Dying Cultures

I’ve been reading a book by Joseph Campbell, which I can’t name — I looked it up, and they list everything, but not these books, and I think I know why — because I was reading it in the car on the way to Denver, to help boy look at apartment, and that car eats books. It will surface months from now, in the trunk, where it couldn’t possibly have got.
The book is a series of lectures on society and myth which were delivered the year before I was born at a free university type place in NYC and the title is something like “The power of myth in your life.”
I bought it at arc thrift store, 50c half price day, for the same reason Joseph Campbell is a bestseller: because his theories might or might not have much resonance in real life, but they do resound with the stories humans like to tell.
This book was an attempt, if the first half is indicative, to make the book and ultimately the Hero’s Journey relevant for everyday people and not just writers. It has that half embarrassed tone of a geek trying to communicate with normal people by bringing up “scientific discoveries” and “relevant stuff.”
The first half is also hilarious (not on purpose) which is why I hope I didn’t accidentally kick it out of the car when we got out at one of the complexes.
Mind you the laughter cringes a little in sympathetic embarrassment.
The book — again, kindly remember, a collection of lectures published before I was born — starts by pointing out that religion is dead. It might think it isn’t, but it’s a dead man walking. It has in fact been thoroughly disproved by science and archeology.
This part is unintentionally funny on two fronts: first, the author doesn’t seem to have the slightest concept of the broad swath of belief he is addressing which is a little odd since he’s an expert on myth. Even if he viewed religion as pure myth, surely he’d have studied the various ways people address it. For instance, he seems to think the only form of Christianity is the one that takes the Bible literally, and conflates this with the calculations on the age of the Earth which were in fact made by a medieval monk, and with the prophecies made by a Scottish something or other, until it baffles the mind.
Second, most of the science he cites as “proving” that we were not created but evolved (as though the two were inherently contradictory and the ‘clay of the Earth’ couldn’t mean what was found here) is now — 50 years later– thoroughly discredited. Among other things, he believed we were descended from the Australopithecines, which we most certainly weren’t, and makes inferences about our myths based on the Pithecanthropos.

Anyway, Campbell, whose (modest) aim is to convince us to believe in myth even if we don’t believe in myth, in order to save civilization, goes on to point out something I should have thought about before, something that does apply and it’s true.

When a society loses its fundamental beliefs by having them proven wrong, the society spirals down the drain.  You see increased alcoholism, a fall in birth rate, suicides and general purposelessness.

Before you apply this to our society, hold on, hoss.  Yeah, we have some of these problems, but we only hit them in the last 8 years or so, and they’re nowhere as serious or at crisis level as in other western societies.  The clustercongress in the economy and the fact that the boomers in academia have decided to found their golden years on the backs of the younger kids student loans probably have more to do with the fall in marriage and birth rate than any loss of cultural purpose.  So probably does feminism, but that is active poison, not the slow drainage of loss of cultural faith.

In fact, in many ways, we’re starting to see fight back against the extreme left in the culture.  Not in politics, yet, but politics is ALWAYS downstream from culture.  If you don’t believe me, remember how political correctness was viewed as serious in the eighties, and it is now considered a roll-the-eyes matter.

Yes, there are segments of our culture that are in that sort of death spiral of a discredited culture.  More on that later.

First let me assert that as far as I can tell, yes, Campbell is referring to a real phenomenon of “lose faith in your culture, culture dies.”

We’ve seen that in many primitive cultures when faced with more aggressive/assertive cultures and it could be argued it’s still operating in places like Japan, even if masked by abundance.

More well-read people than I have applied it to the Russian decline, which is almost a text book example, but no one has thought to apply it to Europe, except perhaps Ed Driscoll and I when we scream that Europe is dying from WWI.  And we’re being accurate but not detailed, and it’s not reaching to the roots of “dying because they lost faith in their basic values.”

First let’s discard the idea that America has — fifty years after Campbell — lost faith.  We probably display it less, because it’s not mandatory and we’re not a conformist society, but if you count all forms of religious faith, we’re a near-fanatic country, and possibly the only one in which a scientist can announce himself as a person of faith and not be run out of his practice.

You can moan about faith being greater in the past, but take it with a grain of salt, will you?  Faith in the past was political correctness in the eighties. You had to pay lip service to play, so people did.  Whether there was any more ACTUAL faith and religious devotion is not for me — or anyone else — to know.  The very imposition of social pretense of faith masked what might or might not be there.

I suspect that accounting for the fact it’s now as fashionable to be “agnostic” as it was in the past to be religious, and that taints what we hear in public, faith is more or less as it’s always been.  Something I’ve observed is that some people are naturally mystical, some are naturally materialistic, and some like me strive towards faith never ending up fully achieving it but having too much of it to give it up.

However, in Europe religion is all but moribund.  It amused me when an exchange professor talked about how he was shocked Portugal wasn’t a land of great faith as he’d heard.  Oh, yeah, sure, it was still fashionable in certain circles, but the same people would diss faith in other circles.

Anyway the problem is not that religion died there, but what we mentioned in comments yesterday: In the Europe I grew up in, there was a great faith in communism.  Not (necessarily) the road to communism that the USSR had taken.  We knew that was brutal and all.  But we also met with the Russians who were sent to visit, we read Soviet Life, and we KNEW however we got there communism was the way of the future, the only civilized society worth living in.

And by “we” I mean not me, because well… because I’m me.  My mom says my personality is the type that can’t see a freshly painted wall without making a scratch to see what’s underneath.  I don’t think I was very old when I realized Russia killed people trying to escape their “paradise” and so did the DDR and…

But the level at whic this was the assumption in ALL writing, news, literature and even education is hard to overestimate.  My history book in 11th grade defined Portugal as a society on the way to socialism, which would eventually lead to communism, the perfect the society.

The first part of this was enshrined in the Portuguese constitution because socialism (as the gentle, non-murderous) path to communism, was CLEARLY the only civilized path.

Please keep in mind, btw, that people in the US who were Europhiles or even in literary circles read these books, with this assumption, and internalized it.  And that these people are now at the peak of their careers in academia and politics, and most of the “focal points” of culture, including the media.  I don’t know if it will help, but it should make us judge them less harshly.  Unless they’re odds, people don’t question the foundational myths they were given young.

Anyway, when the USSR collapsed, what Europe lost was not religion, precisely, but it was the myth that was holding it up after they seemingly lost their religion in the abattoirs of WWI.

They knew there had been errors on the way to communism in the USSR and of course they didn’t want that, but they wanted that command economy, which worked so much better, and in which everyone had what they needed and…

And the rug got pulled out from under their feet.  Which explains what I see when I go to Europe, the despondence and anomie that pours off the walls and seeps in from the trendy cafes.  It explains how monuments are decorated with art not worthy of toddlers (we’re not that bad here) and all the other symptoms of loss and decay.  They are a society that has lost their guiding myth.  That the guiding myth was stupid and artificially implanted by power hungry serpents is of little consequence.  In an era of mass media, they bought the pervasive lie and they believed in Soviet Life.  Now, even if the horrors of the reality weren’t fully documented, they know there was rot and horror there and that planned economies don’t work, and of course, they’ve been told for years of the horrors of capitalism and freedom, so they’re left with nothing but suicide.

We too have been told of the horrors of capitalism and freedom, for at least 40 years in our schools, though it took multiculturalism to really convince the kids we were inferior, and even they might not stay convinced.  You see, it’s really hard even for non-odds to think America is terrible when at the same time people complain that we have too many things and are too affluent.  (In fact, our issues are those of the affluent, not to be confused with the issues of defeated societies.  The idea that Rome died of affluence, btw, is wrong and one of those socialist prisms applied to history.  “Let’s be poor, comrade, so we don’t get decadent” is their only offer to the world.)

