Script Wars

I have it on good authority that I was too cryptic in one of my previous posts, so I will endeavor to speak more plainly today.

Let’s start with a question: Do you ever get the feeling you are living in a movie script? Ha! See? This is what I am up against. I have no idea where to start. What was it the King of Hearts told the White Rabbit when the White Rabbit asked where he should begin reading the paper of “evidence” against Alice? 

“‘Begin at the beginning,’ the King said gravely, ‘and go on till you come to the end: then stop.’” 

But what is the beginning? I am often asked how I came to convert to Catholicism, except in my mind, I didn’t really convert; I just “came home.”* I have been studying the history of Christianity for decades, but I have been studying stories even longer, ever since I could read. 

I remember asking my teacher in second grade if I could take a book home from school because I wanted to rewrite the story we had been reading in class. I think it had a zebra in it. Soon after that, I was taken out of second grade and put in third, only to be told with great authority by the other children in the playground that I would certainly fail and be sent back.

My skipping second grade didn’t fit their story of who I was—but who was I? I was only at that particular elementary school for a year, in between my father’s being stationed at Offutt Air Force Base in Omaha, Nebraska, and his taking up a job in Louisville, Kentucky, at the medical school. (He was a professor of surgery. He served in Thailand during the Vietnam War as a trauma surgeon.) I used to spend my days on the playground looking at the mountains (the Sandias, if you know the range) wishing I could see the castle on the crest that I was sure was there.

That was 1972-73. I started keeping a diary a few years later, when somebody gave me a Peanuts day-by-day diary for Christmas. My father had already left my mom for a medical student by that year (1977). I have the diary, but not to hand. I can’t remember whether I ever wrote about my parents’ divorce, but I kept a regular diary for over a decade, well into graduate school when I was studying in England and able to visit real castles. 

I spent my first year in graduate school reading William of Newburgh’s commentary on the Song of Songs and trying to understand how he could read Solomon’s love song for the Sunamite “historically” as a dialogue between Christ and his Mother, the Virgin Mary. I used what my New Testament professor in college had taught us about reading the Gospels as narratives to argue that William was thinking of the Song of Songs as a script for imagining the conversations between Jesus and his mom. 

You might say I made it my academic speciality: understanding the layers of story and the way we imagine ourselves through scripts. I did the same thing on this blog (published this time last year as Milo Chronicles). I saw Milo playing a particular role, and I was fascinated by the character he had assumed as the jester or clown. How could William of Newburgh read the bride and the bridegroom of the Song of Songs as the Virgin Mary and Christ? How could I read Milo as a holy fool? If my academic colleagues thought I was crazy for writing about medieval devotion to Christ and the Virgin Mary “from within,” I nailed it by writing about Milo as a friend. 

I sometimes tell people that it was Milo who made me convert—“Get on it lady!” he told me—but in fact I had been “converting” for decades, trying to find that castle on the mountain I saw from the playground as a child.

“‘I wonder what sort of tale we’ve fallen into?’ [said Sam]. ‘I wonder,’ said Frodo. ‘But I don’t know. And that’s the way of a real tale.’” What is the difference between a real tale and a movie script? Tl;dr: Real tales are written by God. Movie scripts are written by Satan. 

Owen Benjamin was talking about this process the other day on his livestream. About how he started the livestream under the rubric “Why didn’t they laugh?” and how it developed into an experiment in telling the truth. Owen is not just playing the part of a fool, he really is one—a stand-up fool who had a career in Hollywood until he tweeted something about gender transitioning children being a species of child abuse, and thereafter lost his Hollywood career, many of his friends, and his previous means of making a living. Now he livestreams on DLive and posts the videos on Unauthorized.tv, the same platform where I publish my videos on Medieval History and Tolkien

Much like professors, comedians play best to live audiences because—much like professors—comedians need feed-back to know whether they are getting their point across. I had never thought about comedy in quite this way, but what Owen said in WDTL Episode #1000 hit home: for people to find jokes funny, they have to carry an element of truth. I am starting to think it was not an accident that the festschrift I co-edited in honor of my Doktormutter was called “History in the Comic Mode.” In my teacher’s words: “A comic stance toward doing history is aware of contrivance, of risk. It always admits that we may be wrong.... It embraces the partial as partial.... Historians, like fishes of the sea, regurgitate fragments.”

