If you do nothing else, please watch the 7:43 video clip above from the much-acclaimed 1981 movie, Reds, to get prepared for our next post, Part II of II. The clip includes a series of scenes, referred to here as “the Scene,” strung together with revolutionary music. The Scene offers an artistic, visual, and musical overview of almost every major worldview theme we could touch on at Praxis Circle that is most relevant to what’s going today in America. In fact, it jumps into the middle of one of the most amazing times in history, bringing creation itself to the fore. In this moment in 1917, human theory and practice exploded as in 1642 in England, 1776 in America, and 1789 in France. Hard to believe, but the Russian Revolution of 1917 is still shaping human history today on a global basis over 100 years later. 

And many Americans thought we were finally done with those Reds in 1989, when the Soviet Union began collapsing for good out in the open.  

A second though lesser request is to listen to Aretha Franklin (by clicking on the 8:29 video below) just long enough to get into a flow for this and the next post. Though lesser, this second request could be even more fun. If you want to play it while reading on, please do. It works at home or work for whatever the problem might be, and it fits squarely here as an overlay for this Two-Part Zoomin’ series. This suggestion might get me into trouble and accused of cultural appropriation; I don’t know. My view is, however, that Ms. Franklin’s music is part of my culture, too, making it kosher to access if I treat her and the song with respect. It’s not about identity at all, however; it’s about love and respect. Of course, it’s r-e-s-p-e-c-t with her. But how could one not have both in this case? For me, it’s easy – like falling off a log. The Queen of Soul has no greater fan since that first heard moment, sometime around age 7. She captivated me and the nation bringing supreme Gospel talent to Soul’s broader and growing audience. Ms. Franklin reminded we Southerners of others we knew well and loved who were central within our everyday lives. 

As an R&B and Soul singer, Ms. Franklin might one day somehow be equaled, but she will never be surpassed. 




In 2008 Reds was voted #9 in the Top 10 of American movies of all time, and the scene from Reds we offer above is one of its best. It’s a summary, really, of countless thoughts from the movie and the events it portrays that cannot be put into words. Reds might have been Warren Beatty’s greatest moment as a film professional, though he’s had many. It might be his finest film creation. For Reds, Mr. Beatty was nominated for an Academy Award in each of the three primary categories – director, writer, and actor – something only two have accomplished. He actually won the Best Director Oscar, though the movie itself lost to Chariots of Fire. The Oscar competition in 1981 was fierce and stakes were extremely high, like the events the two movies feature. 

In sum, Reds presents the life of John Reed, the American journalist and socialist who covered the Russian Revolution. The Bolshevik Party, which became the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, so revered John Reed that he’s buried today inside the Kremlin. Mr. Reed achieved lasting fame when he wrote Ten Days That Shook the World (1919), an account of 1917’s October Revolution. I read it back in the 1970’s, and it’s an exciting book. 

Oddly to me, anyway, Reed and I share the same birthday, October 22, and interests in Marxism, though his was a true life-lived passion. In real life six years after graduating from Harvard, Mr. Reed married Louise Bryant, the woman, of course, in the above scene played by Diane Keaton. Reed and Bryant were married in Provincetown, Massachusetts, though they maintained an actively open relationship during their lives together. They did not have children. An interesting aside, Provincetown happens to be where the Pilgrims first landed on Cape Cod and signed the Mayflower Compact in 1620, exactly 400 years ago this November. Our last fun fact of the day is that Provincetown is where fictional characters and similarly Bohemian Paxton Quigley and Tobey Clinton live together. This is before Tobey’s parents find out and put a stop to it in the movie, Three in the Attic, reviewed briefly in our last Circling Post. 

“This is getting weird,” you say? But the facts get spookier.  

Lenin himself liked theater and read Ten Days soon after publication. He provided an introduction in 1922 for its second publication. As portrayed later in the movie, Reed died in 1920 in Moscow at age 32 from typhus, while holding Louise’s hand. She had returned to Russia just in time. Reed had just reintroduced her since 1917 to Lenin, Trotsky, and other Bolshevik revolutionaries. After Reed’s death, Lenin supported Bryant’s journalist efforts in Russia covering the ongoing Revolution. Bolsheviks and their supporters in America loved Ten Days. Stalin alone hated it. His reason was Reed assigned him a minor role in the Revolution. Not surprisingly, Stalin banned Ten Days, and it was re-circulated years later after Stalin’s death. 

