Saint Patrick and the Nations Plunging in the Night

Friday, March 17, AD 2017

When Caesar’s sun fell out of the sky
And whoso hearkened right
Could only hear the plunging
Of the nations in the night.

GK Chesterton, Ballad of the White Horse

It is easy to lose sight of the historical Saint Patrick in all the fun and frolic of Saint Patrick’s Day.  He was a man of the fifth century and what a disastrous century it was for Patrick’s time and place.  The Western Empire was going down under wave after wave of barbarian invasion, pagan when they were not loosely converted Arian heretics.  Civilization was manifestly dying and Catholicism seemed to be faced with extinction, as it would almost entirely be extinguished in Patrick’s homeland of Britain in the terrible decades to come.  Patrick’s capture by Irish pirates and being held as a slave was typical of the fate of many Christians as the law and order of the old Empire became a fading utopian dream.  In these circumstances Patrick could have been forgiven for running and hiding in a cave as a Christian hermit, convinced that it was his fate and the fate of his generation to see the End Times predicted in Revelations.

Instead Patrick, after his escape from servitude, was filled with a burning zeal to convert the Irish, fired by a dream:

I saw a man coming, as it were from Ireland. His name was Victoricus, and he carried many letters, and he gave me one of them. I read the heading: “The Voice of the Irish”. As I began the letter, I imagined in that moment that I heard the voice of those very people who were near the wood of Foclut, which is beside the western sea—and they cried out, as with one voice: “We appeal to you, holy servant boy, to come and walk among us.”

Obtaining such education as could be had on the Continent, he was ordained, given the powers of a bishop, and sent back to the land of his slavery and labored night and day to bring the Irish into the light of Christ.  By the end of his life he could truly say that he had found Ireland entirely pagan and now it was mostly Christian.  His mission was one of pure Christian optimism in the face of disaster when most rational men would have told him that what he was doing was all for naught.  Instead, in the ages to come, Ireland became the fabled land of saints and scholars, where western civilization was maintained in the darkest of centuries and where the true sons and daughters of Saint Patrick, Catholic missionaries, brought the light of Christ back to lands which had forgotten Him.  It was a grand story, and no miracle attributed to Saint Patrick can surpass what he accomplished in cold historical fact.

To understand what Saint Patrick was up against, and the true miracle of what he accomplished, read below a letter of his in which he discussed the massacre of Catholic converts:

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5 Responses to Saint Patrick and the Nations Plunging in the Night

  • St. Patrick’s Breastplate, the short version,

    “Christ with me,
    Christ before me,
    Christ behind me,
    Christ in me,
    Christ beneath me,
    Christ above me,
    Christ on my right,
    Christ on my left,
    Christ when I lie down,
    Christ when I sit down,
    Christ when I arise,
    Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
    Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
    Christ in every eye that sees me,
    Christ in every ear that hears me.”

    Christ with me,
    Christ before me,
    Christ behind me,
    Christ in me,
    Christ beneath me,
    Christ above me,
    Christ on my right,
    Christ on my left,
    Christ when I lie down,
    Christ when I sit down,
    Christ when I arise,
    Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
    Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
    Christ in every eye that sees me,
    Christ in every ear that hears me.

  • OOPS – looks like I hit “paste” twice. And, the wife is telling me “There’s something wrong with your hearing!”

  • “There’s something long and it’s nearing?” T. Shaw. Less hair on my head and more in my ears…. That’s how I explain my hearing deficiency.
    Happy St.Patricks day!

  • Thank you for posting. TAC encourages one to follow threads and learn somethings new. The letter made me look up that time in history; nations plunging into the night indeed. I had never read more than the basics about the saint’s life and was not aware that some of his writings still existed. His father was a British Roman cavalry officer, a decurion of some means. Patrick sold his birthright to finance his travels – no second collection for the foreign missions for him.

  • Thanks for St. Patrick’s Breastplate – I couldn’t get into a website that had it. Sometimes I need to hear or see words twice.

Rise and Fall

Wednesday, April 20, AD 2016

5 Responses to Rise and Fall

  • I believe the following is from Edward Gibbon.

    “The five marks of the Roman decaying culture:

    Concern with displaying affluence instead of building wealth;

    Obsession with sex and perversions of sex;

    Art becomes freakish and sensationalistic instead of creative and original;

    Widening disparity between very rich and very poor;

    Increased demand to live off the state.”

    Does that sound familiar?

  • The quote is spurious T.Shaw:

    https://historicalhorizons.org/2014/08/29/the-trouble-with-quotes-on-the-internet/

    In regard to the fall of the Roman Republic I would attribute it to the fact that Roman politics and military command were too intermingled. Once the Roman Legions were no longer citizen soldiers, but long term mercenaries usually recruited from the most poverty stricken, it was inevitable that eventually Roman politics would become warfare and that some ambitious Roman politician would bring to an end the whole political game with himself firmly ensconced as Dictator. Caesar, who was a military genius but a political dunce, did it poorly. His nephew Octavius, who was a military dunce but a political genius, did it well and reigned as a King, while pretending to be merely First Citizen and kept much of the ceremony of the Republic as window dressing.

  • The old movie Spartacus is good on the breakdown of the Republic despite its numerous historical howlers:

    The film is a magnificent work of art, and it gets the atmosphere of the late Roman Republic right: old Roman morality being forgotten, a growth of decadence fueled by ever more wealth from foreign conquests, endless amounts of slaves flooding into Italy from the same foreign conquests, factions in the Senate engaging in what amounted to a cold civil war between bouts of hot civil war, the Roman Republican government teetering on the brink of military dictatorship, the movie presents all of these elements more clearly than any classroom lecture could.

  • Well ?- a little off topic, but
    Decadence doesn’t cause decay, but it means decay has already manifested.
    The Church however, is animated by the Giver of Life, the Holy Spirit. Though earthly kingdoms rise and fall, our Church – will give glory to God per omnia saecula saeculorum.

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Viva Roma No. V!

Saturday, February 5, AD 2011

 

Something for the weekend.  From those endlessly talented folks at History for Music Lovers, Viva Roma No. V to the tune of Mambo No. 5.

Civis Romanus sum said Saint Paul, or its Greek equivalent, and even while Christians were savagely persecuted by the Roman Empire many of them remarked about what a wonder in human affairs it was.

There is also another and a greater necessity for our offering prayer in behalf of the emperors, nay, for the complete stability of the empire, and for Roman interests in general. For we know that a mighty shock impending over the whole earth—in fact, the very end of all things threatening dreadful woes—is only retarded by the continued existence of the Roman empire. We have no desire, then, to be overtaken by these dire events; and in praying that their coming may be delayed, we are lending our aid to Rome’s duration.

Tertuallian, Christian Apologetics

 Saint Augustine, living in the twilight of the Roman Empire in the West, with savage Vandals besieging Hippo at the time of his death, in his City of God raised the eyes of men to the imperishable City of God, while also yet acknowledging that God was the cause of the rise of the Roman Empire, along with the traditional Roman virtues:

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When Masculine Virtues Go Out of Fashion

Monday, May 31, AD 2010

The following is a column written by Tom Hoffman of the American Thinker.

