Monday, July 29, 2013

Viva Cristo Rey!

Last night my family and I finally got around to watching For Greater Glory. The movie is based on a true story of the Cristero War (1926-1929) which broke out in Mexico as a result of President Plutarco Elias Calles' harsh enforcement of the Mexican Constitution of 1917 which forbade religious services, the wearing of church vestments, and any display of religious belief etc. The war broke out after a period of peaceful resistance which had not achieved anything, but had only worsened the treatment of the clergy. It came to blows in 1926, beginning the 3 year war which would claim 90,000 lives before its conclusion. Finally in 1929, an agreement between Calles and the Cristeros was reached, mainly because of Papal and U.S intervention. The movie begins in '26 but spans the length of the war, following the individual parts of several different Cristeros, both men and women, who devoted their lives to establish religious freedom during the war and supported it by military and non-military means. Those featured in the movie include Enrique Gorostieta, a former general who joined the Cristeros, Anacleto González Flores, who aided the cause in a non-combat role, José Reyes Vega, a priest who took up arms and fought with Gorostieta, Victoriano "El Catorce" Ramírez and José Luis Sánchez del Río, a fourteen year old boy who joined the Cristeros and was tortured and killed by the Federales (Mexico Federal troops)
My personal opinion of the movie was that it was absolutely excellent. The plot was great, the actors were superb and the message was beautiful, and also very thought-provoking. Something which made the movie's impression on me even stronger, was the fact that these men really did exist and really did die during the war for their religious beliefs. I was particularly impacted by the faith of José del Rio, the young boy, whose faith was extremely convicting and made me think very seriously about the costs and the glories of following Christ as demonstrated in the events leading up to his death. his sacrifice definitely makes one think about the state of their own faith and wonder if they could be as strong as him when faced with similar trials.

 I was impacted by the stories of the other characters as well, but I do not want to spoil anything for those of you who have not seen it yet, so I will only say that they were good too, although Jose's had a greater impact on me.

As to the film as a whole, the music was excellent (but of course, James Horner did it so how could it not be?) and the special effects and screenplay were also very well done. (But then, it was directed by LotR visual effects supervisor Dean Wright, so why wouldn't they be?) For a final rating then, the movie gets 5 out of 5 stars, which means I recommend this movie to all appropriate audiences (it is a rated R movie) and close with: Viva Cristo Rey!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

My Story-Iron Will

Well, I have decided to post the beginning of one of the multiple books I am working on right now, although for this one I have about 100 pages not included here which I plan to post a chapter of each week. (Note: the book will have to be accessed via my sidebar, as I plan on continuing to make regular posts in addition to this) This book, along with several of my other ones, is set in a country of my own imagination slightly larger than Australia. I originally planned on submitting this to the newspaper of our Literary Society, ( but decided to post it here instead, so for all the members of that society who would like to read one of my books, here it is. The teaser may be a bit confusing, but as you read further into the book you will understand why it is included. Sometime I plan on posting a map to give you a visual of the country. Tell me what you think!

Shots echo from down the street and the eruptions of cannon shot ricochet along the walls to the ears of a victim of war, bringing back unwelcome memories of barracks and foxholes in Westarn. Shadows crossed his mind of the bodies he saw shattered, the places he saw demolished, and the lives destroyed. Faces, familiar now from repeated remembrance, clutter his brain in an effort to crush him. He stands looking over the river. Lightning illuminates his face as a tree crashes to the ground. Rain streaks his face, scarred from battlefields and fortresses which fill his mind with unwanted memories. His face is pale, drawn and intense with pain. His hair is tossed back by the wind and he lurches to the rail of the bridge, desperation clouding and fogging his already troubled brain nearing destruction. He closes his eyes for a moment and sees faces, bodies, flags, forts all demolished, dead, torn and ripped. Blame pours into his mind and fingers thrust themselves into his face. Lighting strikes the bridge and misery weighs his shoulders down and pushes him to his knees. The troubled river below him matches the state of his mind and he falls backwards in agony.

