WHEN TO JUST SCROLL ON

InternetWrong2

I have been complimented more than once for my way of conducting controversies on the internet: courteously, constructively, with substance.  It took me back a bit at first.  I didn’t think I was doing anything special.  Then I started paying attention to the norm.  I think I fail often at speaking the truth in love, but apparently the bulk of the people on the internet are even worse.  Here are some guidelines I try to follow.  I do so rather inconsistently, but I hope I’m getting better.

1.  Think twice if the thread belongs to someone you barely know, or who is only a “Facebook Friend.” Jumping in to correct people on someone else’s thread, or, worse, actually hijacking it, makes you a “troll.”  It’s rude.  JUST SCROLL ON.

InternetWrong32.  Do you have an actual point to make, or are you just trading insults?  The latter will convert nobody and only alienate not only your opponents but any neutral lurkers you want to keep them from influencing.  If that’s all you’ve got, JUST SCROLL ON.

3.  Do you have an actual point to make, or are you just saying things that you think will make you look smart to the group among the onlookers you are vainly trying to impress, or at least smarter than your opponent?  The latter will convert nobody and only alienate not only your opponents but any neutral lurkers you want to keep them from influencing.  If that’s all you’ve got, JUST SCROLL ON.

4.  Can you make your point in one short paragraph, or a couple at most? Nobody is going to read the interminable essay you are about to post.  Nobody is going to follow the link to the massive dissertation you read (or wrote on your blog) on the topic.  They might not even bother to roll their eyes at you.  (I read, and write, long articles and even books.  There is a place for them.  A Facebook thread isn’t it.)  All together now:  JUST SCROLL ON.

5.  OK, you’ve made succinctly and courteously an actually relevant point. Your opponent isn’t interested; he just wants to keep arguing, without even taking it into account.  You’ve called him back to it once, but it did no good.  The discussion has now degenerated into a contest about who gets the last word.  Let him have it.  The only alternative is to sink to his level.  You can take some of the sting out of it by noting, “I think we’re just starting to repeat ourselves.  I’ve made my point.”  Then if he takes the last word, he’s the one who looks bad.  Let him.  JUST SCROLL ON.

InternetWrong1

I think you get the idea.  There is definitely a place for internet debate.  We don’t want to let nonsense and ignorance go unchallenged.  But sadly, we often do more harm than good when we let ourselves get goaded into trading rants.  When you feel that temptation, what should you do?    All together now:  JUST SCROLL ON.

To order some of Dr. Williams’ long books, such as REFLECTIONS FROM PLATO’S CAVE or INKLINGS OF REALITY, go to  https://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/.

Appearance or Rationality?

Yesterday I posted the following comment as my status on Facebook:

“After several years of getting drawn in to various debates on Facebook, I have come to a conclusion. About 95% of the people commenting care nothing whatsoever about evidence or chains of reasoning or the search for truth. They are concerned only with what statements will make them appear cool, intelligent, or with it to whatever group they are trying to impress.”

Not a person I was describing.
Not a person I was describing.

The response–an unusually high number of “likes” and not a few comments–suggested I had hit a nerve.  All of those commenting basically agreed with me.  Either I was in the group they were trying to impress, or I had just attracted all the rational exceptions to the rule.  (Either generalization would probably be dangerous!)

The bottom line is that, while there are many exceptions, the level of rational discourse of which our contemporaries seem capable is distressingly low.  Many apparently think that assertion is evidence, insult is rebuttal, shouting is argument, and repetition is exposition.  It’s not just that they try to get away with these substitutions; they apparently really cannot tell the difference.  They respond to the caricature that is already in their head of the position they are arguing against, ignoring the actual argument that has just been placed before them.

Shakespeare's Grammar School.  He learned to read Latin there.
Shakespeare’s Grammar School. He learned to read Latin there.

How is it that more people are consuming more higher education than ever before while getting so little benefit from it?  There are many reasons.  The expansion of educational opportunity in itself brings a lowering of standards.  Addiction to electronic media has decimated attention spans.  Public figures set terrible examples.  (The entire senate race my state is currently living through consists of one candidate implying that the other is a closet communist and his opponent characterizing him as a Robber Baron; each has called the other a liar, though not in so many words.  Discussion of any actual issues or political principles has been notably absent.)  The media reinforces a focus on soundbytes over reasoned civic discourse. Too many parents no longer teach their kids to practice self-discipline or to take responsibility for their time and be accountable for their actions.  So what’s even a good teacher to do when they get to school?  A climate of Post-Modern relativism cultivates cynicism about truth with a corresponding reluctance to engage in the rigorous disciplines required seriously to pursue it.  All these things make it harder to overcome the basic intellectual laziness and dishonesty that is our legacy from the Fall of Man.

