66th Anniversary of the Coronation of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II

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👑 On this day in 1953, Her Majesty The Queen’s coronation was held at Westminster Abbey.

Source: The British Royalist Society, which writes:

“The Queen was the 39th sovereign to be crowned in the Abbey and the sixth Queen to be crowned there in her own right. The service used for the Queen’s coronation descends directly from King Edgar’s in 973.

“The Sovereign’s procession was made up of 250 people including Church leaders, Commonwealth Prime Ministers, members of the Royal Household, civil and military leaders and the Yeoman of the Guard.

“Her Majesty’s accession to the throne also set history in and of itself. Queen Mary (the Queen’s grandmother) was the first grandmother to see two Sovereigns ascend and Prince Charles was the first child to witness his mother’s coronation as Sovereign. Princess Anne did not attend the ceremony as she was considered to be too young. On a side note, Princess Marie Louise (Queen Victoria’s granddaughter) witnessed four coronations, including that of Elizabeth II.

“129 nations and territories were represented at the coronation with a whopping 8,200 guests were in attendance.

“Read more about the coronation and its importance here.”

[The Anglophilic Anglican notes that the above-linked short essay on the Coronation is quite fascinating and helpful in understanding the significance of this ceremony.]

None of them look terribly happy about it, in this picture – but considering that Her Majesty had come to the crown unexpectedly due to the premature death of her father, King George VI, that is perhaps to be expected.

Nota Bene: I am not certain of the identity of the prelate to the right of Her Majesty; but she was crowned by the Most Reverend and Right Honorable Geoffrey Francis Fisher, then Archbishop of Canterbury. Aside from the Coronation of Her Majesty, he is perhaps most famous for his assertion that

“We [meaning the Church of England, and by extension Anglicans in general] have no doctrine of our own — we only possess the Catholic doctrine of the Catholic Church enshrined in the Catholic creeds, and those creeds we hold without addition or diminution. We stand firm on that rock.”

The one to the far left, I am quite confident, is then-Bishop of Durham Arthur Michael Ramsey, who became the 100th Archbishop of Canterbury (1961 – 1974), following Fischer: one of the greatest – arguably, the greatest of the 20th century – occupants of that Primatial See. He was known as a gifted theologian, educator, and advocate of Christian unity, and the writer of many books, perhaps most notably his first: The Gospel and the Catholic Church.

Ironically and somewhat amusingly, Fisher – who had been Ramsey’s headmaster at Repton, and known him basically all his life – is said to have counseled Prime Minister Harold Macmillan against selecting Ramsey for approval by Her Majesty as Archbishop of Canterbury, commenting that

“Doctor Ramsey is a theologian, a scholar and a man of prayer. Therefore, he is entirely unsuitable as Archbishop of Canterbury.”

Macmillan reportedly responded,

“Thank you, your Grace, for your kind advice. You may have been Doctor Ramsey’s headmaster, but you were not mine.”

Ramsey was duly selected.

US declining interest in history presents risk to democracy | Financial Times

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Alas, America’s curiosity about itself is suffering a prolonged bear market. What may work for individual careers poses a collective risk to US democracy.

Source: US declining interest in history presents risk to democracy | Financial Times

More on the plummeting U.S. interest in history, and its consequences. Unfortunately, the author, Edward Luce, has to get in a dig at President Trump! But he makes a number of good points, nonetheless.

Indeed, the idea that a de-emphasis on history (and other humanities) in favor of more technical fields “works for individual careers” may itself be a flawed assumption: the author himself notes that

“the biggest culprit is the widespread belief that ‘soft skills’ — such as philosophy and English, which are both in similar decline to history — do not lead to well-paid jobs. But the data do not bear this out. Engineers do better than those who study humanities. But the latter are paid roughly the same as those who graduate in the booming fields of biology and business services.”

But there is a greater cost to society generated by the near-demise of the humanities than simply missed employment opportunities. Luce goes on to comment,

“The demise of strong civics coincides with waning voter turnout, a decline in joining associations, fewer citizen’s initiatives, and other qualities once associated with American vigour. The spread of fake news is often blamed solely on social media… But the ultimate driver is the citizens who believe it.

“There is no scientific metric for gullibility. Nor can we quantitatively prove that civic ignorance imposes a political cost on society. These are questions of judgment. But if America’s origins tell us anything it is that a well-informed citizenry creates a stronger society.”

Indeed! And the reverse, sadly, is also true.

 

Why Are We No Longer Visiting Our Nation’s Historical Sites? | Intellectual Takeout

Why Are We No Longer Visiting Our Nation's Historical Sites?

“I don’t think my wife and I saw a single school group during our entire visit to Philadelphia.”

