Words Have Meaning | The Southern Agrarian (with some thoughts and reflections inspired thereby)

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gen-tle-man – noun a : a man of noble or gentle birth b : a man belonging to the landed gentry c(1) : a man who combines gentle birth or rank with chivalrous qualities (2) : a man whose conduct conforms to a high standard of propriety or correct behavior …

Source: Words Have Meaning | The Southern Agrarian

There is much that could be said about this piece, and all of it good. Read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest!

One thing for which I especially wish to thank the author, Stephen Clay McGeehee, is his mention of the absurd and dismaying irony in today’s so-called “gentlemen’s clubs.” I have long been struck by the complete divorce from reality represented by that designation. True gentlemen’s clubs, in the classic and authentic sense, are few and far between, nowadays, alas. But they once existed! And a few still do.

One superb example, which is still extant (though nowadays it has become “coed,” like so many other distinguished institutions for men) is The Cosmos Club, in Washington, DC. It was there that the National Geographic Society was founded, in 1888 – only ten years after the Club opened.

Its website, which I commend to the attention of my readers, mentions that

“Cosmos Club members have included three U.S. Presidents, two U.S. Vice Presidents, a dozen Supreme Court justices, 36 Nobel Prize winners, 61 Pulitzer Prize winners, and 55 recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.”

The “About the Cosmos Club” page includes a very interesting video on the Club’s history, to which I link here:

Even the dress code is admirable:

“Gentlemen are expected to wear jackets, dress slacks, a collared long-sleeved shirt (tucked-in) or turtleneck at all times. Ties are required only in the Garden Dining Room at Sunday brunch, and at lunch and dinner. Ties are not required anywhere else in the clubhouse.

“Ladies are expected to dress in an equivalent fashion, which means dresses, suits, skirts or dress slacks with jackets or tops of equivalent formality. Leggings or tights, unless worn with skirts, dresses, or long jackets, are not considered to be of equivalent formality.

“Military uniforms and national dress of equivalent formality are also acceptable.” [I am presuming that this includes formal Scots Highland dress!] “At black-tie events, members and guests in attendance are expected to dress appropriately for the occasion.

“Sweat suits or other athletic or sports attire, jeans or other denim garments, sneakers, flip-flops, athletic footwear and shorts are never acceptable in the public rooms.”

Amen!

Alas, I am unlikely ever to rise to a level of social distinction to be invited to membership in the Cosmos Club! But I can, and do, admire it from afar. And on a more international level, once finds such organizations as the International Order of St. Hubertus. The website of the U.S. branch notes that

“The International Order of St. Hubertus is comprised of an international group of individuals, Ordensbrothers, who are passionate about the sports of hunting and fishing, and who are vitally interested and actively involved in the preservation of wildlife, its habitat, and the tradition of ethical hunting and fishing.”

International Order of Saint Hubertus • Established Anno Domini 1695

The motto of the Order is Deum Diligite Animalia Diligentes: “Honoring God by Honoring His Creatures.” This is another one for which I regret that I will almost certainly never qualify! But once again, I respect and admire them, even though I must do so from afar.

Both of these, and the other remaining exemplars of their type, are a far cry from what is referred to as “gentlemen’s clubs,” in the common (in several sense of the word) parlance! But I have now digressed far from the central point – that words do, indeed, have meaning, and that the words we choose matter, and matter deeply – of this excellent essay, to which, once again, I commend your sympathetic attention.

As Stephen Clay McGeehee so aptly concludes,

“Perhaps we cannot stop the process of cultural Marxism as it destroys our society by changing the way people think. Perhaps it has already gone too far. We can, however, control it in our families, among our friends and associates, in our churches, and other places where we have a leadership role. Men think in words, and words have meaning. Insist that words be used correctly.”

Indeed.

 

Homemaking (or Homemakers) Monday – a growing trend?

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Mountain Housewife (@mtnhousewife) on Twitter shared this lovely image and posted,

“Imagine a day when the ordinary mother caring for her home is held up as an ideal again. This stamp celebrating the homemaker was issued by the U.S. Postal service in 1964.”

