How Much Do You Have to Hate Someone Not to Proselytize?

Francis Schaeffer on the Origins of Relativism in the Church

One of My Favorite Songs

An Inspiring Song


Friday, December 25, 2009

Separated at Birth?

It's just a thought...

Watch this one...

And then this one...

You really do have to wonder...

Just exactly what did Miyagi put together to create Tensho?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Rather Nice Li'l Quote That'll Drive Some Folks 'Round the Bend

I was flipping through my copy of Original Intent and came across this passage, and thought it'd be worth sharing:
As the war prolonged, the shortage of Bibles remained a problem. Consequently, Robert Aitken, publisher of The Pennsylvania Magazine, petitioned Congress on January 21, 1781, for permission to print the Bibles on his presses here in America rather than import them. He pointed out to Congress that his bible would be "a neat edition of the Holy Scriptures for the use of schools." Congress approved his request and appointed a committee of James Duane, Thomas McKean, and John Witherspoon to oversee the project.


On September 12, 1782, the full Congress approved that Bible which soon began rolling off the presses. Printed in the front of that Bible (the first English-language Bible ever printed in America) was the Congressional endorsement:
Whereupon, Resolved, That the United States in Congress assembled...recommend this edition of the Bible to the inhabitants of the United States.
Of this event, one early historian observed:
Who, in view of this fact, will call in question the assertion that this is a Bible nation? Who will charge the government with indifference to religion when the first Congress of the States assumed all the rights and performed all the duties of a Bible Society long before such an institution had an existence in the world!
Who would do that? Sadly, there are rather a lot of people in this country who would sooner eat dirt than acknowledge that the principles of American government rest firmly on the Bible.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Forever War

Well, it's not really forever. That's a title I swiped from a science-fiction author, Joe Haldeman, I think, who wrote a book by that title. Never read the book, but the title sure sticks with you.

No, it's not a "forever" war, but it sure feels like it. I certainly expect it to last until Jesus comes back, and God knows it's been going on all my life, and as far as I can tell, from earliest history.

To what do I refer, you ask?

I refer to the continual conflict between Leviathan and Lex, Rex, to the conflict between those who think--or at least act--as though the state is some sort of god, that it has, by right, all power to anything and everything that it wills, that the only way for men to live in peace is to give up all power to the state, and those who think that man has certain rights (this idea is best founded upon the idea that those rights are God-given) that the state is not only bound to respect, but to defend, the defense of man's rights being its purpose for existence. In this world, there are countless people who don't quite understand the conflict that rages 'round them, who can't quite grasp that there have always been, will always be (until the aforementioned return) people who will connive, steal, lie, cheat, extort, threaten, and murder to control the machinery of the state so as to benefit themselves or to imagine themselves godlike; and people who make it their business to resist that arrogant usurpation of power, who insist that the state is not entitled to the sort of fealty that should be reserved for deity, that it has a limited role. The mass of men don't understand that though both those groups of people claim to be speaking and acting on behalf of "the people," the first group are nothing but predators, lying through their teeth with every word they utter, simply trying to fool enough people to allow them to retain the power they abuse. Because the mass of men do not understand, because they want to believe the high-sounding words by which they are enslaved, or at least that those who utter them really mean them, they are perpetually shocked at the abuses of natural law that are perpetrated against them.

Right now, with the Senate vote for cloture on a "health care" bill--a "health care" bill that is nothing of the kind, a "health care" bill that, given the precedents we have in Medicare and Medicaid, will cost far more than projected and accomplish far less, a "health care" bill the constitutionality of which is highly questionable to say the least, a "health care" bill that is being jammed through in the name of "the American people" despite polling that consistently shows that a substantial and growing majority of Americans do not want it, a "health care" bill that is, in fine, nothing more than a blatant attempt to grab and to consolidate raw power--it seems that those who worship at the altar of Leviathan are in the ascendancy. Maybe they are. But one thing I know: those of us who prefer liberty and justice to plunder and dependency are not going away, and wherever we can, by whatever means we can, we are going to hinder the statists' agenda. We are going to do our best to ensure that more and more men understand that the statists do not give a flying fig about their "general welfare," that they care only about controlling the people in whose name they claim to act. And eventually, I think and I hope, the pendulum of history will swing back our way.
And no, for the inevitable leftist blogger who sees things in statements that simply are not there, "by whatever means we can" is not advocating armed revolution.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

But It's Not All That Linear...

