Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Always Something New in London

Every year, I take a group of graduating seniors from Franklin Classical School to England. We usually visit London, Cambridge, Ely, Brighton, Chartwell, and Lewes. And of course, there are a host of must-see sights and sites in each of those places. In addition though, I always try to make sure each trip is unique--we try to see something new every time we go. So, this year some of the new things we'll see that we normally don't get a chance to see are:

1. St. Helen's, Bishopsgate
2. The old Daunt's, Marylebone
3. The new Foyle's, Charing Cross
4. Huckle the Barber, Shoreditch
5. Jamie's pop up Diner, Piccadilly
6. Abbey Road Studios
7. Barbecoa, St. Paul's
8. St. Giles, Tottenham Court
9. Persephone, Bloomsbury
10. Jo Malone, Covent Garden
11. Brill, Exmouth Market, Clerkenwell

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Recent Gleanings from Milton

“The end then of learning is to repair the ruins of our first parents by regaining to know God aright, and out of that knowledge to love him, to imitate him, to be like him, as we may the nearest by possessing our souls of true virtue, which being united to the heavenly grace of faith makes up the highest perfection.” 

Long is the way and hard, that out of hell leads up to light.

“None can love freedom heartily, but good men; the rest love not freedom, but license.”

“Virtue may be assailed, but never hurt, surprised by unjust force, but not enthralled.”

“Sweet is the breath of morn, her rising sweet, with charm of earliest birds.”

“Good, the more communicated, more abundant grows.”

“Though all the winds of doctrine were let loose to play upon the earth, if Truth be in the field, we do injuriously by licensing and prohibiting to misdoubt her strength. Let her and Falsehood grapple; who ever knew Truth put to the worse, in a free and open encounter.”

“Where there is much desire to learn, there of necessity will be much arguing, much writing, many opinions; for opinion in good men is but knowledge in the making.”

“The first and wisest of them all professed to know this only, that he nothing knew.”

“Heav'nly love shall outdo Hellish hate.”

“For liberty hath a sharp and double edge, fit only to be handled by just and virtuous men; to bad and dissolute, it becomes a mischief unwieldy in their own hands.”

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Recent Gleanings from Chalmers

"If it be true that love cast out fear, it is just as true that fear keepeth out love."

"Unbelief is an intelligent turning away from the Word of God. It is not rooted in ignorance but in negligence."

"At the fall, men were not demoralized out of all virtue, rather we were desecrated of all godliness--and thus in our own flesh, bereft of all enduring good."

"There is nought more undeniable than the antipathy of fallen nature to the peculiar doctrines of the Gospel."

"The handwriting of ordinances that was against us, and contrary to us, has been taken out of the way, having been nailed to the cross of Christ; but the hand of Jesus, as the Lord our sanctifier, is ever on us: beautifying us with His salvation and spreading over our characters all the graces of holiness."

"The sacrament we hold to be not merely a privilege but a means of grace: a privilege to all for whom the Savior is our alone dependence for time and eternity; and a means of grace to all who, humbled at our distance and deficiency from the perfections of the sanctuary above, seek the instituted ordinances below, for the advancement of our meetness for the inheritance. Come--but come with a sincere purpose. Come in honesty. Come aware of the total renovation which your personal Christianity implies. Come free of all those superficial and meagre conceptions of it which are so current in the midst of this infidel world. Come resolved to be and to do all that the Master of our Assembly would have you be and do. Come and look to Him for the perfection of His own work upon your character, that in you He may see of the travail of His soul and be satisfied."

"Though no longer under the economy of 'do-and-live,' still, Christians are under the economy of 'live-and-do.'"

"Whenever we bethinks ourselves of God having passed over the magnitude of our own provocations; whenever we dwell on the agony of that endurance laid on Christ for sinners; whenever we behold the cross of our atonement and we are solemnized into a reverence for the sacredness of His sacrifice; whenever we look onward to the glories of that inheritance which Christ hath purchased by His blood and the gates of which He hath unbarred for the welcome access of the guiltiest of us all; whenever we look upon Jesus--then it is that we lay hold of our blessed hope, our certain assurance. Therefore beloved, turn your eyes upon Jesus; look full upon His wondrous grace. Oh, consider Jesus."

"Let us not be over-sanguine nor over-melancholy of immediate results. Our perspective of time is only slowly synchronized to the clock of providence."

"Deliverance from condemnation is not the goal, but the starting post of the Christian race; and so instead of laboring to make good a remote and inaccessible station where forgiveness shall be awarded to him, he is sent forth with a full deed of amnesty in his hand, and lightened of all his fears; he goes forth upon his course rejoicing."

"Selectiveness in the decrees of God will not do. Mutilate the truth and you cripple it. Pare it down and you paralyze all its energies. The Spirit is grieved with the duplicity and disingenuousness of men, when they offer to divide God's testimony in accord with their own preferences and devices."

