When last I engaged in this milestone activity, I remarked that it had taken me more than a year to reach my first one hundred entries but that the days of such languid posting had long past. That was nearly six years ago. Six momentous years in which the finalization and elaboration of my academic credentials took precedence over my recreational thinking habits. I have returned now, after passing roughly five of those six years in total silence, to renew a habit that had long contributed to my sanity and allowed me to stimulate those dark corners of my intellectual interests unaddressed in my professional obligations. The cobwebs are still being dusted out of those corners, but I offer once again a digest and reminder (now primarily for myself and mostly without the rhetorical illusion of an audience) of engaging quotes gone by.
10) My five year hiatus here has been a period of relative good fortune for me. What constitutes relative good fortune? I found the perfect descriptor in a biography of Sakamoto Ryōma.
I must say that it’s beyond me the way things work out in a man’s life. Some fellows have such bad luck that they bang their privates on getting out of a bath tub and die as a result. When you compare my luck with that, it’s really remarkable.
9) Many things haven’t changed in the last six years, though I wish they would. I recently broke down the post-Parkland forum on guns, but the problem haunted us all long before that. Here is a much older (much sadder) account of gun advocates blaming eveconscientious objectors of World War IIrything but guns for school shootings.
Responding to the deadly mass shooting Friday in Newtown, Connecticut, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said new laws regulating guns won’t deter such shootings, linking a lack of religious discussion in the classroom to increased violence in schools.
“We ask why there’s violence in our school but we’ve systematically removed God from our schools,” Huckabee said on Fox News. “Should we be so surprised that schools have become such a place of carnage? Because we’ve made it a place where we don’t want to talk about eternity, life, what responsibility means, accountability.”
8) I very recently outlined the predicted death of conservatism in the Republican party, a post which inadvertently harkened back to an earlier set of comments on the demise of American Christianity and the demise of sensationalism respectively. None of these things has truly met its end, of course, but that doesn’t seem to stop people from predicting radical change. Here is Edward P. Gates on how the news would naturally sate the public’s desire for graphic reporting and find a natural, respectable equilibrium.
In the case of the printing of the details of the Snyder-Gray murder trial, about which there have been numerous protests, I think the press is justified in doing so for the reason that the public obviously demands this type of news. By doing this the press will eventually nauseate the public on sordid cases of this sort, and the public taste will automatically right itself and demand less sensational stories.
7) A recent bit of horticultural history provided me the opportunity to revel in one of my favorite past times: amusing myself at the expense of history. It’s a far from self-congratulatory activity, as it is always intended to check our own certainty with regard to our “scientific” knowledge and sure grasp of the universe. Here, from the Christian Standard, is another nineteenth century observation that tickled my fancy some years ago.
We are apparently on the climax—which arrives in 1882—of a cycle of epidemics, which coincides with the sun spots of some eleven years and a fraction. As he argues, it is a time of great disturbances in temperatures, etc….After a carefully prepared table of the great epidemics known in history, which are shown to correspond very clearly with the semi-changes, he concludes: “…[A]ll these strange natural phenomena which we have seen to have been observed in all ages as the forerunners or accompaniments of epidemics are now known to depend on, or at least to coincide with, the changes of solar energy corresponding with the sun spot cycle. Here is certainly the post hoc; shall we not admit the propter hoc?”
6) One of the key benefits of this platform has been to allow me to mark the important holidays of the calendar, keeping me focused in spite of (or thanks to) the passage of time. This has been most common with Lent and the Paschal feast, but here is an old message from Archbishop Demetrios offered to prepare our minds for the Nativity.
This is a feast of hope because through it we see all that has been accomplished, and we are given a glimpse of what is to come. This Feast of the Nativity of our Lord affirms for each one of us that we can have hope and joy in any of the circumstances and conditions of life—hope in the transformation of our lives through faith and hope in the power of God’s love.