This post and the next address why the Reed/Bryant and Quigley/Clinton couples were intelligent and beautifully idealistic, but not wise. For reasons offered in the next two posts, they could reasonably be criticized as being swept up by events to the point of being out of touch with reality. Communist parties were outlawed in the U.S. during World War I; the survival of nations, cherished ways of life, and the maintenance of deep, incompatible differences were at stake. In Reed’s and Bryant’s defense, however, we know today getting college degrees from Harvard, Willard, Fulton, or Faber in combination with life experience of only thirty years doesn’t necessarily confer wisdom. In fact, as evidenced by the lives of the three Russian revolutionaries pictured above – left-to-right Stalin (74 years lived), Lenin (53),  and Trotsky (60) – a long lifetime can’t confer wisdom either (see words linked to the left in blue at top). Easy to say years later as a detached observer, right? That would be correct. Yet this is how truth often surfaces. 



In any case, to get back to 1981’s Best Picture Award, the Reds versus Chariots of Fire rivalry suggests a primary theme also portrayed in the Scene above: the relationship between the Creator God and Human God Narratives (the CGN and the HGN) or, stated another way, the West’s ongoing conflict between theism and secularism. Both are religions, as it is possible to define religion. In the case of the Russian Revolution, religion might be defined as a belief of supreme, personal importance used to justify killing others. Unfortunately, humans are religious creatures under every definition imaginable. We have mentioned the CGN versus HGN conflict before (see book reviews down the page of Book #1 and #3, as one example). All we can do today is mention the theme again, though it will be constantly expanded well into the future.

The Scene’s CGN-HGN theme tip-off is the Christmas tree near the end and John and Louise’s Holiday celebration. The couple is joyous because the people’s revolution is succeeding, and many socialists in Europe had the genuine hope of worldwide revolution that would usher in socialism and what we would call today social justice. They were expecting along with the three revolutionaries in the picture above a Marxist Apocalypse.

With Christmas, Writer, Director, and Actor Warren Beatty is associating America with the secular Russian Revolution and with its type of freedom mentioned in the movie’s trailer linked above and again here. At the end of the trailer, the narrating voice says, “I’d like to know what your idea of freedom is.” Well, the main point of A Journey over time will be to answer this profound worldview question. The West has defined itself by making freedom the center of its own version of civilization, but how we do that properly is the rub. What is at stake is the legacy of the Mayflower arriving in Provincetown in 1620, the Susan Constant, Godspeed, and Discovery in Jamestown in 1607, and the American Revolution beginning in 1776. 

To zero in more on specifics the the CGN-HGN issue as it relates to the Russian Revolution: Was the Revolution the result of atheist Marxism or the consequences of centuries of Christian praxis in the West and Russia? The answer is not as obvious as one would think. This argument is well out there in academia today, as future posts will show. 

My argument is “no Christianity, no Marxism.” Of course, no one could claim that the Bolsheviks and Reed were not mostly atheists and driven predominantly by very good intentions; they risked their lives without question in remarkable ways for the good of regular, desperate people. Nonetheless, Christian democratic values had been growing in Russia for centuries before Marxism was applied to Russia in the late 1800’s. Most Russians wanted a way out of their national predicament well before and during World War I, and it was the Bolsheviks who supplied an answer with the most force.

As we know, Marxism would prove a terrific tool for revolution during the rest of the 20th Century. Yet it showed itself largely ineffective for governing after the revolution, beyond maintenance of control. The next two posts will outline some of the obvious reasons.

Admittedly, any theism versus secularism theme displayed in Reds was almost certainly unintentional on Beatty’s part. He was born here in Richmond, Virginia and raised Baptist in a traditional family, primarily in Arlington, Virginia near Washington, DC. Of course, he has a famous sister, Shirley MacLaine, with a New Age worldview, and his well-known American politics are outside a standard deviation moving to the Left. Clearly, Mr. Beatty was a Jack Armstrong-like All-American young man. He is as American as apple pie. His abilities in cinema are equally astounding, and he has exhibited stardom in every way. Yet, I suspect in  using Christmas symbols in the Scene, Mr. Beatty was probably trying to gain sympathy from his lead-off audience in the U.S. or showing John and Louise’s American cultural connection. What the heck. Who could resist such scenes with Diane Keaton, a fascination for plenty of top actors? 

