While We Were Arguing Over Loyalty Oaths…

…the entire government of Virginia was in Williamsburg, hearing a talk from William & Mary’s president.  From the Daily Press:

[T]rue leaders, he said, will make every effort to compromise and put matters of principle before their own preference, helping to close gaps between opposing views.

As lawmakers try to develop compromise, Reveley said, it’s important to know they are setting an example as representatives of a state that has “been there and done that” for centuries.

But do it all with a sense of humility, he warned.

“Of course, it is important we do all of this in a non-jackasslike way,” Reveley said, which was met with laughter and applause.

Of course, when one has friends on both sides of the aisle on RPV State Central Committee, one is particularly at pains to criticize either side.  Yet some small part of me wishes that SCC was in Williamsburg this past weekend.

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The Ghost of William F. Buckley Lives

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Amazing how the writings of William F. Buckley almost speak from the grave?  This, from an article written for Cigar Aficianado in 2002:

Look for the narcissist. The most obvious target in today’s lineup is, of course, Donald Trump. When he looks at a glass, he is mesmerized by its reflection. If Donald Trump were shaped a little differently, he would compete for Miss America. But whatever the depths of self-enchantment, the demagogue has to say something. So what does Trump say? That he is a successful businessman and that that is what America needs in the Oval Office. There is some plausibility in this, though not much. The greatest deeds of American Presidents — midwifing the new republic; freeing the slaves; harnessing the energies and vision needed to win the Cold War — had little to do with a bottom line.

Ouch.

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Ethika Politika: Materialism and Poverty

David Mills writes over at Ethika Politika:

Those who refer so happily to creative destruction are never themselves among the creatively destroyed. It’s the ideological free-marketer’s version of “Let’s you and him fight.” It speaks of the end in a way that makes invisible those who suffer from the means.

Duly noted.

Continue reading

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Of Chaput, Lepanto, and The Call To Fidelity

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So I was rather surprise to see that sharing this sentiment from the late Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen received such a response.  Or perhaps, not terribly surprised at all:

Lepanto is a pretty fringe outfit brother, posting from down in some catacomb bunker. Even Archbishop Chaput called them out recently, if memory serves it was about them sowing division and being a destructive force. Am only commenting because this post is innocuous, and you may not be familiar with their “body of work.”

Archbishop Chaput happens to be one of my favorite American prelates, perhaps more so than the late Francis Cardinal George (who famously predicted that he would die in his bed, but his successors in jail and eventually as martyrs in the public square).

For those not terribly familiar with the Catholic blogosphere, it is much like the political variant, only fewer in number, sharper in personalities… and rarely about the topic.  More tribal than faithful, more political than we politicians could ever imagine, and more egregious than edifying.

…and that’s a charitable description. Continue reading

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The Patriot Game

You really can’t get more melancholic than the old Irish rebel song “The Patriot Game” — and for those not familiar with the song, the lyrics were written in the 1950s to commemorate those who participated in the Border Campaign, mostly in the tradition of an-uprising-a-generation that was only recently broken with the advent of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

The lyrics, most of all, created a great deal of controversy… as they criticized Eamon de Valera, who at the time was still alive and for most of the 1950s alternated as Taoiseach:

This Ireland of mine has for long been half free,
Six counties are under John Bull’s tyranny.
And still de Valera is greatly to blame
For shirking his part in the patriot game.

De Valera was — of course — notorious for his complicity in the assassination of Michael Collins over the 1921 Treaty, with Collins supporting the treaty as “the freedom to achieve freedom” while de Valera insisted on fighting on for a united Ireland.  No small irony, then.

…but it makes for great history!

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Your Eighteen Minutes of Civilization

Brought to you by Stile Antico and the good folks at NPR:

‘Tis the season, after all!

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Chaput: Hope as Despair, Overcome

For those following the Synod of the Family in Rome, this is a telling and illuminating speech from Philadephia’s Archibishop Charles Chaput:

Paragraphs 7-10 of the Instrumentum did a good job of describing the condition of today’s families. But overall,the text engenders a subtle hopelessness. This leads to a spirit of compromise with certain sinful patterns of life and the reduction of Christian truths about marriage and sexuality to a set of beautiful ideals — which then leads to surrendering the redemptive mission of the Church.

The work of this synod needs to show much more confidence in the Word of God, the transformative power of grace, and the ability of people to actually live what the Church believes. And it should honor the heroism of abandoned spouses who remain faithful to their vows and the teaching of the Church.

