Even the peaceful, innocuous hobby (and for some, livelihood) of knitting cannot escape the social justice warriors, political posturers, and virtue signalers of cultural Marxism.
But any pendulum can only swing so far, before it begins to swing back. There is already a backlash building, though for now it’s relatively subtle and even “underground.” But it’s there.
I hope I am alive when the wave crests. I really do. I want to watch.
“In an age in which freedom of speech seems to be under attack in many different spheres of society, heretics to the progressive creed find themselves persecuted ad nauseam by a choir of the self-righteous. This kind of vindictive activism has been described by Jordan Peterson as a hunt for people who dare to disagree.
What is this but totalitarianism masquerading as tolerance?
‘What’s happening on the radical end of the political spectrum is not good. But the conservatives are too afraid. They’re afraid they will be targeted as individuals, mobbed by the social justice warriors, and taken out,’ he said in an interview with the Epoch Times.
The writer and activist James Lindsay, meanwhile, told me that campaigns like these are simply ‘a power grab thinly clothed as a civil rights movement.'”
A power grab thinly clothed as a civil rights movement.
Yes. Well said.
Read, and remember: all that is necessary for evil to thrive is for good people to do nothing. Appeasing these @$$holes only encourages them: they smell weakness and, like vicious dogs, pounce.
General Robert E. Lee, Commander of the Army of Northern Virginia, CSA (and later and for a time, all Confederate forces), was one of my first heroes and role models, and he remains so to this day. He was not only a great general (if I ever speak of “the General,” without further modification, I am speaking of Lee), but a great Christian gentleman.
But although he was a great man, he was not a perfect man: those who do not understand how both statements can be true understand little of human nature, or indeed of the nature of reality. The linked article does not whitewash the General, but it definitely shows his greatness. Well worth a read, and I commend it, dear readers, to your attention.
One note: I am not a huge fan (to put it mildly) of Federal Gen. Ulysses S. Grant. He permitted, if not actually enabled, the horrific actions of Sherman and Sheridan; and he was little more caring for his own men than for his opponents, being willing to sacrifice his own soldiers in a most callous fashion to obtain his victories: it is not without reason that he was nicknamed “Butcher Grant,” by Northern journalists.
But he was not entirely without honour, either, at least toward people he considered to be personal friends – as he apparently did General Lee, with whom he had served in the Mexican War. It is well-known that he gave honourable terms to the surrendering Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox Court House, even allowing the Confederate soldiers to keep their rifles (a major concession, for a defeated army).
What is less well-known is his personal intervention on Lee’s behalf, after the War, as recounted here:
“Later, when Lee was indicted for treason by a federal grand jury, with the threat of arrest and possible execution hanging over him, he appealed to Grant, noting that the terms of his army’s surrender included the stipulation—drafted by Grant himself—that ‘each officer and man will be allowed to return to his home, not to be disturbed by United States authority so long as they observe their paroles and the laws in force where they may reside.’
“Grant concurred with Lee’s interpretation and urged Lee to apply for a federal pardon, which Grant said he would endorse. Lee did so, sending the documents to Grant, who indeed forwarded them on to President Andrew Johnson with his endorsement. (The application would be ‘lost,’ and Lee’s citizenship would not be restored until 1975—but that is another story.) What Lee did not know was that Grant quietly let it be known that he would resign from the army if Lee were to be arrested.”
I believe in giving credit where due, and this action is certainly to Grant’s credit. I will only add that it’s a shame his sense of honour was not a bit more general. But, again, human nature is what it is…
“By omission, are U.S. schools teaching their students that character, morality, and ethics aren’t important in becoming productive, successful citizens?”
Most of my reader would at once answer some variation on “sadly, yes” – and we can see many of the bitter fruits of this in our society – but the fact that the question is even being asked is significant. You know the situation is bad when a mainstream, Left-leaning journal like The Atlantic is wondering whether we’re doing a poor job of teaching character, ethics, and morality to our students!
