Sunday, September 30, 2012

Ben vs. James

This is an excerpt from the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin dealing with Ben's apprenticeship to his brother James, which is the basis for my play BEN FRANKLIN DECLARES HIS INDEPENDENCE.

My brother had, in 1720 or 1721, begun to print a newspaper. It was the second that appeared in America, and was called the New England Courant. The only one before it was the Boston News-Letter. I remember his being dissuaded by some of his friends from the undertaking, as not likely to succeed, one newspaper being, in their judgment, enough for America. At this time (1771) there are not less than five-and-twenty. He went on, however, with the undertaking, and after having worked in composing the types and printing off the sheets, I was employed to carry the papers thro' the streets to the customers. 
He had some ingenious men among his friends, who amus'd themselves by writing little pieces for this paper, which gain'd it credit and made it more in demand, and these gentlemen often visited us. Hearing their conversations, and their accounts of the approbation their papers were received with, I was excited to try my hand among them; but, being still a boy, and suspecting that my brother would object to printing anything of mine in his paper if he knew it to be mine, I contrived to disguise my hand, and, writing an anonymous paper, I put it in at night under the door of the printing-house. It was found in the morning, and communicated to his writing friends when they call'd in as usual. They read it, commented on it in my hearing, and I had the exquisite pleasure of finding it met with their approbation, and that, in their different guesses at the author, none were named but men of some character among us for learning and ingenuity. I suppose now that I was rather lucky in my judges, and that perhaps they were not really so very good ones as I then esteem'd them. 
Encourag'd, however, by this, I wrote and convey'd in the same way to the press several more papers which were equally approv'd; and I kept my secret till my small fund of sense for such performances was pretty well exhausted and then I discovered it, when I began to be considered a little more by my brother's acquaintance, and in a manner that did not quite please him, as he thought, probably with reason, that it tended to make me too vain. And, perhaps, this might be one occasion of the differences that we began to have about this time. Though a brother, he considered himself as my master, and me as his apprentice, and accordingly, expected the same services from me as he would from another, while I thought he demean'd me too much in some he requir'd of me, who from a brother expected more indulgence. Our disputes were often brought before our father, and I fancy I was either generally in the right, or else a better pleader, because the judgment was generally in my favor. But my brother was passionate, and had often beaten me, which I took extreamly amiss; and, thinking my apprenticeship very tedious, I was continually wishing for some opportunity of shortening it, which at length offered in a manner unexpected.[3] 
[3] I fancy his harsh and tyrannical treatment of me might be a means of impressing me with that aversion to arbitrary power that has stuck to me through my whole life. 
One of the pieces in our newspaper on some political point, which I have now forgotten, gave offense to the Assembly. He was taken up, censur'd, and imprison'd for a month, by the speaker's warrant, I suppose, because he would not discover his author. I too was taken up and examin'd before the council; but, tho' I did not give them any satisfaction, they content'd themselves with admonishing me, and dismissed me, considering me, perhaps, as an apprentice, who was bound to keep his master's secrets. 
During my brother's confinement, which I resented a good deal, notwithstanding our private differences, I had the management of the paper; and I made bold to give our rulers some rubs in it, which my brother took very kindly, while others began to consider me in an unfavorable light, as a young genius that had a turn for libelling and satyr. My brother's discharge was accompany'd with an order of the House (a very odd one), that "James Franklin should no longer print the paper called the New England Courant." 
There was a consultation held in our printing-house among his friends, what he should do in this case. Some proposed to evade the order by changing the name of the paper; but my brother, seeing inconveniences in that, it was finally concluded on as a better way, to let it be printed for the future under the name of BENJAMIN FRANKLIN; and to avoid the censure of the Assembly, that might fall on him as still printing it by his apprentice, the contrivance was that my old indenture should be return'd to me, with a full discharge on the back of it, to be shown on occasion, but to secure to him the benefit of my service, I was to sign new indentures for the remainder of the term, which were to be kept private. A very flimsy scheme it was; however, it was immediately executed, and the paper went on accordingly, under my name for several months. 
At length, a fresh difference arising between my brother and me, I took upon me to assert my freedom, presuming that he would not venture to produce the new indentures. It was not fair in me to take this advantage, and this I therefore reckon one of the first errata of my life; but the unfairness of it weighed little with me, when under the impressions of resentment for the blows his passion too often urged him to bestow upon me, though he was otherwise not an ill-natur'd man: perhaps I was too saucy and provoking.
When he found I would leave him, he took care to prevent my getting employment in any other printing-house of the town, by going round and speaking to every master, who accordingly refus'd to give me work. I then thought of going to New York, as the nearest place where there was a printer; and I was rather inclin'd to leave Boston when I reflected that I had already made myself a little obnoxious to the governing party, and, from the arbitrary proceedings of the Assembly in my brother's case, it was likely I might, if I stay'd, soon bring myself into scrapes; and farther, that my indiscrete disputations about religion began to make me pointed at with horror by good people as an infidel or atheist. I determin'd on the point, but my father now siding with my brother, I was sensible that, if I attempted to go openly, means would be used to prevent me. My friend Collins, therefore, undertook to manage a little for me. He agreed with the captain of a New York sloop for my passage, under the notion of my being a young acquaintance of his, that had got a naughty girl with child, whose friends would compel me to marry her, and therefore I could not appear or come away publicly. So I sold some of my books to raise a little money, was taken on board privately, and as we had a fair wind, in three days I found myself in New York, near 300 miles from home, a boy of but 17, without the least recommendation to, or knowledge of any person in the place, and with very little money in my pocket.
But as Walter Isaacson, the author of the biography Benjamin Franklin: An American Life notes:
...James was doomed by his brother's sharp pen to be remembered "for the blows his passion too often urged him to bestow upon me"...

...James deserved better. If Franklin learned an "aversion to arbitrary power" from him, it was not merely because of his tyrannical style but because he had set an example by challenging, with bravery and spunk, Boston's ruling elite. James was the first great fighter for an independent press in America, and he was the most important journalistic influence on his younger brother. 
He was also an important literarly influence. Silence Dogood might have been, in Benjamin's mind, modeled on Addison and Steele, but in fact she more closely resembled, in her down-home vernacular and common-touch perceptions, Abigail Afterwit, Jack Dulman, and the other pseudonymous characters that had been created for the Courant by James.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Well, duh

I don't think I've ever LOL'd at a theater review before, but I couldn't help it when I was reading Ben Brantley's review of Adam Rapp's THROUGH THE YELLOW HOUR:
As a doomsday scenario, much of “Yellow Hour” might have been written in the 1950s or even earlier. Of course then you wouldn’t have had the requisite Rapp foul language and effluvia, not to mention full-frontal nudity. When, toward the end, a character asks, “Should I take my clothes off?” your instinct is to cry out, “Well, duh.” For better or worse, Mr. Rapp remains true to form.
I guess Rapp should be grateful to Charles Isherwood for declaring that he would no longer be reviewing the work of Adam Rapp - that job has been given to top-dog NYTimes reviewer Brantley.  Although Brantley doesn't seem to like his work much more than Isherwood.  Brantley thinks that Rapp is unoriginal - 
(Rapp) tells stories with infectious enthusiasm. But he also, almost always, tells stories that you feel you’ve heard before.

