November 23, 2017

Posted by orrinj at 6:29 AM

IT SEEMS PRETTY OBVIOUS WHAT WE SHOULD BE THANKFUL FOR THIS YEAR...:

...the End of History and the Deep State, which make our noisily partisan politics almost completely meaningless.

When historians of our era write, the thing they will emphasize is that an Evangelical Democrat, a New Deal Republican, a Realist liberal Republican, a conservative Democrat, an Evangelical Republican, a liberal Democrat and a Nationalist all oversaw virtually identical economic regimes.  And the triumph of capitalism, protestantism and democracy has been so comprehensive that the rest of the world has been converging on that same regime for those forty years.

The result is compelling, Chart of the day: US trade deficits vs. US household net worth -- they've risen in tandem over the last half century (Mark J. Perry, 11/13/17, AEI Ideas)

As can be seen in the chart, the steady increase in the US trade deficit over the last nearly half-century to a peak of $770 billion in 2006 before falling to an average of about $525 billion during the last seven years has been accompanied by a steady increase in the value of US household net worth, which has increased nearly four-fold in inflation-adjusted dollars since 1970. In dollar terms, America's household net worth last year rose to another fresh record high of almost $90 trillion, which is an average of more than $700,000 per US household and represents the total value of all household assets (real estate, vehicles, stock, savings, mutual funds, bonds, consumer durable goods, etc.) minus all debt (mortgages, car loans, consumer credit, etc.).

Thanks to the stock market rally to all-time record highs this year, household net worth topped $96 trillion in Q2 of this year, which was an $8.2 billion (and 9%) increase over a year ago. 

Why the world is more at peace (The Monitor's Editorial Board, JUNE 1, 2017, CS Monitor)

The causes of violence vary and are numerous. And scholars have long debated if humans are innately violent or peaceful. But Steven Pinker, the Harvard University scholar and author of the 2011 book "The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined," says societies are becoming more "enmeshed" and seeking "a higher good," resulting in less violence.

Building on his work, a team of Spanish scientists published a study in the journal Nature last year that found a marked drop in violence over the past 500 years. The research estimates about 2 percent of prehistoric humans died from violence. But as societies became better organized, and handed over the control of violence to police, courts, and elected officials, the rate has fallen far below 1 percent. They attribute the decline to better "cultural practices."

Is democracy in a worldwide decline? Nope. Here's our data. (Mélida Jiménez November 15, 2017, Washington Post)

Data from the Lexical Index of Electoral Democracy show that in 2016, no less than 68 percent of the world's countries -- home to 62.2 percent of the world population -- government power is determined by genuinely contested elections. That's actually an increase from 62 percent in 2006. What's more, 56 percent of the democracies established after 1975 have not seen democratic reversals. No country with over 40 years of electoral democracy -- with the prominent exception of Venezuela -- has slid back into nondemocratic governance. Democracy remains the most widespread and legitimate form of government.

As Americans, we'd like to believe that those ideas that drive the Anglospheric consensus are so compelling that they'd be worth adopting regardless, but the fact that they've been so successful certainly hasn't hurt.

And the combination of their beauty and efficacy has made it so that our institutions are pretty nearly impervious to attempted deviations from the norm.  Even a president who despises America and those ideas can do nothing much to contravene them.  Donald Trump should be removed from office for moral/aesthetic reasons, not for existential ones.  But, in the meantime, he simply does not matter.  

This year we are particularly thankful that God has a Special Providence for America while also being cognizant of the fact that, unlike His grace,, we've earned it.

Happy Thanksgiving everybody.



Posted by orrinj at 6:26 AM


Posted by orrinj at 6:03 AM

FOR GOD SO LOVED MAN..:

Deep fat fryers may help form cooling clouds (Matt McGrath, 11/23/17, BBC)

Molecules from deep fat frying may have a cooling effect on the climate

Fatty acids released into the air from cooking may help form clouds that limit global warming, say scientists.

Researchers believe these molecules arrange themselves into complex 3-D structures in atmospheric droplets.

These aerosols persist for longer than normal and can seed the formation of clouds which experts say can have a cooling effect on the climate.

Posted by orrinj at 6:02 AM

WINNING THE WoT:

Palestinian factions agree on elections in 2018 (Al Jazeera, 11/23/17)

Palestinian factions led by Fatah and Hamas have agreed to hold general elections no later than at the end of 2018, as part of the latest round of reconciliation talks held in Cairo.