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Essential Political Maxims

“The greatest political storm flutters only a fringe of humanity.” G.K. Chesterton

“Almost nothing is as important as almost everything in Washington is made to appear. And the importance of a Washington event is apt to be inversely proportional to the attention it receives.” George Will

“Being in politics is like being a football coach; you have to be smart enough to understand the game, and dumb enough to think it’s important.” Eugene McCarthy

“All politics is actually based on the indifference of the majority.” John Reston

“Americans view politics with boredom and detachment. For most of us, politics is increasingly abstract, a spectator sport barely worth watching. Since the average voter “believes that politics will do little to improve his life or that of his community, he votes defensively, if at all.” E. J. Dionne

“The Constitution is not an instrument for government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government‑‑lest it come to dominate our lives and interests.” Gouvenor Morris

“Liberty necessitates the diminutization of political ambition and concern. Liberty necessitates concentration on other matters than mere civil governance. Rather, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, freemen must think on these things.” Patrick Henry

“What frustrates many Americans about politics, I think, is that their hard-earned prosperity was supposed to produce widespread decency. It didn’t. And as a result, we’re mad.” James Q. Wilson

“Our national temper is sour, our attention span limited, our fuse short. We yearn childishly, for a cowboy in a white hat to ride into town. We are ripe for political disaster.” Simon Schama

“The voters think Washington is a whorehouse and every four years they get a chance to elect a new piano player. They would rather burn the whorehouse down.” Peggy Noonan

“We are perpetually being told that what is wanted is a strong man who will do things. What is really wanted is a strong man who will undo things; and that will be the real test of strength.” G.K. Chesterton

The Tangled Web

“Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.” Sir Walter Scott

“A liar begins with making falsehood appear like truth, and ends with making truth itself appear like falsehood.” William Shenstone

“A lie which is a half truth is ever the blackest of lies.” Alfred Lord Tennyson

“Dishonesty is the raw material not of quacks only, but also in great part dupes.” Thomas Carlyle

“The great masses of the people will more easily fall victims to a big lie than to a small one.” Adolf Hitler

“O, what a goodly outside falsehood hath.” William Shakespeare

“I do not mind lying, but I hate inaccuracy.” Samuel Butler

The greatest deception men suffer is from their own opinions. Leonardo da Vinci

“I do myself a greater injury in lying than I do him of whom I tell a lie.” Montaigne

“Who lies for you will lie against you.” John Locke

“There is nothing worse than words of kindness that lie.” Juvenal

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

2014: Best Films

Only a few of these films are actually new releases this year--they are just new to me. Though I typically don't see very many movies, I try to make sure that the ones I do see really count. These days, that's not a particularly easy task. At any rate, here is my very subjective list of the best of the year, in no particular order:

1. The Hundred Foot Journey, directed by Lasse Hallström, starring Helen Mirren, Manish Dayal, Charlotte Le Bon, and Om Puri

2. Still Mine, directed by Michael McGowan, starring James Cromwell and Geneviève Bujold

3. Haute Cuisine, directed by Christian Vincent, starring Catherine Frot and Jean d'Ormesson (French, English subtitles)

4. My Afternoons with Marguerite, directed by Jean Becker, starring Gérard Depardieu, Gisèle Casadesus, and Sophie Guillemin 
(French, English subtitles)

5. Hugo, directed by Martin Scorsese, starring Asa Butterfield, Ben Kingsley, Jude Law, Chloe Grace Moret, Sacha Baron Cohen, Richard Griffiths, and Christopher Lee

6. The Book Thief, directed by Brian Percival, starring Geoffrey Rush, Sophie Nélisse, and Emily Watson

7. The Words, directed by Lee Sternthal and Brian Klugman, starring Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Irons, and Dennis Quaid

8. Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Desolation of Smaug, directed by Peter Jackson, starring Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett, Orlando Bloom, Ian Holm, Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving, Elijah Wood and Andy Serkis.

9. Quiet Bliss, directed by Edoardo Winspeare, starring Celeste Cascara, Laura Licchetta, Anna Boccadamo, and Barbara de Matteis (Italian, English subtitles)

10. Skyfall, directed by Sam Mendes, starring Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Naomie Harris, and Javier Bardem

11. Chef, directed by Jon Favreau, starring Jon Favreau, Dustin Hoffman, Sofía Vergara, John Leguizamo, Emjay Anthony, Scarlett Johansson, and Robert Downey, Jr.

Monday, December 8, 2014

2014: Best Non-Fiction

Here is my very subjective list of the best non-fiction books I was able to read in 2014, ranked here in no particular order:

1. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Christian Belief by John Frame (P&R) This is a massive, magisterial work that sets traditional, orthodox, Reformed systematics within the compass of Frame's triperspectival and trinitarian didactae. It is eloquent and cogent. But, it is also invigoratingly inspirational.

