Bradley C. S. Watson, Creed & Culture in the American Founding
An example of the liberal (and Straussian), as opposed to the republican, understanding of the American founding.
More about the author.
San Francisco is an open sewer
1 hour ago
The Lunar New Year is also bringing the local Church a lesson on inculturation.
Since Ash Wednesday this year falls on the fourth day of the Lunar New Year (Feb. 17), the Church of Hong Kong dispensed the faithful from fasting and abstinence that day. However, they are obliged to choose some other suitable forms of penance or perform some works of charity, in keeping with the penitential spirit of the season of Lent.
Taking into account the Lunar New Year festivities, the rite of the giving of ashes in Hong Kong may also be postponed to Feb. 24 (during Mass) or Feb. 26 (during Stations of the Cross).
I would suggest that as part of our powering-down and transition projects, we include the following activities:
- Acknowledge and quantify the amounts of energy, materials, and knowledge that we need to maintain our current infrastructural systems,
- Identify key points of weakness, and system dependencies,
- Create realistic projections for maintenance costs and available budget, taking into account reductions of key inputs such as energy, oil, water, etc;
- Prioritize systems in order of necessity (health and safety) as well as potential for disaster,
- Re-design maintenance of key systems to reduce expense and ecological impact, while increasing longevity and flexibility,
- Find ways to re-organize as many systems as possible in cheaper, and more sustainable, resilient, and localized ways, and
- Find ways to mothball or power down systems that will no longer be cost and material-efficient to maintain and/or which could create harm if left to disintegrate on their own - if left to reach the point(s) of no return while still in operation.
DENTON, Nebraska – February 1st , 2010 – On Wednesday night, February 24th, EWTN favorite, Fr. Mitch Pacwa, will be interviewing two members of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter, Father Calvin Goodwin and Deacon Rhone Lillard.
The topic of the interview will be the Pontifical Consecration of the Fraternity's newly built chapel at Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary which EWTN is televising live on Wednesday, March 3rd at 11:00am (EST). His Excellency, Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln, Nebraska , will celebrate the Pontifical Consecration and Mass according to the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.
The ancient ceremony will be in the presence of William Cardinal Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Joining Cardinal Levada, will be several bishops from around the United States.
Watch EWTN Live online on Wednesday, February 24th at 8:00PM (EST)!
In the passage I read last night, Taylor discusses the fundamental psychological shift that occurred with modernity, and how it orients us toward questions of religion (remember that the mission Taylor sets for himself in the book is to discuss how and why secularism rose in the West, and its implications for us today). In the pre-modern world, he writes, people saw the material world as charged with spiritual energy, and personality. Pagans saw spirits, and spiritual power, inhering in Nature, and in particular places. Christians retained many of those beliefs, though transferring much of that way of seeing the world to saints and relics, while still believing in evil spirits as actual entities which could bring harm to one. For the individual, Taylor writes, the boundary between a person and this spiritualized world was porous; absent God, the self had little protection from the spiritual forces in the world that threatened the self's integrity and well-being. For pre-moderns, says Taylor, to reject God would not mean to reject the reality of these spiritual forces; rather, it would mean rejecting the only hope one had that Good would ultimately triumph over the forces of chaos and evil.
This is a critically important point: to reject God did not mean rejecting the supernatural; it meant rejecting the best hope the individual had of protecting oneself from it. So most people found this literally unthinkable.
Human consciousness became modern, he writes, when the natural world became "disenchanted" -- that is, when man began to think of the world outside his own mind as spiritually inert, and having only the meaning we impute to it with our own minds. This, says Taylor, "buffers" the mind, putting a layer of protection between the individual and the outside world. It becomes less terrifying. It's the equivalent of saying, "There's no such thing as ghosts" -- and believing it as the truth. The disenchantment of the world ushered in Protestantism, and in turn secularism. You can see the logic. Closing the Taylor book and turning my lamp off last night, I thought that there really is no way to reconcile the African Anglicans with their UK and American counterparts; both live on completely opposite sides of the divide between modernity and pre-modernity.
The thing is, all of us in the West, believers included, live on one side of that divide, whether we want to or not. What I mean to say is that even though I, as an Orthodox Christian, plainly espouse a pre-modern belief system, the psychological and cultural environment that shaped me, and in which I live and breathe is modern and secular. As Taylor points out, this comes so natural to all us Westerners that it's hard to grasp how unusual this is in human experience, and how constructed it is.
