The Days After Tomorrow 3: Saving the Montagnais

Fr. Jacques Marquette, S.J., a contemporary of Fr. Le Jeune quoted here, at work saving souls of Ojibwas in the western Great Lakes. (Wikipedia Photo)

Fr. Jacques Marquette, S.J., a contemporary of Fr. Le Jeune quoted here, at work saving souls of Ojibwas in the western Great Lakes. (Wikipedia Photo)

[This is one of a series of meditations on what we might have learned, and might still learn, from the history of Native Americans about how to live without modern technology and industry, which we may have to do in the near future.]

During the same time that the unfortunate Montagnais people of what is now Quebec were being economically transformed and then ravaged by the juggernaut fur trade, in what we could call the Beaver Bubble, they were also being spiritually ransacked by the Catholic Church. In both cases the outcome was ugly, but offers lessons in what must not be sold, or lost, or given away if a people is to persevere.

You don’t have to look very far into the records that exist pertaining to Native North Americans before you realize that the writings consist in the main of the writings of Catholic missionaries, most of them Jesuit. You can’t help but wonder; how did it happen that there were so many Catholic missionaries in the New World wilderness? Continue reading

The Days After Tomorrow 2: Mourning the Montagnais

The way it used to be for the Montagnais, circa 1550; hide clothing, wood and hide canoes, stone-tipped weapons and tools. Thanks to the French fashion trade, things were about to get a lot better for them. And then, way, way worse. (Photo by Ben Christi/skyrock.com)

The way it used to be for the Montagnais, circa 1550; hide clothing, wood and hide canoes, stone-tipped weapons and tools. Thanks to the French fashion trade, things were about to get a lot better for them. And then, way, way worse. (Photo by Ben Christi/skyrock.com)

[This is one of a series of meditations on what we might have learned, and might still learn, from the history of Native Americans about how to live without technology and industry, which we may have to do in the near future.]

In North America in the 16th Century, the people known as the Montagnais (the French called them that, “Mountaineers,” the tribe called themselves “Innu,” the People) were among the first to fall before the European juggernaut. Their story became a template for almost all the other tribes on the continent, and in some important respects is eerily like our own unfolding story. Continue reading

The Fall, and Further Fall, of Broadcast Journalism

fortune teller

Get into a dignified line of work, he says. Go into TV journalism, and you’ll never have to be harassed or humiliated like, you know, a hedge fund guy. (Photo by Vito Fun/Flickr)

Once upon a time, in a galaxy far away, we were young, and journalists. We thought of ourselves as initiates in a brotherhood (which it was, mostly, then, the sisters came later), followers of a calling, and most importantly members of a profession.

A profession, according to the dictionary, is an occupation “that involves prolonged training and a formal qualification.” We were never big on the “formal qualification” part — although we had to have an FCC licence to put our hands on the controls of a broadcasting station — but we did train. For many years I spent hours each week being grilled on the word choices in my scripts (Lewis, have you no idea of the difference between continuous and continual?”) and my pronunciation of them (“Lewis, I did not hear any sub-guttural value in that initial G, and where was the labial stop at the end of ‘ship’?”) Continue reading

O Blogger, Where Art Thou?

Bloodhounds“Mr. Lewis, where art thou?” writes Daniel Reich. “Been reading your blog for years now and it looks as though you have abandoned your post so to speak. Been a fan ever since I read Tribulation  A book that gave me comfort gained from knowing that I wasn’t alone. I think you know what I mean. Please come back, Mr. Lewis. Let us bear witness to the unraveling together.”

First let me offer an apology to you, Mr. Reich, and to all the other regular readers of The Daily Impact. All seven of you. It is not polite to cut off an ongoing conversation without explanation, and I should have handled my absence with more respect for you. I shall try to explain.

Remember the old joke that asks, “How do you immobilize a centipede?” and answers, “By asking him which foot he leads with.”  A similar thing applies to writers. How do you block them completely? Ask them “What is the point of writing this?” Whether administered by a malevolent onlooker or by the unwitting writer himself, the immediate effect of the question is paralysis.

