The Rising of 16

pizapcom146219386145812Jessica and I are both rather taken with Ruth Davidson, the leader of the conservative opposition in the Scottish Parliament. Jess wrote about her, here, and she just keeps sounding better and better. For instance, last Sunday, writing on one of my favorite British blogs, A Conservative Woman, Tom Gallager said this.

The SNP’s [Scotish National Party] membership swelled during the referendum which David Cameron carelessly gifted to Alex Salmond when he was First Minister, on terms that suited the SNP. Militant activists from post-industrial west-central Scotland now dominate the party. The new party leader, Nicola Sturgeon, sought to appease them by talking up the chances of another vote on Scotland’s constitutional future in an otherwise lacklustre campaign.

The Scottish Tories have got a capable team who often sound authentic because many can relate to the farmers, housewives, small business people, owner occupiers and aspirational young people overlooked by the SNP in favour of urban activist groups.

Months on the stump under a massively popular young leader, Ruth Davidson, have persuaded a lot of Scots to take a fresh look at the Tories and not dismiss them as class-ridden, out-of-touch and anti-Scottish.

Like Labour before it, a mediocre SNP has ramped up the anti-Tory rhetoric to make up for its glaring deficiencies during 9 years in office. But outside some Clydeside areas, this opportunistic tactic has obtained diminishing returns.  Six Tories have been elected for single constituencies instead of relying on salvation by getting a place on the list system which makes voting in Scotland roughly proportional. They include Davidson herself in Edinburgh, Adam Tomkins in Glasgow, an academic who played a formidable role in the 2014 referendum, and a swathe of new MSPs right across southern Scotland.

via Tom Gallagher: The SNP is obsessed with social engineering – The Conservative Woman

Yep, and you know, part of what I detest about politics here, and in Britain as well, is all the negativity and campaigning by running down your opponent. Since Jess moved to Edinburgh (and had the pleasure of voting for Ms. Davidson, which I envy) I’ve been watching the Scottish news fairly regularly, and if anything Ms. Sturgeon comes off worse to me than Tom says above.

Not much of that with Ms. Davidson. She seems to be all about responsible government, improvements, especially in education, Britain’s educational system is in almost as bad shape as ours, and for the same reasons, mostly. Tom also made this point.

The SNP is dominated by lawyers and managerial types who along with mobilised minorities have sought to turn Scotland into a laboratory for  ever more radical forms of equality laws, which are a screen for heavy state control of society by ‘experts’ and overseers.

It is well-known that Ruth Davidson is a lesbian, less well-known that she is a practising Christian who has boosted the appeal of her party by offering common sense answers to problems rather than ideological prescriptions. She is committed to making government more transparent and less centralised and arbitrary. With this approach she struck a chord with numerous Scots throrougly fed up with SNP autocracy.

The Scottish Tories are stronger in terms of brains, experience and broad appeal than any of their competitors. This is quite a turn around for a political force written off by academics and media commentators as moribund or from another age. They will make their presence felt in the committee system of parliament where the SNP has been able to ram through civil service blueprints for turning Scotland into a thoroughly state-controlled entity.

As I said to Jess recently, Davidson portrays conservative parties as they should be, both here and there. What I said was this, “The party of productive people at all levels, and all (how do I say this) lifestyles.” because as conservatives, we know that what you do at home isn’t our business, it’s yours, and likely something for you to take up with God, not the politicos. That to me is the worst part of the very leftist SNP, they really do want to stick their nose in your bedroom.

But let Ruth Davidson speak for herself.

Too often, our parliament has focused on the powers it hasn’t got and on endless debates about the constitution.

The time for that is over.

Whatever else Nicola Sturgeon has, she doesn’t have a mandate to drag independence back to the forefront of political debate.

This is one area where I will be uncompromising. There can be no excuse for the SNP to continually hold our country to ransom.

We’ve had enough of the grievance. Enough of the dog-whistle politics which always seeks to lay the blame at Westminster. Enough of the clumsy attempts to claim that whatever the problem in Scotland is, the answer is independence.

The SNP were sent a clear message last week.

The people of Scotland asked them to govern for five more years.

In denying them an overall majority, the voters put them on a shorter leash.

The SNP need to focus on the day job. Making sure they do will be my guiding mission for the next five years.

via: Ruth Davidson: I will work with the SNP as opposition leader – But there will be NO second referendum on my watch

My sort of conservative, she is!

