All posts by bradbirzer

By day, I'm a father of seven and husband of one. By night, I'm an author, a biographer, and a prog rocker. Interests: Rush, progressive rock, cultural criticisms, the Rocky Mountains, individual liberty, history, hiking, and science fiction.

How Did Kevin J. Anderson Build Your World? | The American Conservative

Have you ever wanted to live in a Rush lyric? Explode a sun? Attack nothingness itself? Download your consciousness into another body? Creep into the mind of Fox Mulder? Solve a mystery with a slowly decaying zombie? Meet Benjamin Franklin? Study the alchemical properties of a steampunk fortune teller? Save Superman from greedy commie thugs? Build a light sabre? Or, ride a sandworm across the desert?
— Read on www.theamericanconservative.com/birzer/how-did-kevin-j-anderson-build-your-world-science-fiction/

Ronald Reagan’s Creative Society

The Creative Society, in other words, is simply a return to the people of the privilege of self-government, as well as a pledge for more efficient representative government–citizens of proven ability in their fields, serving where their experience qualifies them, proposing common sense answers for California’s problems, reviewing governmental structure itself and bringing it into line with the most advanced, modern business practices. Those who talk of complex problems, requiring more government planning and more control, in reality are taking us back in time to the acceptance of rule of the many by the few. Time to look to the future. We’ve had enough talk–disruptive talk–in America of left and right, dividing us down the center. There is really no such choice facing us. The only choice we have is up or down–up, to the ultimate in individual freedom consistent with law and order, or down, to the deadly dullness of totalitarianism.

–Ronald Reagan, The Creative Society (1968)

This Strange Engine by Marillion (1997)

This Strange Engine (1997)

Twenty-two years ago, Marillion released its album, THIS STRANGE ENGINE.  It should be remembered that this is the fifth album to feature the voice and lyrics of Steve Hogarth.  As such, reviewers still had to compare the Marillion of Fish to the Marillion of Hogarth.  While THIS STRANGE ENGINE earned its just share of good reviews, it also had reviewers crying that while Fish had innovated, Hogarth rested. 

AllMusic went so far as to label THE STRANGE ENGINE “ordinary.”

If only.

Granted, Marillion had just come off two of its most powerful and unrelentingly intense albums–BRAVE and AFRAID OF SUNLIGHT–but this should not lessen the power of THIS STRANGE ENGINE.  Rather, it should add context.

The Power of Rush

[A slightly different version from the one that appeared at The American Conservative. With thanks to TAC and all concerned.–BB]

Sometime just prior to spring break, March 1981, I sat at one of the old wooden tables in Liberty Junior High, in Hutchinson, Kansas.  The building no longer exists, having been destroyed that same year to make way for Liberty Middle School. The old building had charm, even in its dilapidation, while the updated one, not surprisingly, reeks of prison. What happened to those lovingly carved, tagged, and scarred tables at which I once sat, read, scrawled, and thought, I have no idea. They either sold at auction or met the same fate as the scarily swaying staircases. In the end, the bulldozer comes for us all. 

One particular March day in 1981, though, means something quite special to me. Being in detention for some reason that now eludes me (though, I was probably in for having talked too much in class; I never did get good conduct grades), I sat with my fellow detainees and friends, Troy S. and Brad (yes, same first time) L. I had gone to early grade school with each of them at Wiley Elementary, reuniting in junior high after three years apart while I attended Holy cross Catholic school, grades four through six. Since we’d last seen each other in third grade, our music tastes had changed rather considerably, and I started pontificating about the brilliance of Genesis’s 1980 album, Duke. Troy and Brad were into harder music, and they asked me if I’d ever listened to a Canadian band called Rush?  I hadn’t, I admitted, intrigued.  Having two older brothers, I knew Jethro Tull, Yes, and Genesis quite well, but neither of them had ever embraced anything harder than Kansas.  After Troy and Brad gushed about the band, I rode my bike to the local record store immediately following school that day and purchased Rush’s latest album, Moving Pictures.

To write that the album changed my life would be nothing less than a trite understatement. It radically altered my understanding of the world, not only by its words, but, especially, by its example. To this day, I can remember the smell of that album sleeve, glossy, thick, and oily, quite different from the cheap paper-thin sleeves prevalent among so many commercial albums. With three kinetic photos of the band members on the right side of the sleeve, white lettering giving credit on a black ground on the left side, and all of the lyrics on the alternate side of the sleeve, I devoured every word and image. Something profound spoke to my eager and open thirteen-year old mind.

Bernard Wall’s Blistering Christian Humanism, 1934

Though few remember him now, especially in North America, the great Englishman Bernard Wall (1908-1974) stood resolutely for an unadulterated Christian Humanism in the interwar period.  Wielding a brutal pen, he attacked the alternatives in the journal he co-founded and co-edited with Christopher Dawson, COLOSSEUM. 

Below are quotes from his 1934 Christian Humanist screed against the reigning ideologies of the day. His targets: fascism; communism; and liberalism. There’s a hint of Patrick Deneen here.

***

Wall’s autobiography.

“The conflict between Christianity and Marxism—between the Catholic Church and the Communist party—is perhaps the vital issue of our time. It is not a conflict of rival economic systems like the conflict between Socialism and Capitalism, or of rival political ideals—as with Parliamentarianism and Fascism: it is a conflict of rival philosophies and of rival doctrines regarding the very nature of man and society” (17).

“He seems to have regarded it, not as a dangerous rival, but as a dying force which belonged essentially to the past. In his historical theory Catholicism is bound up with feudalism: it is the ideological reflection of feudal society, and consequently it has little significance for the modern world…”(17).

The 21st Century: A World of Confusions ~ The Imaginative Conservative

The fascists and the anti-fascists of our day are, of course, both fascist, their tactics of bullying and violence indistinguishable in type or result. The anti-capitalists and capitalists, too, are often just capitalists, universally corrupt and willing to use whatever power exists in whatever form and to whatever degree for their own benefit. Certainly, those who riot against capitalism use the very tools and products of capitalism to challenge it. Perhaps the Apple Watch on the wrist of every protestor in Portland is just the piece of rope the capitalist is willing to sell to hang himself and his fellow profit-seekers
— Read on theimaginativeconservative.org/2018/12/21st-century-confusions-bradley-birzer.html