Hey Pete, hope you are well.
I want to comment personally with you on your comment [over at Ladon Cody's ExLC blog] that "Holiness comes from the inside. God alone knows who is holy and who is not. Externals can be deceiving. For instance, how many of us thought at one time that Maciel was holy?"
When I was still in the Legion, I commented with [John Doe], who was still in, and he told me that he commented with [another Legionary] back then and they agreed. The point is that Legion formation essentially was set up to work from the outside in. It made use of externals to build what they called the charitable or priestly heart. The idea was to practice external things: kneeling for meditation, opening doors for others, making little sacrifices at meals and tons and tons of other things, with the aim of internalizing them. The idea was not that those things would come from the heart, but that they would change the heart through simply doing them.
So many actions of every day and every moment were like magic formulas to be recited or practiced and, voila, a charitable heart! A holy priest! It is a huge internal flaw of formation in the Legion of Christ. A fatal flaw.
There is no recovering from something like this. There is nothing to save in LC formation because it is backwards.
Unfortunately, there is a whole sector of people in the Church who fixate on this type of externalization and are caught up in it, and call it holiness. It is only worth something if it does come from the heart, and then, if it produces no real fruit, it is still just a noisy gong, a clashing cymbal.
Neither Burke nor Weaver, admirable as they are, will avail to steer us in the right direction unless we have read the books that shaped their often correct conclusions.
I think one has to be clear: Is your intention to defend a South that no longer really exists or to clear your own mind of the lying rubbish that is at the heart of all liberalisms, both the Marxist type and the libertarian type? The former project requires an ideology–one more dishonest attempt to maintain or acquire power–while the latter requires a great deal of systematic study.
In asking for suggestions on what to read, you should also be clear. Are you looking for a serious philosophical program or a course of study for ordinary intelligent people? If the latter, then you may begin today by setting aside all your Southern books for several years and devote yourself to studying the literary and intellectual tradition that formed the South. My recommendation is that you begin with two projects: 1) Learn Latin and 2) begin reading good translations of the best Greek literature: Homer, Hesiod, the tragedies, and Plato’s early dialogues as preparation for studying the indispensable philosopher, Aristotle. Without a firm grasp of Aristotle and Cicero, there is hardly any point in reading Burke, much less Weaver. We Americans are provincial colonials in a great and comprehensive tradition. We cannot “remember who we are” if we forget who we have been.
A free showing of the film "Food, Inc.," a 90-minute documentary exploring the food industry's detrimental effects on our health and environment.
Hillview Branch Library, 1600 Hopkins Dr., San Jose
In the course of writing last week’s Archdruid Report post, I belatedly realized that there’s a very simple way to talk about the scope of the brutal economic contraction now sweeping through American society – a way, furthermore, that might just be able to sidestep both the obsessive belief in progress and the equally obsessive fascination with apocalyptic fantasy that, between them, make up much of what passes for thinking about the future these days. It’s to point out that, over the next decade or so, the United States is going to finish the process of becoming a Third World country.
My favorite educational quote in this vein comes from Wendell Berry, in his wonderful little post-9/11 book, ‘In the Presence of Fear.’ In it, he says:
"The complexity of our present trouble suggests as never before that we need to change our present concept of education. Education is not properly an industry, and its proper use is not to serve industries, either by job-training or by industry-subsidized research. Its proper use is to enable citizens to live lives that are economically, politically, socially, and culturally responsible. This cannot be done by gathering or “accessing” what we now call “information” – which is to say facts without context and therefore without priority. A proper education enables young people to put their lives in order, which means knowing what things are more important than other things; it means putting first things first."
This quote, like all great quotes, challenges us. It challenges us to ask: What then should we put first? What are the key ideas around which we should construct our educational structures? This starting point is key, because if we screw up on this (as our present civilization has done), everything else comes out shit. And we’re up to our eyeballs in shit. Enough!
THREE CORNERSTONES: MORALITY, COMMUNITY, AND THE LAND ETHIC
I humbly suggest we adhere to three basic cornerstones to support the framework of a saner post-carbon educational system; cornerstones based on the essential features/tendencies of the human species that we must consciously promote. I propose these: morality, community, and stewardship of the environment (or the Land Ethic).
