Welcome to the inaugural issue of The Wednesday Eudemon. If you read it and (i) smirk once, (ii) nod once, and (iii) learn something new, I'm gratified. If you do just two of the three, I'm content like Meatloaf: two out of three ain't bad. If you do just one, you probably shouldn't come back. If you do none, for your sake I hope you have fiber optic hook-up for scuttling away quickly.
Care to make a suggestion or comment? Contact me at my website (see right column for link). Appropriate letters might be republished, unless I am instructed otherwise. EJS
Malcolm in the Right
"To believe today in a miraculous happening like the Virgin Birth is to appear a kind of imbecile, whereas to disbelieve in an unproven and unprovable scientific proposition like the Theory of Evolution is to stand condemned as an obscurantist, an enemy of progress and enlightenment." Malcolm Muggeridge
Things have changed a bit since Muggeridge wrote these words in the mid-1970s, at least in the United States. The Theory of Evolution is under siege and a majority of people supposedly believe in the Virgin Birth. We present the quote here because (i) it's Advent, and (ii) we're fresh from seeing the difference between "blue states" and "red states" at work, and this quote reflects that difference nicely.
The New Onanism
"An ad [for Nintendo's DS handheld video game] in the current issue of Maxim shows a voluptuous blonde purring, 'I love a man with a soft, sensitive touch.' Next month, you'll start seeing television ads in which a sultry female voice coos that 'touching is good.' One of the first DS titles, Feel the Magic: XY/XX, is a dating game in which you perform Jackass-style stunts to woo a pixellated chick in a miniskirt. It's all enough to make that 2-inch stylus feel kinda inadequate." From Slate
Never say about anything, "I have lost it," but only, "I have given it back." Epictetus
On Killing Little Eudemon, by George "The Animal Farm" Orwell
In Keep the Aspidistra Flying, Orwell describes the protagonist's reaction to the suggestion from the girl he impregnated that she get an abortion: "That pulled him up. For the first time he grasped, with the only kind of knowledge that matters, what they were really talking about. The words 'a baby' took on a new significance. They did not mean any longer a mere abstract disaster, they meant a bud of flesh, a bit of himself, down there in her belly, alive and growing. His eyes met hers. They had a strange moment of sympathy such as they had never had before. For a moment he did feel that in some mysterious way they were one flesh. Though they were feet apart he felt as though they were joined together–as though some invisible living cord stretched from her entrails to his. He knew then that it was a dreadful thing they were contemplating–a blasphemy, if that word had any meaning."
Feature: The Anti-Eudemon
Excerpt from Damian Thompson's review of The Pope in Winter by John Cornwell (from The Daily Telegraph):
"Cornwell's record of John Paul II's pontificate is often grotesquely biased. Again and again, traditional Catholic doctrine is presented as some frightful reactionary innovation by this Pope and blamed for problems that would have arisen anyway, such as the decline in Mass attendance. Cornwell even tries to take the shine off John Paul's victory over Communism with a dig at his ally Ronald Reagan. We are told that, in the office of Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador, there were files on dead children whose murderers were 'trained by Reagan's compatriots.' How typically snide: Romero was killed before Reagan's election.
"So unfair is Cornwell to his subject that, paradoxically, he distracts attention from the Pope's genuine failures. The Church's cover-up of clerical paedophilia was scandalous, and John Paul must bear some responsibility for it. But the actual abuse reached its peak decades ago, during the pontificate of Paul VI. Cornwell blurs the distinction between the cover-up and the original crimes and, true to form, pins much of the blame for the abuse on John Paul's high doctrine of the priesthood and centralising policies. (Throughout the book, he ludicrously overstates the extent of Vatican centralisation. If the Pope insists on appointing every bishop in his own mould, why are there so many apologetic liberals among the English hierarchy?)
"Far from exposing 'the dark face of John Paul II's papacy,' The Pope in Winter reveals the degree to which Cornwell's prejudices interfere with his judgment. This is a pity, because A Thief in the Night, his demolition of the conspiracy theories surrounding the death of John Paul I, was a model of impartiality. Something has gone wrong in the 15 years since it was published: Cornwell's liberalism has hardened into groin-kicking intolerance."
Top Ten Toms
Top Ten Aphorisms found in The Human Wisdom of St. Thomas: A Breviary of Philosophy, arranged by Josef Pieper
10. "There is no desire which is not directed towards a good."
9. "Nobody can strive after evil for its own sake."
8. "Wonder is the desire for knowledge."
7. "The human will can be protected from sin only when the reason is preserved from ignorance and error."
6. "All fear arises from the love of something."
5. "In so far as it is loved, everything becomes a source of pleasure."
4. "The rational creature cannot wish not to be happy."
3. "The virtues perfect us so that we follow our natural inclinations in a fitting manner."
2. "Meekness above all makes men masters of themselves."
1. "Inordinate fear is included in every sin; the miser fears the loss of money, the intemperate man the loss of pleasure."
Robert Bridges once wrote to Gerard Manley Hopkins, asking how he (Bridges) could possibly learn to believe. He probably expected some metaphysical analysis, but Hopkins simply responded, "Give alms." It's not a bad lesson for the Christmas season.
Emacity: a fondness for buying things. "This time of year, emacity could actually be a virtue."
* * *
Hope you enjoyed the inaugural issue.