That’s what I did to myself earlier this year, more or less in mid-sentence. And, not to quibble, Daniel, but I did not abandon my post. I have been sitting right here, watching my cursor blink, for two months, trying to answer the question. Continue reading

Debunking the Defamers of Religion

Bible

When you read what this text requires practitioners of an ancient religion to do, you will be horrified. (Wikipedia Photo)

It has been disturbing of late to hear politicians and pundits maligning one of the world’s great religions, reasoning (if that’s the right word to describe the process) that the actions of fundamentalists reveal the nature of the religion as one that counsels brutality, slavery, murder and death. It is perhaps not surprising — given that these fundamentalists have been responsible for virtually every violent act of terrorism in the United States since 9/11/2001 — that they have drawn so much invective down upon their whole belief system. I resolved to put the matter to rest by doing what none of the commenters seem to have done; by reading closely what the unfamiliar scriptures actually have to say.

Sadly, I must report that instead of debunking the defamers, I found confirmation of what many of us thought were reprehensible slanders. Continue reading

Trapped in a Millennial’s Daydream

millennials

The meaning of life in one easy chart! It’s easy when you’re a Millennial. (Photo by ITU Pictures)

Culture — the shared sense of who we are, and how we act — is now transmitted, in the main, by television. Once, our culture was preserved, protected and passed along by wise elders — heads of families and clans, priests, scholars and the like, whose motivation was to remind us of our shared history and values, and to summon us to a life of service to those values. Today, our culture consists of titillation, entertainment, distraction and falsehoods choreographed by 20-somethings who think history is something that happened last week, character is a part in a movie and wisdom is the name of a tooth. Continue reading

Habemus Papam: We Have a Pope

Pope Francis is touching millions -- by being nice. Who knew that would work? (Wikipedia Photo)

Pope Francis is touching millions — by being nice. Who knew that would work? (Wikipedia Photo)

[WARNING: One of the side effects of reading the following may be a brief period of feeling somewhat good about things. It should pass by itself (just read any other article on The Daily Impact) but if it persists for more than four hours, please seek medical attention.]

I am not a Catholic. Not even a Christian, really, despite my admiration for the teachings of Christ; none of the organizations that profess to represent him seem to me to do so. I am not an atheist, it’s just that the God that I believe in is not the one they are all talking about. But as of today, I am a Papist. Continue reading

Warnings Confirmed: Terror Attacks Plague US on July 4

Fireworks_Detroit

Using high explosives as a distraction, extremists launched attacks in almost all major American cities on July 4, as predicted.

Grave and repeated warnings from top US security officials about the danger of terror attacks on the July 4 weekend were confirmed by what appears to this writer to be a coordinated series of attacks in virtually all major US cities. Many of the attacks used explosives as a distraction, and one of them was a suicide attack.

Ground zero for the carnage was Chicago, where nine people were shot and killed, and 46 wounded, some of them while watching explosive “fireworks” displays. A source close to the investigation (who does not want to be identified because of an aversion to ridicule) says the attackers appear to be affiliated with a group known as Illinois Students Independence Society, a shadowy organization that controls its militants with the Internet. Continue reading

Guns Don’t Kill People: Confederate Flags Kill People

When this battle flag of the 11th Mississippi Infantry was carried up Cemetery Ridge in Pickett's Charge, it must have felt about as friendless as the "Confederate flag" feels today. BTW, what everybody is arguing about today is not the flag of the Confederacy, but the battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia.

When this battle flag of the 11th Mississippi Infantry was carried up Cemetery Ridge in Pickett’s Charge, it must have felt about as friendless as the “Confederate flag” feels today. BTW, what everybody is arguing about today is not the flag of the Confederacy, but the battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia.

We have just seen another massive, and masterly, prestidigitation by the people who love guns and dislike poor people, and who understand that large majorities of Americans dislike gun violence and are poor. The continued existence of free and open elections in this country — albeit less free and less open every year — constrain these people from talking too openly about their vision for America, i.e. one nation, under God, armed to the teeth with people dying in the streets. So they obfuscate, and misdirect, and bloviate and lay down smoke.

And when confronted with a truly obscene massacre of innocent black people by a white  whack job with a racist manifesto and a gun, right wingnuts have to work overtime to come up with a diversion to keep the chattering class from talking about their manifesto. This time, after nine people at prayer were gunned down in a church in Charleston, South Carolina, they knew they were going to have to be really good to get this off TV and out of the minds of Americans before any damage was done to their Second Amendment Rights. Continue reading

Doomstead Diner Discussion: Whither China?

On Sunday afternoon, June 15, the Doomstead Diner hosted a video discussion of the prospects for China. In addition to Doomstead‘s RE and Monsta (or whatever their real names are), the discussion included me, Tom Lewis, of The Daily Impact and Ugo Bardi of the University of Florence, Italy and the blog Cassandra Legacy. Or whatever our real names are. Running time is just over an hour — an hour you will never get back.