By morality, I mean the mental and behavioral patterns of our species that are most admirable: honesty, kindness, empathy, generosity, thrift, frugality, and forgiveness, among others. These ideas must be woven through every lesson in every unit in every subject taught in every grade of our schools – not as asides, or occasional features, but as key, indispensable parts of everything we teach. Our students should be bathed in morality daily. Nurturing a strong sense of morality in our youth is not only the sole path to ensuring a livable future, it is our only barrier protecting against the ever-present monstrous side of our nature. To neglect or pervert morality, as we have done, is to court and eventually ensure apocalypse.
By community, I mean the patterns of inter-dependent human interactions at the local level that bind us together in a common goal: the goal of thriving mentally and physically, as best as possible, in our everyday lives at our chosen place of residence. The studies of what factors contribute to strong communities are well-advanced and common-sensical: well-developed inter-personal and conflict-resolution skills, lack of ‘globilization’ distortions to the local economy, strong knowledge of (and sensitivity to the health of) local ecosystems, strong basic skill set for supplying basic necessities, robust mechanism for transferring knowledge down generations, etc.
The key factors that contribute to strong communities must be made explicit to children at a young age and consciously nurtured throughout their schooling years. Threats that tend to rip communities apart must also be made explicit and consciously guarded against.
We have lived for so long without coherent communities in our atomized industrial deserts that a strong conscious effort must be made to reinstate community-friendly patterns that were, for ages, second nature to everybody. The fossil-energy safety nets that have ‘protected’ us (smothered us?) for several generations will soon be gone, and it is only through the creation and conscious maintenance of strong communities that we can hope for resiliency in the trying times ahead.
For the third cornerstone, I used the phrase, “stewardship of the environment” above. By this, I simply mean a conscious and unwavering application of Aldo Leopold’s Land Ethic by every person to our chosen localities. This Land Ethic, as discussed by Leopold in his masterpiece, A Sand County Almanac, involves the extension of our ethical sphere to include not just humans, but all members of the local biotic community.
Leopold says: "The land ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and animals, or collectively: the land. …[A] land ethic changes the role of Homo sapiens from conqueror of the land-community to plain member and citizen of it. It implies respect for his fellow-members, and also respect for the community as such."
And Leopold summarizes the ethic thusly: "A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise."
While it has been intuitively obvious to ‘primitive savages’ in many past civilizations, we in our ‘advanced’ industrial civilization have never quite wrapped our collective heads around the fact that to chip away (or blast away, as the case may be) at the ecological foundations of Life, is profoundly immoral; it is murder at first, and then ultimately suicide. In our collective insanity, we have given such destructive madness the name of ‘progress’ and put it on a pedestal. The results have played out predictably.
This Land Ethic has been expanded on eloquently by Wendell Berry (among others), and should be common knowledge to every child. We must immerse our children in the Land Ethic, just as we should for the more traditional human moralities discussed above. When obeyed, it holds incredible power to enrich our lives. When ignored or flouted, it guarantees destruction.
ENSURING KNOWLEDGE OF BASIC SKILLS
I am tempted to stop here with the three cornerstones, but there is something else weighing heavily on my mind concerning the education of our children.
I love my high-school students to death. Despite their occasional misdeeds, they are great kids. They make me laugh; they make me think; and (almost) every day they renew my oft-wavering faith that everything might just turn out semi-OK in the end.
But I have to admit, I’m a more than a little embarrassed for them.
These are 17 and 18 year-old biological-adults who have the life skills of 7-8 year-olds. Confronted with a rapidly approaching physical/cultural paradigm shift, they are as helpless as the plump beetle larvae I sometimes reveal when splitting firewood during the winter – full of potential, but helpless to deal with an unexpectedly-changed reality.
They have essentially zero knowledge on how one might secure the basic necessities of their species without, say, a credit card. Left to their own devices, these biological adults cannot obtain food, water, shelter, or manufacture any of the countless items they would need for even basic survival in their everyday lives.
It has reached the bizarre extreme where several generations of Americans are wholly disconnected from the sources of every single material thing they depend on to function as biological organisms.
This, of course, will no longer be possible as the fossil-fuel-based sources of our ‘material things’ abandon us. It must change, and it will change.
In light of this change, a fundamental part of our children’s post-carbon education must include hands-on experience with the essential life skills required of their species. This is not to say that every kid must become an expert gardener, seed saver, nutritionist, chef, composter/soil-builder, forester, miller, architect, and carpenter, etc., etc. But every kid should have learned the basics of each of those ‘basic life skills’ jobs (and many others) by actually doing them under some guidance.