2. From Heaven He Came and Sought Her: Definite Atonement in Historical, Biblical, and Pastoral Perspective edited by David and Jonathan Gibson (Crossway) With contributions from J.I. Packer, Sinclair Ferguson, John Piper, Michael Haykin, Alec Motyer, and a host of other pastors and theologians, this fat collection of essays ably unpacks one of the most difficult questions surrounding Reformed soteriology.

3. The Trinitarian Devotion of John Owen by Sinclair Ferguson (Reformation Trust) This latest volume in the Long Line of Godly Men series from Ligonier is, not surprisingly, the best yet. Dr. Ferguson makes the life, work, and legacy of Owen, one of the titans of the faith, fresh and lively for a whole new generation.

4. God Dwells Among Us: Expanding Eden to the Ends of the Earth by G.K. Beale and Mitchell Kim (IVP) This is a very practical and pastoral distillation of the much-larger and more-academic work by Beale, The Temple and the Church's Mission. For all kinds of reasons, I love this book even more than the original--and I was wowed by the original.

5. A Small Cup of Light: A Drink in the Desert by Ben Palpant (IngramSpark) Adversity, sorrow, disappointment. None of us ever want it. But, all of us will surely face it. Ben Palpant's beautiful book--beautifully conceived and beautifully written--explores the dark profiles of suffering with the glistening light of hope. I am giving dozens of copies of this book away for Christmas.

6. Hidden But Now Revealed: A Biblical Theology of Mystery by G.K. Beale and Benjamin Gladd (IVP) This a roll-your-sleeves-up-and-get-deep-into-the-marvels sort of book on hermeneutics and Bible study. Like all of Beale's work, it is integrative and inspirational, academic and practical, theoretical and pastoral. In short, it is a marvel of insight.

7. What's Best Next by Matt Perman (Zondervan) The best single book on time-management/self-management/life-management from a Christian perspective I have ever read--and I've read everything I've ever been able to get my hands on. I have had all of my staff read through this--and I am thinking that we may reread it together later this next year. It's that good.

8. How Architecture Works: A Humanist's Toolkit by Witold Rybczynski (FSG) Rybcynski is far and away my favorite writer on the subject of architecture. I have tried to read everything he has written--no mean feat given the fact that he has written voluminously and prodigiously. But, so far every book has been worth it. And his newest, a wonderful survey, is no exception. This book is part history, part sociology, part moral philosophy, and all architecture.

9. Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin (Doubleday) This sequel to the bestselling Happiness Project focuses specifically on habits that build family vision, family cohesion, family harmony, and family happiness. Though not a Christian work in any way, this is a wonderful sort of DIY-simple, nuts-and-bolts-personal, Pinterest-practical approach to healthy, loving homes.

10. Travels with Epicurus: A Journey to a Greek Island in Search of a Fulfilled Life by Daniel Klein (Penguin) This very slim volume is part travel adventure, part philosophy inquiry, part bibliophile romance, and part coming-of-old-age memoir. This is a most satisfying slow. lingering read.

11. Confessions of a Young Novelist by Umberto Eco (Harvard) I have to confess that any and every Umberto Eco is irresistible for me. I'm fascinated by his omnivorous medieval mind, his gargantuan renaissance erudition, and his wry modern skepticism. In this collection of talks he waxes eloquent about the process of creative writing at the intersection of probing philosophical inquiry and wildly imaginative creativity.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

A Will Rogers Election Eleventary

“The short memories of the American voters is what keeps our politicians in office.”

“A fool and his money are soon elected.”

“I don't make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts.”

"There is only one redeeming thing about this whole election. It will be over at sundown, and let everybody pray that it's not a tie, for we couldn't go through with this thing again.

"If you ever injected truth into politics you have no politics"

"America has the best politicians money can buy."

"Congress is so strange; a man gets up to speak and says nothing, nobody listens, and then everybody disagrees."

"We all joke about Congress but we can't improve on them. Have you noticed that no matter who we elect, he is just as bad as the one he replaces?"

"Never blame a legislative body for not doing something. When they do nothing, they don't hurt anybody. When they do something is when they become dangerous."

"There is something about a Republican that you can only stand him just so long; and on the other hand, there is something about a Democrat that you can't stand him quite that long."

"There's no trick to being a humorist when you have the entire government working for you."

Sunday, July 27, 2014

J.R.R. Tolkien “On Fairy-Stories”

“History often resembles myth, because they are both ultimately of the same stuff.”

“Supernatural is a dangerous and difficult word in any of its senses, looser or stricter. But to fairies it can hardly be applied, unless super is taken merely as a superlative prefix. For it is man who is, in contrast to fairies, supernatural; whereas they are natural, far more natural than he. Such is their doom.”