Which reminds me of the review from 2006 from the Village Voice's Michael Feingold of Rapp's RED LIGHT WINTER when Feingold said: 
Despite my admiration for Adam Rapp's writing, I've stayed away from his plays the last few years - no easy task, given his prolific output - because they were starting to give me the locked-in feeling of a gifted artist endlessly circling round and round the same material, looking for someplace else to go but unceratin what direction to take next. In Rapp's case, this sense of imprisonment was particularly grueling because of the relentless sordidness in his work: characters always at the bottom of life, actions always the harshest and ugliest.
So in the six years, Rapp has gone from repeating himself so much that Feingold "stayed away from his plays" to Ben Brantley suggesting he's repeating cultural tropes.

This time around the Village Voice assigned the Rapp review to Alexis Solomon. She also seems to think it's derivative:
If you have some comfort with female nudity and have sat through at least one Sarah Kane play, there’s little here to shock, but plenty to provide welcome shudders and less-welcome eye-rolling.
Unfortunately she doesn't go into details about what makes it eye-rolling. Although I can imagine.

But really it doesn't matter - it's long-ago been determined that Adam Rapp is  brilliant and he will get as many chances as necessary to produce the same old dystopian, macho schtick again and again, because producers and audiences agree that the quality most necessary for An Important Play is portentousness. 

Well, duh.

I saw an article in the NYTimes today "Can Art Still Shock" which has an interview with Adam Rapp, which has the usual predictable macho bullshit:
I refuse to see theater simply as entertainment. It should challenge an audience and push them away from what TV generally gives them. And sometimes a good punch to the stomach or a kick to the shins can be a very good thing. The English playwright Howard Brenton once said, “Theater’s a real bear pit.” I believe in this very much.
Clearly Adam Rapp doesn't watch much television if he thinks that it is any less likely to "challenge" an audience than theater. But critics and writers at the NYTimes absolutely lap that shit up. And Rapp knows it which is why he gives them a physical assault as a metaphor for "good" theater.

The most amusing aspect is that they all seem to think it's such a huge accomplishment to shock and offend people.

Shocking and offending people is the easiest thing to do in the world, and because of this, there is an entire etiquette advice industry expressly designed to help people avoid it. And if you bother reading etiquette columns, like Dear Prudence or Dan Savage, you can see how shocking and offensive people are - often while trying their best not to be.

Any dim-witted oaf can shock and offend people.

And that's why it's so popular with most people in the art world. It's easy to do and as creatures of privilege they will never have to suffer the consequences of shocking and offending others.

And what that's about is displaying their high status in the human hierarchy. How boring and typical.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

my daughter-out-law brings home the silver

My daughter-out-law participated in the hospital food version of Iron Chef and did well. And I think she was the only lady chef in this thing.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Merry Christmas Mr. Mather - Happy New Year to you - IN HELL!

The title of this post paraphrases an exchange between Mr. Potter and George Bailey in "It's a Wonderful Life." In case you are wondering. You can see the clip from the movie at the bottom of this post.

Here it is, finally, the anti-Christmas rant section of Cotton Mather's "Grace Defended" screed. And I gotta say, the Christians who did celebrate Christmas were having much more fun than I ever had at Christmas. According to Mather: "the Feast of Christs Nativity is spent in Revelling, Dicing, Carding, Masking, and in all Licentious Liberty, for the most part, as tho' it was some Heathen Feast, of Ceres, or Bacchus. "

Mather basically makes two points here. First, you shouldn't celebrate the birth of Jesus by whooping it up, and Second, they don't even know the exact date of Jesus's birthday. So they're not even whooping it up on the right day!

And of course Mather calls down the usual Thunder and Lighting on his congregation for wanting a holly jolly Christmas.

Mather doesn't only sneer at his own churchmen, though, he manages to get digs in against Muslims....
"Can you in your Conscience think, that our Holy Saviour is honored, by Mad Mirth, by long Eating, by hard Drinking, by lewd Gaming, by rude Revelling, by a Mass fit for none but a Saturn or a Bacchus, of the Night of a Mahometan Ramadan?
 ...and the Catholic Church 
"You will roar out the Words, which a late famous Protestant Apostate to the Popish Idolatry, did in unspeakable Horror of Conscience, Dy wital at those words, Heb. X 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the Hands of the Living God"
Popish Idolatry. I like that - I'll have to share it with my devoutly Catholic mother this Christmas. 

One more item of interest - Mather uses the word "wantonnize" - it's used in other sources from the period and before - including by Shakespeare - but sadly the word has since become extinct. 
9. I have one word more to speak, and I may the more freely speak it, inasmuch as the Cause of Godliness is Evidently Concerned in it. It is this, 'Tis an Evident Affront unto the Grace of God, for Men to make the Birth of our Holy Saviour, an Encouragement and Occasion for very Unholy Enormities. The Grace of God never Shone out more Gloriously, than in that occurance upon which an Angel flew from Heaven to tell us, Behold I bring you good Tidings of Great Joy: That unto you there is born this Day a Saviour. But if such an Angel were this day to Preach among you, do you think, He would not Thunder and Lighten Wonderfully against the Vicious practices, in which this Grace of God, and that Holy Saviour, is this Day Affronted by multitudes of Ungodly Men in the World! I do not now propose any matter of Doubtful Disputation, but One, wherein I shall have all godly Persons of whatever different Persuasions in other things, Concurring with me. I do not now dispute whether they who three or four hundred Years after the Birth of our Saviour first began the Festival of his Nativity (I say, first began, for Vessius himself confesses it was not kept in the first and second Century, and Chemistius truly says, Apud Vetistissimos nunquam Legatur!) did not mistake the Time of it. For they who say, Thou hast given this Son to be born this Day, know not what they say; The Day is concealed, yea, it is now beyond  Contestation proved, that not only the Month but also the very Year of it, has been Egregiously mistaken. *

*The late most accurate Professor of the Mathematics, in Cambridge has in his Exquisite work about the Chronology of the Bible, brought this Matter under such a Demonstration, that it is no longer to be disputed of the whole process of the Demonstration, is too large to be introduced here. But briefly: we are certain, that our Saviour was born before the Death of Herod, that horrible Tyrant, whom they call, The Great We have now discovered irrefutable Proofs, that this Monster Expired on the Twenty fifth of November, in the 4710 year of the Julian Period, which was three years and above a month, bfore the present Christian Era. Besides many other unquestionable Accounts, concerning the Date of Herods Reign, we have a most infallible one, in the Eclipse of the moon, which happened, as all agree on the Thirteenth of March before his Death. But this infallible Mark, he died in the 4710 year of the Julian Period which was the 4001 year of the World. And the Jewish Kalender has all along made the 25 day of November, an Holiday; Because on that Day Herod the King died. Now the Birth of our Savior must be, at least a Month before the Death of Herod And on the other side, we cannot allow very much more than a Month; because of the Time, which now Easily determined, for the Attendance of the Father John Baptist at the Temple The Opinon of Dr Lightfoot and Some others, who would place the Birth of our Saviour Two years before the Death of Herod, can by no means be now supported. It must unavoidably be the Same Year, But then, it could not possibly be after October Nor, do I know, why it should not be as many Learned men have judged, about the Time of the Feast of Tabernacles which was a glorous and elegant Figure of it The Conjecture, That October being really the Tenth Month to them who begin the Year in January, the Primitive Christians had a tradition of our Saviours being born on the 25 day of the Tenth Month; and this threw the first institutors of the present Holiday into the Error which has ever since been come upon, I Know no need of Paying any Respect unto it Upon the whole; It is now determined, that the Corinthian Era, the Computation whereof was first made by Dionysius Exiguus, between five and six hundred years after the Birth of our Saviour, has misreckoned above three years; insomuch that we are now truly intered into the Year of our Lord, 1716 And it is also determined, that the Birth of our Saviour was before the month of November, in which the Bloody Idumaean, who sought His Death, found his own.

