Category : History

Ludwig Wittgenstein on why he ALMOST believed in Christ’s Resurrection

Found courtesy of Alan Jacobs there:

What inclines even me to believe in Christ’s Resurrection? It is as though I play with the thought. — If he did not rise from the dead, then he decomposed in the grave like any other man. He is dead and decomposed. In that case he is a teacher like any other and can no longer help; and once more we are orphaned and alone. So we have to content ourselves with wisdom and speculation. We are in a sort of hell where we can do nothing but dream, roofed in, as it were, and cut off from heaven. But if I am to be REALLY saved, — what I need is certainty — not wisdom, dreams of speculation — and this certainty is faith. And faith is faith in what is needed by my heart, my soul, not my speculative intelligence. For it is my soul with its passions, as it were with its flesh and blood, that has to be saved, not my abstract mind. Perhaps we can say: Only love can believe the Resurrection. Or: It is love that believes the Resurrection. We might say: Redeeming love believes even in the Resurrection; holds fast even to the Resurrection. What combats doubt is, as it were, redemption.

Posted in Easter, History, Philosophy

(JEC) Michael Snape–‘Anglicanism and interventionism : Bishop Brent, the United States, and the British Empire in the First World War’

Brent himself stands as perhaps the ultimate example of these successful clerical migrants to the United States. Born in Newcastle, Ontario, in April 1862, Brent’s father was an Anglican
clergyman and a first-generation immigrant from England, his mother a descendant of Loyalist refugees from New York.20 Although the infusion of immigrants from Canada was smaller than the stream from Great Britain around the turn of the twentieth century, it was still considerable, as around 450,000 Canadians entered the United States in the quarter century prior to the First World War.21 While Anglicans represented a smaller proportion of the Canadian population, comprising around 15 per cent of all Canadians in 1914 as opposed to two-thirds of all Britons,22 there was already a well-established tradition of Anglican clergymen moving across the porous border between Canada and the United States in search of employment,23 a situation that brought Brent to the State of New York in 1886 while still in deacon’s orders. As Alexander C. Zabriskie emphasised in his concise biography of 1947, Brent’s move to St. Paul’s Church, Buffalo, was entirely pragmatic: with no opportunities available in the diocese of Toronto, ‘it was circumstance rather than conscience or preference that sent [Brent] there. He had not the least intention of remaining permanently under the American flag; rather he looked forward to returning to a Canadian country parish within a few years.’24 In fact, it took a further appointment, as associate rector of St. Stephen’s Mission in the slums of Boston, to persuade Brent to take out his naturalisation papers in 1891, and even then he
appears to have maintained dual citizenship.25 In the event, his years in Boston served to reinforce Brent’s links with Great Britain, for there he developed a formative relationship with the Society of St. John the Evangelist, or Cowley Fathers, a connection that would take him to England on his very first overseas trip in November 1891.26

Read it all (numbers are to footnotes in the original).

Posted in America/U.S.A., Canada, Church History, History, Military / Armed Forces, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, TEC Bishops

A look Back to 2012–Walter Russell Mead: The core institutions, ideas and expectations that shaped American life for the sixty years after the New Deal don’t work anymore, what comes next?

Writing about the onset of the Great Depression, John Kenneth Galbraith famously said that the end had come but was not yet in sight. The past was crumbling under their feet, but people could not imagine how the future would play out. Their social imagination had hit a wall.

The same thing is happening today: The core institutions, ideas and expectations that shaped American life for the sixty years after the New Deal don’t work anymore. The gaps between the social system we inhabit and the one we now need are becoming so wide that we can no longer paper over them. But even as the failures of the old system become more inescapable and more damaging, our national discourse remains stuck in a bygone age. The end is here, but we can’t quite take it in.

In the old system, most blue-collar and white-collar workers held stable, lifetime jobs with defined benefit pensions, and a career civil service administered a growing state as living standards for all social classes steadily rose. Gaps between the classes remained fairly consistent in an industrial economy characterized by strong unions in stable, government-brokered arrangements with large corporations—what Galbraith and others referred to as the Iron Triangle. High school graduates were pretty much guaranteed lifetime employment in a job that provided a comfortable lower middle-class lifestyle; college graduates could expect a better paid and equally secure future. An increasing “social dividend”, meanwhile, accrued in various forms: longer vacations, more and cheaper state-supported education, earlier retirement, shorter work weeks, more social and literal mobility, and more diverse forms of affordable entertainment. Call all this, taken together, the blue model.

