How Did Lewis and Tolkien Defend the Old West? | The Imaginative Conservative

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“I look East, West, North, South, and I do not see Sauron. But I see that Saruman has many descendants. We Hobbits have against them no magic weapons. Yet, my gentle hobbits, I give you this toast: To the Hobbits. May they outlast the Sarumans and see spring again in the trees.”

— J.R.R. Tolkien

Source: How Did Lewis and Tolkien Defend the Old West? | The Imaginative Conservative

Would you better understand, not only those great authors, thinkers, and defenders of Western Christendom (note: “Old West,” here, does not mean “cowboys and Indians”), C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, but also the world we live in, how we got here, and where it may lead, should we continue on our present trajectory? Then read this essay! Long, but worth it.


N.B. – There are a few, mostly minor, issues of spelling and/or proofreading in this rather lengthy essay (doubtless I have many in my own writings, as well). Most are minor, and easily forgiven (the youngest companion of Frodo, in the Fellowship of the Ring, was Pippin, not “Pippen”), but one at least is significant:

The favorite haunt of the Hobbits was “a well-farmed countryside,” not “a well-armed countryside.” They did indeed turn out to be fairly well-armed, at the last, but with hunting arms, not weapons of war. Hobbits were, as Tolkien notes, not a warlike people!

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The New Primitives | Crisis Magazine

When a man ceases to believe in God, observed Chesterton, he becomes capable of believing in anything. It looks like we may now have reached the “anything” stage of human history.

Source: The New Primitives | Crisis Magazine

“As faith in Christianity recedes in the West, a strange thing is happening. Having shaken off belief in God, people are not becoming more rational, they’re becoming more gullible. They believe that babies in the womb aren’t really human beings, that same-sex “marriage” is the equivalent of real marriage, that there are roughly 52 varieties of gender, that boys can become girls, and vice versa. In general, they believe that wishing makes it so.

“Rejection of God does not lead to a flowering of civilization, but rather to a primitivization. Many of the ideas that are now current are pre-scientific and even anti-scientific. Science is solidly on the side of those who say that babies are babies, and that boys cannot become girls, yet when science comes into conflict with today’s magical beliefs it is rejected out of hand. For many, the ultimate source of truth is not reason, or science, or God, but feelings.

“It was belief in a rational God who created a rational and ordered universe that provided the main impetus for scientific study centuries ago. Christian and Jewish scholars thought it worthwhile to study the nature of things because the nature of things was considered to be rational and discoverable. Thus, the scientific revolution was a product of the Judeo-Christian world…”

Read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest!

Sir Roger Scruton: on being an intellectual conservative | YouTube (with reflections by me, on politics, economics, and society)

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Source: Sir Roger Scruton: How to Be a Conservative | YouTube

“It is not unusual to be a conservative. But it is unusual to be an intellectual conservative. In both Britain and America some 70% of academics identify themselves as being ‘on the Left,’ while the surrounding culture is increasingly hostile to traditional values, or to any claim that might be made for the high achievements of Western Civilization.”

— Sir Roger Scruton

And like it or not, the academic world does have a major impact – directly, through the pronouncements of academics, and even more significant, indirectly, through its graduates (who end up in business, media, and politics) – on the wider culture.

The “Benedict Option” (or what Sir Roger here calls “catacomb culture”) is valid and likely essential as a short-term strategy for survival of traditional values, ideas, and ideals (and perhaps, for traditional people who wish to bear and raise children in those values, ideas, and ideals), but it is not an end in itself.

Remember that the monks of medieval Europe did not merely remain in their monasteries, but in some cases actively evangelized (think the Celtic monks, Franciscan friars, and the preaching orders), or in the case of the Benedictines themselves, served as “leaven in the loaf” of the wider culture.

It’s not enough merely to “opt out” of secular culture – although, as I say, that can be an important first step, and survival strategy, just as the monks made the decision to leave their secular lives and enter the monastery. We have to keep the longer-term goal in mind: taking it back. Continue reading “Sir Roger Scruton: on being an intellectual conservative | YouTube (with reflections by me, on politics, economics, and society)”

Medieval (and later) English wine-cask units: how big is that barrel (and how big is a “barrel,” exactly)?

Now, as Monty Python used to say, for something completely different…!

And as the late Paul Harvey would have said, “Now you know the rest… of the story.”

(And yes, a butt-load of something would indeed be a lot – 126 gallons’ worth – but not nearly as much as a tun of it would be!)

Finally, here is a piggin with which to dip wine from your firkin:

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The West’s Parish Church | Chronicles Magazine

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The emotional outpouring prompted by news of the fire at Notre Dame de Paris has been extraordinary. It has been marked by both depth and breadth… A lot of us, it turns out, think of Mary’s church in the heart of France as a friend. And that friendship reveals several important truths and, ultimately, suggests a reason for hope.

