Friday, May 27, 2022

In Praise of Dracula

I speak not of the creature, but of the book. If you have not yet read the original tale by Bram Stoker, first presented to the world in 1897, then you can be sure you do not know the story at all. I thought I did, having enjoyed Bela Lugosi's famous portrayal of the fiend, as well as Frank Langella's mesmerizing interpretation of the bloodthirsty count. 

But none of this Hollywood mishmash presents Stoker's actual tale of knee-buckling terror, courage, and faith. It's an important story for our time, as evil seems to loom larger than ever today over what we were used to calling normal life. Daily we hear of dark goings-on at a scale we can hardly grasp, frightening machinations hidden in the shadows, unholy deals struck behind a screen of deceit. 

Halfway through Dracula, Dr. Seward records in his diary a conversation with Dr. Van Helsing, the one man who understands fully what they are up against with the vampire:

"Dr. Van Helsing, are you mad?" [I asked]. He raised his head and looked at me, and somehow the tenderness of his face calmed me at once. "Would I were!" he said. "Madness were easy to bear compared with truth like this." 

Have we not felt the same at discoveries we make while reading the morning's news (and I am not referring to stories found in the mainstream misinformation media)?

While Dracula is a masterful tale of terror, it is much more. It is a story of heroic bravery in the face of incomprehensible darkness, of men joining forces to defend their women from ruin, of the triumph of this solidarity, armed with the sword of Christian faith, against terrible odds. Sound relevant?

Stoker tells his story in a collection of diary entries, letters, and other writings all penned by the various characters as their adventure unfolds. This intricate account of their contest, the struggle for the very souls of their loved ones, offers as many lessons today as it did more than a century ago.

Pictured: The Barnes & Noble Classics edition of Dracula by Bram Stoker, 2003. Quote, page 209.

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Who's Bombing Whom in Ukraine?

Apartment building in Mariupol, ca. 2019.
We should certainly have learned during the last two-plus years of Covid drama and deception that things are not always what our unified press would have us think. 

Now we are asked to believe the reverberating story of unmitigated Russian aggression against an innocent and helpless Ukraine. Little to no background information appears in the mainstream media about the history of this conflict, about Ukraine's war against the separatists in the eastern part of their country who want to rejoin Russia (or at least get to speak their language and live a normal life), or President Zelensky's tactics since gaining office in a landslide three years ago.

Meanwhile, Zelensky issues impassioned pleas to the West for more arms and ever-tougher sanctions against their attacker.

Into this vacuum, the ever insightful and straight-talking Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano has released his take on the conflict. It's long, fascinating, and fully footnoted. You can read it here. You'll be glad you did. 

Allow me to provide a few highlights from the essay. First, Vigano provides a link to Zelensky's campaign spot when running for President of Ukraine. It shows his machine-gun (literally) approach to anyone in his government who was allied with a "corrupt" Russia. The fact that Zelensky was an actor and comedian cannot soften the horror of this ad: Campaign spot.

Apparently, his campaign strategy worked. In 2019 Zelensky won the presidency and promptly got to work. The Archbishop's essay tells us:

He [Zelensky] liquidated the ministers of the old guard, first of all the powerful Minister of the Interior, [Arsen] Avakov. He rudely retired the president of the Constitutional Court who was acting as a check on his laws. He closed seven opposition TV channels. He arrested and accused of treason Viktor Medvedcuk, a pro-Russian sympathizer but above all the leader of the Platform of Opposition – For Life party, the second party of the Ukrainian Parliament after his Servant of the People party. He is also placing on trial for treason former President Poroshenko, who was suspicious of everyone except for those who got along with the Russians or their friends. The mayor of Kiev, the popular former world boxing champion Vitaly Klitchko, has already been subjected to several searches and seizures. In short, Zelenskyy seems to want to make a clean sweep of anyone who is not aligned with his politics (here).

Zelensky is a member of the mighty World Economic Forum (crafters of The Great Reset) and has admitted that one of his heroes is Justin Trudeau of Canada. (If you followed Mr.Trudeau's approach to "caring" for his population during the last two years, this will tell you a lot.) And last year, "on February 4, 2021, the Ukrainian president shut down seven television stations, including ZIK, Newsone and 112 Ukraine, all guilty of not supporting his government." They were accused of being "under malign Russian influence."

Vigano also discusses the Nazi organizations in Ukraine. Any country can be home to such extreme groups, but in Ukraine they are recognized by the government and tasked with assisting in military operations. This includes employing the brutal Azov Battalion, an extreme nationalist group that the U.S. Senate suspended our help in training, until the CIA overruled that decision and brought them to our own shores to learn to become even more effective at crushing their opposition.

The press has been reporting here in the U.S. that the Russians have been bombing Ukrainian cities mercilessly since February. Maybe that's true. But what are we to make of footage shot by French journalist Anne-Laure Bonnell back in 2017 in the Donbass region of Ukraine showing the grim remnants of residences bombed by the Ukrainian government, of families huddled underground, of grieving parents of murdered children? They are indistinguishable from today's images of blackened apartment buildings that the Russians are supposed to have incinerated. Watch the 2017 video here (in French).

 And in a recent report from the ground, Ms. Bonnell attests pointedly that the destruction she was witnessing in Donbass was at the hand of the Ukrainian army rather than the Russian army. Watch here (in French).

So this war is very complex, and as in many wars, looks can be deceiving. Someone once said that in war, the first casualty is always the truth. May God help and comfort all the innocent people caught in the middle of this one, and bring the truth forward.