He stood looking into the basin below, swept by a thunderstorm. He was high enough up to be able to see the individual storm cell, and the dust rising up from the pelting rain, but on the mountain the skies were clear and a strong breeze blew, ruffling his too-long hair and whipping his cloak about him. His arms were crossed and rested on the butt of two pistols stuck in his crude leather belt. His feet were spread squarely apart and his head held high as he surveyed the hidden valley below cloaked with mist and fog as the early morning clouds lifted off to reveal the lush, green mountain valleys. There were two kinds of people to him: those in the plains and those in the hills. Farmers, ploughboys, soldiers, clerks and merchants, and mountain men, adventurers, hunters and survivors of a long lasting race of men with superior physical form, lungs, instincts, and survival knowledge than those in the plains and the foothills sweeping down from the Carrock Range. Their bearing was dignified and stern, much like the soldiers of the plains, the only ones who bore any resemblance to them. He took a drink from his water canteen and looked over at the sun, setting in a brilliant sea of oranges, pinks and purples till it disappeared behind the Wavelock Mountain Range which bordered the Eastern Sea. It disappeared, and he turned to go.
              Times were changing in Glasgow. The brief peace they had enjoyed since The Great War hung on the edge of a knife as the people rose in rebellion against Lord Governor Williams and his general Rupert Collings. The rebels, led by Captains Richard Lindsey and Nathaniel Greene, two young ambitious commanders who once held high positions in Glasgow’s army, were growing in numbers and as spring gave way to the vigorous summer campaigning season, Glasgow’s leading officials began to organize the Glasgowian army. The officials held the rebels in contempt and felt quite secure in their ability to crush the spark of rebellion before it set Glasgow on fire. The rebels’ position was not yet known, however, to the Glasgowian leaders. It was known that they had retreated northwards but there were numerous places they could’ve gone. The Glasgowian leaders’ largest concern was that the Dracian army would join the rebels and take over Glasgow with their combined forces. The rebels alone proved no threat. Our aforesaid character’s name was Jakin, and he stood atop the mountain in the Carrock Range which overlooked the town of Kenneth, the Glasgowian Royal Corps headquarters, barely visible from that dizzying height of three thousand feet. His station with a battalion of the Royal Corps was the reason he stood there at dusk that night, but his thoughts were not on the Royal Corps, but on a face he had left on a nearby mountain six years before.
              From the time he was two till he was sixteen, Jakin had lived in the wilds of many places along the Carrock Range in Glasgow and had traveled various other regions in the Alliance of Seven. The alliance was formed after the seven regions rose up against the tyranny of the Five Kingdoms resulting in their victory at the end of The Great War. The Five Kingdoms were subdued and the kingdoms were split up among the Seven to form a new and enlarged Seven Regions. Jakin was twenty-three at this time. Twenty years before his father had fought and died at the Battle of Beryn on the coast of Westryn, the southernmost region in the Seven. Jakin’s mother had died in the Rosetta Massacre on the southern border of Glasgow and his uncle had taken him north to the Richmond Hills, a place in the region to the west of Glasgow, called Xenith, to which the fires of war had not yet spread. The war ceased when Jakin was three years old and his uncle, ashamed for not joining the army in his country’s time of need, rode south to aid the wounded troops and capture the southern five kings, leaving Jakin in the hands of his brother in law, Jakin’s uncle Richard, of the house of Windsor. Jakin had never considered reclaiming his estate at Windsor. After the war, many of the estates changed hands, but by law it was still his. Jakin’s uncle disappeared to Ryndor Range when Jakin was twelve, and Jakin never heard from him again. His uncle had taught him all the necessary arts to survive by himself in the wild, however, and he was able to fend for himself in their small cabin in the easternmost part of Carrock Range until he was sixteen. When Jakin was sixteen he had traveled to Eastmarsh where he rendered service to the Duke of Orland, engaged in a bitter struggle with rebels whose leader had fought for the Five Kingdoms in the Great War. He was hung, and Jakin left the duke in a rage for that atrocity. Two years on the frontier had shown Jakin all the horrors of war. His best friends had died and he himself was made convict for deserting the duke before the duke had given him permission to leave. Back in Glasgow he had tried to avoid all conflict with the rebels, but when he was unexpectedly drafted his hopes for peace were overturned.  

