The Art of Martha

For those of you who heard the New Testament story of Martha and Mary, she who did the housekeeping and served the unexpected guests, and Mary, who chose the sweetest portion of listening about the kingdom of heaven, it won’t surprise you that we all have a bit of both, of course.

Most of the sermons about that portion, at least the ones I’ve been privileged to listen to, emphasize the sweetness of Mary’s calling, the importance of spiritual life, and all that.  Partly, I suspect, due to professional deformation.  It is preachers, priests and ministers given them, after all.

But also because that’s the part people have trouble seeing.  Except in politics, world-changing, the secular stuff like that.

So, leaving the spiritual behind, let’s look at the Martha/Mary dichotomy in the world.

I was going to say I’m by disposition a Martha, but that’s not true.  Novelists, and world-creators are by avocation Maries.  Mary builds these great systems that all interlock and are so perfect and shiny. You need to be a Mary to write (good) novels.

But in the real world your Mary side sees these big movements, these big plays in history.  She abstracts the minor stuff, and leaves the whole theory shiny and beautiful and self coherent, and seductive.

Yes, Marx was a Mary.  (And other sentences you’ve always dreamed of writing!)

And his theory was, like all those great, self-coherent theories, a lie.  Because they are.  Because reality is way more complicated, each individual human gets a say, and things are changing even as we formulate the theory.  Believe in your theory, and you end up thinking history comes with an arrow.

It’s important to remember this.  I write lies for a living (at least in fiction) consciously, and I know where the holes are and why my stories probably wouldn’t work in the real world.  I try to patch them over, but truly, you can’t create something wholly coherent that is ALSO realistic.

The human mind is a machine for extracting meaning, logic and chains of action-consequence out of the chaotic soup of reality.

We do that, because, evolutionarily the over all pattern applies.  Like, you know, if you’re a person who doesn’t randomly attack your tribe mates, you’re less likely to get thrown out and eaten by a tiger.  It doesn’t mean you’re safe from psycho-Ogg deciding he has a hate on for you and throwing you out to be eaten by a tiger, nor that a tiger will lurk in your hut, warming himself at your fire, and eat you when you go back for a snooze.  Those can still happen.  But perceiving action consequence chains makes you less likely to be eaten by a tiger in sufficient percentage that you’ll have more kids who also perceive action and consequence.

Reality, OTOH, is full of psycho-Ogg and happy-Ogg and a million other crazy Oggs.  Which is why it’s impossible to control your life in minute detail.  And once you multiply your life by 6 billion (Bah, I know what the UN says.  Since when do you believe the UN?  I’d be shocked if we’re that many, really) it leaves History and any other big system as a game of Calvin ball, where the rules, the tech, the state of life is changing so fast no one can predict it, much less assign an arrow to it.

Part of the problem of those who follow Mary-Marx’s so shiny vision, is that they’re being driven insane by how reality persists in deviating from the beautiful self-consistent system.

I’d say that our side is more Martha and theirs more Mary, but that ain’t true.  At least, a lot of their loudest ones are Maries now.  (A lot of ours too, think on.) But the beauty (in terms of process, even if results are schrecklish) that was the long march through the institutions was a thing of Marthas.  They came in, they did the work well enough that even if their proclivities were suspected the old guard didn’t want to kick them out.  They were bright efficient and hard working.  And hired ONLY people of their political color, despite abilities.  That’s when the Mary interfered.  They started mistaking the shiny vision for both intelligence and competency (which explains the Sandra Berhard’s of this world) which in turn led to skinning the institutions they took over, and wearing their skin demanding respect while actually being unable to perform any of the functions of those institutions.  Because it comes to that.  BUT they got there, and to a major control of media, education and entertainment which allows them to continue pushing their shiny vision at an innocent new generation by being Marthas.  By doing thankless work, ceaselessly and well.

The Maries on our side are just as loud as the left, but because they look at the mess things are in, and how they don’t fit their mental shiny, they insist the only way to fix it is burn it all down.

That’s Mary for you.  I bet she never dipped her hands in a basin of greasy water to wash a dish in her life.  No.  In her perfect world, dishes come pre-washed and shiny, and why should she corrupt herself with the grease and the muck?  And why be Martha, who does all this over and over again, and what do you see, for it?

You see change.  You see incremental, tiny change.  Takes a long time.  We’ve only really started fighting maybe 38 years ago, if you date it from Reagan’s election.  Before that the growth of government and government as a good thing had been unquestioned by everyone, yes, even Republicans (we still have fossils from that time, guys.)  And at first the fight wasn’t so much for principle but away from fricking Jimmah Carter and his ineffective governance.