“The trouble with the real folk of Faerie is that they do not always look like what they are; and they put on the pride and beauty that we would fain wear ourselves.”

“It is usually assumed that children are the natural or the specially appropriate audience for fairy-stories. In describing a fairy-story which they think adults might possibly read for their own entertainment, reviewers frequently indulge in such waggeries as: ‘this book is for children from the ages of six to sixty.’ But I have never yet seen the puff of a new motor-model that began thus: ‘this toy will amuse infants from seventeen to seventy;’ though that to my mind would be much more appropriate. Is there any essential connexion between children and fairy-stories? Is there any call for comment, if an adult reads them for himself? Reads them as tales, that is, not studies them as curios. Adults are allowed to collect and study anything, even old theatre programmes or paper bags.”

“It is the mark of a good fairy-story, of the higher or more complete kind, that however wild its events, however fantastic or terrible the adventures, it can give to child or man that hears it, when the turn comes, a catch of the breath, a beat and lifting of the heart, near to (or indeed accompanied by) tears, as keen as that given by any form of literary art, and having a peculiar quality. In such stories when the sudden turn comes we get a piercing glimpse of joy, and heart's desire, that for a moment passes outside the frame, rends indeed the very web of story, and lets a gleam come through.”

“Fantasy is a natural human activity. It certainly does not destroy or even insult Reason; and it does not either blunt the appetite for, nor obscure the perception of, scientific verity. On the contrary. The keener and the clearer is the reason, the better fantasy will it make. If men were ever in a state in which they did not want to know or could not perceive truth (facts or evidence), then Fantasy would languish until they were cured. If they ever get into that state (it would not seem at all impossible), Fantasy will perish, and become Morbid Delusion. For creative Fantasy is founded upon the hard recognition that things are so in the world as it appears under the sun; on a recognition of fact, but not a slavery to it. So upon logic was founded the nonsense that displays itself in the tales and rhymes of Lewis Carroll. If men really could not distinguish between frogs and men, fairy-stories about frog-kings would not have arisen.”

“The Recovered Thing is not quite the same as the Thing-never-lost. It is often more precious. As Grace, recovered by repentance, is not the same as primitive Innocence, but is not necessarily a poorer or worse state.”

“Art is the human process that produces by the way (it is not its only or ultimate object) Secondary Belief.”

“Although now long estranged,
Man is not wholly lost nor wholly changed.
Dis-graced he may be, yet is not de-throned,
and keeps the rags of lordship once he owned:
Man, Sub-creator, the refracted Light
through whom is splintered from a single White
to many hues, and endlessly combined
in living shapes that move from mind to mind.
Though all the crannies of the world we filled
with Elves and Goblins, though we dared to build
Gods and their houses out of dark and light,
and sowed the seed of dragons- 'twas our right
(used or misused). That right has not decayed:
we make still by the law in which we're made.”

“Faërie contains many things besides elves and fays, and besides dwarfs, witches, trolls, giants, or dragons; it holds the seas, the sun, the moon, the sky; and the earth, and all things that are in it: tree and bird, water and stone, wine and bread, and ourselves, mortal men, when we are enchanted.”

“The consolation of fairy stories, the joy of the happy ending; or more correctly, the good catastrophe, the sudden, joyous turn (for there is no true end to a fairy tale); this joy, which is one of the things that fairy stories can produce supremely well, is not essentially escapist or fugitive. In it's fairy tale or other world setting, it is a sudden and miraculous grace, never to be counted on to reoccur. It does not deny the existence of dyscatastrophe, or sorrow and failure, the possibility of these is necessary to the joy of deliverance. It denies, (in the face of much evidence if you will) universal final defeat and in so far is evangelium, giving a fleeting glimpse of Joy, Joy beyond the walls of the world, poignant as grief.”

“Why should a man be scorned, if, finding himself in prison, he tries to get out and go home? Or if, when he cannot do so, he thinks and talks about other topics than jailers and prison-walls? The world outside has not become less real because the prisoner cannot see it. In using Escape in this way the critics have chosen the wrong word, and, what is more, they are confusing, not always by sincere error, the Escape of the Prisoner with the Flight of the Deserter. just so a Party-spokesman might have labeled departure from the misery of the Fuhrer's or any other Reich and even criticism of it as treachery .... Not only do they confound the escape of the prisoner with the flight of the deserter; but they would seem to prefer the acquiescence of the "quisling" to the resistance of the patriot.”

“Fantasy remains a human right: we make in our measure and in our derivative mode, because we are made: and not only made, but made in the image and likeness of a Maker.”

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Spurgeon on Prayer

I know of no better thermometer to your spiritual temperature than this, the measure of the intensity of your prayer.

