Friday Links

For your weekend reading pleasure:

 ♦ On Edmund Burke, the French Revolution, and our current culture war: Conservatism and the Culture Wars:

Therefore, establishing an empire of desire requires more than political triumph, more than legal protection. Like all progressive ideals, it requires the destruction of the sentiments and pieties that lead people to think otherwise. This ideological project takes on the familiar distortions of all modern propaganda. “Words take on new meanings”, James Kalb writes in The Tyranny of Liberalism, “hatred comes to include opposition to liberal initiatives, while inclusiveness requires non-liberals to abandon their principles and even their identity. Tolerance treats objections to liberalism as attacks on neutrality that are oppressive simply by being made.”

 ♦ Paul Cella: The Crisis of Anomie

It is a particularly distressing feature of our age that even thoughtful men do not perceive the crisis into which they have been thrown. They profess ignorance of its depredations; and they even grow annoyed when pressed with its evidences. Say to them, “It is an extraordinary fact that for some decades now high culture in this country has nurtured an open detestation of the social order which gave it life and resources”; or “It is a marvel that American artists and men of letters concern themselves most passionately with disparagement and falsification of their inherited tradition” — and your tale will return void. Its accuracy will not be overtly denied, but it will be somehow disregarded. Or inquire of such men whether they think it noteworthy that though we are among the richest of all societies, we are very far from being the happiest: the puzzle will induce a blank stare or a blanker shrug. To resist or avoid reflection upon this bespeaks of a psychological numbness of some depth.

It is very easy, I think, to underestimate the strangeness of this state of things, this languor combined with bafflement. Even its prominent specimens no longer shock. It is certainly arresting to observe a society afflicted by, for instance, increasingly frequent, demonic acts of murder-suicide perpetrated by and against schoolchildren, or by disgruntled ex-employees against their former co-workers. What shall we call those whom it fails to disturb beyond the fleeting moment?

 ♦ The coming health care rationing: Obama Will Ration Your Health Care (HT: Maggies Farm) See also: The GOP Should Fight Health-Care Rationing and Take Two Aspirin and Call Your Congressman.

 ♦ He will have to change his name, once he stops moaning: Woman gives naked intruder a painful squeeze

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) – The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office says an 88-year-old woman fended off a naked intruder by grabbing the man’s crotch and squeezing.

Deputy Paul McRedmond says the man got into the house Tuesday through a sliding door. He backed the woman into her living room and pushed her face down onto a chair.

That’s when the woman reached behind and squeezed. The man tore free and fled…

Troutdale police arrested 46-year-old Michael G. Dick of Gresham.

Just another case of robbing Peter to repay gall.

 ♦ Get a scorecard, know the players: Israel & Gaza: Israel \'s strike on Gaza: a primer (HT: Donald Sensing)

 ♦ Everything you ever wanted to know about screwing: When a Phillips is not a Phillips!

 ♦ And while we’re on the topic…: No, not that kind (well, kinda sorta) — but how the media can screw up reporting a study in order to, you know, make it fit their narrative: Like a Virgin: The Press Take On Teenage Sex

 ♦ Crime doesn’t pay – but sometimes it can be damned clever: The Seven Best Capers of 2008

 ♦ “How much do you have to hate someone to not proselytize?” Penn Jillete (of Penn & Teller fame), an avowed atheist, meets the Real Deal, and is deeply touched:
 

Somehow I’ve got a feeling that he has a very interesting future ahead…

That’s all for now — God bless, back soon.

“I Totally Despised You”

One of life’s great pleasures for me is discovering new music. Now, mind you, this is rarely new in the sense of being a new group which has just broken onto the scene; in most cases, I’m discovering music, artists, or groups which have been around for some time, unbeknownst to me.

One such artist I have recently run across is Jonny Lang. One of his songs, Lie to Me, caught my ear on XM radio, and I jotted it down and subsequently made a beeline for iTunes. Turns out, this guy is nothing short of extraordinary. He starts playing the guitar at age 12, releases his first album at 13, and his second album — his first solo and signature blues work, Lie to Me — is released at age 15, and goes triple platinum. He blows away critics with a voice which, at age 15, sounds like a hardened blues player three times his age. It’s gutter-grating gritty, his phrasing and expression incredibly innovative, and the guitar playing is evocative of such blues greats as Stevie Ray Vaughn, with exquisitely blended influences of soul, R&B, Motown, and gospel music. Before he turns 20, he’s touring as the warm-up band for Aerosmith, Sting, Jeff Beck, Clapton, the Rolling Stones, and B. B. King.

Not bad for a kid with a guitar.

However, life in the fast lane is rarely kind. Many older and more mature troubadours than he have fallen to its brutal revenge — think Hendrix, Morrison, Joplin, Brian Jones, and a host of others — to whom the Roman candle of fame proved both furious and lethal. Drugs, sex, and rock ‘n roll often prove a highway to hell, and Jonny Lang was driving that freeway with pedal to the metal.

Then something changed — drastically, almost cataclysmically. In what can only be termed an extraordinary conversion experience, his entire life is transformed, bringing with it his music, immediately terminating his addiction to alcohol and drugs, and changing his very face and disposition.

I was not thinking about God, not at all. In the middle of our conversation, from that same spot that I felt something had hit me earlier, I just felt something start welling up, just burning in me, and it came up out of my throat. It was like I was throwing up, and the name “Jesus” just came out of my mouth. I just said “Jesus!”

Interviewer: Mid conversation?

Lang: Yeah. And when I said “Jesus,” my whole body started shaking. Haylie was looking right at me (laughing).

This is the part of my story where I’ve just said, “Lord, if I’m ever doing interviews, what should I say?” People are going to think I’m insane, you know? Nevertheless, it’s what happened. I knew it was Jesus immediately from the moment I started shaking. It was like he just came up and introduced himself to me. I remember him saying, “You don’t have to have this if you don’t want it.” And I said, “No, I want it.”

I kept shaking, and I knew when it was done that I had been completely set free of all my addictions, and I knew that I didn’t have to smoke or drink or do drugs anymore. All I could do was fall on the ground, and I gave my life to him right there. I was just in shock. I thought, “I totally despised you, and you just did this to me!”

Check out his music video for “Lie to Me”:
 

 
Now, take a look at his face, and watch him perform after his experience. It is almost like he has been replaced by another human being.
 

 
Which, in a very real sense, he has.
 

 

 
You can read about his rather extraordinary conversion and the changes it made in his life here. Check it out.