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SMD: Est. April 1, 2007

April 1, 2007

As one of the last remaining supporters of the war in Iraq, I’m sure many would consider my official re-launch date of April Fools Day as quite appropriate. Perhaps I’m the only one that notices these things. As Peter Mulvey says The trouble with poets is/ they see poetry everywhere.

I’m hoping the move here will be conducive to a new voice- my “real” voice- and a deeper exploration of some of the things I wrote about at my Typepad blog over the last couple years. OK, the one thing I always seem to write about: the war. Four years in and it’s still the thing that matters most to me politically.

Five years ago, I never would have thought that I would be this way. I have never been a political person. In fact, I think I thought that perhaps I was above politics, being a spiritual person. 9/11 and the events following gradually challenged that view for me.

Many people have said that 9/11 changed them instantly. I’m not one of those people. It was an important and terrible day, but I can’t say that I woke up on 9/12 with any concretely changed worldview. It took a couple years. I resisted it. I didn’t particularly like what it was doing to my thought-life, my friendships. Eventually I had to find a way to speak out. For some reason, I thought a blog called Strange Monkey Doll would be a way to do that. I don’t know why. I’m an artist. I let others figure that stuff out.

I’ll also note, for the record, that I wasn’t exactly a hawk when this whole thing started. I wasn’t against it either. I just didn’t know what was right. I had been an NPR junkie for the better part of a decade at that point; I experienced the entire build up to the war through the toppling of that statue almost exclusively through their reporting. I also had a job with a lot of free time where I read the New York Times and the L.A. Times. I had never heard of Hugh Hewitt, blogs or much of anything on-line.

One memory that stands out is going to the lunch truck with my Editor John who said something about “this crazy war Bush wants. Nobody wants it. But he’s going to do it anyway.”

I just furrowed my brow, as I often do working in the Hollywood film business, nodded my head, and offered no comment. I knew my world view was somehow very different from John’s, but I didn’t know how exactly, or what it meant. At that point, I relized a year or so later, I had made a major fundamental decision. I was going to trust my government. Not George Bush so much- although I had voted for him (very unenthusiastically I might add)- but Colin Powell, our military leadership, our intelligence community and Congress. It was, and is, inconceivable to me that our nation would undertake this war unadvisedly, capriciously and undeservedly.

As it turns out, many would now make the case that we did go into this war in exactly just that manner. And I can’t say they are totally wrong. Mistakes were made. Our government is far from perfect. One is tempted to give up on it; to reform it completely; to pretend that one is a citizen of the world, or a European at heart; to sit in judgment of it; to rant endlessly against it.

I’ve resisted those temptations- and to me they are temptations- for many reasons. For one, that market was a little crowded by the time I got to it. I’ve also had my fill of cynicism, depression, elitism and Anti-Americanism. That whole game is so old and tired for me: it’s time for something new, something positive, something hopeful for the future.

In my mind at least, I don’t think of myself as a Conservative or a Republican; no, I am a Christian, an Orthodox Christian, a mere Christian, a lover of Jesus with some philosophical ideas that I think have some basis in Scripture and tradition. I’m not going to make the claim that I have it all down pat, but I do know for a fact that I fit squarely into a perfectly into my chosen tradition, and that those who seek to label me as far of the path or worse have no authoritative reason for doing so. I’m just another guy working this all out. I’m hoping for some help. I’m hoping old friends and new can give me a second chance here to start over and do it the way I was hoping to all along.

If you’ve been reading and not commenting, this might be a good time to drop me a line too.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. More Sushi permalink
    April 2, 2007 3:47 pm

    I like the “W” that appears when I saved your blog in My Favorites.

  2. April 2, 2007 9:53 pm

    Good luck with your relaunched journey!

  3. April 2, 2007 9:55 pm

    Huh. My computer says it’s 4:53 where I am. I assume you’re in a different time zone from me, but surely not that many hours ahead. Do you need to tweak your blogclock, or whatever?

    Since this is a new place, just thought I’d note that.

  4. April 2, 2007 10:34 pm

    Hi Grec,

    You are not alone my friend.

    I know breaking with your old friends was not easy, but I can tell some of your old friends still respect you. They are fighting some of their own doubts, not just you, when they argue with you.

    Iron sharpens iron; always. Nice, friendly, and agreeable never sharpened anything.

  5. April 2, 2007 5:50 pm

    Reader- thanks for the good vibes. I did tweak the clock.

