Brexit Day: end of an era as United Kingdom leaves EU!

Britain’s Independence Day! At 11pm GMT on 31 January, Britain officially left the EU after 47 years of membership.

Here’s a celebratory tweet from Prime Minister Boris Johnson:

Screenshot_2020-01-31 (2) Boris Johnson on Twitter Tonight we have left the EU - an extraordinary turning point in the life[...](1)

And a video of his comments:

Montage of Brexit Day celebration images:

And from The Anglophilic Anglican (meme inspired by a friend’s FB timeline comment):

Congratulations to the British people who voted for Brexit, on this day of independence from the EU after more than three years of struggle and uncertainty (ABC news notes that the departure comes 3½ years after the country voted by a margin of 52%-48% to walk away from the European Union).

I pray it will be the beginning of not only a new, but a positive and successful era in British history, as I have always believed it would be!

And for those who didn’t… hold your pints, mates, and watch this!

 

Roger Scruton – The Tyranny of Pop Music | YouTube

Source: Roger Scruton – The Tyranny of Pop Music | YouTube

Don’t get me wrong, there is a fair bit of “pop” music which I enjoy… in small-to-moderate doses. As Scruton himself notes, “there are distinctions of quality, even in the realm of pop” – and let’s face it, there are times when everyone wants a doughnut, or an ice cream cone, or maybe even cotton candy. Few of us can consume only healthy food, all the time, and the same is true of music. On the other hand, if one’s diet is made up primarily of junk food, one’s health will suffer; and that is true also in the musical realm.

What the late Sir Roger is objecting to, here, is the ubiquitous, all-pervasive nature of pop music in today’s society – much of it vapid, banal, and musically uninteresting, and some of it lyrically offensive – and the way in which (much as salt- and sugar-loaded junk food numbs the taste-buds of those who regularly consume it, until they can’t even enjoy more healthy fare) it numbs the listeners’ appreciation for higher-quality musical “cuisine.”

This matters for more than merely aesthetic reasons. It is remarkable the degree to which the music one listens to not only reflects, but helps to shape, the listener’s outlook on life, one’s worldview. I can speak to this from my own experience, as I made the conscious decision, in my 20s, to stop listening to most rock and pop music, because I did not like the headspace it was putting me into.

Now, one can argue the precise chicken-vs-egg connection between music reflecting and shaping a person’s subjective reality: suffice it to say that it serves both roles. And the fact remains that those who were rioting in Ferguson and Baltimore – to cite just two examples among many – were likely not listening to Bach and Beethoven, Handel and Vivaldi, Ralph Vaughan Williams or John Rutter, through their ear-buds as they trashed cars, burned refuse cans, broke windows, and beat up random bystanders.

These are extreme examples; but nonetheless, music matters. “Music has charms to soothe a savage breast,” as William Congreve noted in The Mourning Bride (1697), but it also has the ability to trouble a serene one. The kind of music with which we fill our ears, heads, and souls matters. And in this talk, Sir Roger explains the problem we are facing, as music of quality and distinction is supplanted by “pop.”

(He deals with the matter from an aesthetic perspective, as one would expect; but since this blog is concerned in large measure with the defense of the West – Western civilization, Western Christendom – against several breeds of savagery, I have pointed out its application to the challenges we are facing.)

Best of all, he doesn’t just complain: he sketches out a road-map for how one can re-program the neural pathways of the young, when it comes to music, making this discussion especially helpful for parents, teachers, and others who may be in a position to help shape the musical education of young people.

Well worth a listen!

 

My wildest fantasy.

Image may contain: text

As a friend of mine pointed out, when I posted this on Facebook, “The fact that this is a meme at all points to the shrinking middle class.” This is very, and sadly, true.

What is even sadder (to me) is that, with a few minor changes –  minus the dogs, to which I am allergic, but adding a wife and children, a nice big garden out back, and a few chickens for fresh eggs – this is my fantasy, as well!

