Political Correctness Gone Bad: Indiana University Removes Controversial "Black Santa" Display . . . In addition to its main query, the display also asked students to ponder the following: "If Santa is a black man, would you let him come down your chimney?" and "If Santa Claus is a black man, wouldn't he only visit the ghetto?" Link.
Mencken and the Morons
H.L. Mencken and George Nathan (a lifelong playboy who converted to Catholicism on his deathbed) bought the failing Smart Set in late 1914 (and immediately put this slogan on the cover: "One Civilized Reader Is Worth a Thousand Boneheads"). By mid-1915, they were receiving so many manuscripts that they started to siphon off the better rejects into a magazine for "the morons," then use the proceeds from that magazine to subsidize the higher brow, but less profitable, Smart Set. The new magazine, Parisienne Monthly Magazine, was so successful that they started two others: Saucy Stories and Black Mask. These moron magazines helped launch the careers of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett. Mencken and Nathan ended up selling the magazines for $50,000 (about $700,000 in 2013 dollars). Source: Terry Teachout, The Skeptic: A Life of H.L. Mencken (Harper Collins, 2002), p. 109, 122.
Background: When I was the editor of Gilbert Magazine, I was responsible for the "Tremendous Trifles" column. It was occasionally hard to find a sufficient amount of interesting GKC material to fill the page, so John Peterson sent me a file full of Chesterton ancedotes. They were idiosyncratic, historical, and Chestertonian. He gave me permission to use them here. I hope y'all find them as interesting as I have over the years. Most of them have never been published.
Jacintha Buddicam remembered fondly her youthful conversations with Eric Blair (George Orwell), a childhood friend, beginning in the year 1915 when Blair, or Orwell, was about 12 years old. "He was crazy about Chesterton," she recalled, and reported that he had given her a copy of Chesterton's Manalive. [Jonathon Rose, The Revised Orwell, East Lansing: MSU, 1992, pp. 85-86]
I'm home sick with the flu, good for nothing more than watching TV and contemplating my next porcelain trip, so I'm watching a lot of sports for a Tuesday morning.
Fox Sports Live broke down a couple of Vegas facts that are pretty interesting: If Alabama went to the national championship game, they'd be three-point favorites over Florida State, who will be eleven-point favorites over Ohio State, which is an even greater spread than the Alabama-Notre Dame line a year ago.
Kontent from the Kindle
"More than half a century of existence has taught me that most of the wrong and folly which darken earth is due to those who cannot possess their souls in quiet; that most of the good which saves mankind from destruction comes of life that is led in thoughtful stillness." George Gissing, The Private Papers of Henry Ryecroft.
That might be the most beautiful passage about apes and their destructiveness ever written. * * * * * * *
I wrote a mini-review about this splendid little book earlier (in June 2013). * * * * * * *
I also wrote the following back in 2004:
I recently read a ratty old copy of George Gissing's The Private Papers of Henry Ryecroft (c. 1903). One of the most pleasurable books I've read. A few excerpts:
For not, surely, by deliberate effort of thought does a man grow wise. The truths of life are not discovered by us. At moments unforeseen, some gracious influence descends upon the soul, touching it to an emotion which, we know not how, the mind transmutes into thought. This can happen only in a calm of the senses, a surrender of the whole being to passionless contemplation.
I know just as little about myself as I do about the Eternal Essence.
One of the bitter curses of poverty: it leaves no right to be generous.
How good it is to desire little, and to have a little more than enough.
May I look back on life as a long task duly completed--a piece of biography; faulty enough, but good as I could make it--and, with no thought but one of contentment, welcome the repose to follow when I have breathed the word 'Finis.'
Based on a quick review of Pope Francis' The Joy of the Gospel, it appears that Rush has a cause for concern. Consider, for instance, this passage:
In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting. To sustain a lifestyle which excludes others, or to sustain enthusiasm for that selfish ideal, a globalization of indifference has developed. Almost without being aware of it, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own. The culture of prosperity deadens us; we are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase.