    Also thanks to Dave for the encouragement. As a fellow contrarian, I wonder if you can relate to breaking with those around you as an annoying habit. I seem to have made the better part of a lifetime out of it. I think it’s partly my nature, partly the result of being plucked out of a non-christian environment into the church- kicking and screaming all the way- and never really finding what feels like home but wanting to somehow fit in anyway. Eh, Jeremiah was grumpy too and God seemed to like him okay. As long as he said his piece to the people he was sent to….

  6. April 3, 2007 12:07 am

    There’s a way to be that’s not breaking things if you’re a contrarian, by nature? Never figured that out, myself. I can see that others manage. But not I. Appears to be cellular. Not trying to make light of it, but just to express my conclusion.

    So it goes (a long-standing reference of mine).

  7. April 3, 2007 10:57 am

    Hi again Grec,

    I’ve never thought of contrarian views as a habit, hobby, or any other activity or malady. I don’t try to be different; I just try to think through every issue independently and come to a conclusion that can be defended with facts and logic, not the affirmation or the consensus of others. [I’m not claiming I’m Mr. Spock; I just try to think through everything while realizing I do have emotional and mental limitations.] Affirmation and consensus never really even occurred to me as a way to think until I got married and realized how important groups and group think were to my wife. I now see the same thing in my daughters.

    My friends tend to be very comfortable with disagreement. I hardly ever join a group that demands conformity. The only time this is a problem is with Church. I deeply want to be part of the body of Christ, but most Churches and most denominations are high on conformity and low on diversity. The diversity in PCUSA would be very attractive to me if it wasn’t for a few of their severe diversions from orthodox theology. I am hopeful about the Church my family is in now. The Pastor says he is happy we are a part of his Church. I suspect he doesn’t know me well enough. : – )

    I did lose one good friend after the war in Iraq started. Our daughters are still friends. I don’t have a problem respecting anyone who disagrees with me about the war, but there are certain things that disqualify someone from being a friend. Mainly, the respect must be mutual. I don’t consider people who disagree with me to be liars or fools. People who consider me to be a liar or a fool for supporting President Bush could never be a true friend; there is no point in trying.

    Additionally, someone who publicly protests the war, has crossed a line that makes them an enemy of freedom and an enemy of our soldiers. The Marines and other United States soldiers are some of the finest Americans. Protestors are giving moral support to an enemy that wants to kill Americans. Protestors have joined the enemy. They are not, and cannot be, a friend.

  8. Tim C. permalink
    April 6, 2007 5:00 pm


    Can I question your interpretation of Proverbs 27:17?

    “Iron sharpens iron; always. Nice, friendly, and agreeable never sharpened anything.”

    Not sure the actual verse means what you say imply here. I read you saying: be strong and direct and grind against opposing opinions, because being nice, agreeable, and non-abrasive doesn’t produce the friction that sharpens others.” Or something close to that.

    This may or may not be true, but I don’t think you can get it from that Bible verse.

    The KJV, ASV and the ESV and others translate that verse better than the NIV… Here is the KJV:

    “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.”

    Literally the Hebrew reads: Iron sharpens Iron and one sharpens the FACE or ‘paniym’ of his friend.”

    I think it would be closer to the spirit of this verse to say:

    “Just as one piece of iron can sharpen another piece of iron’s appearance, similarly, one friend’s presence can make another friend’s face just light up.”

    A long way from “be careful not to be too nice, or you won’t sufficiently sharpen your buddies.”

  9. April 6, 2007 6:25 pm

    Hi Tim C.,

    That’s fair. I should have made my point without (mis)employing the literal meaning of Scripture.

    My desire in life is to maintain friends who aren’t bashful about criticizing me as you have just done. I don’t trust compliments as much as I trust criticism.

    You aren’t a war protester, are you?

  10. Tim C. permalink
    April 6, 2007 6:37 pm

    Hee hee:

    “You aren’t a war protester, are you?”

    Well: I have never picked up a sign and rallied in public protesting the Administrations actions in Iraq…

    …but I have dissented against it, voted for folks who would change direction in Iraq – while still trying to leave as responsibly as possible -and advocated here and elsewhere for a change in overall military and international policy direction to one that I see as net/net stronger than what Bush has done to date…

    Does that make me a patriotic dissenter or a war protester and joiner of the enemy?

  11. April 7, 2007 5:35 pm

    Hi again Tim C.,

    To me, there is a vast difference between dissenting and protesting. People who disagree with government policy have an obligation to dissent and to vote for candidates who represent opposition to current government policy.

    Protesters get photographed, filmed, and used for propaganda to encourage the militants who are trying to kill our solders. I wish dissenters could also protest, but since protesting has the effect of supporting the enemy, I consider it despicable.

    Thanks for not going over the line; I feel relieved.

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