That was just a year before I was born! Back when there were only slightly over 2 billion people on the whole planet (there are something like 7.3 billion, now, and the number keeps growing), America was proud of its identity as a Christian nation, and my mother was equally proud of her membership in the Homemakers Club.

[These still exist, by the way, although they’re not as large, active, or prominent as they were in her day. Traditional Homemakers Clubs “are generally grouped by location and focus on homemaking skills, personal growth, socialization, volunteer efforts and improving the community,” just as they did in the 1950s – 80s. But, as I say, they are not as widespread. I could not find reference to an active one in Maryland, unfortunately. When they exist, they are usually – as they were then – under the auspices of the Agricultural Extension Service of the local land-grant university. The link is to the University of Kentucky!]

[UPDATE: I take that back! There do still seem to be a few active clubs in Maryland, including one in Frederick County, not too far from me.]

But when I looked up “Homemaking Monday,” thinking it would be an annual observance, what I found surprised me – and pleasantly so! Quite a few blogs of homemaking women, “Trad Wives”, etc., seem to be viewing “Homemaking Monday” as a weekly occurrence, a time to celebrate the art of the housewife. That is encouraging, in my view!

That said, though, see “Why tradwives aren’t trad enough,” for a discussion about the limitations of this approach (which typically takes the very historically and economically exceptional 1950s as its template), and some suggestions for possible solutions to this dilemma – one which closely tracks my own thinking on the subject (think Proverbs 31:10-31). I’ll probably write more on the subject at a later time.

But for now, let me just celebrate the fact that at least a growing number of women are rejecting the idea that they should emulate Industrial Revolution (and post-Industrial Revolution) men, and work outside the home to find their fulfillment. I don’t even think that’s a good idea for most men, and I certainly don’t think it’s a good idea for women. But as I say, I’ll write more on that subject anon.

In the meantime, kudos to those women who are at least keeping the skills, arts, and qualities of the homemaker alive. We can re-weave some of the broken strands of truly traditional home and family life later on. Survival and preservation is an important first step, and I doff my hat to these women!

 

Classical architecture is truly multicultural, because it is truly human.

This is what so many people who claim to love multiculturalism, but yet claim to dislike classical architecture, utterly fail to understand!

Screenshot_2020-03-09 (4) Wrath Of Gnon on Twitter Classical architecture is not of one single culture or people or era It [...]

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The English Cream Tea Company: The Etiquette of Afternoon Tea

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Source: The English Cream Tea Company. Etiquette

One could hardly call oneself an Anglophilic Anglican – much less “THE” Anglophilic Anglican! – without holding the classic English tea (the meal, not merely the beverage) in great respect and appreciation. Ranging from a light snack to a fairly substantial meal, “tea” can mean a number of different things!

Contrary to the expectations of us former Colonials on this side of the Pond, what many of us would think of as “high tea” is nothing of the sort. “High” vs “low” tea has nothing to do with levels of aristocratic sophistication, but rather the height of the table: “high tea” is the traditional evening meal of the laboring class, featuring meat pies and other such substantial fare, eaten between 5 o’clock and 7 o’clock at a high table (think dining room or – more likely for workers – kitchen) after arriving home from work.

What we often (and erroneously) think of as “high tea” is actually low tea – also known as “afternoon tea” – so named because it is taken at a low table surrounded by comfy chairs and sofas in the drawing room. It was and is served around four o’clock, to tide one over between lunch (originally, in upper-crust England, a mid-morning meal closer to our brunch) and a late dinner, around 8 o’clock.

A “full tea” is an afternoon (low) tea of three courses: the first savory (typically tea sandwiches, also known as finger sandwiches, and sometimes also including other savories such as quiche or soup), the second comprising scones with jam and cream, and the final sweet pastries and/or other confections.