I suspect eventually the kids will be all right.  Right now they’re being pounded by an awful economy and scams to make them slaves for life.  Which are of course, courtesy of the socialists of the previous generation, but they don’t know that.

And the sectors of America that have been most like Europe — Journalism, the arts, academia, political bureaucracy — are going through the same spiral as Europe too.  This is sad, but not fatal.  As someone pointed out, if you removed those sectors our economy and ultimately our society would do better.

So, what to do about it?

Stop mourning.  The story of our demise was started by people like Campbell who imagined it was “scientifically inevitable.”  And it’s grossly exaggerated.

Keep destroying the narrative, which is the remnants of that fairytale about wonderful command economies and the glitz of “Soviet Life”.

And teach your children well.

This too shall pass.

202 thoughts on “Dying Cultures

  1. I suspect that accounting for the fact it’s now as fashionable to be “agnostic” as it was in the past to be religious, and that taints what we hear in public, faith is more or less as it’s always been.

    Open expressions of Faith are what cursing in public used to be: slightly embarrassing, certainly nothing to be proud of.

    Further, Argument from Faith is discredited (which is not to say it is false — there may not be any truer argument than that from Faith. Fundamentally, even an argument of Logical Reasoning has validity because of out Faith that the Universe is consistent.) But we are (currently) a People that Pride ourselves on Practicality even if the nonsense we spout is purest Ideology.

    Thus, Faith is kept hidden, shielded like women’s nipples once were, lest its sudden flash blind those without it.

    1. Only if your definition of Faith is specific to the Christo/Judeo religion.
      Expand that to include the new religions of Gaia, AGW, multiculturalism, all the trendy new age crap, and open expression is not only encouraged, but demanded.
      As for Islam, someone apparently has given them a special hall pass as they would appear exempt from the disregard most traditional religions are now held.

      1. Which says something really interesting about how much they believe in, and how much credit they put into “all those other religions”, if they’re not dangerous enough to have to be hidden away.

    2. And the annoying part is that most of the Intellectuals who scorn religious faith argue from faith all the time. Few of them know enough about Evolutionary theory (or Creatonist Theology, for that matter) to argue the facts; they have been told that Evolution is a fact and believe it because they have Faith. They have been told that everybody that belives in a Creator believes that that Creator made every creature on Earth so-to-speak “by hand”, and they take THAT on faith, too. Then they run into somebody like me, who thinks that Evolution may be the tool the Creator used (and that an animal like the Giraffe is evidence of Him playing with the sliders), and their minds lock up.

      They have Faith in Human caused Global Warming, in spite of the Priests of that religion having been caught lying so often. And then have the nerve to deride Christians over the Medici Popes.

      They have Faith in Socialism, in spite of its many horrible failures, and deride Christianity in spite of its record of overall successes.

      And they have faith in their educations, despite the evident fact that few of them are scholars and many of those that are make pronouncements far outside their scholarship.


      1. Once you’ve postulated a Creator external to Time the issue is not whether He has created Man (and the World) through Evolution, but whether he is creating reality and sustaining it within the Fourth Dimension by action of His Will.

        Going 4D on them really undermines their arguments for being smarter.

        1. “he is creating reality and sustaining it within the Fourth Dimension by action of His Will.”

          Which is precisely what Islam believes He is doing, on a second by second basis; if He becomes displeased with the Faithful He’ll stop. Which is one reason their fanatics are more fanatical; the Christian God may let the world be Hellish, but He won’t snuff the world out because He’s bored or feeling neglected.

          1. The notion of someone that powerful who actually cares about anyone else is somewhat mindblowing to some people. Ditto the notion that someone that powerful would not force people to act exactly as he commands them to. Which probably says more about them than God.

        2. “And in this he showed me a little thing, the quantity of a hazel nut, lying in the palm of my hand, as it seemed. And it was as round as any ball. I looked upon it with the eye of my understanding, and thought, ‘What may this be?’ And it was answered generally thus, ‘It is all that is made.’ I marveled how it might last, for I thought it might suddenly have fallen to nothing for littleness. And I was answered in my understanding: It lasts and ever shall, for God loves it. And so have all things their beginning by the love of God.

          “In this little thing I saw three properties. The first is that God made it. The second that God loves it. And the third, that God keeps it. ” Julian of Norwich

      2. Indeed there is a strong correlation between believing in evolution and being able to see its practical implications.

        A negative one.

        It’s exactly those who profess disbelief who don’t have vapors at the suggestion that future generations will look more like the people who have children — the more children, the more like.

  2. This post is the reason I keep coming back here.

    There’s something I’ve sensed since I first started gaining an understanding of the world when I was a kid, and that is that the bullshit I keep hearing about how screwed up things are here in the US and other Western countries is just that–Self-hating bullshit, spewed by people with some sort of distinct mental illness. And, it is apparently contagious, because I keep hearing the same thing come out of the mouths of the “educated”, no matter what generation they are, or where they were “educated”. Most of these people wouldn’t know an original thought if it bit them; they’re regurgitating the same pap that first spewed forth from the dissatisfied pricks that produced the Progressive movement, and the only changes they’ve made is that the serial numbers have been filed off, and new names for the same old crap have been made up and applied.

    I swear, the only solution here is probably to put the entire academic world to the sword, and start over. Especially with regard to what the hell they’re charging these days, for brainwashing…

    1. The attitude a9in’t new, either. THE MIKADO was first performed in 1885, and “the idiot who praises in enthusiastic tone, all centuries but this, and very country but his own” was already a cliche who “never would be missed”.

      1. Yeah, I do get some solace from history. FDR was a shadow of Wilson, and Obama a shadow of FDR. I’m currently reading Chesterton’s Eugenics and Other Evils, and our eugenists are just shadows of theirs (literally so, as Planned Parenthood can attest). There are no guarantees in history, but the nationalistic socialism of those eras was much worse than what we have now.

        1. Wasn’t it Chesterton who said, “Those who don’t believe in God will believe anything”?

    2. “Self-hating bullshit, spewed by people with some sort of distinct mental illness.”

      It’s not mental illness–it’s provincialism of the worst sort.

      1. It’s both. That degree of provincialism can seldom be maintained without a good stiff dose of clinical narcissism.

        Lewis nailed it, as so often since, in The Pilgrim’s Regress:

        That is always the way with stay-at-homes. If they like something in their own village they take it for a thing universal and eternal, though perhaps it was never heard of five miles away; if they dislike something, they say it is a local, backward, provincial convention, though, in fact, it may be the law of nations.

        If these folk had not such diseased high opinions of themselves, they would be humble enough to learn that there are, in fact, other places and other customs, and they would learn to tell the universal from the particular.

  3. Europaphiles

    My eye first read this as “Euro-pap-philes” and agreed they loved European pap …

        1. *sudden burst of writer mode*

          Not that I have anything against underwater ice slugs, after all they make fine ship’s engineers.

  4. … planed economies don’t work

    Neither do planned economies — but if you truly want an end to economic inequality there is nothing like a plane for leveling everyone but the planer.

    I recommend Procrustes Quality Plane for efficient, quick smoothing of economies — it is the tool of choice for those who prefer not to let others choose!

      1. I was complimenting your subconscious for such a superb Freudian Typo.

        Trust me*, I would never mock somebody for mere typing error — it would be a classic instance of “when you point your finger at somebody you are pointing three back at yourself.”

        *Trust born of knowledge, premised on familiarity. Bloody heck, some of my best puns are Type-Os.

      2. Now on way to denver.

        Is “denver” an intransitive verb, or is it transgressive?

