Wednesday, January 16, 2019

English majors in the State Department

I'm planning on taking the oral assessment for Foreign Service officers in early February (should Great Leader permit the federal government to resume all its regular functions by then) and have been reading the U.S. State Department's official study guide. It appears to be written by a bored English major: a country made up for the purpose of hypothetical exercises is run by a president for life and his "consultative council of cronies."

Apparently, alliterative ability is an admirable attribute amongst those aspiring to government work.

Monday, December 17, 2018

We wish you two merry Christmas albums

After years of my whinging about the depressing dearth of quality Christmas albums, 2018 has produced two from the middle portion of the alphabetical list of my favorite bands.

Things started looking up in my world when the latter-day countrypolitan Mavericks started recording again a few years ago. Lead singer Raul Malo's Marshmallow World has long been a favorite of myself and the curmudgelings, so I had high expectations for the Mavericks' Hey! Merry Christmas! Unlike Malo's solo offering, it's mostly new compositions. As such, it didn't really connect with me on a first listening. However, I decided to give it another chance whilst baking Christmas cookies and was quickly converted. The Mavericks swing, children; they really do.

Strangely, the Monkees never recorded a Christmas album during their heyday, so they're offering one now before they're all dead. Don't be cynical, but get thankful: Christmas Party is a marvelous pop confection of Yuletide goodness. The only melancholy comes from two tracks by the late Davy Jones. He wasn't resurrected, but the tracks were unearthed from a vault somewhere. His voice is as sweet as ever, but we're reminded that the fates are allowing fewer and fewer of us to all be together with each passing year.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Angels of Advent

On the one hand, I am as convinced as any other curmudgeon that angelogy is where crazy goes to live. On the other hand, I am intrigued by the angelic message, "Fear not." Holding both those thoughts in mind, Peter Leithart offers a helpful meditation on angelophanies over at the First Things website.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

You say you want an eschaton

I can't be the only reactionary hard-shell Calvinist who misses Marxism's rhetorical domination of the educated elites. I enjoyed having a vocabulary in common with my opponents on the left. In particular, I really liked talking about what would happen when the Revolution comes (as in, "When the Revolution comes, the Republicans will be the first with their backs up against the wall." Ah, the good old days.). In the Marxist cosmos, "the Revolution" is that glorious impending moment in which the proletariat will rise up against their bourgeois oppressors, seize the means of production, and usher in an age of harmony and peace in a finally-classless society.

As a (nearly-)infinite number of Christian critics have noted, the Revolution is Marx's eschaton, his endpoint of history and new golden age. In that sense, Marxism is just another Christian heresy. In Christian orthodoxy, human history ends in Christ's return, the end of the present evil age, and our Lord's establishment of the new heavens and earth in which peace and justice reign. Marx (conveniently) removes Jesus and divine intervention from the scenario, but he does teach his students to look forward to an age of peace and justice.

Marx's vision will never, ever be achieved until the Revolution comes. (For what it's worth, I rather doubt it will.) Conversely, while the Christian eschaton is utterly dependent on the Lord's good pleasure to inaugurate it, it nonetheless is manifested in the present by the Christian's faith. "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." (Hebrews 11:1) Along with the Old Testament saints, we are called to live in the present as though we already live in the age to come, according to the values of the city which has foundations (Hebrews 11-12). In other words, we are to live according to the Biblical principles of peace and justice now, even though they will not be rightly, fully, or permanently established until our Lord returns in glory.

Which brings us (at long last) to my point: an inaugurated eschatology requires the Christian to maintain a commitment to social justice. The perfect social justice of the new heavens and earth is not yet, but must be already present in the political agenda which the Christian pursues. Christians may, and certainly will, disagree as to how to pragmatically and prudentially pursue social justice in this present age; indeed, they often disagree as to what social justice even looks like. Nonetheless, whether they find themselves on the left or right of the political spectrum, whether they are politically active or inactive (or, in my case, only a reluctant voter), they must be bound by a desire to bring about as much social justice as is possible in this fallen world.

