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Norman Garstin. The sculptor.
For the beginning of the debate, and Table of Contents, see Correspondence with Mr. Jason Ferenc, part 1
-----Original Message----- From: Jason Ferenc Sent: 23 février 2010 20:24 To: Stefan Jetchick Subject: RE: Flash! Letter to Stefan from the Vatican Hi Stefan, Thanks for your answers! I would never want to be a burden, and it will be my pleasure to give you a respite. One of my unfortunate shortcomings is a weakness for interesting discussions. When I am becoming a pest, just let me know. It will take me a while to digest your answer, anyway. In the meantime I do have two very tiny and simple questions which you can answer at your own leisure and convenience. In response to a recent letter from a representative of the Holy See you wrote, "but as usual, remember the Pope cannot err when speaking ex cathedra of Dogma or Morals). (1) First question: assume that we have a not-so-great pope. Not that I am qualified to say, but maybe a guy like Benedict IX could be in the running. (Procuring assassinations and selling the Papacy for money can't be good signs.) Well, a less than upright dude might *claim* to be speaking ex cathedra whenever it suited him to do so. Are these pronouncements still binding? If not, how can the world tell if a pope is "speaking through his mitre," so to speak? (2) Second question: the doctrine of papal infallibility is pretty old as a theory, but very new as official dogma. As you know it was declared dogma in 1870 (pretty recently!) during the First Vatican Council by a vote that was far from unanimous and accompanied much public discussion among the bishops. Since the power of papal infallibility was made dogma through the vote of an ecumenical council of bishops, could this power be taken away at some future council? Perhaps by officially finding that the earlier council had erred? After all, the power to decree is the power to revoke. And if an ecumenical council theoretically has the power to take away what it has given, then could a Catholic (while not questioning ex cathedra pronouncements) lobby their bishop to vote a certain way on the question of papal infallibility at an upcoming council, in much the same way that you lobby Cardinal Ouellet on various issues? Best! Jason P.S. - If the pope tried to use the "catalyst" you speak of, perhaps the bishops would be motivated to have a sudden insight into the meaning of the scriptures? Perhaps this insight might involve stripping the Pope of his unilateral authority to remove bishops?
-----Original Message----- From: Jason Ferenc Sent: 26 février 2010 20:57 To: Stefan Jetchick Subject: Watson, come quick! I've got it! Hi Stefan, I hope you are doing well. If Quebec is getting the same kind of weather as New England, then you are probably spending most of each day shoveling your driveway. 1. Watson, come quickly! I've figured it out! I've figured out how to avoid stressing Stefan Jetchick out! I'll only send him emails on the weekend (after waiting for him to answer, of course). That way, if he has sat on an email for a couple of weeks, and then responds on a Monday, he is automatically guaranteed five days of serenity. Alternately, he can gently suggest that a certain pain in the ass from Massachusetts might want to think about his answer for a certain period of time before responding. And of course, if his frail constitution cannot bear me any longer, he can always just ask me to stop emailing him completely. 2. A meek suggestion for you: You said that abortion was really important. Why not move our abortion discussion to a new page of correspondence, and also keep the abortion-related emails separate from any other discussion we might have. I'm suggesting to a few of my friends that they follow along. But nobody is going to find our discussion if it is buried under a pile of old correspondence! Are you afraid of the truth, Stefan? :-) 3. Another meek suggestion: Going back over our old emails on your site, I notice I find it extremely difficult to follow the bouncing ball back and forth when you don't reprint the entire text of each email. If it confuses me, then it might sometimes confuse others as well. I suggest that you publish the full text of every email so the reader can easily follow the course of the discussion. 4. A plea: I would like it if you could incorporate the amendments to my initial abortion email into to body of the text. I realize that involves a certain amount of time and effort from you, so if there is any way that I can contribute, or compensate, I am all ears. Perhaps I could do the editing myself? Perhaps something else? 5. When I am expecting you to publish an email of mine, I will send it to you as an attached text file (my attempt to be helpful). If I send you a regular email, it's probably perfectly OK if you publish it, but I would appreciate you asking me first, in case it contains something like this: [wicca and women] > (OK, OK, this is starting >to qualify as a public and explicit criticism of the Pope! Darn! I'm >disobeying my own rules! Just because of you, darn it! :-) :-D :-D >I owe you another 50 cents. Nope. On the