Since Oct 29, 1998
The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.
This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.
Moral issues are always terribly complex for someone without principles.
G. K. Chesterton
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
One of the great clichés of the last few months was that September 11 changed everything. I never believed that.
I predict in the years ahead Enron, not September 11, will come to be seen as the greater turning point in U.S. society.
Paul Krugman, Op-Ed column, January 29, 2002
An empty head is not really empty; it is stuffed with rubbish. Hence the difficulty of forcing anything into an empty head.
Angel in the Whirlwind: The Triumph of the American Revolution by Benson Bobrick (Looks like a fairly good one volume popular history of the American Revolution, but I bought it for the title, which gives me an opportunity to remind liberals of the Presidents Inaugural Address. If that doesnt get them swearing, I innocently ask if they have a favorite quote of President Clintons that isnt a punch line to a joke.)
The Clash of Orthodoxies: Law, Religion, and Morality in Crisis by Robert P. George (Professor George is a rare bird: a conservative professor of constitutional law and moral philosophy at Princeton University. He rejects the prevailing secular orthodoxys uncritical assumption that the clash between the secular humanist and Judeo-Christian worldviews represents a conflict between pure reason and irrational faith. Professor George argues that Judeo-Christian ethical principles are actually rationally superior to the alternatives proposed by secular liberalism.)
The Silmarillion by J. R. R. Tolkien, edited by Christopher Tolkien (I've read Lord of the Rings at least 11 times from age 17 to 25, but couldn't get past the first twenty pages of The Silmarillion when it first appeared after Tolkien's death. I recently finished Humphrey Carpenter's biography of Tolkien and realized how little I knew about Tolkien's work. Tolkien started writing The Silmarillion long before he wrote The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings and he continued to work on it until his death in 1973. The Silmarillion is actually an anthology that includes the Silmarillion proper, the Quenta Silmarillion, and also four other short works. Together, these works present the entire mythology and history of Middle Earth from the Music of the Ainur at the creation of the world to the passing of the ringbearers from the Havens of Mithlond at the end of the Third Age.)
Oh, I have slipped the surly bounds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds - and done a thousand things
You have not dreamed of - wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hovering there,
I've chased the shouting wind along , and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long delirious, burning blue
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark or even eagle flew.
And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.
John Gillespie Magee, Jr., High Flight
The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States are covenants we have made not only with ourselves, but with all mankind. Our founding documents proclaim to the world that freedom is not the sole prerogative of a chosen few. It is the universal right of all Gods children.
Remarks to the Captive Nations Week Conference, Los Angeles, California, July 15, 1991
There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace. 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!
Remarks at the Brandenburg Gate, West Berlin, Germany, June 12, 1987
Freedom is the very essence of our nation. To be sure, ours is not a perfect nation. But even with our troubles, we remain the beacon of hope for oppressed peoples everywhere. Never give up the fight for freedom -- a fight which, though it may never end, is the most ennobling known to man.
Presentation of a section of the Berlin Wall, Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, April 12, 1990
Ive spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I dont know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and heart to get there. Thats how I saw it, and see it still.
Farewell Address to the Nation, January 11, 1989
Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about the bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of this earth. I have been in ballparks for seventeen years and have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans. Look at these grand men. Which of you wouldnt consider it the highlight of his career just to associate with them for even one day? Sure Im lucky. Who wouldnt consider it an honor to have known Jacob Ruppert? Also, the builder of baseballs greatest empire, Ed Barrow? To have spent six years with that wonderful little fellow, Miller Huggins? Then to have spent the next nine years with that outstanding leader, that smart student of psychology, the best manager in baseball today, Joe McCarthy? Sure Im lucky. When the New York Giants, a team you would give your right arm to beat, and vice versa, sends you a gift thats something. When everybody down to the groundskeepers and those boys in white coats remember you with trophies thats something. When you have a wonderful mother-in-law who takes sides with you in squabbles with her own daughter thats something. When you have a father and a mother who work all their lives so you can have an education and build your body its a blessing. When you have a wife who has been a tower of strength and shown more courage than you dreamed existed thats the finest I know. So I close in saying that I may have had a tough break, but I have an awful lot to live for.
Farewell Speech, July 4, 1939
Marx and Freud are the two great destroyers of Christian civilization, the first replacing the gospel of love by the gospel of hate, the other undermining the essential concept of human responsibility.