Accordingly, it is wrong, bordering on eschatologically heretical, to assert that Christians ought not be concerned with or driven by social justice. At their very best, such critiques evidence a rather poor grasp of Biblical eschatology.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

I do not think it means what you think it means

As previously chronicled in this space, our health insurance coverage was retroactively terminated as of February 2018 in October 2018 because someone at Connect for Health Colorado decided that instead of making two separate mistakes with our account, those errors could be combined for a glorious multiplying effect. Consequently, Mrs. Curmudgeon and I have begun receiving new bills for medical services for which we had previously been billed and had paid because now we're being billed as though we had never had health insurance in the first place. Whilst we try to maintain composure and equanimity in the face of all life's challenges, the gradually and relentlessly mounting pile of debt is becoming slightly distressing.

Accordingly, we were quite pleased when Mrs. Curmudgeon received a voice-mail message stating that C4HCO had "come across a resolution." I returned said call, to learn that the most recent development in our case was that an investigator had discovered the error. (Let's set aside the fact that I could have told them the error(s) a month ago.) In other words, figuring out what went wrong is what was meant by "coming across a resolution."

"Resolution." Apparently, it does not mean what we thought it meant.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

I can't make myself look away

I retired from the Boy Scouts of America after they changed their membership requirements, but before the name change to "Scouts BSA." I really, really want to be done with the organization, but people (by "people," I mean "Mrs. Curmudgeon") keep alerting me to stories such as the Girl Scouts USA suing Scouts BSA for creating confusion between their programs. I never thought I'd say this, but I'm taking the Girl Scouts' side. Scouts BSA, a once-noble organization, is only adding to the overall addledness of this gender-confused generation. And in the process, they are neglecting the single most important reason to maintain entirely separate programs for boys and girls.

That reason, of course, is cooties.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

And you doubt the end is nigh?

Pringles™, being as they are the particleboard of the snack chip world, are well-suited for the dubious enterprise of flavoring the otherwise-noble potato chip with unnatural and unreasonable flavors (ex. barbecue, ranch dressing, and other abominations). Perhaps, then, we should not be surprised that Pringles™ can now be had in "Thanksgiving dinner flavors." Having destroyed both Christmas and Halloween, popular culture is now busily at work bringing down Thanksgiving.

If this is not enough to disprove postmillenial optimism, nothing is.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Nehemiah cleansed the Temple

But during all this I was not in Jerusalem, for in the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes king of Babylon I had returned to the king. Then after certain days I obtained leave from the king, and I came to Jerusalem and discovered the evil that Eliashib had done for Tobiah, in preparing a room for him in the courts of the house of God. And it grieved me bitterly; therefore I threw all the household goods of Tobiah out of the room. Then I commanded them to cleanse the rooms; and I brought back into them the articles of the house of God, with the grain offering and the frankincense. (Nehemiah 13:6-9)

I can't be the first to observe this, but I would like to point out that this is an example of Nehemiah as a type of Christ. Nehemiah's response to Tobiah and Eliashib was identical to Jesus' when he entered the Temple:
Then Jesus went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. And He would not allow anyone to carry wares through the temple. Then He taught, saying to them, “Is it not written, “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’ ” (Mark 11:15-17)

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

I don't know

Just found this while going through some old pictures: it's from a form we were asked to fill out for the county while Thing 3 was in therapy a few years ago. On the one hand, I suppose not knowing your child's gender might well explain why said child needs therapy. On the other hand, I am sure this is proof the end truly is nigh.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

my struggle, 2018 update

For those of you in between binge-watched seasons of prestige dramas who are looking for another serialized tragedy to follow, here's the latest on my family's adventures with Colorado's version of the "Affordable" Care Act's state-run exchanges. In a previous episode, we learned that someone had committed two insanely egregious errors, which resulted in our insurer being told that Mrs. Curmudgeon and I are now responsible for all the 2018 monthly subsidies which had been paid out to supplement our health insurance premiums. Therefore, we received a bill for roughly $8000.

Since that "debt" resulted from the erroneous decision to backdate the change to our subsidy qualifications to January, our insurer decided the usual three-month grace period to get caught up on premium payments also dated back to January. So, despite the fact this mess began in September 2018, our coverage has now been terminated because the grace period to pay our insurer $8000 expired sometime around late March or early April 2018.

Connect for Health Colorado has assured me that this "error" (because apparently "travesty" has too many syllables) will be corrected very, very soon and I can be sure they will call me when that occurs. Probably because there's something wrong with me, my usual sunny optimism with regard to the efficiency of government-run agencies is evaporating.

In the meantime, Mrs. Curmudgeon and I are being very careful when crossing the street.