Prayer and Protest

Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, the civil rights protest that featured Martin Luther King, Jr., giving his eloquent “I Have a Dream” speech.  The Washington Post printed a number of accounts from people who were there.

Raymond S. Blanks tells about meeting at his Baptist congregation and holding a prayer service before getting on the bus to Washington.  He describes marchers singing hymns and listening to sermons. “Before noon,” he recalls, “the Mall was transformed into a place of prayer, protest and pride.” [Read more...]

First sleep, second sleep

David T. Koyzis points to historical research that shows that people used to sleep differently than we do today.  Instead of sleeping for an 8-hour-or-so block of time, people would sleep three or four hours, wake up for two or three hours, and then sleep again until morning.  It would all take about 12 hours–go to bed when it got dark (say at 8:00 p.m.); wake up at midnight until 2:00 or 3:00 a.m.; then enjoy what they called “second sleep” until 8:00 a.m.

This was the practice in the West from ancient times until the 17th century with the advent of street lights and then the industrial revolution, though it lingered on some places until the 20th century.  (And today in some people’s patterns of insomnia.)

Prof. Koyzis shows how this fact explains certain passages in Scripture.  Also the monastic prayer offices in the middle of the night.  Also, I would add, the various watches of the night, in which sailors, soldiers, and others out in the elements exposed to danger  took three-hour shifts standing guard through the night.   Details after the jump. [Read more...]

What are we to make of Teddy Roosevelt?

Theodore Roosevelt was a Republican.  He was also a Progressive.  Showing that contemporary categories don’t always apply to issues of even the recent past, people today on both the left and the right don’t know quite what to make of the Rough Rider.  Some conservatives blame him for the mindset that gave us big government.  Others hail him as a champion of “family values” and see him as the original “social conservative.”  After the jump is an excerpt from a four-way debate sponsored by the Claremont Institute. [Read more...]

Hollywood’s collaboration with the Nazis

The Hollywood Reporter has published excerpts from a new book documenting the ways that the American film industry collaborated with the Nazis in order to keep selling tickets in Germany.  From the introduction to the excerpt, linked after the jump:

In devastating detail, an excerpt from a controversial new book reveals how the big studios, desperate to protect German business, let Nazis censor scripts, remove credits from Jews, get movies stopped and even force one MGM executive to divorce his Jewish wife. . . . [Read more...]

Truths no longer self-evident

Part of the genius of the Declaration of Independence, whose passage we celebrate today, is that it lays out in very explicit terms the assumptions–the “self-evident” truths–upon which the new nation and its government would be founded:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,

via Declaration of Independence – Text Transcript.

Today, these truths are no longer “self-evident”; that is, needing no proof because they can be taken for granted.  On the contrary, a good number of Americans don’t believe them at all, and they would seem to have little, if any place in contemporary American culture. [Read more...]

Taxes as a means of control

The Constitution limits the federal government’s power, but it does give Congress the power to levy taxes.  So Congress has historically used its taxing authority to pre-empt state laws and to exercise control over its citizens’ behavior.  George Will discusses an essay by David B. Kopel and Trevor Burrus entitled “Sex, Drugs, Alcohol, Gambling and Guns: The Synergistic Constitutional Effects.” [Read more...]


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