My Life in Pictures, NY: William Morrow & Co., 1987, p. 94
Liberal minds flocked to the USSR in an unending procession, from the great ones like Shaw and Gide and Barbusse and Julian Huxley and Harold Laski and Sidney and Beatrice Webb, down to poor little teachers, crazed clergymen and millionaires, drivelling dons, all utterly convinced that, under the aegis of the great Stalin, a new dawn is breaking in the world, so that the human race may at last be united in liberty, equality and fraternity forevermore . . . These Liberal minds are prepared to believe anything, however preposterous, to overlook anything, however villainous, to approve anything, however obscurantist and brutally authoritarian, in order to be able to preserve intact the confident expectation that one of the most thoroughgoing, ruthless and bloody tyrannies ever to exist on earth can be relied on to champion human freedom, the brotherhood of man, and all the other good Liberal causes to which they had dedicated their lives . . . They are unquestionably one of the marvels of the age . . . all chanting the praises of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat, and of Stalin as its most gracious and beloved figurehead. It was as though a Salvation Army contingent had turned out with bands and banners in honour of some ferocious tribal deity, or as though a vegetarian society had issued a passionate plea for cannibalism.
Confessions of a Twentieth-Century Pilgrim, San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1988, pp. 87-88
Our twentieth century, far from being notable for scientific scepticism, is one of the most credulous eras in all history. It is not that people believe in nothing - which would be bad enough - but that they believe in anything - which is really terrible. Recoiling, as they do, from accepting the validity of miracles, and priding themselves on seeing the Incarnation as a transcendental con-trick, they will accept at its face value any proposition, however nonsensical, that is presented in scientific or sociological jargon - for instance, the existence of a population explosion, which has been so expertly and decisively demolished by Professor Colin Clark of Monash University. Could any mediaeval schoolman, I ask myself, sit through a universally applauded television series like Bronowski's Ascent of Man without a smile of derision at such infantile acceptance of unproven and unprovable assertions?
Vintage Muggeridge, ed. Geoffrey Barlow, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1985, pp. 74-75, "The Bible Today," from a lecture delivered on 7 October 1976
This life in us, . . . however low it flickers or fiercely burns, is still a divine flame which no man dare presume to put out, be his motives never so humane and enlightened. To suppose otherwise is to countenance a death-wish. Either life is always and in all circumstances sacred, or intrinsically of no account; it is inconceivable that it should be in some cases the one, and in some the other.
Something Beautiful for God, NY: Harper & Row, 1971, p. 29
I dedicate this to all those who did not live to tell it. And may they please forgive me for not having seen it all nor remembered it all, for not having divined all of it.
Author's Epigraph to The Gulag Archipelago, 1973
It seemed as if it was no longer I who was writing; rather, I was swept along, my hand was being moved by an outside force, and I was only the firing pin attached to a spring.
Invisible Allies, 1995
[L]et us not forget that violence does not live alone and is not capable of living alone: it is necessarily interwoven with falsehood. Between them lies the most intimate, the deepest of natural bonds. Violence finds its only refuge in falsehood, falsehood its only support in violence. Any man who has once acclaimed violence as his METHOD must inexorably choose falsehood as his PRINCIPLE . . . And the simple step of a simple courageous man is not to partake in falsehood, not to support false actions!
Nobel Prize Lecture, 1970
Obedience to God's Will is the secret of spiritual knowledge and insight. It is not willingness to know, but willingness to do God's Will that brings certainty.
quoted from David McCasland, Pure Gold, p. 242
I know that God has made me for a purpose for China but He also made me fast, and when I run, I feel His pleasure.
Chariots of Fire
I was a witness. I do not mean a witness for the Government or against Alger Hiss and the others. Nor do I mean the short, squat, solitary figure, trudging through the impersonal halls of public buildings to testify before Congressional committees, grand juries, loyalty boards, courts of law. A man is not primarily a witness against something. That is only incidental to the fact that he is a witness for something. A witness, in the sense that I am using the word, is a man whose life and faith are so completely one that when the challenge comes to step out and testify for his faith, he does so, disregarding all risks, accepting all consequences. . .
But a man may also be an involuntary witness. I do not know any way to explain why God's grace touches a man who seems unworthy of it. But neither do I know any other way to explain how a man like myself tarnished by life, unprepossessing, not brave could prevail so far against the powers of the world arrayed almost solidly against him, to destroy him and defeat his truth In this sense, I am an involuntary witness to God's grace and to the fortifying power of faith.