Monday, July 15, 2013

These Are the Times

Here is a picture I took and edited a few days ago that I thought I'd post here. The quote, one of my favorites, is from Thomas Paine, (1737-1809) a journalist hero of 1776 who wrote a collection of works which aided in refuting Loyalist view, stirring up the people and calling them to arms against Great Britain during the Revolutionary War. This particular quote is the opening paragraph of one of the pamphlets he wrote called, The American Crises Papers  Other works by T. Paine include Common Sense, (his most well known work) Agrarian Justice, The Age of Reason, and the Rights of Man which was a work defending the liberties of the French people in 1789 and 1790 against Edmund Burke and the one I am reading right now. Thomas Paine was a fiery debater and journalist whose spirit and sarcastic style did not win him favor amongst the rhetoric arguers during that time period but was not necessarily condemnable by them when it brought them to a swift and crushing defeat in their arguments with him. (To better see the quote, click on it to magnify)
Text of the quote:

These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives everything its value.
                                                                                      Thomas Paine

Thursday, July 11, 2013

A Patriot's History of the United States

The following is a narration I did in school for A Patriot's History of the United States by Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen. The background for this narration is the scene of the 1776-1787 period of time. I plan to post another one next week. Tell me what you think!

From the very beginning of the Revolution until recent times, the sovereignty, power and independence of the states along with the accountability of its representatives, the sanctity of constitutions and the importance of religious virtues were well-accepted and well respected in the colonies. After the breach between the colonies and Britain, the people of America were given the opportunity to forge a nation in the fires of an age where political thought and political discussions were so rampant and so universal and when virtue reigned supreme over most of the colonists as a result of the Great Awakening. The Age of Enlightenment had not quite dawned on the entire world when the Revolution broke out, but signs of it could be seen in the construction and ratification of the Articles of Confederation as well as the Constitution. The setting was ripe for the forging of a nation and the background of the colonists was perfect for the construction of a perfect government founded on principle. They were also aided by the peak upon which they were able to stand and glance retrospectively upon all previous forms of government so as to avoid the corruption those nations had faced and fallen because of. In accordance, the founders established a system of government which was officially ratified in 1781, leading to the writing of the Constitution and its presentation in 1787, followed by its complete adoption in 1789, which was the year it came into effect.
Religions other than some form of Christianity were a small minority in the colonies at this time. Quakers, Puritan, Anglicans, Unitarians, Baptists, Protestants and some Catholics took up the majority of the people. This widespread religious feeling was caused by the de-emphasizing of the clergy in the lives of individuals. People were able to read the Bible for themselves, own one, interpret one and not worry about relying on a member of the clergy. Ecclesiastical traditions were fading as more and more people realized that they were not necessary. All the great colleges of America, Yale, Harvard, William and Mary, Princeton, Georgetown and Brown University, were founded by religious organizations or members from the churches of Unitarians, Jesuits, Baptists, Puritans, Quakers and Anglicans, revealing the fact that religious feelings were intertwined with intellegencia as well as in the chapel, church or everyday life.
After the Revolutionary War was over, people began to push westward over the ‘boundless mountains’ to find free or cheap land in the vast expanses of the frontier. Trailblazers like Daniel Boone were among those striking out west. An act passed by Congress allowed for widespread expansion and homesteading which encouraged the colonists, or Americans, as we should now call them, to press westwards in an attempt to find a new and cheaper life on the frontier. Gradually, as Congress and the Chairman of the Territorial Committee, Thomas Jefferson, realized that land would be an easy way for quick revenue, surveyors were sent out by the government to survey 640 acre plots of land to be made into townships which could be sold at two dollars an acre. Homesteaders moved west faster than federal agencies were able to survey however, and hundreds of acres were obtained by the adventurous trailblazers for free. According to U.S census in the late 1700s, over 250,000 people had pushed westwards and nearly five thousand had pushed into the northwestern states of the Ohio and Indiana area. People were also beginning to realize the unity of the states with the federal government, as the federal government began managing treaties with Indians, Spanish and British. They were beginning to look like one nation.