kathrynjudson

Posts Tagged ‘worldviews’

Discussion: The Gulag Archipelago, by Solzhenitsyn

In Uncategorized on October 5, 2009 at 3:30 pm

I’ve just finished reading The Gulag Archipelago, by Solzenitsyn. Somehow it seems a warning to our own time, as well as a record of past inhumanity in the name of so-called progress.

Because of the content of the book, I’m inviting discussion over here instead of over at Suitable For Mixed Company. I’d especially like to hear from those of you who made it through all three volumes.

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Chaput on Christianity

In Uncategorized on May 11, 2009 at 8:42 pm

Charles J. Chaput offers some straight talk on New Life in Christ: What it Looks Like, What it Demands (First Things, May 11, 2009).

Notwithstanding that Chaput is devotedly Catholic, and William Wilberforce adamantly wasn’t, this article reminds me of Wilberforce’s writings on real Christianity.

Ex-liberal pacifist gets a gun

In Uncategorized on February 7, 2009 at 5:54 pm

Barbara Curtis has an encore presentation of an article she wrote back in 2000, when threats against gun ownership prompted her to get a gun.

Editing history beyond recognition: Mayflower Compact

In Uncategorized on December 15, 2008 at 1:40 pm

If you have a child of school age, and they have a textbook that takes note of “The Mayflower Compact,” will you please compare the text presented there, to the original text? Leaving off the signatures, the original (courtesy The Avalon Project at Yale) reads:

IN THE NAME OF GOD, AMEN. We, whose names are underwritten, the Loyal Subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord King James, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, &c. Having undertaken for the Glory of God, and Advancement of the Christian Faith, and the Honour of our King and Country, a Voyage to plant the first Colony in the northern Parts of Virginia; Do by these Presents, solemnly and mutually, in the Presence of God and one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil Body Politick, for our better Ordering and Preservation, and Furtherance of the Ends aforesaid: And by Virtue hereof do enact, constitute, and frame, such just and equal Laws, Ordinances, Acts, Constitutions, and Officers, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general Good of the Colony; unto which we promise all due Submission and Obedience. IN WITNESS whereof we have hereunto subscribed our names at Cape-Cod the eleventh of November, in the Reign of our Sovereign Lord King James, of England, France, and Ireland, the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth, Anno Domini; 1620.

The subject comes up because yesterday, at a The Truth Project seminar, I was informed that some current textbooks omit references to God or the promotion of the Christian faith, leaving the colonists to be only people out to “plant the first colony” in that part of the world.

If your child has a textbook more or less making Pilgrims out to be secularists out for their own ends, please fill in the gaps yourself. It is a sad thing when a child is given a false heritage. Besides, whether or not you can understand the motivation of early American settlers, can we agree that to baldly misrepresent them by sneaky omissions from their writings is both silly and unfair?

If you do have a textbook with a Dowdified text (i.e. one that uses ellipsis to change the meaning to better suit the editor’s purposes), please do me the favor of dropping into the comments here the name of the book, and what it puts forth as The Mayflower Compact. I have no reason to doubt my source, but I also haven’t got verification yet. Thanks.

Cross-posted at Suitable For Mixed Company (under a different title).

More on Christianity, history, and culture

In Uncategorized on December 11, 2008 at 5:42 pm

Robert at Expat Yank takes on some of those who would like to “free” us from Christianity without stopping to think what it has meant even to unbelievers.

History in context

In Uncategorized on December 6, 2008 at 2:26 pm

These two posts add a bit of perspective to the rise (and fall) of current cultures and governments. They address decidedly different factors, but I think they both add to the discussion of how we got where we are, and what we have to fight to keep from losing what we’ve gained.

“Created Equal: How Christianity Shaped the West”, by Dinesh D’Souza (Imprimis, November 2008)

And Mark Steyn says that Europe and America tend to be novelty crazed in different ways.

The Tempest and Advent, plus a book review

In Uncategorized on December 5, 2008 at 2:54 pm

From Ironies of Faith: The Laughter at the Heart of Christian Literature by Anthony Esolen (ISI Books, 2007):

Critics are fond of citing, as the inspiration for The Tempest, accounts of an English shipwreck off Bermuda, and what was hailed as the providential survival of the crew. No doubt Shakespeare had that shipwreck in mind. But far more important to the play are the allusions to scripture throughout. These allusions form a consistent and ironic pattern. In short, this farewell play is also a play of expectation – a play of Advent…

The Book of Common Prayer shows that among the readings Shakespeare would have heard at the obligatory services during Advent and the octave of Christmas were the entire book of Isaiah, the Letter of Jude, the letters of Peter, the gospel passages from Matthew that refer to the Second Coming, and the account in Acts of the travels and the shipwreck of Saint Paul.  Every single important motif of The Tempest is to be found in these readings (particularly in Isaiah 29); there are no exceptions. All point to ends that are beginnings, and many comment ironically upon sinners who live amidst events and, as if they were sleepwalkers, cannot understand them.