No comment necessary.
No comment necessary.

If you have not yet completely fallen prey to these enemies of the mind, push back against them when you have the opportunity and set a better example when you can.  You’d better.  Otherwise these logic-deficient, evidence-impervious, educated morons that annoy you on Facebook will be the people sitting on our juries and electing our next congress and president.  Oh, wait; it’s worse than that.  They already are.

A book that fights back against the encroaching darkness.
A book that fights back against the encroaching darkness.

Donald T. Williams is R. A. Forrest Scholar at Toccoa Falls College and President of the International Society of Christian Apologetics.  To order his books from Lantern Hollow Press, go to https://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/

The Best of Tobias Mastgrave: Demons, Monsters, and Ghosts, Oh No! Part II

As you know, Tobias Mastgrave has started his own blog after a good run with us here at LHP.  In thanks to him and recognition of his work, for the next few week’s we’re running several of his highest rated posts from days past.  Check out his blog at http://tobiasmastgrave.wordpress.com

Good luck and Godspeed Tobias in your new endeavors!

Lantern Hollow Press

https://lanternhollow.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/newrule5.gif?w=239&h=27&h=27

  • The Ravager is generally the most common demon archetype found in fantasy.
  • The Ravager demon is the thug of the supernatural world, relying on brute strength and lacking in intelligence.
  • Ravager demons have their place in fiction but are generally over used or used to too little effect.

In the first installment of this series I introduced some of the differences between demons as they exist in mythology and in fantasy. In this and the next few installments I would like to discuss a few archetypal demons. Now I learned my lesson with my post on villain archetypes and I’m going to discuss these one at a time. The first archetype* I want to discuss is the most commonly used, the Ravager.

This sums up the Dresden Files pretty well.

As with all excessively common archetypes the Ravager has some problems. However, while it may be generally overused, it does have a solid place in fiction. The Ravager is somewhere in between a monster and a true demon. Generally Ravager archetypes are portrayed as the brute thugs of the demon world, very powerful but lacking in cunning and intelligence. One basic example of this archetype is found in the first book of the Dresden Files, Stormfront. The toad demon which appears in this book is a classic example of the Ravager, it exists for one purpose, to destroy, and that is the only thing which enters its mind. As with any Ravager the toad demon has one, and only one, approach to dealing with a problem, smash it. If the problem can’t be smashed then it is too much for the Ravager to handle. While the toad demon in Stormfront is relatively weak some Ravagers are very powerful. In Glen Cook’s The Black Company the Limper is another Ravager archetype**. The Limper is excessively powerful, able to confront entire armies on his own multiple times through the series, but he lacks cunning. Through the course of the series the Limper displays only one reaction to any obstacle, kill it, if it cannot be killed then smash it, if it cannot be smashed then he can’t do much about it.

Ravager archetypes generally see little character growth, they are too simplistic to truly develop as characters and generally exist to get in the way. For instance in The Black Company the Limper presents an excellent obstacle to portray the company’s main strength, its cunning. Though the Limper is excessively powerful he is defeated time and again by the cleverness of the company’s soldiers.

Ravager archetypes can also serve to exhibit the great power which opposes the main characters. In J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring the Balrog serves to show the great power which opposes the fellowship, both in Moria and as a foreshadowing of greater threats to come. Though the Balrog is portrayed in the novel as little more than a very powerful brute its power manages to, apparently, overcome the wizard Gandalf, who is the fellowship’s own ‘man of power’. This not only provides a sense of emotional loss for the reader but also underlines the very real danger which the fellowship faces on its journey.

An amazing showdown

The difficulty with the Ravager archetype is that it has been used so often that it has become mundane to think of fantasy demons as brutes who can’t think or plan. In The Amulet of Samarkand*** the image is created that Bartimaeus, one of the two main characters, is the only demon of any real cunning in existence. While there are shown to be demons of much greater power Bartimaeus inevitably overcomes them through his intelligence and cleverness. Also in many stories, The Amulet of Samarkand being only one, Ravager demons are beholden to mortal men who have bound them, again through cunning rather than power. This use of the Ravager demon does not mesh well with mythology, as discussed in Part 1, and so gives demons on the whole the image of being little more than lackeys.