2020 has been an awful year, beginning with bush fires in Australia and ending ... well, where? In civil war? In famine? We already have the plague (allegedly). Back in April, my academic department told me (for the second time) that I was not going to be promoted to full professor. (I have tenure; “full professor” is just an honorary title that comes with a raise.) My second monograph (Mary and the Art of Prayer) was “not a work of history,” they told me. (I paraphrase. Others have called it “outstanding” and “a game-changer.” YMMV.) I had gone too far into the imagination (read: been too successful at imagining myself into the perspective of a medieval Christian devoted to Christ and the Virgin Mary). They claimed that I had claimed—horrible to think!—that Mary had in fact existed from the beginning of creation, dancing before the throne of the Lord (see Proverbs 8—as read by medieval Christians, through whose eyes the book is meant to teach us to see).

Why didn’t my colleagues laugh? Why couldn’t they share my joy? Why couldn’t they admit even as an experiment that the story medieval Christians told about Christ and the Virgin Mary was true?

In Owen’s terms: because they are living a different script from me. The question is: whose tale is the Truth?


I talked yesterday with another colleague from my own university who has been subjected to the campus point-and-screech for questioning The Approved Script on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) as it has been implemented on our campus. The petition against him claims that his opinions “threaten the safety and belonging” of students in his department and “represent an aggressive act.” I told him: “Welcome to the fray!” (You can sign the petition supporting him here.) 

One of Owen’s best livestreams that I have watched since being on his show in September (I was on episode #944) was about the Mouse Utopia Experiment conducted by John B. Calhoun at the National Institute for Mental Health. (Remember Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH?! Those rats!) Owen’s takeaway (episode #967: “A Symphony Of Spell Breaking (Tribe Versus Religion, Mouse Utopia Experiment, & Rising Above Nonsense World)”): It is pointless trying to convince the mice living in the Mouse Utopia (a.k.a. Babylon) that there is another way to live because, as far as they know, the Utopia is all there is—and in the Utopia (where they are fed, housed, and given nothing to do but have sex and look pretty) pointing and screeching at those who would threaten their sense of identity is an appropriate response. Nobody wants to be told that he or she is living a lie.

Here’s one movie script: Once upon a time, there was a Village, where the men hunted pigs in the forest and the women made themselves beautiful and raised children. Everyone was happy, until one day, men from the City arrived, raped the women and captured the young men, whom they took back to the City to be sacrificed on the top of a pyramid so that the rains would come and the gods stop sending pestilence and famine. As the young men were thrown over a rock, their hearts cut out, and their bodies cast down the steps of the pyramid, the people of the City cheered. And nobody saw anything wrong with this system because it was the way the priests told them it had to be. As long as the sacrifices continued, the gods would be appeased, the people would be able to debauch themselves with sex and drugs (including carbs), and nobody would have to take responsibility for feeding themselves or raising their own children. 

And you wonder why the Mainstream Media (a.k.a. our anointed priesthood) spent the past six months telling us we all had to vote? Hint: We have had Plague. Next up is War, followed closely by Famine. The Pale Horseman is, of course, Death.


Here’s the thing: we can choose which story we are living in—but only if we tell ourselves the truth. The mice in Calhoun’s Utopia died out, not because they ran out of living space (they never filled the habitat), but because they lost the will to live. More particularly, they stopped having sex and, therefore, children. And then they all died—for no reason at all.

Or perhaps they died because they had no story. No sense of being in a real tale.

I know what it feels like to have the story that you thought you were living ripped away from you. It happened to me two and a half years ago the first time the chair of my department called me into his office to tell me that I did not have enough support in my academic field for the department to recognize me as a full professor. That time, I was thrown into horror. The story had snapped, nothing seemed real. I no longer had any idea who I was. I saw something of the same thing happen to Owen when I first watched his livestreams, back in the day when he was talking about what it meant for Professor Peterson to be repped by the CAA, Owen’s former agency. At that time Owen was still on YouTube (I think—I am a little fuzzy on the chronology, but I don’t think he was yet on Unauthorized). I watched him sit next to Sidekick Bear and yell at the camera for months.

