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Category: American Culture
Posted by: an okie gardener
Last night was the opening of the Comanche Fair. Held at the tribal headquarters north of Lawton, Oklahoma, it is dancing, eating, celebration, singing, camping (many in canvas teepees), contests, politiking, talking (in English and in Comanche), browsing vender booths--the national reunion of the Comanche people.

My wife and I went down last night to see the historical pageant, written and directed by a member of our church. It was made up of a series of tableau, tied together by the narration of a grandmother to her granddaughter. The pageant was performed on the grassy area just south of the monument to the Comanche Code-Talkers, which is just south of two rows of stone pillars inscribed with the names of all the Comanches who have served in the US Armed Forces. On the east side of the monuments is a tall flagpole with a large United States flag.

At the end of the evening, the Code-Talkers were honored. During WW2 the United States used tribal language speakers to transmit radio messages on the battlefield. While the Navaho servicemen are more famous, the Comanches served with distinction in Europe, going ashore on Utah Beach, June 6, 1944, and serving in the campaign until V-E Day. Ironic, that the government which had displaced them from their lands and sent their young people off to boarding schools in which they were forbidden to speak their language, received courageous service when duty called.

Fourteen Comanche men served in Europe as Code-Talkers, all now dead. They were represented last night by 14 spears, carried by women in traditional regalia. As the singers sang and drummed, their memories were honored by a "Scalp Song", danced by the women with the spears. After the song descendents of the Code-Talkers were invited into the circle to be honored.

The evening closed with the honoring of all Comanche service men and women, "our warriors" they were called. "War Journey Songs" were sung. A man in Comanche battle dress rode a horse into the light, leading a riderless horse. We all were asked to stand, face the American flag with our hands over our hearts, to honor flag and country.

The Comanche, Kiowa, and Apache in our area did not experience American expansion as an expansion of freedom. They will not celebrate Columbus Day. But, among them there is a love of America, mysterious as it is to me. Enlistment is high among these people and veterans are honored. We don't deserve such allies.
On this day in 1926 jazz legend John Coltrane was born. (Hat tip to The Writers' Almanac for reminding me of the day.) He died in 1967. His Downbeat biography is here. The first paragraph of the bio sketch attempts to give his importance:

Few artists have been as influential in jazz music as saxophonist John Coltrane. Each of the several major periods of his career produced classic works that remain to this day models for jazz musicians worldwide.

Classic albums include Blue Train, Giant Steps, My Favorite Things, and A Love Supreme. You can hear some of his music at the John Coltrane site here.

For part of his life, Coltrane was addicted to drugs, especially heroin (a scourge among jazz musicians in the '50s) though he did get clean through a rededication of himself to the Christianity of his family and childhood. Following a period of spiritual growth and search, he recorded A Love Supreme, an album that, in the words of one writer, "attests to the power, glory, love, and greatness of God." If you have never heard this album, you have missed a powerful expression of Christian religious experience. His funeral, held at St. Peter's Lutheran Church in New York City, was a powerful service of jazz and worship. A scholarly essay on Coltrane's religion and music is found here.

Here is a portion John Coltrane's own words about A Love Supreme from the original liner notes: (below)

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Category: American Culture
Posted by: an okie gardener
Recently I expressed my conclusion that GW Bush holds to a postmillennial hope, whether he is familiar with the term or not. The term "postmillennial" refers to the belief that the return of Christ will be preceeded by an extended time of peace, justice, and prosperity. Those holding this view are optimistic regarding the future, believing that history--over the long term--is being moved toward this bright future. American evangelicals who were so busy founding and operating various reforming societies in the first half of the nineteenth century (reforming prisons and asylums, spreading education and literacy, promoting Sunday-observance and Bible reading, fighting drunkeness and later all use of alcohol, agitating against slavery, etc) were motivated by this belief. The connection to politics, therefore, should be evident. Postmillennialism has affinities, and historic ties, with American Exceptionalism including Manifest Destiny.

Joab commented on this earlier post with a question regarding the support for this doctrine--in other words, how can a sane Christian believe this? I will now try to respond today or tomorrow as the first part of a 4 part series on Christian millennial views, with suggestions on their relation to policial action and cultural engagement. I will try to present each view fairly and strongly. Personal note: I am not a firm adherent of any of these views. I have described myself as a panmillennialist, believing that it will all pan out in the end. I do lean toward amillennialism or postmillennialism, depending mostly on my optimism/pessimism level regarding the human prospect.

For those of you interested in learning more, a good place to start is The Meaning of the Millennium: Four Views on Intervarsity Press. Each position is defended by a scholar holding that position who then engages each of the other writers.
Confucius held that for society to function in a healthy and orderly way, words must have their proper meanings. He understood that how we speak both reflects and influences how we think and act: unclear language both results from and leads to unclear thinking which results in confused action. A Waco Farmer, and I, have made the same point in regard to the present War and to politics in general. (Farmer offers some historical political examples here.)

For example, I do not use the term "vegetative state" to refer to a patient in a coma. I become disturbed when someone says of a coma patient--"he/she is just a vegetable." Humans are not vegetables. I think this term helps to dehumanize the one in the coma, making it easier for us to terminate care. [I am not arguing for using all available means to prolong life, but that is another post.]

This article from yesterday's Washington Post reports that scientists have discovered surprising brain activity in patients regarded as "vegetative." Evidently we will be needing new standards of testing, and perhaps new terms, for comatose people.
Category: American Culture
Posted by: an okie gardener
An extremely provocative editorial essay here from the Brussels Journal. The author's thesis:

"To sum it up, it must be said that radical feminism has been one of the most important causes of the current weakness of Western civilization, both culturally and demographically. Feminists, often with a Marxist world view, have been a crucial component in establishing the suffocating public censorship of Political Correctness in Western nations. They have also severely weakened the Western family structure, and contributed to making the West too soft and self-loathing to deal with aggression from Muslims.

Although feminism may have strayed away into extremism, that does not mean that all of its ideas are wrong. The women’s movement will make lasting changes. Women have occupied positions considered unthinkable only a few decades ago. Some things are irreversible."

I am mulling over this essay, and may comment later, but I think it well worth reading.