“The real way to leverage your time and make a lasting difference is exponential and generational: get married, have children, practice your faith, raise liberty-minded children, be active in the community, serve your family, homeschool your children, give them a real education, and teach them to be self-sufficient, well-read, healthy, and wise.“
The quote above is an excerpt (I’d say, the key excerpt) from a friend and fellow Christian clergyman’s Facebook post this morning. Here’s the whole thing:
“What’s the best way for young people to fight for human liberty in the west? A podcast? A blog? Go on a speaking tour? Run for office?
“But the real way to leverage your time and make a lasting difference is exponential and generational: get married, have children, practice your faith, raise liberty-minded children, be active in the community, serve your family, homeschool your children, give them a real education, and teach them to be self-sufficient, well-read, healthy, and wise.
“And raise each of your children to do the same thing and create strong families of their own.
“Living the swinging single libertarian life and/or having a biologically unfruitful relationship simply neutralizes and nullifies any long-term influence you might have had, and surrenders the field to others who are doing the hard, generational work of raising their own children to promulgate their values. The cultures that reproduce will push all the others out. And if that culture is oppressive and tyrannical, you don’t want them in the majority.
“This is akin to Aesop’s Fable of the tortoise and the hare – only in this version, the rabbit is sterile while the turtle is prolific.
“The west is dying because most young people don’t have the long view in mind, and also because young women do not understand the old adage about ‘the hand that rocks the cradle [rules the world]’ and are thus clueless about what it means to be truly empowered and strong.”
As our Eastern Orthodox brethren would say,
Now, if I could just find someone to raise a family with…! *wry smile*
Excerpt from Vivaldi’s “Summer,” from his incredible The Four Seasons. Berliner Philharmoniker: Herbert von Karajan, Conductor, and Anne-Sophie Mutter, violin soloist.
Traditional Irish step-dancing as it used to be practiced, before it became “cross-fertilized” with influences from Highland dancing, to ballet, to American clogging and tap – and probably a few more, to boot. Not that “Riverdance“-style Irish step-dancing isn’t absolutely amazing! It is. But I very much like to see old-style, from time to time.
“The French have a proverb, ‘It is not the cowl which makes the monk,’ and it might be said with equal truth, ‘It is not the dress which makes the gentleman,’ yet, as the monk is known abroad by his cowl, so the true gentleman will let the refinement of his mind and education be seen in his dress.”
I had just noted on my Facebook page that the following comment, from my 2014 “Memories,” is still not entirely untrue today, even though I am in slightly less dire straits in financial / employment terms than I was then:
“I am not unaware of the irony, but I feel a bit like an ‘impoverished gentlemen’ of the 17th, 18th, or even 19th centuries, trying as best he may to retain at least the vestiges of his social class, even if he has not the financial wherewithal to maintain it fully…”
Le sigh! But there has been improvement – significant improvement, compared to unemployment: I am gainfully employed, even if my solvency is yet a mite precarious, at times – and I am grateful. Thanks be to God!
But it was interesting, in that context, to encounter (in the course of an internet search) the linked article, and this passage in particular:
“Between the sloven and the coxcomb there is generally a competition [as to] which shall be the more contemptible: the one in the total neglect of every thing which might make his appearance in public supportable, and the other in the cultivation of every superfluous ornament. The former offends by his negligence and dirt, and the latter by his finery and perfumery.
“Each entertains a supreme contempt for the other, and while both are right in their opinion, both are wrong in their practice. It is not in either extreme that the man of real elegance and refinement will be shown, but in the happy medium which allows taste and judgment to preside over the wardrobe and toilet-table, while it prevents too great an attention to either, and never allows personal appearance to become the leading object of life.”
— The Gentlemen’s Book of Etiquette, Cecil B. Hartley (1860), quoted in the article: the source also of my opening quote, below the picture.
I shall not quote Messr. Hartley’s guide to gentlemen’s etiquette further at length; those who are interested are encouraged to click through the link, and read it for themselves! But I will make note of one point:
“The first rule for the guidance of a man, in matters of dress, should be, ‘Let the dress suit the occasion.’ It is as absurd for a man to go into the street in the morning with his dress-coat, white kid gloves, and dancing-boots, as it would be for a lady to promenade the fashionable streets, in full evening dress, or for the same man to present himself in the ball-room with heavy walking-boots, a great coat, and riding-cap.”
