A Random Passage
Kinda makes you wonder if Balthasar, Guardini, and McLuhan kick things around in heaven: "Guardini claims that religious experience has historically grown darker and weaker in the technological world, if we compare this world to the mythological world of antiquity and the Middle Ages, in which the 'transparency' of the divine shone much more brightly through the more natural, creaturely character of the world." von Balthasar
Thank you, TDE readers, for your patronage. I just looked at my Amazon results for the month. I'm always stunned to see how a slew of small credits (ranging from one cent to, say, 39 cents) adds up. Of course, special thanks to the TDE readers who log in and buy, say, an expensive winter coat or a big screen TV, but it's the little purchases that mostly drive the profits that allow TDE to pay its annual hosting and vodka charges.
Brews You Can Use: Special Holiday Edition
Christmas is nigh. I've never been much of a Christmas drinker. Thanksgiving? Sure, but Christmas? Nope.
I certainly don't have a religious problem with drinking, since, as long-time TDE readers know, I practically consider alcohol a sacramental, but there's a time and place for everything, and for some reason, it has never resonated with me to drink much on Christmas Eve or Christmas. I suspect my "objection" (if my personal mild aversion can even be called that) to Christmas drinking is related more to the jammed nature of the celebration. There's so much going on, and sleep already at a premium, I don't need to compound the potential problems with inebriation or, worse, the after-effects of alcohol.
But I realize my preference not to enjoy a lot of alcohol at Christmas isn't everyone's decision, so I'm dedicating this BYCU to Christmas cheer.
First off, if I do drink a little, I won't drink my regulars: vodka or gin. It's a special season, so any drinking calls for a special drink: spiked punch, spiked egg nog, mulled wine, etc. Or maybe a fine red wine. If you're a beer drinker, there are a host of holiday ales out there. The market is as crowded with ales as it is with contemporary Christmas songs (I just hope the new ales are better than the new music). The Christmas beer names run the gamut, from the merely descriptive, to the sacramental, to the raucous:
Bell's Christmas Ale, Bell's Winter White Ale, Dundee Festive Ale, Merry Maker Gingerbread Stout, St Bernardus Christmas Ale, Ommegang Adoration Ale, Samuel Adams Old Fezziwig, Nutcracker Ale, Mad Elf Ale, Seriously Bad Elf, Delirium Noel, Santa’s Private Reserve Ale, Festivus, Christmas Bomb, Pimp My Sleigh, Spice Spice Baby, Yule Shoot Your Rye Out, The Beer that Saved Christmas, Sled Wrecker.
If you don't share my taste for moderate drinking at Christmas, I recommend this funny piece at Modern Drunkard Magazine: Holiday Hints for Hooch Heads. Warning: the language is very colorful. Here are a couple of recommendations from the fine folks at MDM:
Don’t worry if you hate wrapping presents, because your favorite store provides free gift wrapping.
Just give the brown bag a little twist around the neck of the bottle and hey! All done!
After eight of your “these-are-for-daddies-only” eggnogs, try to refrain from telling your children you are going to shoot Santa off the roof of your house when he lands.
While their shrieks of terror may seem funny at the time, it will directly affect the quality of nursing home you will be eventually shipped off to.
If your more religious relatives try to pin you down about your drinking habits at a family gathering, always tell them, “Hope you don’t mind, but I’m gonna keep prayin’ for ya!”
For some reason it drives them crazy.
If you’re drunk enough, heckling Christmas carolers will seem about the coolest thing in the world.
Especially if you can get them to cry.
Spread the holiday cheer by going to your favorite bar dressed as Santa Claus.
Because nobody under-pours Santa. Nobody.
Despite my condemnation of contemporary Christmas music above, there is some good stuff out there. Trans-Siberian Ochestra, for instance (though I think, overall, their music is terribly over-rated . . . two good songs does not a great listening experience make). There's also this nice little song that I found a few years ago. Consider it my Christmas present to you and, though I don't say it very often, thanks for reading TDE:
A new poll about the 2016 election shows that just 27 percent of voters would be likely to support Chris Christie. And only 4 percent of chairs.
After closing their final session, the outgoing 113th Congress has an approval rating of just 16 percent. To give you some perspective, Cosby is at 17.
Today a trailer was released for a new documentary about the Backstreet Boys. Unfortunately it was the one they were living in.
A Salvation Army bell ringer in Virginia was injured when an 87-year-old man accidentally ran him over. He was taken to the hospital once the applause died down.
A TDE reader sends along this email:
"I sent my brother that Talib quote: 'Never listen to a leftist who does not give away his fortune or does not live the exact lifestyle he wants others to follow.'
"He used it with co-workers, a flurry of emails followed (e.g., "What about conservatives with 'family values', they don't follow those," etc.)."
I figured it was worth a response, which is pasted below.
Well, for what it's worth, I don't trust conservatives who don't follow their own family values either.
Talib's analysis, if I recall correctly, was directed specifically to the monetary phenomenon of having "skin in the game." If I had to guess, his quote was especially directed at Al Gore and Hollywood stars and their environmentalism. They espouse an environmentalism that imposes drastic economic costs on everyone else, but then conduct their personal economic affairs in an opposite manner.
