Defy Mob Justice by Celebrating the Life of Robert E. Lee | Crisis Magazine

The acting assumption seems to be that if only we can erase any memory of the Confederacy and slavery, racism will finally be a thing of the past… [However,] it’s worth pointing out that before we tear men apart, or tear down their statues, we are duty bound to know the facts of the case, no matter our personal feelings toward, or disagreements with, the male in question.

Source: Defy Mob Justice by Celebrating the Life of Robert E. Lee – Crisis Magazine

Today marks the anniversary of the passing of General Robert E. Lee – “Marse Robert” (“Master Robert”), to his devoted men – in 1870, just over five years after he had reluctantly surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia to Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Courthouse, in the realization that he had done all he could do, and prolonging the conflict any further would simply result in still more senseless death and destruction.

Although he was the greatest of many great Southern generals (and indeed, among the greatest military leaders of any land and of any time), he had never been a secessionist, and only reluctantly resigned his commission in the United States Army when it became clear that he would have to choose between what he – along with many, both North and South – saw as a voluntary Union of sovereign States, and his beloved home state of Virginia, “the Old Dominion”: it would not be possible to remain loyal to both.

He also was personally opposed to slavery, holding it to be a “great moral and political evil,” but believed that its abolition should be gradual and equitable to all parties concerned – rather than the sudden, violent, and disorganized way in which it actually occurred, which has contributed to both resentment, and many practical problems, ever since. In this, I think he was rather prescient.

At any rate, as the linked post notes,

“This man, known primarily for his dignity, his dedication, and most of all his outstanding leadership and military prowess certainly merits honor. He should be remembered with respect by history, with prayer on the day of his death, as well as being commemorated with statues. Toppling statues of Lee will not remove the shame of slavery from American history. Rather, refusing to recognize nobility among enemies—even historical ones—demonstrates symptoms of a culture purposefully ignorant of history, as well as one unable to dialogue when in disagreement…

“Immediately following the Civil War, though animosity between North and South had hardly died, Lee held the respect of the entire nation. Crocker states, “Soon after the war’s end, he was increasingly regarded not merely as a military genius but as someone to be venerated by the South and by the North, to be venerated, indeed, throughout the Western world as a great man.” His reputation as a world-class tactician, peerless leader, and humble gentleman extends beyond the bounds of this country, and beyond the limits of his own time…

“Therefore, even those who deeply disagree with General Lee ought to stand up for him now, remember him prayerfully on the anniversary of his death, and honor his memory. Rewriting history doesn’t change history or remove its errors, it merely eliminates its lessons along with examples of greatness and nobility. Likewise, failure to recognize nobility and give honor when due gives rise to the very hatred from which racism springs: the inability to recognize goodness in those who are different from oneself—whether that be in appearance, ideas, or nationality. Such an inability has its source in a refusal to dialogue in the pursuit of truth.”

An excellent article – the excerpts quoted above are but snippets. The whole thing is worth a read! And General Lee is worth remembering with respect, indeed (I believe) with reverence. He was a great General, but more than that, he was a great Christian gentleman. In the words of President (and former 5-star General and Supreme Commander, Allied Expeditionary Forces Europe, in World War Two) Dwight David Eisenhower, when asked why he kept a portrait of General Lee in the Oval Office,

“General Robert E. Lee was, in my estimation, one of the supremely gifted men produced by our Nation. He believed unswervingly in the Constitutional validity of his cause which until 1865 was still an arguable question in America; he was a poised and inspiring leader, true to the high trust reposed in him by millions of his fellow citizens; he was thoughtful yet demanding of his officers and men, forbearing with captured enemies but ingenious, unrelenting and personally courageous in battle, and never disheartened by a reverse or obstacle. Through all his many trials, he remained selfless almost to a fault and unfailing in his faith in God. Taken altogether, he was noble as a leader and as a man, and unsullied as I read the pages of our history. 

“From deep conviction, I simply say this: a nation of men of Lee’s calibre would be unconquerable in spirit and soul. Indeed, to the degree that present-day American youth will strive to emulate his rare qualities, including his devotion to this land as revealed in his painstaking efforts to help heal the Nation’s wounds once the bitter struggle was over, we, in our own time of danger in a divided world, will be strengthened and our love of freedom sustained.”