It is precisely this point – appropriateness, or “letting the dress suit the occasion” – which is so frequently forgotten or ignored in these more plebian (not to say Philistine), days, when the relentless casual-ization of everything has proceeded apace since the late 1960s (the process did not begin then, it should be noted; only accelerated dramatically). And as the essay also notes,
“In some ways it has gotten better, less rules to follow and a freedom to express the individuality through the different tastes and styles that each and everyone of us prefer. However, we could all learn a couple of things from our ancestors regarding the etiquette rules of dressing properly.”
It is one thing to rejoice in the fact that present standards afford us a greater freedom and flexibility (and often, comfort) in how we dress to suit the occasion. It is another entirely to decide that a t-shirt and ball-cap is acceptable, nay, de rigeur for any occasion whatsoever! And that is all that I shall say on the subject, at present.
“Christian women… if you’re going to make anything your gospel, make it THE gospel.” – by Christiana
Whether or not one agrees with every point in this essay (and I agree with most of them) or all the views of its author (she seems pretty based to me), it seems to me that this critique is square on, and one which our “woke” and “progressive” world (which, having largely abandoned the Gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, has set up instead an idol of left-wing sociopolitical ideologies – the “Golden Calf” of the 21st century) needs to hear:
“Feminism can never put a stop to sex trafficking, because it cannot stop greed, loneliness, and depravity.
“Feminism can never eradicate domestic violence, because it cannot instill in men a passion to love and lead their families well.
“Feminism can never put an end to pornography, because it cannot satiate lust, addiction, and emptiness.
“Feminism can never cut down the divorce rate and improve marriages, because marriage is not about “equality,” fairness, or sameness; and all the role reversal in the world cannot change the fact that we are daughters of Eve and sons of Adam.
“Feminism can never bring women fulfillment, because true fulfillment is only found in Jesus Christ.
“Feminism can never force men to genuinely respect women by removing sexual distinction…
“Feminism exalts women but can never truly empower them; promotes women, but can never pacify the innate desire to control. It insults women and men alike by insisting that the only real difference between the sexes is physical.”
This is not to say that all women should do nothing but stay at home and raise children; some are not suited to that vocation, and some do indeed have gifts that can benefit society most effectively if expressed in the worlds of industry or academia. Furthermore, few traditional women – throughout the centuries and millennia of human history – did nothing but stay a home: they were always active in their local communities.
But that does not change the fact that motherhood is the first and greatest vocation of womankind as a whole; nor that, in the words of the great G.K. Chesterton,
N.B. The videos alluded to in the tags are found at the link, so please click through. Thank you!
The humanities have been infected by political correctness and ‘repressive tolerance.’ It’s no surprise that the English major is in decline, writes William McGurn.
In which American colleges and universities shoot themselves in the foot by misunderstanding the “liberal” in “liberal arts” (Latin ars liberalis) as a political stance, and not “those arts proper to a free person”:
“No one is surprised to learn that STEM majors (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) out-earn English majors. After all, the purpose of what used to be called a ‘liberal education’ has never been about a high-paying career. Even so, Jonathan Pidluzny, director of academic affairs for the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA), notes that employers nevertheless prize the critical thinking, communication skills and judgment cultivated by a liberal-arts education.”
Or used to be:
“The English major was once a guarantor of effective, formal writing skills and the ability to comprehend and analyze the complex thoughts found within centuries of brilliant and challenging poetry and prose,” Pidluzny told Campus Reform. “Its decline into the epiphenomena of popular culture and identity politics is a self-inflicted wound that has rocked its credibility.”
I have long argued that what created the traditional pattern in which people with degrees in higher education made a greater income than those whose education consisted of high school or trade school was that the kind of people who were willing to undertake, and more importantly, succeed at, a rigorous academic curriculum – in which the above-mentioned skills were key – were rare, and understandably valued.
With an increasing number of people being, in effect, shoved through the doors of the Halls of Academe, that is no longer the case. The market is glutted with college and university graduates, which is why – as I have discussed elsewhere – degree inflation is such a thing: one now needs a bachelor’s degree to do what one used to be able to do with an associate’s, or even a high school diploma; a master’s degree to do what one used to do with a B.A. or B.S., and a doctorate to do things for which a master’s degree used to qualify a person.