It’s very slow.  It’s very, very slow.  You wash dishes more, and even though the rest of the people living in your house are slobs, you see fewer rats.  Not that anyone else will notice, which is both beautiful and dispiriting.

Yeah, in many ways the left is still in charge, but we’re starting to see their power fail, because Marthas work ceaselessly and in a small way, here and there.

As Jordan Peterson put it, you’re not powerless.  You know what, 100 people?  Even if you write a blog post, or a novel, or a story, or a book about economics, and only twenty people read it, each of those twenty people can take from it an idea, that in turn they pass on each to another twenty people.  In ten years, your idea will be accepted as fact in the backs of millions of minds, and it can change things.  Maybe not in a big way, but little by little, one intellectual dirty dish at a time.

Do we have the time for that?  Who knows?  But barring total extinction, we do.  The Founding Fathers and their miracle constitution had deep roots, some of which probably went back to people talking, just talking, in a tavern in England.

We have a long way to take over the culture.  But unless our hand is forced and we go to weapons, which is more a thing of Mary, of course, big actions on big thoughts, we also have a long time.  And we can turn this around.  No intellectual climate is forever, which is something else the Maries tend to misunderstand.

Go wash a dish today.  Talk to a kid, write a blog post, set your life in order, fight chaos.

All life is a fight over chaos and creation.  We build.

Go be Martha.

154 thoughts on “The Art of Martha

  1. Mom always said that she was a Martha. Of course, there was a bit of humor when she said that as her first name was Martha. 😉

    Oh, this blog and topic “requires” Kipling’s take. 😀

    The Sons Of Martha

    The Sons of Mary seldom bother, for they have inherited that good part;
    But the Sons of Martha favour their Mother of the careful soul and the troubled heart.
    And because she lost her temper once, and because she was rude to the Lord her Guest,
    Her Sons must wait upon Mary’s Sons, world without end, reprieve, or rest.

    It is their care in all the ages to take the buffet and cushion the shock.
    It is their care that the gear engages; it is their care that the switches lock.
    It is their care that the wheels run truly; it is their care to embark and entrain,
    Tally, transport, and deliver duly the Sons of Mary by land and main.

    They say to mountains “Be ye removèd.” They say to the lesser floods “Be dry.”
    Under their rods are the rocks reprovèd—they are not afraid of that which is high.
    Then do the hill-tops shake to the summit—then is the bed of the deep laid bare,
    That the Sons of Mary may overcome it, pleasantly sleeping and unaware.

    They finger Death at their gloves’ end where they piece and repiece the living wires.
    He rears against the gates they tend: they feed him hungry behind their fires.
    Early at dawn, ere men see clear, they stumble into his terrible stall,
    And hale him forth like a haltered steer, and goad and turn him till evenfall.

    To these from birth is Belief forbidden; from these till death is Relief afar.
    They are concerned with matters hidden—under the earthline their altars are—
    The secret fountains to follow up, waters withdrawn to restore to the mouth,
    And gather the floods as in a cup, and pour them again at a city’s drouth.

    They do not preach that their God will rouse them a little before the nuts work loose.
    They do not preach that His Pity allows them to drop their job when they damn-well choose.
    As in the thronged and the lighted ways, so in the dark and the desert they stand,
    Wary and watchful all their days that their brethren’s ways may be long in the land.

    Raise ye the stone or cleave the wood to make a path more fair or flat;
    Lo, it is black already with the blood some Son of Martha spilled for that!
    Not as a ladder from earth to Heaven, not as a witness to any creed,
    But simple service simply given to his own kind in their common need.

    And the Sons of Mary smile and are blessèd—they know the Angels are on their side.
    They know in them is the Grace confessèd, and for them are the Mercies multiplied.
    They sit at the feet—they hear the Word—they see how truly the Promise runs.
    They have cast their burden upon the Lord, and—the Lord He lays it on Martha’s Sons!

    1. I came here to post this very thing. As an engineer, I am by disposition one of the “Sons of Martha”.

        1. Well, I’m partial to Sappers and Hymn of Breaking Strain. I like Secret of the Machines a bit better than Sons of Martha these days.

    2. For mysterious reasons that reminds me of Obama Care and how, somehow, once it was passed it was the Republican’s fault for not working hard to make it successful.

      Alternately, a comic of someone saying “I’m an idea person.”

    3. All true…but it is to the Sons of Martha that the Tools of Creation are entrusted. At least the ones we’ve figured out how to work…the power tools are Extremely Dangerous.