In the heyday of the blue model, economists and social scientists assumed that from generation to generation Americans would live a life of incremental improvements. The details of life would keep getting better even as the broad outlines of society stayed the same. The advanced industrial democracies, of which the United States was the largest, wealthiest and strongest, had reached the apex of social achievement. It had, in other words, defined and was in the process of perfecting political and social “best practice.” America was what “developed” human society looked like and no more radical changes were in the offing. Amid the hubris that such conceptions encouraged, Professor (later Ambassador) Galbraith was moved to state, in 1952, that “most of the cheap and simple inventions have been made.” If only the United States and its allies could best the Soviet Union and its counter-model, then indeed—as a later writer would put it—History would end in the philosophical sense that only one set of universally acknowledged best practices would be left standing.

Life isn’t this simple anymore. The blue social model is in the process of breaking down, and the chief question in American politics today is what should come next.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., History

Archbishop Justin Welby’s reflection on Radio 4’s Thought For The Day on the first anniversary of the UK’s national lockdown

One of the great songs of lament to God in the bible begins “by the rivers of Babylon we sat down and wept.”. An anniversary is a time to lament, to mourn, to sit and weep for what could have been and is not. Pause for a while today, remember what has been lost, above all who has been lost. Lament – for to do so is to honour and treasure. As a Christian I follow and love Jesus Christ who loved and mourned his friends, his country, suffering.

Anniversaries are also moments of new beginnings. It is just a day. But it is also a moment. And one of the signs of being human – of being spiritual as well as material – is that we make moments that pass into moments of significance. The anniversary calls on us to ask where we are going?

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Health & Medicine, History, Religion & Culture

(C of E) Bells to toll and thousands of candles to be lit for National Day of Reflection today

The words Reflect, Support and Hope will be projected in yellow on the front of Lichfield Cathedral, while Blackburn and Leicester cathedrals will light thousands of candles to mark lives lost, to mark the National Day of Reflection.

St Edmundsbury Cathedral will suspend two hundred tear drops above the altar and Chelmsford Cathedral will be transformed into a vibrant space of colour and light.

In Portsmouth churches will deliver more than 50 boxes of chocolates along with cards to GP surgeries, care homes and schools in the area as a gesture of thanks to key workers for their contribution during the pandemic.

Area Dean of Portsmouth, Revd Canon Bob White, said: “We are very aware of the stresses and pressures they have faced over the past year and want to thank them and let them know that they are in our prayers.”

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Health & Medicine, History, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer

(NYT Magazine) Ken Burns Still Has Faith in a Shared American Story

You’ve talked before about the connection between your work in bringing the past to life and your mom’s death (Burns’s mother died of cancer in 1965, when he was 11).

Is the explanation for what you do that simple? That you’re driven to make historical documentaries because it’s a way of waking the dead? “Driven” sounds too easy, but you wouldn’t be talking to me if my mom hadn’t died. That’s the truth of it. In April, I will have been without a mother for 56 years. That is way too long. Her name was Lyla. The half-life of grief is endless. But it has also been hugely productive. I remember being interviewed in the ’90s by two sociologists about the early death of parents, and their last question was, “What is your mother’s greatest gift?” And I said “dying” and then started to cry. I didn’t want her to die, but I don’t know what I would do without the loss as being the engine of exploration, of confidence, of bravery. What idiot would take on all of these things and think you could do it? It’s pretty absurd. So there it is. But the good postscript to this: Near you in Brooklyn, David, is a little girl who is 10 years old whose name is Lyla. My oldest daughter named her first child after my mother, and a name that was never spoken except draped in black crepe now gets spoken all the time with joy and love.

Do you wonder what your mom would make of your work? All the time. And it just — I’ll start to cry right now. Only because I sort of feel that she must — she’s present. There’s not a day that goes by where I’m not aware of her. But at the same time there has been that friction that has helped me to create, so I can’t help but honor that. I feel very fortunate that I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Movies & Television

(PD) The Censorship of Lawrence Ferlinghetti and the Unbooking of Ryan T. Anderson

Unperson: “A public figure, especially in a totalitarian country, who, for political or ideological reasons, is not recognized or mentioned in government publications or records or in the news media. A person accorded no recognition or consideration by another or by a specific group. . . . Introduced in George Orwell’s novel 1984 (1949)”—Dictionary.com

It seems somehow fitting that the great beat poet and artist Lawrence Ferlinghetti, departed this mortal realm (at the age of 101) on February 22, 2021, the day after Amazon.com digitally unbooked When Harry Became Sally. Authored by Ryan T. Anderson, president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center and founder of Public Discourse, When Harry Became Sally offers a critical assessment of the transgender movement.