Well, and a Christian West which has recovered its faith, its self-confidence, and its vision for the future, and is rebuilding both its population and its influence in the world. But I suppose these days, that is really dreaming…

 

A provocative essay: “Saving Christian Civilization Through Eros” | The Imaginative Conservative

“Conservatives must now begin the restoration of civilization by promoting erotic love in order to bring us towards higher forms of  love—philia and agape. Specifically, it will be women who will save us, and their weapons will not be their brains, but their bodies.”

Source: Saving Christian Civilization Through Eros ~ The Imaginative Conservative

Here’s the video, from which the image above is a still:

And here are some excerpts from Peter S. Rieth‘s commentary on it:

“What I behold is a Western world so morally bankrupt and decadent, that even the natural, primitive sexual appetites that make men attractive for women and women attractive for men have been erased in Western minds. Decades of feminist propaganda have led to a Western society that has liberated itself from even eroticism.

“It has come to this—that a conservative must now begin the restoration of civilization from such a low, low point as to proclaim in the public square: Men should try to look attractive for women, and women should try to look attractive for men, because we require erotic love in order to bring us towards higher forms of  love—philia and agape.”

“The video screams out to European men: have you forgotten what women are? Have you forgotten what erotic love is? Have you all gone sterile? For it seems that Western European man has indeed forgotten what women are. Eastern Europeans and Russians certainly have not…

“Imagine a world without erotic love—a world of ‘tolerance’ and homosexual-inspired androgyny. Indeed, this world is fast approaching, and is upon the West already. It is a world without the vices associated with erotic lust. True. [*] But it is also a world where the natural virtues of spiritual love, often born of erotic love in the maturing years of youth, will also be abolished.”

“Specifically, it will be women who will save us, and their weapons will not be their brains, but their bodies.”

An interesting and provocative – in several sense of the word! – thesis, this. Worth reading and pondering, in my opinion.

One cautionary point: this is not permission for promiscuity and fornication, even in a heterosexual context! The traditional Christian standards for properly ordered sexual expression – chastity, defined as celibacy while single and fidelity while married – remain the same. But as a comment on the friend’s page I borrowed this from aptly noted,

The church historically seems to have taught [that] erotic love and marriage is only for procreation and you better not enjoy it! But if we read both Solomon and St Paul, we see a different frame of mind. The command is not to covet or lust after what is our neighbour’s, … but what about coveting what is ours?

[The Anglophilic Anglican notes: Of course we cannot technically “covet” that which is already ours, as the definition of “covet” is to desire what is not already ours. But you get the idea: we certainly can, and indeed should, desire what is our own.]

“Solomon encourages his young student to ‘rejoice with the wife of his youth. Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love.’ And the very next line reads… ‘And why wilt thou, my son, be ravished with a strange woman, and embrace the bosom of a stranger?’ This teaching of wisdom brings the commandment into its proper context. Passion is for the marriage bed only.

“St Paul states to abstain from sexual relations while unmarried (commanded by God from the beginning), but a married couple are not to withhold their bodies from each other. And as the author of Hebrews wrote, ‘Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.’

“Eroticism as God intended is a thing of beauty and goodness.”

Indeed!


N.B. This essay is a very concrete example of C.S. Lewis’ “argument from desire” (or “apologetic of desire”) – that ordinary human desires, which are at least capable of fulfillment here on earth, can serve to lead the soul “onward and upward” (“is that all there is?”) toward the desire for union with God, which can be wholly fulfilled only through supernatural means – a thesis discussed in much more arcane detail by the eminent Peter Kreeft here.


* This is not entirely true. Although some, both women and men, in today’s West are indeed giving up traditional romantic and even sexual relationships, that does not mean that they are, in the main, turning to the study of history, philosophy, theology, or the arts instead.

What seems to be happening, so far at least, is the replacement of normal, natural erotic desire – that associated with the natural attraction of men for women and women for men, which carries with it at least the potential of procreation – with unnatural, disordered, increasingly perverse forms of erotic lust, coupled with the intentional extinction of procreation through abortion.