The title? Well, if you know your history, you’ll know that in 1715, there was a rebellion in Scotland against King George I, attempting to restore to the Throne King James II, after King George had purged the Tories from government, and amongst other things, imprisoned in the Tower Robert Harley, for supposed financial mismanagement. The rebellion succeeded for a time in Scotland under the earl of Mar but ultimately failed, almost everyone was pardoned, except for Rob Roy MacGregor, eventually, the entire Clan Gregor was mostly suppressed, many coming to America. In fact, MacGregor, Iowa is named for the clan. The rebellion has come down to us as ‘The Rising of 15’.

And that made me think of a few line from Walter Scott’s poem Glenfinlas

Not so, by high Dunlathmon’s fire,
Thy heart was froze to love and joy,
When gaily rung thy raptured lyre
To wanton Morna’s melting eye.

Angry and afraid, Moy replies,

And thou! when by the blazing oak
I lay, to her and love resign’d,
Say, rode ye on the eddying smoke,
Or sail’d ye on the midnight wind?

Not thine a race of mortal blood
Nor old Glengyle’s pretended line;
Thy dame, the Lady of the Flood—
Thy sire, the Monarch of the Mine.

Gaudium et Spes: The Church in the Modern World

eb1050dd-5a47-45db-9243-08b6c3276143This Newman Lecture is by the Rt Revd Philip Egan, Bishop of Portsmouth, whose title is also the title of the post.

Bishop Philip is a graduate of King’s College, London and the University of Birmingham (PhD, Theology). He undertook his formation for the priesthood at Allen Hall, London and the Venerable English College, Rome, and was awarded his Licentiate in Sacred Theology (STL) from the Pontifical Gregorian University.

He was ordained to the sacred priesthood in August 1984 and served as an Assistant Priest at St. Anthony’s, Woodhouse Park (1985-8), before becoming assistant chaplain at Fisher House to the University of Cambridge (1988-91).

He was appointed Chaplain to Arrowe Park Hospital, Wirral (1991-4) before doing further studies at Boston College, Ma. For twelve years, he was on the formation staff of St. Mary’s College, Oscott, the major seminary in the Archdiocese of Birmingham, where he was the College’s Dean of Studies and Professor of Fundamental Theology. He returned to Boston College as a post-doctoral research fellow of the Lonergan Institute in 2007, before being appointed Parish Priest of Our Lady and St. Christopher’s, Romiley, near Stockport in 2008.

In 2010 he was appointed Vicar General of the Diocese of Shrewsbury and in 2011 a Prelate of Honour to his Holiness Pope Benedict XVI and in 2012 a Canon of Shrewsbury Cathedral.

Bishop Philip is frequently asked to speak at theological symposia and at catechetical gatherings and he has regularly contributed to religious journals and magazines. He has written about the thought of Newman and Lonergan and recently published Philosophy and Catholic Theology: A Primer (Collegeville, 2009).

This is, sadly, the last of this years Newman Lectures. We have been proud to again bring them to you.

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Our lovely @NewmanLectures team – Tvm @SiobhanHoffmann@deeksgeorge@mattmediauea@TBaragwanath@Katyy_s#newman2016pic.twitter.com/pq033ggOOo

— John Charmley (@ProfJCharmley) April 25, 2016

 

One of the things that always fascinates me about these lectures is that while they are mostly done by Catholic clergy, how appropriate they are for us all. Here for example, in telling us about how Vatican II effected the Church, he also tells us a deal about why the Catholic Church is becoming not like us conservative Protestants, exactly, but perhaps why it has become so much easier for us to work with Catholics on matters of the faith. And besides, for all of us, John says it well, here:

 

And so, we come to the end of another year’s worth of Newman Lectures, we hope you have enjoyed and profited as much from them as we have. I also want to add my thanks to the team that works so hard to put these on.

And especially thanks to Professor Charmley and Deacon Andrew, for making these possible.

If you wish to review any of these just click the tab on the top of the page that says, “Newman Lectures’ at any time.

As always, sponsored by:

Diocese of East Anglia

When words are not enough…

xkcd-Comic #739

xkcd-Comic #739 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I want to pull away from politics today, so we’ll do something different. So often, we miscommunicate, it’s perhaps even more common in the written word.

Even as close as say, Jessica and I are, and we are very close, indeed, sometimes words are not enough between us, even helped by judiciously chosen emoticons. We don’t misunderstand each other very often, but once in a while, we don’t manage to convey all the meaning that is meant. But we are people of the written word, pretty well schooled in English, and so probably better than most, at writing to each other. Emotions are hard to put into words, though, and if we sometimes fail, it must be quite difficult if one is not as well educated, or as comfortable writing as we are.

