On becoming educated

For most of my life, indeed until a few years ago, I held a romantic, even exalted, view of academia. What could be more inspiring than a vocation and a community devoted to the life of the mind? One could see university life as a sort of secular monasticism, participation in a tradition unbroken from the High Middle Ages. I was convinced that this was still there underneath despite all the evident corruption, and this is not a belief a man relinquishes without a certain bitterness.

Universities exist to pursue truth. This is consistent with the university espousing a particular belief system–there have historically been Catholic and Marxist universities, for example–so the pursuit needn’t be entirely open-ended. However, I doubt a true university can exist under the DEI ideology because it is not even a comprehensive truth claim about the world, but the assertion of a status hierarchy, an exercise in messaging rather than literal speech.

In common usage, being “educated” means having gone to a Western-style secular school, and being “highly educated” means having gone to college. Thus, for example, it is said that America battled the Taliban so that “Afghan girls could be educated”, and it is said that, in America, all of the “educated” classes vote for the Democratic Party. This usage should be contested. It is false and insulting to so cavalierly assert that Afghan housewives and American plumbers are less knowledgeable in some absolute sense than those with four years of indoctrination in the Regime’s race and gender ideology, as if only Regime ideology counts as knowledge, and not what is picked up from parents, religious tradition, or on-the-job training and experience. From a properly neutral sociological point of view, nearly all human beings are deeply “educated” by their surrounding culture. Illiterate peasants have generally had vast amounts of practical knowledge, familiarity with their natural and social environment, folklore, and a profound inherited sense of their place in the cosmos. If it be contested that some of this knowledge is not scientific in the sense of empirical verifiability, I would say that a greater fraction of it is scientific by this measure than what is taught today in college outside the engineering and medical schools.

Much misunderstanding comes from the false belief that education is the sort of thing that can be acquired in four years. We imagine that we should become educated while young and then have our whole adult lives to apply this education to our work and civic participation. In order to accomplish this, we encourage students to either 1) learn only some narrow specialty, 2) get a general-survey smattering of many subjects, with a heavy dose only of propaganda, or 3) rush through the “great books” with necessarily too little time to digest them and too little maturity to appreciate them. Whatever the value such an expenditure of four years, it should not lead one to the complacent assurance of being educated. I now speak of “education” not in the sociological sense but in the eudaimonic sense of the flourishing of the intellectual aspect of human excellence. In this sense, becoming educated is the work of most of a lifetime. Formal schooling gives only the tools to begin the process of education. Only a minority have the calling to pursue education, and of these only the most gifted can hope to become educated before the age of sixty. By this standard, I am not educated, and though I feel a calling to it, I may never reach the goal. Fortunately, progress in education–like progress in health, wisdom, self-control, and holiness–is valuable in itself even when the full realization remains distant. We must fulfill our duties as workers and citizens–sometimes even as teachers–with partial education.

Continue reading

On the proper attitude of whites toward black people

One’s first thought is that it would be silly to have a single attitude toward a whole race of people. Within any race, some will be admirable, some scoundrels, most unremarkable, all created for eternal glory with God but not all achieving it. However, our culture and its institutions tell us that blacks are the innocent victims of white wickedness. If we were asked to pity them for their poverty and suffering, that would not be a problem. If we were asked to admire them for their courage and resilience, that would not be a problem. One group of people can pity or admire another without any unhealthy psychic stress. Instead, blacks are held up as a rebuke to whites; we are supposed to feel guilty and ashamed of our ancestors and ourselves on account of their/our mistreatment of blacks. Because of this “shameful past and present”, we are not allowed to venerate our ancestors and treasure our culture as all healthy peoples must. Faced with such a demand, the only natural responses from whites are either 1) submission, that is to accept one’s shame, become an “anti-racist” and renounce one’s own people, or 2) resentment, at its most extreme to hate blacks as those who have robbed us of our dignity. Both responses are unjust. Our ancestors are entitled to our pious devotion, and most blacks are decent people who have never done us any harm. The black race, or rather the idea of it, is a tool of the mostly-not black ruling class that indeed hates us. Furthermore, it’s worth remembering that the most faithful branches of the Catholic and Anglican Churches are in Africa, so in ecclesiastic battles, we support the black African bishops against the degenerate heretical bishops from Europe.