Illustration depicting the difference between the different types of tea service

But the simplest form is a “cream tea,” consisting of – as one might expect – merely the scones, with clotted cream and jam, lemon curd, or similar, and of course, tea. It is this meal with which the linked Etiquette page, including a very enjoyable video, is concerned, for there is a definite etiquette involved. Yet, as Jane Malyon, of The English Cream Tea Company, points out, “Etiquette is not about putting on airs and graces and pretending to be posh! It’s actually all about consideration.” Indeed!

For additional information on the fascinating subject of the English tea, check out “How is High Tea Different from Afternoon Tea? Deciphering British Tea Time” and “What Is the Difference Between Afternoon Tea and High Tea? How history shaped the British afternoon and high tea traditions,” at The Spruce Eats.

There is also a Cream Tea Society, whose website notes that National Cream Tea Day (in Britain) is the 26th of June this year (2020). Alena Kate Petitt of The Darling Academy also comments on this day, here. And if you’re looking for ideas for a full, as opposed to a simple cream, tea, you might also want to check out these “Recipes for a Complete Afternoon Tea Menu.” For general information on British meals, see “The Different Meals and Mealtimes in Britain,” at the same site. And enjoy your tea!

 

Random facts of the day: some traditional measurements!

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Random piece of general knowledge (many thanks to The Old Farmers Almanac):

1 league = 3 miles = 24 furlongs

In other words, there are eight furlongs to a mile. So how long is a furlong? 660 feet, or 40 rods (one rod being 5 ½ yards). Seen another way, a furlong is equal to one eighth of a mile: equivalent to 660 feet, 220 yards, 40 rods (1 rod = 5 1/2 feet), or 10 chains (one chain, therefore, being equal to 66 feet).

Originally, it was the length of the furrow in one acre of a ploughed field – thus, the name: one “furrow long” – in the old open-field system of medieval England, in which acres were usually long and narrow, and was the distance a team of oxen could plough without resting. From there, it passed into the British Imperial and U.S. customary system of measurements. An acre was reckoned as one furlong in length (naturally), and one chain in width, and was considered to be the amount of land one man, behind one ox, could plough in one day.

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Other oxen-derived measurements include an oxgang (from the same root as our contemporary word “going,” with the implication of walking *), the amount of land tillable by one ox in a ploughing season (an area which could vary from village to village, but was typically around 15 acres), a virgate, the amount of land tillable by two oxen in one ploughing season (thus, two oxgangs), and a carucate, the amount of land that could be tilled by eight oxen in a ploughing season: equal, naturally, to 8 oxgangs or 4 virgates. Thus, these measurements were not random or arbitrary, they described what could be done on them, in a way that was very useful and informative for an agricultural society!

*  That derivation still exists, though somewhat concealed by changes in the language, and our understanding: a “gang” is a group of people who go (walk) around together. And the archaic English word “gangly” refers to a person or (usually young) animal who appears to be “all legs,” and therefore seems made for walking! Also, a “chain-gang” is not just a group of people joined by a chain; they are chain-gang: that is to say, they are walking chained, rather than free.

On a related note, the furlong was historically considered to be equivalent to the Roman stade (from which we get “stadium”), itself derived from the Greek stadion ~ and it was, although approximately: the old Roman measurement was actually 625 feet. The Romans reckoned eight stadia to the mile, and (as remains the case in our English measurement, albeit using furlongs) three miles to the league. Thus, the Roman mile was a little shorter than ours is. A league was considered to be the distance a man could walk in one hour, and the mile (from mille, meaning “thousand”) consisted of 1,000 passi (paces: five feet, or two single steps of two-and-a-half feet each).

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Now you know probably more than you ever wanted to about ancient land-measurements!

(Additional information gleaned from Wikipedia, and from my own knowledge of things medieval!)

Why Classical Architecture Better Serves The Public Good Than Modernist Atrocities | The Federalist

Why Classical Architecture Better Serves The Public Good Than Modernist Atrocities

Classical architecture offers the possibility of restoring beauty to gain respect for the work public buildings do in contributing to the common good.