    4. Heh. Just a thought, from that Superman vs Batman movie and the rather silly plot point hanging on (by a fingernail, I think) that both had mothers named Martha – when did those mothers get their names?

      So, I wonder if they were named by the original creators of those characters: might they have been influenced, consciously or subconsciously, by that poem? Kipling was widely enough read in the beginning of the last century that a good percentage of people who were old enough to at least have started school then probably had come across it.

      1. Unknown on “why” they got those names.

        Still Batman’s mother was named Martha back in a 1939 comic.

        Superman’s human mother was only named Martha around 1959. She was given other names earlier in the Superman comics.

  2. Believe in your theory, and you end up thinking history comes with an arrow.
    I love that line.
    Of course, as we’ve said before, history does come with arrows. And swords, muskets, cannon, warships, and even spaceships. Lots of religion, and maybe even some magic, depending on your trust level of the relaters of history.

    …a tiger will lurk in your hut, warming himself at your fire, and eat you when you go back for a snooze. Those can still happen. But perceiving action consequence chains…
    Well, perceiving action consequence chains leads you to invent a thing you call “door”.

      1. Ah, no, it does not.
        Those who rely on the door to save them end up eaten or beaten in the end.
        The purpose of a door is to slow down the Hungry Tiger and the psycho-Oggs to give yourself time to arm and ready to fight. There isn’t a single fortification or safe place in the universe that can hold without being actively defended by boots (or sandals, or sneakers, or even bare feet, on the ground.) And the better armed and ready, the more likely they’ll win.

        1. Depends on exactly how determined psycho-Ogg and the tigers are. A strong enough door can convince them that you aren’t worth the effort.

          Of course, that means that the psycho-Oggs that do get in are going to be REALLY psycho, so you should have a good back up plan…

        2. Better than a door is a portal, capable of transporting unauthorized visitors into the outer darkness.

          Not recommended for folk who have trouble remembering passcodes.

        1. From long ago, when “digital” was still Rather New in ways and places, a (public radio?) ‘DJ’ introduced a classical or jazz piece saying, “This is a digital recording. That means the musicians played with their fingers.”

          I shall carefully refrain from speculation.

  3. Also, one of the things I’ve made a point of in the Mary/Martha thing is the raising of Lazarus. While Mary was the one who sat at the feet of Jesus while things were good, she’s the one totally overcome by the tragedy of the loss of her brother.
    When Martha goes to meet Jesus, she’s pretty matter-of-fact about her belief, “But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” And when Jesus asks about the basis for her belief, it’s grounded not in emotion but in bedrock knowledge, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”
    Mary just wails that “If you’d been here he wouldn’t have died!”

    Mind you, Martha’s also the one who says, “Lord, by this time he stinketh.” 🙂

    1. Like the apostle Thomas I think Martha gets an undeserved bad rap. But when it come down to brass tacks the one who listened doesn’t seemed to have gained much by it. Martha who perhaps listened in passing as she whirled around and made things pleasant for our Lord and his guests seems to have caught the salient part. And yes Martha ever the practical one notes that her brother may be, shall we say, a touch malodorous after 4 days in the tomb. I’m quite happy to be declared one of her descendants 🙂 .

      1. It wasn’t until Martha complained about Mary about not helping serve that she got chided herself. After all, if a guest is in the house, and if one is consumed by all the conventional preparations of hospitality, but leaves the guest sitting alone by himself, there’s something incomplete about the hospitality.

    2. I always got a kick out of Lazarus stinking.

      I don’t think that I’ve ever seen Martha and Mary contrasted so well in that part of the story though… the sermons are always about how Martha let the cares of the world consume her.

      1. Both ladies represent an extreme, one so concerned with the cares of the world that she misses the larger picture, the other so concerned with that larger picture she neglects the duties of daily life and is eaten by [not tigers].

        The key is to strike a balance, maintaining one’s life without losing sight of why one lives.

  4. The sons of Martha are tool lovers, study their use, improve upon them, all to make the daily toil just a bit easier, more efficient.
    For the sons of Mary words are their tools, and a very slippery and fluid thing at that. A word can mean one thing today and the opposite tomorrow, because the goal is to change and control the minds of others.
    And the sons of Mary do so love their words, for to them words mean power.
    But as the famous saying goes: power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, and nowhere do the sons of Mary offer any assurance that the power they so desperately lust for will be used justly and for the good of the people, rather that simply a benchmark to justify further grasps for ever more power and control.
    But the sone of Martha are tool users and weapons are nothing more that very specialized tools. And as long suffering patience fades, the knives come out, and throats get slit.

    1. And the sons of Mary do so love their words, for to them words mean power.
      Mind you, words (language) also mean the ability to share experiences with others. And it is only in the communal sharing that worship is possible.

