Quote of the Day

Small World“There’s something I must ask you, Fulvia,” said Morris Zapp, as he sipped Scotch on the rocks poured from a crystal decanter brought on a silver tray by a black-uniformed, white-aproned maid to the first-floor drawing-room of the magnificent eighteenth-century house just off the Villa Napoleone, which they had reached after a drive so terrifyingly fast that the streets and boulevards of Milan were just a pale grey blur in his memory. “It may sound naive, and even rude, but I can’t suppress it any longer.”

Fulvia arched her eyebrows above her formidable nose. They had both rested, showered, and changed, she into a long, loose flowing robe of fine white wool, which made her look more than ever like a Roman empress. They faced each other, sunk deep in soft, yielding, hide-covered armchairs, across a Persian rug laid on the honey-coloured waxed wooden floor. Morris looked around the spacious room, in which a few choice items of antique furniture had been tastefully integrated with the finest specimens of modern Italian design, and whose off-white walls bore, he had ascertained by close-range inspection, original paintings by Chagall, Mark Rothko and Francis Bacon. “I just want to know,” said Morris Zapp, “how you manage to reconcile living like a millionaire with being a Marxist.”

Fulvia, who was smoking a cigarette in an ivory holder, waved it dismissively in the air. “A very American question, if I may say so, Morris. Of course I recognize the contradictions in our way of life, but those are the very contradictions characteristic of the last phase of bourgeois capitalism, which will eventually cause it to collapse. By renouncing our own little bit of privilege”—here Fulvia spread her hands in a modest proprietorial gesture which implied that she and her husband enjoyed a standard of living only a notch or two higher than that of, say, a Puerto Rican family living on welfare in the Bowery—“we should not accelerate by one minute the consummation of that process, which has its own inexorable rhythm and momentum, and is determined by the pressure of mass movements, not by the puny actions of individuals. Since in terms of dialectical materialism it makes no difference to the ’istorical process whether Ernesto and I, as individuals, are rich or poor, we might as well be rich, because it is a role that we know ’ow to perform with a certain dignity. Whereas to be poor with dignity, poor as our Italian peasants are poor, is something not easily learned, something bred in the bone, through generations.”

–David Lodge, Small World: An Academic Romance

Quote of the Day

Daniel-Patrick-Moynihan-570x300Every day the media burlesque spotlights an American with too much binge-drinking, drug abuse, sexual violence, family breakdown, celebrity worship, and psychic pain. America’s soul hurts partially because we lack moral anchors in our new, ultra-liberal and libertine Republic of Nothing. Modern liberalism remains too entwined with media-fueled, and now Internet-operated, nihilism. Millions of us, and some of our leading thinkers, may have started rediscovering the value of tradition, but have yet to embrace the traditional values that anchored and guided our parents and grandparents—or a valuable new tradition.

–Gil Troy, “The Last Sane Liberal”

Quote of the Day

If you’ve been white lately, you have likely been confronted with the idea that to be a good person, you must cultivate a guilt complex over the privileged status your race enjoys.

It isn’t that you are doing, or even quite thinking, anything racist. Rather, your existential state of Living While White constitutes a form of racism in itself. Your understanding will serve as a tool … for something. But be careful about asking just what that something is, because that will mean you “just don’t get it.”

–John McWhorter, “The Privilege of Checking White Privilege”

Resources – Christian Classical Education

In one way, Christian classical education is the new kid on the block. Classical education has been around for millennia, obviously since ancient Greece and Rome, and Christians through much of Western history embraced classical learning.  But with the rise of progressive education in the early 20th Century, and it’s promoters like John Dewey, the classical model went dormant (Henry T. Edmondson III had written an excellent book on the baleful influence of Dewey on American education). By the 1980s  almost everyone agreed that American education wasn’t doing well, even if they wouldn’t specifically blame the progressive model.

Quote of the Day

dewey_1Thanks in no small part to [John] Dewey, much of what characterizes contemporary education is a revolt against various expressions of authority: a revolt against a canon of learning, a revolt against tradition, a revolt against religious values, a revolt against moral standards, a revolt against logic–even a revolt against grammar and spelling. In many classrooms, the concern is whether sufficient authority exists simply to guarantee physical safety and survival. Dewey’s revolt has carried American education to the place where he himself admitted he had arrived late in life: “I seem to be unstable, chameleon-like, yielding one after another to many diverse and even and imcomparable influences; struggling to assimilate something from each and yet striving to carry it forward.”