So, I was was quite delighted when this showed up from Aeon Essays the other day, and I want to share it with you. Not least because as a friend of ours often says, It’s not so much what you say, or even how you say it, what matters is what is read or heard. Something many of us have trouble with, in my experience. Essay by Thom Scott-Phillips.

‘If you could say it in words, there would be no reason to paint.’ These words are attributed to the realist painter Edward Hopper. Few can paint like Hopper could, but all of us can relate to the feeling that words are sometimes not enough. Having said that, what makes images any better?

Words are, after all, incredibly versatile things. Even one as supposedly simple and unambiguous as, say, ‘rain’ can be used to suggest a multitude of meanings, an infinity of implications. As part of a conversation about my mood, the exclamation ‘Rain!’ can mean something like: ‘Even the weather is bringing me down.’ If, on the other hand, I am making plans for the day, the statement ‘Rain!’ could instead suggest that I should take an umbrella with me. And then there’s metaphor and simile and irony.

Ordinary communication is replete with figurative, non-literal word use. Juliet is the Sun. Time is money. Cognitively minded linguists have documented in detail how metaphor, among other types of figurative expression, is so pervasive in everyday language that we usually don’t even notice it. Societies are not biological organisms, but you wouldn’t know it from our everyday language. We talk of social afflictions, of aplague on society, of the body politic, and of how we should give our nation a shot in the arm. The examples are endless, and this expressive flexibility is powerful. How is painting, or any art form, going to do anything that language can’t?

To answer this question, we need to look at human communication in the round.

As is so often the case, xkcd – a web comic with themes of ‘romance, sarcasm, math, and language’ – puts it best. In a recent strip on the indeterminate nature o­­f language, one of the characters reflects that:

Courtesy xkcd.com

Damn right it is. Even something as supposedly literal as ‘The next train is at 12 o’clock’ could be interpreted in a figurative way (‘Things are really organised and efficient here!’). The technical term is underdeterminacy: my words underdetermine my meaning. And the same is true of other, non-linguistic means of expression. We shrug and point and grunt and scream. Sometimes these behaviours are idiosyncratic and highly context-dependent. Others, like a nod of the head, can be as conventional and formulaic as words are.

Keep reading When words are not enough, gestures or images can say more | Aeon Essays

Lots there, isn’t there? It’s amazing that we manage to communicate as well as we do. It’s also the reason that YouTube, podcasts, and all the rest have become so common, and not only to remind us that kittens are cute! It’s also why we run videos, poetry, and other stuff here. Music and the nonverbal clues often add much to our meaning, or they can detract, and that’s why we select them carefully, as we do our words, mostly.

It’s a failing of many blogs, ones that I may like and agree with, but their tone doesn’t fit with what I want to say, and so, often I don’t feature them, or I use them merely for the idea and write my own post. Part of life, and part of trying to remain civilized, I think. It’s very easy to become angry and discouraged these days, and perhaps it’s warranted. But you know, if we’re angry and discouraged, we’re not going to do our best work, and our missions require our best work if we are to succeed.

So calm down a bit, act rationally, and likely we’ll come through once more, in any case, we’ll have less heartburn.:)

Camille Paglia

Camille Paglia, and the fiery planet of Mustafar, from "Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith." (Credit: Michael Lionstar/Salon)

Camille Paglia, and the fiery planet of Mustafar, from “Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.” (Credit: Michael Lionstar/Salon)

Ella Whelan recently interviewed Camille Paglia for Spiked. As always, a huge amount of common sense is on display.

But turn your brain to high, because there is several hours worth of information here, in a bit over a half hour. Her classes must be fascinating, and also very tiring, but never tiresome.

Her views on Feminism, Lena Dunham, and Hillary Clinton are worth your time, not even to start with campus culture, or lack thereof.

I don’t see how she get to where she goes with her politics, but her premises are almost always correct.

Enjoy!

Naught For Our Comfort

This is a repost of a post I made reworking Jess' first (and guest post here) in the fall of 2014, when she was just starting her recovery. It gave me comfort then from the strain and worry involved, and the horribleness of knowing she might be gone from my life,  just like that. Now, it still gives me comfort, as I look around an America, that I  barely recognize. I hope it does you as well. Neo

I doubt that it is news to any of you but, one of the great joys of mine in writing this blog for the last two years has been the help and friendship of Jessica, and her co-author Chalcedon. I admire them both greatly, and one of the reasons for that is that they have rekindled my love for poetry, and you have seen all of us use it to reinforce our points. It is hardly a new method but, it is one used rarely these days. I suspect because most of us are so ill-educated that we are unaware of its richness, and ability to reinforce our point.