contrary, I notice you fixed "sprung" in my subject line. I owe you 50 cents! >God has the perfection of personhood (or more). Concedo. That makes sense. >We cannot prove, for example, that Baptism is necessary, or that there >are three Persons in God, but that there is only One Divine Nature, i.e. >One God, etc. I'm interested to hear more about this, but I'll save it for later. >If you irrationally establish a good goal (like a well-ordered civil >society, etc.), then of course you can get a lot of mileage out >of that theory. But you need to rationally establish that goal first. Hmm. Another big one. I'll save this one for later, too. But now for my main point, SWEARING OATHS: >>Hum, did you actually carefully read.... Uh! Uh! Careful Stefan! You could end up with pie on your face! >> .....www.newadvent.org/summa/3089.htm#article2? Yes, I did. >>What about: >> "It is written (Deuteronomy 6:13): "Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God >> ... and shalt swear by His name." First of all, a careful reading (*ahem*) of the text will show that Thomas offers this Biblical passage only in response to «Objection 3,» which is not my objection. That objection is raised in the context of Deuteronomy (and the Old Testament), and Aquinas answers it purely in that context. Second, Aquinas does not answer «Objection 1» using any passage from the Old Testament, probably because he knows that such an argument is very weak, as I will presently show. >>«Which is why it's probably better to list all places in the unerring >>Word of God that talk about oaths, before jumping to conclusions >>based on one quote.» Ooh, right in the kisser! I warned you to watch out! If I'm merely «jumping to conclusions» by passing over what Deuteronomy says in favor of the testaments of Matthew and James, then perhaps we had better study Deuteronomy a little bit more. Won't you join me? After all, Deuteronomy says a lot of interesting things, like: «When you build a new house, make a parapet around your roof so that you may not bring the guilt of bloodshed on your house if someone falls from the roof.» Deut. 22:8 (Where's your parapet, Stefan?) Or the explicit instructions in Chap. 15 for canceling debts each seven years. It even lays out a detailed procedure for doing so in case Thomas Aquinas gets a hold of it. (Why is this not on the political platform of the Christian Heritage Party? What are you guys, a bunch of heretics?) Or: «Make tassels on the four corners of the cloak you wear. Deut 22:12.» Or: «If you hear it said about one of the towns the LORD your God is giving you to live in that wicked men have arisen among you and have led the people of their town astray, saying, «Let us go and worship other gods,» then...you must certainly put to the sword all who live in that town. Destroy it completely, both its people and its livestock. Gather all the plunder of the town into the middle of the public square and completely burn the town and all its plunder as a whole burnt offering to the LORD your God. It is to remain a ruin forever, never to be rebuilt.» Deut. 13:12 (Sorry, Stefan, but Quebec City is slated for destruction.) And, my personal favorite: «Atonement for Unsolved Murders,» Deuteronomy 21:1. (This one has to be read to be fully appreciated.) If a man were killed halfway between here and there, I doubt that you would go around telling your neighbors that they needed to look for a cow to sacrifice....or would you? I could go on and on. As much as I would like to tease you for not having a parapet around your roof or tassles on your cloak as the unerring word of God so clearly commands, I must use the above examples to make the point that the Old Testament is subject to the New Testament. The strict Jewish dietary regulations which appear in Deuteronomy are contradicted (and thus superseded) by 1 Timothy 4:4: "For Every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it be received with thanksgiving." If you do not agree that 1 Timothy supersedes the Old Testament, then you had better start eating Kosher food! Also, you'd better get to work on that roof parapet! Matthew 5:33 and James 5:12 supersede Deuteronomy 6:13 on the subject of swearing oaths in precisely the same way that 1 Timothy 4:4 supersedes the Old Testament's dietary regulations. The Ten Commandments appear in Deuteronomy alongside many discarded laws, but of course the New Testament expressly reasserts the Ten Commandments. On those subjects where the New Testament is silent, one might argue that the old law could still be in force. But certainly wherever the New Testament directly contradicts the Old Testament, any reader must assume that the New Testament is the controlling authority. After all, what would be the point of Jesus giving new laws if we refuse to follow the new law in favor of the old? And I must emphasize (for those "careful readers" among us) that you still have not even addressed my assertion that even if we fully accept Aquinas' argument, the spoken oath is still firmly in the zone of the forbidden. Aquinas only defends written oaths. Let's face reality: the Bible (as amended by the New Testament) prohibits swearing oaths. There really is no