        1. Sigh. What one sees only after hitting the Post Comment* button.

          Make that”
          Is “to denver” an intransitive verb, or is it transgressive?

          *Probably why it reads post comment rather than pre comment?

          1. It is the infinitive form, in French. You know, je denve, tu denves, il/elle/on denve…

            It translates as “to denve” IIRC.

        2. “to denver”. An action that a certain Wallaby isn’t going to like when done to him. [Very Big Evil Grin]

        3. She read my latest short story, the one where the MC lapses into Russian grammar when stressed (fewer articles).

            1. Too prosaic an explanation… my soul yearns for something more, so I reject it.

              1. Enthusiastically, going off of the two year old.

                It’s amazing to watch someone bounce the tablet off of his knee while stabbing at it with the other hand– ALWAYS hitting the spot that makes it make the most annoying sound.

      1. I think the evidence of history is that a planed economy is the prequel to Flatlining.

    1. Remember that when Liberals talk about “Leveling the playing field”, they’re using the same verb as in “Level the building.”

  5. Taking Campbell’s idea as a starting point, perhaps what we are seeing at the edges of Europe – not the geographic edges, but the social edges – is in part an attempt to grasp at myths that will work, at least for the moment? Attempts to reviatlize popular Catholic practices (pilgrimages and not just to the very-fashionable Santiago Compostella), resurgent nationalism with a socialist twist (see Hungary), the protests in Germany declaring that Western culture is in danger and worth protecting . . . If the internationalist myths have failed, why not go back to the local myths? Honor St. Hemma at Gurk, or walk to Mariazell, or vote for Golden Dawn and start closing the borders to non Magyars and non Slavs, while revitalizing the old stories about cultural survival and the glories of the [insert ruler/region here] Empire or ethnic group?

    Perhaps I’m reading too much into this. I’m writing about Europe in the 1920s and the flight back into authoritarianism, and it may be leaking.

    1. I was reading last night (“Gnawing at Georgia” at NRO’s blog, The Corner) that in South Ossetia (what was formerly known as Georgia, until bitten off by Putin) the Russian forces “protecting” South Ossetia from Georgian Imperialism have recently moved the signage marking the border:

      installing large signs reading ‘State border of the Republic of South Ossetia’ about 1.5 kilometres deeper into Georgian territory than previously, just two kilometres from Georgia’s major East-West Highway. Not only did this land grab disrupt the lives of villagers, whose households ended up overnight inside Russian-controlled territory, a kilometre-long section of the BP-operated Baku-Supsa oil pipeline now lies outside of Tbilisi’s reach.

      Emphasis in original.

      If there be no unifying creeds for the natives, what boots it where some arbitrary border is drawn? You might as well redraw the boundary between Oklahoma and Texas, or Georgia and Tennessee. (Heh.)

      1. I ought have mentioned: much of this is about Identity — that which binds cells and souls into a concrete whole. When identity fades in a person the cells sever their relationships, returning to dust; when identity fades in a culture, souls go wandering in search of something to bind them into a greater self.

      2. You might as well redraw the boundary between Oklahoma and Texas, or Georgia and Tennessee.

        Well, you could eliminate the panhandles of Oklahoma and Texas quite handliy. I’m not sure who would be more upset, though, the folks around Amarillo becoming Oklahomans, or the people of Oklahoma finding themselves with so many former-Texans. It would improve Oklahoma’s scenery, though, to have the Palo Duro canyon.

        1. Ever heard of the vara? The land management issues of re-apportioning the Panhandle to Oklahoma would be nightmarish actually.

          Oklahoma has a very, very rational grid system demarcated in normal units. Texas uses this weird system from the days of Mexican Texas and is…uh…yeah, very Texas.

          Plus the idea of Oklahoma annexing Texas land would get some of us a bit…upset if it wasn’t so amusing! But that’s Okies for you, always thinking that being north of Texas means they’re above us.

          1. And then there’s the whole why-the-South-Plains-was-surveyed-crooked story . . . Let’s just say that surveying while under the influence might make the time go faster but it also confuses generations to come.

            1. Have you run into any of the stories where people got lost because someone built a shepherd’s tower where there wasn’t one before? Squaw Tit Mountain dang near got folks killed….
              (I think it’s now named something like “nut mountain” because of some odd volcanic rocks. The old name was better. Even after some idiots tried to dismantle the big huge pile of rocks– “shepherds tower,” AKA it’s really freaking boring watching sheep, let’s pile rocks– you’d instantly know which of the gazillion hill-mountains they’re talking about.)

              1. Not yet, at least not in my neck of the grasslands. Something about having to import enough rocks to build a tower, cairn, or even small garden path . . . I can believe it, though. When the BLM augmented the little cairns with small brown metal fence posts up in the Comanche National Grasslands in SE CO, I was very grateful.

        2. I grew up in Lubbock. Went camping in Palo Duro canyon many times during my youth, good times.

      1. When a culture abandons its myths, can it remain a culture? Or are its components absorbed by a new identity, a new culture?

        Note that even in abandoning its core myth Europe accepted a new one, one elevating Weltschmerz. But world-weariness is a mortar insufficient to bind blocks into the walls of a culture, protecting it from opportunistic infection from a more vigorous — one hard blow and they tumble.

      2. And why Tayyip Erdogon sees himself as the guardian of Muslims in Eastern Europe. After all, the Turks reached the gates of Vienna, and he is descended from Suliman the magnificent (at least in spirit) so all of Hungary and Austria still comes under his purview.

      3. I met some Swedish tourists and complained that Malmo (immigrant central of Sweden) didn’t feel very Swedish. But they said that Malmo had a vital culture and Stokholm’s culture was stale.

        Sigh… My ancestors left Malmo a century ago. They wanted that fresh new American culture.

        1. Staphylococcal enterotoxin B is a vital culture. That doesn’t make it a healthy culture.

  6. Joseph Campbell’s work represent a useful idea carried to its illogical conclusion. He has groped the elephant, made some valid observations and reached a wholly fallacious conclusion. Of course, when you shove your head up an elephant’s arse, what comes to hand is bound to mislead.

    His basic error, of course, is classic inversion of relationship, asserting “Man has Faith because Man has created Myths.” Arguably, it is exactly opposite: Man creates Myths because Man has Faith; Man has Faith because We have experienced the Divine even (especially) as many knew Him not.

    Because we are possessed of Faith we imbue all our works with it, even when we are in denial of its existence. This is why stories can have power even though crudely told, shaped by a craftsman with no feel for his tools — and why stories that are wondrously constructed fall flat and lifeless on the page or screen.

    There is a transcendence which imbues Life with meaning and Art with life. Deny it though we might, its absence renders us devoid of humanity, sipping our Chablis and munching our greens while casually discussing the most profitable ways of harvesting fetal tissue.

    1. Exactly. Faith is alive and well in the West. Faith that humans cause climate change (and thus can reverse it), faith that bureaucrats are well-enough informed and selfless enough to make everyone – not just a few cronies – better off, faith that people from third-world cultures won’t take their cultural dysfunctions with them when they immigrate to the first world – or worse yet, faith that third world cultures don’t have any dysfunctions that aren’t caused by Western interference.

      1. You forgot the faith that, come the revolution, the faithful academes and anarcho-hoodists will be elevated to their rightfull place of isightful overlordship in the new order, instead of being, at best, second up against the wall.

        1. You regard dangling from a lamppost (“elevated to their rightfull place of isightful overlordship”) as better than being “up against the wall”?

            1. Yep, I take the “up against the wall” as what would happen to them if the “revolution they want occurs”. Still not going to be a nice situation.