If you read much of Lincoln’ writings and speeches, for instance, you will see it used to great effect. For instance his famous, “of the people, for the people, and by the people’ was not original, nor did he claim it was, and his listeners knew it was not. The original is this: “This Bible is for the government of the people, for the people and by the people.” it is by John Wycliffe and it is from 1384.

And so they have enriched my life, and will continue to do so, God willing, and yours as well because it is reflected in my posts for you. And so

A sea-folk blinder than the sea
Broke all about his land,
But Alfred up against them bare
And gripped the ground and grasped the air,
Staggered, and strove to stand.

For earthquake swallowing earthquake
Uprent the Wessex tree;
The whirlpool of the pagan sway
Had swirled his sires as sticks away
When a flood smites the sea.

Our towns were shaken of tall kings
With scarlet beards like blood:
The world turned empty where they trod,
They took the kindly cross of God
And cut it up for wood.

He bent them back with spear and spade,
With desperate dyke and wall,
With foemen leaning on his shield
And roaring on him when he reeled;
And no help came at all.

There was not English armor left,
Nor any English thing,
When Alfred came to Athelney
To be an English king.

It was a very bad time to be King Alfred of Wessex, and I think it holds parallels to our time as well. to continue

“Mother of God” the wanderer said
“I am but a common king,
Nor will I ask what saints may ask,
To see a secret thing.

“But for this earth most pitiful.
This little land I know,
If that which is forever is,
Or if our hearts shall break with bliss
Seeing the stranger go?”

And here we come to my introduction to this epic by Jess when she quoted to me on one of our political defeats

I tell you naught for your comfort,
Yea, naught for your desire,
Save that the sky grows darker yet
And the sea rises higher

“And this is the word of Mary,
The word of the world’s desire
`No more of comfort shall ye get,
Save that the sky grows darker yet
And the sea rises higher.’

Naught for your  comfort has become a catchphrase for us when things go awry, which has been often these last few years for us Americans, and for Britons as well.

We are living through a failed presidency (or, at least, trying to) and one of the reasons it has failed is that many of our countrymen have confused Obama with God, and I suspect he has as well. That never turns out well, and it is not here either.

I’m reminded that first class leaders hire the best men they can find to help them, and second class leaders hire third class helpers, and worst of all, third class leaders hire lackeys who will tell them what they want to hear. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

But we are going to have to soldier until after the next election and hope we find a man (not a god) to help us lead in the rebuilding western civilization, for without our leadership it will fall. It’s going to be an epically hard battle, and we could do worse than to emulate King Alfred.

But remember, we remember King Alfred because he won. Let’s finish with the rest of the poem.

And this was the might of Alfred,
At the ending of the way;
That of such smiters, wise or wild,
He was least distant from the child,
Piling the stones all day.

The King looked up, and what he saw

Was a great light like death,
For Our Lady stood on the standards rent,
As lonely and as innocent
As when between white walls she went
And the lilies of Nazareth.

[…]

They shall not come in warships,
They shall not waste with brands,
But books be all their eating,
And ink be on their hands.

Yea, this shall be the sign of them,
The sign of the dying fire;
And man made like a half-wit,
That knows not of his sire.

What though they come with
scroll and pen,
And grave as a shaven clerk,
By this sign you shall know them
That they ruin and make dark;

By all men bond to nothing
Being slaves without a lord,
By one blind idiot world obeyed
Too blind to be abhorred.

By thought a crawling ruin,
By life a leaping mire,
By a broken heart in the breast
of the world
And the end of the world’s desire.

By God and man dishonored
By death and life made vain
Know ye, the old barbarian,
The barbarian come again

The eternal battle against barbarism is ours to win for our generation or to lose for generations to come. It has taken us a thousand years to get where we are, and it might take longer to recover. So, Stand Fast, my friends.

Did that interest you enough to wonder about the poem and its author? I hope so. It was written by G.K. Chesterton (and it’s much longer than the excerpts here) it’s called The Ballad of the White Horse. You can find it at Project Gutenberg.

Fundamental Concepts: Features and Benefits: Part 1

flag-united-states-industrial-power-national-america-american-industry-57691837Let’s get right into this, even divided into two posts, today and tomorrow it’s fairly long. But it really is fundamental, and why I support Ted Cruz, as well.

