Glories of the West: Dresden, Germany

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Source: deutschlandLiebe (Facebook group)

Almost entirely destroyed by Allied firebombing in World War Two that killed tens of thousands (estimates range from a low of 25,000 to a high of 135,000), Dresden has risen, Phoenix-like, literally from the ashes!

Encyclopedia Britannica article on the City of Dresden

Short drone video of Dresden, focusing on the restored historic heart of the city:

Click the link for a longer video!

 

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H.V. Morton on the Decline of Civilization

https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5058/5478051928_a878078802_b.jpg
Ruins of the Temple of Artemis at Sardis, in Asia Minor (Turkey).
color view of reconstructed model of Temple of Artemis, at Miniatürk Park, Istanbul, Turkey
A modern re-creation of what the Temple might have looked like, in its glory.

“Politicians of Western nations ought not to be eligible for election until they have travelled the ancient world. All the cities of the Graeco-Roman world have become slums. That pride which made Asia-Minor, in the words of Theodore Mommsen, “the promised land of municipal vanity” vanished with the Muslim conquest. Politicians should be made to see how easy it is for the constant sea of savagery, which flows forever around the small island of civilisation, to break in and destroy.

“Asia Minor was once as highly organised as Europe is today: a land of large cities whose libraries and public monuments were so splendid that when we today retrieve fragments of this lost world we think it worth while to build museums to house them. Yet a few centuries of occupation by a static race have seen the highest pillars fall to earth, have witnessed the destruction of aqueducts that carried life-giving water from afar, and have seen the silting up of harbours that once sheltered the proudest navies of the ancient world. I cannot understand how any traveller can stand unmoved at the graveside of the civilisation from which our own world springs, or can see Corinthian capitals lying in the mud, without feeling that such things hold a lesson and a warning and, perhaps, a prophesy.

— H.V. Morton: In the Steps of St. Paul (1936), p.56-7.

Let us say the situation has not improved dramatically since 1936. Sadly, rather the reverse…

 

On the decline of the humanities: “Is Majoring in English Worth It?” | WSJ

The humanities have been infected by political correctness and ‘repressive tolerance.’ It’s no surprise that the English major is in decline, writes William McGurn.

Source: Is Majoring in English Worth It? – WSJ

In which American colleges and universities shoot themselves in the foot by misunderstanding the “liberal” in “liberal arts” (Latin ars liberalis) as a political stance, and not “those arts proper to a free person”:

“No one is surprised to learn that STEM majors (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) out-earn English majors. After all, the purpose of what used to be called a ‘liberal education’ has never been about a high-paying career. Even so, Jonathan Pidluzny, director of academic affairs for the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA), notes that employers nevertheless prize the critical thinking, communication skills and judgment cultivated by a liberal-arts education.”

Or used to be:

“The English major was once a guarantor of effective, formal writing skills and the ability to comprehend and analyze the complex thoughts found within centuries of brilliant and challenging poetry and prose,” Pidluzny told Campus Reform. “Its decline into the epiphenomena of popular culture and identity politics is a self-inflicted wound that has rocked its credibility.”

I have long argued that what created the traditional pattern in which people with degrees in higher education made a greater income than those whose education consisted of high school or trade school was that the kind of people who were willing to undertake, and more importantly, succeed at, a rigorous academic curriculum – in which the above-mentioned skills were key – were rare, and understandably valued.

With an increasing number of people being, in effect, shoved through the doors of the Halls of Academe, that is no longer the case. The market is glutted with college and university graduates, which is why – as I have discussed elsewhere – degree inflation is such a thing: one now needs a bachelor’s degree to do what one used to be able to do with an associate’s, or even a high school diploma; a master’s degree to do what one used to do with a B.A. or B.S., and a doctorate to do things for which a master’s degree used to qualify a person.

And there are many, many holders of doctorates floating around, in many cases as “wild geese”: holding adjunct professorships at several institutions, enjoying tenure at none, having meaningful career prospects at none, and with little in the way of salary or benefits. It is one of the reasons that I stopped with a Masters of Theological Studies: I felt (correctly, as it turned out) that I had spent enough time and money on a course that had no guarantee, and few enough prospects, of advancement, or even permanency.

So liberal arts majors – and graduates – are a dime a dozen, these days, despite a continuing trend of shrinking enrollment in humanities disciplines.

But as McGurn’s essay makes clear, that is only part of the story. The other is the fact that the rigorous academic curriculum itself is increasingly a thing of the past. In part, this is to accommodate the lower caliber of student who is coming into the college or university, under the “you’ve got to get your degree to succeed” mentality: many of these folks simply lack the intellectual aptitude, temperament, or both, for academic study. But colleges and universities don’t want to get a reputation for flunking students, lest overall enrollment decline… and so we have a general dumbing-down of the curriculum.