And there are many, many holders of doctorates floating around, in many cases as “wild geese”: holding adjunct professorships at several institutions, enjoying tenure at none, having meaningful career prospects at none, and with little in the way of salary or benefits. It is one of the reasons that I stopped with a Masters of Theological Studies: I felt (correctly, as it turned out) that I had spent enough time and money on a course that had no guarantee, and few enough prospects, of advancement, or even permanency.
So liberal arts majors – and graduates – are a dime a dozen, these days, despite a continuing trend of shrinking enrollment in humanities disciplines.
But as McGurn’s essay makes clear, that is only part of the story. The other is the fact that the rigorous academic curriculum itself is increasingly a thing of the past. In part, this is to accommodate the lower caliber of student who is coming into the college or university, under the “you’ve got to get your degree to succeed” mentality: many of these folks simply lack the intellectual aptitude, temperament, or both, for academic study. But colleges and universities don’t want to get a reputation for flunking students, lest overall enrollment decline… and so we have a general dumbing-down of the curriculum.
But the piece of the puzzle which has, until recently, flown somewhat under the radar is the effect on curriculum of the increasing politicization – and Left-wing politicization, specifically – of colleges, universities, and their curricula. I have seen that in my own fields, medieval studies and theology, in which the rigorous treatment of significant historical trends, major and influential figures, and key ideas have been replaced with gender studies, LGBT studies, and an emphasis on a variety of other “marginalized” and “under-represented” populations (ignoring the fact that they may, just possibly, have been “under-represented” in traditional scholarship for good reason).
And now it is even worse – far worse! – than it was when I was in undergrad and graduate studies, with students throwing temper tantrums if anyone dares expose them to ideas that challenge their own (shouting down and in some cases even attacking the persons in question), demanding “safe spaces,” and even claiming that English literature is too white, among other charming behaviors. Sadly, as the linked essay notes, “what’s on offer today isn’t your father’s English degree. It goes on to report that
“An ACTA study of English programs reports that 48 of 52 top schools (as ranked by U.S. News & World Report) allow English majors to graduate without ever having taken a course on Shakespeare. In the past ACTA has also highlighted studies showing that the average grad, even those from prestigious flagship universities, shows little or no improvement in critical thinking for having gone to college.”
McGurn’s essay continues,
“Here the much-maligned English degree is simply a proxy for what is wrong with college today. It isn’t that STEM subjects are the only majors worth anything. It’s that the humanities have disproportionately been infected by political correctness and the malignant influence of Herbert Marcuse, father of the ‘repressive tolerance‘ so prevalent on campuses these days…
“So why have the sciences kept their integrity while the humanities haven’t? Mr. Pidluzny suggests it’s because the costs of a dumbed-down STEM degree can be both more obvious and more consequential.
“’The university can’t get away with not teaching engineering students differential equations because we’d then have collapsing bridges all over the place,” [Pidluzny] says.
“’But for an English major who studies Harry Potter instead of Chaucer, or spends his time on gender theory instead of reading great literature, the costs aren’t as obvious – except to the graduate who only later realizes he never developed the keen analytical mind and precise style of writing college was supposed to cultivate.’”
And of course, to society at large, who gains a professional activist, but loses a cultivated, discerning, and inquiring mind. Or to put it a little more bluntly, gains a “snowflake,” but loses a productive citizen; and in many cases, gains a source of disruption, but loses a source of stability.
Tradition is the passing down of customs, beliefs, but also knowledge and information, from one generation to the next. A liberal arts education – and the colleges and universities, originating in the Middle Ages but based on classical antecedents, which provided it – has been a primary means for passing the down the traditions of Western civilization from one generation to another, for the last thousand years.
I have commented more than once in this forum (and elsewhere) that just as a tree which is separated from its roots withers and dies, the same is true of a culture, a society, or a people. The disruption and practical destruction of the collegiate and university liberal arts tradition, and its replacement by a politically-corrected, culturally Marxist, identity-and-entitlement sandbox in which squalling children throw ideological tantrums is extremely disheartening, and blow after hacking axe-blow at the roots of our Western culture and civilization.
But it can happen, on rare occasions, that a tree which has been felled, or blown over in a gale, falls in such a way that its branches thrust into fertile ground, and themselves take root. There are glimmers of hope in this regard, from the growing number of classical Christian academies and homeschool programs, to a handful of institutions of higher learning such as Hillsdale College (nonsectarian Christian) or Magdalen College of Liberal Arts (Roman Catholic). I pray that such a near-miracle may occur for us, because frankly, without it, our future looks rather bleak!