Christmas in a Winter of Discontent

“Then let us cheerful acquiesce
Nor make our scanty pleasures less
By pining at our state.”

Robert Burns, “Epistle to Davie” (1785)

Contentment is Paul’s theme in the last chapter of his first letter to Timothy, and his famous condemnation of greed should be read as part of his commendation of contentment.  He condemns greed in this oft-quoted and misquoted line.

“The love of money is the root of all evil.”

But he goes on to say that it is the root of all evil because “those who want to get rich fall into many foolish and harmful desires.”  A cursory glance at the lifestyles of the rich and famous confirms his observation, but his point is that the love of money is a symptom of more primal discontents. Continue reading

No More Parades

“Don’t you see how symbolical it was: the band playing ‘Land of Hope and Glory,’ and then the adjutant saying, ‘There will be no more parades’? . . . For there won’t.  There won’t, there damn well won’t . . . No more Hope, no more Glory, no more parades for you and me anymore.  Nor for the country . . . Nor for the world, I dare say . . . None . . . Gone . . . Na poo, finny!  No . . . more . . . parades!” 

Ford Maddox Ford, No More Parades, part. 2, Parade’s End (1925)

In a parade, the very best are presented at their very best, and those who are privileged to see them exclaim with Miranda:

“Oh, wonder!
How many goodly creatures are there here!
How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world,
That has such people in ’t!” Continue reading

The Special Promise of Our Times

 “As a demoralized people cannot do God’s work on earth, he finds fresh tribes to do it.” 

Christian Karl Josias Bunsen, Hippolytus and His Age, vol. 4 (1852)

There is a deep and mysterious connection between morality and morale, as can be seen in the two meanings of the word demoralize.  We say that a man is demoralized when he has relaxed or abandoned his moral discipline, and we also say that he is demoralized when he has sunk into a hopeless malaise and lost his will to live.  This connection between libertinage and lassitude is, as I said, deep and mysterious, but it is an important part of what St. Paul meant when he wrote, “the wages of sin is death.” Continue reading

A Foam-Bell on the River Weird

“But the end of all things is at hand . . .”

1 Peter 4:7.

“Wyrd hath swept away all my kinsmen . . . to the appointed doom.  I must after them.”

Beowulf, Brewster trans. (c. 1000 A.D.)

I recently posted a gloomy reflection on the end of all things.  It was called “The Roar of Our Cataract” and contained some stoical reflections on doom, which is to say fate.  We are all of us doomed, which is to say destined to some end, and we naturally picture our fatal condition as a voyage—without rudder, paddle or oar—down the twisting river of time. Continue reading

The Blandishments of Balaam, the Perfume of Jezebel . . .

“Repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and remove thy candlestick out of his place.” 

Revelations 2:5

The Amazonian synod has polarized Catholics and brought the Church one step closer to schism.  The division should be familiar.  On the one side are progressive Catholics who would like to undertake new works of social justice and environmental conservation, on the other side are conservative Catholics who, the Pope tells us, “think they are so righteous they wind up worshiping themselves.” Continue reading

God Hates a Worthless Watchdog, be that Watchdog Savage, or be that Watchdog Servile

“Everything that opposes the strivings of his egoism awakens his dislike, his anger, his hate: this is the mortal enemy, which he tries to annihilate.”

Arthur Schopenhauer, The Basis of Morality (1840)

If a fly begins to buzz round my nose when I am dozing in a lawn chair, I will strive to kill that fly.  I may begin with a few threatening waves of my arm, but since few flies are daunted by threats, my annoyance will end with a swat.  I desire peace, the fly desires whatever it is that a fly desires, and the resulting clash of our striving egos means there is not enough room in this world for the both of us. Continue reading

Miss-Behavior

“Both Angela Saini and Amy Harmon are ladylike “Well! I never . . .” pearl-clutchers who subscribe utterly to the conventional wisdom of their era and have never had an idiosyncratic thought.”

Steve Sailer, “AntiScientific American Lauds Angla Sani’s Science Denialism,” iSteve Blog, Unz Review, (October 18, 2019)

“It was always the women, and above all the young ones, who were the most bigoted adherents of the Party, the swallowers of slogans, the amateur spies and nosers-out of unorthodoxy.”

George Orwell, 1984 (1948)

Angela Sani is the author of Superior: A Return to Race Science, an equalitarian apologia that equalitarian reviewers have praised as “thoroughly researched, brilliantly written and deeply disturbing.”  Less sympathetic readers have described it as a catechism of what Orwell called goodthink.  As Orwell explained, Continue reading

My World in Fifty-Eight Words

William Blake said that some men could see the world in a grain of sand, and he meant, I believe, that some men could see the portent of things.  It is indeed remarkable how little things can sometimes condense the meaning of an entire world.  Here’s one such little thing that appeared in my mailbox yesterday.  It doesn’t condense the meaning of the world, but it does speak volumes one part of that world for those who have ears to hear. Continue reading

Strengthening the Arm of Our Destroyers

Like many of you, my workplace has been supplied with a poster bearing the slogan “Diversity is Our Strength.”  This challenges the old prejudice that “United We Stand, Divided We Fall.”  The old prejudice was famously illustrated in Aesop’s fable called The Bundle of Sticks, where a father of fractious brothers demonstrates the benefits of unity with an unbreakable fascis (bundle) of sticks.

And we know where that leads.

Continue reading