Thanks to Janet's question about one of my favorite hymn tunes, LLANGLOFFAN, I was reminded this morning of one of my favorite hymns, O God of Earth and Altar, with its amazing and always-timely words by G. K. Chesterton. (KINGS' LYNN is another great tune for this hymn.)
O God of earth and altar, bow down and hear our cry,
Our earthly rulers falter, our people drift and die;
The walls of gold entomb us, the swords of scorn divide;
Take not Thy thunder from us, but take away our pride.
From all that terror teaches, from lies of tongue and pen,
From all the easy speeches that comfort cruel men;
From sale and profanation of honor and the sword;
From sleep and from damnation, deliver us, good Lord!
Bind all our lives together, smite us and save us all;
In ire and exultation aflame with faith and free,
Lift up a living nation, a single sword to Thee.
Curbing the time I spend writing doesn't mean there won't be new posts; rather, you'll get less of me and more of links to interesting things I find. Here's one in honor of recently-deceased Michael Crichton, author of (among many others) The Andromeda Strain, Jurassic Park, and Five Patients: The Hospital Explained; you probably have not heard of the last one, but it was my introduction to Crichton and the only of his books to reside in our library.Aliens Cause Global Warming. Check it out with an open mind. Crichton's purpose isn't to tell you (or his Cal Tech audience) there's no other intelligent life in the universe, or that atomic bombs and second-hand smoke are safe, or that there's no such thing as global warming. His concern is that our approach to all these issues (and many more) is that of false prophets, taking the name of Science in vain. (Since apparently Science was Crichton's god, you can see why this would be particularly upsetting to him.) We are invoking Science to back the positions we want to support when in fact there is no truly scientific evidence undergirding our conclusions. The Priests of Science are allowing this to happen, even participating in the abominations, and Science's lesser worshippers follow blindly. If Crichton cannot cleanse the temple, perhaps he can at least clear our minds.
My own fears about an Obama presidency and a heavily Democratic Congress notwithstanding, I can see one factor in his election that may do much for both the economy and the country: Hope. Gripe as I may about the messianic adulation of Barack Obama, there are a lot of folks who are happy right now, and people who had all but given up on the American political process who now believe in it. Confidence in the system and hope for a better life can be powerful forces for good.(Li'l Writer Guy is even now on an airplane, winging his way toward the French Alps. I can still manage short posts on my own, however.)
Like it or not, our country has placed itself under the threats I mentioned in Part I, and I can only hope that the mitigating factors of Part II will enable me to say, at the end of four years, "That wasn't so bad." Regardless, although I believe the results of this election will make life more difficult, the important things do not change. Here's some of what I believe we need to do in the coming years.Who is the "we" in the following ruminations? Mostly I'm speaking for myself, to myself, but often there will be a more general application, anyone who wishes to come along for the ride is welcome. (More)
Part II — Some Mitigating FactorsAs I said in Part I, the prospect of the next four years under Barack Obama and a strongly Democratic Congress disturbs me greatly. The following are some of the reasons why the outcome of the election might not matter as much as I fear. (More)
If I'm going to make a political post before Election Day, I'd better move quickly. This won't have as much as I want to say, nor as much careful crafting as I want to put into it, but it will still be too long and take too much time. It will be in three parts, reflecting my three conflicting and complementing moods as I contemplate the next four years.
Part I — Why This Election Is So Threatening
It is far too tempting to begin this section with a slight alteration of Mark 13:14. (More)
The European Parliament has awarded its Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought to Chinese activist Hu Jia. I'm embarrassed to say I know very little about his work, but the fact the the Europeans defied Chinese pressure to ignore him is enough for me to cheer about.Read more here.
Having read this analysis of what the next U.S. president (and other members of the Executive and Legislative branches) must face, I have two questions.
(1) This job clearly requires someone of superior intelligence, knowledge, skill, courage, and moral grounding. Where in our political process is the ordinary voter given the opportunity to evaluate the candidates on those qualities?
(2) Why would anyone in his right mind want the job?Read the article. It's scary, but it's well-written and reasonably non-partisan.
I like to ignore politics as much as possible. I want to be a well-informed voter, but I don't believe that political propaganda—whether in the form of paid advertising or news commentary—serves that purpose well, and I'd rather change a dirty diaper than listen to a presidential debate. But as Pericles said, Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you. And economics even more so.
