Monday, June 02, 2003

New poll: majority believes life begins at conception
Great news - a true change of heart (metanoia) of the Western world on this issue just might avert catastrophe (chastisement). We'll see.

Coach Wooden and the virtues of WASP culture
Caught the PBS fund-raising program last night with legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden - I'll admit I'm not big on sports in general but was amazed and moved that this kindly old-school gentleman is not only still with us at 92 but is mentally sharp and articulate as well, still giving motivational speeches.

His personality, success story and the 'Pyramid of Success' he came up with got me thinking about the virtues of what I'll call WASP culture, both its English and American versions.

Coach Wooden's pyramid isn't all that profound or even peculiar to him, really - it's just a list of down-home Midwestern values reflecting common decency and the Protestant work ethic. The American values of the 'old republic' as my friend Jeff Culbreath puts it - the common cultural currency of men from Wooden's generation and background. His common sense, moderation and charity simply reflect the best of England and America culturally, their gifts to the world.

Protestants and Protestant-based cultures seem to really go for such systems - the Pyramid of Success, Dale Carnegie's ways to win friends and influence people, the Revd Dr Norman Vincent Peale's 'Power of Positive Thinking', 'muscular Christianity'... Lots of good stuff - as far as it goes. And therein lies the problem. As far as it goes. Beyond that, without the supernatural - the parts of the apostolic faith Protestants and their secular progeny dismiss as superstition they've outgrown - added to this natural foundation, these systems become this-worldly dead ends, self-help Pelagianism as one critic once described Dr Peale's books. The stuff of yuppie corporate 'culture'.

But realizing its limits and dangers, I join Joe Sobran as a member of a minority in his appreciation of the larger Anglo-American culture.

Non-WASP Americans who hold the apostolic faith - the descendents of southern and eastern European Catholic and Eastern Orthodox immigrants - have virtues WASPs don't, but some of the worst people I've met, such as at university, have been from this background but without the faith (or with some liberal perversion of it) - such parvenus had pretty much taken on board the faults of WASPs (such as snobbery and selfishness) but none of the WASP virtues.

Back to Coach Wooden - he quotes Abraham Lincoln as saying he never met a man he didn't learn something from, but most of the time he learnt what not to do!

From The American Conservative
Thomas Byrd: an appreciation

From (which now has a blog)
Straight talk on feminism
by Brad Edmonds

Well done, ma’am
HM the Queen was crowned 50 years ago today

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