Granted, that is a job that is best done by parents and church, not schools. But like many other once-common life skills (I’m thinking of things like gardening, the use of simple tools, and home economics), ethics, morality, and character are things that many contemporary parents are ill-equipped to teach their sons and daughters, because they’re not too well-versed in them, themselves.
Despite the old tongue-in-cheek adage that “those who can’t do, teach,” you can’t teach what you don’t know, yourself.
What is interesting (though not surprising) to me is that students are hungry for such instruction, or at least discussion and guided exploration:
“‘Do you think you should discuss morality and ethics more often in school?’ I asked the class. The vast majority of heads nodded in agreement. Engaging in this type of discourse, it seemed, was a mostly foreign concept for the kids… As my students seemed to crave more meaningful discussions and instruction relating to character, morality, and ethics, it struck me how invisible these issues have become in many schools.”
This is indicative of an abject failure in our educational system. In an earlier and wiser age, the formation of students into not only good citizens, but good persons, was a primary – perhaps the primary – function of schooling. There may not have been a formal class called “ethics,” but moral lesson permeated the academic ones.
Duty to God and country, respect for duly-constituted authority, and compassion towards others were part of the curriculum: from the Pledge of Allegiance and Lord’s Prayer in the morning, through “reading and ‘riting and ‘rithmatic, taught to the tune of a hickory stick,” throughout the day. Stories (and poems, which tend to be especially memorable) selected for reading, reciting, and expostulating upon in various forms invariably carried a moral message.
That was already starting to go away by the time I got into school, in the early 1970s, and the trend has only accelerated.
Unfortunately, some of what it has been replaced by has been of questionable merit – the starkly utilitarian teaching-to-the-test of “No Child Left Behind,” and its successor, “Common Core” (as the linked essay describes) – or even frankly morally vicious, as in the moral relativism and intentional sidelining of traditional morality that has become the dominant ethos in the contemporary educational establishment over the last four or five decades.
We didn’t get where we are now overnight, and we won’t get back to a place of greater sanity overnight, either; but if reflections like the linked essay can be published in “mainstream” media outlets like The Atlantic, that at least gives some grounds for hope that pendulum may be starting, however slowly, to swing back. God grant it! It needs to.
“Come on, priests, musicians, and singers. Learn some poetry. Open the old hymnals and read. You need not feed on slop all your life long when you might enjoy real meat and potatoes and vegetables. And sometimes—more often than you suspect—you might feast like kings.”
A typically excellent treatment of the subject, by the inimitable Professor Anthony Esolen.
“Not every carpenter in 1800 could make tables fit for Windsor Castle. But he made what would stand the test of time, because it required great skill and practice to make any kind of table at all. The sifting would already have occurred when the man was a boy, learning the feel of wood and tool.
“So, too, with the old hymns. A person would have needed certain skills not only to write a good poem in meter and rhyme, but to write any such poem, and he would have been accustomed to writing such poetry from his youth. Poetry was a big part of the ordinary person’s life. For some people it was only the poetry in folk songs and hymns, but for literate people—and I am not talking about college graduates—it was far more…
“Modernism is nearly synonymous with disruption from and dismissal of the past. The modernist says the clock’s hands have turned, that there’s no going back, and we must look to the future. Its results have been meager, and at worst a spree of destruction. I am not speaking merely of quality. Whole genres of poetry, to name one branch of art, have disappeared.
“This is not to say that modernist poets write poor dramatic monologues, poor epics, poor songs, and poor narratives; they do not write them at all. Poetry has shrunk to the confessional or political lyric, usually in free verse. Never in human history has poetry meant less to the ordinary man. It is a tree torn up by the roots.”
Of course, having identified and described the problem, the next issue is figuring out what to do about it. Professor Esolen’s recommendation – “Learn some poetry. Open the old hymnals and read” – is an excellent place to start! But how to get people to actually do that is a bit more of a conundrum.
As the old saying goes, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” And you can lead a writer of “worship songs” to classic hymnody, but you can’t make him appreciate it, still less internalize its lessons, in such a way as to enable him to write in the same tradition… or at least, it doesn’t seem so.