And then something glorious happened, while I was occupied with writing poems this past year with the Dragons in my Telegram chat. Owen found a new story. Owen found God’s tale. Now when he yells, he is still championing children (check out Episode #998: “Buffalo Stands Up, Identifying Your Friendly Neighborhood Satanists (Lets [sic] Not Talk Falsely Now), & My Friendly Cow”), but he stops himself when he falls into the tit-for-tat drama of Internet Blood Sports. Owen is too busy milking his goats and his cow to waste time on who said what about whom, even in the Thunderdome of Mainstream Media Coverage of the So-called “Election.” Even more to the point, Owen is too busy building his own community (“Onward to Beartaria!”) to worry about the outcome of the WWF that the Unholy Trinity of the MSM, Hollywood, and Academia claim will save (or ruin) our world. It won’t—anymore than the sacrifices atop the pyramids changed anything about the weather in Babylon or the Yucatan.

Owen has been talking about the way in which the MSM, Hollywood, and Academia try out scripts on a population to see how people respond. I am still not sure why I seem to be able to see these scripts as he does—in Owen’s words, as spells—but perhaps it is because, like Owen, I have been testing out stories in my classroom and in my research all along. Perhaps it was that story about the zebra that I wanted to rewrite; perhaps it was the castle I was convinced I could see on Sandia Crest and set out to find. But thanks be to God that I did not believe the other children on the playground who tried to shame me into believing that the only script for me was to fail. 

When I was on his livestream, I showed Owen my sidekick bear and explained how back in January 2016 when I was first challenged about my “Three Cheers for White Men,” my academic colleagues fixed on the fact that my avatar was a white bear to prove I cared more about skin color than Christ. 

I told him I had tried to explain that Fencing Bear was white because my hair was white, but Owen said, no, polar bears don’t have white hair, they have translucent hair. 

“Just tell them you are Translucent Bear,” he said.

“Translucent Bear!,” I exclaimed. “That’s wonderful! Because Mary is the one through whom the Light shines!”

Now that is a tale I am happy to find myself in.


To subscribe to Owen’s livestreams and my Tolkien and History videos, go to Unauthorized.tv. When you choose a subscription, you will receive an email with an access code and login information for the main platform at https://uatv.infogalactic.com. See you on the other side!

*And just so we’re clear, I am Catholic, not “TradCat” or “SSPX” or “Thomist.” I have no particular love for the modern Catholic Church, just no desire to be Protestant anymore. The popes since the Renaissance have been involved in some pretty dodgy spell-casting, and I have always been wary of Vatican II, especially after they voted to demote Mary to a mere chapter in the constitution on the Church. Ask me about Rupert of Deutz and Hildegard of Bingen and Philip of Harvengt and William of Newburgh if you want to know my spiritual forebears. Read Mary and the Art of Prayer if you want the lowdown on how Marian devotion comes from the Orthodox East, but don’t get me started on the Trinity unless you want a real earful. I am still mulling over how to talk with Owen about the “Three becomes One, One becomes Three, tee hee, tee hee,” but he is right that “Three-in-One” is a kind of spell. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—that is the mystery we need to unpack. End rant.

Comments

  1. Great piece. I have been watching Owen for years, one of the earliest ones was where he was going club to club with Amy, retelling a joke so we could see the evolution of a joke. I have been watching Vox since he was on Stefan Molyneux. UATV is
    It is great to know we arent alone in our views, questioning what we see and sharing our perspectives.
    The fires in Australia happen every year. Right now there are 47 fires, and it has been happening for millions of years. The trees here need fire to germinate the seeds (cracking them open) and gum trees explode when the eucalyptus oil inside them gets too hot. They erupt into fire, its not a global warming lie.
    Thanks again from Brisbane Australia.
    Thank you

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    1. I haven’t seen any of those early episodes of WDTL—I will have to do a deep dive in the UA archive!

      Glad to hear the fires are burning as they should—may the koalas have much eucalyptus to eat!

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  2. This piece reminded me of this very short article I read last week:
    https://www.thecatholicthing.org/2020/11/25/christian-gratitude/

    The "story" or "script" here is the difference between what the Christian sees in suffering, and what the world sees in suffering. Genesis tells us that being kicked out of the garden seems like a disaster but is actually mercy -- "the appalling strangeness of the mercy of God," as Graham Greene put it in a very, VERY unpleasant novel. But the mystery of grace and suffering IS appalling and strange, and if you reject it, all you get is suffering and death.

