgny qvfthfg. Bs pbhefr, Fcvxr oevatf hc Natry naq Ohssl vafvfgf gung Natry vf qvssrerag orpnhfr ur unq n fbhy. Ohg nyy gur puvc va Fcvxr’f oenva qbrf vf fgbc uvz sebz vagragvbanyyl unezvat crbcyr. Nf ur qvq rneyvre va gur frnfbaf juvyr puvccrq, ur’f fgvyy serr gb fgnaq nfvqr juvyr Ohssl & Fpbbol trg uheg, be uryc bgure crbcyr uheg uvz. Natry vf n qryvpvbhf punenpgre jura ur’f ybfg uvf fbhy, ohg arire bapr unf ur npghnyyl *pubfra* gb orpbzr orggre jura ur’f fbhy-yrff. Gb zr, V tbg n zrffntr bs tenpr irefhf jbexf – Natry’f fbhy vf nyzbfg “tenpr” – ur’f fnirq *jvgubhg nal npgvba JUNGFBRIRE* ba uvf cneg. Ubjrire, Fcvxr’f genafsbezngvba guebhtu ybir – guebhtu qbvat ybivat npgf sbe Ohssl, gelvat gb punatr uvzfrys – gung’f zber jbexf. Fcvxr qrfreirf ZBER perqvg guna Natry, orpnhfr ur’f pubfra gb punatr, jurernf Natry fvzcyl unf jubyrfnyr punatr guehfg hcba uvz, naq pna’g ernyyl pubbfr uvf npgvbaf – ur’f fb erzbefrshy orpnhfr bs uvf fbhy ur *unf* gb qb tbbq – ohg jr qba’g rire trg n frafr gung ur pubbfrf gb or tbbq jvgu uvf fbhy. Naq Fcvxr nyfb fubjf gur genafsbezngvir cbjre bs ybir naq ubj gur irel npg bs ybivat fbzrbar pna punatr hf.


  • jenesaispas

    Thankyou 🙂