In the last month I've changed many diapers, and the worst of them did not smell as bad as the current state of our economy and what it might lead to. I've lived through several economic downturns, and haven't yet found them worth the worry they engender, if one has adhered to a policy of regular savings, avoided the get-rich-quick mentality, stayed out of debt for depreciable assets, and been willing (and able) to take a long-term view. "This too shall pass" has always been an effective philosophy. (More)
We, meaning our family and friends, were talking about the Y2K problem at least 20 years before it happened. So how did it become such a big deal? If we peons knew, why was it an apparent surprise to the U.S. government and business world? Why were we caught so off guard that we needed a drastic increase in programming staff, which necessitated reaching overseas to Indian programmers, which in turn sparked the subsequent massive exporting of American Information Technology jobs?We've known for at least as long that our economy was headed for a difficult, possibly even disastrous "correction." Some borrowing is healthy and makes financial and economic sense—reasoned, careful borrowing with every expectation of timely repayment—but an economy as dependent on foolish borrowing as ours is only a house of cards waiting to crash. The wonder is that the fall has been postponed so long, even if our current troubles are the needed correction. (I'm not sure they are; we've weathered disruptions before, and the media live off of doom-and-gloom, making everything seem worse than it really is.) We've buttressed our card house by extending more credit; then putting mothers to work to bring in more cash; then extending more credit; then putting our teenagers to work, not to support their families but to support the economy through foolish consumerism; then pushing credit on those who are least wise in their spending and can least afford to repay; then putting our homes to work through home equity loans; then stretching credit to the absolute breaking point as those in the highest places of most responsibility began behaving like the most foolish neophyte with a brand-new credit card. And all, from the dirt-poor to the wealthiest, expecting the government—which, may I remind you, is you, and me, and all those who still believe in responsible spending—to pay for their mistakes. (More)
When an article from my "to blog" backlog, a recent post from one of my blogging contacts, and an article from the most recent issue of a magazine I respect all converge, I can take that as a good suggestion for today's post.Jennifer Fulwiler writes the Conversion Diary blog (formerly "Et Tu?"), which I've featured before (here, among other places). This is her article in America. John C. Wright is a science fiction writer. It was his blog post that alerted me to the First Things article. Read his introduction, but don't settle for his summary of the article. Instead, read Mary Eberstadt's The Vindication of "Humanae Vitae" yourself. (More)
Whatever you think about John Edwards, he isn't stupid, and choosing to admit his adulterous affair while our attention was focused on the Olympic opening ceremonies was probably a smart move.Russia isn't stupid, either. They couldn't hope to invade another country without generating some controversy, but doing so while the eyes of much of the world and even more of the news media are on events in Beijing gives them a good chance of being ignored, at least long enough to accomplish their purposes. (More)
John C. Wright's post about his discussion with a utopian communist awakened memories of my own encounters with people who look back with affection to the time of the 1960s and 70s. It's probably good, in general, that human beings tend to forget the sorrows of the past and remember it with a golden tinge, but when it's the sufferings of others, rather than our own, that we ignore, we are in danger of making grievous mistakes.
No age (nor philosophy) has a monopoly on evil, and I'm the first to admit both that my own life was largely insulated from the pain of that time and that some good things came from it, but the era was one of selfishness, incivility, and disastrous policies unequalled in my (admittedly limited) experience. Worse, it was the spawning-ground for much future harm.Perhaps if more people remembered those decades with suspicion, rather than admiration, the present age wouldn't be as likely as it threatens to repeat them.
Mike Thomas, an Orlando Sentinel columnist, has had a special place in our hearts ever since he interviewed Heather for a magazine article about her summer camp experiences. That I often disagree with his opinions in no way keeps me from appreciating his intelligence and writing skills.His recent column, The Sea Is Coming, makes the excellent point that, whatever we do or don't do about global warming, or global cooling, we in Florida are fighting a losing battle against natural forces. Florida's coastline comes and goes, advances and retreats, and the worst thing we can do is to cover it with lots of big, expensive buildings. The second worst is to encourage that overgrowth, as we do, with government-subsidized property insurance—considered necessary because real insurance companies know how foolish it is to build one's house upon the sand while standing in a hurricane's path. (More)