So, if we’re not to grovel before blacks, and we are not to resent them, and the culture insists that we not simply judge them as individuals (deciding to ignore race is now said to be itself “racist”, and even if you don’t agree about that, the fact that everyone else is screaming about race makes it impossible for it not to be the first thing you notice about someone), what sort of attitude should we take?

Continue reading

Reading the news with prejudice

I was perplexed by the article about the Kenyan man who “disguises himself as woman, cheats way through championship tournament“. There is plenty of detail about how he disguised himself as a woman, but how did he cheat? And why are there separate chess championships for women anyway?

A few years ago, I decided that I was going to stop even minimally trying to follow progressive / regime-compliant news, opinion, and philosophy. I decided that they were all a bunch of shameless liars who would say anything to stir up hatred for my kind, and there was no reason to subject myself to their abuse. I think a lot of people in both camps made analogous decisions, hence all the talk about “growing polarization”, not having a “shared reality” even as public life becomes ideologically monolithic. Of course, any observation of symmetry between Left and Right must recognize the key asymmetry, namely that the Left has all of the power–over the permanent government, media, professional associations, large and medium-sized businesses, academics, and the internet mob. We cannot totally cut ourselves off from them because they are our bosses, and we must receive the company “statement of values” without complaint.

Lack of reliable news should be cause for epistemic caution. I have grown more skeptical even about received historical facts, now that I see that public life has been a tightly controlled propaganda operation since at least the lead-up to World War II, but knowing this does not mean that I have access to any more reliable record of events. It seems, though, that the more common response to skepticism is credulity; if I don’t have a reliable source of information, I might as well believe whatever is most agreeable. Those whose desire for truth provided insufficient motive were once held in check in their assertions by fear of the embarrassment of being proved wrong on a matter of fact, but now this deterrent is gone. I noticed this first with the accusations during the Kavanaugh nomination, in which everybody seemed quite certain which side was lying, a knowledge always agreeable to their prior political allegiance, even though really none of us could possibly know the truth of the matter. Since then, I’ve been dismayed by this recurring dogmatic partisan spirit regarding empirical matters like vaccine safety, election fraud, and racial differences.

Who is going to win the war in the Ukraine? Everyone I read agrees that the good guys are going to win (and they’re going to start an unstoppable offensive any day now), although they disagree on who the good guys are. My sympathies are with Russia; if she can deal the Satanic American empire a decisive defeat, that would be a wonderful thing. However, because America and the EU are so evil, we must surely expect that the Prince of This World will reward them with victory. Perhaps this is why the war has been drawn out so much longer than anyone had expected. Russia has a massive material advantage of weapons and men, but Ukraine (as America’s puppet) has the spiritual advantage of Satan’s favor.

So far, the FBI’s fear that traditional Catholics are an enemy of the Regime seems to be groundless, but shouldn’t it be true? Shouldn’t we support our brother Christians and Muslims who are fighting this hellish order under which we live? I am encouraged by a story of embarrassing government secrets being leaked by one whom we are being conditioned by the media to despise but who may in fact be an admirably principled young man, reacting as best he could to the Regime’s war against his religion and race.

How is President Biden doing? Here again, let us not let prejudice or wishful thinking do our thinking for us. Most of the things that have happened during his administration that everyone agrees are bad (inflation, urban crime, the war) are not primarily his fault but are mostly consequences of things that happened before he took office (COVID, lockdowns, the BLM crime spree, prior tension between Ukraine’s Western and Eastern-Russian halves, the 2014 coup). I doubt if what followed would have been much different with any other realistic candidate in office, especially given that the unelected government mostly does what it wants regardless. On the other hand, the most wicked things that Biden has done of his own free will–the fanatical advocacy for abortion, child sexual mutilation, indoctrination in schools, and anti-white bigotry–may not be political blunders. Frankly, white Christians are so unpopular, thanks to decades of vilification by media and schools, that he probably gains more good will than he loses by persecuting us. I can well imagine that the value of the dollar might collapse just as my fellow bloggers on the Right have been gleefully predicting, and the Regime will maintain favor with the populace by redoubling its wars on “white supremacy” and “homophobia”, i.e. its war on white Christians. Material immiseration, moral inversion, and tyranny can all go together, so why wouldn’t the world’s prince choose all three?

Why the Orthosphere? An introduction for the cultured middle schooler

This was written with you in mind, Julie, but it got too long, and I wrote that previous, shorter post instead, so you needn’t persevere when this one gets boring. After this, I plan to go back to my usual “complaining about the world to an audience of other adults” mode.