way for an honest reader to misread what Matthew and James say, unless the reader is trying hard to misread it. Certainly the part of the Bible which supposedly grants all kinds of authority to the Pope is much more vague than these two passages. But Thomas Aquinas had a big problem: oaths were widespread in his time and repudiating them would have dealt a destabilizing blow to the order of the world. Imagine the legal and social (even religious) chaos if Aquinas had said that the most solemn and binding oaths of fealty and homage made by vassals to their lords – which were at the very foundation of medieval systems of law and land tenure – were contrary to divine will! The land tenures of the *monasteries themselves* were held in feoffs from mesne lords and were solemnized with exactly this type of oath! Designing persons might have be able to void obligations going back hundreds of years. Unthinkable! Unimaginable! Especially for a philosopher who wished to keep his job (or his life). Oaths existed in his time, therefore the Bible must allow them. And so oaths persisted. Nobody has ever had the guts to say, «The emperor has no clothes.» People will instead sputter and stammer trying to come up with explanations and justifications instead of admitting to what is clearly present (or absent) in a document, in this case the Bible. And that observation doesn't just apply to the Bible. It applies to national constitutions as well. Once something is declared to be constitutional or unconstitutional by a court, it becomes very difficult to challenge that position, even where the underlying document clearly seems to say something different (or not say anything at all). I believe you have that problem in Canada on the abortion issue, haven't you? Try asking people exactly where in the Canadian constitution it says that a woman has a right to an abortion, and rather than admit the obvious, most people will try hard to come up with justifications to protect the status quo (just as you are doing on the subject of oaths). So let's face it: the Bible unambiguously prohibits swearing oaths of any kind. In two parts of the New Testament, no less. We have just been ignoring it for umpteen hundreds of years. We will probably continue to ignore it. But so what? After all, the Bible is a living document, like the Canadian constitution! Or am I wrong? >I'll let you "Concedo,Nego,Distinguo" that whole article, line >by line. If you would really like me to, then I will. Feb. 7 e-mail ============= >Hey, my own Mom is a pro-choice Atheist! I still try to love her >and pray for her! :-) Well, that makes me feel less nervous. >I need to know more about who you are talking about. I am talking about the people outside of abortion clinics throwing objects and shouting «murderer!» to women and doctors as they are being physically restrained by police. It looks especially bad when an abortion doctor is murdered a few months later, and the newscast rolls video of pro-life and pro-choice activists screaming at each other. That allows them to portray activists on the issue as irrational and prone to violence. That is an extreme example. But in general, I am referring to the type of activists who are overly aggressive and downright hostile toward the people they are supposedly «educating,» or otherwise do things that they should know will only repel minds, rather than attract them. I often suspect that these people are using "education" as an excuse to release their own anger. >>Concedo, a man's home is his castle. (But not his mailbox!) I was worried for a little while. But I should know you well enough by now! >Sounds like a plan! But I prefer handing out invitations >to a debate where the ground rule is: > The first one to invoke a religious belief loses! > http://www.proviequebec.ca/en/debat.htm Yes! Let's have a debate! Though preferably under less silly rules, especially when Stefan is using an uncommon definition of «religious belief.» That seems more like a silly «gotcha!» test than an honest effort to evaluate arguments on both sides of a complex issue. >> In the U.S., as you no doubt know freedom of speech is >> deeply embedded in the popular sense of justice. >That is being attacked in the USA as we speak. Pretend to >be pro-life on your own campus for a few days. You'll see. Well, I was careful to say that people accept that there should be no interference by the government. But taking matters into their own hands? That seems to be quite another story! Also troubling, I agree. It is nice talking to you, as always. Best, Jason
-----Original Message----- From: Jason Ferenc Sent: 26 février 2010 21:19 To: Stefan Jetchick Subject: P.S. P.S. 1. It's very easy to raise the subject of your website with other people. All I have to do is say that there's a guy with a picture of himself wearing calipers as earrings, and there is instant curiosity! :-) 2. Unless you mind my asking, do you drink alcoholic beverages, or are you a teetotaller? 3. "First of all, a careful reading (*ahem*) of the text will show that Thomas offers this Biblical passage only in response to «Objection 3,»" Blast! I meant to delete that. Now I've got some pie on my face, too!
