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First Person Personal

My personal views on a variety of matters ranging from popular culture to quantum physics to religion to politics to history to bushido to ... well, whatever I feel like, really. Warning: we all have agendas. Trust no one totally, myself most specifically included. Email me at wbrerwolf at gmail.com

Thursday, January 20, 2005

An Introduction:

"Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth: it is not peace I have come to bring, but a sword," Matthew 10:34

As the title suggests, these columns consist entirely of my opinions, some of which are actually grounded in careful thought, some are the result of research and reading, some are simply gut feelings and some are totally unreasoned prejudices.

You might find this amusing, boring, fascinating, annoying or horrifying.

Me, too.

As human beings, we each carry around our fair share of baggage, or, as the saying goes: "Wherever you go, there you are". I have no choice except to relate to the world as myself. No matter how much we try for "objectivity", we never find it (if, indeed, it exists). An honest writer should admit to bias, not obscure his agenda. I will try for honesty with you and with myself.

In keeping with this, I am a white Southerner, raised in Western Civilization, a follower of dead (mostly) white guys. I don't apologize for my nation's history nor do I brag of it. I believe in logic, rationality and science. I also believe in irrational things such as love, loyalty and the existence of God.

Secondly, I have a very peculiar sense of humor. It doesn't bother me a bit to screw up in front of a room full of total strangers, to play the clown or the fool. I intend to goof gloriously in the great tradition of Western Civilization, to screw up in ways undreamed of by the courts and by the scholars of our culture. If you don't make mistakes, you're not trying hard enough. If you don't make mistakes, you never encounter something you didn't expect - and God never intended the Universe to fit inside of any human head (mine most particularly).

Thirdly, I come at a lot of this from a Christian direction. Try not to let it throw you. This is part of me, part of where I come from. I also will throw in the occasional Taoist or Buddhist or Sufi thought on a subject. A lot of the time I will approach a problem from a scientific or "techie" point of view, but sometimes I will approach it from a poet's point of view. “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesman and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do.”--Ralph Waldo Emerson

Fourthly, I am not a "gentle Jesus, meek and mild" sort of Christian. I am not a pacifist and do not believe that He was either. I do believe that violence is the first resort of the incompetent and the last of the person who actually knows what he's doing. The reason why Jesus so seldom resorted to violence was because He knew what He was doing, and thus was able to find considerably more effective ways of getting things done than by killing people who didn't like Him.

Fifthly, I am not at all like you in some ways. I am very much like you in other ways. If I was identical to you, I couldn't say anything that you don't already know. If we had nothing in common, communication would be impossible. I hope to be both educational and comprehensible.

Lastly, "No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main." Meditation XVII - John Donne But some of us are not from the heartland of the continent, some of us are peninsulas connected only partially to the rest of humanity. Science teaches us that extreme cases can teach us things that more normal circumstances would obscure or omit from our attention. I hope that my admitedly odd and extreme existence will at least provide a cautionary example to you, my readers.

All this being said, let me tell you a story.

Saint Francis of Assisi was staying in the town of Gubbio and heard that a wolf was terrorizing the town, killing and devouring not only animals but people as well, leaving the surviving citizens afraid to venture outside of the city walls. Francis decided to go out and confront the wolf himself. After much futile pleading with the saint, a friar and a few of the local citizenry accompanied him outside the town. Suddenly, the wolf appeared, jaws open, fangs glistening and rushed the crowd. Doubtless, without the saint, everyone would have scattered to be attacked individually at the wolf's pleasure.

Francis did not run. He made the Sign of the Cross towards the wolf. The wolf, naturally confused, slowed down to examine the new situation. Then Francis started to preach to the wolf.

“Come to me, Brother Wolf. In the name of Christ, I order you not to hurt anyone.” The wolf stopped, then lay down at Francis's feet as he explained to the wolf that it had been doing wrong, killing not only domestic animals but people as well. “Brother Wolf,” said Francis, “I want to make peace between you and the people of Gubbio. They will harm you no more and you must no longer harm them. All past crimes are to be forgiven.”

The wolf nodded its head in agreement. Then Francis asked the wolf to make a pledge that if the townsfolk would feed the wolf, the wolf would no longer harm them or their livestock. St. Francis extended his hand and the wolf placed its front paw into the saint’s hand. Then Francis commanded the wolf to follow him into town to make a peace pact with the townspeople. The wolf followed the saint into town where the deal was sealed after a rousing sermon by Saint Francis.

For two years the wolf lived amongst the townsfolk, going from door to door for its meals, harming no one and no thing and being harmed by no one. Finally, it died of old age and its passing was mourned by all of the village of Gubbio.

There can be little doubt that the wolf accepted Francis' (and thus Christ's) teachings in so far as it was able - but a wolf's understanding is not a human understanding. Nor is it the viewpoint of a Lamb. Nor is my viewpoint a standard Christian viewpoint. Nor do I claim it to be Christ's viewpoint.

Think of these columns as my testimony, my statement of the truth as I, limited as I am, understand it.

Think of this as the Gospel According to Brother Wolf.

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