I could cite at least five other similar passages.
Still, I'm pretty sure Rush is way off base to call him a "pure Marxist." I haven't seen any reference in the document about how government should help bring about more quality, and he repeatedly affirms the responsibility of individuals, businesses, and society as a whole to assist in this as well . . . which no Marxist would ever propose.
From what I can tell, Pope Francis is merely calling for more equality in the world's wealth, which is nothing anyone should object to. Granted, a call for equality and the use of violent political force ("pay more taxes or go to jail") to bring it about have repeatedly gone hand-in-hand, so there's cause for concern with Pope Francis' words, but to call him a Marxist? I'm simply not seeing it.
Of course, Francis' is certainly not a libertarian tract. At the risk of being disrespectful toward the Holy Father, he seems to show a certain level of naivety or strawmanship. He attacks the deification of the free market and our bland acceptance of inequality, without addressing concerns raised by Catholics (like Chesterton and Belloc) throughout the ages: if you don't keep government's hands off the market, the rich and powerful will use government's hands to gouge the middle class and poor even more, thereby creating even greater levels of inequality.
This is something that (again, based on my quick review of the document) Francis doesn't even address. Until he does, he will not have created a document that, in my (hopefully, sufficiently humble) opinion, addresses the real concerns in today's world of crony capitalism and the biggest cause of wealth inequality.
Rush Limbaugh was in love with Pope Francis last March. I guess the love affair is over: "According to Mr Limbaugh, the Holy Father’s recent document, Evangelii Gaudium, is 'pure Marxism.'" Link.
I haven't read Evangelii Gaudium, but I can't even imagine how far off-base Limbaugh is with this one. I find it interesting that Rush hates Francis for being a Marxist and hated the most free-market politician in the last presidential primaries (Ron Paul). My hunch is, Rush doesn't understand libertarian economics/political theory, nor does he understand Catholicism.
Just my hunch.
Is there such a thing as a beautiful thrashing? I wouldn't have thought so, but Nock does it repeatedly in Memoirs of a Superfluous Man. All sorts of things about American culture irritate him, but he criticizes them with superb prose, erudition, and a measure of detached amusement that make the criticism even more effective.
In this regard, I would recommend his commentary of a cultural phenomenon that he refers to as "economism."
In Memoirs, Nock wrote that extensive conversations with a good friend (over pints of Bass ale) had "impressed" on him the "basic fact that western society was entirely given over to economism." Western society, Nock lamented, now "interpreted the whole of human life in terms of the production, acquisition and distribution of wealth." It is what we commonly refer to as "materialism," but Nock preferred "economism" because he thought "materialism" too "ambiguous and inexact."
Nock then proceeded to criticize economism relentlessly. In fact, it's one of the most repeated themes in Memoirs.
Now, you need to remember that Nock is considered the godfather of modern libertarianism. Modern libertarianism is largely marked by the input of Ludwig von Mises and, to a lesser extent, Friedrich Hayek and Murray Rothbard. These three are the most famous modern Austrian economists, and their thought has made an indelible mark on thoughtful libertarianism today.
One of the biggest criticism of Austrian economics, and their libertarian political arm, is that it is obsessed with economics. Here, for instance, is a statement from a good Catholic that I ran across about two years ago: "Austro-libertarianism is more than just an economic theory: it is what amounts to a total worldview, and like its materialist twin, socialism, is in direct competition with the Catholic Faith."
The statement is a commonplace criticism. I used to say things just like it. It was my honest opinion of Austrian economists: they're essentially materialists who think whatever is economic is best. Heck, who think whatever is economic is the only thing that matters.
But then enter Nock, the godfather of modern libertarianism. He loathed such a worldview and eschewed riches in his life (as near as we can tell; he didn't write much about his life, to say the least). He wasn't devoted to money and held in contempt people and societies that were.