Source: Why Are We No Longer Visiting Our Nation’s Historical Sites? | Intellectual Takeout

“Colonial Williamsburg attracts only half the numbers of people it attracted 30 years ago. Colonial Williamsburg lost an average of $148,000 a day in 2016, and the Foundation is now over $317 million in debt. Williamsburg has outsourced many of its functions and laid off staff.”

As someone who literally grew up visiting historic sites, and living-history sites in particular – my parents were both lovers of history, and hardly a year went by, during my school days, that I did not visit Colonial Williamsburg, not to mention many other locations such as Jamestown, Plimoth Plantation, Historic Deerfield Village, and Mystic Seaport, among others – and who has served as a historic interpreter at several sites (Claude Moore Colonial Farm, Historic London Town, Benjamin Banneker Historical Park and Museum, and weekly interpretation of the historic Martin Cabin at Hashawha Environmental Center, when I was teaching at the Carroll County Outdoor School), this is personal to me.

The drop-off in visits to Civil War sites is perhaps somewhat understandable, if disappointing, given the often-violent controversy over Civil War symbols and iconography that has shattered the shared understandings and mutual forbearance that governed our collective response to that tragic conflict, until fairly recently. But Civil War sites are not alone in suffering from a distressing decline in visitors.

“Part of the problem, says McWhirter, is ‘changing tastes.’ But Mike Brown, a Civil War battle re-enactor, has another explanation: ‘The younger generations are not taught to respect history, and they lose interest in it.’ Williamsburg’s Ries makes the same observation: ‘[L]ess American history is being taught in schools.”

It’s not just Williamsburg, nor is it limited to sites related to the War Between the States:

“Theodore Roosevelt’s Elkhorn Ranch, Custer Battlefield National Monument in Montana, West Mesa Petroglyphs in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the Penn School in Frogmore, South Carolina, Cannery Row in Monterey, Calilfornia. These places, prominent fixtures in the imaginations of generations of adults and schoolchildren, are receding into oblivion, thanks to an education system that doesn’t seem to value our heritage.”

This is not only sad, it’s dangerous.

A people severed from their history are a people adrift; they have not the knowledge and understanding necessary either to make sense of how we got to where we are today, nor to shape an intelligent and productive course into the future. Like a tree severed from its roots, a nation and a society severed from its past is far more likely to wither and die than it is to grow, blossom, and bear fruit.

And living history – a form of experiential learning, in which attendees are able to step, if only temporarily and partially, into history itself and see it, to some degree, from the “inside” – is perhaps the best way to inculcate within people (young people especially, but people of all ages) a sympathetic appreciation (and if one is fortunate, a passion) for not only the events of the past, but the people of the past, the challenges they faced, and their accomplishments in meeting them.

Field trips to such sites used to be an important and ubiquitous part of the education of school-age young people. But no more, apparently. When I read in this article that “I don’t think my wife and I saw a single school group during our entire visit to Philadelphia,” I am quite literally heartsick.

I understand the value of STEM, and I do not wish to appear to be beating on it; but as I have said elsewhere, our obsessive concern with scientific, technical, engineering, and math-related education – at the expense of the humanities, including history – is leading to a world full of people who may (or may not) be skilled in the technological and scientific disciplines, but are ignoramuses, through no fault of their own, in the fields that lead to both good citizenship and full human flourishing: art, literature, music, history, philosophy, and related disciplines.

As a friend of mine posted today, by a remarkable serendipity:

1999: Study STEM. Humanities will be useless in the 21st century.

2009: Study STEM. Humanities are useless in the 21st century.

2019: Why is our democracy falling apart? It’s like no one understands how it’s supposed to work anymore!

Couldn’t have said it better, myself.

 

On the importance of civility, decency, and subsidiarity | Jonah Goldberg | National Review

“The idea that [civility and decency]… are what’s holding social conservatives back from ‘victory’ in the culture war strikes me as one of the most preposterous claims to be taken seriously by intelligent conservatives in recent memory.”

Source: Jonah Goldberg’s G-File: Endings & Beginnings | National Review

Goldberg takes a long while to get to the point (forgivable, since it’s a farewell column), but when he does, it’s a point I agree with:

“[The solution to the problems facing our country] isn’t to get the best right-wing technocrats to run the economy and the culture. It’s to deny the state the power to run either. Send power back to the communities where people live [emphasis added]. If North Dakota wants to be a theocracy, that’s fine by me as long as the Bill of Rights is respected. If California wants to turn itself into Caligula’s court, I’ll criticize it, but go for it.