I do not now dispute, whether People do well to Observe such an Uninstituted Festival at all, or no. Good Men may love one another and may treat one another with a most Candid Charity, while he that Regardeth a Day, Regardeth it unto the Lord, and he that Regardeth not the Day, also shows his Regard unto the Lord, in his not Regarding of it. Tho' this I wil take leave to say; If the Churches of NEW ENGLAND preserve the Religion of the LORDS DAY, it will in the Day of Reformation that most come on, be judg'd no Dishonour to them, that they have harmoniz'd with their United Brethren in Scotland, in a Point for which the last of their peculiar Kings once applauded their Purity, even their not having a Yule observed among them What I am going to animadvert upon, is a thing, which there can be no doubt about. And there are some things that render it highly Seasonable, to dispense those Admonitions of God our Saviour, unto our Children, which I am not to pour down upon them. The famous Perkins long since complained; That the Feast of Christs Nativity is spent in Revelling, Dicing, Carding, Masking, and in all Licentious Liberty, for the most part, as tho' it was some Heathen Feast, of Ceres, or Bacchus. Yea, the zealous Martyr Latimer complained, That Men dishonour Christ more in the Twelve Days of Christmas, than in all the twelve Months of the Year besides. All the truly Religious People in the World, still make the Complaint with Lamentation. We also must Mourn in our Complaint, and make a Noise, upon it. My Concern is now, with our own Children; and for such as we must faithfully Admonish in our Ministry, as we shall answer the same unto GOD. Children, We lay the Charges of God upon you, That if any People take this Time, for any thing of a Riotous Tendency, you do not associate with them, in such Ungodliness. No, but let your Answer to those Children of holly be, The Grace of God in Sending us a Great Saviour calls for more Pious Acknowledgements. Let your Own Conscience be appeal'd unto, this Preacher which every one of you has in his own bosume, hearken'd to! Can you in your Conscience think, that our Holy Saviour is honored, by Mad Mirth, by long Eating, by hard Drinking, by lewd Gaming, by rude Revelling, by a Mass fit for none but a Saturn or a Bacchus, of the Night of a Mahometan Ramadan? You cannot possibly think so. At the Birth of our Saviour, we read, A Multitude of the Heavenly Host was heard Praising of God But shall it be said, That at the Birth of our Saviour, for which we owe as High Praises to God as they can do, We take the Time to Please the Hellish Legions, and to do Actions that have much more of Hell than of Heaven in them? I must faithfully tell you, This way of honouring the Blessed JESUS, who came to Redeem us from a Vain Conversation, received by Tradition from our Fathers, ' tis a practical Blasphemy upon Him, an High-handed Blasphemy upon Him. It is to outrage the Holy Son of God! It is to Expose your selves unto that Indignation of Heaven, which they who take the Name of the Lord our God in Vain, ly open unto. If you will yet go on, and will do Such Things, I forewarn you, That the Burning Wrath of God, will break forth among you All Persons, of any the least Godliness, will approve my Faithfulness, in what I have now Spoken; If any Man Dislike it, and REvile it, he only shows the Brand of an Ungodly Man, and a Contempt from from every Citizen of Zion, accordingly belongs unto him. 
Upon the Whole: The EXHORTATION that now calls upon us all, must be that, in Cor VI 1 We beseech you, that ye receive not the Grace of God in Vain Oh! Don't Wantonnize upon the Grace of God. But upon every instance of Grace, make that Reflection, What shall I render to the Lord? In short, Rember this Obligations to Holiness, You are still to Read Them, in all that is ever done by the Grace of God for a Sinful World. If GOD be Gracious, My Friend, they Inference from must always be thus, Then I must be Holy and my God, make me so! To Sin the more because of the Grace in our God, Verily, Tis the Foulest profanity, An attempt it is, to call in the God who is of Purer Eyes than to behold Evil, and cannot Look on Iniquity Tis the grossest Ingratitude Evil rendred for Good, in the most odious manner that ever was heard of Evil will never depart from the Doer of it And, What will ye do at the End thereof? Endless, Endless, Misery will be the End thereof! I must say unto you, It is the blackest Note of a Reprobate Mind, a Soul Forsaken of God! And it will pull down a Wrath unto the Uttermost. Sinner, if Grace it self becomes thy Foe, what Friend canst though have in Heaven or Earth? To Wantonnize upon it, is the way to make it so.
That Saying drawes on a CORROLLARY which my Discourse may do well to Lodge, in the Conclusion of it. If it be an Ungodly thing and a Dangerous, to turn the Grace of God into Wantonness, You must Look on it, as the Same thing, to turn the Wrath of God into Ridicule. The Truth is, These Two Things go together, They who do the One, do the Other too. O you that are yet in your Sins, Unbelievers, that have not mad eyour Flight by Faith unto the Only Saviour, You , you are they of whom it is said, Joh III 36 The Wrath of God abideth on them Certainly, You Ridicule that Wrath, or you could not continue in your Sins, You could not but be in Agony, for a Deliverance from the Wrath to come. You make light of that Wrath which throws down Rocks and whereby Mountains are overturned. An Anger, which O Lord who knows the Power of! Miserable Ones, yet walking in the Sinful Waves for with your own Hearts condemn you, Ways that have Destruction and Misery in them. Oh! Break free of your Sins, and Accept and Embrace the JESUS who would Save you from your Sins. Otherwise, you will anon feel the Wrath of God, but find the Force of it Irressistible, the weight of it Insupportable, the Tortures of it in your Wounded Spirit Intolerable. You will roar out the Words, which a late famous Protestant Apostate to the Popish Idolatry, did in unspeakable Horror of Conscience, Dy wital at those words, Heb. X 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the Hands of the Living God

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Boxer don't knock me down

I was in the Pret a Manger down the block from my office and they were playing this and it blew my mind. I paid one of the guys at the counter a buck to go downstairs and see whose CD was playing. Now I'm listening to this song on a loop. I was attracted by the music but the lyrics are great too:

What a drag not to know how you are, or which of us got the raw deal.
I was a dagger but in whose heart?
I was the dirt beneath whose wheel?
Boxer, don't knock me down.
Writer, don't write me out.
Stranger, let's not stay estranged.
Lover, are we going separate ways?
And don't I get a say?
Hey, hey, hey.
What a drag not to know how you are.
What a drag not to know how you feel.
I tore the banner around your heart.
I tore the banner that said "ideal."
Today I'm thinking of you in a new way.
The band is Lovers and to my amazement they don't even have a Wiki page - I must remedy that soon.
 Here is their web site.

more Mather, less art

I took a longer than expected break from this Cotton Mather pamphlet but I feel I deserved it. But where were we - oh yes, Ungodly men, yadda yadda yadda. Now I know why nobody else has thought to transcribe this thing. *sigh*

On the positive side, after this installment I will finally be at the part of the pamphlet where Cotton Mather trashes Christmas, demonstrating that in spite of Bill O'Reilly's hysteria, the first "war on Christmas" was started by Christians.