In a statement released after the conclusion of the talks on Wednesday, representatives of the factions urged the Central Election Commission to complete preparations for the presidential and legislative elections by the end of next year.

Posted by orrinj at 5:44 AM

WHY hE PUTS UP WITH US:

How a homeless man's selfless act paid off in ways he couldn't imagine (PRISCILLA DEGREGORY & DANIKA FEARS, 11/23/17, NY Post)

A homeless man used the last $20 in his pocket to buy gas for a stranded motorist because he feared for her safety -- and what she did next changed his life.

Kate McClure, 27, and her boyfriend, Mark D'Amico, 38, made it their mission to get ex-Marine and firefighter Johnny Bobbit Jr. back on his feet with a fundraising campaign that has raised more than $65,000.

Bobbit came to McClure's aid last month, when she ran out of gas on I-95 at night while driving to meet a pal in Philadelphia.

As she walked toward the nearest gas station, he told her to get back in her car and lock the doors.

Bobbit then spent his last $20 to buy her gas so she would get home safe.

"He came back and I was almost in shock," McClure told The Post.

Bobbit asked for nothing in return -- but McClure and her boyfriend stopped by his spot several times in recent weeks, repaying him for the gas money and dropping off clothes.

"We went to Target and got him a big backpack filled with stuff, and he opened the granola bars and offered us one," she said. "We are like, 'We just got this for you.' He's extremely generous."

Touched by his selflessness, they started the fundraising campaign for Bobbit with a goal of $10,000 -- enough to cover "first and last month's rent at an apartment, a reliable vehicle, and 4 to 6 months worth of expenses."

They had no idea it would climb toward $70,000.

"This is nuts," McClure said of the money they've raised through GoFundMe. "It has changed my entire outlook about people, my outlook about people has skyrocketed. It's the best Thanksgiving that I've ever had."

Posted by orrinj at 5:42 AM

ALL THINGS IN MODERATION...EXCEPT TODAY:

'The Bad Food Bible' Says Your Eating Might Not Be So Sinful After All (Weekend Edition Sunday, 11/19/17)

Dr. Aaron Carroll is the director of the Center for Health Policy at Indiana University and author of The Bad Food Bible: How and Why to Eat Sinfully. In it, he explains that there might be less evidence against some notoriously bad foods than we think. In fact, maybe we should be eating some of them more often.

Weekend Edition host Lulu Garcia-Navarro spoke with Carroll about why "bad" food may not be so bad after all. Excerpts of the interview follow, edited for length and clarity.

You cover a lot of foods in your book that get a bad rap - butter, salt, diet soda and even alcohol. What's your main advice when it comes to these sinful eats?

I think the best thing you can do is realize is that the evidence base, all the data that's behind making you think these foods are bad for you, is pretty weak. And that if you just take some sensible ideas and try to eat in moderation and to not worry about it too much, you'll probably be much healthier and certainly much happier.

When you say that basically there's no evidence that some of these foods are bad, is all the information we've been getting for all these years wrong? Or is it just that people, doctors in particular, don't know what they're talking about?

It's a little bit of both. Part of it is that for a long time we've just had a very weak evidence base when it comes to nutrition. We take studies that are done in animals, or we take studies that can really only show us associations, and then we extrapolate them to make it out to be that there's causation, that we know these foods are making us unhealthy. ... At the end of the day there's just not as much evidence for demonizing these foods as people would have you believe.




Posted by orrinj at 5:40 AM

TAX WHAT YOU DON'T WANT:

Why Wind and Solar Energy Costs Aren't Dropping Like They Used To : The costs of renewable energy projects aren't coming down like they did a decade ago, but that may not be as bad as it seems. (Travis Hoium (TMFFlushDraw) Nov 17, 2017, Motley Fool)

Falling costs are good for renewables, but costs don't really need to fall to be competitive. Another part of Lazard's report shows that wind and solar energy are actually lower cost than coal, nuclear, diesel, and in some cases natural gas power plants. As a result, a slower pace of cost reductions may not matter for the wind and solar energy industries. They've already won the most important factor: cost per MWh. 

What may change adoption in the future is energy storage, which can make wind and solar energy 24/7 energy sources. According to Lazard, solar plus storage is already competitive at 8.2 cents per kWh ($82 per MWh) for utility-scale projects, so a future with even more renewable energy may not be far off. 