“The enemy here is the state, because by aggrandizing to itself the power to tell people how to live, people put all of the blame on a far-off government in Washington — or even more distant ‘globalists’ — for their problems. Federalism, part of the forgotten portions of the Bill of Rights, is the only system that lets the most people live the way they want to live, in communities they have power to influence and direct. In a real community, there are no faceless ‘powers that be.’ There’s Phil and Sarah, or even Mom and Dad.

“And the glorious thing about this kind of pluralism — i.e., for communities, not just individuals — is that if the community you’re living in isn’t conducive to your notion of happiness or virtue, you can move somewhere that is. We want more institutions that give us a sense of meaning and belonging, not a state that promises to deliver all of it for you.”

This is (as Goldberg points out) precisely the Catholic social principle of subsidiarity, with which I also agree: the principle that things should be done by the smallest and most local group / organization / entity that is capable of doing them.

“Keep it local,” in other words. Respect difference and distinctiveness. Celebrate real diversity, not the ersatz, politically-defined version (actually identicality and sameness) I have often written against here. Allow people – no, not “allow,” recognize and embrace people’s right to – true self-expression, and self-determination… even if it’s not politically correct. Maybe especially if it’s not!

Goldberg is square on when he notes that

“It’s a cliché to say that nationalism’s resurgence is a response to globalization. Obviously, there’s truth to that. Less discussed is the fact that American nationalism — both on the right and the left — is a response to, well, nationalization.”

In other words, we have forgotten federalism, as expressed perhaps most precisely and succinctly in the 10th Amendment to the Constitution, the last right enumerated (not granted: recall that we are “endowed by our Creator” – not the government! – “with certain inalienable rights”) by the Bill of Rights:

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”

We have lost sight of that, in our march “from sea to shining sea,” and the creation of an American empire (though without the name), and it is to our very great detriment!

We need to get it back.

 

Can America Become a Christian Society Again? | The Imaginative Conservative

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What is the status of Christianity in the United States today? Can there be such a thing as Christian society or culture?

Source: Can America Become a Christian Society Again? ~ The Imaginative Conservative

There are many points worthy of highlighting in this lengthy but excellent essay by Thomas Ascik – which I strongly encourage you to read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest! – but here is one that jumped out at me, and not only because it features one of my favorite writers and thinkers, Tony Esolen:

“Focusing on the differences between men and women and between fatherhood and motherhood, Dr. Esolen goes into an extensive analysis of the contemporary American family. He argues that girls become women more easily than boys become men, and, thus, the redefinition of masculinity and the compromising of formerly boy-oriented institutions like the Boy Scouts has been catastrophic. As a summary of ‘the way of the world’ in modern times, he points out that the Industrial Revolution took the father out of the house and feminism took the woman out of the house.”

Think about that for a minute (and ponder it daily): “the Industrial Revolution took the father out of the house and feminism took the [mother] out of the house.” Who does that leave? No one, that’s who! Continue reading “Can America Become a Christian Society Again? | The Imaginative Conservative”

How Classic Cartoons Created a Culturally Literate Generation | Intellectual Takeout

How Classic Cartoons Created a Culturally Literate Generation

The cartoons from our parents’ and grandparents’ generations weren’t mind-numbing – they were an important pathway to knowledge.

Source: How Classic Cartoons Created a Culturally Literate Generation | Intellectual Takeout

A shorty but pithy essay by Annie Holmquist, who notes that classic cartoons “did more than mind-numbingly entertain a generation of children. They also introduced millions of young people to key facets of cultural literacy, particularly in the realm of literature and music.”

I have no difficulty believing this. Sad that the same cannot be said about most of today’s offerings!

Read the essay. You’ll likely be glad to did. If nothing else, watch “The Cat Concerto”!

John Cleese faces online backlash after claiming London isn’t ‘an English city any more’ | London Evening Standard

John Cleese has been criticised for saying London 'isn't really an English city anymore'

“I suspect I should apologise for my affection for the Englishness of my upbringing, but in some ways I found it calmer, more polite, more humorous, less tabloid, and less money-oriented than the one that is replacing it.”

Source: John Cleese faces online backlash after claiming London isn’t ‘an English city any more’ | London Evening Standard

Anyone who points out what to many of us is increasingly obvious – that the emperor has no clothes – is of course going to draw “backlash” from the supporters of the empire.

Actor John Cleese, best known for his work with classic British comedy troupe Monty Python, and his hilarious portrayal of English innkeeper Basil Fawlty in “Fawlty Towers,” deserves approbation not only for his tremendous comedic talent, but – in today’s world – his courage. Continue reading “John Cleese faces online backlash after claiming London isn’t ‘an English city any more’ | London Evening Standard”