              While “dangling from a lamppost” is what would happen when we’ve had enough of their nonsense. That could result in a nice situation. [Very Big Grin]

  7. Interesting thoughts. So what part of our American mythos is so central to who we are that it would cause our culture to die if people stopped believing in it?

    1. I’d wager: 1) power flows up, not down; 2) people are basically decent and mature; 3) Americans have certain rights simply by the very fact of being and that no governing body has any justification in removing those rights except in very limited and unfortunate cases; 4) anything that requires any governing body to take goods, services, or cash from one individual involuntarily in order to provide for another individual is NOT a right.

      1. That we are a Republic, not an Empire — a fundamental belief which is under attack by those who would be the aristocrats managing that empire.

        At its core, America holds certain truths to be self-evident:
        … that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government.

        There are a number of folks, mostly residing in the District of Columbia, who take that as mere boilerplate. There is a much larger number who are tallying up the abuses and usurpations, trying to determine where the tipping point lies.

        1. And there are some that have concluded that the point is in the past. Oklahoma city was one example of that.

      2. That all your points are so obviously false as to require no further discussion would seem to me to be the underlying platform and belief system of our current administration.

      3. I knew a guy that did not accept #2. He thought all people were out to screw you over just for the joy of it. I asked him how he managed to get out of bed in the mornings believing that.

        1. I am inclined to rephrase that as “2) people are capable of being basically decent and mature”.

          Current government policies are designed tend to discourage both.

          1. I think we are born as selfish little brats, but we *do* grow out of it usually. Unfortunately as you suggest current government policies and *education* are designed to keep them at the selfish little brat level, as long as they vote Democrat.

        2. Our Founding Fathers did not accept #2.

          “t may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. ”

          Any attempt to run society on any other basis is inviting the Gods of the Copybook Headings to show up again, real soon.

          1. I don’t disagree. I was thinking in terms of people being mature as in “responsible for their own behavior” and decent as in “don’t get out of bed every morning planning to destroy the world and ruin their neighbor.” I suspect most modern Americans take a sunnier view of humanity than the Founders did, or at least would claim to take a sunnier view. Even if Augustine, Calvin, and Ben Rumson* were correct in their appraisal of humanity’s flaws and faults.

            *”The First thing You Know” from _Paint Your Wagon_

        3. Sounds like someone who is not to be trusted– at best, he’ll take every action in the worst possible light. Also possible is he thinks folks are like that because he thinks he, himself is like that.

          1. Sorry, it’s not “thinks he, himself is like that.” It _is_ that he/she *knows* him/herself to be like that. If you spend enough time trying to debate/educate people like them, the reality comes through. I’ve been active in the ‘Net since 1996, and trying to debate people since ’97. Over that time, I’ve learned there are some you simply cannot debate.
            They have no intention of *ever* learning anything different, or changing their prejudices. The read/see/hear _only_ what they want to. Even of you phrase the way you would to a _three_ year old, they still hear something else. Sigh.
            They simply ignore anything that doesn’t match what they want to believe. (It’s an advanced form of what effects many “Liberal Progressives.”) IOW, “Some authority said it; Therefore, it must be true.” Which is why I expect a “bad” fatality rate on the Least Coast in a societal breakdown. The Left Coast will, I expect, be about half the rate (45% vs. 90%) of the Least Coast. (Most Left Coast deaths will be SoCal., centered around the LA “Liberal” corridor.)

            1. I figure it’s possible for someone to be better than they believe they are, or some variation on the “people are that bad so I need to be grateful for being defended by ____” line of thinking, especially if they’re shaky enough that their “absolutely everyone will screw me over if they can get away with it” theory isn’t very well thought out.

              On a practical level, so long as one believes people can change, that doesn’t matter. 😀

  8. I’m seeing hopeful signs that the economic disruption that has been brought about by technological progress may eventually disintermediate government — seen as damage (like censorship on the Net) and routed around. I read this notion in relation to Uber in how they’ve managed to disrupt crony government WRT taxi licensure. May the Lord smite us with it.


    1. i hardly see them as disrupting that considering the number of times and places they have been fined and/or shut down…

    1. in the end we both lose, but hopefully they are utterly destroyed so that we can “stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools” and keep them this time.

  9. The current squabbles with SJWs over Gamergate, Sad Puppies, Sir Tim Hunt, “Rocket-Grrl Shirt” Guy and other fronts on the battlefield of the culture wars represent the cultural backlash against those who would tell us what we should like. In his NY Post review of Amy Schumer’s hit movie “Trainwreck” Kyle Smith finds illustrations of the weeping of their women and the victory of our Faith:

    In “Trainwreck” (spoilers follow), Schumer plays Amy, a boozy, promiscuous hell-raiser who is crude, selfish and allergic to playing nice. In the third act of the movie, though, she ditches her bad-girl persona, falls in love, throws away her liquor and her bongs and even does a cute cheerleader dance to win back the doctor she wants to marry.

    “ ‘Trainwreck’ has laughs, but at what cost?” bewailed the Village Voice’s Stephanie Zacharek, complaining that the film “is a conventional movie dressed as a progressive one” and saying it “exposes a sneaky and unpleasant thread of conservatism: The movie wants us to buy the idea that sex really is best with your One True Love, and anything outside of that is just a cheap substitute.”

    Time magazine critic Lisa Schwarzbaum dinged the film for being “a little too conservative in insisting that all’s square in love and war,” while the Washington Post’s Ann Hornaday called the cheerleader scene “a wholesale — and unnecessary — capitulation.”

    The New Yorker’s Anthony Lane was alarmed that “Trainwreck” “cleans itself up as it goes along — setting off at a rough lick, yet soon displaying signs of moral decency” and asked, “Are there any modern comedies that hold their nerve, and pursue their radical options to a bitter end? . . . So much for the promise of the title. ‘Trainwreck’ sticks to the rails.”

    In New York magazine, David Edelstein struck a similar chord, tsk-tsking that Schumer plays “the adult child whose gonzo behavior is appallingly funny at first, but who must learn that true happiness comes only by sobering up and embracing family values,” while a piece about the movie’s “feminist quandaries” by Washington Post blogger Alyssa Rosenberg said “the idea that Amy needs to make over her entire lifestyle feels a bit more Puritan than the template usually does.”

    Judd Apatow, who directed this film, has built a career on exploiting the contradictions of the current hedonism — using their love of raunch and iconoclasm to attack their own icons, repeatedly arguing that their myths are ultimately fulfilling, and that fulfillment comes from the values they’ve rejected. For many, the experience is as unsettling as discovering that Bluto Blutarsky is now a church deacon.

    Arguably, he has surfed their tsunami and found the underlying Human Wave. Similarly, the success of The Simpsons rests in its core values of a loving family who value one another in spite of the surface friction.

    Folks, we O-W-N the cultural high ground, we’ve simply been too distracted to wear our glory. it is time the Theodens ride forth, that even in meeting doom a true blow may be struck for mankind and the cause be defended and advanced.

    1. “Fell progs arise: flame-wars and snarking! Twitter shall be shaken, Puppies shall be woken. A blog day, a tweet day, ere the sun rises!”

  10. Well, I think you might be on to something there. The stuff he describes is right on. Folks are losing faith, and seeing dreams fall away. You can hear there screeching. “Racist, fascist, denier”and “reactionary teabager” they call those who they think have prevented their dreams of a perfect society. As more and more of their “perfect societies” collapse, they lose more faith in their religious beliefs.
    Their religions are Marx & global warming.

    1. Why do you think they hate Reagan and Thatcher so much? They both temporarily halted the “inevitable” advance of socialism. That’s a scary prospect for progressives. What happens when progress doesn’t go their way?