The above is from page 123, in a roughly 400 page book. So far, that’s as far as I’ve read. So far, I am having mixed feelings about the book. Much of it is excellent, and mind-stretching, and eloquent, and makes me yearn to read (or reread) books the author is referencing. But Esolen, whose articles and blogging I have long learned from and enjoyed, occasionally detours in this book into the very sorts of mind games, and academic-speak, and what I see as over-analysis, that make me avoid, like the plague, most academic books about literature – seeing strange (and usually ‘earthy’) symbolism here, and deep significance there, in passages that don’t seem to me to need twisting around like that.

On the other hand, the ‘for crying out loud!’ moments (as I call them), have been few and far between, which puts this book way ahead of the pack in that regard.

And, significantly (oh, oh, now I’m claiming to point to significance – it must be catching, do you suppose?… 🙂 ), Esolen brings an understanding of Christianity to a study of books that are built on Christian foundations. He also notes (page 12):

…In the case of Christianity, it is as Chesterton puts it. You had better be in the faith completely or out of it completely. The worst position, if you want to understand it, is to be partly in and partly out, or to have a passing, culturally based familiarity with its surface. You are neither so familiar with it as to probe its depths, nor is it so strange that you are moved to approach it with care. You take the attitude of Petronius, or of “Tertium Quid.” You’ve seen it all before.

Apply a two-dimensional Christianity to the mature allegories of Spenser and Milton, and at once you will discover discrepancies and incoherence… Many such false dilemmas arise because the critic has failed to understand the subtleties of the Christian faith.

And Christianity is the subtlest of faiths, yet of a wondrous simplicity…

Luckily for those of us who aren’t as well-read, or perhaps don’t have the right sort of memory for it, when Esolen dishes up lines like the above-quoted  ‘You take the attitude of Petronius, or of “Tertium Quid”,’ he provides enough context to let us know what he’s talking about. He might expect us to swim in deep waters, but he’s not out there to watch us poor readers drown in the wake of his brilliance. (I’ve read books like that. Or, to be more clear, I’ve tossed aside books like that. Haven’t you?)

The book, as you may guess from the pull quotes, serves up an education on Christianity as well as on literature. And it is nice to read a prolonged meditation on literature written by a man who likes literature, and isn’t just using it to tear apart into little pieces to impress his colleagues. It is also nice to read a scholarly study by someone who hasn’t sold out to the materialist view. Still, there are passages devoted to strange symbolism, to which the well-mannered lady in me objects…

It’s not a book for everyone, and I can’t say it clearly passes a “suitable for mixed company” test, but C.S. Lewis fans in particular might like to give it a go.

Cross-posted at Suitable For Mixed Company.

Rounded up October 20, 2008

In Uncategorized on October 20, 2008 at 11:01 am

Via Bookworm Room, Ed Morrissey has some ideas on what it means when the media tries to destroy “the man Obama picked at random to ask a question.” (emphasis in original)

Bookworm provides a lesson in history to counter a friend’s wish for a more powerful government. In another post, she uses a comparison of European history and American history to explain why Sen. Obama’s “share the wealth” argument isn’t perhaps such a good idea.

Charles J. Chaput defends unborn babies, honest use of language, vigorous public debate, and proper respect for one another. He also says “If American Catholics don’t know history, and especially their own history as Catholics, then somebody else – and usually somebody not very friendly – will create their history for them.” The article is based on an address he gave to a Catholic group. Otherwise he might have pointed out that’s largely true for anyone, Catholic or not.

Speaking of Catholics, when a Texas newspaper ran an article in response to a pro-life statement made by Texas bishops, The Practicing Catholic ran the article with corrections and commentary. I think she clears things up nicely.

Anthony Esolen muses on Modernity as Confinement, and on joy versus the cocoon of “self-fulfillment”. He notes in passing that “Nothing is farther from joy than a snicker.” C.S. Lewis, if I remember correctly, had a few things to say about flippancy that were along the same lines… Now, if I could remember if it was in Mere Christianity or The Screwtape Letters, I’d be set…