Needless to say, I agree with all of the above. General Lee is one of my heroes, and one of my earliest role models. May God bless the memory of “Marse Robert”!

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“Building, Dwelling, Thinking” – Heidegger

“Only if we are capable of dwelling, only then can we build. Let us think for a while of a farmhouse in the Black Forest, which was built some two hundred years ago by the dwelling of peasants. Here the self-sufficiency of the power to let earth and...

If I may follow on with the architectural theme from this morning:

“Only if we are capable of dwelling, only then can we build. Let us think for a while of a farmhouse in the Black Forest, which was built some two hundred years ago by the dwelling of peasants. Here the self-sufficiency of the power to let earth and heaven, divinities and mortals enter in simple oneness into things, ordered the house. It placed the farm on the wind-sheltered mountain slope, looking south, among the meadows close to the spring. It gave it its wide overhanging shingle roof whose proper slope bears up under the burden of snow, and which, reaching deep down, shields the chambers against the storms of the long winter-nights. It did not forget the altar corner behind the community table; it made room in its chamber for the hallowed places of childbed and the ‘tree of the dead’ — for that is what they call a coffin there: the Totenbaum — and in this way it designed for the different generations under one roof the character of their journey through time. A craft which, itself sprung from dwelling, still uses its tools and frames as things, built the farmhouse.” 

— Martin Heidegger, “Building, Dwelling, Thinking” in Poetry, Language, Thought

I do not know enough about Heidegger to say anything about his philosophy in general; but I will say that – in my opinion – he is square-on in this!

Seven Misunderstandings about Classical Architecture | Quinlan Terry

I try to practice as a classical architect today, and I enjoy it. There are many ways in which classical architecture is misunderstood…

Source: Seven Misunderstandings about Classical Architecture | Quinlan Terry

In which a currently-practicing classical architect – a sadly rare breed, these days – discusses seven common misconceptions concerning classical architecture: Pastiche, Functionalism, New building types, Materials, Cost, Tradesmen, and Politics. A most interesting treatment!

Though he is obviously trying to simplify as much as possible for a general audience, I confess that I got a little bogged down in some of the technical aspects, and had to resort to a dictionary more than once. Alas, my education in classical architecture, as in many other realms, is not all I could wish! Nonetheless, I had no trouble grasping the essence of what he was saying, and I am quite sure that will be true with any reasonably educated, or simply well-read, reader.

He makes many good points, some of them of a strictly architectural nature (which means, the interrelation between humans and the buildings in which they live and work), while others might be seen to have a more general application. Here is one of the latter:

” I think the working man is misunderstood by everyone, not least himself. There is, after all, no fundamental difference between the tradesman, the architect or his employers. They are all men made in the image of God with needs and aspirations. But I have noticed that we are all far less covetous when we are working on a job we enjoy; at the end of the day we can go home and think about it and return the next day to take the work a little further. I have heard this from so many tradesmen, that it must be true; it is the boredom of repetitive work, work which requires nothing from you, that makes for an empty mind. The empty mind is a dangerous thing because it soon gets filled with a host of other thoughts which no industrial expert can control…”

And then there is this:

“It is often said that there are political implications in the classical style… The truth is that it does express the society that uses it, just as man’s or woman’s face expresses what is in their heart, but this does not mean that it takes sides… [He goes on to list a startling variety of groups and philosophies, throughout history, who have utilized elements of classical architecture.] Although the spiritual, political, material and temporal influences are crystallised in wood and stone, and expressed in classical forms, the classical grammar remains neutral; like the paint on the artist’s palette.”

As someone who tends to the conservative and traditional, socially and politically as well as philosophically, classical architecture has an obvious appeal to me. I value such elemental ideals as timeless beauty, stability, permanence, order, and craft. As Architectural Revival puts it,

“Create places our ancestors would recognise and our descendants will be proud of. Stand for Beauty, Tradition, Heritage, Identity, Order & Craft.”