-----Original Message----- From: Stefan Jetchick Sent: 17 mars 2010 23:32 To: Ferenc, Jason Subject: The mountains are in labor, they have given birth to a mouse Hi Jason, Sorry about the very long delay. Jason's E-mail of Feb 23: >> I would never want to be a burden Don't worry. Diplomacy is not my forte, so if you start to bother me, I will tell you. >> maybe a guy like Benedict IX could >> be in the running. (Procuring assassinations and selling the Papacy >> for money can't be good signs.) My source of information doesn't talk about assassinations, but they certainly Concedo your basic assertion: "He was a disgrace to the Chair of Peter". >> a less than upright dude >> might *claim* to be speaking ex cathedra whenever it >> suited him to do so. This is precisely the point! Speaking ex cathedra is not defined as "in hindsight, after we've swept under the carpet all the bad stuff, so as to make the Papacy look good". Speaking ex cathedra is something that a scientist can study (since Sociology, when well done, is a Science, and since religions are a social fact which can be observed and studied). The Sociologist can ask the authority of this religious group what are the criteria for an ex cathedra declaration, then he can study the history of this religious group and make a list of all potential ex cathedra declarations, then study each declaration. Who made it? When? Was it considered as being ex cathedra by the contemporary authority of that religious group? Did that change subsequently, when the members of the "government" of that religious group died and were replaced? Certainly, Catholic apologists claim that a Sociologist undertaking such a research effort would find out that, remarkably, even "rotten" Popes either avoid making such declarations, or make "good" ones. (With "good declaration" defined sociologically here, as in: "considered as satisfying the criteria of an ex cathedra declaration by all subsequent representatives of the government of that religious group"). >> Are these pronouncements still binding? Sure. >> If not, how can the >> world tell if a Pope is "speaking through his mitre," >> so to speak? See above article for when a Pope is not speaking ex cathedra. >> (2) Second question: the doctrine of papal infallibility is pretty >> old as a theory, but very new as official dogma. Here you have to be careful with terminology. "Theory" is not correct, and "dogma" cannot be "unofficial", strictly speaking. Before being formally defined, a dogma was not a theory, but a truth which all Catholics had to believe. And after being formally defined, a dogma doesn't become a piece of the Revelation. It always was. See above, last quote, Section 4. But more importantly, if you are really asking yourself such questions, then you should listen to people far more competent than myself. One of my favorites is: Ott, Ludwig. Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, Tan Books, 1992. Section 5 of the Introduction deals with the question of the development of dogmas. >> by a vote that was far from unanimous and accompanied much >> public discussion among the Bishops. The Church of Christ is not a democracy, and Papal infallibility is not defined by a percentage of Bishops voting for or against. >> Since the power of Papal infallibility was made dogma through the >> vote of an ecumenical council of bishops, could this power be taken >> away at some future council? The Pope was made infallible (when speaking ex cathedra about dogma or morals, etc.) nearly 2000 years ago by God-The-Son Himself. Obviously, God doesn't make mistakes and change His mind! >> After all, the power to decree is the >> power to revoke. Concedo, but Papal Infallibility didn't begin in 1870. >> could a Catholic [...] lobby their bishop to vote a certain way >> on the question of papal infallibility at an upcoming council If Papal Infallibility was something under the authority of Councils, yes, but that is not the case. >> P.S. - If the Pope tried to use the "catalyst" you speak of, perhaps >> the Bishops would be motivated to have a sudden insight into the >> meaning of the Scriptures? Perhaps this insight might involve >> stripping the Pope of his unilateral authority to remove Bishops? :-) I don't know if you're doing this intentionally, but this whole discussion is quite similar to our other debate on Natural Law. If something is established purely through a human convention, then of course the human convention can change. If not, then not. (It is accessory if this human convention changes because the Pope tried to kick Bishop butt; the change could be caused by a butterfly flapping its wings, or by the Montreal Canadians winning the Stanley Cup, etc.) Jason's