sábado, 10 de diciembre de 2016

To be awake is to be aware of one’s place in a vast drama of sin and redemption

Essays of the Week

Knowing that ultimately the heart of each person is a mystery and that people with great intellects can be masters of dissembling, masking their true intentions and clothing past actions in the best light, I nevertheless struggled on my own to understand what motivated physicists to place the existence of humankind in jeopardy by developing the hydrogen bomb. After I ignored half-truths of self-promotion and those many physicists, like others in ordinary jobs, those new barbarians who mindlessly carry out orders from on high, willing cogs in the scientific-military-industrial complex or corporate America, I arrived at what I took to be the three major impetuses to build a thermonuclear bomb: Stan Ulam was driven to prove that he was smarter and more creative than Edward Teller; Enrico Fermi, Isidor Rabi, and Hans Bethe surrendered their wills to the Nation-State; and Ken Ford, a minor player, represented the majority view of physicists as well as the prevailing belief among American citizens that the United States through overwhelming military strength would insure world peace... [MORE]

by Anthony Esolen
To be awake is to be aware of one’s place in a vast drama of sin and redemption, whose Author and Consummator is the Lord. Yet it is not to squint at oneself in a side-mirror, to monitor one’s spiritual progress. That is the wrong kind of self-consciousness; it is a self-regard that can be disastrous.  No, the awareness that Hildebrand speaks of is always a self-giving and self-forgetting awareness. The awakened man does not gaze into the pool of his spirituality, like a more ethereal Narcissus. He “sees Christ in his neighbor; he lives in the truth of the Mystical Body of Christ,” and his is “a life of longing, hope, gratitude, solemn emotion, and openness to the mysteries of being.” When the priest calls out to us in the Preface, Sursum corda, Lift up your hearts, let that rousing call awake us to do just that, as we prepare to partake of the sacrifice of Christ, who Himself was all gift, all openness and obedience to the Father, and all love for lost and sleepy mankind. Let us not check our watches, but our hearts, for we know neither the day nor the hour when we must meet our Redeemer and our Judge... [MORE]
Attacks on the Electoral College itself are not new; academics for decades have decried it as undemocratic because it interposes an institutional, federal mechanism between the people, taken as an undifferentiated mass, and control over the presidency. What is new is the demand being made by many progressives, including prominent constitutional scholars, that Electors themselves abandon their constitutional duties in the name of “fairness”—by which is meant, of course, helping defeat progressives’ political enemies. Specifically, three professors at the University of Texas—Jeffrey Tulis, Sanford Levinson, and Jeremi Suri—are repeating to Electors the same arguments once urged on judges to make them abandon their constitutional duties to serve “justice” and, not coincidentally, undermine our system of limited, constitutional government... [MORE]
Followers of The Imaginative Conservative don’t fall into the “too busy to read” trap. So here are ISI’s 10 Christmas gift suggestions for thoughtful readers; all these books (and hundreds of others) are available for 50% off as part of ISI’s Christmas sale... [MORE]
Like good government, home brewing is slow and takes time. Like all things human, homebrewed beer can’t always be predicted and can go very wrong when one takes shortcuts or is otherwise impatient. Like brewing, our Founding Fathers gave us a complex system that takes time to turn raw ingredients into a worthwhile finished product. Our Founders warned us of the dangers of quick decision-making. True conservatives have long understood these basic truths and are best when they insist on constitutional processes and institutional norms, even when the temptation is strong to cut corners to get the policies and people we want. Perhaps a new home-brew kit will help the conservative in your life settle back into a habitual patience and a dedication to process and institutions that are assurances of good government in any republic... [MORE]
I certainly do not want to suggest—or even give the impression—that the Articles were perfect or that life under the Articles was perfect. They were not, and it was not. Yet, the case if not nearly as bad as history and historians have deemed it to be. The Constitution has had its own set of problems. If the Articles allowed for too much de-centralization, the Constitution has allowed for too much separation. If the Articles failed to separate powers broadly enough, the Constitution is equally to blame. If the Articles did not prevent an uprising, the Constitution has done even worse. As I write this, the chief threat to our liberties and dignities as a people is from Article II of the Constitution. Had the executive power under the Articles expanded  in a similar fashion, Congress would have restricted it immediately. As it is, under the Constitution, the legislative branch has behaved in an utterly cowardly fashion, allowing the president to behave as Caesar and dictator... [MORE]
With very few exceptions, your ticket onto a successful career path is not your demonstrated knowledge, ability, and potential; it’s how high of a college degree you have, and even more importantly, where you got that degree. Unfortunately, all of this bodes poorly for American society and Western Civilization. You see, schools today simply aren’t teaching students about the books and ideas that constituted the bulk of education for most of the West’s history, and that inspired the creation of America. And it’s difficult to think that our monolithic education system will dramatically change course on curricular ethos in the near future. And for the adults who are now out of school, reading Plato, Aristotle, Boethius, and Dante in their spare time probably isn’t going to immediately put them into a higher income bracket, and it’s not going to help them make more friends. In fact, it would probably make them feel more lonely. But without a major autodidactic push to learn the classic works that formed our civilization, I fear that the West’s storehouse of knowledge is in serious danger of becoming nothing more than an artifact... [MORE]
Mozart was not like us. We cannot understand him by assimilating him into our own times—by pretending that he was a premonition of what we now are. This kind of temporal provincialism requires either denigrating Mozart as a punk rocker or as anally fixated. We should not look forward in history to understand him, but backward, not because he was a product of his times, but because he wasn’t. In fact, if anything, we should look to prehistory, to the preternatural for some grasp of his genius. All the models through which the end of the twentieth century is trying to grasp the meaning of Mozart are flawed with our own failings. Mozart was not a deviant or a revolutionary. He went beyond the musical conventions of his time without changing them. Unlike Beethoven, he worked within the formulas of harmonic development and motivic usage that he received. Mozart expressed his artistic credo in a letter in 1781, in which he wrote that, “passions, violent or not, may never be expressed to the point of revulsion, that even in the most frightening situation music must never offend the ear but must even then offer enjoyment, i.e., music must always remain music”... [MORE]

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