      1. They get retroactively rewritten out of progressivism. Remember involuntary eugenic sterilizations, and how the stodgy old conservatives clung to the Declaration of Independence and its retrograde equality of man, thus impeding Progress?

  11. I wish some public figures would start pointing out that in a capitalist society the ONLY way I get you to improve my life is by improving yours as well. In a managed economy, the easiest way to improve my life is to convince the government to take what I want from someone else. Thus a society geared around everyone looking out for themselves winds up with everyone looking to make things better for those around them, while a society based on making things “fair” ends up with everyone competing to point the government’s guns at someone else.

    Capitalism IS compassionate. To argue anything else is to demonstrate gross ignorance.

  12. Sarah, I think you are being a trifle hard on Joseph Campbell regarding secularization, which was the received wisdom of the era in virtually every one of the social sciences. The basic thesis being, as modernization–industrialization, the leveling of social classes, the opening of the political process, /e tutti quanti/–marched forward, they were visibly associated with a marked decline in religious observance.

    Nor was this restricted to the social sciences: see, for instance, Matthew Arnold’s poem /Dover Beach/ [http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/172844]. Beginning with the earliest scratchings of the Enlightenment back in the 18th century and continuing until the mid-20th century, it was “obvious” that science and technology were pushing aside the dark curtains of myth and superstition or however the phrase /du jour/ might have put it, and leading Mankind to the broad, sunny uplands of peace, prosperity, and fellowship.

    I think it is also important–and I wouldn’t mention this but for the fact that the nuance might have escaped you as someone who did not learn English until later in life–to understand that “myth” as Campbell uses the term is a term of art. Campbell does not mean “myth” in the sense of “story just this side of legend”: he means it in a quite different sense, which one might call “agreed shared delusion”. So when Campbell argues (as you paraphrase him) “…to convince us to believe in myth even if we don’t believe in myth…” he is using the term in this second sense, and thereby merely being a good Straussian [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leo_Strauss#Religious_belief].

    But his larger point is–as you observe–correct: a culture that ceases to believe its own core myths is already dead, it just doesn’t know it yet. And that is the fatal weakness of European and Western civilization more generally: tolerance, inclusiveness, juridical equality are all excellent values, brought to us by the Enlightenment…but they also have the vices of their virtues. The late Christopher Lasch created a furor among the /bien-pensants/ when he famously observed, “All cultural achievements are not of equal value: putting a man on the Moon is not the same as putting a bone through your nose.” But once you pronounce yourself unable–or unwilling–to make that distinction…it’s only a matter of time before it’s *your* head on a pike.

  13. Imagine the society of atheists, where God is dead. When you wake up in the morning, your mortal life is all you see. There is no basis for good or evil, as there is no method to determine the difference. Hitler died and turned to dust. The evil he committed is of no consequence. All your life, all your existence, is living here and now. Your joys, either earned or stolen are the same. The underlying philosophy of power, ‘Anything is O.K. as long as you don’t get caught’, has the moral sophistication of a 3 year old throwing a tantrum. No good deed goes unpunished, and what’s in it for me is the guiding and only rule. In a universe like that, how do you manage to even get out of the bed in the morning?
    The ‘clay of the Earth’ may indeed be where we come from. It seems that in the right environment, in the presence of water varying from liquid to freezing, the surface of clay can form many complex shapes, serving as a template for organic molecules to nestle into and then combine into higher, more complex molecules ultimately creating life as we know it. Now explain that to a sheep herder 3000-4000 years ago, and it becomes ‘Man is formed of clay’.
    Some of my relatives are Southern Baptist, who consider the King James version of the Bible to be ‘infallible’. 1 Kings 7:23 shows pi=3. End of that irrational belief in infallibility.
    I prefer to think of the Bible as a guide and rule book, explained in parables of agriculture and herding, as those were the familiar environment at the time. It isn’t ‘universal’ wisdom… The Buddhists eight-fold path to enlightenment works for me just as well. I do have a little problem with Islam’s ‘kill the infidel’ approach, but like socialism, humans often have good theories that don’t work in practice.
    As for the source of Faith, consider the lowly ant. Individually, they are stupid, simple creatures, but as a group, they can achieve all kinds of strange things through the use of their ‘hive mind’; achieved through quick efficient communication between the individual members of the colony. Apply this to humans. Do we have quick efficient communication? Indeed. Do we have a ‘hive mind’? First, how would we know. Does the single ant understand the mechanism that triggers the behavior say of being the outer member and probably expendable when the colony decides to form an ant boat and travel to a new hive? Probably not. The individual ant relies of faith. Much of the human belief system, Faith in an afterlife, with judgement for acts on earth; morals and the difference between good and evil. These indeed are concepts of our collective human experience.
    I sometimes believe that indeed a human hive mind (or many) exists, and that it is this mind that was created in the image of God. While we go about our mundane existence, God and our hive minds are chatting and laughing together about the events that unfold around us and the decisions we implement from our own superior selves, yet are clueless to where they actually come from. This conversation is the source of all the religious faith and myths of creation and morals. Ignore it at your peril.

    1. . 1 Kings 7:23 shows pi=3. End of that irrational belief in infallibility.

      It is, to 1 significant figure.

      1. The diameter of the well was 10 cubits, so two significant figures are necessary.

            1. You’re assuming the “10” has two significant figures. If it only has one, then the product is only accurate to one significant figure.

              For example, if the diameter was exactly 9.7 cubits, then the circumference would be (rounded to 4 sig figs) 30.47 cubits. If the diameter was exactly 10.4 cubits, then the circumference (again rounded) would be 32.67 cubits.

              Both 9.7 and 10.4, rounded to one significant figure, are 10. Both 30.47 and 32.67, rounded to one sig fig, are 30.

              1. William of Occam might guess that the basin in 1Kings 7:23 was slightly elliptical.

            2. No, to be significant you would need to include a decimal place or another marker to indicate that it is significant; all other digits are significant automatically, but zero is not.

                    1. Same here. Partly because went to bed early, and then got accosted by son wanting some intricacies of finances as they relate to medschool explained. This got me on my peculiar worry right now ‘what if house takes years to sell’ which … yeah. Why post is late. I need more coffee.

                    2. I been dreaming some, and what little I recall is work related. so even my rest is in my mind as work. But hey, I got off “early” today. I worked from 5 am to 3:30pm and declined to go in tomorrow for more time.

                    3. OT. J.P., do you know any tricks for a quick disconnect fuel line that won’t?

                    4. Fire
                      fire fixes everything …wait.. fuel line … fire … maybe not that.
                      Sounds like it might be ethanol damage or road corrosion. penetrating oil and careful working of the release is what you might have to do.
                      if it is grime and sand you might get it to flush by water or the oil
                      if things are plastic and sticking ,the oil might not be the best way. but my brain isn’t coming up with a solution.
                      What is it on?
                      (be warned, I’m nodding off so might be a while responding).

                    5. It’s on a 2003 Durango. Appears to be clean, already hit it with penetrating oil once. Got the other end loose, but the end up under the truck is being a bear.

                    6. ***wakes up after an actual 8 count them 8 hours of sleep ***
                      Okay. Heard of those being a bear, but not any tricks to getting them off.
                      trying to flush things out and slight careful twisting to work out the crud and the oil in.
                      Most of it though is likely the seals sticking. Getting the oil or some gas to loosen them up is the challenge. Some gas might have got in there and varnished it up too. The thing is you are fighting it to not do its job (seal) to get it apart.

                    7. Yay for both of us!
                      even nicer, a few hours later I took a nap.
                      the 8 was nice and not too long to cause too much stiffness and I was awake enough to loosen up then a nice 2 hours of nap.