Anderson is an honest and careful scholar, one who makes a real effort to understand his opponents’ arguments and answer them with charity and rigor. Anderson’s views are not in ascendancy among elites these days, as is evident by the vitriol hurled at him by activists as soon as When Harry Became Sally was published. These critics, I am afraid to say, are not at all interested in debate, discussion, or a careful sifting through the evidence and arguments. What they seek is absolute unquestioned conformity to their views, policed by roving cyberspace inquisitors whose mission is to extract confessions from their targets and to inculcate in them the habit of unforgiving social justice scrupulosity. This is not to say that Anderson does not have some serious academic critics who raise penetrating questions about the quality of his sources, the strength of his arguments, and the nature of his project. Here I am thinking of two critical reviews that appeared in the Journal of Medical Humanities and Studies in Christian Ethics.

But that’s all the more reason why Amazon’s removal of Anderson’s book from its catalog is so pernicious: it marginalizes from the public conversation an intelligent and informed voice that should be confronted and taken seriously by those who disagree with him. As my esteemed Baylor colleague, Alan Jacobs, points out:

The censors at Amazon clearly believe there is only one reason to read a book. You read a book because you agree with it and want it to confirm what you already believe. Imagine, for instance, a transgender activist who wants to understand the position held by Ryan Anderson and people like him in order better to refute it. That person can’t get a copy of the book through Amazon any more than a sympathetic reader like me can.

What does all this have to do with Ferlinghetti? More than you may think. Founder of the small press City Lights Books, he published in late 1956 Howl and Other Poems, authored by the beat poet Allen Ginsberg. Soon after the book was published, Ferlinghetti was arrested on obscenity charges. The reason? The book’s poems included lines that contained graphic descriptions of sex acts, and thus, the government reasoned, it was legally obscene.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, History

(Wired) The Secret Auction That Set Off the Race for AI Supremacy

Two months earlier, Hinton and his students had changed the way machines saw the world. They built what was called a neural network, a mathematical system modeled on the web of neurons in the brain, and it could identify common objects—like flowers, dogs, and cars—with an accuracy that had previously seemed impossible. As Hinton and his students showed, a neural network could learn this very human skill by analyzing vast amounts of data. He called this “deep learning,” and its potential was enormous. It promised to transform not just computer vision but everything from talking digital assistants to driverless cars to drug discovery.

The idea of a neural network dated back to the 1950s, but the early pioneers had never gotten it working as well as they’d hoped. By the new millennium, most researchers had given up on the idea, convinced it was a technological dead end and bewildered by the 50-​year-​old conceit that these mathematical systems somehow mimicked the human brain. When submitting research papers to academic journals, those who still explored the technology would often disguise it as something else, replacing the words “neural network” with language less likely to offend their fellow scientists.

Hinton remained one of the few who believed it would one day fulfill its promise, delivering machines that could not only recognize objects but identify spoken words, understand natural language, carry on a conversation, and maybe even solve problems humans couldn’t solve on their own, providing new and more incisive ways of exploring the mysteries of biology, medicine, geology, and other sciences. It was an eccentric stance even inside his own university, which spent years denying his standing request to hire another professor who could work alongside him in this long and winding struggle to build machines that learned on their own. “One crazy person working on this was enough,” he imagined their thinking went. But with a nine-​page paper that Hinton and his students unveiled in the fall of 2012, detailing their breakthrough, they announced to the world that neural networks were indeed as powerful as Hinton had long claimed they would be.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Psychology, Science & Technology, Theology

(AP) Israeli experts announce discovery of more Dead Sea scrolls

Israeli archaeologists on Tuesday announced the discovery of dozens of Dead Sea Scroll fragments bearing a biblical text found in a desert cave and believed hidden during a Jewish revolt against Rome nearly 1,900 years ago.

The fragments of parchment bear lines of Greek text from the books of Zechariah and Nahum and have been dated around the first century based on the writing style, according to the Israel Antiquities Authority. They are the first new scrolls found in archaeological excavations in the desert south of Jerusalem in 60 years.

The Dead Sea Scrolls, a collection of Jewish texts found in desert caves in the West Bank near Qumran in the 1940s and 1950s, date from the third century B.C. to the first century A.D. They include the earliest known copies of biblical texts and documents outlining the beliefs of a little understood Jewish sect.

Read it all.

