Repost: Epicurus’ World

The story goes that the renowned physicist Richard Feynman was once asked to summarize the most important finding of modern science in a single sentence. Feynman replied, "The universe is made of atoms."Although there are many other scientific discoveries that are arguably of equal importance, Feynman's choice makes a lot of sense. The discovery of atoms is so familiar to us that it's easy to overlook its breathtaking significance. We know, at the smallest scale where it still makes sense to … [Read more...]

The Pro-Slavery History of the Southern Baptists

Last week, the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention was thrown into chaos by a proposal to condemn racism and the alt-right. This CNN article has a good timeline of how it played out: The debate began when Rev. Dwight McKissic, a black pastor from Arlington, Texas, called on Southern Baptists to formally condemn the movement's "retrograde ideologies, xenophobic biases, and racial bigotries" and re-affirm its opposition to racism in the aftermath of a presidential election that saw … [Read more...]

The Fountainhead: Remembering Seneca Village

The Fountainhead, part 1, chapter 7Although Ayn Rand's philosophy wasn't fully developed in The Fountainhead compared to where it was in Atlas Shrugged, there are some things that are consistent across her books. One of them is this: The heroes know they're the heroes, and the villains know they're the villains.This isn't how it really works. The idea that Bad People are aware they're Bad is a trope that only exists in fiction. Other than in rare and exceptional cases, everyone acts … [Read more...]

Cleansing the Stain of the Confederacy

Last month, the city of New Orleans began removing four public monuments to the Confederacy. The monuments, which date back to the 19th century, include statues of Confederate leaders Robert E. Lee, P.G.T. Beauregard, and Jefferson Davis. Possibly the most shocking of the four is a memorial to the post-Civil-War Battle of Liberty Place, when a white supremacist group called the Crescent City White League staged an insurrection against the city's integrated police force and government. They … [Read more...]

The Fountainhead: The Buried Past

The Fountainhead, part 1, chapter 6I've mentioned Ellsworth Toohey, the sinister socialist architecture critic who turns out to be the Big Bad of this novel. Now he's taken the first step in his malevolent plan for world domination, and it's... *dramatic chord* writing a book about architecture.Sermons in Stone by Ellsworth M. Toohey was published in January of the year 1925.It had a fastidious jacket of midnight blue with plain silver letters and a silver pyramid in one corner. It … [Read more...]

The Fountainhead: Roaring Twenties

The Fountainhead, part 1, chapter 4The 1920s in America were a glamorous, atmospheric decade of excess, social upheaval and cultural ferment. Al Capone and other legendary gangsters shot their way into the public consciousness, whether as lurid villains or Robin Hood-esque antiheroes. F. Scott Fitzgerald immortalized Jazz Age wealth and decadence in novels like The Great Gatsby. Radio and cinema conquered culture as the new organs of mass media. The Harlem Renaissance was at its height, … [Read more...]

The St. Louis Manifest

I wasn't able to join in the massive protests at JFK over the weekend - not being able to jet off on short notice is one disadvantage of having a baby to care for, alas - but I was cheered up to see them. After a dark few months where it seemed as if America's progressive spirit was dead, this is one of the first real signs of a backlash against the poisonous racism that's wormed its way into our government.Even so, the illegal Muslim ban, decreed with no warning or debate, has already … [Read more...]

The White Supremacist Roots of Evangelicalism

I came across an anguished essay by Amy Gannett, a millennial evangelical writer, that's titled "How Evangelicals are Losing an Entire Generation". With a teaser like that, I just had to read on, and I wasn't disappointed. In the post, she explains how Donald Trump's nomination is resulting in her "losing faith in Evangelicals":This morning, I had no more than opened the app on my phone and there it was: Wayne Gruedem's endorsement of Donald Trump.Maybe you're unfamiliar with Grudem, … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: Manifest Destiny

Atlas Shrugged, part III, chapter VII, The SpeechJohn Galt is still talking. In this section of the speech, which is the last part that I'll cover, he addresses an important question: what happens to the people who listen to him and come away convinced?After all, you've got to admit, he waited till pretty late in the game to deliver this grand manifesto. Civilization is disintegrating; the world is on an irreversible slide into violent anarchy and mass starvation. He's already swooped in … [Read more...]

Book Review: 1491

Summary: Like a watcher of the skies when a new planet swims into his ken.It's a common belief that, when Europeans first encountered them, the Native Americans were living a hunter-gatherer lifestyle scarcely changed from that of the earliest humans. This idea spans the political spectrum: from those on the left, who idealize indigenous people as living a purer, simpler life in harmony with nature, to those on the right, like Ayn Rand, who called them "savages" and cheered colonial settlers … [Read more...]