“‘Passive evangelism’ goes both ways, and you don’t look winsome to the abyss without it looking winsome back to you, or, more importantly, to your kids.”
The epigraph comes from a review of Rod Dreher’s Benedict Option (2017) by the intermittent but invariably impressive blogger known as Handel. I strongly encourage you to read the whole review here, but advise you to first brew a very large coffee, since it is very long. For those who are too harried or impatient for that, it may be enough to know that Handel says to Dreher what Aragorn said to Frodo after the calamity at the Prancing Pony. Continue reading →
Personal circumstances have given me occasion to think about the resentment that naturally festers between young men who are trying to get ahead and old men who are trying to hold on. To a young man, an elderly colleague appears as a creaky and long-winded valetudinarian, who dresses funny, probably doesn’t smell very nice at close quarters, and may be suspected of napping when his office door is closed. To an old man, a youthful colleague appears as a brash and bumptious braggart, who dresses funny, probably doesn’t smell very nice at close quarters, and may be suspected of sexual improprieties when his office door is closed. Continue reading →
There are students who will wrangle for every possible point, and like the proverbial penny-pincher, I suppose these inveterate wranglers wind up richest in the end. “A point here, a point there, and before you know it, you’re talking a whole a whole letter grade. And, you know, that G.P.A isn’t going to raise itself.” Continue reading →
Those Highly Individuated Champions of the Oppressed Bravely Hiding their Faces
When Publius Virgilius Maro, more familiarly Virgil, accepted the commission from Augustus, formerly Gaius Octavius, to create a national identity for the Roman people by matching the epic precocity of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey in Latin verse, the imperial presumption can only have been that such an identity did not yet exist or, at least, did not adequately exist, but required to be conjured into a useful state of being. Virgil’s famous ambiguity about his manuscript of the Aeneid – his having composed a note during his fatal illness asking his friends to burn its pages on his death – has been ascribed by one faction of scholarship to his worry about metrical imperfections in some verses of the poem’s second half. As only a few such technical flaws make themselves evident, however, some other explanation must be sought. The German novelist Hermann Broch, in his Death of Virgil (1945), suggests a crisis of conscience, reflecting the poet’s qualm that in synthesizing a myth of Latin and Roman origins so as to settle legitimacy on the adoptive heir of Julius Caesar, and thus also on the newly constituted monarchy into which the Republic had been absorbed, he had falsified tradition and served propaganda, whereas his highest calling was to honor the muse by cultivating her art. The crisis of identity appears as a theme in the Aeneid, the first six books of which narrate the exile and homelessness of the refugees from Troy, whose buildings the besieging Greeks have toppled and burned, whose men they have slaughtered, and whose women and children they have impressed into slavery. Troy is no more and no more is the Trojan people. There is only a desperate remnant in the urgency of its flight. Continue reading →
“It is at once humane and just to give preference to one’s friends.” (1)
The notion of merit is very dear to the right liberal. Whenever he hears of favoritism, the right liberal begins to shift uneasily in his chair and may attempt to ease his discomfort by issuing a warm discourse on the utility and morality of merit. He has a bad case of what men hipper than I might call, “Muh merit.” Continue reading →
[I have so revised Utilitarianism: yet another sacrificial cult, including insights from my article The Trolley Problem Explained, and from thoughts arising from teaching this topic, that I am publishing this new version with a new title.]
Utilitarianism represents a nadir in philosophical moral reasoning, more corrupting and evil even than the spontaneous tendency to scapegoat.
Before Plato, the Ancient Greek attitude to morality was “help your friends, harm your enemies.” Modern people can see that such a point of view is grotesquely immoral. It is a description of corruption. Plato’s suggestion was “harm no one.” This is obviously a vast improvement.
The Bible states that “you should love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus took this even further and said “love your enemy.” Continue reading →
It is obvious that all the things that pass away do indeed pass away. It is therefore silly to search among the things that pass away for something that does not. It is even sillier to conclude from the necessary failure of that search that there are no things that do not pass away.
That would be like searching for infinity among the numbers, and having failed to find it, concluding that there is no such thing as infinity.
I do not delight in dance. Forced to dance, I am clumsy; forced to watch dance, I am bored; so although David danced before the ark and Socrates would have danced naked before Menexenus, I leave the terpsichorean rites alone. But if one who leaves these rites alone may venture an opinion, I believe dancing should remain a rite. My employer disagrees. I just this morning saw that students at this university can earn a Bachelor of Science degree in “Dance Science.” Continue reading →
To my recent post on the internal logic of the Fall, in which I argued that under that logic the Fall was liberation from a cruel delusion that YHWH is anyone special, and so a turn toward hard good solid real truth, in which its advocates, both human and demonic, as basically nice guys, could not but do their best to convince us to follow them in their rebellion against YHWH and his Father El Elyon, our loyal leftist atheist commenter and friend a.morphous had this to say, God bless and keep and save the poor man:
Maybe we differ [about the Fall] because you think it would be better for it not to have happened. I disagree that this is desirable, but I don’t really have an argument, it’s more a matter of esthetics. Sinless and perfect humans would not be very interesting, and would be less than fully human.