One item of note for this installment - he mentions Indian weed: 

"To be Slave unto the use of an Indian Weed, or any other Trifle, is beneath a Christian, who has Right Thoughts of Liberty"

6. 'Tis a thing of an Ungodly Aspect, for Men from such Liberties as are Lawful Ones, to Encourage themselves in taking such as are Unlawful Ones. There are Great Liberties, which the Grace of God has granted unto Christians, Especially now the Mosaic Yoke is taken off, by the Grace of a more Evangelical Dispensation Bu what sayes the Law of CHRIST? I Cor. VIII 9 But take heed, Lest by any means this Liberty of yours become a Stumbling Block, to them that are weak Minded it is (unreadable text) there is no Necessity of them. and no Commandment of God obliges to do them, we should think, Tis true, I may do this thing, But wont my doing of it, cause other People to sin against my Savior? In this Case we must forbear, Else we make a wrong use of our Liberty. Luther had an Holy Saying, Omnia Libera per Fidem, serva per Charstatem. O Redeemed People of God, This is a Case that calls for a more Frequent and Solemn Consideration, than it commonly finds among you! This the Grace of God is also Trampled on, When we run into an Excess in the use of Lawful Things. The Christian has from the Grace of God, A CHARTER, for  the whole Creation, I will show you my Charter. It runs in those Terms, I Tim. IV 4 Every Creature of God is Good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with Thanksgiving. Well, But the Precepts of GOD, and the Maxims of a Godly and Sober and Righteous Life, must set Bounds to us, in our using of our Charter. A Man may Eat any thing: But yet he may not be a Glutton. A Man may Drink what he will, But for all that, he must not be Drunk. To be Slave unto the use of an Indian Weed, or any other Trifle, is beneath a Christian, who has Right Thoughts of Liberty. He may use it, but not so, as to be in Pain, if he be not alwayes at it. Any Civil Modes of Apparel may be followed - but Vanity and Luxury in Apparel, Habits that are the Ensigns of a Foolish Minds, Immoderate and Exorbitant Gaieties, the Disciples of the Humble JESUS, must put off such things. Liberty is turned into Slavery, when it runs into Extravagances. I never Sin but I Enslave myself  
7. 'Tis a Branch of Ungodliness, for Men from the Relation they bear to the God of Heaven, to Encourage themselves in Miscarriages towards the Men on Earth, whom they stand Related to. The Grace of God bestows mighty Priviledges, on them, whom He raises unto the Relation of His People, and His Children But what says the Apostle? I Pet II. 16 As free, not using your Liberty, as a Cloke of Maliciousness, but as the Servants of God. Thro' the Grace of God, my Conscience is exempted from all Humane Empire None but the Great GOD can Command my Conscience, I may not Complement any Man thoug' he were a greater Tyrant than him at Versailles, with a Subjection of my Conscience unto him. For all that, I must make Conscience of Submitting to the Government, which is an Ordinance of God  Paul writing to the Romans, cautions them of this; That they should not on the score of their Christianity pretend an Exemption from the Jurisdiction of the Magistrate, in the Things for which God has Ordained him. So Nothing but the WORD of God, is to Order all things in the Church of God, Things are never done Decently there, but when done according to that Order. The Inventions of Men may not be imposed there, We are to Reject such Schismatical Impositions; the Imposers, however Liberal they are in bestowing the Term upon others, are to be look'd upon as the true Schismaticks. For all this, the Church is to Pray for all that are in Authority, and its People are to Lead Peaceful Lives in all Godliness and Honesty. In the Church, the Pastors must not Lord it over the Heritage. The People must have the Choice of their own Pastors: The Pastors must proceed with the Consent of the People in things of common concernment. This was the true State of Things in the Primitive Church, and so they continued for some hundreds of years, and until they were overwhelmed with the Usurpations of Antichrist. It is an Obstinacy little short of a Miraculous Inflection, which they discover, who will at this time of Day, Contradict things that are so notoriously demonstrated. Sacred and Precious Liberties! But now, you read Gal V 13 Brethren, Ye have been called unto Liberty, Only use not your Liberty for an occasion to the Flesh, but by Love Serve one another O dear Flocks of the Lord, You must not now forget that word, Obey them that have the Rule over you, and Watch for your Souls: nor forget that word; Let the Elders that Rule well be counted worthy of double Honour. Nor forget that word, Know them that are over you in the Lord, and Esteem them very highly in Love. The Grace of God should indeed cause Pastors and People, to be always loading One another with Tokens of Mutual Affection. In our Families, Humanity goes a great way and Christianity much further, in this, That a Servant becomes a Brother. But if the Servant shall now Despise his Master, Insult his Master, Disobey they Master, which the Fifth Commandment has bound him to, Let that Brother be beaten into better Matters, make him to know his Inferior Condition a little better. He Saucily Playes upon the Grace of God, and should be chastised for it.  
8. 'Tis a flaming Ungodliness when from the Gifts of God unto Men, their Sins against God, are encouraged, are furnished, are not (unreadable word). The Grace of God, grants Gifts unto Men, Oh, why should it be found, Unto the Rebellious! Ungodly Men, they make the Gifts of God unto them, only a Furniture(?) and a Nourishment for them, in carrying on Rebellions against Him. Unrighteous Ones, They fall into the Fault of Jeshurun; Deut XXXII 15. He waxe fat, and Kicked Have they any Wit? Fools have the keeping of it, They are only Wish to do Evil. Have they Health and Strength of Body? It only renders them the more Able and the more Eager to Commit Iniquity. Are they Beautiful? They are Proud of it. And with it, they Tempt the Simple ones, and those that are void of Understanding. Do Riches increase up on them? All goes to feed, the Lust of the Flesh, and the Lust of the Eye, and the Pride of Life. They do but the more put their Trust in Uncertain Riches God has little Honour from their Substance Are they put into Commissions or advanced into Stations and Places of some Dignity? It fills them with empty Conceits of themselves. They employ their Opportunities not so much to Do Good in the Word, as that they m ay be made Rich, and the Glory of their House increased. The XLVII. Chapter of Genesis, to me Exhibits and Example of such an Abused Advancement, which I must own, I cannot without Scandal and Sorrow, and Wonder  think upon. But how much imitated in our Later Ages? Marvellous Disingenuity! To fight afaisnt the Blessed God, with His Own Weapons, at such a rate! Thus to take His Coin, and His Wine and His Wool, and only Serve diverse Lusts with them! Thus to take His Talents and only Trade for the Devil with them! With such Ungodly Men, how Suitably, how Pungently may we use their Expostulations! Deut XXXII 6 Do ye thus Requite the Lord, O foolish People and Unwise. A Base Requital for the Grace of a Good God Oh! Blush and be Ashamed of it.

Monday, September 24, 2012

another short movie

I think this is the best of the NYCPlaywrights Play of the Month recordings I've done yet. It helps that I didn't record it outdoors I think. At this point this is probably the best my videos are going to get technically until I can invest in better equipment, get the actors to commit to more than two hours, and have a budget larger than $40.

But the most important thing is the acting and I think Tim and David did amazing work here. Tim can apparently cry at will, instantly. It was a bit disconcerting how he was able to do that.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Daily Show: Chaos on Bullshit Mountain

I know in the past I've said that other segments of the Daily Show were the best ever: the superb Virginian Confederate History Month segment; the amazing Conservative Libertarian segment which spoofed Glenn Beck's paranoid insanity; and the immortal, priceless gospel-choir-backed fuck you to Fox News and Bernie Goldberg. But this - THIS - Chaos on Bullshit Mountain may truly be the greatest moment ever on the Daily Show - nay, on television, ever.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

yin-yang cats for the equinox

My cats made this yin-yang-esque formation by themselves - the only thing I added was the black mousie, to balance out the white mousie. Pretty appropriate for the autumnal equinox, when night and day are evenly balanced.