Source: The West’s Parish Church | Chronicles Magazine

It is easy – all too easy! – to become dismayed, distressed, and disillusioned in today’s world, when so many good things are being defamed, derided, and even destroyed, often by those unworthy to unloose the sandal-latchets of those they are attacking, or the makers of the things they are attacking. It is even all too easy to fall into despair.

But despair is a sin – reflecting a lack of faith in the God of all Creation to protect and preserve, ultimately, the good, the true, and the beautiful, despite the damage misdirected human pride and free will can do in the short run. It is also a sin, because it gives too much credit to evil. Things may rarely be as good as we wish they were, true; but it is also true that they are rarely as bad as we fear they are, either.

Take, for example, the fire that so badly damaged Notre Dame, le Cathédrale de Notre Dame de Paris: the jewel of Western Christendom, and what author Tom Piatak calls, in this essay, “the West’s parish church.” I, myself, was absolutely heart-sick at the thought that it might have been destroyed. And it is easy to see in those flames a metaphor for the plight – perhaps even the downfall – of the Christian West.

But the Cathedral of Notre Dame stands, and as Piatak points out, there is reason for hope. As my dear late mother would have reminded me, God is still in charge! After citing a number of specific and encouraging signs – which I encourage you to read for yourself in the essay – both before and after the Notre Dame fire, Piatak concludes,

“In the last few days, the world has been considering what it would mean to lose one of the masterpieces of medieval Christendom for all time. There is widespread agreement that such a loss would be profound. And there is reason to hope that the near loss of something that people have come to realize is so dear to them will cause at least some to reflect upon their attachment to Notre Dame and, as a result, come to cherish the civilization that built her…

May the near loss of one of the greatest monuments of Western civilization and an irreplaceable treasure lead us back to the Faith without which the West would not have come into existence, and without which the West will not continue to exist.”

Amen. May God grant it!

The Burning of Notre Dame and the Destruction of Christian Europe | Gatestone Institute

“Notre Dame is more than 800 years old. It survived the turbulence of the Middle Ages, the Reign of Terror of the French Revolution, two World Wars and the Nazi occupation of Paris. It did not survive what France is becoming in the 21st century.”

Source: The Burning of Notre Dame and the Destruction of Christian Europe | Gatestone Institute

Sobering.

“French President Emmanuel Macron, who had never even mentioned the attacks on Saint Denis or Saint Sulpice, quickly went to Notre Dame and declared, ‘Notre Dame is our history, our literature, our imagination.’ He totally left out cathedral’s religious dimension…

“For the foreseeable future, the heart of Paris will bear the terrible scars of a fire that devastated far more than a cathedral. The fire destroyed an essential part of what is left of the almost-lost soul of France and what France could accomplish when the French believed in something higher than their own day-to-day existence.”

Ah, ma Françe! Qu’est ce qui t’es arrivé? Où vas-tu et que seras-tu quand tu arriveras?

(Ah, my France! What has happened to you? Where are you going, and what will you be when you arrive?)

Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy…

The Notre Dame fire: what was saved and what was lost | Aleteia

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Amidst the fire’s wreckage, much of the treasures of Notre Dame were saved.

Source: The Notre Dame fire: what was saved and what was lost | Aleteia

While the damage to le Cathédrale de Notre Dame de Paris from Monday’s fire was very severe, not only the structure of the Cathedral, but many of the priceless, irreplaceable artifacts and relics contained within were preserved. In fact, it is remarkable, gratifying, and – I would maintain – miraculous, how much has been saved!

The roof and the spire are gone, of course (and the current plans to update the spire – rather than restoring it – are very concerning, to those of us who care about tradition, heritage, and aesthetics); but the treasures that remain include:

  • The High Altar and its Cross:

“However, amidst the chaos, the cross suspended above the altar remains intact, “painful and luminous at the same time,” in the words of Fr. Grosjean, a priest of the diocese of Versailles.”

  • Many statues, including three of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • The largest and most famous of the Cathedral’s four organs, dating back to the 13th century
  • Incredibly, the Rose Windows and much of the Cathedral’s stained glass, including all or nearly all of its medieval stained glass
  • Furthermore, all of the major Christian relics appear to have been saved:

“The tunic of St. Louis and the Crown of Thorns were saved, said Bishop Patrick Chauvet, rector of the cathedral, on Monday evening. Two other relics kept at Notre Dame, a piece of the Cross and a nail from the Passion, also escaped the flames, thanks to the work of the firefighters.”

  • Even the rooster-shaped bronze reliquary that topped the Cathedral’s spiral survived both the inferno that consumed the spire, and the long fall that followed, and

“was found intact on Tuesday—damaged, but whole, according to Bishop Patrick Chauvet. The three relics that were miraculously saved within it are a piece of the Holy Crown of Thorns and relics of St. Denis and St. Genevieve, patrons of Paris.”

Follow the link for more details. But if this – both the fire itself, and what has by God’s grace survived it – is not an allegory for the times we are living in, and an inspiration to Christians concerned by the decline of Western Christendom, I do not know what is!