The ship of prayer may sail through all temptations, doubts and fears, straight up to the throne of God; and though she may be outward bound with only griefs, and groans, and sighs, she shall return freighted with a wealth of blessings!

It is a good rule never to look into the face of a man in the morning till you have looked into the face of God.

It is well said that neglected prayer is the birthplace of all evil.

Methinks every true Christian should be exceedingly earnest in prayer concerning the souls of the ungodly; and when they are so, how abundantly God blesses them and how the church prospers!

Oh, without prayer what are the church's agencies, but the stretching out of a dead man's arm, or the lifting up of the lid of a blind man's eye? Only when the Holy Spirit comes is there any life and force and power.

Prayer girds human weakness with divine strength, turns human folly into heavenly wisdom, and gives to troubled mortals the peace of God. We know not what prayer can do.

Prayer meetings are the throbbing machinery of the church.

Remember, Christ's scholars must study upon their knees.

True prayer is measured by weight, not by length. A single groan before God may have more fullness of prayer in it than a fine oration of great length.

We shall never see much change for the better in our churches in general till the prayer meeting occupies a higher place in the esteem of Christians.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

A Solzhenitsyn Eleventary

“Bless you prison, bless you for being in my life. For there, lying upon the rotting prison straw, I came to realize that the object of life is not prosperity as we are made to believe, but the maturity of the human soul.”

“You should rejoice that you're in prison. Here you have time to think about your soul.”

“Freedom or prison--what's the difference? A man must develop unwavering will to live by faith not by sight, regardless of his outward circumstances.”

“You can have eyes and still not see. But a hard life improves vision.”

“Should one point out that from ancient times decline in courage has been considered the beginning of the end?”

“That which is called humanism, but what would be more correctly called irreligious anthropocentrism, cannot yield answers to the most essential questions of our life”

“It is here that we see the dawn of hope: for no matter how formidably statist humanism bristles with policies and decrees, with tanks and rockets, no matter what successes it attains in smothering cultural sanity, it is doomed never to vanquish Christianity.”

“The concept of maximum promotion of human rights to the expense of the majority of people in fact undermines the entire concept of the human community.”

“To do evil a human being must first of all believe that what he is doing is good or else that it’s a well-considered act in conformity with natural law. Ideology—that is what gives evildoing its long-sought justification. Thanks to ideology, modernity was fated to experience evildoing on a scale calculated in the millions. This cannot be denied, nor passed over, nor suppressed.”

“Hastiness and superficiality are the psychic diseases of modernity.”

“We always pay dearly for chasing after what is cheap.”

“Freedom! To fill people's mailboxes, eyes, ears and brains with commercial rubbish against their will, television programs that are impossible to watch with a sense of coherence. Freedom! To force information on people, taking no account of their right not to accept it or their right of peace of mind. Freedom! To spit in the eyes and souls of passersby with fashionable nonsense that is little more than perverse decadence. Is this really what has come of freedom?”

“In keeping silent about evil, in burying it so deep within us that no sign of it appears on the surface, we are implanting it, and it will rise up a thousand fold in the future. When we neither punish nor reproach evildoers, we are not simply protecting their trivial old age, we are thereby ripping the foundations of justice from beneath new generations.”

Monday, May 5, 2014

London Eats and Treats

1. Pret a Manger: Charing Cross
2. Nero’s Coffee: St. James Piccadilly 
3. Barbacoa: St. Paul's
4. Wagamama’s: Tower of London
5. Jamie’s Italian: Covent Garden
6. The Eagle: Cambridge
7. The Borough Market: Southwark
8. West Cornwall Pasty: Victoria
9. Nando's Peri-Peri: Brighton
10. Maoz Falafel: Leicester Square
11. Jamie Oliver's Diner Picadilly

Friday, April 11, 2014

Must Read List (Among the Living)

There are only a very few living authors that I find I will try to read everything they write--even if I don't always agree with them. And of course, that is no mean feat given the fact that each of them is so astonishingly prolific:

1. R.C. Sproul
2. John Frame
3. Paul Johnson
4. Umberto Eco
5. Colin Thubron
6. Daniel Silva
7. Tim Powers
8. Jan Karon
9. Douglas Wilson
10. Witold Rybczynski
11. N.T. Wright

Must Read List (Among the Dead)

The list of authors I aspire to read across their entire canon is likewise rather spare. But as is the case with those on my living authors list, that does not necessarily mean that I will be able to achieve the feat—Chesterton, Spurgeon, Kuyper, and Belloc for instance, wrote more than 100 books apiece. But, I am working through the titles.  Thankfully, over the years I have been able to collect virtually all of their books:

1. Thomas Chalmers
2. G.K. Chesterton
3. J.R.R. Tolkien
4. Arthur Quiller-Couch
5. John Buchan
6. C.H. Spurgeon
7. Abraham Kuyper
8. Francis Schaeffer
9. Walter Scott
10. Hilaire Belloc
11. Samuel Johnson

Saturday, March 22, 2014

My Favorite Infidel: H.L. Mencken

“For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.”

