Posted in The South, Heroes, tagged Church, War, Death, Battle, Military, Virginia, Infantry, Dead, The South, Civil War, Confederacy, American Civil War, Stonewall Jackson, Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, Chancellorsville, A. P. Hill, War of Northern Aggression, 1863, Yankee, Billy Yank, Johnny Reb, Combat, Artillery, ACW, Cavalry, Wilderness Church, Butternut, Robert E. Rodes, J.E.B. Stuart, Hooker, "Fighting Joe" Hooker, Jine the Cavalry, Stephen W. Sears, Porter Alexander on May 3, 2013 |
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Ol’ Joe Hooker, won’t you come out of the Wilderness?
Come out of The Wilderness, come out of the Wilderness?
Ol’ Joe Hooker, won’t you come out of the Wilderness?
Bully boys, hey! Bully boys, ho!
If you want to have a good time, jine the cavalry!
Jine the cavalry! Jine the cavalry!
If you want to catch the Devil, if you want to have fun,
If you want to smell Hell, jine the cavalry!
Today, 150 years ago, on the second bloodiest day of the War of Northern Aggression, General “Stonewall” Jackson lay wounded, having been hit by friendly fire the previous night during a recon of the battle lines after dark. Command of his corps, that had routed so much of the Army of the Potomac the previous day, fell to General A. P. Hill, who also fell wounded in turn.
General Rodes was next in line to take command, but by mutual agreement, General J.E.B. Stuart, the glamorous cavalry comander, took charge instead. It was his first time commanding infantry, but by all accounts he acquitted himself more than manfully, continuing to push the advantage that Jackson had gained on the 2nd. Said Stephen W. Sears,
It is hard to see how Jeb Stuart, in a new command, a cavalryman commanding infantry and artillery for the first time, could have done a better job. The astute Porter Alexander believed all credit was due: “Altogether, I do not think there was a more brilliant thing done in the war than Stuart’s extricating that command from the extremely critical position in which he found it.”
Stuart also spontaneously invented a new verse to the his theme song, “Jine the Cavalry,” which mocked the Union Commander, “Fighting Joe” Hooker, and Stuart sang the song all day while leading Jackson’s men into battle.
Hooker spent a good portion of the morning unconscious from an artillery blast that blew him off the porch of his command post, and accordingly, probably did not hear Stuart’s musical embellishments first hand.
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Posted in The South, Heroes, tagged Church, War, Death, Battle, Military, Virginia, Infantry, Dead, The South, Civil War, Confederacy, American Civil War, Stonewall Jackson, Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, Chancellorsville, War of Northern Aggression, Rebel Yell, 1863, Yankee, Billy Yank, Johnny Reb, Combat, Artillery, Shelby Foote, ACW, Howard, Wilderness Church, Oliver O. Howard, Butternut, Robert E. Rodes on May 2, 2013 |
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You can go forward then.
-Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson, to Gen. Robert E. Rodes, May 2, 1863, approximately 5:45 p.m.
All across the nearly two-mile width of Jackson’s front, the woods and fields resounded with the rebel yell as the screaming attackers bore down on the startled Federals, who had just risen to whoop at the frightened deer and driven rabbits. Now it was their turn to be frightened — and driven, too. For the Union regiments facing west gave way in a rush before the onslaught, and as they fled the two guns they had abandoned were turned against them, hastening their departure and increasing the confusion among the troops facing south behind the now useless breastworks they had constructed with such care. These last took their cue from them and began to pull out too, in rapid succession from right to left down the long line of intrenchments, swelling the throng rushing eastward along the road. Within 20 minutes of the opening shows, Howard’s flank division had gone out of military existence, converted that quickly from organisation to mob. The adjoining division was sudden to follow the example set. Not even the sight of the corps commander himself, on horseback near Wilderness Church, breasting the surge of retreaters up the turnpike and clamping a stand of abandoned colors under the stump of his amputated arm while attempting to control the skittish horse with the other, served to end or even to slow the rout. Bareheaded and with tears in his eyes, Howard was pleading with them to halt and form, halt and form, but they paid him no mind, evidently convinced that his distress, whether for the fate of his country or his career or both, took no precedence over their own distress for their very lives.
-Shelby Foote, The Civil War, A Narrative, Vol. 2
My God it is horrible. To think of it — 130,000 magnificient soldiers so cut to pieces by less than 60,000 half starved ragamuffins.
