Selling Beer and Making Whoopee: A Note on Juneteenth

“The time has come in Dallas when the Juneteenth celebration has about gotten down to a contest over the question as to who will sell beer to the crowd.  Unless it rises above this dirty place it should be stopped, for the celebration is a farce, a veritable nuisance which should be abated.” 

Dallas Morning News (July 4, 1903)

I do not know who has the beer concession for our new Federal Juneteenth holiday; but I have no doubt the celebration will be well supplied with “beer.”  By “beer” I mean the gassy and intoxicating mumbo-jumbo of mystagogues, masochists and mountebanks, because the purpose of this new Federal holiday is to goose the market for their gassy and intoxicating brew.  Henceforth, so long as the star-spangled banner yet waves o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave, the Juneteenth holiday will provide these glib grifters with an annual pretext to flood the country with a double dose of their weepy jeremiads, thundering indictments, counterfeit histories, and grimacing oogly boogly. Continue reading

Strictures on Forgiveness

Kristor asked me to jot down some reflections on forgiveness, and I here happily comply.  Forgiveness is an important Christian virtue, and I am personally grateful for the many, many times I have been forgiven.  I try to show my gratitude by being forgiving myself.  But, as you shall see, I also think Christians are often too forgiving, and at the same time wracked with unnecessary guilt that they are not forgiving enough. Continue reading

The Problem of Pride (and the Comforts of Hell)

“For Satan flaming with unquenched desire
Forms his own Hell and kindles his own Fire . . .”

Daniel Defoe, The Political History of the Devil (1726)

Satan fell from heaven because he was proud, because he resented a being that was—or that in Satan’s view pretended to be—superior to himself.  Satan resented God, whom he regarded as an arrogant and tyrannical angel, and because he was himself an arrogant and tyrannical angel, Satan resolved to take God’s place on heaven’s throne. Continue reading

The Day of the Raspberry and the Age of Mendacity

“There may be exceptions, but in unregenerate human nature, lying is the proper use of the faculty of speech.”

Hartley Coleridge (1837), quoted in Memoir of Hartley Coleridge (1851)

“The generality of men have no sincerity in their speech, no sense or profit in it.  You are better listening to the inarticulate wind . . .” 

Thomas Carlyle, Journal (November 26, 1840)

In a recent post, Bonald asked how we are to discern true authority in today’s marketplace of ideas, where the idea-vendors are numerous, the vended ideas are various, and caveat emptor is a shopper’s only guide. Continue reading

The Luxurious Road to Lot’s Door

“Fulness of bread was the occasion of Sodom’s sin.”

Robert South, “On Matthew 17:21” (c. 1675)

Sodom’s sin was not restricted to the acts we know as sodomy, although unnatural coition was a striking indication of the deeper evil that gripped that city on the plain.  Sodom’s deeper evil was luxury, by which is meant profusion, extravagance and excess, and luxury is evil because it goes beyond what is called for.  There is no call for luxury, whether by nature, or by reason, or by God, and this is why luxury is rebellion against all three. Continue reading

The Duty to Crush Dreams

“Keep the imagination sane—that is one of the truest conditions of communion with heaven.”

Nathaniel Hawthorne, Passages from the American Notebooks (1868)

Imagination is the power to simulate sensation without external stimuli, and every intelligent person knows this power can be healthy or depraved.  The word depraved means bent, so that imagination is depraved when it is bent to simulate sensations that it should not simulate.  These may be the hallucinations of a lunatic or the forbidden figments of a “dirty mind,” and these and many other simulated sensations are insane because they cripple those who imagine them. Continue reading

Those Who Remember and Forget as I Do are My Nation.

“The essence of a nation is, that all its individual members should have many things in common; and also, that all of them should hold many things in oblivion.”

Ernest Renan, “What is a Nation” (1882)

It is easy to found national feeling on the shared memory of glorious victories over the nation’s enemies.  It is just as easy to found it in the shared memory of the nation’s humiliation by hateful oppressors.  But it is impossible to found national feeling in the shared memory of a glorious victory of one half of the nation over a humiliated other half.  When a nation has been torn by internecine strife, as most nations eventually are, national feeling must be founded on mutual and common forgetting.

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Beware the “Beloved Community”

“Democracy is not a state. It is an act, and each generation must do its part to help build what we called the Beloved Community, a nation and world society at peace with itself.”  Congressman John Lewis, “Together, You Can Redeem the Soul of Our Nation” (2020)

“The first problem of all democracy is to define ‘the people’ who are to be the sovereign body. Sooner or later, this always means some sort of purge of anti-social or non-national elements.” Lord Percy of Newcastle, The Heresy of Democracy (1954)

If a nation aspires to become what congressman Lewis calls a “beloved community,” it must prepare to cross rivers of blood.  If world society aspires to be “at peace with itself,” it must prepare to kill, imprison, or perhaps lobotomize, every man, woman and child who is not at peace with world society.  We should not be deceived by emollient words like “beloved,” “community,” or “peace,” since these are nothing but sly slogans of tyrants, not to mention hideous harbingers of slaughter, exile and the rack. Continue reading

An Awful Folly and the Spider of Ennui

“Were I to be angry at men being fools, I could here find ample room for declamation; but, alas! I have been a fool myself; and why should I be angry with them for being something so natural to every child of humanity.”  

Oliver Goldsmith, “A Description of Various Clubs” (1759)

This is a true story of a great folly that took place here in Texas, a hundred and forty years ago.  Before I tell the story of this folly, I must explain that I am not telling it simply because the story is ludicrous or shocking.  It is, to be sure, ludicrous and shocking enough, but laughter and reproof are not the best response to this spectacle of folly.  The best response is awe, that curious combination of wonder and fear that we feel in the presence of a great power from which we are not altogether safe. Continue reading

Locked in Empty Temples of Gods who Have Flown Away

The only difference is this
The gilt is off the chain
And what was once a golden bliss
Is now an iron pain.

Edward Bulwer Lytton, Marah (1891)

A enthusiast is filled with the spirit of a god, or what at least seems like a the spirit of a god so long as his enthusiasm lasts.  The roots of the word enthusiasm break down to in and theos, so that enthusiasm is the state of having, or at least feeling, a god within.  The most common and representative form of enthusiasm is no doubt erotomania, which is the condition of one in whom the god Eros has taken up temporary residence.  When possessed by the god Eros, a man is subject to the love-drunk fatuities that we call infatuation. Continue reading