The culture war begun in the sixties has, in large part, been won by the left. Nowhere is this clearer than in the feminization of men. The virtues of manhood which had been extolled and celebrated throughout the middle ages right up to the 1950s have been completely expunged from academia and pop culture. The baby boom generation was the last to be taught the values of rugged individualism, risk-taking, courage, bravery, loyalty, and reverence for tradition. John Wayne epitomized the rugged individual who was committed to fighting “the bad guy,” but he was only one of a whole host of competing figures cut out of the same cloth. What happened?

Today, the Boy Scouts are fighting the last battle in a lost cause. Any man who stands up to the “women’s movement” is completely marginalized as a sexist and homophobe. These names have become just as stigmatizing as “racist” used to be. It is no wonder that women now are the majority of college graduates and are increasing their role in every institution from private enterprise to public service, including the military. Is this a healthy trend? The answer is clearly “no.”

Edward Gibbon chronicles the increasing femininity of the Roman Empire in his six-volume work, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. He catalogues the progressive decadence that rendered the once-proud republic into spoils for barbarian hordes. The consuls in the early republic, who were warrior-generals adhering to a strict code of honor, gradually gave way to the backroom emperors who were no more than brazen criminals and thugs. It is the same script in all noble human enterprise: The fabric which bred success is torn apart by the complacency of the successful. When warfare is demonized as violence and negotiation is raised to an art, the end is near. Today, we are there.

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96 Responses to When Masculine Virtues Go Out of Fashion

  • Today, the Boy Scouts are fighting the last battle in a lost cause.

    I wish that fellow would leave this sort of talk to the likes of Rod Dreher.

    The irony is that an antidote was offered by (of all people) Eleanor Roosevelt when she said, “no one can make you feel inferior without your consent”. Masculine virtues retreat when people refuse to defend them.

  • Mr, Hoffman hasn’t met my three sons; or any of our MEN serving (multiple battlefield deployments) in the armed forces.

    But, point taken. We must actively promote manhood.

  • Maybe Mr. Hoffman hasn’t discovered the Catholic faith. Understanding the excellent example of Jesus and the Communion of Saints!

    That and he probably watches too much t.v.

  • I think that “rugged individualism” is the opposite of traditional manly virtue. Traditional manly virtue had a sense of corporate mission.

  • Why is there a photo of someone next to my post?

  • Daniel,

    I don’t know.

    My best guess is that you filled out a gravatar-type profile in the past and WordPress recognized your cookie and attached said picture from that previous gravatar-type profile.

  • “When warfare is demonized as violence and negotiation is raised to an art, the end is near. Today, we are there.”

    I don’t mean to be rude, but you’d have to be a bit of an idiot to believe that. Not just because the U.S. is currently fighting two wars, but because warfare is always very popular in the U.S.

  • Patrick you beat me to it.

  • War, even when it is legitimate, is always a defeat for humanity.

  • I’d extent Patrick’s comment to the entire Hoffman article. Dumb.

    Eric Brown, JP2 wasn’t a real man. We must remember the examples of Jesus and the early martyrs who drew their swords against their oppressors instead of cowering defenselessly like women.

  • I’d extent Patrick’s comment to the entire Hoffman article. Dumb.

    It is not, and don’t tempt me to say what is. For in excess of forty years, we have all been choked by a kultursmog which has had some consistent messages: in favor of exhibitionism, dependency, and manipulation over reticence, stoicism, self-reliance, competition, and rules with consequences.

  • First of all, I like the picture from Big Jake.
    War is not always a defeat. It is unfortunate and sad (I have personally experienced it), but it is on occasion necessary. As we try to establish justice in our fallen world among imperfect people, we must sometimes resort to imperfect means (i.e. war). Unjust wars are a defeat, but just wars can bring about justice (freeing slaves, ending genocide, etc.) As MLK once said “All it takes for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing.” War should not just be written off as “a defeat to humanity.”
    That is not to say that war is the core of masculinity, but struggle definitely is. Whether that struggle is against Communism like JPII or against yourself or in battle.
    A great book on Christian masculinity is “Wild at Heart”.

  • You should rename your website Catholic Chest Thumpers and Gun Barrel Strokers Anonymous dot com.

    You all are an embarrassment to the church.

  • Pace Gibbon, Augustine was far more accurate in his depiction of the decline of Rome. His description of the Parade honoring the “god” Priapus in which an honorable Roman matron crowned you can imagine what, sounds much like the “Gay Pride” parades of today. Satan and his cohorts are just so repetitious and unimaginative.

    Many women [feminists] do not give up their girlish unfairness. They do not openly express what most concerns them – their appearance. If you do not believe me, try telling one woman that another woman is good looking. Then duck.

  • R.F.W.,

    Why does testosterone make you feel insecure?

  • Oddly enough, at exactly the same time this feminization of men has been taking place, popular culture has become increasingly loud, violent and aggressive. You can see it clearly if you compare an old John Wayne or Humphrey Bogart movie to one of Sly Stallone’s or Arnold Schwarzenegger’s action flix. The latter have bigger and louder guns and a much higher body count than The Duke or Bogie ever imagined. In addition, street crime and violence have risen exponentially.

    Why is this happening if boys are being removed from all those awful patriarchal influences and being discouraged from any kind of aggressive play? For the same reason wild elephants who are raised without older males around become violent and aggressive — they not only never learn “how” to fight, they never learn WHEN to fight, or why to fight. So they either become completely passive and never fight at all, or they fight all the time over every little thing. Learning to be a man means learning to control and channel aggression appropriately, and boys are not learning this.

  • Hoffman’s virtue theory is strange–disordered, even. He seems to be saying that what he calls the womanly virtues (negotiation, caring, compassion, sensitivity, and understanding) are bad for society when extolled and practiced by men. Virtues, however, are habitual dispositions to do the good. Practing one doesn’t prohibit practicing another. One can be both magnanimous and humble, courageous and prudent, etc. We’re all in our own way meant to practice and develop all the virtues as best we can. The more virtuous we are, the more human we are, the closer we are to being what we ought to be.

  • Also, when men are discouraged from displaying masculine virtues, women are forced to fill the void, which can be pretty difficult.

  • Ouais. See Rebel without a Cause.

  • “Also, when men are discouraged from displaying masculine virtues, women are forced to fill the void, which can be pretty difficult.”

    From the mini-series I Claudius:

    Tiberius to his mother Livia: “Why can’t you act like a normal woman!”

    Livia: “In order to act like a normal woman you need normal men around you!”

    How very, very true.

  • “Why is this happening if boys are being removed from all those awful patriarchal influences and being discouraged from any kind of aggressive play? For the same reason wild elephants who are raised without older males around become violent and aggressive — they not only never learn “how” to fight, they never learn WHEN to fight, or why to fight. So they either become completely passive and never fight at all, or they fight all the time over every little thing. Learning to be a man means learning to control and channel aggression appropriately, and boys are not learning this.”

    Bravo Elaine! A boy growing up without a father will have a difficult time escaping the fate of being a wimp or a savage unless some worthy male steps into the breach. The sexes are not fungible, and you have placed your finger on one of the prime functions of good fathers throughout the ages: teaching a boy that being a man doesn’t simply mean being a large boy.

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  • Wow. Until I read this article I never realized how contemptible women are.

  • “Wow. Until I read this article I never realized how contemptible women are.”

