When the Living Ain’t Easy

“The people very indolent and wicked and depending mostly upon game and their herds.  All very friendly and free to give information.” 

A. W. Moore, Journal of a Tour in Texas (1846).

A. W. Moore was a Mississippi planter who made a tour of Texas in 1846, scouting land with an eye to moving west. He wrote this line just north of here, in the sand hills of Robertson County, very near to the place where Aunt Jemima would later be buried. The people he describes were poor whites of the class that folks back east called crackers or tackeys, and they here displayed their usual lack of ambition, enterprise and good order. Continue reading

Ahrimanic and Luciferic Evil

Bruce Charlton has recently written interesting things about what he calls Ahrimanic Evil.  Ahriman is the spirit of darkness in the Zoroastrian theogony, but Charlton uses the term in the specialized sense it was given by the anthroposophist Rudolf Steiner.  Like Zoroaster, Steiner saw that Ahriman hates the light, but Steiner refined this idea by identifying light with the creative evolution of the human spirit.  Steiner’s Ahrimanic Evil is therefore present in every effort to prevent creative evolution of the human spirit by keeping men and women in the dark about spirit. Continue reading

Is America a Vampire?

“We need immigrants to take all the different kinds of jobs that the country needs — improve our culture, our cuisine, our religion, our dialogue and certainly improve our economy.” 

Michael Bloomberg speaking at a Mexican restaurant in Phoenix, Arizona, November 26, 2019.

A vampire is a species of the unquiet dead.  Unlike a specter or wraith, the dead soul of a vampire remains an incarnate being bound to its body.  This body spends much of its time dormant in its grave, but periodically awakens and by strange powers passes through the earth to stalk the upper world.  On these nocturnal forays, a vampire is, of course, wont to suck the blood of sleeping men and women, thereby infecting them with its vampirism, but also refreshing its body with the antidote to physical decay.

“In consequence of these practices, the persons sucked became weak and emaciated; the corpse of the vampire, on the contrary, was found, even after long interment, fresh, florid, and full of blood.”*

Continue reading

A Digressive Essay on Several Subjects Connected with Greta Thunberg

Back when we were all becoming acquainted with the glowering face of Greta Thunberg, a student told me that he was planning to participate in a “walkout” to show solidarity with that petulant phony.  Since the surprise and size of a walkout are essential to its impact, this heads-up suggested a different sort of protest.  It suggested that it was a protest by apple polishers who want to get ahead. Continue reading

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