It is true, however, that the elements and ideals of classical architecture are not limited to any particular political, economic, or social philosophy. They transcend such matters, cutting to the heart of the human spirit. This should not be surprising, if we recall that Beauty is, along with Goodness and Truth, one of the classical Three Transcendentals: all of which are interrelated, and all of which are gifts of, and indeed expressions of, the One Who perfectly embodies all three – that is, God Himself.

But whether you follow that line of metaphysical reasoning or not, the fact remains that the beauty and value of classical architecture transcends any particular use to which humans may put it, or context within which we may place it. The ancients did not create the classical standards of beauty, proportion, etc.; they discovered them. The appreciation of them is innate to our human nature, for it is grounded in Nature itself.

[Which, of course, is another way of saying the created order, which both stems from and leads to the Creator… and there I go, getting all metaphysical again! But what do you expect, of a Christian cleric?]

And this is why classical architecture continues to have such aesthetic appeal, and continues to give us such feelings of satisfaction, completeness, and pleasure when we gaze upon it, whether the building in question was erected thousands of years ago, or just last week.

What the New Pagans and Christians Have in Common | Intellectual Takeout

What the New Pagans and Christians Have in Common

Off the top of my head, I can think of at least three major principles that traditional Christianity and paganism, broadly speaking, share in common…

Source: What the New Pagans and Christians Have in Common | Intellectual Takeout

A very interesting article / essay, which raises (in my opinion) some very good points. Inter alia:

“It has become commonplace among many Christians to quickly denounce these neo-pagan rituals and the people who participate in them. They see the increasing visibility of paganism as a fruit of secularism and a sign that the West is descending further into cultural darkness.

“But sometimes I wonder if this paganism — in some of its manifestations — has more in common with ancient Christianity than with many the whittled-down and demythologized versions of Christianity that are known as ‘mainstream.'”

He goes on to list three points of commonality (please read the article for further explication of these points): 1) recognition of the importance of ritual, 2) a holistic view of life, and 3) a reverence for creation.

I agree; in fact, I have made similar arguments, repeatedly and in a variety of fora, for literally decades.

The failure of what post author Daniel Lattier accurately describes as “whittled-down and demythologized versions of Christianity” – I would add, overly-intellectualized and, indeed, quasi-Gnostic versions of Christianity – to embrace these principles is, I firmly believe, one of the reasons why it is losing ground both to secularism and to other forms of spirituality which do.

Please note that we are not talking about syncretism, here; we are not talking about blending doctrine, or paganizing Christianity. We are talking about basic, underlying principles that are common to both, because they stem from the human religious impulse itself: an impulse which is one of God’s gifts to us, as humans.

In this context, I very much liked one of the comments that followed on Facebook, where I found the link to this post:

Any assertion that changing seasons, folk rituals, astrological observance, herbal remedies, local festivals &c were “pagan” would have been met with bemusement in the Middle Ages.

“Such things were not pagan but human. Who doesn’t notice the seasons and stars? Who doesn’t have local legends and traditions? Only the deracinated postmodern man.”

Just so. And I am quite sure that the likes of Tolkien and Lewis would concur!


 

N.B. “Deracinated” is not a word in common parlance today. Here is its definition:

  1. to pull up by the roots; uproot; extirpate; eradicate.
  2. to isolate or alienate (a person) from a native or customary culture or environment. https://www.dictionary.com/browse/deracinate

An apt term, I think, for the context!

Glories of the West: Oktoberfest in Bavaria!

Trachten- und Schützenzug (Folk-costume and Riflemen) parade in Munich, Bavaria, 2016.

Oktoberfest began on the 22nd of this month (September). Although originally specific to Bavaria, it has become associated with all things German – at least in American minds! – and is celebrated pretty much worldwide, wherever people live who claim German blood. But Bavaria (Bayern), and Munich (München) in particular, remains the epicenter.

Originally held on the 12th of October, 1810, to celebrate the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria, later to become King Ludwig I, to Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen, it was enjoyed so much that it became an annual event. Before long, it was moved to September, to take advantage of the longer and warmer days, but it kept the name it had picked up: Oktoberfest.