Patricia Briggs, in her novel Blood Bound, combines the Ravager archetype with the Possessor archetype (which I will discuss in a later post) to good effect. Though the demon is still portrayed as being single-minded, obsessed with killing and destruction, it is given a certain low cunning which allows it to become a very real threat. Instead of the traditional use where the Ravager is bound to its summoner in Briggs’ novel the Ravager is clever enough to have overcome its summoner and become a threat to the world, or at least the surrounding area. In my opinion this, along with Tolkien’s use of the free-willed Balrog, is a better example of the Ravager archetype than the norm.

************************************************************************************

* Demons may sometimes be villains and villains may sometimes be demons. In this there is some overlap between the villain archetypes and the demon archetypes.

** While the Ten Who Were Taken are technically mortal sorcerers the power and persistancy they portray in the series has more in common with demons than with men. The Limper, for instance, ‘dies’ at least three times in the series (in one of his deaths he is chopped to pieces) and yet returns after each death to further harass his enemies.

***The Amulet of Samarkand, ostensibly intended for younger readers, has been challenged or banned from certain libraries.  While the novel itself shows quality writing the characters within display and, in my opinion, encourage a certain amorality which could be detrimental to younger readers.  I suggest you consider carefully before allowing children under the age of 16 access to this book and if your children are considering it as a reading option I suggest you read it before deciding whether or not to allow them access.  A review of the book which disagrees with my own opinion may be found here.

 

********************************************

Among The Neshelim: My first novel, Among the Neshelim, is now available from Smashwords here, and Amazon here. Print copies are not yet available, but will be soon.

Among the Neshelim

by

Tobias Mastgrave

Understanding. One little word, and yet it means so much. We spend our lives pursuing it in one form or another. We long for it, seek it out, and break ourselves trying to find it. But it is always a rare commodity.

Chin Cao Yu, priest and scholar, has sacrificed all he held dear in its pursuit. Now he undertakes the journey of a lifetime, a journey among the mysterious Neshilim, a people of power unlike any he has seen before – all for the hope of understanding. This journey will turn upside down the world he thought he knew and challenge all of his dearly held beliefs. Has he found the ultimate truth or the ultimate lie? And what will he do with it when he learns?

Demons, Monsters, and Ghosts, Oh No! Part II: The Ravenous Horde

  • The Ravager is generally the most common demon archetype found in fantasy.
  • The Ravager demon is the thug of the supernatural world, relying on brute strength and lacking in intelligence.
  • Ravager demons have their place in fiction but are generally over used or used to too little effect.
  • See the bottom of this post for details on Lantern Hollow Press’ upcoming giveaway.

In the first installment of this series I introduced some of the differences between demons as they exist in mythology and in fantasy. In this and the next few installments I would like to discuss a few archetypal demons. Now I learned my lesson with my post on villain archetypes and I’m going to discuss these one at a time. The first archetype* I want to discuss is the most commonly used, the Ravager.

This sums up the Dresden Files pretty well.

As with all excessively common archetypes the Ravager has some problems. However, while it may be generally overused, it does have a solid place in fiction. The Ravager is somewhere in between a monster and a true demon. Generally Ravager archetypes are portrayed as the brute thugs of the demon world, very powerful but lacking in cunning and intelligence. One basic example of this archetype is found in the first book of the Dresden Files, Stormfront. The toad demon which appears in this book is a classic example of the Ravager, it exists for one purpose, to destroy, and that is the only thing which enters its mind. As with any Ravager the toad demon has one, and only one, approach to dealing with a problem, smash it. If the problem can’t be smashed then it is too much for the Ravager to handle. While the toad demon in Stormfront is relatively weak some Ravagers are very powerful. In Glen Cook’s The Black Company the Limper is another Ravager archetype**. The Limper is excessively powerful, able to confront entire armies on his own multiple times through the series, but he lacks cunning. Through the course of the series the Limper displays only one reaction to any obstacle, kill it, if it cannot be killed then smash it, if it cannot be smashed then he can’t do much about it.

Ravager archetypes generally see little character growth, they are too simplistic to truly develop as characters and generally exist to get in the way. For instance in The Black Company the Limper presents an excellent obstacle to portray the company’s main strength, its cunning. Though the Limper is excessively powerful he is defeated time and again by the cleverness of the company’s soldiers.

