Wednesday, February 10, 2010


From Rod Dreher
  • Atheism and our inhuman nature. A reason modern liberalism doesn’t work is thanks in part to original sin, goodness without God is impossible so utopian schemes invariably turn hellish. You didn’t need Auschwitz and Hiroshima, and the bigger and ignored Communist horror, to see that. Look at the French Revolution.
  • Modernity and seeing through a glass darkly.
  • Oh, for the good old days? Yes and no; my goal is not to live in the past but as Hilary says of Europeans with the past as a living reality. I don’t buy Dreher’s argument here. Before the big, bad Internet (which like many things is just a tool, one that can do much good by helping to teach), the notion of childhood as a garden of innocence protected by adults is modern; I’d guess Victorian. As Owen for example has described his rural, Southern-like childhood, again look at fallen human nature and the facts of living close to the ground like the pioneers and for that matter the Middle Ages (pre-modern society): people living in close quarters, the violence of nature etc. People couldn’t have hidden the harsh realities of life from their kids even if they wanted to. The kids of course just didn’t understand them right away.
  • Young adults: lost without a map.
  • Dreher on Jacob Weisberg’s ‘grow up’ article: You’ve heard of Moralistic Therapeutic Deism, the approach to religion that sees God as a heavenly Dr. Phil, only to be consulted when we have a problem, which He’s supposed to solve, but otherwise Someone we would prefer would stay out of our lives? Which is what ‘I’m spiritual not religious’ means and why hardship often wakes people up to the fact that they’re not in charge and they return to real religion. Well, Weisberg suggests, in so many words, that we Americans have this same lazy, infantile approach to politics, which is why Washington won’t make the hard choices necessary to straighten out our fiscal house. Even though we all like to indulge in moral rhetoric when it comes to our pet issues, we abandon moral seriousness when it comes to perhaps the gravest threat facing our viability as a nation: our inability to learn how to live within our means. We are happy to be moralistic, as long as it’s the Others who need moral reform. But when it’s all of us, and when someone in government proposes that we need to stop thinking of government in therapeutic terms, and instead to “repent” (so to speak) of our something-for-nothing mentality, which is driving us into a bottomless pit of debt? Not so much.
  • Is it that a super-black first name is a hindrance or that those who choose those names usually have lots of problems in the first place? I like some of the names on this (half-joking?) don’t list (not about black names). For example Aidan of course ties into real Celtic religion, Catholicism (and works for those Orthodox who like to stress pre-schism British stuff), and it sounds nice. Over-used: Jason, Jared is getting there (but you can see why: it is cool), Caitlyn, Brittany and its illiterate spellings, Brianna and Ashley (a name like Jason I still like). To give ’90s pop culture credit I thought Xander as a nickname for Alexander was a good idea.
  • Video: how to do a generic TV news report, a tired and arguably dying medium. I work in an older one (fitting for someone with a foot in 1962); now my company is talking about saving itself by changing the main product from a weekly paper to a 24-hour local news website with audio and video (which since last year we already have as an add-on). (The ’80s-’90s business model that almost killed us: buying up mediocre papers across the country and squeezing short-term profits out of them.) Fine with me; writing, rewriting and proofreading would remain. They’re saying they won’t stop printing the paper; selling ads is what makes money. I’d miss the artistry of designing pages.

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