It also helps to come from a faith tradition that actually is a faith tradition. Far too much of what passes for Christianity today is in point of fact what Patheos blogger Jonathan Aigner refers to as “jesusy” worship “experiences.” (He also refers to a lot of it as “masturbatory worship,” calling it a “self-worshiping, self-referential, nearly auto-erotic pursuit.” I don’t think he’s far wrong, but I’m trying to be nice.)
For a church – or a would-be hymn-writer – to have an authentic faith tradition, they have to be part of an authentic faith tradition: and for that, you need something like the Anglican tradition. Or the Lutheran, or Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, or (God help us… after all, I am an Anglican!) Presbyterian / Reformed traditions: traditions that have developed over the centuries, even the millennia, of the Christian era.
You won’t find it in the “community church” model, which almost seems to take pride in not being part of any tradition, which seems to practically glory in being cut off from the past (which, of course, is what inevitably happens when you hitch your wagon to the “contemporary” star).
There are a few such churches that seem to be trying to graft themselves back onto the Great Tradition, and I wish them all the best! But they are still relatively few and far between, and they’ve got their work cut out for them.
And of course, far too many of those who are members of churches that have historically been part of the Great Tradition have, for the last four or five decades (or more), been doing their best to cast off those connections. Perhaps unsurprisingly, these have nearly all seen a steep decline in membership.
But I digress. The point – for the purposes of this post – is that to write hymns that have both theological and poetical depth, one must be steeped in both the poetical tradition and in an authentic, historical faith tradition.
It is said that the old Celtic Bards had to study for 21 years to become masters of their craft and trade. They had to learn not only the musical arts, but history, folklore, genealogy, myths and legends, and much more. Even law codes! Then and only then were they seen to be ready to ply the bardic arts.
Yet now, it seems, everyone who can string together a few lines of doggerel thinks they can write “worship songs” or “praise music.” Maybe we need a more Bardic approach to Christian hymnody! We had something like it once, though we may not have called it by that name: Tony Esolen explicates it, and the fertile soil in which it grew.
The 2020 presidential campaigns have just begun, but on the issue of gun control, we’re already hearing a common refrain from numerous candidates: The Second Amendment does not protect anyone’s right to own, as they put it, “weapons of war”…
But of course, as the linked essay accurately points out, this point of view is absolutely and categorically incorrect. In fact, it is 180° false and wrong-headed. It is precisely ownership of “weapons of war” that the Second Amendment does protect! As Mark Houser, author of this essay, puts it,
“The Second Amendment unambiguously protects our right to own ‘weapons of war.’ That is, weapons suitable not just for sport, but for combat.
“Many people find this obvious. It’s hard to imagine what else the Second Amendment could possibly be intended to do. James Madison wrote the Second Amendment in the aftermath of a bloody war for independence from a tyrannical empire. The first shots of that war were fired to resist disarmament. Can anyone truly believe that Madison wrote the Second Amendment with, say, hunting or target shooting in mind? It’s a preposterous notion.”
And he also correctly notes that
“Gun control proponents are quick to point out that Madison and his contemporaries didn’t imagine the sort of weapons that exist today. That’s probably true, but it’s irrelevant to the question at hand.
“We don’t say that the First Amendment doesn’t apply to typed or online publications simply because the Framers did not imagine typewriters or the internet. We don’t say that the Fourth Amendment does not apply to search and surveillance capabilities that the Framers did not imagine, such as GPS tracking.”
The Anglophilic Anglican adds: although that will be next, if we lose the 2nd Amendment – the one that guarantees all the others. Or maybe the 1st Amendment will be the next victim. By that point, it hardly matters… At any rate, Houser continues:
“Technological development doesn’t change the fundamental nature of the rights that the Bill of Rights seeks to secure.”
Amen. Read the whole thing. It’s worth it. We need to understand these matters, and be clear about them when it comes to political discourse! For too long we have let the Left define the terms of the argument. That needs to change.
“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.”
“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.”
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!