Henry T. Edmondson III, John Dewey & The Decline of American Education

Profile – The Arts: Mary McCleary

mary detailMary McCleary is Regent’s Professor of Art Emeritus at Stephen F. Austin State University, where she taught from 1975 to 2005. Born in Houston, Texas in 1951, she received her B.F.A., cum laude in printmaking/drawing at Texas Christian University and her M.F.A. in graphics from the University of Oklahoma. Since 1970 she has participated in over 250 one-person and group exhibits in museums and galleries in 24 states, Mexico, and Russia. These venues include the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C., MOBIA in New York City, the Grey Gallery at NYU, the Boston Museum of Art, the Dallas Museum of Art, the Contemporary Art Museum in Houston, the San Antonio Museum of Art, and the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City. She is also a recipient of a Mid-America Arts Alliance/National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship. Her work has been regularly reviewed or featured in the Houston Post, Houston Chronicle, Austin American Statesman, Dallas Morning News, and other Texas newspapers, as well as in national publications: Art in America, Art News, Image: A Journal of the Arts and Religion, Art Papers, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Art Week, Artspace, Texas Homes, New American Paintings, and Contemporanea International Arts Magazine.McCleary’s work is in many public collections including those of the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas, the El Paso Museum of Art, the San Antonio Museum of Art and the Art Museum of Southeast Texas in Beaumont.

Want to Make a Counter Cultural Statement: Have More Kids!

babiesI became a Christian when I was 18, well before I was to get married and had to think about having children. When I did, like many conservative protestants, I uncritically accepted birth control and the family planning mentality; I saw having children as something of a choice for Christians, not unlike my secular neighbors. A few times over the years this mindset was challenged, but certainly not from within the evangelical community. Our seriously orthodox Catholic brothers and sisters would point out that life is a gift from God, and that God’s gifts must not be lightly rejected. Yet evangelicals continue to have their 2.2 kids like most Americans, and never question whether their embrace of the modern cultural norm is at all biblical.

Quote of the Day

God[Naturalism] must forever remain a pure assertion, a pure conviction, a confession of blind assurance in an inaccessible beyond; and that beyond, more paradoxically still, is the beyond of no beyond. And naturalism’s claim that, by confining itself to purely material explanations for all things, it adheres to the only sure path of verifiable knowledge is nothing but a feat of sublimely circular thinking; physics explains everything, which we know because anything physics cannot explain does not exist, which we know because whatever exists must be explicable by physics, which we know because physics explains everything.

–David Bentley Hart, The Experience of god: Being, Consciousness, Bliss

Quote of the Day

Shelby SteeleWhen we look at American exceptionalism through the lens of dissociation, that exceptionalism is transformed into garden-variety white supremacy. Dissociation sees this exceptionalism as proof of America’s evil character. It ignores two or three millennia of profound cultural evolution in the West, and it attributes the exceptionalism that results from that evolution to little more than a will to dominate, oppress, and exploit people of color. So in this new and facile liberalism, American exceptionalism and white supremacy become nearly interchangeable. Shift one’s angle of vision ever so slightly to the left, and there is white supremacy; ever so slightly to the right, and there is American exceptionalism.

When you win the culture, you win the extraordinary power to say what things mean — you get to declare the angle of vision that assigns the “correct” meaning.

–Shelby Steele, “Conservatism as Counterculture”

Why are Christian movies so painfully bad? Christian Subculture

christian_dating.dvd.lgThis question, most unfortunately, is the title of a piece in the online publication Vox, which is mainstream liberal in its coverage. Knowing that, which I did, it would have been easy to write off such a sentiment as biased. But deep down we all know “Christian” movies are not very good. If you want to know why, reading this article is a great start. But to really understand the dynamic of mediocrity in Christian movies and other cultural pursuits, you have to go back to the development of the Christian subculture in the 20th Century.