The Scene shows Trotsky then Lenin in proper sequence. Reed is correct in Ten Days – Lenin and Trotsky were indeed the primary movers of the Russian Revolution, not Stalin. Stalin admitted this in writing. In effect, Trotsky was the revolutionary operating leader, and this critical role carried into the deadly Russian Civil War. During the 1917 Revolution, Lenin was the Bolshevik Party’s uncontested boss and Trotsky his close #2. The Three Amigos pictured above worked well together to produce a great revolution that survived for 72 years, but, like Mafia Dons, they were always suspicious of each other.

In 1924 Lenin died of stroke; the pressure had exhausted him. His was an untimely, perhaps tragic death for the Revolution. Stalin had carefully consolidated his Party power as General Secretary by then, a post Trotsky considered back-office administrative and boring. Like a skilled chess payer, Stalin succeeded in ousting his arch-rival Trotsky from Russia in 1928. He had Trotsky assassinated in Mexico in 1940.

In other words, Stalin wound up on top and managed to live to a ripe old age. Fate gave him time to become the second greatest murderer of all time behind Chairman Mao. Granted, who is #1 is somewhat debatable due to difficulty in connecting intent with result. Chairman Mao was better at remaining modestly formless. Clearly, however, Stalin’s sinister intents and results became a go-to management style. They brought him pleasure and are beyond anyone’s question today.

Going forward after today, my argument will be that this catastrophic result was not only the function of one evil man, but also of Marxist theory and a version of atheism itself, called scientific materialism. Stalin could not have accomplished his megalomaniac plans without the help of at least some millions located all around the globe.



To circle back to the first paragraph at top, the Scene elegantly shows important moments of the 1917 Russian Revolution in continuous stream illustrating how praxis works in history. All good script and narrative writing does this. (See Robert McKee’s classic book, Story, about script writing mentioned near the top in the post just linked.) Revolutionary leaders, the people, ideas, and reality all merge into one time and place. Of course, regardless of worldview in the West, the Singularity goes back to creation, and, with monotheism, to the first two people. Theists think God accomplishes this with human help, and most secularists think man does it all with a bit of luck.

How did we get here? Who and what are we? How much is determined, and how much is free will? Why does that matter? These are all worldview questions Reds dramatizes that influence life and death for millions. Such history doesn’t stop.

Which finally gets us to back Aretha Franklin and the title of this post. The Reds Internationale theme music that plays during most of the Scene is perfect. It embodies the work of the people in coming together to throw off the yoke of an oppressive and inept monarchy. The Czarist regime of Nicholas II had outlived its time. How could Nicholas have tolerated a nutcase like Rasputin in his own household? That was not a good sign of leadership. Eventually, power went to the people in St. Petersburg and Moscow, and then throughout Russia in the spirit of the Internationale musical theme. That profound music had inspired socialists and others on the Left since it was first written in 1888. It continues to do so today.

Many ancients recognized music was invisible like the wind, yet its magnificent beauty can instantly capture the romantic heart with one shot. This is what beauty does – it captures the human heart and connects reality to God. They also recognized that human beings create it like gods themselves. Hence high civilization with symphonies and cathedrals in which to play and sing.

What music should we be playing as Americans? I can’t answer that one. 

But I can say with 20-20 hindsight, given the events soon to follow in 1917’s Revolutionary Russia, that the Queen of Soul’s song about red passion’s romantic zoomin’ might have been more accurate than the Internationale. As Communist power engulfed Russia spreading outward, power consolidated inward behind an absolute and evil dictator. Stalin had been a brutal thug all his life. The fascinating events that followed Russia’s Christmas in 1917 involved the three revolutionaries pictured above, the Bolshevik Party, all fellow Russian countrymen, and the nations of the world. There was World War I, the Russian Civil War, the multiple Russian internal terrors and trials, World War II, and the Cold War. The too-many-to-count bloody conflicts that followed 1917 would be continuous and would draw in all nations.

We are all in this life together. Today, there would be no excuse for not seeing it coming. We need wisdom from our president, yes, but the “buck stops” duty is with each citizen.

No doubt, we’re working it out ourselves in America’s streets right now, where all lives have equal importance. Given the Covid-19 and George Floyd tragedies, we need the love, but also better solutions than John Reed reported on from Russia. Violence perpetuates itself.     

Next time, I’ll offer the rest of 1917’s worldview story when continuing my tribute to Dr. Samuel Baron in Who’s Zoomin’ Who? Part II.