Ravager archetypes can also serve to exhibit the great power which opposes the main characters. In J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring the Balrog serves to show the great power which opposes the fellowship, both in Moria and as a foreshadowing of greater threats to come. Though the Balrog is portrayed in the novel as little more than a very powerful brute its power manages to, apparently, overcome the wizard Gandalf, who is the fellowship’s own ‘man of power’. This not only provides a sense of emotional loss for the reader but also underlines the very real danger which the fellowship faces on its journey.

An amazing showdown

The difficulty with the Ravager archetype is that it has been used so often that it has become mundane to think of fantasy demons as brutes who can’t think or plan. In The Amulet of Samarkand*** the image is created that Bartimaeus, one of the two main characters, is the only demon of any real cunning in existence. While there are shown to be demons of much greater power Bartimaeus inevitably overcomes them through his intelligence and cleverness. Also in many stories, The Amulet of Samarkand being only one, Ravager demons are beholden to mortal men who have bound them, again through cunning rather than power. This use of the Ravager demon does not mesh well with mythology, as discussed in Part 1, and so gives demons on the whole the image of being little more than lackeys.

Patricia Briggs, in her novel Blood Bound, combines the Ravager archetype with the Possessor archetype (which I will discuss in a later post) to good effect. Though the demon is still portrayed as being single-minded, obsessed with killing and destruction, it is given a certain low cunning which allows it to become a very real threat. Instead of the traditional use where the Ravager is bound to its summoner in Briggs’ novel the Ravager is clever enough to have overcome its summoner and become a threat to the world, or at least the surrounding area. In my opinion this, along with Tolkien’s use of the free-willed Balrog, is a better example of the Ravager archetype than the norm.

************************************************************************************

* Demons may sometimes be villains and villains may sometimes be demons. In this there is some overlap between the villain archetypes and the demon archetypes.

** While the Ten Who Were Taken are technically mortal sorcerers the power and persistancy they portray in the series has more in common with demons than with men. The Limper, for instance, ‘dies’ at least three times in the series (in one of his deaths he is chopped to pieces) and yet returns after each death to further harass his enemies.

***The Amulet of Samarkand, ostensibly intended for younger readers, has been challenged or banned from certain libraries.  While the novel itself shows quality writing the characters within display and, in my opinion, encourage a certain amorality which could be detrimental to younger readers.  I suggest you consider carefully before allowing children under the age of 16 access to this book and if your children are considering it as a reading option I suggest you read it before deciding whether or not to allow them access.  A review of the book which disagrees with my own opinion may be found here.

*************************************************************************************

Giveaway

Lantern Hollow Press has an upcoming giveaway.  Next week when you see a *crazy prayer request* in one of our posts follow the link provided to our Facebook page.  Copy and Paste the *crazy prayer request* into the appropriate discussion thread.  For each day you post the correct *crazy prayer request* you will be entered into a drawing to win a copy of one of our favorite books.  The submissions must be made between Monday, January 24th, 2011 and Sunday, January 30th, 2011 in order to be included in the drawing.  If your name is drawn a member of the press will contact you through Facebook in order to obtain your contact information and mail you your prize.

First Draw Prize: The Belgariad Volume 1 by David Eddings (Includes: Pawn of Prophecy, Queen of Sorcery, and Magician’s Gambit)

Second Draw Prize: Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson and Question Quest by Piers Anthony

Third Draw Prize: Moon Called by Patricia Briggs, The Book of Three and The Black Cauldron by Lloyd Alexander

********************************************

Among The Neshelim: My first novel, Among the Neshelim, is now available from Smashwords here, and Amazon here. Print copies are not yet available, but will be soon.

Among the Neshelim

by

Tobias Mastgrave

Understanding. One little word, and yet it means so much. We spend our lives pursuing it in one form or another. We long for it, seek it out, and break ourselves trying to find it. But it is always a rare commodity.

Chin Cao Yu, priest and scholar, has sacrificed all he held dear in its pursuit. Now he undertakes the journey of a lifetime, a journey among the mysterious Neshilim, a people of power unlike any he has seen before – all for the hope of understanding. This journey will turn upside down the world he thought he knew and challenge all of his dearly held beliefs. Has he found the ultimate truth or the ultimate lie? And what will he do with it when he learns?