-Horace Greeley, on the Battle of Chancellorsville
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Posted in Southern Literature, tagged Aesthetics, Alienation, Art, Carson McCullers, Death, Existentialism, Friendship, Hate, Innocence, Literature, Loneliness, Marxism, Race, Relationship, Sex, Sexuality, Southern Literature, The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter, The South on July 27, 2012 |
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I read Carson McCullers’s The Heart is A Lonely Hunter last month, but it’s taken me some time to sit on it and stew over it. It’s not an obvious book. I’m not going to summarize it here.
The imbalanced relationships between the main characters (Singer and Antonapoulos and each of Mick, Jake Blount, Biff Brannon and Doctor Copeland and Singer) are the heart of the narrative. The close friendship between Singer and Antonapoulos is demonstrated from page one, but are they really close friends? Is Antonapoulos even capable of the kind of relationship that Singer projects onto them (with an actual projector even!), or is Singer really just doing to Antonapoulos what the others do to Singer? Singer imagines a deep and fulfilling relationship with Antonapoulos that is in fact not really mutual at all: the handicapped Antonapoulos is as incapable of understanding what Singer says to him as the deaf Singer is incapable of truly understanding what any of the others say in turn to Singer. Nevertheless, just as all four fiercely believe and cling to the notion that they have a unique and powerful connection with Singer, Singer believes his only real friend is Antonapoulos.
Thus we are faced with the terrifying true nature of relationship and mutuality, the extent to which we are inevitably and fully alienated by our inability to really know what the Other is thinking, and we are shown the resulting despair. Nobody’s ending is happy. Everyone dies alone.
There are a lot of other things going on in the novel–definitely a lot sexuality and innocence and hate and race and class and Marxism, but all of it is primarily explored through this fundamental lens of alienation, the loneliness that results from our fundamental inability to know or be known by other human beings.
Hand in hand with this theme of loneliness and alienation is a related theme, and the two are tied together in the novel’s title. Each of McCullers’s main characters is yearning for something, and although they try to express this yearning (futilely!) through connection and relationship, relationship is the impossible means to the impossible end, not the end itself.
Mick’s quest for music, to really get music, to capture whatever-it-is that music makes her feel when she hears it, is the prime example. It’s an obsession, really: Mick hears a symphony and she is certain that somewhere in Music is that Thing that will fill the hole in herself. Blount and Doctor Copeland are both looking for it in the Marxist dialectic (although race creates an inseparable gulf between the two characters that should be able to connect), and Biff, though he doesn’t consciously know it, is looking for it in gender and sexuality, but for each of them is is an aesthetic hunger. A notion that the truly beautiful thing will fulfill them. And with each of them, what they are looking for is elusive–it’s not clear if they could theoretically find what they are looking for, but they certainly are not able to find it through their (non-)relationships with Singer. And, unable to find it, each of them flails around their respecitve existences, trying to find substitutes in sex, alcohol, hate and even death.
In the end, it’s a sad book, but it’s a beautifully sad book.
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Posted in Spirituality, tagged Spirituality, Washington, War, Death, Heroes, Maryland, Psyche, Military, Infantry, The South, Civil War, William Faulkner, Confederacy, American Civil War, Union, Robert E. Lee, Richard B. Garnett, Lewis A. Armistead, James L. Kemper, Pennsylvania, Gettysburg, Pickett's Charge, War of Northern Aggression, Rebel Yell, James Longstreet, 1863, D.C., Intruder in the Dust, Yankee, Billy Yank, Johnny Reb, Combat, Artillery on July 3, 2012 |
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Right about now, 149 years ago, more than 12,000 Confederate soldiers under the command of General Robert E. Lee set off across three-quarters of a mile of open field in Pennsylvania, just south of the town of Gettysburg, in a desperate attempt to break the Union line.
The Rebels advanced under withering artillery and musket fire from their front and flanks, but were not turned until after their charge reached the Union line and they were engaged in hand-to-hand combat. They suffered greater than 50% casualties.