I am reminded of Tolkien’s dictum that evil can create nothing on its own, but can only pervert, warp, and twist that which already exists…

Oh, and one final comment: I am not sure I entirely agree with “their weapons will not be their brains, but their bodies.” I don’t disagree with it, either; but it’s not entirely accurate, I think, as stated.

A great deal of eroticism is not merely one’s body, but how one uses it – and that is definitely a function of brain-power. The body churns the butter, or kneads the bread: both functions which can be built into a machine. The brain figures out how to do so suggestively!

 

Yale Cancels Prestigious Art History Course For Being “Too White” | Zero Hedge

https://anglophilicanglican.files.wordpress.com/2020/01/rembrandt20night20watch-1.jpg

So that’s it, apparently: the great masterpieces recognized as such by the entire world for generations are now tainted by their supposed “whiteness” and must be censored by the Robespierre-like mob of the “woke”.

Source: Yale Cancels Prestigious Art History Course For Being “Too White” | Zero Hedge

“It’s not merely that the Western Civilization-focused ‘Introduction to Art History: Renaissance to the Present’ class has been deleted, but the entire concept of ‘Western art’ itself will be a focus of criticism in the multiple new ‘more culturally sensitive’ classes that will replace it.”

The inmates really are running the asylum.

How long before the beautiful centuries-old campus buildings themselves will be ‘discovered’ as part of the Western tradition of architecture? Will they survive the decades to come as the ‘purge’ grows ever fiercer and more anti-intellectual?

I feel like I’m living in a slow-motion (so far…) version of the French Revolution, or maybe the Cultural Revolution of Red China. God preserve us!

 

Democrats Seek Civil War, But Will Get Revolution | American Thinker

Democrats understand that an armed America can say, “No!” And they can’t have that.

Source: Democrats Seek Civil War, But Will Get Revolution – American Thinker

“Democrats conspired with foreign agents, lied, cheated, and denied due process to Donald Trump. If they were willing to do that to a duly elected president in order to obtain power, what should Americans expect them to do to them should they refuse attempts to be disarmed?” […]

“Democrats want this war.  Someone should tell them they should be careful what they wish for.”

I fervently hope and pray that it doesn’t come to that – that the worst may yet be averted. But if it does, I think this article is correct: the radical Left is going to get a radical surprise.

 

Classic Recipes from the British Isles: Rumbledethumps, Colcannon, and Bubble-and-Squeak; Yorkshire Pudding, Toad-in-the-Hole, and Onion Gravy

Scottish Rumbledethumps

Traditional Scottish Rumbledethumps

Image result for robert burns
Robert “Rabbie” Burns, the Bard of Scotland

With tonight being Burns Night, I thought I’d start with the wonderfully-named Rumbledethumps: a traditional dish of the Scots Borders, from whence he hailed – and from which a good chunk of my father’s family likewise hailed! Indeed, we shared a town – Selkirk – with the Ploughman Poet, and had our own subtly distinct version of the well-known “Selkirk Grace”:

Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some have nae that want it;
But we hae meat, and we can eat,
Sae let the Lord be thankit!

Now for two close cousins of Rumbledethumps: Irish Colcannon, and English Bubble-and-Squeak:

Colcannon recipe

Traditional Irish Colcannon

“Colcannon is a favorite Irish recipe, especially on St Patrick‘s Day. Seriously, what is not to like? Creamy mashed potatoes, fresh, crunchy curly kale, a bit of spring onions, and pats of butter.”

Delicious, and not just for St. Padraig’s! The spring onions and kale give it both a fresh flavor and a health boost. I don’t pulse or chop them mechanically, just give the kale a thin chiffonade, and slice the green onion into 1/8 to 1/4″ rounds. Be sure to include the green tops!