As a preliminary remark, I don't pretend to be an expert. I am a student, an almost unnoticeable member of the RyuTe Renmei, which is Taika Seiyu Oyata's organization. I do not speak on behalf of him or the organization, so take this for what it's worth.
I picked up, at my local library, Dave Lowry's The Karate Way. In the introduction, he told this story:
Please consider the case of a martial artist of my acquaintance, a man who lived for more than two decades in Japan and trained in a classical combat art there. He is thoroughly conversant in Japanese culture and language; he eventually was given latitude in teaching authority that, in a conservative art such as his, is quite rare. After going back to his home country, teaching, and gaining several students, he returned to Japan and, almost by accident, he came to the dojo of another teacher of the same art who is senior to him. The sensei looked at the man's technique as he performed some of the most difficult and advanced parts of the art's curriculum. The man was hoping for some fine-tuning, some polishing of detail. Instead, the sensei looked him squarely in the eye and said, "You don't know how to hold a sword."

This is a watershed moment in the life of anyone devoted to something like a martial art, someone who has spent painstaking effort and decades in training and teaching. The ego goes into full-power drive. And it is not just the ego; there is a natural skepticism: "Look, I didn't just stumble into a dojo last month. I've been at this a long time. I have credentials, a license to teach. I am highly respected in the community of martial arts practitioners who are expert in these old systems. You don't reach that level without some skill if you are a complete idiot or entirely incompetent."

My acquaintance was at a crucial moment. It was a moment where you laugh in the face of the sensei, confident he is wrong, and go on about your business, or you nod politely, say "thank you," and make a graceful exit before going on about your business. Or you take a third choice. It is this third choice that is intitially most painful. It is the choice that, as an experienced climber, you suspect may be difficult and challenging but which, in this case at least, is the right one to take. You take a breath and say, "OK, show me how to hold it."

The man did just that. He has not regretted the decision.
This reminded me of something I've been thinking about for a few days. Every so often, I'll read a post about how "linear" and "power-oriented" karate is (or, to use the good Mr. D. Rat's phrase, "crash and bash") and anymore, I just want to cringe.

You see, before I started with RyuTe, I had studied Taekwon-do with teachers various and sundry around Tulsa and Stillwater, Oklahoma. Back when I studied it, you could scarcely tell the difference between Taekwon-do and Shotokan, so similar did they appear, except, of course, that TKD placed considerably more emphasis on kicks. Things have changed, but this is what it was like back then.

I was almost up to shodan--first-degree black belt--when I visited a "Ryukyu Kempo" class (that being the name Taika's art went under at that point in time)--and promptly threw TKD under the bus. Why? Because, basically, it was as though they looked me in the eye and said, "You don't know how to throw a punch." I mean, I thought I knew how to throw a punch. I had a brown belt in one TKD association, and a red belt w/black stripe in another. I was, like, six months or less from black belt. But instead of saying (figuratively), "I do too know how to throw a punch!" I chose to listen and learn. It was as though the mother of all light bulbs had turned on over my head. Here was the fearsome combat art that I had read about, had thought "karate" was, but that never seemed quite as fearsome wherever I studied. I could see--heck, anyone could see--how this stuff could put an attacker on the ground in a second or two. This was karate, the karate of legend, the stuff people talked about in hushed tones, back in the old days.

If you don't know Taika's story, here it is, in a nutshell: He'd been a member of the Japanese military in his teens, was slated to serve as a kaiten pilot (his death certificate had already been mailed to his parents) when World War II ended. Shortly after the war, whilst working for the Americans delivering food to isolated people, he ran into an old man wearing the old bushi topknot. I will not go into detail--you can easily find the story in more detail elsewhere--but the upshot is that this old man was one of the last living people to have practiced the old Okinawan martial arts before the Meiji Restoration. He was not a teacher, and neither was his best friend, who also, because of Taika's family background, took him on as a student.

Taika had them all to himself for the last several years of their lives.

Some people seem a little incredulous at Taika's story. It seems too much of a coincidence, too fantastic a story that the preservation of the real, old-time Okinawan martial arts should come down to such a very small handful of people (I am not trying to rule out people like Uehara Seikichi here), that most of the "karate" you see in the world these days just isn't that much like the old stuff. But I don't think you'll have many doubts if you ever get to experience a RyuTe class. Like I say, it's intuitively obvious that this is the right way, the way the technique is supposed to be performed. It's simple, it's relaxed, it's effective, it's--well, it's not at all like "karate," but exactly what you hoped and dreamed karate would be like.

Here, take a look at these clips again. Certainly, they are not all there is to RyuTe, but there is enough there that you can see that while there are linear techniques and powerful strikes, linear crash and bash just isn't all there is to it. Anymore, it just makes my skin crawl to hear karate described in such terms, because that's not what it's supposed to be like.
I originally wrote that Taika had been trained as a kamikaze pilot, but I was graciously corrected by a more senior member of the RyuTe Renmei. I linked to the Wikipedia entry on kaiten because I was pretty sure that most people would be quite unfamiliar with them.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

From Going Rogue

Mrs. MOTW was very sweet and brought home Sarah Palin's Going Rogue for me from the library. Haven't read it all yet, obviously, and may just skim it instead of reading it thoroughly (I am very pressed for time, as always), but just flipping through it, I came across this, and thought it worth sharing. Emphasis, where present, is mine and in bold:
Since leaving office I've frequently been asked, "What does Sarah Palin stand for? What's your vision for the future?"