This moment will forever hold me in its grip, and I’ll be damned if I really know why. But William Faulkner spelled it out to an extent in Intruder in the Dust:
For every Southern boy fourteen years old, not once but whenever he wants it, there is the instant when it’s still not yet two o’clock on that July afternoon in 1863, the brigades are in position behind the rail fence, the guns are laid and ready in the woods and the furled flags are already loosened to break out and Pickett himself with his long oiled ringlets and his hat in one hand probably and his sword in the other looking up the hill waiting for Longstreet to give the word and it’s all in the balance, it hasn’t happened yet, it hasn’t even begun yet, it not only hasn’t begun yet but there is still time for it not to begin against that position and those circumstances which made more men than Garnett and Kemper and Armistead and Wilcox look grave yet it’s going to begin, we all know that, we have come too far with too much at stake and that moment doesn’t need even a fourteen-year-old boy to think This time. Maybe this time with all this much to lose than all this much to gain: Pennsylvania, Maryland, the world, the golden dome of Washington itself to crown with desperate and unbelievable victory the desperate gamble, the cast made two years ago.
And apparently that instant is there for Southern boys thirty-three years old, too, because it is there for me right now. Every time I read an account of the battle. Every time I watch Gettysburg. Every time I even think about it, I find myself crossing my fingers and whispering, maybe this time it will work. Maybe this time we will win. I don’t know if I can really explain it to you any more clearly if it’s not lodged into your psyche the way it is lodged into mine. I think its something that has to be felt: brave and sad, hopeful and hopeless.
But whether you understand it or not, I do, and so I salute the heroes who fell on that day.
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Posted in Religion, tagged Analogy, Anointing, Appalachia, Appalachians, Bigotry, Blogging, Charismatic Christianity, Christianity, Chuch, Conversion, Death, Denominations, Fanaticism, FLDS, Fundamentalist Mormonism, George W. Hensley, God, Gospel of Mark, Ignorance, LDS, Mainstream, Mark, Mormonism, Mormons, Mountains, Mysticism, Outsiders, Pentecostalism, Personal Revelation, Poison, Polygamy, Prayer, Prejudice, Religion, Revelation, Serpents, Shane, Signs, Signs Following, Snake-handlers, Snakes, Strychnine, Tim on June 20, 2012 |
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Over on Tim’s blog, a self-described Pentecostal showed up in an old comment thread, and (as is my habit) I asked him if he handles snakes. This was his response:
Uh . . . no. No Pentecostal did that until George W. Hensley started the practice in 1912, 12 years after Pentecostalism began. He was still a rather new convert and was praying in a mountain reading a passage in Mark when he received some weird revelation. Pentecostal denominations quickly labeled serpent handling as fanaticism and it has only ever been a feature of some churches in Appalachia. It is not a characteristic of Pentecostalism, neither now or in the past.
Why do you ask?
All I know about it is what I’ve read (having never encountered a serpent handler before). They believe, according to their interpretation of Mark 16:17-18 that serpent handling and drinking poison (some serpent handlers may also consume strychnine) are commanded in Scripture.
These activities will only take place when participants perceive the direct intervention of God. In other words, they wont do it unless “the anointing” is present. Deaths are explained by these people in the following ways: 1) the anointing was not present, 2) such deaths prove to outsiders that the snakes are poisonous and have not been defanged, 3) God wills their death.
I do hope you realize that the vast majority of Pentecostals are not serpent handlers. I would point out that people who assume that will be looked on as terribly ignorant and offensive by Pentecostals.
Now, I realize that the historical and organizational relationship between Appalachian snake-handlers and mainstream American Pentecostals is not even remotely similar to the relationship between fundamentalist polygamist Mormons and the mainstream Mormon Church, but Shane’s response may as well have been cut-and-pasted and searched-and-replaced from a mainstream Mormon’s reaction to being confronted about polygamy.
The only difference is that, as a bonus, Shane’s response also just drips with prejudice and snobbery towards Appalachian people.
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Posted in Spirituality, tagged Aphrodite, Ares, Art, Athena, Birth, Christianity, Courage, Cowardice, Culture, Death, Delphic Maxims, Dionysus, Ethics, Family, Hellenic Polytheism, Hellenismos, History, Human Experience, Humanity, Love, Manhood, Manliness, Marriage, Mars, Masculinity, Men, Mental Conflict, Military, Moral Courage, Morality, Mythology, Myths, Nature, Neopaganism, Pacifism, Paganism, Peace, Philosophy, Physical Courage, Physical Exertion, Polytheism, Sex, Society, Soldier, Spirituality, Strength, Symbolism, Theology, Utopia, Virility, Virtue, War, Warrior, Women, Zeus on August 23, 2011 |
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Paganism is about honoring the fundamental aspects of authentic human experience. It’s about looking at the parts of existence that are terrifying and overwhelming and trying to figure out what they mean: things like birth, death, sex, war, love, art, and even the powerful, capricious, and unpredictable forces of the natural world. The gods give rise to these essential facets of human experience (and/or are themselves born from them), and to deny one or more of the gods because there is no place in your life or your worldview or your schema for the things they represent is to deny a fundamental part of who you are.