Author's Forward to Witness, 1952
The daughter of a former German diplomat in Moscow was trying to explain to me why her father, who, as an enlightened modern man, had been extremely pro-Communist, had become an implacable anti-Communist. It was hard for her because, as an enlightened modern girl, she shared the Communist vision without being a Communist. But she loved her father and the irrationality of his defection embarrassed her. He was immensely pro-Soviet, she said, and then-you will laugh at me but you must not laugh at my father and then one night in Moscow he heard screams. That's all. Simply one night he heard screams.
A child of Reason and the 20th century, she knew that there is a logic of the mind. She did not know that the soul has a logic that may be more compelling than the mind's. She did not know at all that she had swept away the logic of the mind, the logic of history, the logic of politics, the myth of the 20th century, with five annihilating words: one night he heard screams.
Author's Forward to Witness, 1952
My children, when you were little, we used sometimes to go for walks in our pine woods In the open fields, you would run along by yourselves. But you used instinctively to give me your hands as we entered those woods, where it was darker, lonelier, and in the stillness our voices sounded loud and frightening. In this book I am again giving you my hands. I am leading you, not through cool pine woods, but up and up a narrow defile between bare and steep rocks from which in shadow things uncoil and slither away. It will be dark. But, in the end, if I have led you aright, you will make out three crosses, from two of which hang thieves. I will have brought you to Golgotha the place of skulls. This is the meaning of the journey. Before you understand, I may not be there, my hands may have slipped from yours. It will not matter. For when you understand what you see, you will no longer be children. You will know that life is pain, that each of us hangs always upon the cross of himself. And when you know that this is true of every man, woman and child on earth, you will be wise.
Author's Forward to Witness, 1952
What I had been fell from me like dirty rags. The rags that fell from me were not only Communism. What fell was the whole web of the materialist modern mind the luminous shroud which it has spun about the spirit of man, paralyzing in the name of rationalism the instinct of his soul for God, denying in the name of knowledge the reality of the soul and its birthright in that mystery on which mere knowledge falters and shatters at every step.
Witness, p. 83, 1952
Abortion, which now fills me with physical horror, I then regarded, like all Communists, as a mere physical manipulation.
Witness, p. 325, 1952
They [liberal newsmen] were people who believed a number of things. Foremost among them was the belief that peace could be preserved, World War III could be averted only by conciliating the Soviet Union. For this no price was too high to pay, including the price of wilful historical self-delusion. . . . Hence like most people who have substituted the habit of delusion for reality, they became hysterical whenever the root of their delusion was touched, and reacted with a violence that completely belied the openness of mind which they prescribed for others.
Witness, p. 499, 1952
For the world, as seen in materialist view from the Right, scarcely differs from the same world seen in materialist view from the Left. The question become chiefly: who is to run that world in whose interests, or perhaps, at best, who can run it more efficiently? . . .
Something of this implication is fixed in the books dictatorial tone, which is much its most striking feature. Out of a lifetime of reading, I can recall no other book in which a tone of overriding arrogance was so implacably sustained. Its shrillness is without reprieve. Its dogmatism is without appeal. . . . From almost any page of Atlas Shrugged, a voice can be heard, from painful necessity, commanding, To a gas chamber go!
Big Sister is Watching You, review of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, National Review, 28 December 1957
There are many who find a good alibi far more attractive than an achievement. For an achievement does not settle anything permanently. We still have to prove our worth anew each day: we have to prove that we are as good today as we were yesterday. But when we have a valid alibi for not achieving anything we are fixed, so to speak, for life. Moreover, when we have an alibi for not writing a book, painting a picture, and so on, we have an alibi for not writing the greatest book and not painting the greatest picture. Small wonder that the effort expended and the punishment endured in obtaining a good alibi often exceed the effort and grief requisite for the attainment of a most marked achievement.
The Passionate State of Mind, 1955
In a time of drastic change it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned usually find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists.
Reflections on the Human Condition, aph. 32, 1973
We clamor for equality chiefly in matters in which we ourselves cannot hope to attain excellence. To discover what a man truly craves but knows he cannot have we must find the field in which he advocates absolute equality. By this test Communists are frustrated Capitalists.
The Passionate State of Mind, 1955
People who bite the hand that feeds them usually lick the boot that kicks them.
The New York Times Magazine, April 25, 1971, p. 52