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

Because we cannot trust the media

The proposition that the entire media constitutes a coordinated single cabal of misinformation is apt to be dismissed as a conspiracy theory. However, the usual epistemic argument against conspiracy theories, that by casting all sources of information into doubt they render themselves unfalsifiable, does not apply. We do have independent sources of information, of at least two types. We each have local information, unmediated by the mass media, about our own neighborhood and city, our own business or employing company, and any groups to which we may belong that espouse non-mainstream views (e.g. a church or political group). Thus, we can know, when an incident in our locale gains national attention, that the national media has distorted the story (suppressing details here, emphasizing irrelevancies there) to fit it into one of their standard templates (e.g. “police and schools pick on blacks for no reason”). We can know for certain that when they report on our own credal minority group, not only is the reporting unremittingly hostile, but it fails even to accurately state what our group’s beliefs and their reasons are. Secondly, we each have knowledge that, while not local in the above sense, is not widely accessible. That is, we each have expertise, e.g. extensive knowledge of a natural science or a foreign culture, that takes time and effort to acquire and is thus not widely shared. We each find that when the news media reports on a topic in our own area of expertise, they are confused and inept. Finally, while it is not knowledge per se, we each have logical and mathematical reasoning skills and can notice when the media narrative doesn’t even make sense. For example, the supposed actions of the supposed villains don’t match their supposed motives, or they seem to have no motive at all.

We each have independent sources of information to check that the media is dishonest and unreliable, but your evidences will not be the same as mine. The media does have a monopoly on global, accessible information. Since your proof will be different than mine, I will just assume that, like me, you have already come to this conclusion yourself. Let us then examine the consequences of that conclusion.

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

The Nebulous Consequences of Acting Like You Believe

Under Russian communism, people knew what they were supposed to say and what not, but it did not mean that the majority of Russians actually believed Russian propaganda, that was why things like “The Terror” were perhaps necessary; purges and executions keeping people bewildered and scared. East Germans did not simply embrace Marxism either, hence the desire to escape over the Berlin Wall by some, and the need for perpetual surveillance. Professors at the University of Belgrade under Yugoslav communism who were overt Marxists were regarded as hacks and jokes by perhaps the majority of the students; not people to be taken seriously, though the relatively moderate rule of Tito, not being as oppressive as Soviet-style communism, was also not as opposed. Likewise, it seems like German fascism enjoyed more popular support than Bolshevism which really was a tiny movement. Russians were used to autocratic rule, and still are. So, once the Czar abdicated, the “head of state” could be fairly neatly replaced with Lenin and his cronies. Popular support was neither expected nor required. Russian peasants tended to be staunchly theistic and thus opposed to communism with its atheism. The disaster of collectivized farming would not have helped either. Continue reading