Nock, however, wasn't an Austrian economist. He was a social critic and brilliant essayist who took an interest in things economic (particularly drawn to the one-tax theories of Henry George). But there are a lot of a parallels between Nock's economic ideas and, say, Rothbard's. How could two people share so many economic ideas, but then split on the phenomenon of economism?
And they didn't.
Rothbard was no fan of economism either. In fact, he spent time at the beginning of his magnum opus, Man, Economy, and State, to distance himself from the idea that he could possibly think that economics (or "praxeology") was the only human dimension or the only worthwhile discipline. He even went so far as to offer his list of the five legitimate dimensions and disciplines that merit study: philosophy, psychology, technology, history, and praxeology. His list strikes me as partly wrongheaded, but I haven't spent much time thinking about it, and it doesn't matter here. My only point is that, among the five, only one of them is economic.
So even Rothbard, who among the godfathers of libertarian economics has a reputation for being the most stridently "materialistic," held that any such encompassing view of reality is not part of his economics. His economics doesn't deny God or the soul or even the Incarnation. His economics merely says, "Those things belong to a different sphere of inquiry."
Socialism, on the other hand, relies on a rejection of traditional Christian principles. It is explicitly and thoroughly materialistic and atheistic: its belief system requires the rejection of God, as illustrated by de Lubac in The Drama of Atheist Humanism and Voegelin's From Enlightenment to Revolution.
Whew, whirlwind Thanksgiving weekend: Black Wednesday drinking, followed by Thanksgiving hangover, then Thanksgiving travel to Detroit to visit with lots of in-laws that I see, at most, once a year, then Friday morning holiday parade in Grosse Pointe, then more in-laws, then Saturday morning basketball drills with boys and nephew, UM/OSU game on TV, pick up Alex and Abbie in Ann Arbor after game, battle horrendous traffic, get home and have tree decorating party.
And now it's the first day of Advent and I'm relaxing. Things are good. Hectic, but good.
I'm always grateful that my in-laws are good folk. If they were bastuds or unduly eccentric, I honestly don't think I could take those kinds of weekends. I find them exhausting already. I can't imagine how I'd handle it if my in-laws were, well, like me.
My gluten intolerance has pretty much killed my beer-drinking ability, so I've had to switch to vodka and gin (and will shortly foray into rum, in honor of GKC's The Flying Inn). It looks like I'm catching the new wave:
Thanks to the growth in the craft beer industry and craft cocktail culture, the craft distilling industry has been growing exponentially in recent years, from barely two dozen microdistillers across the country in 2000 to over 250 in 2012, with dozens more currently seeking federal licensing. Michigan alone has over 30 licensed craft distillers with more in the works, including several in metro Detroit. There is also a Michigan Distillers Guild in the early planning stages, mirroring itself after the Michigan Brewers Guild to be an advocacy group for Michigan's microdistillers.
Catholic Men's Quarterly, a one-of-a-kind general interest men's magazine written by Catholic men for Catholic men. Makes a great Father's Day gift.
"The Daily Eudemon is the sort of thing
that Chesterton or Mencken would be doing, if they were
alive today. It's what, in saner times, was called journalism.
In the writing and in the reading, it's exactly the sort
of leisure we should want at the basis of culture."Mike
Aquilina, Author of The Fathers of the Church
and TV Talk Show Host.
Catholicism-urbane, witty, engaged-is alive and well!
If you can read, you should be reading The Daily Eudemon!"David
Scott, author of A Revolution of Love: The Meaning
of Mother Teresa
you like your blogs pithy, nimble, pointed, high-spirited,
and waggish, then bookmmark Eric Scheske's The Daily
Eudemon. Ooops! You want prolixity, density, meandering,
dull, and sober? Then run (do not walk!) to the blogs
of the major news outlets. They have just what you want.
Honestly they do." John
Peterson, Editor, G.K. Chesterton: Collected Works,
Volumes 12 and 13.
Scheske's web site is full of information and insight.
Always worth a read."James
V. Schall, Author of Another Sort of Learning.