Source: Why Classical Architecture Better Serves The Public Good Than Modernist Atrocities – The Federalist

Dr. Carroll William Westfall (PhD, Columbia University), Professor Emeritus at the Notre Dame School of Architecture, has penned (or perhaps, this being the 21st century, keyboarded) this excellent argument in favor of President Donald Trump’s recently leaked draft executive order – which may or may not actually be issued – which, as a surprisingly supportive article in The Atlantic points out, “strongly encouraged architects to adopt a classical style when they design federal courthouses and buildings in the nation’s capital.”

While there have been the usual bleated objections from the usual suspects, Dr. Westfall raises some excellent points, such as “the fact that a building is a public object that occupies a site that is necessarily part of the realm where people lead their lives. Things placed in the public realm are obliged to serve the public, common good even if privately owned, and it is the duty of government to ensure this is done.”

It is, in other words, not created merely or even primarily for the benefit of “those who seek to preserve the putative right of architects to express their interpretation of the modern era with the latest fashions on public land and at public expense.” He asserts, instead, what I would agree is the unassailable truth that “the primary purpose of a public building is to serve a public, common good,” and notes that

“Modernism gained ascendancy at the expense of classical architecture that uses valued traditions adapted with innovations, drawing on experience and new insights to fit current circumstances. This role of tradition and innovation in architecture has its counterpart in our form of government, which has its roots in ancient Greece and Rome and in the experience of governing British colonies.”

Let me reemphasize that: classical architecture… uses valued traditions adapted with innovations, drawing on experience and new insights to fit current circumstances.

This is also true of classicism and traditionalism, rightly understood, in general (as he alludes to, in referring our form of government). He further notes that “Classicism is not a style but an achievement of architectural art that renders a public service while honoring the canons of beauty as they pertain to that art.”

I have posted on “The Tyranny of Artistic Modernism” previously, so I will not rehash the point, here. But it is nothing but absurdity to claim that Classicism is simply a pro forma and unimaginative rehashing of “old stuff,” and “not who we are today.” And to the extent that there is any truth to the latter, it is an indictment of the present age, not a compliment to it!

Fortunately, a growing number of people are starting to realize that in architecture as in so many other areas of the res publica, the modernist / postmodernism “emperor” has no clothes. And more and more are beginning to develop an appreciation for classical things, classical ideas, classical values: in art and architecture no less than in other realms of public and private life.

With respect to public building and the architecture thereof, Dr. Westfall notes that “While modernist architects would fare poorly in satisfying the proposed guidelines” of President Trump’s leaked draft order,

“a growing number of architects is recovering the ability to produce classical architecture. They offer the possibility of restoring the beauty of public buildings to gain the people’s respect for the work those buildings do in contributing to the public, common good.”

He concluded that “We need these revisions to achieve this,” and I whole-heartedly concur.


The linked Federalist essay includes this bio of Dr. Westfall:

Carroll William Westfall (PhD, Columbia University) has been a professor of architecture since 1966. He began his career at Amherst College, then the University of Illinois in Chicago, the University of Virginia, and between 1998 and his retirement in 2015, at the University of Notre Dame, including four years as chairman of the School of Architecture. He has published three books and numerous articles on topics from antiquity onward, with a focus on the history of the city and particular attention to the reciprocity between the political life and the urban and architectural elements that serve the needs of citizens. He, his family, and pets now live in Richmond, Virginia.

None too shabby a resumé! His Notre Dame faculty directory bio adds,

A central theme of all of his studies has been the history of the city with particular attention to the reciprocity between the political life and the urban and architectural elements that serve the needs of citizens. His emphasis is on the usefulness of knowledge of history to practicing architects. This, rather than a stylistically based interpretation of the history of architecture, has informed all of his work. His current interests are concentrated on the architect’€™s capacity to nourish the Christian faith and on tradition and classicism in architecture and the American city with special attention to the role of Thomas Jefferson in founding a distinctive American architecture to serve a unique nation.

Why am I not surprised that he is approaching this issue from a Christian ethos? Truth, Beauty, and Goodness live! Thanks be to God!