I don’t think I’ll bother with Tolkien Society Summer Seminar 2021 – The Tolkien Society.
George Packer, The Four Americas is a very broad-brush look at America’s current divisions, worth reading, but not so good I expect to buy his book.
Peggy Noonan, What Drives Conspiracism struck me as good and timely. This is her blog version, with no paywall.
Prime satire: The Lab-Leak Theory Is Unbearably Racist.
I am astonished repeatedly when esteemed institutions that should know better do ham-handed stuff. This time, Stanford Law School.
Indiana University: vaccination is mandatory for Fall 2021. (Resentment, lawsuits.)
Purdue University: fully vaccinated students will be entered in a lottery for 10 full-tuition one-year scholarships.
Former Governor Mitch Daniels is a smart university President.
Dilbert is entirely too good today.
Dogma and tradition are … like the universal knowledge among athletes of what it takes to become truly fit.
Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick, Orthodoxy & Heterodoxy
Paul Kingsnorth’s recent (January) conversion to Orthodox Christianity, from a non-Christian prior adult life, has fascinated me partly because I was vaguely aware of the Dark Mountain Project and the “dark ecology” it represented and partly because, frankly, my personal experience of adult converts to Orthodox Christianity is almost entirely of people coming from Roman Catholicism or one of the innumerable Protestant denominations or “independent” churches.
I nevertheless don’t recall ever reading Kingsnorth’s blog post titled dark ecology until today.
Even if I had read it, it would merit re-reading, long though it be, and I personally read it as the musings of a man developing a sane and sober mind some years before discovering, to his surprise, probably the most sane and sober Christian tradition, which we now share.
- This is the progress trap. Each improvement in our knowledge or in our technology will create new problems which require new improvements. Each of these improvements tends to make society bigger, more complex, less human-scale, more destructive of non-human life and more likely to collapse under its own weight.
- ‘Romanticising the past’ is a familiar accusation, made mostly by people who think it is more grown-up to romanticise the future.
- Progress is a ratchet, every turn forcing us more tightly into the gears of a machine we were forced to create to solve the problems created by progress. It is far too late to think about dismantling this machine in a rational manner - and in any case who wants to? We can’t deny that it brings benefits to us, even as it chokes us and our world by degrees.
- The neo-environmentalists have a great advantage over the old greens, with their threatening talk about limits to growth, behaviour change and other such against-the-grain stuff: they are telling this civilisation what it wants to hear. What it wants to hear is that the progress trap which our civilisation is caught in can be escaped from by inflating a green tech bubble on which we can sail merrily into the future, happy as gods and equally in control.
I love it when I stumble onto good news.
Finished Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities. I’ve been interested in her topic for a long time, but hadn’t gotten around to reading this seminal work.
My favorite part of Matins may be what I call martyr word-play. Example:
On this day the holy Martyr Seleucus, having been sawn asunder, was perfected in martyrdom.
Verse: Without a groan, Seleucus bears the sawing
And so saw the saw as a short cut to Heaven.
Today is the tenth anniversary of the end of the world.
(In a quieter corner of Christendom, we commemorated Saints Constantine and Helena instead.)
Dr. Russel Moore is leaving the Ethics and Public Policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention. A lot of Southern Baptists considered him a liberal for denying 45’s suitability for the office of POTUS and for answers like this one, which forever endeared him to me.
On the 15th of each month, a reminder pops up to read my maxims (they actually come from two American Orthodox Priests, one living, one reposed). Sometimes I don’t get around to it until, say, the 17th.
As I read them today, it occurred to me that they give a decent idea of how an Orthodox mindset should cash out in “practical” life (if only we weren’t always missing the mark).
- 55 Maxims of the Christian Life - Fr. Thomas Hopko (reposed)
- The Violence of Modernity - Glory to God for All Things (living — his ten maxims end a piece that lays out why they make sense)
I do try to live by them (that’s why I review them monthly). Even falling short, it’s a much saner way to live than not trying at all.
I’ve been using Readwise to store and remind me of my book (and some other) highlights. Out of the blue this morning it came up with some great ones I’m sure it hadn’t featured before:
- We approach a condition in which we shall be amoral without the capacity to perceive it and degraded without means to measure our descent. (From Ideas Have Consequences)
- Smith argues that the noun religion is an unhelpful reification of what does not as such exist. (From The Myth of Religious Violence). I can’t see how we’d function today without this “reification,” but I’m ever-mindful that there’s a lot of play in the joints.
- When men must no longer win bread by the sweat of their brow, the primal curse will have ceased; and we are assured daily by advertisements that the goal is not too far off. (Another from Ideas Have Consequences)
RESOLVED: This is a great blog installment.
DISCLOSURE: I’m unequivocally in support of free speech. People who want to ban “hate speech” may feel hurt by the blog installment.
I haven’t been willing to invest the time to gain pop-culture literacy, but the way @Ayjay uses Walter White’s decision to hold Krazy-8 captive in a basement, I kinda wish I knew more about Breaking Bad.
Learning helplessness: I have always been quite good at parallel parking. But now I have my first vehicle with park assist, and there’s no way I’m as good as it is. Soon, I will be quite bad at parallel parking (though my vehicles will compensate).
One of two choirs I sing in, Lafayette Master Chorale, is announcing on Thursday our return and our concert schedule for 2021-22. We also just released our virtual recording As If We Never Said Goodbye.
The conjunction is magic. Artistic Directors are gods.
I recently started listening to Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History podcast. When he’s good, he’s very good.
My Little Hundred Million, is very, very good. Listening to it is instructive, but you could spend a lot of time thinking about other applications of the insights.