      And, interestingly, it is the words which God uses to confound the builders when their pride reaches too high. (Tower of Babel)

    2. Nevertheless, the sons of Mary are needed to ponder the questions of what we want the tools to produce. Because everyone should be at least enough of a son of Mary to be able to avoid being an unthinking cog in a machine that does evil. And then, a good son of Mary to avoid being a thinking cog in a machine that does evil.

      1. Insert your favorite version of “The Cat’s in the Cradle”– working hard isn’t enough if you lose what it is you’re working for.

        1. my favorite version:

          as an aside, I used to know a guy who was the sound man for UKJ and went on a world tour with them. He and his brother (two very different sized guys) had racecars at the dirt tracks I was shooting photos at, and I’d help them from time to time, and they let me drive a mechanics race.

      2. Sons of Martha use words to communicate. Mary’s progeny, in particular the lawyer and political classes, use words to manipulate.

  5. > you can’t create something wholly coherent that is ALSO realistic.

    My view of “reality-as-we-know-it” swings from “improbable” to “risible.”

    This certainly isn’t the 21st century I was working toward…

  6. I’ve often leaned towards that interpretation of the story of Mary and Martha, but recently I’ve been thinking about another one: yes, Martha is right that there’s work to be done, food to be cooked, dishes to be washed, etc. but on the other hand JESUS OF NAZARATH, THE CHRIST, THE SON OF GOD IS IN YOUR LIVING ROOM!!! That’s not something that happens every day. Maybe just this once, the dishes can wait while you listen to what he has to say.

    I’d say it’s similar to Mary Magdalene anointing Jesus with oils, Judas complaining about the cost, and Jesus rebuking him. Jesus wasn’t saying that it’s a bad idea to forgo luxuries in order to donate to the poor, just that there are some occasions when the luxuries are worth it. Similarly, if Mary were to skip out on doing the dishes every day, that wouldn’t be a good thing, but on this one occasion, she was right to leave the work til tomorrow.

        1. There were no vacuums and no washing machines and no dishwashers, so none of that work had to be done, right?

    1. And – though I wouldn’t hope/expect it to happen – there’s the idea that the guy who changed 30-gallon barrels of water into fine wine could probably help your dishwashing go pretty quickly if he “pitched in”. 🙂

      Some might think it sacrilegious to think that way, but Jesus is very much interested in people’s everyday lives. He just wants them to be able to step beyond them to what matters the most.

      1. Mary, Jesus’ Mother: Jesus, get in here and do the dishes!
        Jesus, Age 13: But Mom!
        Mary: Now!
        Jesus (kicking dirt): All right.
        Mary: And do them by hand this time! No miracles!

        1. Jesus is God, thus all things owe him obedience.

          However, Jesus is also human, and thus must obey the commandments, one of which is “Honor thy mother and father.” Thus, if Mary says He needs to do the dishes, He’d better start scrubbing!

        2. *chuckle* The story of Jesus turning water into wine is pretty much

          Mary: Jesus, help them out.
          Jesus: But Mooooooom… it’s not yet my time.
          Mary: *stares at Him with the Mom Stare*
          Jesus: … *silent acquiescence, like every child EVER subjected to that stare*
          Mary: *turns to the servants* Do whatever He tells you to do.

          I also think that he was quite the good son to Joseph – I mean, what’s the point of being born as a human if not to be there to also experience Humanity?

            1. Or she was one of those Auntie type folks– they may not be related to you, but they’re as much family as anybody because when there is a baby born, they’re there to help; when there’s a wedding, they just happen to be near the kitchen at the right time to snag the soon-to-be grandma when she comes to the door to look wishfully at the kids and tell her to go circulate a little, get off of your feet, go talk to your guests, whatever.

              Of course, they are all Jewish, and since she was house of David, and so was Joseph, there would pretty much have to be cousins of one type or another around.

              Now I’m wondering if the wedding might have been for one of Joseph’s grandkids– in the tradition that Joseph was a widower.

              1. I always had the impression of cousin, for some reason. And Jewish, and House of David = massive clan, lots of people…

                I dunno, for some reason, Joseph never is a very old man/widower in my head. Older than Mary, yes, but… I mean, I’m aware of the tradition that explains away that Joseph was old, thus Jesus had ‘no siblings.’ Which I can understand (the why).