Although the Royal horse-races that were the original highlight of the event are no longer held, and the once-annual agricultural fair is held only every three years, Oktoberfest is still more than just its “beer and boobs” reputation (not that there’s necessarily anything wrong with either…).

The parade of folk-costumes shown in the above clip – held on the first Sunday of Oktoberfest – originated in 1835, and became an “official” and regular part of the celebration in 1950. Since then, it has been expanded to include crossbowmen in medieval clothing, riflemen, folk dancers, flag-throwers, bands, carriages and floats, horses, and even goats, cows and oxen.

Tracht (plural Trachten), or folk-costumes, are the traditional or “national” costume of the region; descending from the working clothes of country folk, they are now proper attire for such festivals as Oktoberfest, and a few other festivals such as the late-summer Viehscheid (cattle drive) that celebrates the ceremonial return of the cattle (and their herders) from the mountain pastures, where they have spent the summer fattening up on the lush Alpine meadows, to the lowland towns where they will spend the winter.

Learn all you need to know (and then some!) about the wearing of this traditional attire at the “Great Big Guide to Bavarian Clothing.” Just be sure to click on the buttons near the bottom, to continue on to the next page. As this site notes,

“In recent years, traditional Bavarian clothing has had something of a revival and is now more popular than ever… It’s not just at the world-famous Wiesn [the “field” or “meadow” on which the Munich Oktoberfest is held] that lederhosen and dirndls are worn… Many towns and villages have local festivals at which locals don traditional outfits, as do they for special occasions such as Christmas or weddings.”

John F. Dausch notes that

“In 1887 the tradition began of opening Oktoberfest with a procession through town of the proprietors and brewers to the fair grounds on the Theresienwiese, (“Queen Theresa’s Meadow”), or Wiesn, for short. A young lady portraying the Münchener Kindl (the child monk, Munich’s symbol) leads off, followed by the mayor’s open carriage, after which, riding in flower-bedecked wagons, the proprietors, brewers, servers, concession workers, and kegs and kegs and kegs of beer.”

Here is a video of this parade of brewers and breweries (note – 35 minutes):

Beer is not sold, however, until the Mayor of Munich has tapped the first keg:

This year, he succeeded with only two blows of the mallet! John Dausch notes,

“In 1950, Munich’s mayor Thomas Wimmer introduced the tradition of officially tapping the first Oktoberfest beer barrel exactly at 12:00 o’clock on the first day of the fair, and then announcing loudly, ‘O’zapft is!’ – Bavarian dialect for ‘It’s tapped!’ From the Schottenhamel tent, where this ceremony occurs, word goes out to a team which fires a cannon twelve times, only after which beer is served at Oktoberfest.”

This year, Oktoberfest runs from September 22nd – October 7th, 2018. Some day, I hope to be able to attend!

The Dalai Lama vs. Pope Francis on Immigration – Dr. Steve Turley on YouTube

Source: The Dalai Lama vs. Pope Francis on Immigration!!! – Dr. Steve Turley | YouTube

Dr. Steve Turley is a YouTube personality (I guess if you have 67,000 followers you can be counted as one of those!), a conservative vlogger who is both prolific – posting two videos a day, each tending to run between ten and fifteen minutes, plus or minus – and relentlessly optimistic regarding the future of the West.

The latter is actually rather refreshing, in an atmosphere where many (myself included, on my worst days) tend to be prone to gloom-and-doom pessimism on the present cultural civil war, which constantly seems on the verge of slipping over into a “hot” war between the militant Left and those on the right who are becoming increasingly “mad as h___, and aren’t going to take this any more,” in the words of the famous 1978 movie scene.

At any rate, Turley seeks – in his own words – to “analyze current events in light of awesome conservative trends, so that you can personally and professionally flourish.” A bit of a “Renaissance man” (a direction in which I tend, myself), Turley’s PhD is from Durham University; he is the author of more than 20 books, teaches theology and rhetoric at Tall Oaks Classical School in Bear, DE, and serves as Professor of Fine Arts at Eastern University, a Christian university near Philadelphia, inter alia.