Posted in History, Israel

(New Atlantis) John Sexton–A Reductionist History of Humankind: The trouble with Yuval Noah Harari’s “Sapiens”

Harari’s claim that has drawn the most media attention is that we may be on the cusp of an era of super- (or possibly sub-) humans, with newspapers running such sensationalistic headlines as “Humans ‘will become God-like cyborgs within 200 years’” and “The age of the cyborg has begun.” He seems to believe that the “Singularity” is a certainty; that some “Dr. Frankenstein” will likely create “something truly superior to us, something that will look at us as condescendingly as we look at the Neanderthals.” But here again there are practical and technical obstacles that Harari overlooks. As Steven Pinker, of all people, has recently pointed out, most features of organisms, including senescence, are built deep into their genomic structure. If there were easy fixes to mortality and many other conditions, they would have been low-hanging fruit for natural selection, which will always prevail in the long run over the kind of “intelligent design” Harari envisions us undertaking in the near future.

Harari tends to think that it’s onward and upward for the modern project to master nature through technology, though he doubts whether the trajectory is really “upward” in the sense of involving genuine improvement in the human condition. But it may be that the golden age of technological progress has already passed. As Peter Thiel and others have observed, the development of new technology has arguably slowed in recent decades, a fact disguised by the dissemination of old technology in the form of consumer goods like personal computers and smart phones.

Still, Harari is right to suggest that scientific advancement potentially threatens much of what we now hold dear, including our humanity as we traditionally understand it. He is also right to point out that questions about the moral character of scientific experimentation always meet with the response that it is being done to “cure diseases and save human lives.” Harari says that “nobody can argue with” such a response. He is right, up to a point: given the value that modern societies put on health, it can be very difficult to question research conducted in the name of medicine. But arguments can still be made against some forms of experimentation and “enhancement.” One could also point out that science itself provides no reason to save human lives or care about curing diseases, whereas moral principles do. One might also ask whether physical health and longevity are the highest goods.

But Sapiens provides us with no resources for answering questions about the moral implications of scientific and technological change. A commitment to a reductionist, mechanistic view of Homo sapiens may give us some insight into some of the aspects of our past most tied to our material nature. But Harari’s view of culture and of ethical norms as fundamentally fictional makes impossible any coherent moral framework for thinking about and shaping our future. And it asks us to pretend that we are not what we know ourselves to be — thinking and feeling subjects, moral agents with free will, and social beings whose culture builds upon the facts of the physical world but is not limited to them.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Philosophy, Science & Technology

A National Day of Reflection for the first anniversary of lockdown

The Church of England, Marie Curie, Hope UK, Care for the Family, Ataloss and many charities and organisations across the UK, will join forces on Tuesday 23rd March for a National Day of Reflection to commemorate the first anniversary of the nationwide Coronavirus lockdown.

York Minster will open from 11.30am to welcome people for prayer, quiet reflection and to light candles for family, friends and loved ones. The Minster will fall still at 12 noon for a national one minute silence. A Chaplain will be present throughout the day.

The Revd Michael Smith, Canon Pastor at York Minster said: “This unprecedented event has touched communities all over the world. There has been heart-breaking loss of life, disruption to every sphere of life, enforced isolation that has been extremely difficult to endure and severe economic strain. Even the most basic human interactions such as comforting the sick and dying, or attending a funeral have been impossible for many.

Read it all.

Posted in Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Health & Medicine, History, Religion & Culture, Uncategorized

(First Things) Hans Boersma on the recent ACNA kerfuffle over Christian anthropology and pastoral care

Whither the ACNA? Much will depend on its ability to keep the theological and the pastoral together.

First, we should avoid blaming our Christian heritage or the contemporary church for singling out the sin of homosexuality. Such self-blame is understandable: It is a way of dealing with the emotional hardship caused by same-sex attraction. But this introspection is, for the most part, unwarranted. Traditional Christian morality does not single out homosexuality, whereas making it part of one’s identity does. Besides, power roles have reversed: In today’s therapeutic culture, insisting on one’s gay identity mostly gets applauded, while it requires great courage to speak and write biblically about homosexuality. And while greed, adultery, etc. are all wrong, Scripture hardly supports the notion that all sins are of equal weight.

Third, we should keep in mind that the primary pastoral context of sin is alienation from God. If disordered sexual desires lead us away from a right relationship with God, then that is the key pastoral issue that we must address. The primary pastoral context, then, is not the feeling of exclusion from fellow believers as a result of sexual identity. It’s not that the latter doesn’t powerfully function; it obviously does. But it does so because of the way we have wedded sexual desire to human identity—a unique characteristic of today’s Western therapeutic culture. Carl Trueman’s recent book, The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self, is a must-read to untangle the cultural web that we have spun for ourselves and a welcome antidote to the inexorable drift toward acceptance of disordered desire.

Please note, I am not encouraging us to ignore the pastoral. Quite the opposite: I am convinced we’re often not pastoral enough.

