The Queen named 2017 Londoner of the Year by London Press Club – Royal Central

The judges praised the monarch for her “unstinting and faithful service to London.” They also called her an “icon of our city.”

Source: The Queen named 2017 Londoner of the Year by London Press Club – Royal Central

God save our gracious Queen!
Long live our noble Queen!
God save the Queen!
Send her victorious,
Happy and glorious,
Long to reign over us:
God save the Queen.

Thy choicest gifts in store
On her be pleased to pour,
Long may she reign.
May she defend our laws,
And ever give us cause,
To sing with heart and voice:
God save the Queen.

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Gardening as Medicine for Millennials, and the Rest of Us | The Catholic Gentleman

We need to turn to the earth from which we were formed, and which we were commanded to tend. There we can seek reintegration and reconnection; we can seek healing.

Source: Gardening as Medicine for Millennials, and the Rest of Us | The Catholic Gentleman

At risk of oversimplifying, I think there are three things that make this medicine so fit for all of us suffering, in varying ways, from the challenges of contemporary culture. Gardening calls us to work, to wait, and to worship.

Oh, this is good! This is very good. Read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest!

The Pacifist Temptation | William Doino Jr. | First Things

“Those who follow the Just War tradition—including many in the military and diplomatic corps—place a premium on clear-eyed negotiations, and see war only as a last resort.”

Source: The Pacifist Temptation | William Doino Jr. | First Things

Pacifism is a recurrent temptation in the Christian tradition; indeed, some radical Protestant denominations – including the Amish, the Quakers, and the Brethren / Mennonites – are especially known for their philosophical pacifism: it is almost a trademark. And there are many others in more “mainstream” churches who pursue peace very seriously.

These frequently compassionate and well-meaning people take the designation of Christ as “the Prince of Peace” further than, perhaps, the evidence will bear: the quote from Isaiah about “of the increase of his Kingdom and of peace there shall be no end” refers to the coming Kingdom, when Christ will reign in triumph – not the age of the Church Militant in which we find ourselves.

Such a view also fails to take into account sayings of Jesus such as “I come not to bring peace, but a sword,” and events such as that captured in a popular internet meme: “What would Jesus do? Turning over tables and whipping people with knotted cords is not out of the question!” In direct and marked contrast,

“Those who follow the Just War tradition—including many in the military and diplomatic corps—place a premium on clear-eyed negotiations, and see war only as a last resort. But they also realize that the existence and maintenance of ‘hard power’ is often crucial in preventing war and bringing about peaceful resolutions; for once you take military force off the table you risk dramatically increasing the possibility for violence. Even a cursory study of history reveals that unilateral disarmament only emboldens warmongers.

“But the Pax Christi statement asserts: ‘Recent academic research, in fact, has confirmed that nonviolent resistance strategies are twice as effective as violent ones.’ There are no footnotes, however, to any academic research showing how pacifists will defeat ISIS or could have brought down the Third Reich if only they’d been given the chance…

“It is one thing to honor individual Christians who cannot in good conscience take up arms and are willing to suffer for their beliefs. It is quite another to encourage movements which call on democratic societies to conform to pacifist demands—in the face of tyrants and mass-murderers—and are blind to the incalculable suffering pacifist policies would lead to.

“The pacifist temptation has long been rejected by the Catholic Church, for abundantly sound reasons, drawn from Christian teachings on mercy, compassion, the common good, and authentic peace. In a world where Christians are being savagely tortured, crucified and decapitated, the Church should not succumb to that temptation now.”

Beauty Matters

Beauty Matters.png

Indeed it does.

Nor is it limited to the Roman observance, although traditionalists in the Roman Catholic Church (and more generally, the liturgical, sacramental Churches, including Eastern Orthodoxy and – when it is being true to itself – the Anglican tradition) are often acutely aware of its importance:

“The only really effective apologia for Christianity comes down to two arguments, namely, the saints the Church has produced, and the art which has grown in her womb. Better witness is borne to the Lord by the splendor of holiness and art which have arisen in the community of believers than by the clever excuses which apologetics has come up with to justify the dark sides which, sadly, are so frequent in the Church’s human history. If the Church is to continue to transform and humanize the world, how can she dispense with beauty in her liturgies, that beauty which is so closely linked with love and with the radiance of the Resurrection? No. Christians must not be too easily satisfied. They must make their Church into a place where beauty – and hence truth – is at home. Without this the world will become the first circle of Hell.”

Pope Benedict XVI: The Ratzinger Report, p. 129

Beauty, however, is the birthright of all Christians – ours is, after all, a sacramental and incarnational faith, and therefore one which values the created order as an important source of God’s self-revelation to us. The Scriptural warrant for this goes back at least to the Psalmist:

“Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.”

Psalm 29:2, 96:9

And of course the classical Christian tradition, at least in the West, has repeatedly cited the “three Transcendentals” (Goodness, Truth, and Beauty) as not only pointing toward God, but being aspects or attributes of God – ones that we should seek to mirror and live out in our own lives:

[The] Three Transcendentals of ancient philosophy (which has so greatly shaped Christian Tradition) [are] the True, the Good and the Beautiful. To destructively compress Plato and the Neoplatonists, all truth points to the transcendent Truth; all good points to the transcendent Good; all beauty points to the transcendent Beauty; and in turn, the transcendent True, Good and Beautiful is the One, the source of all being, which classical theism identifies as God, and is in turn identified with the God of the Bible by orthodox Christianity.

In short: for Christians, “Beauty Matters.” It is not an extrinsic, superficial adornment to our lives and our liturgy; it is an intrinsic, essential element of them.