        1. Take a cord 10 cubits long, tie it in a loop and there’s your well’s diameter. One/I> significant figure: the length of your cord.

          1. “Forgive me, my Lord, but that is a circle, not a pentagram.”

            “Special kind of pentagram,” Jerry grunted.

            “It is not a pentagram. It is a circle.”

            “A pentagram approaches a circle for sufficiently large values of five.”

            — “The Wizardry Cursed” by Rick Cook

            1. I’ve never been quite clear on how that worked, other than that any regular polygon approaches a circle as its number of sides approaches infinity.

              1. Lessee — there’s inside, outside, topside, underside and on the line. That’s five, right?

    2. This shows something that I hate about some believers; the conviction that absent a threat of retribution smart people won’t behave well and honorably because that is the smart thing to do. When I hear an argument like this, I am thankful that the one making the argument is a believer and that Christianity exists for them to believe in.

      1. … the conviction that absent a threat of retribution smart people won’t behave well and honorably because that is the smart thing to do.

        A: My concern is the other 98% of the population.

        2 – On second thought, when I look at how “the smart people” — our academics, our lawyers, our physicians, our philosophers, pundits and politicians — actually do behave, I find that conviction remarkably well-grounded.

        iii) Too many people employ the definition of “smart” which equates as “fashionable” and too few adhere to the one which equates as “intelligent”.

      2. One smart person deciding, once, that behaving well and honorably is not the smart thing to do in one situation — can ruin your life.

      3. Well, also tied in with Mary’s comment that the Founding Fathers didn’t believe in #2, there is a distinction between the individual in society and the individual that achieves a position of power or authority. Without the conviction of morality, what is there to keep them in balance. Indeed the Buddhists are technically atheist, but have a moral grounding perhaps superior to our own; but, where exactly does the moral authority of progressives come from? Their major belief is that the ends justify the means. I have a disconnect right there at the start, so there is no following through. Kind of like SJWs on steroids. All outrage, no compassion.

        1. Arguing about the moral authority of Progressives is like arguing about the vocabulary of ducks. They don’t have any.

      4. This shows something that I hate about some believers; the conviction that absent a threat of retribution smart people won’t behave well and honorably because that is the smart thing to do.

        You might have better luck persuading people if you responded to the points he was kind enough to lay out.

    3. Seems to me that someone forgot to prove that the Hebrew word is an exact fit to the modern geometric description of a circle and can’t possibly mean “big curved shape, no corners”.

  14. “… if you removed those sectors our economy and ultimately our society would do better.” – COULD do better, I think. Nature abhors a vacuum – if one does not labor to replace those sectors with something (many things, actually) better, something worse may arise. Remain vigilant.

    1. My thermodynamics professor restated this as “Nature abhors a chemical potential gradient.” After all, most of space is mostly vacuum!

      1. Your thermodynamics prof had it right.

        Heat is work and work’s a curse
        And all the heat in the universe
        It’s gonna cool down as it can’t increase
        Then there’ll be no more work
        And they’ll be perfect peace
        Yeah, that’s entropy, man!

  15. Not disputing or supporting Campbell’s thesis, but how do you quantify any of this?

    If you look at population, pretty much every country has grown since 1900 (with maybe Russia and Japan as an exception). There are now 750 million people in continental Europe: They aren’t dying physically.

    (In comparison, when Rome fell, over some length of time a large fraction (1/3, was it?) of the European population died off, and the rest fled the ruined cities to become what would be serfs in the countryside.)

    Percentage of Europeans that identify as socialist/communist as a measure of socialist culture? Percentage of Europeans that convert to Islam (as a fraction of the native population, as opposed to an immigrant population?) I haven’t looked yet, so I don’t know, but these numbers tend to be small. A large fraction of people stick with how they were raised/taught, which is why there are identifiable cultures or borders at all. (If people were really as individualist as they probably should be, then no long range cultural order or shared mythology/assumptions would be present besides those imposed by a lifestyle or the requirements of a niche).

    Even when the similarities between Calhoun’s behavioral sink and the mental effects of living in large cities, we’re still not at a point where overcrowdedness (imposed by local circumstances or otherwise) has lead to a decline in population more than a few percent.

    1. It has been a while since I read Mark Steyn’s America Alone but he cites demographic evidence that Europe’s population is shrinking, although the shrinkage is disguised by two factors: significant in-migration of “guest-workers” who fail to become European, and increased longevity which obscures the fact that population replenishment is not occurring.

      It is replenishment which really counts, especially as we tax young, productive workers for the benefit of the older and non-productive.

      Where you are at any specific point matters less than the trend lines.

  16. In support of the theme of Sarah’s argument, this quote was cited at NRO blog The Corner this morning:

    “We are not the sum of our weaknesses and failures, we are the sum of the Father’s love for us and our real capacity to become the image of his Son.”
    John Paul II

    Strike Faith from the equation and we are left with “the sum of our weaknesses and failures.”

  17. I strongly, strongly, strongly recommend Arthur Koestler’s thought-provoking 1950 novel, The Age of Longing, which is about the West’s loss of civilizational-self confidence. Hydie, the protagonist, is a young American woman living in France, where a Soviet invasion appears to be imminent. She was once a devout Catholic, but has lost her faith. Unable to be sexually attracted to American or European men, Hydie falls hard for a committed Russian Communist.

    I reviewed the book here: Sleeping With the Enemy


    1. This is, I believe, also a recurring theme in the films of Whit Stillman, director of Metropolitan, Barcelona, and The Last Days of Disco. The middle of the three, set in Spain in the 80s with a main character being a young naval officer, seems to particularly address such points, albeit en passant.

      N.B. – I have never seen this film, merely read of it. Seeing it is something I very much hope to do.

      Ted: You see, that’s one of the great things about getting involved with someone from another country. You can’t take it personally. What’s really terrific is that when we act in ways which might objectively seem asshole-ish or, or, incredibly annoying, they don’t get upset at all. They don’t take it personally. They just assume it’s some national characteristic.

      — — —

      Marta: You seem very intelligent for an American.

      Fred: Well, I’m not.

      — — —

      Ted: Spanish girls tend to be really promiscuous.

      Fred: You’re such a prig.

      Ted: No, I wasn’t using “promiscuous” pejoratively. It’s just a fact. They have completely different attitudes toward sex.

      Fred: Well, I wasn’t using “prig” pejoratively.

      — — —

      Woman (Shootings in America): You can’t say Americans are not more violent than other people.

      Fred: No.

      Woman (Shootings in America): All those people killed in shootings in America?

      Fred: Oh, shootings, yes. But that doesn’t mean Americans are more violent than other people. We’re just better shots.

      — — —

      Marta: Ramon is very persuasive, and he painted a terrible picture of what it would be like for her to live the rest of her life in America, with all of its crime, consumerism, and vulgarity. All those loud, badly dressed, fat people watching their eighty channels of television and visiting shopping malls. The plastic throw-everything-away society with its notorious violence and racism. And finally, the total lack of culture.

      — — —

      Ted Boynton: There’s a lot of anti-NATO feeling here.

      Fred: Anti what?

      Ted Boynton: Anti-NATO.

      Fred: Anti-NATO?

      Ted Boynton: Yeah. Well, actually here it’s OTAN.

      Fred: They’re against OTAN? What are they for? Soviet troops racing across Europe, eating all the croissants?

  18. It is, perhaps, less the abandonment of a Culture’s myths that dooms it but rather that, like the famous aphorism generally attributed to Chesterton, that, “When a man stops believing in God he doesn’t then believe in nothing, he believes anything.”

