Bored on the Fourth of July

beach closed“Hi, Twits and Likees and BFFs. Can’t find the right emoticon for our family’s bummer of a long weekend. As you know, because we’ve been posting about it all year, we planned the trip of a lifetime to Florida’s Treasure Coast beaches over the 4th. But when we got there the beaches were covered with a green, toxic, smelly curd that some genius compared to guacamole but I never saw an avocado tree anywhere so that doesn’t make any sense. Continue reading

The Days After Tomorrow 4: Paiute Morning

When dawn came, and the people of the Paiute camp emerged from their wickiups, the Watching priest was astonished not by what they did, but what they did without.

When dawn came, and the people of the Paiute camp emerged from their wickiups, the Watching priest was astonished not by what they did, but what they did without.

[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.]

About a hundred years after Father LeJeune vented about the unwillingness of the Montagnais to give or receive orders, another Jesuit priest awoke in the predawn hour in a Paiute village, near the other coast of the North American continent. Apparently the Jesuits, who at least were willing to observe and take down information about the lives of the Native Americans, were no better than anyone else at sharing what they learned, because this priest was as shocked by what he saw as Father LeJeune had been, for the same reason.

As daylight came and the villagers stepped out of their wickiups, they went immediately into action, some gathering twigs for tinder, others starting the breakfast fires, some fetching water, others preparing food. All this activity, and all that was to come that day and every day, proceeded without anyone giving anyone else an order. Continue reading

Peak History

historyWe live in a country whose citizens — make that residents — are increasingly averse to complicated thought, indifferent to veracity, and reductionist in their thinking (every thing and every thought and every person is and must be either one kind of thing, or another kind of thing, no additional choices allowed). In such a country history has few friends.

History is too hard. You have to find out what happened, and then you have to figure out the context of the events — what led up to them and what followed — so you can tease out their significance for your time and place, and even after doing all that it may not be clear. Far easier to decide first what history means, and look up a few facts to “prove” it. Works for Fox News. And what they have made of journalism, we are making of history. Continue reading

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