Autumn Equinox - 9:49 AM

Congenial friend it has been too long.
Abbreviated by December snow;
All but forgotten come vernal bird song;
And buried live by your glamazon foe
With her promises of endless leisure
And picnics and seashores and barbecues,
Society, recreation, pleasure
And all mockery else of we who lose,
Who don't have or can't afford vacations,
Office-work Summers, too dreary to tell,
Days shit-sandwiched between subway stations
That blast like the seventh level of Hell.
Air-conditioned frostbite to heatstroke grief
Bless you Autumn for your temperate relief.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Why Sam Harris is a second-rate thinker, at best

I'm taking a temporary break from examining the ravings of Cotton Mather to examine the ravings of one of the heroes of the so-called "New Atheist" movement, Sam Harris.

To be a "New" Atheist you can't just disbelieve in deities and magic and all other varieties of woo. You have to be xenophobic too.

The New Atheists are so xenophobic, they actually privilege Christianity over other religions. Previously my go-to example was Richard Dawkins' statement in his book The God Delusion:
"There are no Christians, as far as I know, blowing up buildings. I am not aware of any Christian suicide bombers. I am not aware of any major Christian denomination that believes the penalty for apostasy is death. I have mixed feelings about the decline of Christianity, in so far as Christianity might be a bulwark against something worse."
But as of September 19, 2012, Sam Harris has provided me with a much more stunning example:
 The spectrum between rational belief and self-serving delusion has some obvious increments: It is one thing to believe that Jesus existed and was probably a remarkable human being. It is another to accept, as most Christians do, that he was physically resurrected and will return to earth to judge the living and the dead. It is yet another leap of faith too far to imagine, as all good Mormons must, that he will work his cosmic magic from the hallowed ground of Jackson County, Missouri. 
That final, provincial detail matters. It makes Mormonism objectively less plausible than run-of-the-mill Christianity—as does the related claim that Jesus visited the “Nephites” in America at some point after his resurrection. The moment one adds seer stones, sacred underpants, the planet Kolob, and a secret handshake required to win admittance into the highest heaven, Mormonism stands revealed for what it is: the religious equivalent of rhythmic gymnastics.
He literally states that "Mormonism (is) objectively less plausible" than Christianity.  From which we can infer that Sam Harris believes that one set of myths is "objectively" more plausible than another.

Sam Harris actually thinks that because Mormons have additional myths related to the physical resurrection of Jesus, it makes Mormonism less believable than Christianity.

Harris must have only a vague acquaintance with the many and varied myths associated with Christianity, so if he wants to play "which religion is more implausible" I'm ready to go:
  • Mormons don't believe that Jesus' mother Mary was assumed into Heaven on her death. They think she just died like anybody else. 
So chalk one up for Mormons on the "more plausible" side.

Clearly this way lies madness. This is not atheism. This is bullshit disguised as atheism in the defense of xenophobia.

Previously I thought that New Atheists pulled the "Christianity is better" line exclusively against Islam. But here we see that Christianity is also claimed better than Mormonism.

So what does Mormonism and Islam have in common? They're less familiar to the New Atheists than Christianity. Because fundamentally, the New Atheists are conservatives, even if only Christopher Hitchens was obvious about it.

Harris claims to be a liberal in the post I link to:
I am no fan of Romney’s, and I would find the prospect of his presidency risible if it were not so depressing, but he did accurately detect the first bleats of fear in the Obama administration’s reaction to this crisis. Romney got the timing of events wrong—confusing, as many did, a statement made by the U.S. Embassy in Cairo for an official government response to the murder of Americans in Libya. But the truth is that the White House struck the same note of apology, disavowing the offending speech while claiming to protect free speech in principle. It may seem a small detail, given the heat of the moment—but so is a quivering lip.
His view of the United States governments' standard diplomatic response to an international crisis is that it's appeasement - a view indistinguishable from that of Fox News and Rush Limbaugh.

To truly understand the New Atheist paranoid, xenophobic view of adherents of non Judeo-Christianity, consider Harris's statement in the same article I link to:
Some percentage of the world’s Muslims—Five percent? Fifteen? Fifty? It’s not yet clear—is demanding that all non-Muslims conform to the strictures of Islamic law.
Harris has no idea what percentage of the world's Muslims (there are 1.5 billion of them) are making this demand. He throws out as high as 50% but he has nothing to go on. But that doesn't stop him from making the convenient assumption that it is a significant, worrisome percentage.

There are fanatics in every religion. But it is the New Atheist party line to suggest that Islam is more likely to produce religious fanaticism. And their reason is very different from the one given by most anthropologists or sociologists: the socio-economic conditions in the parts of the world that happen to have a high percentage of Muslims.

No, the New Atheists actually believe that it is the mythology of Islam itself that produces violence.

You only need to have the most basic grasp of the history of Christianity to know that it was responsible for holy wars, burning witches, and the Inquisition.

And if you have any grasp of the foundations of logic it would occur to you: Christians believe in the "more plausible" doctrine of the bodily resurrection of Jesus just as much now as they did in the days of the Inquisition. And the raging homicidal Jehovah is, to this very day, in the Old Testament, advising his people on the best way to treat slaves; and wiping out entire cities. And so since the mythologies haven't changed, they can't have had any effect on the change in behavior of their believers.

It's not the mythologies that religious people believe in that make them violent. To paraphrase Bill Clinton's 1992 campaign - it's the socio-economy, stupid.

I would go so far as to suggest that evolutionary psychology is to blame for the Neo-con New Atheists's inability to admit to the socio-economic factors that control human behavior. Dawkins is a leading proponent of evolutionary psychology and Harris appears to believe in evolutionary ethics, although I have yet to link him to "evolutionary psychology" specifically. But a faith in what was once called sociobiology seems to be just as much a part of being a New Atheist as xenophobia. That's why, although Hitchens never actually bothered to learn the basics of the evolutionary psychology system, he argued, half-assed, that women were essentially not funny thanks to evolution.

Although evolutionary psychology proponents give lip service to nurture, in fact they are utterly reflexive about attributing everything to nature. As David Buller demonstrated when he pointed out that David Buss was claiming that female sexual slavery was an example of female sexual preference.

Although EPs sometimes claim that religion itself is an adaptation, that doesn't help much when you are claiming that some religions produce more virtuous behavior than others. And since EPs reflexively discount historical and socio-economic conditions as an explanation for human behavior, what do they have left to explain current events?

The term is "idealism." They don't examine the complex social conditions, they fall back on what the ideologies say.

For an important comparison of the competing explanation of the way human societies work, see R. Brian Ferguson's "Materialist, cultural and biological theories on why Yanomami make war." (the link will download a PDF) Although it's important to understand that while the New Atheists fall into the biological camp when it comes to explaining Yanomami warfare, they fall into the "cultural" camp - a better term is "idealist" - when it comes to explaining religions. They look at what the culture claims about itself, not the socio-economic infrastructure that shaped the culture. And Ferguson, Marvin Harris and I fall into the "materialist" camp, sometimes known as cultural materialism.

But whether EP is to blame or not, there is no excuse for someone who apparently makes a living as a public atheist intellectual to display such astoundingly shoddy thinking when it comes to the relative "plausibility" of religions.

And it's truly embarrassing to me as an atheist for Sam Harris to be touted as some kind of intellectual superstar of atheism. He's a second-rate thinker, at best.

Excellent article in The Nation about how Sam Harris, in addition to Hitchens, made common cause with the Bush administration.

