On Killing Whales and Americans or Shut Up and Just Kill the Whale (3/3)

Moby Dick is one of the great American books and a good place to start for lessons for our time. The text wrestles with God, man, race, religion, social classes and has the wit to say: So ignorant are most landsmen of some of the plainest and most palpable wonders of the world, that without [Read More…]

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Bomfoggery : White, Angry, and Dying: What I learned from Moby Dick 2/3

Moby Dick is one of the best books for just this moment in American history. Melville is weary of the Christian American culture too compromised with money and power and by the time of Moby Dick has left Christian orthodoxy behind him.  In particular, the Protestant North struck him as hypocritical, though he also appreciated bits [Read More…]

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Learning to Love a Book: What I Learned from the Loathsome Moby Dick (1/3)

Moby Dick is one of the best books for just this moment in American history. Herman Melville makes mistakes about race, while trying to fight racism. He faces a broken political establishment and what seems to be a morally bankrupt set of Christians. The times were hostile to manual workers and republican virtues. The book anticipates [Read More…]

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Our Wills, Our Freedom, and Timelessness (Consolation of Philosophy Summed Up)

We can be happy, though not jolly, regardless of circumstances. Jolliness, a cheerful feeling, is excellent, and we are glad when it comes, but such a feeling cannot and should not stay. We are here in a school for souls, eager to become adults and not children. Adults are independent, love eternal things, and are not slaves [Read More…]

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The Consolation of Philosophy (III/III)

Happiness is the Goal Philosophy gives us a hard truth: money, power, glory, fame cannot make us happy. The entire Earth and all of human history are nothing compared to eternity. God loves us. Jesus entered our history. They have meaning, but they are not enough for a happy life. We need not hate them, [Read More…]

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The Consolation of Philosophy is Hard, but Good (I/III)

I. Two Truths: For the Overly Sad or the Overly Cheerful One cause of our sorrow is  we forget our true natures. If we think “we are just no good,” we lie. If we think we “should do as we will,” then we lie. Much of our sorrow comes from forgetting the truth. We are [Read More…]

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The Constantine Strategy in the Benedict Option!

Civilizations usually muddle through except when they do not. What happens when the center does not hold? The rightwing becomes reactionary and the leftwing revolutionary. Madness seizes society and younger people think anything is better than what exists. This is rarely true and the anything that happens next is generally much worse than what came [Read More…]

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The Long Discussion: Such Larks!

Socratic discussion is my life’s work and I am going to dialog with a religious skeptic today. Of course, I dialog with religious skeptics most days, I am a teacher with all sorts of students. As a follower of Socrates, I am also skeptical myself, properly understood, about everything including my own religion! This is [Read More…]

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Malory and Machiavelli: Just Now We Need Both

Just as Malory was ending, Machiavelli was beginning and that is as good a summary as any about the choices in politics. Where Malory ends, Machiavelli begins, but a stable body politic will have both. Too often we dismiss Malory as a mere dreamer of a golden age, of Arthur and Camelot, while Machiavelli is [Read More…]

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Forgiveness is Not Cheap

Charlotte Bronte was right: forgiveness is the mightiest sword. Forgiveness cuts away the hate and leaves us dead to evil and alive to God. We are starting Lent this week: a time to focus on our own sins and not on the sins of others. Christianity teaches us to love our enemies  and to be forgiving.  Forgiveness is [Read More…]

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