You are intelligent enough to have realized that the newer books, television shows, and the schools have definite opinions about many things, and that–remarkably enough–they all agree with each other. Actually, it’s not so remarkable. That’s how it always is with a ruling ideology. All of the powerful and popular people agree (or, if any don’t, they know to keep quiet about not believing). Not only do they all agree about the wonderfulness of homosexuality, the wickedness of the white race, and so on, but they insist that this is what all decent people believe, that on such matters “there is no other side”.

I have not tried to shelter you from our rulers’ beliefs, which would be impossible anyway. Instead, I have encouraged you to develop more adult reading habits. You have not been exposed to less than your peers but to more. You’ve seen the same Netflix shows they have, but you have also read Anne of Green Gables, A Wrinkle in Time, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lord of the Rings, Oedipus Rex and Antigone, Lovecraft’s horror stories, Dune, and a vast collection of Greek and Norse myths. All of these come from earlier times when beliefs were different and expression not so tightly controlled. I have thought that what you need are not arguments but an imagination that will let you understand the points of view of people from other times and places. Your mind has been broadened enough that, whatever side you take on this or that argument, you will never be taken in by the lie of “there is no other side.”

Continue reading

Random messages: a letter to my daughter Julie

Since you’ve found this blog and find it entertaining enough to make fun of my internet name (the accent goes on the second syllable, by the way–you’ve got your sister calling me “Bonald Buck”), I’m going to give some advice and observations. You’ve heard most of it before, but you’ll have noticed that my mind moves in small circles, and I like to repeat myself.

On Adult Preachiness

I’m pleased that you have inherited my irritation with adult preachiness, and especially teachers speaking outside their subjects to scold us about the world’s problems. The scolds want to show us what good people they are, how much they “care”, but really becoming a better person is the hard work of fighting our own temptations and making personal sacrifices for other people. There’s a reason Jesus said to love our neighbors. The neighbor is the one close by whom you actually have a way to help, and thinking “caring” thoughts about people on the other side of the world is no substitute for honoring our parents, showing kindness to our sisters and schoolmates, and so forth.

There is a lesson in these scolds. It feels good to think that you’re smarter than other people. To think yourself more moral than other people is sweeter still. If it can be had on the cheap, just by criticizing unpopular people, this feels best of all. None of us is immune to the temptation to self-righteousness, least of all people like me who spend their free time blogging! It’s the inclination Jesus criticized most often (see: “pharisees”, “hypocrites”).

On investing our time

I’ve called the time I spent as a kid playing video games a waste, but they’re actually good preparation for life in a sense. Kids seek out games that are difficult but not impossible. Too easy or too hard is no fun. When they lose or get killed, they don’t get frustrated and quit, but practice and get better. Fun is serious work. This is the way to approach schoolwork, flute practice, sports, and growth of spiritual understanding.

Opportunity cost is a really important idea when making decisions. The question is not “is this worth doing?”, but “is this the best way to spend my limited time and money?” A wise economist (Thomas Sowell) was once giving a lecture on some matter of government policy. After listing downsides of one possible policy after another, a lady in the audience became frustrated and asked him “Then what is the solution?” He replied, “There are no solutions. There are only trade-offs.”

Life choices: college and marriage

People talk as if everyone should go to college. For some jobs, one should go to college. However, it’s expensive and time-consuming, so one should only go after coming up with a plan to get a career out of it. It should not be assumed that a degree in some useless subject will automatically lead to a job with lots of money. Some call thinking this way about education “mercenary”, but I think young people with no money making a start in life are forced to be a bit mercenary. I would not even recommend one go to college to study humane subjects like literature, philosophy, or history unless one has a plan to turn it into a career. The humanities are better appreciated as one gains age and life experience and are better pursued as hobbies.

People also tell girls to concentrate on school and career before getting married and having a family, but they don’t tell you that women’ fertility drops greatly starting at around age 30. Many who put off marriage and children never have either. You should be open to the possibility that a desirable future husband will find you in your twenties. You don’t have to get married, but please make the effort to have close friends and to stay close friends with your sister, because you don’t want to be alone when your mother and I die.

On being a Catholic

We teach people religion as children, so we can only teach them the Faith at a level that children can understand. Then they go to college, and their atheist professors teach them atheism at an adult level. So people come away with the impression that religion is childish. As you mature, you will have questions and encounter objections that could not be covered in our 5-6th grade faith formation. It is important to know that the adult version of the Church’s theology is out there and how to find it.