War is a part of being human. It may be ugly, brutal, and horrifying, but it is omnipresent. To be truly human is to know war. To reject Ares because you reject war is to reject a part of what it means to be you. And to reject Ares because you reject war means also rejecting warlike aspects of many of the other gods as well: Athena, Aphrodite, Zeus, Dionyus just off the top of my head.
Who would Ares be without war? A god of mental conflict? A god of physical exertion? We already have those gods. Ares is a god of a lot of things, and there are a lot of lenses through which to view Ares, but he is primarily a god of war. Trying to edit the war out of Ares is like trying to edit the sex out of Aphrodite. I don’t know what you’re left with, but it isn’t the real deal. That kind of selective approach to the gods is apparently pretty popular among neopagans, but I honestly don’t think it’s a road that is going to take you anywhere worth being.
Think about it: the soldier knows both war and peace, but the pacifist tries to know only peace. The pacifist is rejecting an entire part of human existence because it does not suit him or her. Whether that’s a thing worth doing, or a thing we should be doing, is not actually the issue. But I would maintain that trying to edit human existence to remove the bits we don’t like is just not what any kind of real paganism is about. Christianity does that, with its vision of a new heaven and a new earth. Not paganism.
I also don’t think, with regards to Ares, that it’s a question of whether violence is necessary or justified, but merely whether it is an essential facet of human existence. Violence IS. War IS. We can play at quasi-Christianity if we want and imagine a utopia where violence no longer exists, but even in Christianity that requires massive divine intervention. The overwhelming, unanimous weight of human history tells us in no uncertain terms and with no exceptions that war and violence are fundamentally a part of the human condition.
Whether or not this reality is morally acceptable is a question that is, in my opinion, not even on paganism’s radar. Violence is a part of human reality, and paganism is about how we honor and respond to human reality. The ethics of paganism ask not whether a violent society is morally acceptable, but instead ask “given that violence and war exist as a part of the human condition, how do you respond virtuously?”
Look to the epics, the philosophers, and the myths. Look to the maxims. Tell me what the answer is. The world is violent–we honor that when we honor Ares. The question is how you respond with virtue when presented with that violence, whether you’re a kid in the hall at school getting beaten up by bullies, a young man who just got his draft notice, or a parent whose family is threatened.
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Posted in Spirituality, tagged Alcohol, Ares, Army, Battle, Beer, Bravery, Brotherhood, Camping, Cars, Courage, Death, Divine, Etiquette, Fatherhood, Girls, God, Gods, Greek Mythology, Heavenly Father, Hellenic Polytheism, Hellenismos, Heroism, Hunting, Integrity, Jupiter, Manhood, Manners, Mars, Masculinity, Men, Military, Myth, Mythology, Neopaganism, Paganism, Penis, Polytheism, Relationships, Religion, Self-reliance, Sex, Spirituality, Sports, Sportsmanship, Survival, Tobacco, War, Warrior, Women, Zeus on June 29, 2011 |
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Zeus is our Heavenly Father, but let’s face it: most of us have shitty relationships with our fathers, and that can carry over into our relationships with our Heavenly Father.
It’s alright though, ’cause we’ve got Ares.
Ares is the older brother who tells you all about girls and the real deal about sex, who turns you on to heavy metal and cars and gives you your first beer and your first cigarette. But he expects you to keep your cool, to be tough, to roll with the punches and not to be a mama’s boy.
Ares is the upperclassman you respect and admire, who lets you be one of the guys, who shows you how to tie a tie and button your cuffs, who makes you feel accepted and doesn’t treat you like a dumb kid. But he expects you to do the right thing, to study hard, to treat girls well, and to show respect and earn the respect of everyone around you.
Ares is the uncle who takes you camping and shows you how to build a fire, to hunt and fish, to shoot a rifle and take care of yourself. But he expects you to do hard things, to not complain or whine, to learn fast, to try hard and to tough it out when things get shitty.
Ares is the team captain who gives his all, who holds the team together and who understands exactly what you’re going through because he is right in the middle of it too. But he expects you to train hard, to play hard, to keep your head in the game, to take care of your teammates, and to win.
Ares is the squad leader who laughs with you, drinks with you, teaches you to be a warrior, and leads you into battle. But he expects you to fight hard, to have integrity, to have courage and a good attitude, to take care of your battle buddies, and to kill every last one of the enemy motherfuckers. He does his damnedest to make sure you make it back home, but he makes damn sure you are never forgotten when you don’t.
Just because you’re born with a penis doesn’t mean you know how to be a man. Don’t worry; Ares will show you.
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Posted in Music, tagged Art, Country, Country Music, Death, Elvis Presley, Epiphone, Family, Gibson, Guitars, Hair, Les Paul, Marriage, Music, Pomade, Rock and Roll, Rockabilly, Roy Orbison, Sex, Sideburns on June 22, 2011 |
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Gods damn this is such a good song.
I’ve been listening to a lot of early rock and rockabilly for the last couple of days. Learning to play the guitar has made subtle shifts in the music I am interested in. Also, I got a new haircut, grew my sideburns back out, and started using pomade. I’m not going to lie; it looks sharp. Also, my beautiful and sexy wife bought me a beautiful and sexy electric guitar this weekend: an Epiphone Les Paul Special II in classic cherry sunburst. It sounds amazing and I think I love it more than I love anything but my wife and kids (sorry brother).
My point is, I remembered this song last night and went and looked it up and gods damn this is such a good song. There is nothing about it that I do not love. There is no reason to not listen to it over and over again.
Rest in peace, Roy.
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Posted in Book Reviews, Parenting, Spirituality, Western Fiction, tagged Adulthood, Ambition, Arthurian Legend, Bible, Books, C. S. Lewis, Cattle, Childhood, Christian Fiction, Christianity, Commitment, Cupid, Darkness, Death, Divine, Divinity, Eros, Evil, Family, Fantasy, Fiction, Friendship, God, Good, Horror, Illinois, Jack Schaefer, Judgment, Kingship, Larry McMurtry, Latin, Literature, Lonesome Dove, Love, Mississippi, Monarchy, Montana, Morality, Motto, Myth, Mythology, Obligation, October, Parenthood, Place, Psyche, Ray Bradbury, Royalty, Science Fiction, Self, Shane, Sin, Something Wicked This Way Comes, Southern Literature, Strength, T. H. White, Texas, Texas Ranger, The Once And Future King, The South, Theme, Thomas Sutpen, Till We have Faces, War, Waukegan, Western Fiction, William Faulkner, Women on June 8, 2011 |
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My top five favorite books of all time, in alphabetical order by author:
1. Ray Bradbury, Something Wicked This Way Comes: A dark carnival comes to a fictionalized Waukegan in a timeless October, bringing nightmares. It is a story about childhood and growing up, fathers and sons, friendship, and the good and evil in every one of us.
2. William Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom!: Unimaginably rich and mythic, a magnum opus about the South, chronicling Thomas Sutpen’s obsessive but doomed struggle to found–“tore violently a plantation”–an aristocratic dynasty in Mississippi before, during and after the Civil War, and about the destruction brought down on his bloodline and the land they inhabit as judgment that ripples through place and generations as a result. In the end, it is relentlessly a book about the dark places we should not go but that we ultimately cannot resist.
3. C. S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces: Lewis’s re-telling of the myth of Cupid and Psyche is the most true book about God that I have ever read. It is the story of an ugly queen whose beautiful sister is taken from her by a god, and who unintentionally enacts her revenge on everyone around her by taking just as ruthlessly, until at last she is finally forced to come to terms with the true nature of herself and the Divine.
4. Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove: An epic, episodic novel about a pair of grizzled ex-Texas Rangers and the men and boys they lead on a cattle drive from Texas to Montana, for no reason at all, more or less, other than to be the first to be there. It is a powerful and poignant story about manhood, friendship, obligation, women, cattle and death. Uva uvam vivendo varia fit.
5. Jack Schaefer, Shane: A short but intense novel from a young boy’s perspective about a dark gunfighter who drifts into a Wyoming range war between farmers and an unscrupulous cattle baron. Shane is a cracking, fast-paced novel about courage, love, commitment, manhood and true strength.
6. T. H. White, The Once And Future King: A lush and quirky but immensely powerful retelling of the entire Arthurian legend. In a sense, there is nothing that this book is not about. If I had to give a boy only one book to live their life after, it would not be the Bible. It would be this book.
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