E-mail of Feb 26: >> 1. Watson, come quickly! I've figured it out! As I've said, don't worry about me keeping my mouth shut even though somebody is causing me great pain. I am currently at the other extreme: I tend to complain quickly and loudly about trifles. >> I've figured out how >> to avoid stressing Stefan Jetchick out! I added a Section and a Subsection thanks to your reasonable requests. Thanks! >> Why not move our abortion discussion to a new page of >> correspondence I could. Another option could be a separate index, like this one, but with only references to e-mails about abortion. Low-cost and flexible solution. >> also keep the abortion-related emails separate >> from any other discussion we might have. Keep in mind somewhere there needs to be a "verbatim" (A bit like an official court transcript). But after, yes, based on that "word-by-word" archive, we could build something else. >> I find it extremely difficult to follow the bouncing >> ball back and forth when you don't reprint the entire text of each >> email. I could. But personally I like the "No Third Quote Level" rule. (And yes, you made me add that whole Section 6. Thanks for forcing me to clarify that!) >> 4. A plea: I would like it if you could incorporate the amendments >> to my initial abortion email into to body of the text. In general, anything that will improve my web site, and that I can do with a simple "copy-paste" operation, is welcome. But remember, it's ONE SIMPLE "copy-paste" operation. So if you send a non-HTML e-mail (or a .TXT attachment) with the actual contents of one of your e-mails, AND it doesn't force me to re-read my reply to that e-mail, then I'll be glad to do it. But if I have to re-read my reply to that e-mail, and adjust what I said to conform to the new version of what you stalined in your airbrushed past, hum, I mean what you said in your previous e-mail... ;-) Is this a bit too harsh? Perhaps, but I still think there needs to be some sort of "Penalty Function" for sending e-mails too quickly. >> 5. When I am expecting you to publish an email of mine, I will send >> it to you as an attached text file Please, no. I have to correspond with many people simultaneously, and I can't have special treatment for everybody. It's a lot safer for you (and easier for me) if you explicitely mention in your e-mail what is and what is not to be published. For example: "Hi Stefan, please don't post this e-mail. Now, I wanted to say [bla-bla-bla]", or "Hi Stefan, here is my answer to be posted: [bla-bla-bla]", etc. >> I would appreciate you asking me first, in case it contains >> something like this: >> [wicca and women] Please, no. Please prefix explicitely. (By the way, I did censor that part out pretty well automatically. Then I realized you didn't want to post it!) >> But now for my main point, SWEARING OATHS: >> «When you build a new house, make a parapet around your roof [...] >> (Where's your parapet, Stefan?) Roofs in biblical times were often flat, and used as an extra room of the house. My roof is inaccessible, and it would be too steep even if it was accessible. The general rule of making a reasonable effort to avoid human casualties still applies today. For example, if you dig a huge hole in your front yard, and somebody falls into it and hurts himself, you'll probably be considered responsible, if you didn't make an effort to prevent people from falling in (e.g. fence, warning ribbon, etc.) >> Or the explicit instructions in Chap. 15 for canceling debts each >> seven years. Judicial precept of the Old Law, still partially valid today. (See ST, Ia-IIae, q. 104, a. 3, respondeo dicendum). You have to distinguish between the general intent of the precept, and the implementation details. Some form of social help for the poor is still in force today (but usually as unemployment insurance, or social security checks, or Medicare, etc.) Debt relief is one of the aspects of the implementation details of the biblical welfare system. >> Or: «Make tassels on the four corners of the cloak you wear. Deut >> 22:12.» Ceremonial precept of the Old Law (See Objection 1 of ST, Ia-IIae, q. 101, a. 1). These precepts are no longer valid (See ST, Ia-IIae, q. 103, a. 3). >> «If you hear [...] «Let us go and worship >> other gods,» then... you must certainly put to the sword all >> who live in that town. You got me here. I've been meaning to write an article about that, but haven't yet. The basic idea is: If God doesn't exist, or if God cannot express His will, then such passages are nonsensical and monstruously cruel. But if God exists, and a large group of people disobey His law, and God decides to punish them, He can punish them using any tool He chooses (a flood, an earthquake, a tsunami, or even a army of Hebrews). >> And, my personal favorite: «Atonement for Unsolved Murders,» >> Deuteronomy 21:1. Ceremonial precept, see above. >> I could go on and on ... since you are spinning your wheels in the mud. ;-) Seriously, based on an erroneous principle, you can derive an infinity of erroneous conclusions. When interpreting the Bible, some principles need to be established from the start. First, who has the divine authority to interpret the Bible? You? Me? The Magisterium? If a mistake is made in that first principle, all subsequent efforts are wasted. Secondly, as mentioned above, after the distinction between the Old Law and the New Law, we also need to distinguish between moral, judicial, and ceremonial precepts of the Old Law. Whipping out a tape measure, then clobbering a poor beast after finding a human corpse makes sense as an pedagogical sign of things to come (a sign now obsolete), but remains valid in that anybody who spills human blood will be accountable to God. >> I must use the above examples The above examples are mis-interpretations, according to the divinely-instituted interpreter of the Bible (i.e. the Magisterium). >> Matthew 5:33 and James 5:12 supersede Deuteronomy 6:13 on the subject >> of swearing oaths in precisely the same way that 1 Timothy 4:4 >> supersedes the Old Testament's dietary regulations. Nego. >> what would be the point of Jesus >> giving new laws if we refuse to follow the new law in favor of the >> old? Concedo, except Jesus doesn't forbid oaths. >> the spoken oath is still firmly in the zone >> of the forbidden. Aquinas only defends written oaths. Nego, non-essential difference between both. >> the part of the Bible which supposedly grants all kinds >> of authority to the Pope is much more vague Well, it doesn't grant "all kinds" of authority, only the authority to teach infallibly about dogma and morals, so that "the Gates of Hell will not prevail" against the one and only Church of Christ. I find Mt 16:18-19 pretty clear. >> The land tenures of the >> *monasteries themselves* were held in feoffs from mesne lords and >> were solemnized with exactly this type of oath! I'm sorry, I don't understand your point. Even witnesses today in front of a judge make oaths on the Bible. >> Once something is declared to be >> constitutional or unconstitutional by a court, it becomes very >> difficult to challenge that position, even where the underlying >> document clearly seems to say something different Concedo, but beside the point. The Bible (when interpreted by the authority designated by God) doesn't forbid oaths. >> the Bible is a >> living document, like the Canadian constitution! I'm sorry, I'm not even sure if you're making an assertion, or a joke, or sarcasm, etc. Anyway, if you're making a serious assertion, Nego, the Bible is not a vaguely-worded human document that can be changed by human convention. (But the Word of God is alive: He 4:12). >> I am talking about the people outside of abortion clinics throwing >> objects and shouting «murderer!» to women and doctors as they are >> being physically restrained by police. Wow! I've never seen that in my life! Is that more than an urban legend? Has any serious pro-life group ever advocated such behavior? Certainly the biggest pro-life group on the planet (the Catholic Church) would totally condemn such behavior. And I've never met a Protestant pro-lifer who would agree to such behavior. So I'm suspicious. >> I often suspect that these people are using >> "education" as an excuse to release their own anger. I certainly Concedo the assertion that often (as some author whom I forget once said): "Men have two reasons to do what they do: the real one, and the one that sounds good in public." >> Stefan is using an uncommon definition of «religious >> belief.» "Uncommon"? Probably. Correct and provable? Certainly. Jason's E-mail of Feb 26-2: >> there's a guy with a picture of >> himself wearing calipers as earrings DUH? That picture is still on my web site? Where? >> do you drink alcoholic beverages Only a half-glass of wine less than a dozen times a year, to avoid weeping and gnashing of teeth during a birthday or other social gathering. I used to put milk or ginger ale in my wine glass, but got tired of the irrational ruckus that would generate. Cheers! Stefan
I had sent Jason my article called The Prepareful Mysteries. His reply, thoughtful as usual, is not a recommendation to be followed, but rather a warning to dreamy-eyed "survivalists" who concentrate hard on details (hoarding food and guns, making squirrel stew on an improvised stove in a hut in the woods, etc.), because the big picture is painful to look at.