    Still trying to sharpen up those reading comprehension skills phosphorious? The point of the post is that men and women have different sets of virtues that play important roles in society. This of course is merely stating the obvious, and it is a tribute to the force of political ideology that so many people attempt to deny it.

  • “The point of the post is that men and women have different sets of virtues that play important roles in society.”

    I didn’t realize that so much of the scriptures were written only to women. Good to know that the stuff Jesus said about the peacemakers being blessed, turning the other cheek, loving your enemies, forgiving 77 times, and all that stuff Paul wrote about love being patient, kind, not storing up grievances and being the greatest of virtues are primarily things women need to cultivate. Makes them much easier for me as a man to ignore.

  • “I didn’t realize that so much of the scriptures were written only to women.”

    Glad to enlighten you Ryan that there is more to the scriptures than Christ giving a peace sign. If you get to heaven you and Pope Urban II should have some interesting conversations. G.K. Chesterton, who celebrated the martial virtues, can give the color commentary.

  • “The point of the post is that men and women have different sets of virtues that play important roles in society.”

    Not so. Hoffman is very clear that the “womanly” virtues are bad for society: “Caring, compassion, sensitivity, and understanding are virtues meant to blur the distinction between good and evil and drown out the call of manly conscience to ‘do the right thing.'”

  • Not so Kyle. The whole passage makes clear that Hoffman was talking about the distortion of these values in contemporary culture:

    “Academia, with the help of the media, has labeled all reference to manly virtue as patriarchal, sexist, and homophobic. Womanly virtue, on the other hand, is extolled. Caring, compassion, sensitivity, and understanding are virtues meant to blur the distinction between good and evil and drown out the call of manly conscience to “do the right thing.” Like a mother who refuses to see the evil in her son, the feminist professors cast all moral standards as relative and subjective.”

    Hoffman is right on target. Every society needs balance and our society has become extremely unbalanced in this area.

  • Thank you Donald. I do enjoy engaging with different perspectives and am always willing to be instructed. I’m sure your conversations with Pope John Paul II and Dorothy Day will be equally enlightening.

  • “I’m sure your conversations with Pope John Paul II and Dorothy Day will be equally enlightening.”

    No doubt Ryan, although I would insist on Don Juan of Austria giving the color commentary!

  • Where does Hoffman say the “womanly” virtues have been distorted? He characterizes the extolling of “womanly” virtue itself as a bad thing!

  • It sounds like he is criticizing extolling the feminine at the expense of the masculine. That’s my read.

  • That is exactly how it is read.

    Kyle is deploying the usual liberal strategy of confusion in order to muddy the message.

  • I don’t think that Hoffman expresses himself with precision here, and I’m not sure that I’m in full agreement with him, but what he’s driving at seems to be a basically Aristotelian concept that true virtue is found in moderation. Thus, to take a single polarity, mercy with no justice, and justice with no mercy would both be disordered, non-virtuous states.

    He’s not saying that mercy is bad while justice is good, but rather that if one makes mercy a virtue but justice a vice, excluding justice from society, we end up with an unbalanced society which in fact reflects neither.

    Now, I think that it’s rather broad brush to take it that certain virtues are strictly masculine, while others are strictly feminine, but I don’t think it’s particularly off base to insist that remove one side of the balance scale results in disorder.

  • I think you would be hard pressed finding any writings in the New Testament, or in the first 300 years of the Church that extol war in any way. Since St. Aquinas put forth the just war theory, there has not been a war that lived up to it. This is because the world would not accept the teaching of the early church that we should not commit violence to each other, so St. Aquinas came up with a theory he knew no war could meet.

    You may be able to argue that “manly” values are what made America great, or that war and violence have their place. But you can not argue that doing violence to others has any place in Christian teaching. Pope Urban may have thought he was doing the right thing in freeing the Holy Lands through the Crusades, but even the Pope can make an error. O do you feel that Pope John the XII who the Catholic Encyclopedia describes as a coarse, immoral man, also made no errors. Or the many other Popes of the middle ages who sought more to enrich themselves and their families. We believe the magisterium, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, accurately passed on the teachings of Jesus and the apostles, not that they were right and justified in all they did.

  • It is no wonder that women now are the majority of college graduates and are increasing their role in every institution from private enterprise to public service, including the military. Is this a healthy trend? The answer is clearly “no.”

    Men being the only ones who were educated = The earthly paradise

    Women outnumbering men in colleges = sissified socialist hell.

    Wow. Until I read this essay, I never realized how contemptible women were.

  • Although this theory does explain a lot about recent history.

    After 9/11, Bush let Osama Bin Laden get away, and focussed his attention on Iraq. . . thus backing down from the bully who actually hurt us, and fighting a country that did nothing to us. Exactly the behavior predicted by this exciting new theory of He-Manliness. . . or lack thereof.

    I always suspected that Bush was a little. . . (and here I’m making that gesture where you hold your hand palm down, fingers spread and then twist it back an forth)

    You know what I mean. . .

  • Wow, the Vox Nova pansies are out in full splendor today.

  • He’s not saying that mercy is bad while justice is good, but rather that if one makes mercy a virtue but justice a vice, excluding justice from society, we end up with an unbalanced society which in fact reflects neither.

    I’m sorry. . . isn’t he saying exactly that:

    All reference to the service of a higher calling — to God and country — has been replaced by the call to community service with the emphasis on care and compassion for the downtrodden.

    A society dedicated to care and compassion of the downtrodden? The horror. . . the horror. . .

  • j. christian,

    Are you saying the apostles who went to their death not allowing their followers to fight were panzies? Maybe St. Ignatius was a panzy when he was marched across Europe to Rome and asked those who came out to great him to not fight for his relief.

    If you wish to discuss Catholic teaching on virtue and the “manly” virtues, please do. If you wish to call those who are willing to suffer non violently in the name of Christ (or who believe christians are called to be non violent in all causes) panzies, then please count me with the martyrs who did just that.

  • The Apostles were contributors to Vox Nova? Who knew?

  • I doubt if Saint Augustine would make the cut for Vox Nova however:

    “Do not think that it is impossible for any one to please God while engaged in active military service. Among such persons was the holy David, to whom God gave so great a testimony; among them also were many righteous men of that time; among them was also that centurion who said to the Lord: I am not worthy that You should come under my roof, but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed: for I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goes; and to another, Come, and he comes; and to my servant, Do this, and he does it; and concerning whom the Lord said: Verily, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. Matthew 8:8-10 Among them was that Cornelius to whom an angel said: Cornelius, your alms are accepted, and your prayers are heard, Acts 10:4 when he directed him to send to the blessed Apostle Peter, and to hear from him what he ought to do, to which apostle he sent a devout soldier, requesting him to come to him. Among them were also the soldiers who, when they had come to be baptized by John,— the sacred forerunner of the Lord, and the friend of the Bridegroom, of whom the Lord says: Among them that are born of women there has not arisen a greater than John the Baptist, Matthew 11:11 — and had inquired of him what they should do, received the answer, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages. Luke 3:14 Certainly he did not prohibit them to serve as soldiers when he commanded them to be content with their pay for the service.