But the piece of the puzzle which has, until recently, flown somewhat under the radar is the effect on curriculum of the increasing politicization – and Left-wing politicization, specifically – of colleges, universities, and their curricula. I have seen that in my own fields, medieval studies and theology, in which the rigorous treatment of significant historical trends, major and influential figures, and key ideas have been replaced with gender studies, LGBT studies, and an emphasis on a variety of other “marginalized” and “under-represented” populations (ignoring the fact that they may, just possibly, have been “under-represented” in traditional scholarship for good reason).

And now it is even worse – far worse! – than it was when I was in undergrad and graduate studies, with students throwing temper tantrums if anyone dares expose them to ideas that challenge their own (shouting down and in some cases even attacking the persons in question), demanding “safe spaces,” and even claiming that English literature is too white, among other charming behaviors. Sadly, as the linked essay notes, “what’s on offer today isn’t your father’s English degree. It goes on to report that

“An ACTA study of English programs reports that 48 of 52 top schools (as ranked by U.S. News & World Report) allow English majors to graduate without ever having taken a course on Shakespeare. In the past ACTA has also highlighted studies showing that the average grad, even those from prestigious flagship universities, shows little or no improvement in critical thinking for having gone to college.”

McGurn’s essay continues,

“Here the much-maligned English degree is simply a proxy for what is wrong with college today. It isn’t that STEM subjects are the only majors worth anything. It’s that the humanities have disproportionately been infected by political correctness and the malignant influence of Herbert Marcuse, father of the ‘repressive tolerance‘ so prevalent on campuses these days…

and inquires,

“So why have the sciences kept their integrity while the humanities haven’t? Mr. Pidluzny suggests it’s because the costs of a dumbed-down STEM degree can be both more obvious and more consequential.

“’The university can’t get away with not teaching engineering students differential equations because we’d then have collapsing bridges all over the place,” [Pidluzny] says.

“’But for an English major who studies Harry Potter instead of Chaucer, or spends his time on gender theory instead of reading great literature, the costs aren’t as obvious – except to the graduate who only later realizes he never developed the keen analytical mind and precise style of writing college was supposed to cultivate.’”

And of course, to society at large, who gains a professional activist, but loses a cultivated, discerning, and inquiring mind. Or to put it a little more bluntly, gains a “snowflake,” but loses a productive citizen; and in many cases, gains a source of disruption, but loses a source of stability.

Tradition is the passing down of customs, beliefs, but also knowledge and information, from one generation to the next. A liberal arts education – and the colleges and universities, originating in the Middle Ages but based on classical antecedents, which provided it – has been a primary means for passing the down the traditions of Western civilization from one generation to another, for the last thousand years.

I have commented more than once in this forum (and elsewhere) that just as a tree which is separated from its roots withers and dies, the same is true of a culture, a society, or a people. The disruption and practical destruction of the collegiate and university liberal arts tradition, and its replacement by a politically-corrected, culturally Marxist, identity-and-entitlement sandbox in which squalling children throw ideological tantrums is extremely disheartening, and blow after hacking axe-blow at the roots of our Western culture and civilization.

But it can happen, on rare occasions, that a tree which has been felled, or blown over in a gale, falls in such a way that its branches thrust into fertile ground, and themselves take root. There are glimmers of hope in this regard, from the growing number of classical Christian academies and homeschool programs, to a handful of institutions of higher learning such as Hillsdale College (nonsectarian Christian) or Magdalen College of Liberal Arts (Roman Catholic). I pray that such a near-miracle may occur for us, because frankly, without it, our future looks rather bleak!

Woke culture is a ‘new religion’ | Sky News Australia

Despite its internal incoherence, post-modern woke culture has [become] a “new religion” for its adherents.

Source: Woke culture is a ‘new religion’ | Sky News Australia

“Despite its internal incoherence, post-modern woke culture has taken on [the character of a] a ‘new religion’ for its adherents, according to author and commentator Douglas Murray. In his new book, The Madness of Crowds, Mr Murray argues that many disengaged young people are turning towards a system of ethics that ‘claims to be able to solved every inequity and injustice on earth if you follow the plan.’ He told Sky News many people are uncomfortable with the ‘contradictions’ endemic within social justice ideology but feel unable to speak out for fear of being ‘cancelled’ by their community.”

Sky is not exactly noted as a conservative or “right-wing” news source. The fact that they’re admitting this, even indirectly, is significant, I think!