    Over the weekend I read a strange short story about Circe by Catholic science fiction and fantasy writery John C. Wright. It's about time travel, one of his frequent subjects, and God's mercy, which ought to be one of everyone's frequent things to think about. In it, the character discovers that to escape from an endless loop of terrible and even depraved things she has done to herself and others, she has to agree (Mary-like) to go through them all, but on purpose. An angelic sort of being tells her she has worked this out for herself, and when she asks if she really HAS to do all that, the being tells her it was her idea, "we would have been more merciful." It was a really interesting exploration of how we often punish ourselves more for our own sins than we would ever punish anyone else for theirs.

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    1. Thank you, I need to read Wright's story. Where did you find it?

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  3. I've seen a lot of script-living around me. I've seen people who have given into the fear, even people I once deemed strong. It sucked being cut off from mass for months (thankfully the Arlington diocese never completely closed, so we still had baptisms, private funerals, adoration, and confession), and the moment masses became public again, I was back in the pews, but I also know people who are still too afraid to come back. I've seen people who are generally strong but terrible for morale as they sell a script that more-or-less says "the enemy has won." I've also seen people who inspire and keep going and just keep pushing through and finding ways to fight back against the shadow, people like Vox and Owen and small heroes of faith and courage in my own life. As for myself, my 2020 story has basically been, "I don't have a commute now. I can be productive! \°○°/" My creative output skyrocketed this year to a point I don't know that I've hit since high school. I also expanded my decktop garden and learned how to pickle cucumbers. It's been a hard year in some ways, and certain one of many evils, but I've felt more grateful and happy than depressed or distressed since I've actually been able to do things I find meaningful. The Dark says "Don't let a crisis go to waste," and like a lot of what it says, there is truth there. Every crisis, whether real or imagined or staged, is an opportunity, and one way or another, it shall not go to waste. I want to look back on this one and be able to say "It was I, not the devil, who used it well."

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  4. This is what goes on in my head, day in and day out~STORIES! Everyone who knows me says I'm a daydreamer. I suppose that's true to a certain extent, but really, it's all about the story. I believe it was Saint Hildegard von Bingen's story that drew me into the Medieval time period. Then I happened across a book titled- Illuminations: A Novel of Hildegard von Bingen by Mary Sharrat. It is a brilliant novel that doesn't romanticize the time period at all. There were a few hinky places that rang wrong in my often judgmental mind, but overall, it captured the world and life of a great saint quite well. Then, my sister shared an ancestral tree/timeline of our family in Britain. I managed to follow it back to about 1597-1610. Not sure if what I found was an actual ancestor, so I let it lie. Until...I saw that Mary Sharrat had written another book titled-Daughters of the Witching Hill. A novel based upon the Pendle Witch Trials that occurred in 1612 east of Lancashire, England near the town of Burnley-which is where my grandfather was born about 300 years later! (Sorry this is a bit long:) So, back I went to the family tree and found someone with the same ancestral surname as mine. Now, looking at British public records the best I could, I came across a website that said there's a divergence of this surname. Essentially, there's a 50-50 chance that this is my ancestor who was hung, not once, but twice for witchcraft in Lancashire County about 1597-1600! The website says there's a detailed DNA test that could be done to find out for sure, but it's costly and now isn't the right time (not sure when that time will ever be). Don't get me started about the Danes (my stepfather, baby sister and brother's ancestry line) and the Anglo-Saxons (my ancestry line)! There's a novel series by Bernard Cornwell concerning this time (@mid ninth century)-The Last Kingdom-which has become a BBC America series. Newly discovered saint of this time-Saint Hild(a) of Whitby. The timeline is a bit blurred in the novels, but the reality of what life was like back then is harsh and believable. Okay-I'm done for now! Almost~I just, just started reading Mary and the Art of Prayer. I'm really interested to see what you've discovered about Medieval Catholics and their devotion to Mother Mary and her son Jesus.

    mrpinks-the Lodgepole pines here in America need fire to propagate too!

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    1. You will enjoy the co-incidence I found with the author of the last text I talk about in the epilogue (“Compline”)! Check the footnotes for n. 40.

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    2. Talk about right in your backyard! How cool is that to know something miraculous happened where you grew up!

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  5. Greeks thought the scripts of Homer, courage, virtue and beauty were in the future and that what they did in the present was move towards them.

    Owens trick of disengaging with the grabbler script writers, is powerful. Just a single step back and the noise vanishes and and new world opens up.

    The true is full of grace, balance, beauty and the lies fall away. Art, literature, music that taps into Truth are still there to be discovered, out of the howling maelstrom of script lies.

    Bless.

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