Pope says gender theory part of ‘global war’ on marriage, family | Reuters

Pope Francis warned on Saturday of a “global war” against traditional marriage and the family, saying both were under attack from gender theory and divorce.

Source: Pope says gender theory part of ‘global war’ on marriage, family | Reuters

The current occupant of the See of Peter can be a bit… erratic… in his pronouncements, in my opinion, but I cannot fail to agree with him in this. There is indeed a global war on marriage and family – especially in the West, where the falling birthrate among Europeans and people of European heritage practically amounts of a species of self-inflicted genocide – and “gender theory” (along with easily-obtainable, “no fault” divorce) is certainly a weapon in that war.

Gender theory is broadly the concept that while a person may be biologically male or female, they have the right to identify themselves as male, female, both or neither.

Regarding that: I hope and trust I am not alone in experiencing severe cognitive dissonance when I hear people on the left side of the political aisle decrying “alternative facts,” and loudly proclaiming their allegiance to “science” and “reason” – only to turn around and, in the next breath, proclaim “but you’re whatever gender you self-identify as.”

Excuse me? What happened to science and reason? Isn’t it an “alternative fact” for someone who was born, say, a biological male – and clearly remains one, on the genetic level (chromosomes don’t lie) – to, in effect, “cosplay” a female through the use of hormone injections and cosmetic surgery? Isn’t it an “alternative fact” to think that God or nature made a “mistake,” which then has to be “corrected” by drastic means – which, nonetheless, do not alter one’s biological / genetic makeup?

Don’t misunderstand me, I have great empathy for people with gender dysphoria (formerly known as “gender identity disorder”). It must be a terrible thing to wake up each morning uncomfortable in your own body. But as a matter of science and reason, not to mention the pursuit of objective truth – and yes, I do believe that exists – shouldn’t someone with gender dysphoria be encouraged to engage in therapy, or whatever other appropriate means exist, to help them overcome this psychological disorder, rather than enabling them in their delusion?

That was, of course, a rhetorical question. There is no doubt in my mind what the answer should be.

5 Steps To Raising A Viking Child

Here are five steps to help you raise your own little Viking, Scandinavian-style, through outdoor play.

Source: 5 Steps To Raising A Viking Child

Sweden has gotten a bit of a bad rap (not entirely without justification) recently, in some quarters, for bringing a butt-load (*) of misery on itself by its misguided and excessively lenient immigration policies. Or perhaps one should say, by adopting, rather than resisting, ones foisted on it by the EU, and doing so with rather more enthusiasm than was wise…

(* … a medieval reference to a large wine-cask, not a derriere)

But there are some things that Sweden has done, and is continuing to do, very well, and this is one of them! As this article points out,

“In Sweden, 80% of children between the ages of one to five years, attend Swedish daycare which promotes play, napping and eating meals outdoors. There are also some preschools that have no physical building as all of their learning occurs outdoors—in nature’s classroom…

“Outdoor play offers not only physical benefits like increased balance, endurance, and hand-eye coordination but has also shown to improve cognitive and social/emotional development. When outdoors, children are more likely to invent games and understand why rules are necessary — something that does not happen when playing a pre-programmed game on a tablet or the computer.”

Follow the link to discover the “five steps to help you raise your own little Viking through outdoor play“!

Those ‘Snowflakes’ Have Chilling Effects Even Beyond the Campus – WSJ

Academic intolerance is the product of ideological aggression, not a psychological disorder.

Source: Those ‘Snowflakes’ Have Chilling Effects Even Beyond the Campus – WSJ

I have commented previously that when you have students rioting to prevent a gay Jewish man from speaking on campus, one is forced to question exactly who are the “Nazis” and the “fascists” (and clearly I am not the only one who feels that way).

But it is not just Milo Yiannopoulos, whose flamboyant attitude and provocative, often controversial, lifestyle make him (not without justification) a lightning rod for criticism. But any and all conservative commentators are meeting increased agitation and resistance if they dare to step onto today’s college and university campuses.

And even some who are not, themselves, conservative at all: one thinks, for example, of Professor Allison Stanger of Middlebury College in Vermont, who ended up in the emergency room after protests against controversial American Enterprise Institute scholar Charles Murray – invited to campus for a presentation Professor Stanger had agreed to moderate, out of her belief in fairness and the free exchange of ideas – turned violent.

But while this incident was sufficiently troubling to cause even some left-leaning academics to examine both their own assumptions and the actions of some of their fellow-travelers, it was not unique. Unfortunately, exposure to ideas with which one may not agree – once a staple of higher education – is being actively protested and suppressed in all too many colleges and universities: at least, if those ideas come from the conservative end of the political spectrum.

This essay, by one victim of such aggression – Heather MacDonald – addresses the popular view that this is simply a psychological disorder, a symptom of an excessively-coddled upbringing:

“Campus intolerance is at root not a psychological phenomenon but an ideological one. At its center is a worldview that sees Western culture as endemically racist and sexist. The overriding goal of the educational establishment is to teach young people within the ever-growing list of official victim classifications to view themselves as existentially oppressed. One outcome of that teaching is the forceful silencing of contrarian speech…

“Many observers dismiss such ignorant tantrums as a phase that will end once the ‘snowflakes’ encounter the real world. But the graduates of the academic victimology complex are remaking the world in their image. The assumption of inevitable discrimination against women and minorities plagues every nonacademic institution today, resulting in hiring and promotion based on sex and race at the expense of merit…

“Faculty and campus administrators must start defending the Enlightenment legacy of reason and civil debate. But even if dissenting thought were welcome on college campuses, the ideology of victimhood would still wreak havoc on American society and civil harmony. The silencing of speech is a massive problem, but it is a symptom of an even more profound distortion of reality.”

To which I can only respond, indeed.