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(TLS) Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: An air that says ‘go it!’–A poet’s huge but brief popularity

This biography hints at some possible reasons for Longfellow’s fascination with the hidden and obscured, such as his commitment to translation, and it also reveals a number of other ways in which his printed poems worked like icebergs: small blocks of text that emerged from the blank space of the page while hinting at much larger concerns under the surface. These include Longfellow’s methods of composition, which created paper trails of notes and drafts, and also the role played by his second wife Frances in helping him assemble works like The Poets and Poetry of Europe (1845), the first anthology of its kind to be published in America and further evidence of Longfellow’s conviction that lines of poetry should be viewed as bridges rather than barriers, forever reaching out for new human connections.

But as the title of this biography suggests, not every poem could find what it was looking for. In 1861, Longfellow’s wife died shortly after a horrible household accident in which her dress caught fire, and he was unable to smother the flames in time to save her. His own hands and face were so badly burned he was unable to attend her funeral, and the trademark bushy beard he later grew was partly an attempt to hide his visible scars. Yet the memory of his wife remained an open wound, and in a sonnet entitled “The Cross of Snow”, found among his papers after his death, he tried to put it into words. The inspiration for this poem was probably a comment from a mourner who expressed the hope that after his bereavement Longfellow would be able to “bear his cross”. His brother Samuel reported Longfellow’s response: “Bear the cross, yes; but what if one is stretched upon it!” Written eighteen years later, “The Cross of Snow” gave this feeling a permanent literary shape:

There is a mountain in the distant West
That, sun-defying, in its deep ravines
Displays a cross of snow upon its side.
Such is the cross I wear upon my breast
These eighteen years, through all the changing scenes
And seasons, changeless since the day she died.

In his Table-Talk (1857), Longfellow had pointed out that “Some sorrows are but footprints in the snow, which the genial sun effaces”, but in this unpublished poem he offered a chastening alternative. Some sorrows were as deep and lasting as permafrost.

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Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Marriage & Family, Poetry & Literature

(Bloomberg Businessweek) Is the Four-Day Week Is Coming Soon?

When the world went into lockdown last year, the 1,000 employees at Berlin-based tech company Awin did what millions of others did: They flipped open their laptops and started working from the kitchen or dining room. At the same time, Awin started running flat-out as its business with online retailers soared, putting intense pressure on the staff.

So last spring the company told everyone to sign off around lunchtime every Friday to ease into the weekend. The experiment was so successful—sales, employee engagement, and client satisfaction all rose—that in January, Awin decided to go a step further, rolling out a four-day week for the entire company with no cuts in salaries or benefits. “We firmly believe that happy, engaged, and well-balanced employees produce much better work,” says Chief Executive Officer Adam Ross. They “find ways to work smarter, and they’re just as productive.”

Awin is in the vanguard of a trend that’s getting increased attention worldwide. Jobs website ZipRecruiter says the share of postings that mention a four-day week has tripled in the past three years, to 62 per 10,000. Consumer-goods giant Unilever Plc in December started a yearlong trial of the idea for its New Zealand staff. Spain’s government is considering a proposal to subsidize companies that offer a four-day week. And even in notoriously busy Japan, whose language includes the word karoshi—death from overwork—lawmakers are discussing a proposal to grant employees a day off every week to protect their well-being. “The four-day week is picking up momentum,” says Will Stronge, director of research at Autonomy, a U.K. think tank. “For the large majority of firms, reducing working hours is an entirely realistic goal.”

Read it all (subscription).

Posted in Anthropology, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

“Americans have not yet grappled with just how profoundly the artificial intelligence (AI) revolution will impact our economy, national security, and welfare”

Americans have not yet grappled with just how profoundly the artificial intelligence (AI) revolution will impact our economy, national security, and welfare. Much remains to be learned about the power and limits of AI technologies. Nevertheless, big decisions need to be made now to accelerate AI innovation to benefit the United States and to defend against the malign uses of AI.

When considering these decisions, our leaders confront the classic dilemma of statecraft identified by Henry Kissinger: “When your scope for action is greatest, the knowledge on
which you can base this action is always at a minimum. When your knowledge is greatest, the scope for action has often disappeared.” The scope for action remains, but America’s
room for maneuver is shrinking.

As a bipartisan commission of 15 technologists, national security professionals, business executives, and academic leaders, the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence (NSCAI) is delivering an uncomfortable message: America is not prepared to defend or compete in the AI era. This is the tough reality we must face. And it is this reality that demands comprehensive, whole-of-nation action. Our final report presents a strategy to defend against AI threats, responsibly employ AI for national security, and win the broader technology competition for the sake of our prosperity, security, and welfare. The U.S. government cannot do this alone. It needs committed partners in industry, academia, and civil society. And America needs to enlist its oldest allies and new partners to build a safer and freer world for the AI era.