“Truth would quickly cease to be stranger than fiction, once we got as used to it.”

“There are no dull subjects. There are only dull writers.” “It is the misfortune of humanity that its history is chiefly written by third‑rate men.”

“A good politician is quite as rare as an honest burglar.”

“Every election is a sort of advance auction sale of stolen goods.”

“Congress consists of one-third, more or less, scoundrels; two-thirds, more or less, idiots; and three-thirds, more or less, poltroons.”

“A national political campaign is better than the best circus ever heard of, with a mass baptism and a couple of hangings thrown in.”

“I am suspicious of all the things that the fashionable mob and the faddish rabble clamors for.”

“Public opinion, in its raw state, gushes out in the immemorial form of the mob's fear.”

“The men the American people admire most extravagantly are the most daring liars; the men they detest most violently are those who try to tell them the truth.”

“Hooey pleases fools a great deal more than sense.”

Saturday, December 21, 2013

2013 Nefariology: America's Enemies of Freedom

An Ambrose Bierce Eleventary

Politics is the strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles; the conduct of public affairs for private advantage.”

The lottery is tax on people who are bad at math.

The right to vote is the instrument and symbol of a freeman's power to make a fool of himself and a wreck of his country.

When publicly censured our first instinct is to make everybody a codefendant.

A fool is a natural proselyte, but he must be caught young, for his convictions, unlike those of the wise, harden with age.

A cheap and easy cynicism rails at everything. The master of the art accomplishes the formidable task of discrimination.

Truth is so good a thing that falsehood cannot afford to be without it.

Justice is a commodity which in a more or less adulterated condition the State sells to the citizen as a reward for his allegiance, taxes and personal service.

To dogmatism the Spirit of Inquiry is the same as the Spirit of Evil.

We submit to the majority because we have to. But we are not compelled to call our attitude of subjection a posture of respect.

He who thinks with difficulty believes with alacrity.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Chesterton on Timeless Virtues and Vices

“The act of defending any of the cardinal virtues has today all the exhilaration of a vice.” 

“A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it.”

“Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions.”

“To have a right to do a thing is not at all the same as to be right in doing it.”

“Progress should mean that we are always changing the world to fit the vision, instead we are always changing the vision.”

“Men invent new ideals because they dare not attempt old ideals. They look forward with enthusiasm, because they are afraid to look back.”

“Men do not differ much about what things they will call evils; they differ enormously about what evils they will call excusable.”

“It’s not that we don’t have enough scoundrels to curse; it’s that we don’t have enough good men to curse them.”

“The whole truth is generally the ally of virtue; a half-truth is always the ally of some vice.”

“It is not bigotry to be certain we are right; but it is bigotry to be unable to imagine how we might possibly have gone wrong.” 

“There are some desires that are not desirable.”

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A C.S. Lewis Eleventary

"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive."

"Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point."

“The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their consciences.”

“Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil.”

“You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.”

"There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, 'Thy will be done,' and those to whom God says, in the end, 'Thy will be done.' All that are in Hell chose it."

"God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world."

"You cannot make men good by law: and without good men you cannot have a good society."

“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”
"If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair."

"We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst."

Another C.S. Lewis Eleventary

“'Safe?' said Mr. Beaver; 'don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.'”

"If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man."

“The Christian does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because He loves us.”

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: “What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”

“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art. It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.”

“A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

“God will not be used as a convenience. Men or nations who think they can revive the Faith in order to make a good society might just as well think they can use the stairs of heaven as a shortcut to the nearest chemist’s shop.”

"A cold, self-righteous prig who goes regularly to church may be far nearer to Hell than a prostitute."

“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”

“To enter heaven is to become more human than you ever succeeded in being on earth; to enter hell, is to be banished from humanity.”

"A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word 'darkness' on the walls of his cell."

Saturday, October 19, 2013

A Bum Eleventary: Bum Phillips (1923-2013)

"Winning is only half of it. Having fun is the other half." 

"The only discipline that lasts is self-discipline."

"You don't know a ladder has splinters until you slide down."

"Two kinds of ballplayers aren't worth a darn: One that never does what he's told, and one who does nothin' except what he's told."

"How do you win? By getting average players to play good and good players to play great. That's how you win."

"Football is a game of failure. You fail all the time, but you aren't a failure until you start blaming someone else."

"There's two kinds of coaches, them that's fired and them that's gonna be fired." 

"Never contradict Mama, no matter what the subject and no matter who you think's right and who you think's wrong."

Of his adversary Don Shula (and sometimes, of his mentor Bear Bryant, depending on how he told the story): "He can take his'n and beat your'n and take your'n and beat his'n."