    5. They occupy indeed a higher place before God who, abandoning all these secular employments, serve Him with the strictest chastity; but every one, as the apostle says, has his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that. 1 Corinthians 7:7 Some, then, in praying for you, fight against your invisible enemies; you, in fighting for them, contend against the barbarians, their visible enemies. Would that one faith existed in all, for then there would be less weary struggling, and the devil with his angels would be more easily conquered; but since it is necessary in this life that the citizens of the kingdom of heaven should be subjected to temptations among erring and impious men, that they may be exercised, and tried as gold in the furnace, Wisdom 3:6 we ought not before the appointed time to desire to live with those alone who are holy and righteous, so that, by patience, we may deserve to receive this blessedness in its proper time.

    6. Think, then, of this first of all, when you are arming for the battle, that even your bodily strength is a gift of God; for, considering this, you will not employ the gift of God against God. For, when faith is pledged, it is to be kept even with the enemy against whom the war is waged, how much more with the friend for whom the battle is fought! Peace should be the object of your desire; war should be waged only as a necessity, and waged only that God may by it deliver men from the necessity and preserve them in peace. For peace is not sought in order to the kindling of war, but war is waged in order that peace may be obtained. Therefore, even in waging war, cherish the spirit of a peacemaker, that, by conquering those whom you attack, you may lead them back to the advantages of peace; for our Lord says: Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the children of God. Matthew 5:9 If, however, peace among men be so sweet as procuring temporal safety, how much sweeter is that peace with God which procures for men the eternal felicity of the angels! Let necessity, therefore, and not your will, slay the enemy who fights against you. As violence is used towards him who rebels and resists, so mercy is due to the vanquished or the captive, especially in the case in which future troubling of the peace is not to be feared.”

  • I think Kyle’s reading (and that of some others here) of Hoffman’s post is flawed, and I have taken issue with it in his blog

    Click Here to seek Kyle’s post

    I will re-post my comment here, and add one point at the end:

    Kyle, with due repect to your philosophical acumen, which I respect not a whit less than my own, I must take issue with your reading of Hoffman’s piece. To me, it seemed unlikely that you would read a blog piece like that in an unfair way and interpret it wrongly, but it seemed no more likely that someone would take the very odd position you described. In order to relieve the dissonance of two equally absurd possibilities, I read it for myself. I speculated that the quote you lifted might possibly be redeemed by its context, and my suspicion seems to be confirmed by the actual blog post. I did not think it very plausible that someone would argue that caring, compassion, sensitivity and understanding are in and of themselves, deficient and incorrigibly prone to blur the moral conscience. I did not find it very likely that Hoffman was advocating manly virtues to the exclusion of the ones that he deems unmanly. The way I read the piece, he is pointing out a problem with the way academia and the media promote one set of virtues to the exclusion of another set which they reject, but he is not necessarily doing the same from the opposite direction (promoting what they reject, rejecting what they promote).

    Here is the quote you gave in its context (disregarding the further quote, which only serves to emphasize whatever point he is actually making):

    ” … Academia, with the help of the media, has labeled all reference to manly virtue as patriarchal, sexist, and homophobic. Womanly virtue, on the other hand, is extolled. Caring, compassion, sensitivity, and understanding are virtues meant to blur the distinction between good and evil and drown out the call of manly conscience to ?do the right thing.? Like a mother who refuses to see the evil in her son, the feminist professors cast all moral standards as relative and subjective.”

    I think the key to understanding what Hoffman is saying is the verb “meant”, which I have italicized above for emphasis, along with what I take to be the subjects of that verb, the doers of the action: “Academia…the feminist professors…with the help of the media”. It is a critique of what they are trying to do with those virtues, not of the virtues themselves.

    I doubt he would disagree with your point, that all the virtues must be practiced. He is simply correctigng an unbalanced excess in one direction by promoting an emphasis on those virtues which he judges to be marginalized. There is no good reason to insist on a reading of Hoffman as denying a legitimate place for compassion, sensitivity and understanding. I will seek his opinion on our different interpretations of his piece. He, of course, would know what intended.

    My final point is simply this – the root of the word virtue, vir is an accurate rendering of the classical Greek ????? (aret?), which is literally about manliness, and referrs to general excellence of character. It encompasses morality, but is not limited to it, but signifies excellence on all attributes.

  • What I suspect J Christian is pointing out, Paul, is that some people seem to be working themselves up into a tizzy of worry over misinterpreting a piece which really isn’t saying anything all that shocking (or exciting).

    Kyle says that he’s worried by the philosophy of virtue expressed in Hoffman’s piece — that hardly strikes me as surprising as Hoffman is writing a (not terribly deep) piece of social criticism, not laying out a philosophy of virtue. That the result is not a coherent philosophy is not surprising. (Kyle doesn’t even seem to totally disagree with the piece, as in his facebook posting publicizing his post he notes that he does see a problem with “manly virtues” being given short change in our society — pointing to the reworking of Aragorn’s character in the film version of LotR versus his character in the book.)

    Then, within the first four comments over there, we have one commenter saying Jesus would have wept, one saying this is a prime example of American fascist tendencies, and a third claiming that the TAC author “fetishizes violence” and wants to “give the government unchecked power to exterminate the threatening Other”.

    All about a fairly fluffy piece asking why it is that we don’t have better male role models in media and society.

    Much ado about nothing? Methinks so.

  • Though I think it fair to say that men and women express different aspects of human nature. That this different expression of human nature results in different expressions of the virtues I think can only be contradicted by those that live in a 70’s era understanding of human psychology.

    This is not to say that men do not express compassion nor women defense. However, frequently one can see distinctions in expression. Thus the reason why the good Lord made men and women to marry and raise children.

  • Uh oh. . . hold on to your codpieces, gentlemen:

    http://www.slate.com/id/2253645

    Is the Tea Party a women’s movement? More women than men belong—55 percent, according to the latest Quinnipiac poll.

    Women. . . in public life!

  • According to phosphorious and those that drink his kool-ade, all us “masculine men”, ie, conservatives, are misogynists.

    We are so misogynistic that we hated Sarah Palin to the national stage where liberals have rallied around her in droves.

    Yeah, the logic fits…

    …if you’re a kool-ade drinking liberal.

  • I think it was Lewis or Chesterton who described the modern age as virtues run amok. (Probably Chesterton, because that sounds a lot like Orthodoxy.) I agree with DC and Elaine that, without the idea of virtue as the golden mean, we get a society with crazy excesses. The modern “urban” culture, which dominates the suburban middle schools, distorts masculine virtues into violence and promiscuity. On the other side of the coin you have the emasculation that Hoffman writes about.

    I don’t agree with everything Hoffman says – I don’t think he understands the idea of moderation – but he is accurately describing part of the problem.

  • I don’t agree with everything Hoffman says – I don’t think he understands the idea of moderation – but he is accurately describing part of the problem.

    Bingo.

  • Yeah, the logic fits…

    …if you’re a kool-ade drinking liberal.

    Or Tom Hoffman.

    Pinky hit the nail on the head.

  • Yeah Phosphorious, you got me. I obviously have a great problem with women in roles of political leadership.

    http://the-american-catholic.com/2008/10/06/reagan-in-a-skirt/

  • I don’t agree with everything Hoffman says – I don’t think he understands the idea of moderation – but he is accurately describing part of the problem.</i."

    But that’s the problem. . . that he only deals with part of it.

    He has convinced himself that we live in a “feminized gae” (shudder!) and that the only cure is to “take back our masculinity” or something.