Bubble and Squeak

Traditional Bubble and Squeak

The first specifically British dish I ever made, many years ago (many, many years, now…), Bubble and Squeak is the lovely, quirky, evocative name for what is mostly fried leftover vegetables, usually from Sunday’s roast dinner (sometimes leftover meat, or bacon, is incorporated). The name comes from the sound it makes as it’s frying! It can be breakfast, brunch, lunch, or supper, as circumstances may dictate.

Yorkshire Pudding

Traditional Yorkshire Pudding

In Yorkshire itself, these puffy pastries, baked in oil (yes, you heard that right…), are often served as a starter; in rest of Britain, they’re the classic accompaniment to a Sunday roast (see here for more on the Sunday roast or “Sunday lunch”). In either case, plenty of gravy is an essential accompaniment – see below!

Toad in the Hole

Family-sized Toad in the Hole

Another evocatively-named dish, Toad-in-the-Hole combines “bangers” (sausages) with a Yorkshire-pudding-like pastry batter (in fact, the Yorkshire pudding recipe could be used for this dish, although the one given here is a wee bit different). A classic supper dish, but could also be the centerpiece for a (slightly less traditional) Sunday lunch. The bangers are rather jumbled in the illustration; I like mine arranged a bit more neatly!

Onion Gravy

Rich Onion Gravy

Several – arguably all! – of the above could deliciously benefit from being served with onion gravy, and Yorkshire pudding and Toad-in-the-Hole practically demand it. As the linked recipe notes,

“The ultimate in comfort food must be any meat dish, or meat and creamy mashed potatoes, smothered in a rich onion gravy. The bringing together of sweet onions and a dark rich sauce—which is both sweet and savory—is a classic of both the British and Irish kitchens.”

And darned tasty on this side of “the Pond,” I must say.

Enjoy!

 

Now Residing in the Blessed Realm: Chris Tolkien (1924-2020) | The American Conservative

Rivaled only by his father, he was an exemplar of piety and scholarship who understood myth like few men in history.

Source: Now Residing in the Blessed Realm: Chris Tolkien (1924-2020) | The American Conservative

A splendid tribute! I have come to the conclusion that I have, heretofore, sadly underestimated the importance – and abilities – of Christopher Tolkien. Perhaps, if God so wills it that I make it to the Blessed Realms myself, we may meet, and I can apologize!

 

President Trump’s historic 2020 March for Life speech | News | LifeSite

“All of us here understand an eternal truth: Every child is a precious and sacred gift from God. Together, we must protect, cherish, and defend the dignity and the sanctity of every human life.” – President Donald J. Trump

Source: FULL TEXT: President Trump’s historic 2020 March for Life speech | News | LifeSite

President Trump is the first sitting President of the United States to ever attend and address, in person, the March for Life. Many sources have commented that he is, in fact, the most vigorously pro-life President ever to sit in the Oval Office. Among his comments on this historic occasion, in addition to the one quoted above:

“When we see the image of a baby in the womb, we glimpse the majesty of God’s creation. When we hold a newborn in our arms, we know the endless love that each child brings to a family. When we watch a child grow, we see the splendor that radiates from each human soul.”

“Sadly, the far left is working to erase our God-given rights, shut down faith-based charities, ban religious leaders from the public square, and silence Americans who believe in the sanctity of life.”

“And to all the moms here today, we celebrate you and we declare that mothers are heroes. [applause] Your strength, devotion, and drive is what powers our nation. Because of you, our country has been blessed with amazing souls who have changed the course of human history.”

“We cannot know what our citizens yet unborn will achieve. The dreams they will imagine. The masterpieces they will create. The discoveries they will make. But we know this: every life brings love into this world. Every child brings joy to a family. Every person is worth protecting.

“And above all, we know that every human soul is divine and every human life, born and unborn, is made in the holy image of Almighty God.

“Together, we will defend this truth all across our magnificent land. We will set free the dreams of our people. And with determined hope, we look forward to all of the blessings that will come from the beauty, talent, purpose, nobility, and grace of every American child.”

