Every form of state action has the effect of reducing human cooperation. If the state will take care of it, why meet my buddy at the end of the street to take of that flooding problem that’s hurting our lawns? If the state will take care of it, why see if my friend needs some money during his lay-off? If the state will take care of it, why give a rip about anybody else?
The state = atomization. We lament that everybody’s bowling alone, but we don’t give them any good reasons—important reasons, like the need for food and shelter—to come together. If the only thing left is recreational pursuits, people will lose the habit of being with one another. The result: when recreation time comes, they’ll pursue it the way they pursue everything else: alone.
What’s even more devastating: as people stop taking care of things themselves, they forget how to take care of things. People might forget how to load a gun or how to clean their own house.
Most disturbingly, people forget how to make moral judgments. As the law pervades and tells people how to behave on more and more matters, the practice of making moral decisions dwindles. This applies to every law that is enforced by government, even ones we need. Albert Jay Nock may have said it best, “Any enlargement [of government], good or bad, reduces the scope of individual responsibility, and thus retards and cripples the education which can be a produce of nothing but the free exercise of moral judgment.” The State of the Union, p. 322.
Even a common sense law, like a statute that prohibits murder, reduces our moral decision making. If one’s wife is murdered, does the widowed husband avenge or forgive? The decision is taken out of his hands: the state takes revenge. In certain areas (like murder) it’s a good thing, but it’s crucial to understand that every law has this effect. As the laws pile up, individual decision making dwindles. Eventually, the population consists of what Flannery O’Connor called “moral morons”: a populace that is simply unable to make moral decisions.
It’s no coincidence that the most common refrain heard after the collapse of Communism was, “The social fabric of Russia and the former eastern-block nations is in shambles.” By trying to manage every aspect of society, it killed every aspect of society, from community activities to individual decision making.
Shew. Crazy days. Lots going on . . . on all fronts. I’m also sensing spring in the air. Marie says I’m hopelessly optimistic when it comes to spring, but I can sense it. I tell you, I can sense it.
A man died after catching fire in a porta potty. Link. “Police reportedly believe the incident could be an accidental death.” WTH else is it? That’s one helluva suicide trick . . . or one cruel hit job (“Let’s set Guido on fire while he’s taking a dump”).
I thought “catching fire” in the bathroom meant you really had a good one. I guess not.
“Inside a repurposed Twin Cities brewery, a massive aquaponics operation is ready to provide a locavore’s dream: fresh produce and fish, raised indoors every month of the year.” Link. Based on the writer’s description, the proprietor is an ass, and I recoil instinctively against the term “locavore.” But otherwise, it’s kind of interesting. Fish waste fertilizes crops that grow above their tanks. I’d love to have something like that going.
The Old Testament. I summarize the OT in about eight minutes. The segment is closer to 11, but I throw in a couple of decidedly un-OT anecdotes.
Words. A short look at a few unusual words.
Lightning Segments. The ideal gin and tonic, The Adventures of Beer Man, Ira Gershwin, More.
Radical Derrida? I know Derrida was radical, but I’m not sure three of his main conclusions—words don’t carry ultimate meaning, no text outside the text, and condemnation of binaries—are all that startling. I explain why, pulling from my personal experience, the Warren Court, and Lao Tzu.
So I podcasted about introverts last month. That triggered a lot of emails and conversation. One friend suggested I take a Myers Briggs personality test, which I did (link to test). According to the test, I am an INFJ, which is the rarest personality on earth. That, in turn, has prompted me to review all sorts of online materials regarding INFJ’s. I’ve found it interesting, but a bit bothersome. I’m having a hard time putting my finger on why it’s bothersome, but I think it might come down to this: all the materials seem to be laudatory. If I am, indeed, an INJF, I believe my personality type comes with a helluva lot more downsides than upsides, but to review those online materials, you’d think I’m a powerhouse of traits. I also question the objectivity of these tests (especially since, when I watch videos “about myself,” I think, “Only half of those things really seem to apply to me, albeit strongly; the other half either don’t apply or only somewhat”).
Anyway, I’ve found the exercise fascinating. It has definitely helped explain a lot of things about myself (why I detest small talk, why I lean strongly toward staying at home, why I couldn’t care less about pop culture and trends, etc.), but I’ve only scratched the surface and, given that I think every personality type takes a back seat to the gospels (of which I’ve only scratched the surface . . . sign), I’m not sure I’ll scratch much deeper.
One thing I realized from the personality test exploration is this: I derive energy from gardening. I normally come back from long gardening sessions with an immense feeling of exhilaration: covered in dirt, jobs left undone due to darkness, whatever. It didn’t matter. After a few hours by myself at the site, I felt energized and happy. It was a feeling that I was aware of, but it never occurred to me to question why I felt energized, but now I know: I apparently derive energy from being by myself. Solitary activities, in other words, feed my soul, and few things are more solitary than gardening.