    While sneering at thew idea of “compassion for the downtrodden.”

    Lewis warned, in The Screwtape Letters i think, that one of the devil’s favorite tricks is to put us on guard against a vice that we don’t have, so that we avoid a virtue we desperately need.

    Looking around America today, I don’t see a country that is too reluctant to go to war, or use violence to further its goals. And Hoffman blames the sissified “libs.”

  • Yeah Phosphorious, you got me. I obviously have a great problem with women in roles of political leadership.

    Still it must worry you on some level that the Tea Party is being feminized, right? Otherwise why all the fuss.

    No one. . . except the evil feminists. . . complained when academia were exclusively male dominions. THAT was the natural order apparently.

    Once women have a slight majority in academia, and the world falls apart.

  • Sarah Palin is of course an interesting case. The claim is that Hoffman doesn;t despise women. . . e just wants women to act like women and men to act like men.

    And yet Sarah Palin displays all the manly virtues, doesn’t she? She shoots wolves from helicopters, for Pete’s sake.

    A woman who acts like a man is praised and lionized by the modern conservative. A man who acts like a woman is despised and ridiculed.

    This is properly called misogyny, no matter how much you don’t like the label.

  • This is properly called rubbish phosphorious no matter how much you may dislike the label. Palin is the mother of four kids and happily married. You don’t get much more feminine than that.

    I have never had a problem with conservative women in positions of political power. I of course oppose liberal women holding positions of political power just as I oppose liberal men holding those positions.

    Your problem phosphorious is that you find it much easier to debate the conservative strawmen you construct in your mind than actual conservatives.

  • Phospho,

    A woman who acts like a man is praised and lionized by the modern conservative. A man who acts like a woman is despised and ridiculed.

    So according to your theory, there must be some women who act like women whom these conservatives despise. Could you please provide some examples of those women?

    Frankly, I think all we’re learning from this conversation is that some people hate conservatives a lot more than they love reading comprehension…

  • phosphorious,

    Besides physical differences, do you think there are any distinctions between men and women?

  • It is no wonder that women now are the majority of college graduates and are increasing their role in every institution from private enterprise to public service, including the military. Is this a healthy trend? The answer is clearly “no.”

    I have been accused of having poor reading comprehension several times now. And conservatives have lined up to say how HAPPY they are that women are taking a larger role in GOP politics. . . because of course you have nothing against women.

    Then you all must flatly disagree with the passage quoted above, right?

  • So according to your theory, there must be some women who act like women whom these conservatives despise. Could you please provide some examples of those women?

    How does this follow? Here’s the argument as I understand it so far:

    Hoffman decries the lack of manly virtues and the overabundance of womanly virtues. he doesn’t explicitly say,as far as I can tell, that men should act like men and women like women, althought hat is how he’s being interpreted by everyone here. It seems to me that he simply dislikes “compassion for the down trodden” and the womanly emotions that nurture it. It seems to me that he simply doesn’t like women. But perhaps I’m wrong.

    But we can test this! It’s simple: Are the conservatives who defend Hoffman equally disgusted by men who act like women (those compassionate pansies!) and women who act like men?

    I claim that the answer is no, with Sarah Palin as exhibit A. A man who cries is beneath contempt, a woman who hunts is a presidential prospect.

    Conservatives don;t mind women who act like women. . . they can;t help it, and they provide much needed child rearing services (although they could stop mollycoddling the boys, couldn’t they!). . . but they respect women who act like men. They DO NOT respect men who act like women

    What have I failed to grasp about conservatism?

  • phosphorious,

    Besides physical differences, do you think there are any distinctions between men and women?

    Good question! There’s a lot of half baked ev-psych and hokum surrounding this issue.

    If pressed for an answer, I would say that the difference does not lie in the two sexes having different virtues, but in the expression of those virtues. Does anybody really think that women aren;t brave or that men aren’t compassionate? Or that both sexes shouldn’t be both? Did women not face Nero’s lions bravely, did Jesus not weep for Lazarus.

    Men and women may express the virtues differently, but to suggest that there are different virtues is damn nonsense.

  • Does anybody really think that women aren’t brave?

    I do not think physical courage is common among women.

  • It may be that Hoffman meant to correct an imbalance and not to disparage what he calls the “womanly” virtues, but he doesn’t make that intention clear in the text. He doesn’t praise “womanly” virtues when practiced rightly or distinguish between those virtues when they are meant to blur the distinction between right and wrong and when they are not. The way he tells it, the “womanly” virtues are meant to blur the distinction between right and wrong. He doesn’t clarify that the virtues themselves don’t have this effect. I suppose one might ask him if the “feminist professors” promote these virtues because they blur and lead to relativism or if it’s merely the particular use of said professors that makes these virtues do this. How he answers would help us understand what he meant, but for now I’m just going on what he said.

    Darwin is correct that I share a concern that certain virtues are not celebrated as they once were. If I were to put my complaint with Peter Jackson’s LOTR films in a nutshell, it would be that Jackson and his writers stripped several characters of their defining virtues. Aragorn loses his magnanimity, for example. Hoffman’s post doesn’t worry me such much as it leaves me shaking my head. If his point was to ask why we don’t have better male role models in media and society, then he could have made that point in a number of effective ways without seeming to say that it’s bad when “womanly” virtues are extolled.

  • Aragorn was the most poorly portrayed character in the trilogy of films. Other than his speech before the final battle, I thought Viggo Mortensen completely failed to convey why anyone would follow Aragorn to dinner, let alone a battle. This failed portrayal stood out to me, since I believed the other portrayals were dead on accurate.

  • …equally disgusted by men who act like women (those compassionate pansies!)…

    Hey, you’re the one reading “pansy” pejoratively. I threw that out there as an experiment. Why should one care about being called a “pansy” unless there’s something unique about his masculinity that he wishes to defend?

    Gotcha. 🙂

  • When Hoffman writes the following, what does he mean? Is he correct?

    It is no wonder that women now are the majority of college graduates and are increasing their role in every institution from private enterprise to public service, including the military. Is this a healthy trend? The answer is clearly “no.”

    What for Hoffman would be a healthy tread?

  • Most women and men have different types of physical courage. My wife will always look to me to take the lead in any sort of confrontational situation with third parties, and I am happy to oblige. On the other hand she is the veteran of two difficult pregnancies, one involving twins, which she faced with stoicism and grace, and which I suspect would have eluded me.

  • Donald,

    I don’t blame Viggo as much as others. Having seen him in other films, I think he could have portrayed Aragorn well, but the writers and producers felt the character needed to be more pusillanimous, I guess. Sure the character in the book had moments of self-doubt, but the filmmakers took those brief moments and constructed the whole character out of them. Arwen has to tell him to toughen-up, Elrond has to do the same. Even when he gets the crown, he looks unsure of himself. As Aragorn is my favorite literary character [really, how liberal can I be? ;-)], I left the theaters very disappointed.

  • I rather suspect that he would view a healthy trend as one in which men were earning college degrees in at least the same percentage as their proportion of the population. I rather suspect that most college educated women, as they search for a prospective husband, would wish for the same.

    In regard to the military, I share his concern that the combat arms should remain a male preserve, since I think that is an area where sex differences clearly matter. I say that as the father of a daughter, who, with my encouragement, is considering a career as an officer in the Air Force.