                1. When you add in that she didn’t seem to be an utter retard at any other point, but her response as a gal who would be living with her lawful husband in the next six months that was just told “you’re going to have a son!” was “Wait, how is that going to work?”– and that there were traditions of consecrated virginity, then “Joseph was a widower” makes even more sense. (adds more layers to the whole “quietly put her aside” thing– basically let everybody THINK he was a scumbag)

                  He had kids who could take care of step-mom in the future*, and marrying her even though there would be no kids meant that he had someone to do all the wife-work.

                  Sadly, we both know at least intellectually that you didn’t have to be very old to be a widower back then, and it wasn’t odd. 😦

                  * When she had a son of her own, that obviously went out the window. Even before the danger of hosting someone who was connected with that Jesus fellow gets figured in.

    2. Reading between the lines a bit, it seems clear that Lazarus, Mary and Martha were friends of Jesus. He likely visited them more than just one time, which could at least partly excuse Martha from not dropping everything and sitting by her sister.

      Then again, I’m married to a Martha. Nobody ever goes away hungry if she has anything at all to say about it.

      1. Also, let’s remember that this was the Middle East, with its ironclad rules regarding hospitality and feeding your guests.

    3. Just a quick note –

      The Mary that Judas complained about was actually the sister of Martha and Lazarus. Magdalene isn’t identified in any of the recorded annointing incidents. We know very little about the latter. She appears at the empty tomb, of course. And Luke mentions her as an early follower who had seven devils cast out of her. And that’s it.

        1. *tut tutting sounds* It was only one in four women named some variation of “Mary” for that area at that time.
          (Came up for… I think it was the supposed burial box that got debunked on basic science not long after that, the rest of the inscription got added.)

          1. Yup. You run into the same issue in Tudor history. Keeping the Marys tracked is a bit of a challenge.

      1. Correction, the woman that anointed his feet with oil wasn’t named. Three different women anointed Him– Mary of the Martha when Judas howled, the anointing on His head in the house of Simon the Leper, and the prostitute in the Pharisee’s* house.

        Tradition, much later, identified the unnamed sinner in the Pharisee’s house as both Mary Magdalene and the woman caught in sin.

        * Am I the only one that just had a mental eyebrow going up, wondering how the twits opposing Jesus knew where to find the lady of soiled virtue? There was the lady caught in adultery they dragged in, too.

        1. There is, imo, a more important question about the adulterous woman. According to the scriptures, she was caught in the act. So where’s the guy? It takes two, after all.

          Based on that, if nothing else, I’m pretty sure that the adulterous woman was set up expressly so that she could be used to embarrass Jesus.

          Didn’t work, obviously.

          1. Interesting theory I heard was that they all knew she was an adulteress because she’d committed it with them– and what Jesus was writing in the dirt was the name of each guy in the gang who’d slept with her.

            1. Given that male names were nearly as replicative as female ones back then, His writing “Judas,” “Peter,” “John,” “Paul,” “George,” and “Ringo” would hardly have dissuaded the mob.

            2. They claim that they “took her in the very act.” (KJV) That suggests that she was literally engaged in the act right before the group dragged her to the Savior.

          2. Before Jesus gave his verbal response, he’s described as writing in the dust.

            There’s speculation that he was writing the names of her partners and many of the men who brought her to Jesus were “on the list”. 😉

          3. Conceivably he managed to run away. Would you let off a criminal because another one involved escaped?

      2. I know “Magdalene” is usually given as meaning “woman of Magdala” but long ago I came across the word in a Greek dictionary… translated as “prostitute”. Which may explain how everyone knew.

        1. Did the Greek meaning come before or after Mary? i.e. was the Greek word in use at the time of Jesus? Or was it a slang term that came about because of traditions that Mary Magdalene was a fallen woman?

            1. “Magdalene Houses” were a thing in the Victoria era, places where “fallen women” were sent to learn a skill and be rehabilitated.

      3. Interesting. I’m not sure where I got that it was Mary Magdalene. (I’m ashamed to admit that it might have been from “Jesus Christ, Superstar”).

        1. As Foxfier noted above, she’s frequently conflated with another woman who anointed Jesus with oil, and is only identified by her status as a fallen woman.

        2. If you’re interested in the history of the confusion, there’s this:

          Short version, she was probably quite well known both on her own, as a public follower and as a supporter of Jesus.


          One of the reasons she may have been associated with the former prostitute lady, besides similar stories, is that it’s a pretty freaking big deal when the first witness is a lady who had an, at the time, unforgivable background– which He forgave.

    4. Bingo.

      Heck, Peter walked off the job and abandoned his father, with at least one brother (cousin?) coming along. And was told to do so.

      Meanwhile, Martha wasn’t ordered to stop being a good hostess– until she asked God Incarnate to tell her sister to stop listening and make the same choice.