All of which is by way of a lead-in to say that he has the academic and professional chops to back what he says, and what he says is often interesting, and sometimes enlightening.  This video is certainly worth watching, and listening to.

“We are indeed living in bizarre times when a major Buddhist world leader is actually sounding more Christian than the Pope!”

We are indeed…

“An Act Concerning Religion”

1200px-Large_Broadside_on_the_Maryland_Toleration_Act.jpg
A later (18th C.?) printed broadside of the Maryland Toleration Act.

“An Act Concerning Religion.” That was the original title of what is colloquially known as the “Maryland Toleration Act of 1649,” the same year in which King Charles I (known by many Anglicans of an Anglo-Catholic and Royalist bent as King Charles the Martyr, or simply The Royal Martyr) was shamefully executed in an act of regicide by the so-called “Rump Parliament,” under the despicable Oliver Cromwell.

An attempt (only partly successful) to assure protection for Catholics in the proprietary Colony of Maryland in the wake of this act of regicide and England’s subsequent interregnum under the Puritan Parliament, later Protectorate, the Act – passed by the General Assembly of the Maryland Colony – sought to provide equal protection under law for all Trinitarian Christians, and at the same time, provide legal protection for Trinitarian Christianity (*) itself.

As such, it might, in retrospect, have been a better model (with some adjustments, discussed below) for our national view on the subject than the relevant clause of the First Amendment, which has since been stretched beyond all intention of the Founders, through what I cannot help but see as a perverse and willful misconstrual of Jefferson’s “wall of separation” comment. That appeared in a letter to the Danbury, Connecticut, Baptists, and was originally intended to assure religious people of their protection from the government, not the other way ’round.

The full text of the Maryland Toleration Act, in the original (rather archaic) form of English in which it was originally written, appears below. Its most salient section is reproduced here, in slightly updated language:

“That whatsoever person or persons within this Province and the Islands thereunto belonging shall from henceforth blaspheme God, that is Curse him, or deny our Saviour Jesus Christ to be the Son of God, or shall deny the holy Trinity [to be] the Father, the Son and Holy Ghost, or [who shall deny] the Godhead of any of the said Three persons of the Trinity or the Unity of the Godhead, or shall use or utter any reproachful speeches, words or language concerning the said Holy Trinity, or any of the said three Persons thereof, shall be punished with death [yes, it really does say that!] and confiscation or forfeiture of all his or her lands and goods to the Lord Proprietary and his heirs.”

In other words, anyone who publicly blasphemes or denies either the Doctrine of the Holy Trinity (*) or any portion thereof is to suffer both the death penalty, himself, and the seizure of his property and assets! There is also a clause prohibiting, basically, “talking smack” about a) the beliefs and practices of any particular branch of Christianity, or b) insulting practitioners of any form of Christianity not one’s own.

In other words, to put it in relatively simple and modern terms, you will not publicly denigrate Christianity, Christians, or Christian doctrine, and you will – at least publicly – be nice to other Christians. It is, frankly, hard for me to argue with either of those.

[The Act also includes a section prohibiting the profanation of the Christian Sabbath (Sunday, a.k.a. the Lord’s Day) “by frequent swearing, drunkenness or by any uncivil or disorderly recreation, or by working on that day when absolute necessity doth not require it.” I am old enough to remember the days of the “Blue Laws,” as they were called, when most places of business were closed on Sundays and other restrictions on secular activities (including sales of alcohol) were in place; and although at the time, I found it frustrating, as I have gotten older – and hopefully, more mature – I have come to realize the wisdom, both spiritually and practically, of keeping the Sabbath as a day of rest.]

Now, mind you, I am not suggesting the death penalty for anyone who fails to hold to or publicly confess the Trinitarian Christian faith! Not at all. In particular, what people believe in private is precisely that: private, and it is not the business of government to be snooping behind closed doors.

But under this system, you are not allowed to publicly assert that Christianity is a crock of bull, whatever your private opinions may be, and you must accept the basically Christian character of the society of which you are a member, if you wish to remain a member of that society. That seems entirely reasonable to me. Continue reading ““An Act Concerning Religion””