"In the end, the only won-loss record that really matters is nailed to the cross."

After taking the Oilers to the AFC Championship Game two years in a row only to lose to the Super Bowl champion Steelers, "Last year we knocked on the door. This year we banged on the door. Next year, we're kicking the door in."

Friday, October 4, 2013

Nathan Clark George's Double Eleventary

1. Alleluia! Sing for Joy—Psalm 33           
2. Lord, Protect Your People—Psalm 14           
3. Gently, Gently—Psalm 6           
4. I Love You Lord—Psalm 18                       
5. Bless the Lord O My Soul—Psalm 104           
6. O Lord Most High—Psalm 9                       
7. My Soul Waits—Psalm 62                       
8. Blessed Are All They—Psalm 1                       
9. Incarnate God—Psalm 91                       
10. Answer Father When I Call—Psalm 4           
11. May the Lord Respond—Psalm 20           

1. Our Only Paschal Lamb           
2. Love Divine                       
3. Have Mercy O Lord                       
4. Holy is the Lord           
5. Kyrie           
6. Calm Content           
7. Sanctus           
8. A Debt of Love           
9. To Live is Christ           
10. Creed of Timothy           
11. Peace, Perfect Peace           

Friday, September 6, 2013

More Favorite Chestertonianisms

"There is only one thing that it requires real courage to say, and that is a truism.

"Moderate strength is shown in violence, supreme strength is shown in levity.'

"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it."

"Earnest Freethinkers need not worry themselves so much about the persecutions of the past. Before the Liberal idea is dead or triumphant we shall see wars and persecutions the like of which the world has never seen."

"The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of Conservatives is to prevent mistakes from being corrected. Even when the revolutionist might himself repent of his revolution, the traditionalist is already defending it as part of his tradition. Thus we have two great types—the advanced person who rushes us into ruin, and the retrospective person who admires the ruins. He admires them especially by moonlight, not to say moonshine. Each new blunder of the progressive or prig becomes instantly a legend of immemorial antiquity for the snob. This is called the balance, or mutual check, in our Constitution."

"The riddles of God are more satisfying than the solutions of man."

"Men do not differ much about what things they will call evils; they differ enormously about what evils they will call excusable."

“Feminism is mixed up with a muddled idea that women are free when they serve their employers but slaves when they help their husbands.”

“Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions.”

“It isn’t that they can’t see the solution. It is that they can’t see the problem.”

“Drink because you are happy, but never because you are miserable.”More Chesterton

Yet More Favorite Chestertonianisms

“There are those who hate Christianity and call their hatred an all-embracing love for all religions.”

“Impartiality is a pompous name for indifference which is an elegant name for ignorance.”

"A good novel tells us the truth about its hero; but a bad novel tells us the truth about its author."

"An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered."

"Art, like morality, consists in drawing the line somewhere."

"The men who really believe in themselves are all in lunatic asylums."

"The poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese."

"Though I believe in liberalism, I find it difficult to believe in liberals."

"You could compile the worst book in the world entirely out of selected passages from the best writers in the world."

“There are two ways to get enough. One is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less.”

“To have a right to do a thing is not at all the same as to be right in doing it.”

Friday, June 28, 2013

June Florilegium: Gleanings from My Readings

1. "If there is no God, everything is permitted." Fyodor Dostoyevsky

2. "We do not need a censorship of the press. We already have a censorship by the press." G.K. Chesterton

3. "If I will take care of my character, my reputation will take care of itself." D.L. Moody

4. "Some theological expressions, just as some prayerful petitions, are too deep and too profound for mere words. So, the Scriptures instruct us in such cases to resort to song." Matthew Henry

5. “I have noticed that nothing I never said ever did me any harm.” Calvin Coolidge

6. “Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think if only you try!” Dr. Seuss

7. “Gargantuanism and the care of souls cannot coexist.” Thomas Chalmers

8. "There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal." C.S. Lewis

9. "The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them." Mark Twain

10. "Good works do not make a man good, but a good man does good works.” Martin Luther

11. "Reading feeds the brain. It is evident that most minds are starving to death." Benjamin Franklin

Monday, June 3, 2013

Why Even Attempt the Uttermost?

Why would any sane person attempt to run 500 miles, bike 1500 miles, and swim 13 miles this summer?  Perhaps, the simplest eleventary answer is:

1. A mile more or a mile less just wouldn't add up (at least not this year).

2. A great cause warrants a great challenge.

3. It's more than a marathon, more than an ultra, more than a triathlon, even more than an ironman--it's an uttermost.

4. Where would the fun be if we just straight-up asked for money for the Chalmers Fund.

5. Risk-reward necessitates risk AND reward.

6. Our team's Latinate slogan pretty much demands it.

7. We have a whole slew of deserving, needy students for whom we need to provide scholarships.

8. What better way could we find to whip our bodies into shape?

9. These are the sorts of stunts bucket lists were designed to accommodate.

10. After all the years and all the miles there is still just a little bit of jock in us trying desperately to get out.

11. Well, perhaps it's not particularly sane after all.

Friday, May 3, 2013


Ultimately—is a very fine word
         For a more than rarified notion;
Ultimately—though it seems absurd,
         It might even be quaffed in a potion:
Surreptitiously with soda or nog,
Or serendipitously on someone’s blog.