George Bernanos said that the virtue of hope is “despair, overcome.” We have no reason to despair. We have every reason to hope. Pope Francis saw this himself in Philadelphia. Nearly 900,000 people crowded the streets for the papal Mass that closed the World Meeting of Families.

Longtime readers of my work know how much a fan I am of Chaput’s “authentic Catholicism” in the public square.

This is brilliant stuff, and we need to hear more of it from our bishops and priests.  Sadly, too much of the Church is attached to government grants, subsidies, tax benefits (see: Germany) and co-operation.

The long experiment in colluding with the social welfare state is over.  The Church was not and could never recapture its mission this way.  Very glad to see Chaput point the way forward — let’s hope that the bishops of the Church have the courage to be shepherds, despite the best efforts of their bureaucrats to obscure hard truths on the ground.

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CNET: Our Brains Will Be Like Smartphones By 2030?

Somehow, this doesn’t strike me as pleasant news:

Kurzweil has a truly, madly, deeply optimistic view of who we will be when nanobots are implanted into our brains so we can expand our intelligence by directly tapping into the Internet.

This is such a relief. I had feared that when a robot was implanted into my brain, my head would hurt. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be quite in touch with my feelings, as I wouldn’t be sure if they were real or just the promptings of my inner robot.

Kurzweil, though, has reassured me. Speaking recently at Singularity University, where he is a member of the faculty, he explained that my brain will develop in the same way my smartphone has.

Yeah… if my brain is going to turn out like OS 8.0?

I’m going to have to pass on that.  Everyone else can have fun with their new godlike OS upgrades.

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Russia and Iran Prepare To Do The Job In Syria

This from Reuters today:

“The vanguard of Iranian ground forces began arriving in Syria: soldiers and officers specifically to participate in this battle. They are not advisors … we mean hundreds with equipment and weapons. They will be followed by more,” the second source said. Iraqis would also take part in the operation, the source said.

Thus far, direct Iranian military support for Assad has come mostly in the form of military advisors. Iran has also mobilized Shi’ite militia fighters, including Iraqis and some Afghans, to fight alongside Syrian government forces.

Include the news that Russian warplanes are actively bombing AQ sites near Homs, plus Putin’s call up of 150,000 conscripts, means that we could very well be witnessing a repeat of the Second Chechen War.

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Aeon: French Thought In Crisis?

Ah yes, those stuffy French philosophers.  Chain smoking their way through the deepest of thought, holding in contempt all that their minds can conceive…

So what the heck happened?

The French way of thinking is a matter of substance, but also style. This is most notably reflected in the emphasis on rhetorical elegance and analytical lucidity, often claimed to stem from the very properties of the French language: ‘What is not clear,’ affirmed the writer Antoine de Rivarol in 1784, somewhat ambitiously, ‘is not French.’

Perhaps so… and even as recently as 50 years ago, French philosophy was the master of all it surveyed: Camus, Derrida, Foucault, Levinas.

…and yet:

Since the late 20th century, the rich tradition of French thought has come under increasing strain. The symptoms of this crisis are numerous, beginning with a widespread belief in the decline of French artistic and intellectual creativity. In 2007, Time magazine’s cover article even announced ‘The Death of French Culture’, cruelly concluding: ‘All of these mighty oaks being felled in France’s cultural forest make barely a sound in the wider world.’ Even philosophical ideas about resisting tyranny and promoting revolutionary change, which were the hallmark of French thought since the Enlightenment, lost their universal resonance. It is instructive that neither the fall of Soviet-style communism in eastern Europe or the Arab spring took any direct intellectual inspiration from French thinking. The European project, the brainchild of French thinkers such as Jean Monnet, has likewise stalled, as European peoples have grown increasingly skeptical of an institution that appears too distant and technocratic, and insufficiently mindful of the continent’s democratic and patriotic heritages.

Ouch.

Of course, this isn’t to say that American philosophy has reached such lofty heights, much less aspire to even achieve the lows of where French intellectual thought remains today.  In a world where we live to react rather than reflect, it’s a tough business.

Still, the idea of a French renaissance in philosophy is an interesting thought, given that much of what the 20th century French philosophers gave us remains largely unexplored and untested, save through the writings of another great European thinker, Pope St. John Paul the Great.

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