-------- Forwarded Message -------- Subject: [...] and Preparedness Date: Wed, 12 Oct 2016 04:38:10 +0000 (UTC) From: Jason Ferenc Reply-To: Jason Ferenc To: Stefan Jetchick [...] A good plug for being prepared. Preparation is a virtue that most people could use more of. I always find it odd how different people's idea of being "prepared" differs according to their personal disposition. For one man, such as you, being prepared means mobility and portability above all else. You don't seem to put much stock in preparations that can't be moved. Perhaps that is only a result of living in the middle of a big city -- which makes sense. For another man, being prepared means accumulating a lovingly- tended stockpile of consumables. He'll have a year's worth of food in his basement, and tend to it like a librarian tends to her books. The idea of leaving his homestead is unthinkable to this man. Since the idea of separation from his home base means death, he prepares to fight to the death to protect his hoard. For another man, being prepared means living off the land. To this man, subsistence farming seems to be his life's calling, and he can't seem to wait for the day when tending his garden and his chickens is the only things that he must worry about. Still another man doesn't care whether he moves or stays still: to him preparation is about fighting. With a pistol in his belt, 15 long guns, and enough ammunition to last a lifetime, he can't get enough time at the shooting range. To him, societal collapse means battle -- and by God he'll be ready. My own idea? I think that each of the above men is right. The prepared man should be prepared to be mobile, and should be ready to be handy and self-sufficient in a variety of ways. But these are tactics. In terms of strategy, the student of history beats all of them: The student of history will not remove themselves from the chaos, but will rather jump into it. They will find the most well- organized and professional group, headed by man with the qualities of Julius Caesar: one who craves the legitimacy of being recognized as a maker of law. A nascent government. You will know this organization when you see it not merely due to the regimentation and professionalism of its soldiers, but due to its ambition to lead the people. The leader will probably already have some claim to governmental legitimacy, but if he doesn't he will do everything in his power to fabricate one. We know that an organization such as the one described above will always exist in any situation, because its seeds will be formed out of bits and pieces of old government. Think of military units who have gone months without receiving pay, and who therefore decide to go into business for themselves. In all of history, no land has ever gone more than a year or two without a leader (if that long). Humans are naturally self-organizing. The student of history will make himself indispensible to this organization. A middle-level leader is in a good position. Even if his organization does not become the new national government -- even if it is defeated by another similar organization -- then it is very likely that the winner will seek to absorb its soldiers and its bureaucracy, rather than destroying them. Out of the "prepared men" listed above: the subsistence farmers will pay taxes to this organization, if they are lucky enough to keep their land. The hoarders will have their hoard requisitioned. The wanderers will be irrelevant, and will eventually become beggars if they don't begin to ply a trade. The fighters will either join the organization as foot-solders, lay down their arms, or be killed and their lands seized. Conclusion: no individual man can resist a well-organized body of men. [...]
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