    Such idolatry includes the the worship of The State:
    At issue is whether Westchester’s obligation to “affirmatively further fair housing” compels county officials to crush local opposition to a low-income housing development in downtown Chappaqua.

    The Draconian legal settlement imposed on Westchester several years ago by the Obama administration creates a court-appointed “monitor” who has effectively usurped Westchester County’s right to democratic self-governance. The monitor insists, and Obama’s Department of Justice agrees, that Westchester County officials must not only obtain financing for new low-income housing developments in Chappaqua, but must suppress local opposition to the project.
    Stanley Kurtz, nationalreview[DOT]com/node/421533/print

  19. An example of the manner in which myth creates a context for concepts:

    The poor are not a constituency to be used to advance a cause. The poor are for the Christian a revelation of Christ’s presence among us.
    Tweet by Fr. Steve Grunow (@FrSteveGrunow)

  20. When a society loses its fundamental beliefs by having them proven wrong, the society spirals down the drain. You see increased alcoholism, a fall in birth rate, suicides and general purposelessness.


  21. “It explains how monuments are decorated with art not worthy of toddlers (we’re not that bad here) and all the other symptoms of loss and decay. ”

    We’re not that bad here?
    According to Sarah Hoyt,she and her family lived in NE Ohio for a while.
    There is a “sculpture” in Cleveland,right in front of the Cuyahoga county “justice” center that most of my friends,and I have referred to as “the sewer pipe” since the late 70’s when the bent welded sewer pipe was plopped down in front of the then new “justice” center.
    Bent steel pipe is a long,long ways from being art-it takes zero artistic ability to bend a bunch of steel pipe,tack weld it together and call it a “sculpture.”

    1. “I submitted a sculpture for a government grant
      it was risque and ultra-nouveau.
      A Mapplethorpe shock-value visual rant
      it was fit for the best East Coast show.

      But it lost to a statue of a woman feeding duckies
      by a dog with big floppy ears.
      In the letter they sent me they said I was lucky
      to be among that sculptor’s peers.”

      — Greg Keeler, “Waddell’s Grant Song”

      1. “But it lost to a statue of a woman feeding duckies
        by a dog with big floppy ears.”

        Maybe the dog was one of the dogs from the famous “Dogs Playing Poker” posters from the 70’s and that’s why that entry won?

      2. A culture which not only tolerates this, giving it a prime public location (on the corner of 55th Street at 1359 Ave of the Americas) in what is arguably the cultural heart of the nation, mid-town Manhattan:

        … but puts it on a stamp, has forfeited forever the privilege of mocking any other cultures’ statuary.

        1. Pretty sure “the culture” didn’t put it up– perfectly OK with those who did install it not getting to comment on it, though!

      3. Hence the need for blinding selections. How else can you ensure that dogs with big floppy ears can fulfill their potential in sculpture? So many people think that floppy ears are a detriment.

      1. See what cultural “art” you missed by not staying in NE Ohio-welded,bent sewer pipes and it’s “art”.
        I didn’t know how long you were in Ohio,just recalled that you had mentioned it.

        1. But the sad thing, Gamegetter is that it’s still superior to the scrawls on walls I saw in Portugal. No, seriously. My kids (particularly #2 son) could draw better at 2

            1. No. I was talking about the specific art I saw in a monument which made my eyes bleed it was so stupid. (Well, not literally made my eyes bleed)
              They also have some bent sewer pipes other places 😉 And they had one of the coolest things I’d ever seen: a cloth imitation of a sea anemone suspended between two buildings. It moved right, was very cool, and I could never get a proper picture.

  22. It is perfectly possible to both be a person of faith – and a hard scientist. I am. It has never been a problem.

    That’s also how I picked my husband – it is easier if you kind of have the same basic beliefs. He’s also a hard scientist.

    It didn’t take as well as I hoped in the kids: I have one of each – an atheist, an agnostic, and a child who goes with me to Mass and sings in the beautiful Princeton U. Chapel with our tiny choir – when she’s home. When she’s not, I don’t ask.

    I worry about the same thing in Europe – those magnificent cathedrals are museumized – and have very tiny congregations. If Islam is seen as more vigorous, where are the children of Europe going to turn when they need something more than material things in their lives? That it is a terrible solution, the same as communism was, may be beyond their ability to understand – until it is too late. Instead, we should be christianizing the immigrants, showing them the Western civilization they flee to has a reason for being more prosperous, and part of that comes from the respect their cultures do NOT provide women.

    Probably preaching to the choir, but it hurts the heart.

  23. And teach your children well.

    Working on it. Day before yesterday, it was baking cookies for all the Air Force check-ins, and the maintenance squad. (We send them in with some of the office folks.) They were pretty small cookies– a quarter to two thirds the size of a normal cookie made with an eating spoon– but we did nine or ten trays of them!

    They take care of us, we take care of them; they have the skills to keep the airplanes going, we have five bucks worth of ingredients and a couple of hours to make cookies.

  24. Recently, I ran across an article on a wave of teenage suicides at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation..Surely the situation of many Native American tribes is at least in part a reflection of the demoralization that occurs when a culture is largely destroyed.

    Large parts of the American population today are being subjected to a sustained attack on their pride, self-respect, and sense of gratitude. Do you admire the Founding Fathers and the victors of the Civil War and WWII? Your professors will soon dispose of those beliefs. Are you proud of your own economic accomplishments? “You didn’t build that,” says our President. Do you appreciate the prosperity created by the American economic system? It’s all just a big contributor to environmental destruction.

    A confluence of forces rather than anything like a conspiracy, I think, but still, quietly devastating to millions of people.

  25. Reblogged this on The Arts Mechanical and commented:
    Cultures die because the people in them stop trying to keep it alive. The Romans fell because nobody cared enough to keep the currency clean, the roads clear and the army paid. when paying the Germans became easier than fighting them. when it became easier to ignore the broken roads. From what I’ve seen, when the end came, it wasn’t a slow decline of compromises, but a very rapid falling apart as nothing held together anymore.

  26. The arts are just waiting in the wings for the current crop of poseurs to clear the stage, or to simply bring the stage down.

    I honestly almost never watch television or movies anymore. 90% of my entertainment comes from YouTube, Twitch, computer games and other venues.

    There’s no way the US record companies would push someone like Britt Nicole:

    But I find myself thinking, I have to storyboard a ship add for the Vanguard:
    to “:How We Roll”.

    Come one, space shark set to poppy dance tune?

  27. Worth noting, as pointed out by John Hinderaker at Power Line:

    Earlier today, Ted Cruz spoke to a rally protesting the administration’s Iran deal. Representatives of Code Pink and other radical groups, representing the establishment, crashed the rally and tried to shout him down. Cruz responded by inviting the leftists to the podium, where he engaged them in a civil debate. Medea Benjamin represented Code Pink, and another leftist or two was also heard from.

    Did Cruz crush them? He did. Maybe that sounds easy, but try arguing with leftists in the midst of a howling crowd, while somehow maintaining control over the microphone and the dialogue. Cruz is a brilliant guy. We knew that. But what he did today deserves all the credit in the world. It isn’t easy to get down in the mud with leftists like Code Pink, and engage them on a rational basis. Kudos to Senator Cruz:

    I am not endorsing Cruz — I think there are serious questions about him — but he impresses, he impresses greatly.

    1. Comment stuck in moderation because attempt to neuter its second link failed spectacularly, neither neutralizing nor enabling the link. I ask that Sarah disallow that one and that this version go up:

      Worth noting, as pointed out by John Hinderaker at Power Line:

      Earlier today, Ted Cruz spoke to a rally protesting the administration’s Iran deal. Representatives of Code Pink and other radical groups, representing the establishment, crashed the rally and tried to shout him down. Cruz responded by inviting the leftists to the podium, where he engaged them in a civil debate. Medea Benjamin represented Code Pink, and another leftist or two was also heard from.