I’m also reminded of the one time I came back from the produce site absolutely demoralized: a lot of kids from the neighborhood came over to help. This then led to their parents coming over. For an hour, I was torn among working on my beds and small talk and answering questions from the kids. I hate to admit it, but I was rattled when I got home, like everything had come crashing down . . . yet the kids did nothing wrong, the parents were merely being polite. But I was on the verge of abandoning the whole project. It was one of the worst experiences of my ten years as an avid gardener, and I didn’t know why.
It was January 1960 and they called it the Summit at the Sands. There would be other Summits later, but this was the opening shot of the Swinging Revolution, the party that was heard around the world. After a few straight songs, the show would devolve into something best described as a very public stag party. Songs were perpetually interrupted by wisecracks, political correctness was made a pariah, the sacred audience was cajoled and rousted, the performers openly drank deep from a bar centered on stage like a sacrificial altar. Much of the act was ad-libbed and riddled with inside jokes, and the audience—and the army of press that had gathered—suspected the performers were having more fun than those they were supposed to be entertaining. And they were right.
The book, “In the Closet of the Vatican”, written by French sociologist and journalist Frederic Martel, reports that around 80 per cent of clerics working in the Roman Curia are gay – although not necessarily sexually active – and details how they adhere to an unspoken code of the “closet”.
But then again, postmoderns in the Church have tried to deconstruct the pants off of Newman, claiming he was gay, without a shred of evidence other than this gentleness and soft-spoken ways.
Happy Valentine’s Day, btw. In this day of botched romantic notions, however, I’m not sure we can celebrate it anymore.
This is great: Panera Bread’s Socialist ‘Pay What You Want’ Experiment Fails Miserably. Um, well, yeah. It’s a fundamental tenet of human action that people want as much as they can get with the least cost (either in effort or money). That’s why the lottery is so popular. It sounds like, in this case, a lot of people felt they had hit the Panera Bread lottery.
Oh sure she gets tenure at Cambridge and a BBC interview, and when I take off my clothes to protest the long line at the Walmart checkout I get another 3 days of psychiatric monitoringhttps://t.co/6zXTey9oHQ
"Conservatives are wary of concentrated power in whatever form. The evil effects of Original Sin are nowhere more evident than in Washington, on Wall Street, or in the executive suites of major institutions, sadly including churches and universities." https://t.co/eLtkMbHhdW
Steve Martin: “Before you criticize a man, walk a mile in his shoes. That way, when you do criticize him, you’ll be a mile away and have his shoes.” “I thought yesterday was the first day of the rest of my life but it turns out today is.” “I believe that sex is one of the most beautiful, natural, wholesome things that money can buy.”
It is no coincidence that Kerouac’s religion embraced sexual perversity similar to the perversity of Tantric Buddhism and its degenerative sexual rituals, for both spring from the same metaphysical corruption, the error known as “emptiness,” which teaches that all things are one and that perceived distinctions, including distinctions of good and bad, are mere illusions. In such a metaphysical corruption, even virtue can become degenerate—as illustrated in the degenerative twisting of the virtues of peace and love in the 1960s movements that Kerouac helped spawn. Link.
Sex in the Stall. A couple allegedly has sex in the bathroom stall at a NFL games. That’s unbelievably gross. Deconstructionism is partly to blame. The fact that these people are absolute pigs doesn’t help, but deconstructionism feeds them. I explain how.
Communist Gnosticism. Marx, Lenin, and hatred for religion = shuttering of Greek Orthodox Churches in the early USSR. Homosexuality, deconstructionism, and hatred for truth = shuttering of Roman Catholic Churches in contemporary USA?
Deconstructionism. Summarized succinctly. Words carry no meaning. Therefore, anything anybody purports to know is merely what they derive from individual experience: subjectivism. No truth . . . only “truth claims.”
Lightning Segments. Hip and renegades: shaping American culture. More McLuhan.
What TWE is Trying to Do. It started as “messages to my adult children,” but quickly grew. What am I trying to do? Nothing more nor less than imitating the essays of Joseph Epstein and honoring Samuel Johnson’s axion: The only end of writing is to allow the reader to better enjoy life.
Hey, it’s the Feast Day of St. Blaise . . . in the Eastern Orthodox Church. I’m not sure why I find that surprising. I guess I thought St. Blaise was one of those more esoteric saints. I didn’t even know he was from Cappadocia, just barely predating Basil and the Gregs (that’d be a cool rock group name).
Both are courtesy of The Brutal Hammer of Truth.
But neither beats this personal news: A TDE reader, colleague, and fellow Catholic has procured a few extra bottles of beer from the Monks of Norcia that he has offered to me. I merely have to make arrangements to pick them up . . . and I’m going to buy him lunch (not his requirement, but mine). It’s a great deal. This beer has been on my bucket list for years.
Catholic Men's Quarterly, a one-of-a-kind general interest men's magazine written by Catholic men for Catholic men. Makes a great Father's Day gift.
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