One might quibble, theologically, with the statement that “every human soul is divine.” But every human soul does partake of the divine nature, in the sense of having been created by the living God; and every human soul is – at least potentially, if they own it and respond to such a great gift (or if our sovereign God, for reasons of His own, so chooses) – redeemed by the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross, with the promise of becoming by grace what He is by nature. So one can hardly fault the sentiment expressed!

As commented elsewhere, I was long on the fence about abortion. While thinking of myself as “pro-choice,” I always believed that it should be a last resort, never a first option: the oft-repeated (although less often and more softly, these days) mantra of “abortion on demand without apology” has always struck me as absolutely morally repugnant.

To snuff out a human life for one’s own convenience – for that is precisely what that slogan is calling for – is the very definition of murder. But I have tended to accept the traditional exceptions: rape, incest, and to save the life of the mother. I still do, to a large extent. But what I did not fully realize until recently is how vanishingly rare a truly medically-necessary abortion (the so-called “therapeutic abortion”) actually is, particularly later in pregnancy.

As Dr. Omar Hamada, OB/GYN, has stated, “I want to clear something up so that there is absolutely no doubt. I’m a Board Certified OB/GYN who has delivered over 2,500 babies. There’s not a single fetal or maternal condition that requires third trimester abortion. Not one. Delivery, yes. Abortion, no.”

And on a personal note, my sister-in-law underwent, many years ago now, what was referred to as a “therapeutic abortion.” It is that experience which did much to keep me on the “choice” side of the aisle. But in fact the child was already, sadly, dead in her womb by that time. His mortal remains are buried in a tiny coffin in the family plot, and my nephew carries his name as his middle one. Whatever that procedure was, it was not an “abortion,” as we generally think of the term!

And while I do not think that the victim of rape – or incest, which is nearly always also rape – should be required to carry the child of that rape in her body, I salute with great respect those who choose to do so. Why? Because, of course, it is not the child who committed the vile assault; yet if an abortion occurs, that child becomes still another victim of it.

So, yes, I am pro-life! And I salute President Trump for this heart-felt and encouraging speech in support of that right to life, which is enshrined in our very Declaration of Independence, the founding document of our Nation. God bless him, and God bless America – and may we grow, once again, into a people and nation that is worthy of God’s blessings!


Nota Bene: The video of the speech is embedded above; for the full written text thereof, follow the link. Thank you!

 

Sex is for male-female marriage only, Church of England confirms | Christian News on Christian Today

marriage

Sex only belongs in heterosexual marriage, a new statement from the Church of England’s House of Bishops has declared.

Source: Sex is for male-female marriage only, Church of England confirms | Christian News on Christian Today

Somewhat surprisingly, given its history in recent years and decades, the House of Bishops of the Church of England – the “Mother Church” of all Anglican Christians – has affirmed that

“For Christians, marriage – that is the lifelong union between a man and a woman, contracted with the making of vows – remains the proper context for sexual activity.”

This is the traditional teaching, albeit phrased somewhat cautiously. They go on to say that

“In its approach to civil partnerships the Church seeks to uphold that standard, to affirm the value of committed, sexually abstinent friendships and to minister sensitively and pastorally to those Christians who conscientiously decide to order their lives differently,”

which is a legitimate call to pastoral sensitivity: as a dear, excellent, and godly Anglican priest of my acquaintance put it, the duty of the Church is to “uphold the standard, and deal pastorally with the exceptions.” They go on to affirm that

“Sexual relationships outside heterosexual marriage are regarded as falling short of God’s purposes for human beings. The introduction of same sex marriage… has not changed the church’s teaching on marriage or same sex relationships.”

The Church of England and its HOB has itself fallen what seems to be short of God’s purposes for human beings in a number of regards over, as I say, the last several decades, and they do waffle a bit on practical application. But I am a believer in giving credit where it’s due!