      At which point He did not call her names–but just explained that her sister was sitting there listening to God for the short time He would be there in flesh.

      I wonder if that’s why the details of how his sisters acted were left in for Lazarus– to really drive home the point that yes, Mary chose the better part, but Martha’s functional faith was also strong. There is honor in both, as long as there is faith in both.

  7. I apparently am of the Martha line. How does one change to the Mary line? 🙂 Thought provoking.

  8. Question: Private school is, alas, not what Eldest hoped for-namely, it’s boring. The one part he likes is the teacher (history, civics) who facilitates discussion.

    So in discussing home school for next year-tenth grade-ish, I said why don’t you start a discussion club to meet once a week at a coffee shop? That is, apparently, the Best Idea any mother of any teenager ever, has ever had. (History, what is it good for? Giving moms good ideas!)

    He wants to do philosophy. Since he’s a bit of a philosophy geek, he was all ready to start in the middle, with Neitsche (whose name I probably cannot spell) whom he hates, because how better to get a good discussion going than by starting with someone you hate? I said consider everyone else may not have your background. Okay, says he, We’ll start with Plato’s Republic.

    So my question for all of you: as I reach out to the home school groups here, what are the BAD translations of Plato’s Republic to avoid at all costs? What are the GOOD translations?

    (Sort of on topic, right? Starting a group of thinkers is relevant.)

    1. Discussing philosophy at a coffee shop…. what could possibly go wrong?!? (Especially with Nietzsche in there. *facepalm* )
      [Sounds like Eldest is a pot stirrer. I like that.]

      When looking at homeschooling, look for co-ops. And, you might consider getting a group together and asking that history teacher he likes to teach, for a small stipend. (Second suggestion is just an out-of-the-box sort of thing.)

      1. Pot-stirrer? My son? Why, no, he was just scraping that pot out for the chickens to scavange!

        We’ve homeschooled since I was five, back in the bad old days. We tried a co-op a couple years ago, we may well go back to it again. But it is an American history/crafts oriented group.

        It could be worse than philosophy-we’re Methodists: I could have suggested he and his brother start a Bible study!

      2. Better yet, set son to teaching the subject; ain’t nuthin’ that makes you do research like having to look good in front of your peers.

    2. One of the hazards of philosophy is that the philosophers who write well and are accessible to a reader unfamiliar with philosophy aren’t necessarily right. Plato, David Hume, and Friedrich Nietzsche were all brilliant stylists whom it’s a pleasure to read. Aristotle’s prose is tough going (nearly everything of his that survives is lecture notes from his school), but he got a lot of things right. Though dense prose is not guarantee of being right; Immanuel Kant is almost incomprehensible and his philosophy is a dreadful mess.

      Now, to be sure, part of an education in philosophy is reading philosophical classics and struggling with their arguments.

      I might recommend doing the early modern philosophers: Descartes’ Meditations, Spinoza’s Ethics, Locke’s Essay, Berkeley’s Treatise, and Hume’s Enquiry. I think all of them are wrong (though I find a lot to admire in Spinoza), but their arguments are generally understandable and played a big part in shaping post-Medieval thought; twentieth century physics, for example, is essentially a set of footnotes to Hume. Thomas Reid’s Inquiry into the Human Mind might be worth a look as a critique of Hume.

      That said, my copy of the Republic was translated by Allan Bloom and is pretty readable.

    3. Maybe you could try an introduction to philosophy book and suggest he see about getting people to try to describe their personal philosophies?

      *wistful* The whole thing sounds fun.

        1. and Bea Arthur from History of The World Part 1.
          no tubing? Slimjet for browsing? I had to revert to an older version for searches I don’t want youtube to overload my suggestions with, watching euro tv streams and whatnot. All the fixes they tell me to do to rectify it, do not work.

  9. we all have a bit of both

    A bit of bother, more like it. You are making wallaby’s ears ache.

  10. I’d argue that really good writers, be they fiction or non-fiction, have both natures in them. Mary’s facility with words and Grand Ideas, and Martha’s hands-on “OK, so this is how it would work” [crash] Or not work. Oops.”

    1. Mary has fabulous ideas, Martha makes sure those ideas actually change into words on paper?

      1. And that, oh, a sword fight actually makes sense for the anatomy of the species involved? *cough cough* Not that I ever had to re-do a major scene because of a massive chronologic-technologic problem, noooooo.

      2. Kipling had something to say about that, too:

        Jubal and Tubal Cain
        Jubal sang of the Wrath of God
        And the curse of thistle and thorn —
        But Tubal got him a pointed rod,
        And scrabbled the earth for corn.
        Old — old as that early mould,
        Young as the sprouting grain —
        Yearly green is the strife between
        Jubal and Tubal Cain!