      Did Cruz crush them? He did. Maybe that sounds easy, but try arguing with leftists in the midst of a howling crowd, while somehow maintaining control over the microphone and the dialogue. Cruz is a brilliant guy. We knew that. But what he did today deserves all the credit in the world. It isn’t easy to get down in the mud with leftists like Code Pink, and engage them on a rational basis. Kudos to Senator Cruz:

      I am not endorsing Cruz — I think there are serious questions about him — but he impresses, he impresses greatly. I haven’t seen (would be) hecklers handled so smoothly since Reagan announced he wasn’t going to make an issue of his opponent’s youth and inexperience.

      1. Well …. shucks. While I was re-working this Sarah went an’ ‘proved the first one. Here’s the YouTube link, un-neutered:


        Just under 16 minutes.

        1. What we need are representatives who will not be embarrassed to actually represent,/I> our views. People who will not bend the knee to MSM interrogators but will follow Reagan’s example and talk past the Main Stream Minions to make the points that must be expressed.

          Ted Cruz demonstrates his willingness and ability to do that. So, in the Jake Tapper segment below, does Carly Fiorina:

          The people have read Mr. Paine’s Common Sense. I doubt very much the Congress has.

          1. Grrrrrrrr.

            What we need are representatives who will not be embarrassed to actually represent our views …

            Apparently this also applies to blog comments.

          2. BTW – a Power Line reader offers these observations of A Carly Fiorina speech in Iowa:

            Reader Dave Begley has reported for us from Iowa on appearances by presidential candidates including Democrat/Socialist Bernie Sanders and Republican candidate Scott Walker. Dave is a Nebraska resident who, like us, is a representative specimen of the kind of active conservative who participates in Republican caucuses and (in Dave’e case) primaries. Today Dave files this enthusiastic report on the appearance of Republican candidate Carly Fiorina in Iowa yesterday:


            She has a chance as the polls are misleading. They are polls of the entire country, not voters in Iowa and New Hampshire. In those small states people have a chance actually to meet the candidates and personally size them up. What Carly presents is a triple threat: she is very persuasive, she is the ultimate outsider and she is a woman. For those female voters not strongly attached to a candidate now, once they meet her she can win a significant number of “identity” voters. And she does that aspect of her campaign quite subtly and never says, “I would be the historic first woman President.” People aren’t stupid and they don’t want to be clubbed over the head about the obvious.


            She said the United States is the greatest country ever in the history of the world and she is proof of it as she rose from secretary to CEO of one of the biggest (and most complex) tech companies in America. Why? Because our Founders set up a radical system for people to fulfill their God-given potential.

            Right now people’s potential is being crushed by government and she gave two Iowa examples. The EPA is currently proposing the regulation of 98 percent of the groundwater. This is not well known in the cities but one can bet that Iowa farmers are plugged into it. The other Iowa example she gave was her recent encounter with a poultry farmer. Millions and millions of birds have been killed this year. The farmer she met had been hit hard. He knew what to do to stop it from spreading, but he was forced to wait days until government help from DC arrived. Result? The avian flu spread to other farms and his losses mounted. That’s a story Reagan would tell but there was never any video of this disaster on CNN because it all happened in Iowa and it wasn’t a fire or plane crash.


            Carly quoted Margaret Thatcher, “I am unwilling to manage the decline of a great nation.” That’s another way to say, “It is Morning in America” or that she will “make America great again.” (Aside: Not a word on Trump and only an oblique reference to The Donald.)

            Great applause for her line that 80 percent of Americans believe that we are being ruled by a professional political class. That is a huge strength for her and shows that even though she is an outsider, she can win a general election of Dems and Indepedents.

            Her hormone comment was extraordinarily clever. The question from a past encounter was whether a woman could be president due to hormones affecting her decisions. “Ladies, has there ever been a case where a man’s hormones affected his judgment?” Laughter.

            But there is more to that comment than the “I am Woman, hear me roar” angle. She is saying indirectly that our country can’t take the drama of a Bill Clinton rambling around the White House again looking to jump interns who are young enough to be a granddaughter. We all know he will (and so does Hillary) but Carly didn’t even mention Bill. Sharp.


            She had a very clever close. She described the roles of Lady Liberty and Lady Justice in American symbolism. The listener can conclude that Carly is both. The female listener can think, “And it is about time a woman is in charge.” But she didn’t say either thing directly. A conclusion that a listener reaches by herself is more strongly held. That was a masterful touch of persuasion.

            After 15-20 minutes of Carly she did 15-20 minutes of questions and answers. She said that she would call the Prime Minister of Israel on day one and then Iran’s Supreme Leader. The Iran deal is off and she would use the SWIFT system to cut off Iran’s ability to move money. She would then roll back regulations on a massive scale. Both actions are constitutional acts of the Executive.


            I asked her about her the influence of her dad on her political thought. I stated that I knew he had taught federal tax law and then been a federal judge. I also mentioned that Hillary had just proposed a tax increase.

            She gave a delightful and personal answer. She already knew about HRC’s proposed tax increase although it had only been out for two hours. She said that she learned conservatism at her father’s knee. He used to yell at Walter Cronkite and the New York Times. (Sound like anyone here?) She thought tax law was boring until she realized that tax law is how DC picks winners and losers and perpetuates the crony capitalism system. Powerful stuff grounded in gritty reality.

            Her dad served on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the most liberal in the land. When the Ninth Circuit was reversed by the Supreme Court, her dad’s dissent was cited and quoted. She said she would pick judges like her dad: strict constitutionalists.


            I suppose for some she has a “Mitt” problem. Yes, she is rich, so people wonder, “Does she care about a person like me?” I would only suggest that people appreciate the fact that she has been divorced, fired from her job, had cancer and one stepchild die due to drug addiction. I don’t know any family in America that hasn’t been touched by at least one of those four horribles. She was nice as pie to the crowd and not stiff at all.


            — 30 —

            So, check your GOP Candidate Bingo Cards to see if Carly! filled a row.

            1. “she rose from secretary to CEO of one of the biggest (and most complex) tech companies in America.”

              And by the results at HP, and accounts of HP employees great and small, she sucked at it. There’s the aroma of “affirmative action hire” around her, rightly or not, and we’ve just seen 8 years of the results of that. That’s something she’s going to have to overcome.

        1. Cruz/Perry (or Perry/Cruz) can’t happen — the rules don’t allow the president & vice-president to be from the same state. This was widely reported during the Bush/Cheney 2000 campaign, when Leftists tried to disallow Cheney’s Wyoming citizenship because he was (at the time) living and working in Houston. (Same reason we won’t see a Bush/Rubio ticket.)

          It is also deemed poor strategy on the (obsolete) premise that vice-presidents can “carry” their home states (or regions.) In contemporary identity politics it is probably more important to provide an ideological (or whatever) balance, such as a Cruz/Kasich ticket. The same argument means we won’t see a Walker/Kasich ticket but might well see a Fiorina selection for the vice-presidency even though there is no way she can deliver her home state of California seven* states Sanders would be almost sure to carry.

          *California, Illinois, Washington, Oregon, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut — that makes seven sure to vote for Sanders (or any yellow dog put on the Democrat ballot.) It is left as an exercise for the reader to determine which states would be within five percentage points.

          1. Jindal needs to have the personality of boiled oatmeal and not less than that to carry it. Face it, like it or not we need charisma to carry a national election. Hey, I supported Steve Forbes, who had more personality than Jindal but not much.

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