Saturday, September 12, 2015

Pitiless consistency

"In the 1880s and 1890s, serious thinkers and popularizers influenced by Charles Darwin’s idea of natural selection proposed that the ancient questions of political thought had been resolved by this breakthrough in zoology. When Hitler was young, an interpretation of Darwin in which competition was identified as a social good influenced all major forms of politics.
     "For Herbert Spencer, the British defender of capitalism, a market was like an ecosphere where the strongest and best survived. The utility brought by unhindered competition justified its immediate evils. The opponents of capitalism, the socialists of the Second International, also embraced biological analogies. They came to see the class struggle as “scientific,” and man as one animal among many, instead of a specially creative being with a specifically human essence. Karl Kautsky, the leading Marxist theorist of the day, insisted pedantically that people were animals.
     "Yet these liberals and socialists were constrained, whether they realized it or not, by attachments to custom and institution; mental habits that grew from social experience hindered them from reaching the most radical of conclusions. They were ethically committed to goods such as economic growth or social justice, and found it appealing or convenient to imagine that natural competition would deliver these goods. Hitler entitled his book Mein Kampf—My Struggle. From those two words through two long volumes and two decades of political life, he was endlessly narcissistic, pitilessly consistent, and exuberantly nihilistic where others were not."

"those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat" | "those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory or defeat"

     Theodore Roosevelt, "Citizenship in a republic," address delivered at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910, African and European addresses (New York & London:  G. P. Putnams's Sons, The Knickerbocker Press, 1910), 39 ("know") | Presidential addresses and state papers and European addresses, [vol. 8,] December 8, 1908, to June 7, 1910, Homeward bound edition (New York:  The Review of Reviews Company, 1910),  2191 (cumulative) ("knew").  Given the discrepancy (I haven't looked for others), could he have delivered this in French?

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Let no cliché go unregurgitated

     Earle E. Cairns, "A Christian approach to the interpretation of history," Crisis Christology 5, no. 3 (Spring 1948):  3-19.
     I put this up so that the next person won't find it so difficult to secure a complete citation.

"The humanism of Golgatha" that is alone capable of crowning and regenerating both "the humanism of the Acropolis" and a Church that has lost its way

     "In order to remake itself, Catholic theology will require the environment recreated by a culture in which the sympathetic objectivity made [possible] by the best of the human sciences is allied with an art and a poetry that will rediscover, beyond the clear consciousness [(la conscience claire)] of Descartes and the empty consciousness [(la conscience vide)] of Kant, the mysterious depths of the whole consciousness [(la conscience totale)].  But neither the one nor the other will be possible outside of a tradition renewed by life in the faith.  And that, we well know, cannot be rejuvenated and transmitted anew unless we resubmit ourselves [(nous remettions)] to the school of Christian ascesis, [an ascesis] required by the aspiration after the parousia, [an ascesis] such as [that] ancient monasticism received from primitive Christianity and adapted [for the] first time to the contemporary necessities of a world in perpetual transformation."

     Louis Bouyer, Religieux et clercs contre Dieu (Paris:  Aubier Montaigne, 1975), 42.  This forms an inclusio with the comments on "l'humanisme du Golgatha" that "crowns" and positively "regenerates" "l'humanisme de l'Acropole" (pp. 32-33) at the start of the long but rapidly sketched history of decline and failed reformation begun on pp. 30-33.  Interestingly, the history sketched by this convert from French Lutheranism seems remarkably Protestant.  For Bouyer is (after the early church) pretty critical of all but the 16th-century Catholic (and humanistic) reformers Erasmus and More, and their disciples (first full paragraph on p. 39).  But was Erasmus and ascetic?

Monday, September 7, 2015

"'In general, those who feel the imperfections of this world most keenly are disinclined to set much store by the lives of others.'"

"Were [Tolstoy]'s ethical principles so pure that they could not be put to bad use?  Or was his ideology 'an act of violence against ordinary human nature,' almost identical with Bolshevism in its desire to remake people and build paradise on earth?  Could Tolstoyanism indeed have been an inspiration for the cruellest investigators of Stalin's NKVD?
     "Alyosha's account of this debate is intercut with childhood memories of a neighbor, Semyon Kochin, a survivor of Stalin's camps, expert in Tolstoy's life and thought, 'who in 1936 passed through the hands of just such an investigator in Moscow's Lefortovo Prison.'  Kochin, a wise and eccentric recluse (who also seeks to prolong his life through writing), becomes the fourth subject of Alyosha's Memorial Book.  'In general,' Kochin says in a grave paradox, 'those who feel the imperfections of this world most keenly are disinclined to set much store by the lives of others.'  Tolstoy was torn between his beliefs and the bonds of family love.  He was 'a very good man,' Kochin would say, but his renunciation of his wife and children in favor of a set of ideas was evil."

     Rachel Polonsky, "Highly magical history," a review of Before and during, by Vladimir Sharov, trans. Oliver Ready, New York review of books 62, no. 12 (July 9, 2015):  72 (71-74).
     Polonsky closes her review with the words of Vyacheslav Molotov:  "When asked why terror had been necessary, he replied, 'We do not have ready-made pure people, purged of all sins'" (Molotov remembers:  inside Kremlin politicsConversations with Felix Chuev, ed. Albert Resis (Ivan R. Dee, 1993), pp. 63 and 255).
     In between these two quotations is more along these lines.

Act of Reparation, Silverstream Priory

     Act of Reparation, Silverstream Priory.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Own your own crazy

"The name 'Barth' in the revisionist statements above does not refer to the actually existing textual Barth.  It refers, rather, to the rationalistically deduced Barth.  Only the deduced Barth teaches that there is no Trinity prior to election."

     George Hunsinger, Reading Barth with charity:  a hermeneutical proposal (Grand Rapids, MI:  Baker Academic, 2015), 79.  "It is my hope that the book might be of some value for students of Barth even after revisionism vanishes from the scene (as it will).  Revisionism is of little interest in its own right.  It claims attention mainly as an example of how not to read Karl Barth.  If only the revisionists would cease ascribing their views to Barth, they would have nothing to fear from his more careful readers" (115).