There are parallels to the philandering family-values politician, sure, but they're not economic ones. A maritally-unfaithful conservative can push for fewer divorces without imposing economic costs on everyone. A fornicating Republican that doesn't use effective birth control can push to end abortion but still rightly consider abortion murder.
You also have to look at the respective programs of the "right" and "left." The liberal proposes huge social programs that can't be ratcheted back down, which impose a permanent (or nearly permanent) economic cost on the country. The conservative merely proposes to continue with a form of morality that has been in existence for over 2,000 years. There's a huge difference.
There are parallels, yes, but I think they're dwarfed by the differences.
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.
It remains for the true master of Chestertoniana to list all the books that have been dedicated to GKC. At the head of this list, or near it, will be the great 1913 mystery novel, Trent's Last Case, by Chesterton's lifelong friend, Edmund Clerihew Bentley. (Yes, he's the originator of the clerihew verse form). The dedication reads, in part, "I dedicate this story to you because the only really noble motive I had in writing it was the hope that you would enjoy it."
I keep a handful of books on my Kindle that I read from sporadically. These aren't books that I dive into, but rather books that I read at odd moments when I don't feel like reading anything else.
One of them is E. Michael Jones' little book, Benedict's Rule: The Rise of Ethnicity and the Fall of Rome. From what I can tell, it's about how Benedict saved western civilization after Rome's fall (or, how I would be more inclined to phrase it, "how Benedict and his successors inherited the soul of western civilization from Rome as its imperial apparatus shrunk away"). There's undoubtedly going to be a twist in Jones' account ("the rise of ethnicity"), but so far, it's about the fall of Rome and the rise of monasteries.
The Introduction drew comparisons to the fall of the Roman Empire and the fall of the American Empire. His basic point is that, just as Rome rotted internally as it concentrated on regions far removed from Rome, American is rotting internally as it concentrates on regions far removed from, say, Ohio. The American rot is embodied in its inner cities.
He might have a point, which isn't surprising because Jones always has a point that makes you stop and think, even though those points sometimes veer too closely to uncomfortable subjects (is he an anti-Semite? I doubt it, but I haven't looked at the evidence either way; if I declined to read everything that might contain inappropriate thoughts, I couldn't even read my own TDE archives . . . or my own soul, for that matter).
Just as the monks saved western civilization, Jones thinks the monks could help revitalize our innter cities. If you read accounts of Groeschel's grey friars in the South Bronx, you know Jones has a point.
I especially liked this proposal from his Introduction:
What I'm proposing is very simple. Let one or two or three Benedictine monks take over one or two or three abandoned parish buildings in cities like Philadelphia, Detroit, New York, or Boston and turn them into monasteries which could provide affordable housing for young Catholic couples who want to live according to the 21st century version of the rule of St. Benedict.
Such a project, of course, comes with a lot of economic and regulatory hurdles. If the Church owns the buildings, they could simply convey them to the Order for $1.00, but the rehab costs would be astronomical in light of the Americans with Disabilities Act and ordinary housing codes. And if there are any environmental concerns . . . well, good bye. The project ain't gonna happen. You'd hope there would be no environmental concerns in an old church building, but in light of ground water migration and other potential pollutants, you never know.
But the project isn't quixotic. It deserves consideration. And who knows, it might just save a few inner-city neighborhoods . . . and maybe America. Hope springs eternal.
I kinda feel like Gaudete Sunday ushered in the Advent season for me. Everything from Thanksgiving through Saturday was crunched and rushed, from a flurry of meetings and appointments at the office to social obligations. While at Mass Satuday night, it dawned on me that the sailing looks pretty smooth for the rest of Advent. I'll still be busy, but not rushed; I'll have obligations, but days won't be crunched. I say, "far out." * * * * * * *Dan Bourdreaux at Cafe Hayek says this is his favorite quote ever: "The saddest life is that of a political aspirant under democracy. His failure is ignominious and his success is disgraceful." I can't say it's my favorite ever, but man, it's great. Definitely in my top 100. * * * * * * * He also made reference this past weekend to a great Thomas Sowell quote: "Freedom is not simply the right of intellectuals to circulate their merchandise. It is, above all, the right of ordinary people to find elbow room for themselves and a refuge from the rampaging presumptions of their 'betters.'" Amen to that. * * * * * * * By the way, if you've never read Mencken, give him a try. I have found something soothing in reading essayists from previous eras. When I sit down with such a book of essays, I kinda feel like I'm going to read something and somone irrelevant, giving my reading session no set purpose. It's calming for some reason, but then the calm reading is often rewarded with something great. If you want to try Mencken, you could do worse than starting with his Chrestomathy. It's the first collection of essays I bought and read. * * * * * * * Speaking of old essayists, why did the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries use so many flipping commas? I find it distracting to read, say, the Federalist Papers, or, better, the Anti-Federalist Papers, with all those commas. They even mar the prose of Cardinal Newman. It looks like the comma orcs were on their way out by, say, 1900 or so, thereby preserving the unorthodox prose of Chesterton and acidulous prose of Mencken, but boy, pretty much everything before them is polluted with those punctuation gnats. * * * * * * * Please continue to patronize TDE through the Amazon box in the upper-righthand corner. It's been a pretty decent season so far. I appreciate it. * * * * * * * There will be special Christmas edition of BYCU this Friday. Tell your friends (especially if you don't like your friends).
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.
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