This apprenticeship in basic skills should be a key part of every child’s education – not as a replacement for classroom-based studies of the natural and social sciences, math, etc, but as an essential supplement.
In addition to helping kids ‘find their true calling,’ incorporating this type of education with the more traditional classroom forms would arm our entire population with a basic skill-set. Such skills would ensure a strong resiliency within our population, enabling us to weather even severe disruptions to our infrastructure with minimized misery.
Because, if anything, our post-carbon world will be defined by the requirement to deal with rapidly and unpredictably changing circumstances – politically, socially, economically, and climatically. Monumental change will be the norm. Resilience will be crucial; basic skills essential.
The logistics of this basic-skill education would, of course, be complex, and it’s precise implementation would heavily depend on the still-unknown nature of our post-carbon civilization. But I think it’s worth thinking about now.
Feminism is a school for marital hardship, encouraging negative and complaining attitudes toward husbands and a laissez-faire approach to marriage. It also leaves women with guilty consciences which they dispel with extravagant gestures of spoiling. It’s become acceptable to criticize your spouse in front of others. This is one of the most common forms of spousal betrayal: the public trashing of a spouse. It’s a cardinal sin against marriage.
Of course this Sunbelt political culture has tentacles and outposts all over the USA, wherever a few generations of laboring folk enjoyed debt-fueled parabolic rises in living standards during the cheap oil decades, and now find themselves in foreclosure hell, indentured to the very WalMarts that they welcomed with open arms (and allowed to destroy their local businesses) -- and, of course, it's yet another paradox that these are the same folk who will still defend the big box masters to their deaths. The America they stand for is a weird contradictory mish-mash of Confederate nostalgia, hyper-individualism that really owes allegiance to nothing, racial enmity, religious paranoia, and potemkin patriotism -- especially involving anything in the constitution that allows them to wriggle out of obligations to the public interest at the same time that they get to push other groups of people around.
The Tea Party people are the corn-pone Nazis I have been warning you about. They are gathering strength in numbers as President Obama and congress fritter away their remaining legitimacy in a manner of governance that more and more resembles an endless Chinese Fire Drill. The delusional craziness of the Tea Partyists exists in direct proportion to the wimpy deceit of the government, especially in matters of money and statistics reporting. Our political leaders are resorting to wholesale deceit because the truth of our situation -- comprehensive bankruptcy -- is too painful to dwell on and for the most part they are too chicken too state it.
The patriarch reported that the Moscow Patriarchate has opened 900 new parishes in the last year, and the total number of clerics has grown by 1,500.
The Russian Orthodox Church currently has 30,142 parishes (compared to 29,263 in 2008), 160 dioceses (three more than last year), 207 bishops (an increase from 203), and 32,266 clerics (compared to 30,670 last year).
When the 1000th anniversary of the Christianization, or the baptism, of Russia was celebrated in 1988, the Moscow Patriarchate counted 6,893 parishes, 76 dioceses, 74 hierarchs and 7,397 clerics.
Today, not a single county in Missouri can feed its own people, much less the teeming population centers. The last ones who remember how to actually do this (without foreign oil, offshore serfs, or industrial GMO monocropping) are 80 and 90 years old. The silos are broken,the elevators empty, and fire's on the mountain.
No Plan B? Three days after the trucks stop rolling the Apocalyptic Endgame will cease to be speculation.
The good news is the Well-Fed Neighbor Alliance. (Motto: "Your best defense against hard times is a well-fed neighbor") We are a growing all-volunteer movement dedicated to restoring a sustainable local food supply system.
We aim to return food freedom to the 1.1 million residents of the SW Ozarks bioregion. This will help build jobs and a resilient economy. The WFNFarmers'Coop, expected to launch in 60 days or so, will be an economic engine in some 27 contiguous counties. Several large supermarkets have made the decision to "go local" as quickly as possible.
Likewise, the WFNA County Restoration Handbook, a wiki template for free e-distribution, will come out at about the same time. What we are doing here with some success can be adapted for use anywhere.
Finally, the 1,000 Gardens Project is about to go citywide. This, along with other ideas to treat the Collective Amnesia, are freely shared.
JMG, I look foreward to following more of your lucid ideas on this excellent Archdruid Report.
WFNA regional coordinator