I welcome the opportunity to share it. Keep in mind, I tell my parents the greatest gift they ever gave me, besides building a foundation of love for family and for healthy competition, was an upbringing in Alaska. The pioneering spirit of the Last Frontier has shaped me.

I am an independent person who had the good fortune to come of age in the era of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. I am a registered Republican because the planks in that party's platform are stronger than any others upon which to build Alaska and America. I disagree with some of the characters in the party machine, but the GOP stands for principles that will strengthen and secure the country, if they are applied. I'm not obsessively partisan, though, and I don't blame people who dislike political labels even more than I do. My husband, for example, isn't registered with any party, for sound reasons, having been an eyewitness to the idiosyncrasies of party machines. I also don't like the narrow stereotypes of either the "conservative" or the "liberal" label, but until we change the lingo, call me a Commonsense Conservative.

What does it mean to be a Commonsense Conservative?

At its most basic level, conservatism is a respect for history and tradition, including traditional moral principles. I do not believe I am more moral, certainly no better, than anyone else, and conservatives who act "holier than thou" turn my stomach. So do some elite liberals. But I do believe in a few timeless and unchanging truths, and chief among those is that man is fallen. This world is not perfect, and politicians will never make it so. This, above all, is what informs my pragmatic approach to politics.

I am a conservative because I deal with the world as it is--complicated and beautiful, tragic and hopeful. I am a conservative because I believe in the rights and the responsibilities and the inherent dignity of the individual.

In his book A Conflict of Visions, Thomas Sowell explains the underlying assumptions or "visions" that shape our opinions and the way we approach social and political issues. He identifies two separate visions: the unconstrained and the constrained.

People who adhere to the unconstrained vision (the label applied to them is "liberal" or "left-wing") believe that human nature is changeable (therefore perfectible) and that society's problems can all be solved if only the poor, ignorant, disorganized public is told what to do and rational plans are enacted. And who better to make those plans than an elite bureaucracy pulling the strings and organizing society according to their master blueprint? No one can doubt that our current leaders in Washington subscribe to this unconstrained vision.

Conservatives believe in the "constrained" political vision because we know that human nature is flawed and that there are limitations to what can be done in Washington to "fix" society's problems. Commonsense Conservatives deal with human nature as it is--with its unavoidable weaknesses and its potential for goodness. We see the world as it is--imperfect but filled with beauty. We hope for the best. We believe people can change for the better, but we do not ignore history's lessons and waste time chasing utopian pipe dreams.

We don't trust utopian promises from politicians. The role of government is not to perfect us but to protect us--to protect our inalienable rights. The role of government in a civil society is to protect the individual and to establish a social contract so that we can live together in peace.
And all the people said, "Amen!"

Look, I've said before that Mrs. Palin is not my idea of the perfect conservative--but her unabashed avowal of the very principle that I have been hammering on for months encourages me. Yes, that is what government is for. It is here to protect our God-given unalienable rights--which is no more and no less than Thomas Jefferson said in our Declaration of Independence. It is not here to serve as a means by which one group of people can plunder another group of people. It is not here as a medium by which one group of people can finance what they conceive to be society's good with money from other people's pockets. It is not here to serve as a means by which you can chuck all responsibility for your health, your retirement, and your children's education.

It is here to protect your rights. That Mrs. Palin understands that is a very big thing with me.

I can think of other conservatives whom I would prefer to see as president, but they ain't a-runnin', at least not yet. Put Sarah Palin up against a looting, statist thug like Barack Obama, and I'll vote for her without hesitation.

As an aside, some of you won't like that I called President Obama a "looting, statist thug." You think it sounds mean.

You are the same people that told me, "MOTW (though I went by my real name then), give him the benefit of the doubt."

And I told you, "I'm looking at his track record, and his track record is that of a not-so-semi-socialist, abortocentrist, leftist, Christophobic, power-grubbing demagogue."

And you said, "You're so mean!"

Almost a year later, I wonder when you are going to admit that I was not mean at all, but simply descriptive. Probably never, even though the truth of what I told you then is now manifest. I was wrong on not one single point that I can recall. And you? You will not admit what this man is, because to do so means admitting that you had no idea what you were talking about, and that, you will never do. It would eat you up alive to admit that I was right and you were wrong.

And as a second aside, I believe I coined the term "Common Sense Conservative" before Mrs. Palin did. See my definition here.