AI is an inspiring technology. It will be the most powerful tool in generations for benefiting humanity. Scientists have already made astonishing progress in fields ranging from
biology and medicine to astrophysics by leveraging AI. These advances are not science fair experiments; they are improving life and unlocking mysteries of the natural world. They
are the kind of discoveries for which the label “game changing” is not a cliché.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Science & Technology

Still more for Washington’s Birthday–George Washington’s 1796 Farewell Address

Observe good faith and justice towards all nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all. Religion and morality enjoin this conduct; and can it be, that good policy does not equally enjoin it – It will be worthy of a free, enlightened, and at no distant period, a great nation, to give to mankind the magnanimous and too novel example of a people always guided by an exalted justice and benevolence. Who can doubt that, in the course of time and things, the fruits of such a plan would richly repay any temporary advantages which might be lost by a steady adherence to it ? Can it be that Providence has not connected the permanent felicity of a nation with its virtue ? The experiment, at least, is recommended by every sentiment which ennobles human nature. Alas! is it rendered impossible by its vices?

In the execution of such a plan, nothing is more essential than that permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular nations, and passionate attachments for others, should be excluded; and that, in place of them, just and amicable feelings towards all should be cultivated. The nation which indulges towards another a habitual hatred or a habitual fondness is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest. Antipathy in one nation against another disposes each more readily to offer insult and injury, to lay hold of slight causes of umbrage, and to be haughty and intractable, when accidental or trifling occasions of dispute occur. Hence, frequent collisions, obstinate, envenomed, and bloody contests. The nation, prompted by ill-will and resentment, sometimes impels to war the government, contrary to the best calculations of policy. The government sometimes participates in the national propensity, and adopts through passion what reason would reject; at other times it makes the animosity of the nation subservient to projects of hostility instigated by pride, ambition, and other sinister and pernicious motives. The peace often, sometimes perhaps the liberty, of nations, has been the victim.

So likewise, a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter without adequate inducement or justification. It leads also to concessions to the favorite nation of privileges denied to others which is apt doubly to injure the nation making the concessions; by unnecessarily parting with what ought to have been retained, and by exciting jealousy, ill-will, and a disposition to retaliate, in the parties from whom equal privileges are withheld. And it gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens (who devote themselves to the favorite nation), facility to betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country, without odium, sometimes even with popularity; gilding, with the appearances of a virtuous sense of obligation, a commendable deference for public opinion, or a laudable zeal for public good, the base or foolish compliances of ambition, corruption, or infatuation.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Office of the President

(Mount Vernon) George Washington’s Remarkable life

In June 1775, Congress commissioned George Washington to take command of the Continental Army besieging the British in Boston. He wrote home to Martha that he expected to return safely to her in the fall. The command kept him away from Mount Vernon for more than 8 years (with only one very brief visit while en route to Yorktown).

It was a command for which his military background, although greater than that of any of the other available candidates, hardly prepared him. His knowledge lay in frontier warfare, involving relatively small numbers of soldiers. He had no practical experience maneuvering large formations, handling cavalry or artillery, or maintaining supply lines adequate to support thousands of men in the field. He learned on the job; and although his army reeled from one misfortune to another, he had the courage, determination, and mental agility to keep the American cause one step ahead of complete disintegration until he figured out how to win the unprecedented revolutionary struggle he was leading.

His task was not overwhelming at first. The British position in Boston was untenable, and in March 1776 they withdrew from the city. But it was only a temporary respite. In June a new British army, under the command of Sir William Howe, arrived in the colonies with orders to take New York City. Howe commanded the largest expeditionary force Britain had ever sent overseas.

Defending New York was almost impossible. An island city, New York is surrounded by a maze of waterways that gave a substantial advantage to an attacker with naval superiority. Howe’s army was larger, better equipped, and far better trained than Washington’s. They defeated Washington’s army at Long Island in August and routed the Americans a few weeks later at Kip’s Bay, resulting in the loss of the city. Forced to retreat northward, Washington was defeated again at White Plains. The American defense of New York City came to a humiliating conclusion on November 16, 1776, with the surrender of Fort Washington and some 2,800 men. Washington ordered his army to retreat across New Jersey. The remains of his forces, mud-soaked and exhausted, crossed the Delaware River into Pennsylvania on December 7.

The British had good reason to believe that the American rebellion would be over in a few months and that Congress would seek peace rather than face complete subjugation of the colonies….

