How in the world are politics, religion and Advanced Squad Leader(ASL) connected you might ask – perhaps right after you ask what the heck Advanced Squad Leader is (Wikipedia does a fair description of that).
Here is the thing. On principle, I have often thought and occasionally said out loud, that the honorable thing for a retired military officer to do, upon retirement, is to either teach, write, ‘manage the family property’, or basically become a dilettante. Few of us have ‘family land’ to go back to and manage these days, so that is out. I gave teaching a shot, but it was not what I hoped it would be. I also did a little ‘dirty work’ I am ashamed to say. I took a government service position for a very short period of time, for a specific purpose. I also took a government contract for a bit, but I recovered from that nastiness!
Thus, I turned to writing. From about November of 2019 until very recently, I believe I have written about 90% of everything I want to say. I covered culture and why I think we believe what we believe snd how it went wrong (Philosophy of Commonsense), why I think Christianity is correct (Commonsense Case for Christianity) and finally, what Christians out to be doing now that the culture is becoming increasingly hostile (Retrenchment: Christian Defense of Permanent Things). If I were inclined to do so, I would edit a sentence here and there in those three books, but at this point, they stand as they are.
On my blog, I wrote and expanded on these topics. I said a lot about the culture war, religion, and politics but mostly I tried to stick to principles – first principles. I argued that things are the way they are because of evil – simple enough but often forgotten. I argued that even classical liberalism was flawed, Locke and Hobbes were wrong in their view of the state of nature. I stand by all that, but there is not a lot more to say on the subject.
After having said (written that is) most of my words I made a critical mistake. I thought I should engage in the public square with these ideas. I took to Twitter in December of 2019 (@onlyBarryLClark). What an odd place, it is not really built to talk about principles. A happy retirement cannot consist of fighting the Twitter-War, not for me. In any event, with the election coming up, there is very little interest out there in principles, folks only want to talk memes and politics, never first principles.
So, for now, I have written all I have to say about political theory and politics. I suspect I will reengage the day after the presidential election. One way or another, I suspect that will prove pivotal for future history.
Through all of this, we have struggled to find a church home. This is an ongoing problem. We have been long time visitors in a few churches (one after the other) and simply cannot find the right place. We attended an ECO Presbyterian Church for the last year and a half, but I recently decided my conscience will not allow me to join that denomination. My pastor is there, my wife enjoys it, but I cannot join them. If only there were an Associate Reformed Presbyterian church near me. The wife may end up joining the ECO church, we will attend there Sunday mornings and I may end up joining a PCA church and participating in their men’s Bible study. It is a half solution. I plan to attend the ARP Synod in June in Flat Rock, NC. Perhaps this is as close as I can come to finding a home.
With the SBC about to fracture over a couple of issues, ECO having error, PCA not being perfect, the megachurch worrying me, etc., etc. – it is simply not productive for me to write any more on these issues. I will write a report and summary from the ARP Synod in June but I am going to go silent on theological matters for a bit.
There is more I want to write. I plan to write a book about the familial, cultural and religious legacy of Alexander Clark. It will be a book about both the genealogy of a family and of a culture of ideas and principles. His descendants spread far and wide, from Appalachia and into South Carolina to Tennessee, Arkansas, and Texas. I think I will call it Being Clark: The Religious and Cultural Heritage of Alexander Clark. Perhaps next year, we will see.
Coming up, I have taken a position with the U.S. Census as an Area Supervisor; I will spend the summer doing that. I have often wondered, while out at Lowes or Walmart mid-week, just who are these people around me. Perhaps getting out and about with the Census will tell me that. I also see it as a way to ‘do my duty’. The Census is a Constitutional requirement, I get to be a small part of history. As a genealogist, the Census is a big deal, I get to help execute one.
I say all that to say – I think I have written all I need to write for a while, about principles at least. I have other things to do.
So Dilettante it is then
I recently dusted off some boxes from my youth – Advanced Squad Leader. This is no mere game mind you, it is much more. I still have such fond memories of my introduction to the game (Squad Leader then) with Billy McGowan and Jack Vardy circa 1982.
I recently dropped some coin acquiring some parts I am missing. A new friend Mark Sockwell helped me by providing some digital resources. Multiman Publishing has taken over nicely where Avalon Hill left off. Lastly, there are still numerous third-party vendors out there making and selling components.
I think it is a perfectly acceptable hobby for a gentleman to engage with complex historical tactical simulation. It has been done for centuries by folks like me. This then is something I will spend much of my time doing. I may even write about it from time to time.
The wife and I are still in serious negotiations related to where I am allowed to set up shop. There is a perfectly good, and unused bedroom downstairs that I would like to convert. There are plenty of other options for guests. Thus far she has only conceded to my partial use and will not agree to allow me to remove the bed. Once I convince her or that, life will be grand!
I patiently await the arrival of two additional core modules, several addon components, my pocket charts, and extra maps. This is all very exciting.
I cannot write anything that will change the world. Few are interested in principles and most see a person that stands firmly on principles as out of touch. However – I can get lost some afternoons in historical tactical simulation with Advanced Squad Leader and this new world of wonderful folks that still enjoy the hobby. Life is good!