Gunston Hall Boxwoods | Abbeville Institute

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Gunston Hall, with its gardens, and boxwoods lining the walk down to the River. (From the linked article.)

The years when these boxwood sent their roots into the Virginia soil were the years the American republic took root on these shores.

Source: Gunston Hall Boxwoods | Abbeville Institute

“George Mason, like Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, was happiest at home, either in the fields and woods, with a good book by the hearth, or entertaining neighbors and family. Living close to the soil, time was measured by the rhythms of nature. The flow of the seasons brought different activities: planting and harvesting, fishing and hunting, visiting neighbors in winter, and strolling through the gardens in summer. There was time for church, social gatherings, dances and parties, especially during the Christmas season. All took place in the community and around the home… Traditions ran deep, with kith and kin close by and entertainments mostly homemade.”

This would be my ideal life! I cannot conceive of a better. True, today we have advances like indoor plumbing, air conditioning (!), and advanced medicine (although the way it is organized, distributed, and administered has plenty of room for improvement); but was it really necessary to give up graciousness, in exchange for these benefits? I wonder, I truly do…

In any case:

“… for George Mason, home was Gunston Hall in Fairfax County, Virginia. … Mason and many of his contemporaries loved to experiment with plants and took pride in their gardens. Gunston Hall was noted for the beautiful English boxwood that lined the walk from the house to a beautiful view of the Potomac River…

“Visitors such as Washington, Jefferson, and other patriots, neighbors and family, walked down the garden paths, and guided by the boxwood, took in the vista of the distant Potomac River, the artery of trade in this region. As children played, talk of domestic concerns and the nature of American rights and liberties was heard on these grounds…

“Now the boxwood have fallen on hard times and the decision has been made to dig them up. Experts believe that at 230 years old, the plants may be at the end of their natural life. The boxwood was planted amidst such hope, as the Colonies won their independence, and went about the process of protecting their hard won liberties. Perhaps the boxwood just does not understand how a country with so much promise could go so far astray. Nor would George Mason.”

This is barely to scratch the surface of this excellent essay, which uses the boxwood of Gunston Hall as the backdrop for a tale of the rise and fall of the America our Founders intended: – ’tis a mere appetizer, to entice one to the feast. Read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest! But this I will say, if the above is not sufficient enticement: might the imminent demise of Gunston Hall’s boxwood, beautiful as they have been for more than two centuries, be an emblem of the demise of other things, just as old – but things of much deeper import…? Again, I wonder!

The speech they’re trying to hide: President Trump’s stellar UN speech

Image result for president trump speech at the un nationalism

Source: The speech they’re trying to hide: President Trump’s stellar UN speech | American Thinker

I apologize, I have been remiss in posting here of late. Been rather busy! I’ve got a backlog of links I want to put up, when I have the chance. For now, though, here’s this:

“If you want freedom, take pride in your country. If you want democracy, hold onto your sovereignty. And if you want peace, love your nation. Wise leaders always put the good of their own people and their own country first. The future does not belong to globalists. The future belongs to patriots. The future belongs to sovereign and independent nations who protect their citizens, respect their neighbors, and honor the differences that make each country special and unique… Globalism exerted a religious pull over past leaders, causing them to ignore their own national interests. Those days are over.”

— President Trump, in his third address to the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday, September 24th, 2019. He went on to add,

“Love of our nations makes the world better for all nations. So, to all the leaders here today, join us in the most fulfilling mission a person could have. The most profound contribution anyone can make — lift up your nations, cherish your culture, honor your histories, treasure your citizens. Make your countries strong and prosperous and righteous. Honor the dignity of your people and nothing will be outside of your reach.”

Full video of the speech:

Refreshing words, from the President!

 

 

 

“Biology is not bigotry”: teacher blasts bill that would force teachers to receive LGBT “training”

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An elementary school teacher packed a powerful punch in a two-minute testimony last month against a proposed law that would require teachers to affirm homosexual, lesbian, and transgender students.

Source: ‘Biology is not bigotry’: teacher blasts bill that would force teachers to receive LGBT ‘training’ | The Pulse | Lifesitenews

One of the most basic principles of my philosophy on living has been and remains this: if you don’t bother me, I won’t bother you; but your right to swing your fist ends at my nose.

With regard to this specific issue, that means that what consenting adults do in the privacy of their own home(s) is their business, unless they make it my business: either by requesting my personal or professional (as a Christian clergyman) opinion on the matter, or more generally, by insisting that I “affirm” or even “celebrate” their life choices. That’s when the fist impacts the nasal structure. Continue reading ““Biology is not bigotry”: teacher blasts bill that would force teachers to receive LGBT “training””