        Jubal sang of the new-found sea,
        And the love that its waves divide —
        But Tubal hollowed a fallen tree
        And passed to the further side.
        Black-black as the hurricane-wrack,
        Salt as the under-main-
        Bitter and cold is the hate they hold —
        Jubal and Tubal Cain!

        Jubal sang of the golden years
        When wars and wounds shall cease —
        But Tubal fashioned the hand-flung spears
        And showed his neighbours peace.
        New — new as Nine-point-Two,
        Older than Lamech’s slain —
        Roaring and loud is the feud avowed
        Twix’ Jubal and Tubal Cain!

        Jubal sang of the cliffs that bar
        And the peaks that none may crown —
        But Tubal clambered by jut and scar
        And there he builded a town.
        High-high as the snowsheds lie,
        Low as the culverts drain —
        Wherever they be they can never agree —
        Jubal and Tubal Cain!

  11. if you’re a person who doesn’t randomly attack your tribe mates, you’re less likely to get thrown out and eaten by a tiger.

    Dear Sir/Madam,

    I write to request that you cease and desist all such anti-tiger slander. Tigers do not eat people as people have bad taste. Please do not spread such calumnies in the future.

    Tiger Antidefamation League

    1. Sir/Madam, my client Mowgli wants to discuss with you the actions of Shere Khan. 👿

      1. Word on the street is that Shere Khan is filing a countersuit. Something about a scorched tail and medical bills.

        1. My client Mowgli laughed because he knows that the “Lame One” isn’t able to file law-suits. 😈

        2. That’s the Disneyfied version. IIRC, the original has Mowgli arranging for him to get caught in a cattle stampede, then wearing his skin in front of the wolf pack. HE won’t be filing any lawsuits, although I won’t speak for his relatives…

      1. Well, the thing is that humans have the “bad taste” to object to other humans being eaten by tigers & other predators. 😈

      2. Similar to the bit that sharks don’t eat humans because they don’t like how they taste. The problem being that they can’t tell us from seals until they’ve had that first big bite……………

        1. That’s great white sharks, IIRC. We lack the blubber the seals they prey on have–oh dear, should we warn Michael Moore to not surf off the coast of Northern California… or encourage him?

          Other sharks feed on humans rather eagerly, though.

  12. Sure, it starts with helping people with memory impairment but before long we’re all implanting government chips! And what’s to stop them from inserting “memories” they want us to have, and deleting ones they don’t want in the wild?

    Huge Breakthrough: Prosthetics to Help Memory Loss in Alzheimers
    By Sarah Hoyt
    One of the recurring themes of science fiction has been the idea of science shoring up, improving, or wholesale replacing of memories. In fact it is a major subplot of my own novel, Darkship Renegades.

    Like many other things that seemed impossible, or so far-fetched as to be almost fantasy, it turns out it’s now a reality.

    Scientists at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and the University of Southern California (USC) have managed to create and implant a prosthetic system that uses a person’s own memory patterns to facilitate the brain’s ability to create and recall memories.

    In the pilot study, published in today’s Journal of Neural Engineering, participants’ short-term memory performance showed a 35 to 37 percent improvement over baseline measurements. The research was funded by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

    “This is the first time scientists have been able to identify a patient’s own brain cell code or pattern for memory and, in essence, ‘write in’ that code to make existing memory work better, an important first step in potentially restoring memory loss,” said the study’s principal investigator Robert Hampson, Ph.D., professor of physiology/pharmacology and neurology at Wake Forest Baptist (and a personal friend.)


    1. Happens in non-Science Fiction too. Jean Auel Clan Bear series speculated/wrote-in the intermingling of Neanderthal & modern man well before the anthropology discovered the family group with both branches & obvious mixed offspring. Then the recent gene findings in modern man.

  13. I don’t think that novelists as such are Marys. To be sure, some novelists are romantics (in the litcrit sense). But even with them, you get details of life mixed in. And a lot of the best novels, romantic or not, have a huge amount of concrete detail, from Kipling’s Kim to most of the Discworld books. Bypassing those details is more typical of epics.

  14. Growing up, my mother dragged us to church every Sunday. Mostly, my time was spent alternating between avoiding everyone, and trying to fit in (neither of which worked in the least), and other than a mention that they were there, I don’t remember any expanding upon Mary and Martha. It seems odd, because it seems like this kind of story would have been one that would have grabbed my attention.

    I wonder if it’s a denominational thing. We were strict protestants (non-charismatic… No speaking in tongues allowed!!! LOL!).