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Military / Armed Forces, Office of the President

More from George Washington–His circular letter to the States, June 8, 1783

I now make it my earnest prayer, that God would have you, and the State over which you preside, in his holy protection; that he would incline the hearts of the citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to government; to entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another, for their fellow citizens of the United States at large, and particularly for their brethren who have served in the field; and finally, that he would most graciously be pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that charity, humility, and pacific temper of mind, which were the characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed religion, and without an humble imitation of whose example in these things, we can never hope to be a happy nation.

I have the honor to be, with much esteem and respect, Sir, your Excellency’s most obedient and most humble servant.

–George Washington
Head-Quarters, Newburg,
8 June, 1783.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Office of the President

(Washington Post) A Washington’s Birthday quiz on the office of President

Every February, Americans take a day off of work to celebrate the presidents — the chief executives whose ideas, policies and foibles have helped to shape our history. So it’s only fitting that you take a moment to test your knowledge about these 44 prominent Americans with a 20-question quiz from “Presidential,” the Washington Post podcast that explores the presidents’ lives and legacies.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Office of the President

George Washington’s First State of Union Address

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:

I embrace with great satisfaction the opportunity which now presents itself of congratulating you on the present favorable prospects of our public affairs. The recent accession of the important state of North Carolina to the Constitution of the United States (of which official information has been received), the rising credit and respectability of our country, the general and increasing good will toward the government of the Union, and the concord, peace, and plenty with which we are blessed are circumstances auspicious in an eminent degree to our national prosperity.

In resuming your consultations for the general good you can not but derive encouragement from the reflection that the measures of the last session have been as satisfactory to your constituents as the novelty and difficulty of the work allowed you to hope. Still further to realize their expectations and to secure the blessings which a gracious Providence has placed within our reach will in the course of the present important session call for the cool and deliberate exertion of your patriotism, firmness, and wisdom.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Office of the President

George Washington’s First Inaugural Address

By the article establishing the executive department it is made the duty of the President “to recommend to your consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.” The circumstances under which I now meet you will acquit me from entering into that subject further than to refer to the great constitutional charter under which you are assembled, and which, in defining your powers, designates the objects to which your attention is to be given. It will be more consistent with those circumstances, and far more congenial with the feelings which actuate me, to substitute, in place of a recommendation of particular measures, the tribute that is due to the talents, the rectitude, and the patriotism which adorn the characters selected to devise and adopt them. In these honorable qualifications I behold the surest pledges that as on one side no local prejudices or attachments, no separate views nor party animosities, will misdirect the comprehensive and equal eye which ought to watch over this great assemblage of communities and interests, so, on another, that the foundation of our national policy will be laid in the pure and immutable principles of private morality, and the preeminence of free government be exemplified by all the attributes which can win the affections of its citizens and command the respect of the world. I dwell on this prospect with every satisfaction which an ardent love for my country can inspire, since there is no truth more thoroughly established than that there exists in the economy and course of nature an indissoluble union between virtue and happiness; between duty and advantage; between the genuine maxims of an honest and magnanimous policy and the solid rewards of public prosperity and felicity; since we ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained; and since the preservation of the sacred fire of liberty and the destiny of the republican model of government are justly considered, perhaps, as deeply, as finally, staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Office of the President

(National Archives) George Washington’s Birthday

Washington’s Birthday was celebrated on February 22nd until well into the 20th Century. However, in 1968 Congress passed the Monday Holiday Law to “provide uniform annual observances of certain legal public holidays on Mondays.” By creating more 3-day weekends, Congress hoped to “bring substantial benefits to both the spiritual and economic life of the Nation.”

One of the provisions of this act changed the observance of Washington’s Birthday from February 22nd to the third Monday in February. Ironically, this guaranteed that the holiday would never be celebrated on Washington’s actual birthday, as the third Monday in February cannot fall any later than February 21.

Contrary to popular belief, neither Congress nor the President has ever stipulated that the name of the holiday observed as Washington’s Birthday be changed to “President’s Day.”

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Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Office of the President

Remembering the remarkable Percy Julian

Percy Julian was one of the great scientists of the 20th century. In a chemistry career spanning four decades, he made many valuable discoveries, for which he was awarded dozens of patents, 18 honorary degrees, and membership to the prestigious National Academy of Sciences—only the second African American bestowed such an honor.