  • It seems that Hoffman’s (not very deep) essay is something of a palimpsest that everyone is trying to write over. One side merely sees it as “we’ve devalued some of the manly virtues too much,” and the other reads it as “a woman’s place is in the kitchen.”

  • You might be right in regard to Viggo Kyle, I am not familiar enough with his other work to make a judgment. What surprised me was that the other characters seemed to me to be accurately portrayed. “Strider’s” protrayal just left me very cold. On the other hand I liked Boromir portrayed by Sean Bean, a character I had no use for in reading the books.

  • It is no wonder that women now are the majority of college graduates and are increasing their role in every institution from private enterprise to public service, including the military. Is this a healthy trend? The answer is clearly “no.”

    What for Hoffman would be a healthy tread?

    He seems to be saying that the college-education/professional world is being shaped in such a way that it is much more amenable to women than to men, and thus that same portion of men are being in some sense excluded.

    I can’t speak for Hoffman, nor would I count on he and I agreeing on everything, but I would personally tend to think that a balanced academic culture would result in equal numbers of men and women thriving in college — given that men and women make up equal percentages of the population.

    In professional life, I tend to think that natural human thriving would result in men predominating somewhat, since I think it is greatly to the benefit of children to receive the full time care of a parent, and I think that in the vast majority of cases women are better suited to this than men.

    This failed portrayal stood out to me, since I believed the other portrayals were dead on accurate.

    Just to extend the digression: I’d have to add Legolas, Gimli, Faramir, Denethore, Arwen and Galadrial to that list.

  • As Aragorn is my favorite literary character [really, how liberal can I be? 😉 ], I left the theaters very disappointed.

    Indeed, you’re going to have to watch out Kyle. When word gets out that you idolize an admitted torturer, you’re going to be voted off the island and find yourself out in the water with us sharks…

  • Jump on in Kyle. Its fun being a Calvinist, Enlightenment individualist who seeks to oppress the poor and overturn Catholic Social Teaching and impale all who seek its pure realization in the political domain.

  • Hey, you’re the one reading “pansy” pejoratively. I threw that out there as an experiment. Why should one care about being called a “pansy” unless there’s something unique about his masculinity that he wishes to defend?

    Gotcha. 🙂

    Very good! Hoist by my own petard!

    But of course you’re quite wrong, overlooking the difference between connotation and denotation.

    For example, the phrase “mackeral snapper” denotes a certain set of individuals, namely Catholics. Might I not object to being called such, without being at all ashamed of being catholic?

    Or shall the name of this blog be changed to “The American Mackeral Snapper”?

    🙂

  • Donald,

    I agree: Sean Bean did wonders for Boromir. I liked Ian McKellan’s Gandalf as well.

    Darwin,

    I remember our having that debate over Aragorn, Gandalf and torture. Good debate. Anyhow, just because Aragorn’s my favorite character doesn’t mean I agree with everything he did. Some of my favorite characters are villains, after all.

  • j. christian,

    It seems that Hoffman’s (not very deep) essay is something of a palimpsest that everyone is trying to write over. One side merely sees it as “we’ve devalued some of the manly virtues too much,” and the other reads it as “a woman’s place is in the kitchen.”

    I think you’ve nailed it.

    Kyle,

    I remember our having that debate over Aragorn, Gandalf and torture. Good debate. Anyhow, just because Aragorn’s my favorite character doesn’t mean I agree with everything he did. Some of my favorite characters are villains, after all.

    No, no, you can’t get out of it that easily. Reason and distinction are simply not allowed in these debates. You’re just going to have to be a “textbook fascist” with the rest of us. 🙂

  • The LOTR movies are among my favorites, but what Peter Jackson did to Faramir’s character is unforgiveable. The Faramir of the movies bore absolutely no resemblance to, arguably, the noblest character in Tolkien’s books.

  • I hope that Hoffman will follow up and clear up any misinterpretion of his piece whether I am guilty of it or Kyle et al are. The piece is vague and open to either interpretion, and on that score I can agree that those criticizing this post have a point, for even if they are not reading hm right, that need notbe entirely their fault. The author can own up to some blame for that.

    I offer only one more argument for my intepretation of Hoffman’s intent in writing this piece, which I omitted because my last comment was already too long: At the end of his pot, Hoffman offers Jesus Christ as a model of what he takes to be the ultimate in manly virtue (he also offers a link to a fairly inoccuous web site). Our Lord is not generally believed to have displayed, during His earthly life and ministry, a notable lack in compassion, sensitivity or understanding.

  • “At the end of his pot”! 🙂 LOL

    There should be an “s” in there somewhere!

  • I would charitably interpret Hoffman’s article as simply a plea for more balance between “masculine” and “feminine” virtues, rather than as a misogynistic rant. He emphasizes the good side of the masculine virtues and the downside of the feminine ones, true, but he does so precisely in order to BALANCE the way society denigrates masculine virtues.

    As for the notion that conservatives love women who display masculine virtue… well, I think that’s true but only under certain conditions.

    Ask yourself this question: if Sarah Palin or Ann Coulter were 20 years older, had gray hair and wrinkles, and/or weighed at least 50 pounds more than they do now, but had exactly the same ideas, character, and experience they currently have, would they still be regarded as conservative icons… or would they be written off as a couple of old, loudmouthed, emasculating broads (or worse)? If that were the case, I rather suspect that they would be criticized rather than praised for displaying “masculine” virtues.

  • I think that’s a really good point, Elaine. For both men and women, a certain element of sex appeal is the familiar. Thus, the appeal to women of the “sensitive guy”, and the appeal to men of the woman who actually enjoys sports, hunting, etc. At the root of attraction is often a bit of the image in the mirror.

  • Okay, I reread Hoffman’s post in the most charitable light possible. Nobody here disagrees with the idea that manly virtues are good and should be taught and that many areas of our society neglect it. But Hoffman exaggerates to the point of absurdity. Nobody here should agree with his post in its entirety. I cannot believe that even Hoffman himself believes everything he wrote. He probably thought that writing to a conservative audience he could get away with some cheap shots against libs without actually being fair or accurate. Those who criticize the post are absolutely justified and those who defend it are really glossing over it because they agree with the central message.

  • I’m not sure how highly correlated effeminacy and loss of manly virtue are. Today’s manly men use facial products and get body waxes even though the cowardly men of yesterday would’ve thought that too effeminate. I remember an episode of All in the Family where Archie is disgusted by the fact that his male neighbor cooks. Today, cooking is fast becoming a man’s activity.

  • “Today’s manly men use facial products and get body waxes”

    Speak for yourself on that score restrained radical! No body waxes for me, and only shaving cream and alcohol, for external use, touch my face!

    Cooking has always been a partially male activity. My late father-in-law was a Navy cook, and you would not have wanted to have seen him come lumbering towards you in a dark alley! My late father would sometimes cook, in addition to operating the steel shears at the truck body plant where he worked. Of course summer barbecues have usually involved male cooking, although I have been teaching my steak secrets to my daughter.

  • Of course any thread on the masculine virtues is not complete without this film clip:

    The three surviving flag raisers from the battle, Ira Hayes, John Bradley and Rene Gagnon, raised the actual flag from the battle in this final scene.