I plead God every night to give you and your sister the grace to remain in the Faith despite the world’s pressures. I admit that in doing so, I am wishing you to be hated by the world and probably suffer for it, but so that you can retain something more precious. Some parents think they should let their children decide their religious and moral beliefs for themselves and not try to influence them. But the schools, Disney, and Netflix certainly intend to influence you, and those whose parents don’t fight back end up adopting the ruling class’s beliefs without even realizing they have done so or that they had any other choices. Because your father is an intolerant and dogmatic Catholic, you are aware that more than one belief is possible. A Christian in today’s world is bound to feel alone and isolated enduring the world’s scorn. It may help to remember that our ancestors and the saints are on our side. Indeed, on those matters where today’s world attacks us (that men and women are made for each other, that ancestors should be revered, and much else), the other great world religions and the great pagans of antiquity stand firmly on our side. Not only Saint Paul and Saint Patrick and Father Damien, but also Aristotle and Cicero, Confucius and Muhammed are with us–not bad company indeed.

The human material

Given the Regime’s constant promotion of those with what seem obvious defects–criminality, perversion, obesity, emotional fragility and narcissism–those on the Right find it gratifying to imagine that our enemies are a conspiracy of those who secretly know they are inferior. No doubt, given that Leftism commands the loyalty of such a large number of people, it has its share of the stupid, the cowardly, the weak, and the petty. However, we’re fooling ourselves if we don’t recognize that, as the official ideology of the Regime, it also commands the loyalty of most of the most industrious and conscientious, the most intelligent and creative, the most zealous and sincere.

You probably remember being a kid in gym, watching as the class was sorted into teams as the team captains took turns taking picks, hoping that you wouldn’t suffer the humiliation of being last pick. I can imagine the teams of our great contest of our time being picked in a similar way, with God and the Devil as team captains, but with the process heavily skewed in the Devil’s favor.

Continue reading

Why didn’t Catholics infiltrate the Freemasons?

In my online circles, it’s not unusual to claim that the Catholic Church was infiltrated by the Freemasons, but the counterfactual in my title will strike readers as preposterous. I won’t argue, but it’s worth asking why it is preposterous. As Henri Daniel-Rops points out, the Freemasons didn’t start out being explicitly anti-Catholic.

Too many writers are prejudiced for or against freemasons, and have argued accordingly. More unfortunately, they endow their concept of freemasonry in the eighteenth century with characteristics that belong rather to the attack it launched against the Church during the nineteenth and twentieth…

Continue reading

Saint Augustine and Final Participation

At the end of The City of God, St. Augustine is trying to puzzle out what the nature of the Beatific vision shall be for the blessed after their bodily resurrection. He considers literal interpretations of the resurrected, spiritual bodies, being able to directly see spiritual beings with their actual eyes, but notes undesirable consequences of this (e.g. does the beatific vision stop when the blessed close their eyes?).

Eventually, he hits on an analogy, of how in this life we see that a person is alive. Life itself is not a body and thus cannot be directly seen. What we directly see are people’s bodies. Shall we say, then, that we don’t see the life of others but only infer it as the most likely explanation of their bodily movements? Augustine doesn’t take this explanation–it isn’t true to our experience of interacting with other people, which involves no such inference or guesswork, at least at a conscious level. Rather, he insists that we do see the life of other men–see it with our eyes–by means of their bodies.

This “seeing” that others are alive can be understood as an example of what Owen Barfield called our “representations”, the structures through which we organize our perceptions prior to consciously thinking about them. Unlike Kant, Barfield thought that these structures evolve as a society’s understanding of the world changes, and he looked forward to a time when men embrace this process as a matter of deliberate, creative world co-creation.

Augustine’s picture of the vision of the blessed follows his analogy. They shall see God’s presence in all bodily things, not through faith or inference as we do, but as immediately as we perceive the presence of life in other living things. They see all things “alive with God”, one might say. In its immediacy, this will be experienced as a bodily vision (enabled by the special quality of “spiritual” bodies) and is in addition to the elevated spiritual perception of the blessed. I find this a very attractive thought. For Augustine, it is to happen as a gift from God, rather than a fruit of our own creative effort, so it is not exactly what Bafield had in mind. However, since it is the state of the blessed where they everlastingly “shall rest and see, see and love, love and praise” in the fullest imaginable sense of intimacy with God and each other, it certainly merits Barfield’s name of “final participation”.

Continue reading