Ultimately—it’s an eleventary aside,
For a band that’s not twelve or ten or seven;
It’s not either three or five—but eleven.

Mattie, Mac, and Meg; Tip and Ben; Jen and Hal
MSG and LB; NPA and GHol:

Ontolaughably, epistemaffably, ruinationably,
FCSedly, eleventarily—and yes, of course, remarkably, ultimately.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Moral Philosophy Lessons from Modernity

1. Ideas have consequences.

2. Worldviews matter.

3. Right and wrong are not adjustable in accord with clock and calendar.

4. There is no virtue in celebrating vice.

5. Just as there are no victimless crimes, there are no victimless sins.

6. Principled opposition to the reigning shibboleths is not hate or fear.

7. Advocacy is not tolerance.

8. Insults are not arguments.

9. Secularism is not neutral.

10. Scientism is not scientific.

11. Pragmatism is not pragmatic.

Monday, April 29, 2013

A Gipper Eleventary

1. The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: "I'm from the government and I'm here to help."

2. Recession is when your neighbor loses his job. Depression is when you lose yours. And recovery is when Jimmy Carter loses his.

3. I've noticed that everyone who is for abortion has already been born.

4. I have wondered at times what the Ten Commandments would have looked like if Moses had run them through the US Congress.

5. General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.

6. Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.

7. Government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.

8. We don't have a trillion-dollar debt because we haven't taxed enough; we have a trillion-dollar debt because we spend too much.

9. If we lose freedom here, there is no place to escape to. This is the last stand on Earth.

10. You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We will preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we will sentence them to take the first step into a thousand years of darkness. If we fail, at least let our children and our children's children say of us we justified our brief moment here. We did all that could be done.

11. It isn't so much that liberals are ignorant. It's just that they know so many things that aren't so.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Priming the Tastebuds for Our UK Trip

1. Pret a Manger: Charing Cross
2. Nero’s Coffee: St. James Piccadilly 
3. Barbacoa: St. Paul's
4. Wagamama’s: Tower of London
5. Jamie’s Italian: Covent Garden
6. The Eagle: Cambridge
7. The Borough Market: Southwark
8. West Cornwall Pasty: Victoria
9. Nandos Peri-Peri: Brighton
10. Maoz Falafel: Leicester Square
11. Recipease: Bighton

Monday, April 8, 2013

Thus Saith the Iron Lady

"I am not a consensus politician. I'm a conviction politician."

“The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people's money.”

“Being democratic is not enough; a majority cannot turn what is wrong into right. In order to be considered truly free, countries must also have a deep love of liberty and an abiding respect for the rule of law.”

"Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren't."

"Where there is discord, may we bring harmony. Where there is error, may we bring truth. Where there is doubt, may we bring faith. And where there is despair, may we bring hope."

“You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.”

“Don't follow the crowd, let the crowd follow you.”

“Europe was created by history. America was created by philosophy.”

“Of course it's the same old story. Truth usually is the same old story.”

"Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren't."

“Oh, but you know, you do not achieve anything without trouble, ever.”

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Wisdom of Chalmers

1. "The wider a man's knowledge becomes, the deeper should be his humility; for the more he knows the more he sees of what remains unknown. The wider the diameter of light, the larger the circumference of darkness."

2. “Regardless of how large, your vision is too small.”

3. "It is only through faith that we can find our way to love, and only through love that we can find our way to obedience."

4. "Live with the high aim and purpose of one who is in training for eternity."

5. “Gargantuanism and the care of souls cannot coexist.”

6. "Repentance is not one act of the mind; it is a course of acting by which we die daily unto sin."

7. "Obstacles, setbacks, and difficulties are but opportunities for courage and tenacity. Great victories demand fierce resistance. Otherwise, they would not be great."

8. "I would pray unto watching--and watch unto praying."

9. "Let us standfast and contend earnestly for the faith once delivered; let us be manly and strenuous in the vindication thereof; and yet, let all our things be done with charity."

10. "It is not by irregular efforts, however gigantic, that any great practical achievement is overtaken. It is by the constant recurrence and repetition of small efforts directed to a given object, and resolutely sustained and persevered in."

11. "Let us be neither over-sanguine nor over-melancholy of immediate results. Our perspective of time is only slowly synchronized to the clock of providence."