  • Ask yourself this question: if Sarah Palin or Ann Coulter were 20 years older, had gray hair and wrinkles, and/or weighed at least 50 pounds more than they do now, but had exactly the same ideas, character, and experience they currently have, would they still be regarded as conservative icons… or would they be written off as a couple of old, loudmouthed, emasculating broads (or worse)?

    Two words: Margaret Thatcher. Not hot, yet a conservative icon on both sides of the Atlantic.

  • I still relish her “handbagging” “wet” male ministers!

  • “Older, with gray hair and wrinkles” – you mean Phyllis Schlafly?

  • Speak for yourself on that score restrained radical! No body waxes for me, and only shaving cream and alcohol, for external use, touch my face!

    I think we can also allow Old Spice or Clubman — after shaves are okay so long as the formula goes back at least 100 years.

    On cooking, I’m reminded of the scene in Donnie Brasco where the gangster explains that while women may cook, men are chefs.

  • Don, now that I think about it, you’re right about the cooking. But I stand by my other example. Many of today’s new veterans probably use facial products. The meathead firefighters down at the gym go to tanning salons and wear lip gloss.

  • O tempora, O mores. A note to all our female readers. Do not even think of marrying a man who takes more time primping than you do. You will regret it! 🙂

  • Restrained – The American Thinker site is not a place of subtle distinctions. Hoffman’s article is good by their standards. I read their articles sometimes. Then again, I also eat at Wendy’s sometimes, and I don’t brag about it or expect much from it.

  • I usually just despise the AC/VN rivalry, but I had to compare their thread with this one. We’ve definitely got better commenters here. AC covered more topics, better, and more civilly, with some really interesting writing. I think we got closer to the right answer, as well. Nice going.

  • Pingback: The social construction of American masculinity « Reditus: A Chronicle of Aesthetic Christianity

Cardinal Newman Development of Doctrine-First Note-Preservation of Type

Sunday, February 28, AD 2010

Continuing on with my series on the seven notes, I would call them tests, which Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman developed for determining whether some aspect of Church teaching is a development of doctrine or a corruption of doctrine.  We began with Note Six-Conservative Action Upon Its Past, and I would highly recommend that any one who has not read the first post in the series read it here before proceeding with this post.  We will now take the remaining notes in numerical order.  This post will deal with the First Note-Preservation of Type.

In regard to Preservation of Type, Cardinal Newman takes pains to point out that the idea underlying the doctrine remains of the same type while the external manifestations of the idea may change greatly.  His illustration from Roman history conveys his point well:

On the other hand, real perversions and corruptions are often not so unlike externally to the doctrine from which they come, as are changes which are consistent with it and true developments. When Rome changed from a Republic to an Empire, it was a real alteration of polity, or what may be called a corruption; yet in appearance the change was small. The old offices or functions of government remained: it was only that the Imperator, or Commander in Chief, concentrated them in his own person.  Augustus was Consul and Tribune, Supreme Pontiff and Censor, and the Imperial rule was, in the words of Gibbon, “an absolute monarchy disguised by the forms of a commonwealth.” On the other hand, when the dissimulation of Augustus was exchanged for the ostentation of Dioclesian, the real alteration of constitution was trivial, but the appearance of change was great. Instead of plain Consul, Censor, and Tribune, Dioclesian became Dominus or King, assumed the diadem, and threw around him the forms of a court.

In other words in determining  whether there has been the preservation of type in a development of doctrine we must look at the substance and ignore the form.  For example, in the Middle Ages laymen would often receive communion once a year out of great reverence for the body of Christ.  Now we are encouraged to be frequent communicants.  However, the underlying reverence that the Church commands for the body and blood of Christ remains the same.

Cardinal Newman concludes:

An idea then does not always bear about it the same external image; this circumstance, however, has no force to weaken the argument for its substantial identity, as drawn from its external sameness, when such sameness remains. On the contrary, for that very reason, unity of type becomes so much the surer guarantee of the healthiness and soundness of developments, when it is persistently preserved in spite of their number or importance.

Newman on the First Note:

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Advent and Anti-Christ, Part IV

Sunday, December 20, AD 2009

The fourth and final part of my presentation of the four sermons on the Anti-Christ delivered by John Henry Cardinal Newman before his conversion during Advent in 1835.  Part I is here, part II is here and Part III is here.

In this last sermon Newman speaks of the persecution that will attend the reign of the anti-Christ.  In Newman’s day, living memory could recall the savage persecution that the Church endured dring the initial years of the French Revolution.  In our time, we have the blood-stained last century when millions of Christians were martyred for their faith.  It is all too easy to suspect that those terrible persecutions were trial runs for the persecution of the Anti-Christ.  The last century brought to reality these words of Newman:  “Let us then apprehend and realize the idea, thus clearly brought before us, that, sheltered as the Church has been from persecution for 1500 years, yet a persecution awaits it, before the end, fierce and more perilous than any which occurred at its first rise.” Certainly all prior persecutions pale before what Christians experienced in the Terrible Twentieth.

This is an interesting passage from Newman’s sermon:  “Again, another anxious sign at the present time is what appears in the approaching destruction of the Mahometan power. This too may outlive our day; still it tends visibly to annihilation, and as it crumbles, perchance the sands of the world’s life are running out.” I assume that Newman was thinking of the decline of the Ottoman Empire of his day, the sick man of Europe.  Freed from this adversary, perhaps Europe would unite behind one man, reform or revive the Roman Empire, and bring about the conditions for the Anti-Christ.  Small wonder that Hitler was frequently deemed the Anti-Christ during his lifetime.  Of course Hitler was not the Anti-Christ, but perhaps merely one of myriads of anti-Christs who have arisen and fallen in the centuries since the coming of Christ, or perhaps he is a precursor of the Anti-Christ.

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3 Responses to Advent and Anti-Christ, Part IV

  • Actually (if I’m not mistaken), the sermons as they exist now were published as #83 in Tracts For The Times in 1838, but they are a development of a series of sermons preached in 1835.

    Are you familiar with the short postscript Newman wrote for their publication? It’s rather interesting.
    http://www.archive.org/stream/ra599730700newmuoft#page/107/mode/1up

  • Thank you for the info DB. I have corrected my posts to indicate 1835 as the year of delivery. I was unfamiliar with the postscript. Bishop Horsley’s letter quoted in the postscript is stunningly prophetic.

  • The passage of the letter of Bishop Horsley quoted by Newman:

    ‘The Church of God on earth will be greatly reduced, as we may well imagine, in its apparent numbers, in the times of Antichrist, by the open desertion of the powers of the world. This desertion will begin in a professed indifference to any particular form of Christianity, under the pretence of universal toleration; which toleration will proceed from no true spirit of charity and forbearance, but from a design to undermine Christianity, by multiplying and encouraging sectaries. The pretended toleration will go far beyond a just toleration, even as it regards the different sects of Christians. For governments will pretend an indifference to all, and will give a protection in preference to none. All establishments will be laid aside. From the toleration of the most pestilent heresies, they will proceed to the toleration of Mahometanism, Atheism, and at last to a positive persecution of the truth of Christianity. In these times the Temple of God will be reduced almost to the Holy Place, that is, to the small number of real Christians who worship the Father in spirit and in truth, and regulate their doctrine and their worship, and their whole conduct, strictly by the word of God. The merely nominal {108} Christians will all desert the profession of the truth, when the powers of the world desert it. And this tragical event I take to be typified by the order to St. John to measure the Temple and the Altar, and leave the outer court (national Churches) to be trodden under foot by the Gentiles. The property of the clergy will be pillaged, the public worship insulted and vilified by these deserters of the faith they once professed, who are not called apostates because they never were in earnest in their profession. Their profession was nothing more than a compliance with fashion and public authority. In principle they were always, what they now appear to be, Gentiles. When this general desertion of the faith takes place, then will commence the sackcloth ministry of the witnesses … There will be nothing of splendour in the external appearance of their churches; they will have no support from governments, no honours, no emoluments, no immunities, no authority, but that which no earthly power can take away, which they derived from Him, who commissioned them to be His witnesses.’