      1. True, as Kipling chronicled:

        “Eddi’s Service
        (A.D. 687)
        Eddi, priest of St. Wilfrid
        In his chapel at Manhood End,
        Ordered a midnight service
        For such as cared to attend.

        But the Saxons were keeping Christmas,
        And the night was stormy as well.
        Nobody came to service,
        Though Eddi rang the bell.

        “‘Wicked weather for walking,”
        Said Eddi of Manhood End.
        “But I must go on with the service
        For such as care to attend.”

        The altar-lamps were lighted, —
        An old marsh-donkey came,
        Bold as a guest invited,
        And stared at the guttering flame.

        The storm beat on at the windows,
        The water splashed on the floor,
        And a wet, yoke-weary bullock
        Pushed in through the open door.

        “How do I know what is greatest,
        How do I know what is least?
        That is My Father’s business,”
        Said Eddi, Wilfrid’s priest.

        “But — three are gathered together —
        Listen to me and attend.
        I bring good news, my brethren!”
        Said Eddi of Manhood End.

        And he told the Ox of a Manger
        And a Stall in Bethlehem,
        And he spoke to the Ass of a Rider,
        That rode to Jerusalem.

        They steamed and dripped in the chancel,
        They listened and never stirred,
        While, just as though they were Bishops,
        Eddi preached them The World,

        Till the gale blew off on the marshes
        And the windows showed the day,
        And the Ox and the Ass together
        Wheeled and clattered away.

        And when the Saxons mocked him,
        Said Eddi of Manhood End,
        “I dare not shut His chapel
        On such as care to attend.”

    1. I suspect there might be some influence in that Catholics discuss it in terms of the superiority of the contemplative life to the active life.

  15. I think Mary did work just fine when God Himself wasn’t sitting there wanting to talk to her…but I also remember who it was that went out to greet him when Lazarus had died?

    Apparently a mature faith takes both. Balance.

  16. You forgot the later part when Martha moved to (what is now) France, and subdued the Tarrasque.


    1. … Oh, wow. I always thought the Tarrasque was a D&D original, it was so iconic to the game. Never knew that it, too, was based on an existing legend.

  17. And where did Mary get the money for a pound of (spike)nard? That stuff had to come from India! And the good stuff came from the root of the plant—unlike, say, frankincense which came from Arabia and came from the sap of the plant, which is why it cost about a years pay for a common laborer.

    1. A lot of the folks who hosted Jesus’n’crew were very wealthy.
      It’s part of how He could do what He did, humanly, and how His followers went with just the shoes on their feet with success.

      Probably part of why the other religious authorities were so pissy, and so set on debunking Him– although it doesn’t excuse them keeping at it when their debunking failed spectacularly.

      1. Well, there was Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathaea before the Resurrection, and a bunch of priests* after Pentecost.

        *See Acts 6:7.

        1. Reason #2 that His followers were still a threat– it utter blew my mind when a priest finally mentioned, oh by the way, the reason thus and such version of a story didn’t include names was they were still around and giving their names out could get them killed.

          Even the blind beggar’s parents went all “dude, we are NOT involved in this, you go ask him, he’s a grown up!”

            1. *grin*
              It’s amazing how the assumptions you don’t even realize exist can mess things up.
              The scholars know that, hey, this is written while people were trying to kill the folks involved and it could get them killed, horribly, if it were intercepted. If you really wanted to know, you could find out, although what with Judas setting the stage it would be a rather tough row to hoe…..

              Same guy who didn’t realize that Saul-known-as-Paul’s prior job didn’t get much airtime in sermons.

  18. You know, looking around me, I begin to understand exactly how Patrick Henry felt.

    ““I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past. And judging by the past, I wish to know what there has been in the conduct of the British ministry Left for the last ten years, to justify those hopes with which gentlemen have been pleased to solace themselves, and the House?”

    We are all being systematically herded into the ghetto, and you refuse to see it — or at least to admit it.

    1. That I may be murdered for political reasons was already priced into my political positions. That it may involve a mass murder was already priced into my political positions. That it may be on a truly staggering scale has already weighted my decision making about my political decisions.

    2. Yes, Snelson, I realize that, to you, the fact that we have not decided to drive everyone to the left of John Kasich out of the country with fire and sword means that we refuse to acknowledge that we are “being systematically herded into the ghetto.”

      In the real world, however, it’s fairly self evident that your thesis is kind of ludicrous.

      1. And failure to denounce as eternally tainted any group that the extremist left has or could use to harm citizens, even if they have to break a ton of laws to do it, is practically working with them.

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