Spark and char in Harvard Yard

Well the next three sections of this pamphlet is Mather going on and on and ON because he is majorly butthurt about the Ungodly Men who are all like suck it God, Jesus died for my sins, so I don't have to be good and now I can drink and go to orgies and smoke Indian weed (which is what they called tobacco) and do all kinds of nasty-ass shit. 

I mentioned yesterday that Mather wrote a tract called "The Wonders of the Invisible World." Well Robert Calef published a response to that, called "More Wonders of the Invisible World." More Wonders is a collection of testimonies of people involved in the Salem witch trials, which functions as a defense for the accused, as well as reporting on the tortures used to get confessions out of the "witches" and their families. 

Predictably Mather (and his father Increase Mather) strenuously objected to the book. As Wikipedia reports:
Because of the powerful influence of the Mathers, Boston publishers declined to publish the book, and it was first printed in England in 1700.Rev. Increase Mather, father of Cotton, publicly burned the book in Harvard Yard. 
In 1701, Mather responded with Some Few Remarks upon a Scandalous Book written in the plural with co-signers, but occasionally lapsing into first person. The opening lines suggest that Calef's book had been well received by the masses in New England, despite his inability to have it published there: 
"...that Scandalous Book... has made our worthy Pastors Obnoxious...among an unguided multitude." 
Mather does not directly dispute the particulars of Calef's book but cries injured, accuses Calef of being a follower of Satan, and selects quotes from the Bible intended to put the merchant Calef in his place: "Exodus 22:28 Thou Shalt Not Speak Evil of the Ruler of Thy People."

 Anyways, here's more of "Grace defended..." 

I read Cotton Mather so you don't have to.
3. Can they be any other than Ungodly men, who from the Readiness of the Divine Mercy or the Pardoning of Sin, Encourage themselves to be the Reader in the Commiting of Sin, Lord, Thou art READY TO PARDON! Who can hear such a Word, and the Grace of it not melt the Heart of Stone within him? The Grace of God, in Pardoning of Sin, 'tis Wonderful, 'Tis Wonderful! When we are Justified, it is, Freely by His Grace. It is the Name of our God, Exod XXXIV 6.7 The Lord, the Lord God, Merciful and Gracious, and abundant in Goodness, Forgiving Iniquity and Transgression, and Sin. For Monsters of Wickedness, to be made Monuments of Pardoning Mercy; For Monstrous Menassahs and Mary Magdalenes, to be received into the Favour of God, and be favoured by a Reconciled God as much as if they had never Sinned against Him! For all manner of Sin and Blasphemy to be forgiven unto men, and a Fountain set open, to which the most abominable Creatures in the Worlds, are invited, there to Wash and be Clean. What but Infinite Grace can do such a thing! You shall now, but Oh! do it not without Horror! See what Improvement Ungodly Men will make of such Grace. An Improvement which one would wonder that any but a Devil should presume upon! They will Venture to Sin, in Hope of a Pardon. Perhaps, they will be so Senseless and Sottish and Exceeding Sinful, as to flatter themselves, that a, God forgive me, or a, Lord, Have Mercy upon me, will at any time obtain a Pardon for them. This Emboldens them to Sin, with a Prodigious Obstinancy; to be Stouthearted, and for from Righteousness: They stick at no Abominations There is a God that will have Mercy, and will abundantly Pardon. So they will hold on Sinning, and Sin abundantly. 
And because there have been Some called, at the Eleventh Hour, and then found Mercy with God, therefore they will Sin on, Sin with Many Transgressions and Mighty Sins, and put off till the Last Hour, the necessary Adresses to Heaven for Mercy. They Persist in Enmity and Rebellion against the Glorious God all their Days, they Presume 'tis only to Ask and Have a Pardon at the Last. Hideous Ungodliness! We read, Psal. CXXXIV 4 O Lord, There is Forgiveness with thee, that though mayst be feared But now, to say; There is Forgiveness with God therefore I will cast off His Fear, and Go on without His Fear, O Vile Perversion! To Sin from the View of a Pardon, one would think, it should be very near, very near! Sinning beyond the Reach of a Pardon.
4.  Will not all Heaven Pronounce those Ungodly Men, who because they take themselves delivered from the Condemning Power of the Law, Encourage themselves to shake off the Commanding Power of the Law? The Grace of God, has Delivered us from the Curse of the Law. It is a sweet Advice brought unto us, Gall III. 13 CHRIST has Redeemed us from the Curse of the Law, being made a Curse for us. The Punishment, which by the Law of God belonged unto us for our Sin, has been inflicted on our Saviour. Our Blessed Surety has Paid our Debt, by Suffering for us, the Curse which belonged unto us. The Law of God has now no Demand upon the Believer, that the Divine Justice may be Satisfyed: Our Surety has given Satisfaction. O Grace of incomparable Sweetness! How Sweet, how Sweet, the Words of it unto the Taste of Piety! But now, the Poison, which Ungodly Men will Suck out of this Grace! The suppose themselves rescued from the Curse of the Law. They make it an Advantage for their Escape also from the Rule of the Law. Silly Ones; An Escape, that is to say, into Chains of Darkenss, into most rueful Captivity in the World. This Law, Man; 'tis the Law of Liberty! 'Tis an Enlarged Soul, that is effectually in the Bonds and Wayes of this Law! But the Slaves of Sin They will indulge themselves in gross Violations of the Law; but still their Inward Peace not Violated. No Breaches of the Law, will break the Peace into which they have dozed their Minds. They will flatter themselvers into a Great Peace tho' they do not Love the Law. Why, say the Hardened Wretches; We are not under the Law. We must not fetch our Peace from the Law, Christ has answered the Law for us. What an Affront this, unto the Grace of God? We read: Rom. VI 14.15 Sin Shall not have Dominion over you for you are not under the Law, but under Grace. What then? Shall we Sin, because we are not under the Law but under Grace? God forbid. Still You are not yet under Grace, but under the Law if you can be content, that Sin should still have Dominion over you. If you Sin, because you are not under the Law, it is very sure, you are still under it, in the worse sense of being so; The Law does Condemn you, if you won't let it Command you. If you shake off that Everlasting Rite of Living to God, which His Law Prescribes, Unholy and Unthankful ones, you shall still have the Thunder of its Wrath Cursing of you.
5. Is it possible for any but Ungodly Men from Gods Delayes in Striking of them, to Encourage themselves to Delay their seeking to Him, their Serving of Him. The Grace of God is very Bright, in His Patience towards the Provoking Children of Wickedness The Psalmist observes, [VII 1.1] God is a Righteous Judge, and is Provoked every Day, and has bent His Bow, and made it Ready. Yet such is His Grace, that He does not presently let fly His Arrows, Deserved Arrows, and Oh! how Destroying Ones! how torturous and worse than Lightning, to the Spirits, which they Light upon! A Patient God spares wicked men. He does not Strike them Dead; tho' they daily challenge Thunderbolts. O Peerless Grace! Of a Provoked, a Righteous, an Almighty God; yet Waiting to be Gracious. But now, the use that Ungodly and Ungrateful men make of this Grace. What can be more Malicious, what more Venemous, than that which you read! Eccl. VIII. 1.1 Because Sentence against an Evil Work, is not Executed Speedily; therfore the heart of the Sons of Men is fully set in them to do Evil. Horrible Stupidity! Because the Threatened Judgements of God, have not yet come upon them, for their Crimes, they fancy, they'l never come; the threatned folks, have stil a long while to Live. Because they don't yet feel the Evil that is Pursuing of Sinners, they comfort themselves that such Evil will never overtake them. They Live, Yea, they Thrive. God Wounds them not, For that very cause they grow Secure, they grow Hardy, they go on still in their Trespasses. God has not yet Cut them down for the Ill Fruits they bear, He Lengthens out their Time. They bear the more Ill Fruits for that; and the wicked men wax worse and worse. God gives them a Space to Repent; They do, for that very cause Delay to Repent, and make it a Space to act more Wickedness, and with more of Greediness. But O ye Brutish among the People, What are you doing? Shake before that awful Thunderclap. Rom II. 4.5. Despiseth though the Riches of His Goodness, and Forbearance, and Long Suffering; not knowing that the Goodness of the God Leads thee to Repentance? But after thy Hardness and Impertinent Heart, treasurest up unto thy self Wrath against the Day of Wrath? Impenitents; Know you not, That Abused Patience will at Length be turned into Terrible Fury? And that, according to Speech usual in the Church of God, the Justice which has Leaden Feet, will at length find Iron Hands, to do its Executions? Oh! Turn to God in this Day of His Patience! Oh! Let the Long Suffering of God, but make you Stay no longer from accepting his offered Salvation. Because God seems to Keep Silence, Do you think, He is even Such an One as your selves, and approves your Doings? You will find it otherwise, when He shall come to Set your Sins in order before you; to tear you in Pieces, and there shall be none to deliver you.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

100% Cotton

Now who's sorry she said she was going to commit this entire Cotton Mather pamphlet to the Internet. Ye gods he is tedious!

And the worst part is he doesn't even get to directly trashing Christmas until the end of this thing. So it's going to take me a few more days.

Of interest in this section is Mather's defending the concept of predestination - something I blogged about a couple of years ago. And which inspired me to write a play about a crack ho vs. a Calvinist.

Mather addresses the inevitable helplessness that comes from the doctrine of predestination. In item 1, below, he explains that although God has chosen who will get to go to heaven "before the Foundation of the World" that still doesn't mean you can be a sinner even if you're predestined for heaven.

To those who might question why God would pick who gets salvation even before they are born Mather says:
Why are Some Taken, to be Redeemed, Converted, Saved, when Others are not so! Tis, because, I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, saith the Infinite GOD, who gives none Account of His Matters
In other words, because God says so and he doesn't have to explain himself. So shut up.

And in item 2 he addresses the very logical point raised, that if Jesus died on the cross to redeem Mankind, why do we have to worry about sin? What was the point of redeeming us if we could end up in Hell anyway?

To which Mather replies, basically, you should be so grateful to Jesus for dying for you that you will want to avoid sin.

The doctrine of predestination, especially, ruins the social function of religion to make people behave well through the usual carrot and the stick. But Mather wants to have it both ways - you get chosen and you still have to be good anyway. Or else.

Mainly though Mather just screams Grace! Grace! to get through to you sinful morons. 

It must be remembered that this is the Cotton Mather who fully supported the Salem witch trials, and even wrote a tract justifying his actions. That tract has the fantastically hallucinogenic title of "The Wonders of the Invisible World" and unlike the tract I am currently transcribing, has already been committed to the Internet. 

And speaking of currently transcribing... to take up from yesterday's post...

But you must now attend unto a DOCTRINE, that calls for a very Serious Attention with you. 
To turn the Grace of God into Wantoness, and Wantonly to Abuse the Grace of God, is the Common Custome, and the Certain Symptom, of Ungodliness. 
There is a great Number of Criminals, who are to Stand this day Indited before the Bar of the Glorious GOD. I shall have Time to do little more, than just call over their Names, and let them know, That they have not the Fear of God before our Eyes. 
I am now to Enquire, 
Who are the Ungodly Ones, by whom the Grace of God is turned into Wantoness? 
In brief, All they that are not by the Favour of God, brought the more to Love so Gracious a God, by whom they are so favourably dealt withal. In Sum, All they that are the Worse because they have so Good a God for to deal withal: These are they, to every One of whom it may be said, Thou art the Man! 
More particularly,

  1. Ungodly Men they are, who from the Decree of God, Encourage themselves in the Neglect of their Duty to GOD. WE believe a, Predestination to Life, wherein God with an Everlasting Purpose, has decreed by His Counsel, to bring those whom he hath Chosen in Christ out of Mankind, unto Everlasting Salvation. We can Subscribe this Article, [The Seventeenth of the Church of Englands famous XXXIX,] because we find the Sacred Epistles to the Romans and the Ephesians, Expressly affirming it, And when we have Subscribed it, we shall not then Deny it, then Decry it, then Oppose it; We should Look on it, as a very Scandalous Treachery to do so. This Election of Some to Everlasting Life, which unavoidably implies a Rejection of Others, 'tis called, Rom. XI. 5 The Election of Grace. Oh! Sovereign Grace! Why has our God, Chosen us in Christ before the Foundation of the World, and predestinated us unto the Adoption of Children! The Praise of the Glory of His Grace, is design'd in it; is display'd in it. Why are Some Taken, to be Redeemed, Converted, Saved, when Others are not so! Tis, because, I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, saith the Infinite GOD, who gives none Account of His Matters. Tis all from Unaccountable Grace. Tis, Even so, Father, because it pleases thee. Now, See what Ungodly Men will do! They will be at No Pains to Turn unto God, No Pains to get the Chains of Death Knock'd off their Souls; No Pains to lay hold on Eternal Life. Why so? Why, - Si Salvabor, Salvabor, If it be Decreed that I shall be saved, say they, I shall be so, Let me do nothing at all about it, I shall yet be Saved, if it be Decreed, I Shall. And so they'l do nothing! Thus they turn the Grace of God into Wantoness, and Idleness, These Idle Words, a Severe Account must be given of them in the Judgement of God. But, O though Slothful and Wicked Servant, It is Untrue what thou sayest. Thou shalt not be Saved, if thou dost not Work about thy own Salvation. We are directed 2. Pet. I. 101 to Give all Diligence to make you, calling your election sure. God has Decreed the End and the Means together. One Decreed for Life, will strive to enter the Strait Gate, and be in Agony lest he fall short of Entering into Life, the Man who will not give all Diligence to make his Calling Sure, and in that way his Election so, can not Inherit Eternal Life. There is no Decree of God, that will carry Such an One into His Kingdom. Oh! Do not go on in a sleepy Impertinence, Lest you be found foreordained unto - What is to be trembled at - A Damnation that Slumbers not.
  2. Who but Ungodly Men are they, who from the Contrivance of their Salvation, Encourage themselves, as if it gave them an Allowance for their Sinfulness. That we have Such a SAVIOUR as our IMMANUEL, Oh! the Riches of Grace discovered in it! Oh! the the Unspeakable Gift! We may and must cry out, God SO Loved the World, and he has been So gracious to us! The Motto to be written upon all that is done for us, in and by our Saviour, is in those golden Letters, Eph 11 5 By GRACE YE ARE SAVED. But what is the Use that Some do make of this Grace Because there was a Saviour, I will Venture to be a Sinner, This is the Language, how foaming, and how Shameful! of Ungodliness! The New Covenant is a Covenant of Grace. There is a shout of, Grace! Grace! to be made upon every stroke But you shall see how this Grace is plaid upon. In this Covenant, we Merit nothing by doing any thing. Then sayes the Sluggard, I will do nothing. Self is to be Annihilated in this Covenant, the Perpetual Projection of it is, CHRIST is All! CHRIST is All. Then sayes the Sluggard, I have myself nothing to do. Tis not by our Own Works that we attain to Righteousness, but in our Saviour we have our Fortifying Righteousness.  Then sayes the Sluggish Sinner, Tis no Matter, tho' I be careless about the works of Reighteouseness. We can do nothing to any Good Purpose, except our Saviour do Quicken us, do Assist us, do Strengthen us Then, sayes the Door upon its Hinges, I will stand still, I will never try to stir, Tis to no purpose at all for me to do any thing. Our Faithful Saviour, who is Able to keep us from Falling has engaged for the Preservation of the Saints, that they shall be Kept by His Mighty Power; that None Shall Pluck them out of His Hand. Then sayes one of them that would be at Ease in Zion, Let me fold my Hands to Sleep - what need I to keep a Strong Guard, and a Strict Watch upon my self? Ungodly Men, You stand in the way of a dreadful Thunderbolt, It comes down upon you, from, Rom VI 1, 2. What Shall we say then? Shall we continue in Sin, that Grace may abound? GOD FORBID. At this Rebuke, O Else from your Slothfulness, At the Voice of this Thunder, O Haste away from your Ungodliness. Let the Spirit of the New Covenant come upon you, and then Your Habitual, Your continual Inclination will be this, A Glorious CHRIST is He who does all for me. Oh! Let me then Love Him, and Seek him, and Glorify Him unto the Uttermost, and he always afraid of disobliging Him.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Your source for primary sources

Primary sources are, as Wikipedia says,
 In the study of history as an academic discipline, a primary source (also called original source or evidence) is an artifact, a document, a recording, or other source of information that was created at the time under study. It serves as an original source of information about the topic. 
And I got 'em.

As part of my research towards writing the full-length version of my Ben Franklin play, I've gotten hold of a pamphlet by Cotton Mather entitled 
Grace defended. A censure on the ungodliness, by which the glorious grace of God, is too commonly abused. A sermon preached on the twenty fifth day of December, 1712.
It's a long screed against Christmas - the Puritans hated Christmas - which is why it was preached December 25.

Now since it was published in 1712 it was in the public domain before there was a US Copyright Office, but even so, I had to pay $12 to get a copy printed on dead trees because it was not transcribed online anywhere.

Until now.

I will start to transcribe this pamphlet so that it will now be completely accessible to anybody for free. You won't even have to have a library card.

It's going to take a few installments - the copy I have is basically photocopies of the original, which means it has to be translated from all the screwy English colonialisms and vagaries of type-setting, like the way they used the letter f instead of the lower-case s quite often. Here's what the original cover looked like:

The primary reason for my interest in this is because James Franklin (brother of Ben) printed a defense of Christmas in the New England Courant on Christmas Day 1722, most likely just to tweak Mather. And this conflict is going into my play.

I am also trying to get my hands on every single existing issue of the New England Courant - for, stunningly, it seems as though for the past 300 years, give or take, nobody has considered it a worthwhile endeavor to gather all issues into a single publication or even library collection, as far as I can tell. I emailed the Franklin Institute today to see if they have any further information. I will post their response here of course.

Cotton Mather - his name makes me think of a snake, like the cottonmouth. But I digress.

And so without further ado...

Grace Defended. 



By which the Glorious
is too commonly Abused.
A SERMON Preached on the
Twenty fifth Day of December, 1712
Containing Some SEASONABLE
Admonitions of Piety.
And Concluded, with a brief DISSERTATION
on that CASE, Whether the Penitent Thief on
the Cross, be an Example of one Repenting as the
LAST HOUR, and on such a Repentance
received unto Mercy?

By Cotton Mather, D. D.

(unreadable text) I Cry aloud Spare not

BOSTON Printed by B Green for Samuel Gerrish
at his shop in Marlborough Street. 1712

Grace Defended.

On the Twenty-fifth of December, 1712. BOSTON-Lecture.

JUDE 4. 
Ungodly Men, turning the Grace of our God into Wantonness. 
What? And so Early, such Unhappy Men and Things Creep into the Churches of God! It seems Christian Churches cannot Easily be too much cautioned against Sly Adversaries, and Swift-Apostates OURS, I am sure, are Old enough to be so, In Age gone beyond those who were now immediately Written to. And it is to be done, as with a mighty Thunder from a flaming Mountain. 
I take the Writer of this Epistle, to be, not that Jude the Apostle, who was in the Syriack Dialect called Thaddaeus, and from the Place to which he belong'd, Lebbaeus, but the Jude, who was one of the Four, that are called, The Brethren of our Lord: The Sons of His Mother, from whom He Suffered the Grievous Humiliation of being treated as an [can't make out this word] till probably His Resurrection from the Dead brought them into the Number of Believers of Him. He now presumes not on such a Style, as that of, A Brother, but he takes one, than which the Highest Archangel in Heaven knows none more Glorious, A Servant of JESUS CHRIST Behold him now doing a Service, very proper for, very worthy of, such an One.  Behold him Warning and Arming the People of God, against the Errors which began betimes to infest the Churches of the Lord.  
The Annanomians (?) made a very Early Appearance, I see, among the Depravers and Subverters of the  Earth once delivered unto the Saints. There are indeed very few New Errors broached in our Later-Dayes, the most of them, which now disturb the Churches of the Faithful, are only from I scarce know what Enchantments, raising the Ghosts of such as were Dead and Damn'd many Ages ago. 
The Impious, and Mischievous Men, against whom the Inspired Writer is now Engaged, have their Impiety here declared. First, The Ungodly Men stand charged with Filthiness. They were that I may use the most agreeable Term, which the French Translation Leads me to, A very Dissolute Generation I take notice by the way, that the Greek Term, here used for, Lasciviousness or Wantonness, is derived fro the Name of the Town Selga, a Place infamous for such Disssolute Practices. It makes me wish, that no Town of ours, may in our Dayes, have any Vice abounding in it, so as with a lasty Infamy to derive Name unto it. I am lothe here to Explain myself too particularly!  I go on with my Remarks, and say That I would not be so unaquainted with Church-History, as to think, the Gnosticks to be the Ungodly Men peculiarly intended here, tho' a well known Interpreter, with an Oddity not unlike many more in him, with which he has most shamefully injured the Sacred Scriptures, ridiculously enough every where upon it. There were Other and Older Hereticks, which this Iniquity might be charged upon. And indeed, it is well know, and from Authority much better than Epiphanius, that the Hereticks of those Days were noted for Indulged Impurities. But then, Secondly; To our Astonishment, we find, what it was, the Ungodly men made the Encouragement of their Filthiness. Astonishing! It was the Grace of God, which they turned into Wantonness. By the Grace of God, is meant, the Revelation which is in the Gospel brought unto us; what we have, in [Act. XX 24] The Gospel of the Grace of God. A Revelation wherein Grace! Grace! the Glorious Grace of God shines in its Meridian Glory, and with an amazing Splendor on the Children of Men When it is said, They Turned it, there is a Word used, that signifies, they Wrested it, they Wronged it, they Transferred it from the right use of it, they horribly Abused it. I am stop'd a little. Whole Grace? We are told The Grace of OUR God. Sirs, if we have any Sense of an Interest in GOD, and we rejoyce in Him as OUR God, we shall have a Zeal for Holiness boiling in our Souls.  If we care not whether Holiness flourish or no, we want a Good Mark, that the Holy God is OURS. Ah, Lord, if thou be OUR God, we shall be lothe to see thy Gospel abused with any Unholy Practices.

More on why Christmas is evil soon...