Advent and Anti-Christ, Part II

Sunday, December 6, AD 2009

 

 

Part II of my presentation of the four sermons on the Anti-Christ given by John Henry Cardinal Newman during Advent in 1835 before his conversion.  Part I is here.

In this second sermon Newman concentrates on what we can glean of  the Anti-Christ  from Scripture and from the writings of the Fathers of the Church.  One thing stands out in this sermon for me.  The idea that the reign of the Anti-Christ may involve both ferocious atheism and a return to paganism.  This seems like a contradiction, but Newman points to the French Revolution:

In that great and famous nation which is near us, once great for its love of CHRIST’S Church, since memorable for deeds of blasphemy, which lead me here to mention it, and now, when it should be pitied and prayed for, made unhappily our own model in too many respects,-followed when it should be condemned, and admired when it should be excused,-in the capital of that powerful and celebrated nation, there took place, as we all well know, within the last fifty years, an open apostasy from Christianity; not from Christianity only, but from every kind of worship which might retain any semblance or pretence of the great truths of religion. Atheism was absolutely professed; -yet in spite of this, it seems a contradiction in terms to say it, a certain sort of worship, and that, as the prophet expresses it, “a strange worship,” was introduced. Observe what this was.

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5 Responses to Advent and Anti-Christ, Part II

Book Review: Empires of Trust (Part II)

Wednesday, June 24, AD 2009

[Empires of Trust, review Part I]

Review of: Empires of Trust: How Rome Built–and America Is Building–a New World

My apologies for taking so long to get back with a second part to this review. In the first installment, I covered the history of Rome’s early expansion, and how its commitment to establishing a safe horizon of allies, and defending those allies against any aggression, led the city of Rome to effectively rule all of Italy. From southern Italy, Rome was drawn into Sicily, which in turn made it a threat to Carthage and drew those two superpowers of the third century BC into a series of wars that would end with the total destruction of Carthage as a world power.

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7 Responses to Book Review: Empires of Trust (Part II)

  • Like you (and Madden, I suppose) I found the parallels between the Roman Republic and the U.S. quite striking. The disanalogies, however, were also striking. What ultimately forced Rome to abandon it’s policy of political independence for Greece was the unwillingness of the various Greek city states to stop fighting with each other. By contrast, the countries of Europe seem to be perfectly content not to fight with one another.

  • True.

    I think an important distinction (and a very positive development) is that the US was able to use international institutions to station troops all over the place without actually assuming ruling powers over any of those nations. This allowed the US to remain in Europe after WW2 without getting into the business of trying to rule it (which would undoubtledly have been a disaster for all concerned.)

    I suppose part of the question here would be: If the US had returned to total isolationism after WW2 as it did after WW1, would we see the sort of postwar peace in Europe that we have in the real world? One might after that the development of a fairly conflict-free European political climate after WW2 was to a great extent caused by the fact that US power encouraged those nations to allow their military powers to atrophy.

    I’m sure Europhiles would not buy that argument. I’m not sure to what extent I do. But it does seem interesting that while Europe has a very long history of frequent wars, that history seems to have ended in those areas (and pretty much only in those areas) which have come into the US sphere.

  • Darwin, I don’t think there is any doubt about that. Had the US pulled out of Europe militarily and not assisted the population with the Marshall Plan (both done precisely with the idea of not repeating the mistakes of post WWI), Europe would have been engulfed in war within a year or two. Stalin would have attempted to gobble up Western Europe had it not been for the US presence.

  • “Stalin would have attempted to gobble us Western Europe had it not been for the US presence.”

    Bad Americans. Messing things up again.

  • If the US had returned to total isolationism after WW2 as it did after WW1, would we see the sort of postwar peace in Europe that we have in the real world?

    I’m inclined to doubt it. Even with the U.S. presence, you still had war in the Balkans, war between Greece and Turkey, the conflict in Northern Ireland, a French war in Algeria, a British war with Argentina, and so forth, not to mention the Cold War.

  • Fair point. Maybe I’m overplaying the postwar peace meme.

    Though it does strike me that in all of those cases, the war was either at or beyond the horizon of US presence at the time.

    I dunno. I’m trying to play out and see what I think of this theory. Prior reading this, I’d pretty much accepted the, “After starting two world wars, the Europeans decided that war wasn’t the answer and so the US had to come in and protect them from the Soviets” meme.

    After reading it, and having a couple long, late night discussions with an old history professor friend, I’m wondering if its much more the case that the US decision to stay in Europe is what allowed peace-emphasizing parties to win out — and that the gradual spread of US presence further into Eastern Europe and the Middle East could potentially have similar effects.

  • Don’t know. I think the Cold War was a real war that would have swallowed up a few (many, most)European countries if not for the US presence. Stalin was not opposed to absorbing whatever he could. Even if it would not have taken war for him to do it, he would have.

Book Review: Empires of Trust (Part I)

Tuesday, June 2, AD 2009

It may seem like overkill to write a multi-part book review, but historian Thomas F. Madden’s new Empires of Trust: How Rome Built–and America Is Building–a New World explores a thesis I’ve been interested in for some time, which has significant implications for our country’s foreign policy and the wider question of what our country is and what its place in the world ought to be.

The US has been often accused, of late, of being an empire. Madden effectively accepts that this is the case, but argues that this is not necessarily a bad thing at all. Among his first projects is to lay out three different types of empire: empires of conquest, empires of commerce, and empires of trust.

An empire of conquest is one spread by military power, in which the conquering power rules over and extracts tribute from the conquered. Classic examples would include the empires of the Assyrians, Persians, Mongols, Turks, Alexander’s Hellenistic empire, Napoleon’s empire and to an extent the Third Reich, Imperial Japan and Soviet Union. Empires of conquest are spread by war, and conquered territory is ruled either by local puppet rulers or by a transplanted military elite from the conquering power.

An empire of commerce is interested only in securing enough of a political foothold in its dominions to carry on trade, and is less concerned over political control or tribute. Examples would include the British and Dutch empires; in the ancient world the Pheonicians and Athenians; and later, medieval Venice. Empires of conquest are typified by a network of far-flung colonies directly controlled by the home country, at locations which are strategic for exploiting natural resources or trading with regional powers. They are less focused on conquering large swathes of territority than with controlling enough of a foothold (and enforcing enough stability in the surrounding area) to carry on their commerce.

The book, however, is primarily concerned with a third type of empire, the empire of trust, of which Madden gives only two examples: Rome and the United States. The term “empire of trust” itself requires some unpacking.

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