Yet Julian’s achievements as a trailblazer for Black chemists, while less well-known, are no less remarkable. Growing up when racial discrimination factored into every aspect of life for Blacks in America, from riding a bus to getting a job, Julian persevered to realize his dreams. And when he finally “arrived” as a successful chemist and businessman, he did not lose sight of the challenges that fellow Blacks still faced. He became a mentor to scores of young black chemists and, later in life, an inspiration for thousands as a civil-rights leader and speaker.

As the late Vernon Jarrett, one of the nation’s leading commentators on race relations, put it, “This man is Exhibit A of determination and never giving up. I think he’s a role model not only for blacks but for all races.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Austria, Education, History, Marriage & Family, Race/Race Relations, Science & Technology

Saturday food For Thought–Winston Churchill on Democracy

‘Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that…

Posted by Kendall Harmon on Saturday, January 23, 2021

Posted in England / UK, History, Politics in General

(Bloomberg) Joe Nocera–Joe Biden Has a Once-in-a-Century Chance to Fix Capitalism

In the years after World War II, the U.S. had some significant economic advantages when soldiers returned from the war looking for jobs. One, of course, was that the U.S. had escaped the devastation suffered by Europe and Japan, so its companies faced only domestic competition. Labor costs, for instance, were nearly irrelevant, and unions, which played an important role in raising living standards, were able to thrive.

But another advantage, as Rick Wartzman pointed out in his 2017 book “The End of Loyalty,” 3 is that American businessmen were unusually farsighted after the war. They knew it was critically important to generate millions of jobs to prevent the U.S. from falling into another depression. And they also knew that returning fighters were owed something for defeating the Nazis. There was a “we’re-all-in-this-together” feeling that came from having been through such a terrible war.

It’s impossible to claim that the pandemic has brought the nation together the same way that World War II did for that generation. But if you looked closely, you could see companies taking actions that had nothing to do with shareholder value and everything to do with helping the country.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Economy, History, Office of the President, Politics in General

Kendall Harmon–Celebrating the Borrett’s Ministry at Christ Saint Paul’s

Kendall Harmon–Celebrating the Borrett's Ministry at Christ Saint Paul's

One of the great truths of our faith is that…

Posted by Kendall Harmon on Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Church History, History, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

(1st Things) Richard John Neuhaus: Remembering, and Misremembering, Martin Luther King Jr.

As Abernathy tells it—and I believe he is right—he and King were first of all Christians, then Southerners, and then blacks living under an oppressive segregationist regime. King of course came from the black bourgeoisie of Atlanta in which his father, “Daddy King,” had succeeded in establishing himself as a king. Abernathy came from much more modest circumstances, but he was proud of his heritage and, as he writes, wanted nothing more than that whites would address his father as Mr. Abernathy. He and Martin loved the South, and envisioned its coming into its own once the sin of segregation had been expunged.

“Years later,” Abernathy writes that, “after the civil rights movement had peaked and I had taken over [after Martin’s death] as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference,” he met with Governor George Wallace. “Governor Wallace, by then restricted to a wheel chair after having been paralyzed by a would-be assassin’s bullet, shook hands with me and welcomed me to the State of Alabama. I smiled, realizing that he had forgotten all about Montgomery and Birmingham, and particularly Selma. ‘This is not my first visit,’ I said. ‘I was born in Alabama—in Marengo County.’ ‘Good,’ said Governor Wallace, ‘then welcome back.’ I really believe he meant it. In his later years he had become one of the greatest friends the blacks had ever had in Montgomery. Where once he had stood in the doorway and barred federal marshals from entering, he now made certain that our people were first in line for jobs, new schools, and other benefits of state government.” Abernathy concludes, “It was a time for reconciliations.”

Read it all (my emphasis).

Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: Letter from a Birmingham Jail

We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence, but we still creep at horse and buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, “Wait.” But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six year old daughter why she can’t go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five year old son who is asking: “Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?”; when you take a cross county drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading “white” and “colored”; when your first name becomes “nigger,” your middle name becomes “boy” (however old you are) and your last name becomes “John,” and your wife and mother are never given the respected title “Mrs.”; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of “nobodiness”–then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait.

There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience. You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern. Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court’s decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, at first glance it may seem rather paradoxical for us consciously to break laws. One may well ask: “How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?” The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that “an unjust law is no law at all.”

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Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Prison/Prison Ministry, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr: I Have a Dream

You can find the full text here.

I find it always is really worth the time to listen to and read and ponder it all on this day especially–KSH.

Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture

A Prayer for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Almighty God, who by the hand of Moses thy servant didst lead thy people out of slavery, and didst make them free at last: Grant that thy Church, following the example of thy prophet Martin Luther King, may resist oppression in the name of thy love, and may strive to secure for all thy children the blessed liberty of the Gospel of Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Church History, History, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer