FAN Fiction!

Dipping my toes in the semi-embarrassing, but oh-so-fun world of fan fiction. I believe the below image speaks for itself.

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Here’s a sample. Read Part One here (Part Two will be up in a few days):

“So, that’s all I know,” said Twilight as the six friends finished up their cider. “And I couldn’t find one word about any of this in any of my books.”

“I gotta say, Twilight, that’s weird; even for us,” said Applejack. “And you have no idea who this here ‘King of Terror’ is?”

“None whatsoever,” sighed Twilight. “I even asked Sunset, but she doesn’t know anything about it either, so it’s not from her world.”

“And we’ve been combing the library all morning looking for anything that might even remotely be related, and came up with nadda,” Spike said.

“Hm,” said Rarity. “I suppose if it comes from another world, there wouldn’t be anything, would there?”

“But then how are we supposed to prepare for it?” said Twilight. “What was the point of warning us?”

“Apparently, not so that you could read up on it,” said Rainbow Dash.

“Yeah!” put in Pinkie. “If that was it, I’m sure the Shubba-Wubbas would have told you what book to read.”

Twilight elected not to address Pinkie’s pronunciation of ‘Shobijin.'”

“Okay,” she said. “But how will we know how to fight the King of Terror? Or even who he is, or when he’s started his attack?”

“Uh,” said Spike, looking out the window. “I’m pretty sure we’ll know.”

He pointed. The ponies all looked and gasped. A huge shape was approaching at high speeds, beating the air with enormous wings.

“Dragon!” Rainbow Dash shouted. Fluttershy shrieked and dived under the table. Twilight telekinetically pulled her out and the six ran to meet the oncoming monstrosity.

“You think that’s the King of Terror?” asked Applejack.

“It’s certainly scary enough,” said Pinkie.

“But it’s just a dragon,” said Rainbow Dash. “You’d think something from another world would be, you know, different. I mean, we have dragons; there’s nothing special about them.”

“Yes, there is!” said Fluttershy, still trying to escape Twilight’s magic. “They’re terrifying!”

The monster dragon soared lower and lower, making for an empty field about a mile or so outside of Ponyville. The six raced to intercept him. Then Spike realized something.

“Hold on,” he said. “That’s Torch!”

“Who?” asked Rainbow.

“The former dragon lord,” said Spike. “What’s he doing here?”

“So…not the King of Terror?”

“No way,” Spike answered. “Just an ordinary, home grown…giant dragon.”

Fluttershy squeaked in terror.

“Don’t worry, Fluttershy,” said Spike. “He’s…well, he’s not nice, but he’s all right as dragons go.”

“Besides, he’s Princess Ember’s father. You like Ember, right?” said Twilight.

“Yes, Ember’s nice,” said Fluttershy, who seemed comforted enough to at least stop trying to fly away. “I hope her dad isn’t angry about anything.”

The six ponies and Spike galloped into the field before the enormous dragon. Torch was almost as large as Twilight’s whole castle, and he looked exhausted. Not only that, but he was bruised and bleeding from numerous fresh-looking injuries, and his armor was rent and dented in places. His daughter, Princess Ember the Dragon Lord, was riding on the top of his head. The blue-and-gold dragon was considerably smaller than her father; not a whole lot bigger than Twilight, in fact. She soared down to meet them, looking just as haggard at her father, though she was free from injuries. The Bloodstone Scepter that marked her status was still in her hand.

“Spike,” she said. “Princess Twilight. We need help.”

“What is it?” asked Twilight. “What happened?”

“We’ve been overthrown,” Torch growled.

“What?”

“You remember Garble?” said Ember. “Well, he’s back. And he’s…different. Bigger; a lot bigger. And much more powerful! He must have gotten his hands on some kind of magic or something; I’ve never seen anything like it! He just suddenly attacked this morning and overwhelmed us.”

“I don’t understand,” said Spike. “Shouldn’t the Bloodstone Scepter make it so that he can’t do anything against your orders?”

“Yeah, it should,” said Ember. “But it didn’t do anything! He didn’t even flinch when I ordered him to stand down. He just flew right up and attacked my father and…well…”

“‘E threw me about like I was a tiny manticore!” Torch admitted. “Absolutely destroyed me. Never had anything like that happen in a hundred years!”

“I ordered every dragon in the area to help, but all it did was slow him down a bit,” Ember went on. “Finally we just flew for it, leaving him in control of the dragon lands. We came here hoping you could help us.”

“Of course!” said Spike. “We’ll do everything we can!”

He turned to Twilight.

“Uh, which is…what?”

Twilight tapped her chin, thinking. This had to have something to do with the King of Terror…but that couldn’t mean Garble; she’d met Garble before, and he wasn’t from any other world.

“First of all, we should discuss this with Princess Celestia. If Garble’s taken over the Dragon Lands, he’ll be heading for Equestria next. Come on, Ember; there’s something I need to tell you about on the way…”

Gushing about Cyrano on CatholicMatch

Cyrano de Bergerac is one of my favorite pieces of literature, and today I got to write about it. Okay, actually I wrote this piece several months ago, but it was published today and that’s all that counts. 

Yet the truth is that Cyrano exaggerates his own predicament. His other qualities more than make up for his physical appearance in the eyes of women, as well as those of most of men. A poor serving girl is smitten by him like a teenager swooning over a movie star. His comrades-in-arms look to him as their leader and the hero of their regiment. When he performs some great feat of gallantry, as when he marches off to fight a hundred men single handedly, he receives fervent admiration from everyone around him.

Even his enemies, such as the proud Comte de Guiche make little or no mention of his nose, but of his gadfly-like tendencies and willingness to insult them with impunity. It is his own vanity and preoccupation with his perceived disfiguration that is the source of his failure: not his nose.

You see, by playing to his strengths, Cyrano is able to make his defects recede into the background. His wit and courage inspire admiration and envy far more than his nose invites ridicule, if he could only see it.

Milo Murphy at the Federalist

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My next piece is up on The Federalist: this one about Milo Murphy’s Law, the latest show from Phineas and Ferb creators Swampy Marsh and Dan Povenmire.

If I could make a living writing about philosophy in cartoons, I would be okay with that.

It is one of the core beliefs of western culture that a man’s worth is measured, not by what happens to him, but by how well he faces it. Hector manning himself to face Achilles in a battle he knows he cannot win. Socrates choosing to drink hemlock rather than betray the truth. The saints enduring tortures rather than renouncing their faith. Whatever the turn of fortune’s wheel, a man’s response is what really counts, not the changing clutch of circumstance. Milo is the cheerful, family-friendly embodiment of this doctrine: a middle school Job with a sunny disposition.

By contrast, the modern idea, born of the likes of Marx, Freud, and their ilk, is that circumstance, society, “privilege,” or whatever other pseudo-academic synonym for “luck” you prefer, is what truly makes a man what he is. Whether it is ascribed to genetics, psychology, or economics, it amounts to the same thing: the idea that fortune, not action, determines a man’s destiny.

The antagonists in Milo’s world adopt this deterministic view, such as his classroom rival, Bradley. Bradley resents Milo, not just because his presence promises a disaster in the near future, but more because he’s jealous that Milo gets all the attention. He thinks that, if only Milo weren’t around, everyone would admire him instead.

Except Bradley is a boring, stuck-up grump, something that would remain so even if Milo weren’t around. He’s so focused on competing with his classmates (“In your face, other people!”) and on how they’re supposedly keeping him back that he doesn’t even consider how he could better his situation.

Read the rest here

Have a Bleak Good Friday

I am quickly growing to be a fan of Mr. John Zmirak over at Stream. He effectively wrote what I would have liked to have written regarding Good Friday (a good thing too, as I probably wasn’t going to write it):

It’s all too easy to let this holy day get swallowed up by Easter. We know how things turn out. Death gets swallowed up by victory. Jesus goes down into darkness just for a weekend.

In fact, we know that tomorrow He will be rooting around in Hades to free Elijah and Esther, Abraham and Moses, even schlemiels like Adam and Eve. They will follow Him to glory. So it’s all too easy for us to fast forward through the Passion. Just so, lax Christianity would glide over the darkness of sin, to focus on forgiveness. That’s natural, of course. But then, our nature is fallen.

To really embrace the grace that’s offered by this season, we must master our minds and emotions. We should travel the road of these holy days at the same speed as the apostles. It won’t help us to jump ahead. In fact, it impoverishes everything.

Go here to read the rest, and have a somber and bleak Good Friday.

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Link: 20 Things Every Man Should Be Able to Do

It’s rare to find good advice these days, especially on the internet, where everyone and anyone suddenly becomes an expert toting batches of statistics in service of advice that is typically shallow or obvious or both.

That’s one reason I like Chad Howse of Be Legendary and Average 2 Alpha: the guy actually seems like a legitimate thinker who believes what he says. More importantly, his advice actually has some substance and moral intelligence to it. Like this 20 Things Every Man Should Be Able to Do post. Most of the time, if you found a post like this on the internet, it would start off with something like “Make Mistakes and Keep Trying,” or “Express His Emotions,” or something equally trite. The first entries on this list?

1. Find meaning in suffering

To be a man is to endure what others cannot. Every man should read Man’s Search for Meaning, for an explanation of what it is to find meaning in suffering, but also Unbroken, to understand that no matter what we’re going through, it could be both worse and others have endured worse and come out better for it. Whatever you’re embroiled in, seek the meaning of it, seek the challenge within it, and turn it into something that strengthens you.