5) Again, in connection with Christmas, the Ecumenical Patriarch declared that 2013 would be the “Year of Global Solidarity,” in which the nations of the world would work together to advance global peace. Like the more recent International Day of Peace, I was skeptical about the optimistic outlook of the Ecumenical Patriarch. Even so, his sentiments deserve to be repeated, less as a prediction of international behavior than as an indictment of it.
As your spiritual father and church leader, we ask for the support of all persons and governments of good will in order that we may realize the Lord’s peace on earth – the peace announced by the angels and granted by the infant Jesus. If we truly desire this peace, which transcends all understanding, we are obliged to pursue it palpably instead of being indifferent to the spiritual and material vulnerability of our brothers and sisters, for whom Christ was born.
4) Though he recently made a surprise re-appearance in a discussion of the changing nature of conservative politics, back in 2012 Mitt Romney was (unsurprisingly) a regular figure in the news and a somewhat regular character here. After his failure to unseat Barack Obama, I shared this Mormon prophecy from the 1860s about how Mormons would rescue the American Republic. It includes the following description of a virtuous president, something that should give contemporary Mormons pause as they evaluate their support for the current administration.
The people should concentrate their feelings, their influence, and their faith to select the best man they can find to be their President…He should understand what administrative policy would be most beneficial to the nation. He should also have the knowledge and disposition to wisely exercise the appointing power, so far as it is constitutionally within his control, and select only good and capable men for the office. He should not only carry out the legal and just wishes of his constituents, but should be able to enlighten their understanding and correct their judgment. And all good officers in a truly republican administration will constantly labor for the security of the rights of all, irrespective of sect or party.
3) Back in 2012, Republicans and Democrats were engaged in what seemed at the time to be particularly partisan bickering over the “fiscal cliff,” and I offered the following musing from David Lipscomb on the nature of politics. It seems almost quaint now to talk about the petty partisan-ness of 2012, but I stand by my final conclusion that while party alignments have changed since Lipscomb wrote, the nature of politics has not.
The staple of Northern politics is abuse of the South, of the Democratic party and men. The staple of Southern politics is abuse of the North, and the Republican party and men. Now, if all were to unite in abusing Mexico and its President, or were they to take in Mexico, and with it, all unite in baying the man in the moon, and vent their spite and spleen upon him, they would be just as happy, as free, as wealthy, as they are now in abusing each other.
There is not and never has been any principle involving the moral or material good of the people in politics.
2) I recently took the opportunity to draw attention to the conscientious objectors of World War I and their lives at the work camps established to direct their pacifist energies to nationalist ends. In doing so, I stress how simple belief in simple doctrines can yield profoundly radical results. The same point was made with equal clarity in an earlier series on the Many Faces of Dorothy Day. She offers this thought on the pure faith of children.
Children look at things very directly and simply. I did not see anyone taking off his coat and giving it to the poor. I didn’t see anyone having a banquet and calling in the lame, the halt and the blind. And those who were doing it, like the Salvation Army, did not appeal to me. I wanted, though I did not know it then, a synthesis. I wanted life and I wanted the abundant life. I wanted it for others too. I did not want just the few, the missionary-minded people like the Salvation Army, to be kind to the poor, as the poor. I wanted everyone to be kind. I wanted every home to be open to the lame, the halt and the blind, the way it had been after the San Francisco earthquake. Only then did people really live, really love their brothers. In such love was the abundant life and I did not have the slightest idea how to find it.
1) One tradition to which I have not yet returned since restarting my efforts here has been to track the important cow news of the day, a longtime fascination of mine. Thankfully, I can still turn to old stories for inspiration. Here’s one about Archie the bull, who at 30 inches tall as at the time the world shortest bull. He was apparently too cute to eat.
“When we bought Archie he was destined for beef,” [Ryan Lavery, 15,] explained.
“However, by Christmas time, he still hadn’t grown and because we had become so fond of him we decided to keep him.
“His size saved him and now he’s going to live out the rest of his life as a pet.
And with that, I return once more to crying out into the chasmic emptiness of the Internet in the hope that it will continue to be both stimulation and catharsis.