When people have a product or service that they want to sell you, they will spend an inordinate amount of time telling you about all the features that they offer. They think that this is a good thing, and it is; but what is important to the listener is not what features are offered, it’s how each of these features would benefit the user. […]

[…] I’d like to turn to something that Ted Cruz is doing in this campaign, and analyze how he needs to do it better. Cruz speaks about recreating the “Reagan coalition”, which is mostly code for getting the votes of blue collar workers. He needs their votes, because these people have been hammered by globalization and they are flocking to the pablum that Donald trump is peddling in droves. Cruz is in the ballpark, but he’s still out in left field talking about features (a very lawyerly thing to do). Reagan’s gift was that he was able to bring it home for voters by showing them the benefits of the policies he proposed. Ted needs to figure out how to do that. It might look something like this:

“I talk to Americans every day as I travel across this country trying to earn your vote for President, and I have to tell you that there is a common theme I hear coming from almost all of them: Economic uncertainty. America’s working men and women and women have been hammered by the last 7 years of Obama’s no-recovery recovery, and they’re nervous. Nervous that they might wake up one morning and find that the jobs they’ve been doing for decades are moving overseas. Nervous that they might not be able to feed their families and raise their kids in the environment that they aspire to. Nervous that even if their job doesn’t go overseas, they might be given to lower skilled workers with lower salaries. Nervous that they might even be forced to endure the indignity and insult of being required to train their replacements! You know what? Under the current administration, and under a Hillary administration, they’re right to be nervous; in fact, they should be downright terrified.

“So what will a Ted Cruz administration do differently? Well, first of all, of all of the candidates in the race, I’m the only one who is absolutely committed to building the wall and enforcing our existing immigration laws. You know, Donald Trump likes to tell you that he’s going to build the wall, the biggest, most luxurious wall the world has ever seen. Every time someone challenges him for details, he just roars “The wall just got higher!”. I think in Donald’s mind the wall reaches to Mars by now. What Donald also says, something that the media has taken great pains to hide, is that his wall also has a great big door in it, the biggest, most luxurious door you’ve ever seen. This is called ‘touchback’ amnesty and it’s about as stupid as it sounds. Would you build a dam with a great big hole in the middle of it? Of course you wouldn’t. Touchback amnesty makes about as much sense.

There’s more there, but that makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? And that is how you ethically sell something. You talk about the benefits to the purchaser. I can talk all day about how a $5 light switch is better than a 50¢ one is, but I’ll never sell one. But how about if I tell you (truthfully) that it will lower your light bill by $x per month and last your lifetime. Depending on which $5 switch we’re talking about, that’s entirely possible. That’s enough immigration, I think, but how about jobs moving overseas:

[…] American labor is expensive, and why shouldn’t it be? American workers produce the highest quality goods in the world. There is a reason that “Made in America” means something around the world. If you want quality work, you have to pay for it, and honestly, would we want it any other way? The dream of America has always been that this is a place where you can work hard and make a good living, leaving your kids better off than you were when you started. My father came to this country and worked washing dishes for $.50 an hour, and now his son is running for president. Is this a great country or what? We have to preserve the American Dream for ourselves and ensure that it will still be there for our children.

“What you’re missing, however, is that labor is only part of the picture. There are many reasons for a company to decide to locate itself in any given location, but there are five big ones: Stability, infrastructure, energy cost, labor and regulatory expense. The United States of America has an unquestioned advantage over the rest of the world in the first three categories.

“Stability: Ask any businessman what the foundation of running a successful business is, and he’ll tell you it’s the ability to reasonably project what the future will bring. The United States has been a free market republic, based upon rule of law, for 240 years. If you were starting a business, would you do it in Venezuela? Labor costs are dirt cheep down there, nobody has a job, but anyone who tries to build something immediately has it taken away from them by the government. I’d stay here if I were you.

I highly recommend that you read it all™ at Fundamental Concepts: Features and Benefits [Weirddave].

Emphasis mine.

Here is the reason, why first Britain and then America became and continue as economic superpowers, especially the rule of law. That means that your company will not be seized by the government (unless you break the law). When did Britain start to slide into mediocrity as an industrial power? After World War Two when the Labor Government began and continued nationalizing whole industries, like steel, railroads, and health care. When did it start recovering? When  Maggie Thatcher privatized industries. The market is always, always more efficient than the government. More honest too, when it is let alone.

That’s likely enough for today, we’ll continue tomorrow.

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