2. Bear any burden

We’re asked to not only bear our own troubles but to take on those of others and aid them in their difficulty. Know this. It isn’t just about you, but about those who depend on you.

Cool, huh?

The list goes on from there, with no token “silly” entries (i.e. “Put up with chick flicks”). Every entry is about either a practical skill / ability or a virtue. The whole list is, as the title indicates, about being the best man you can be, and actually has an idea what is meant by that.

You can see why I like this guy’s writing; it’s rooted in eternal values (he often cites classical and historical sources) and offers little conciliation to modernity. After you finish this list, you should stick around and check out more of it.

How Christians are to Live In this World

I found this excellent article by John Zmirak on Stream, where he deals with the so-called ‘Benedict Option’ with straightforward common sense. I recommend you read the whole thing, but I especially want you to read the section from the second-century Epistle to Diognetus, which I’ve reproduced below.

Christians are indistinguishable from other men either by nationality, language or customs. They do not inhabit separate cities of their own, or speak a strange dialect, or follow some outlandish way of life. Their teaching is not based upon reveries inspired by the curiosity of men. Unlike some other people, they champion no purely human doctrine. With regard to dress, food and manner of life in general, they follow the customs of whatever city they happen to be living in, whether it is Greek or foreign.

And yet there is something extraordinary about their lives. They live in their own countries as though they were only passing through. They play their full role as citizens, but labor under all the disabilities of aliens. Any country can be their homeland, but for them their homeland, wherever it may be, is a foreign country. Like others, they marry and have children, but they do not expose them. They share their meals, but not their wives.

They live in the flesh, but they are not governed by the desires of the flesh. They pass their days upon earth, but they are citizens of heaven. Obedient to the laws, they yet live on a level that transcends the law. Christians love all men, but all men persecute them. Condemned because they are not understood, they are put to death, but raised to life again. They live in poverty, but enrich many; they are totally destitute, but possess an abundance of everything. They suffer dishonor, but that is their glory. They are defamed, but vindicated. A blessing is their answer to abuse, deference their response to insult. For the good they do they receive the punishment of malefactors, but even then they, rejoice, as though receiving the gift of life. They are attacked by the Jews as aliens, they are persecuted by the Greeks, yet no one can explain the reason for this hatred.

To speak in general terms, we may say that the Christian is to the world what the soul is to the body. As the soul is present in every part of the body, while remaining distinct from it, so Christians are found in all the cities of the world, but cannot be identified with the world. As the visible body contains the invisible soul, so Christians are seen living in the world, but their religious life remains unseen. The body hates the soul and wars against it, not because of any injury the soul has done it, but because of the restriction the soul places on its pleasures. Similarly, the world hates the Christians, not because they have done it any wrong, but because they are opposed to its enjoyments.

Christians love those who hate them just as the soul loves the body and all its members despite the body’s hatred. It is by the soul, enclosed within the body, that the body is held together, and similarly, it is by the Christians, detained in the world as in a prison, that the world is held together. The soul, though immortal, has a mortal dwelling place; and Christians also live for a time amidst perishable things, while awaiting the freedom from change and decay that will be theirs in heaven. …

New Federalist Essay

My latest piece is up at The Federalist, using King Kong and Godzilla to describe the human condition. Because I do that sort of thing.

Sample:

I say an anti-war message doesn’t suit Kong because, especially as depicted in this film, Kong is a warrior, and really doesn’t have the option to not fight. His presence is the only thing that allows the island’s natives to live in a cartoony utopia (that, for some reason, doesn’t include smiling) and possibly prevents the rest of the world from being threatened. Godzilla was in much the same position in the previous film, as the only thing standing between humanity and destruction by the electricity-draining MUTOs.

In either case, the image is of a world that is only allowed to continue in whatever state of peace or safety it has because there’s a ferocious warrior standing guard, ready to push back the things that threaten to destroy it. “Godzilla” made this link explicit by casting soldiers as its human leads (in fact, “Godzilla “was the closest thing to a pro-war, or at least pro-warrior, movie I’ve seen in a long time), while “Kong” has its chief human warrior character as an Ahab-like antagonist.

The good news is that “Kong” has more than enough sheer creativity and enthusiasm for the material that makes it worth sitting through tired anti-Vietnam agitprop. Also, the medium undermines the would-be message. The very nature of a kaiju film like this forbids any kind of triumphant humanism. In a world where monsters the size of buildings stand guard against creatures that can shut down a city with a single move, there really is no room to hope that mankind has the wherewithal to end the perennial ills of the human condition.

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