Dispatches from Outland
A little song. A little dance. A little seltzer down your pants. Copyright © 2003 Roy M. Jacobsen.

Friday, September 12, 2003  

Good Advice Department: From James Lileks, reflecting on yesterday:

At some point you just tire of putting it all in solemn, respectful terms, and you think: this day just sucks and it’s always going to suck. Terrorism sucks. War sucks. Death sucks. Murder sucks even harder.

Then you’re home. Barky dog, happy daughter, lovely smiling wife. This lifts the spirits. A pizza helps. Play with Gnat; give Jasper a bath, which he endures better than he usually does. Sunset comes. It starts to rain.

It hasn’t rained here in seven weeks. The lawns are dead; the trees sag; even hardy evergreens have brown dead boughs. We need rain. And here it is: steady, calm, insistent. Health and life pouring back into the ground. It brings you back around; standing on the porch I thought: day's done, family's fine, and the trees are having a drink. I'm grateful for this.

Note to self: be grateful more often.

posted by Roy M. Jacobsen at 8:35 AM

Thursday, September 11, 2003  

Ringing In Sheaves Department: Jeff Cunningham compares the eschatoloty of Left Behind with The Lord of the Rings. Guess which he prefers? Here's a snippet:

Left Behind expects the darkness to overtake the world of men and that their efforts are mostly in vain. LOTR expects that redeemed men will act and rise up against injustice and encroaching evil. The King has indeed returned and now the task of clearing out the ruffians is upon us – when He returns again it will be not for establishing His throne, but to consummate all things to Himself. The war has already been won, and we merely fight the battles.

posted by Roy M. Jacobsen at 11:22 AM

Two Years Ago Department: Two years ago, on my previous blog (no longer on the web), I wrote this:

God have mercy.

There are so many thoughts and emotions running around inside me right now.

Horror and sorrow for those killed. God have mercy on them and their families.

Anger, rage, cold fury. God have mercy on me.

Questions. How could our intellegence agencies not have an inkling that something of this magnitude was in the works? How could at least 4 airliners for major airlines be hijacked on the same day? What happened to the airport security measures? Who is responsible?

I read one pundit who made reference to the "Archie Bunker" solution to airline security: Give each passenger a handgun. I begin to wonder if that wouldn't have prevented today's tragedies.

God have mercy on us.

posted by Roy M. Jacobsen at 9:24 AM

Two Years Later Department: I was in my car, on my way to work when I heard that the first airplane had hit one of the towers. "What a horrible accident," I thought.

As time went on, and we learned more about what was going on in New York, and then at the Pentagon, and then in Pennsylvania, my feelings gradually turned to shock, and then anger. I wanted to find the bastards responsible and take them out. Note that: "take them out." Not "bring them to justice."

A good deal of my anger wasn't directed at the terrorists, though. I was mad at Satan, for the lies he told the perpetrators of 9-11. For all the lies, all down through the years that gave us the killing fields of Cambodia, the Holocaust, the KKK, the millions of victims of Mao and Stalin, and on and on.

The anger has subsided somewhat. I hesitate to say it has cooled; it's still there, but it's rather more like a bed of coals than a roaring flame. But further consideration has turned that anger away from Satan and back at humanity. Sure, Satan is a liar, and he's doing what he can to thwart God's will. But we're the one's listening to his whispers, despite what we know about God (and we know far more than we admit to each other and ourselves).

But above the anger is awe. I am amazed that God can still love us, and can still forgive us. That's where I stand, two years later.

posted by Roy M. Jacobsen at 8:57 AM

Wednesday, September 10, 2003  

Good Questions Department: Lileks asks:

We should be neutral about two suicide bombings in one day?

When we read a story about an emergency-room doctor blown up with his daughter, and we read about people pouring into the streets to celebrate the doctor's death, we should look deep into our hearts and find that most precious commodity: eternal forebearance of Jew-killers.
An even better question is posed by Jeff Jacoby, as quoted by Jay Nordlinger. Jacoby tells of a visit he made to Auschwitz with his father, who was the only member of his family to survive Auschwitz.
When we were in Auschwitz — in the huge section called Birkenau, the part of the camp where the trains pulled in, where the selection took place, where the gas was — my dad and I saw a large group of Israeli students. They had come on some kind of school program, and as we walked along a path near the crematoria, these Israeli kids overtook us. Like school groups everywhere, they were loud and boisterous, joking and laughing with each other.

I can't tell you how offended I was. "Shut up!" I wanted to tell them. "Have some decency! You're in Auschwitz. This is the biggest Jewish graveyard on earth. Don't you realize how many people were murdered here? How many Jews died just for being Jews? You're laughing here? In Auschwitz?"

And then, suddenly, I had a change of heart. And I said to my father: "Who do you think would be more appalled to know that all these Jewish kids are running around and laughing in this place — your mother? Or Adolf Eichmann? Who would be more revolted? Who would feel more defeated?" [Emphasis added.]
While the students Jacoby tells about didn't know, or perhaps had forgotten the moment of the place they were visiting, their laughter was not out of place. Yes, we mourn those who were murdered, but we can also laugh because the evil of Hitler, with that stupid little mustache, asinine dreams of "Aryan supremacy" and his ridiculous goose-stepping sycophants, was beaten.

When my father died, we cried. But we were able to laugh, too. How can you laugh at a time like that? We laughed when we remembered my father, because he was a man who loved to laugh, and he did some funny things. Some of the most joyous, the deepest, and the richest laughter you will hear comes in the face of sorrow and tragedy. It has to be joyous, deep, and rich in order to bubble up through the tears and pain.

Some people don't like it when we laugh at funerals. But like the story Jacoby tells, we can ask "Who do you think would be more offended by our laughter? The person we mourn today, or Satan? Who would be more offended? Who would feel more defeated?" Christians, more than anyone else, should be able to laugh. Satan, for all his bluster, his deceit, and his attacks, is beaten. To the Christian who's armed and ready, he's a joke; a ridiculous posturing figure who thought he could take the place of his Creator. Even death should not smother our laughter.

We can laugh because we're in on the joke. We never tire of hearing the set-up. And can you imagine the laughter in Heaven when the most powerful punchline of history was delivered? "He is not here; he has risen."

posted by Roy M. Jacobsen at 9:56 AM

Tuesday, September 09, 2003  

Things You'll Never See Department: Democrats complaining that the Department of Education is getting involved in a quagmire ("The situation is deteriorating rapidly; I don't think we realize what we've gotten ourselves into"), and questioning requests for more funding ("I want to know exactly what this money will be used for").

posted by Roy M. Jacobsen at 9:09 AM
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