Posted by orrinj at 5:37 AM

THERE'S ALWAYS MORE SHOE-LEATHER:

The Serial-Killer Detector : A former journalist, equipped with an algorithm and the largest collection of murder records in the country, finds patterns in crime. (Alec Wilkinson, 11/27/17, The New Yorker)

The F.B.I. believes that less than one per cent of the killings each year are carried out by serial killers, but Hargrove thinks that the percentage is higher, and that there are probably around two thousand serial killers at large in the U.S. "How do I know?" he said. "A few years ago, I got some people at the F.B.I. to run the question of how many murders in their records are unsolved but have been linked through DNA." The answer was about fourteen hundred, slightly more than two per cent of the murders in the files they consulted. "Those are just the cases they were able to lock down with DNA," Hargrove said. "And killers don't always leave DNA--it's a gift when you get it. So two per cent is a floor, not a ceiling."
Hargrove is sixty-one. He is tall and slender, with a white beard and a skeptical regard. He lives with his wife and son in Alexandria, Virginia, and walks eight miles a day, to Mount Vernon or along the Potomac, while listening to recordings of books--usually mystery novels. He was born in Manhattan, but his parents moved to Yorktown, in Westchester County, when he was a boy. "I lived near Riverside Drive until I was four," he said. "Then one day I showed my mom what I learned on the playground, which is that you can make a switchblade out of Popsicle sticks, and next thing I knew I was living in Yorktown."

Hargrove's father wrote technical manuals on how to use mechanical calculators, and when Hargrove went to college, at the University of Missouri, he studied computational journalism and public opinion. He learned practices such as random-digit-dialling theory, which is used to conduct polls, and he was influenced by "Precision Journalism," a book by Philip Meyer that encourages journalists to learn survey methods from social science. After graduating, in 1977, he was hired by the Birmingham Post-Herald, in Alabama, with the understanding that he would conduct polls and do whatever else the paper needed. As it turned out, the paper needed a crime reporter. In 1978, Hargrove saw his first man die, the owner of a convenience store who had been shot during a robbery. He reported on a riot that began after police officers shot a sixteen-year-old African-American girl. Once, arriving at a standoff, he was shot at with a rifle by a drunk on a water tower. The bullet hit the gravel near his feet and made a sound that "was not quite a plink." He also covered the execution of a man named John Lewis Evans, the first inmate put to death in Alabama after a Supreme Court abrogation of capital punishment in the nineteen-sixties and seventies. "They electrocuted people in Alabama in an electric chair called the Yellow Mama, because it was painted bright yellow," Hargrove said. "Enough time had passed since the last execution that no one remembered how to do it. The first time, too much current went through too small a conduit, so everything caught fire. Everyone was crying, and I had trouble sleeping for days after."

In 1990, Hargrove moved to Washington, D.C., to work for Scripps Howard, where, he said, "my primary purpose was to use numbers to shock people." Studying the Social Security Administration's Death Master File--"where we will all end up one day," Hargrove said--he noticed that some people were included for a given year and dropped a few years later: people who had mistakenly been declared dead. From interviews, he learned that these people often have their bank accounts suddenly frozen, can't get credit cards or mortgages, and are refused jobs because they fail background checks. Comparing a list of federal grants for at-risk kids in inner-city schools against Census Bureau Zip Codes, he found that two-thirds of the grants were actually going to schools in the suburbs. "He did all this through really clever logic and programming," Isaac Wolf, a former journalist who had a desk near Hargrove's, told me. "A combination of resourceful thinking and an innovative approach to collecting and analyzing data through shoe-leather work."

In 2004, Hargrove was assigned a story about prostitution. To learn which cities enforced laws against the practice and which didn't, he requested a copy of the Uniform Crime Report, an annual compilation published by the F.B.I., and received a CD containing the most recent report, from 2002. "Along with it, at no extra cost, was something that said 'S.H.R. 2002,' " he said. It was the F.B.I.'s Supplementary Homicide Report, which includes all the murders reported to the Bureau, listing the age, race, sex, and ethnicity of the victim, along with the method and circumstances of the killing. As Hargrove looked through it, "the first thing I thought was, I wonder if it's possible to teach a computer to spot serial victims." Hargrove said that for six years he told each of his editors at Scripps Howard that he wanted to find serial killers using a computer, and the response was always, "You're kidding, right?"

In 2007, Hargrove did an investigation into sids, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, after wondering why, according to the Centers for Disease Control's infant-mortality records, so many more babies in Florida died from accidental suffocation than did babies in California, even though California had many more babies. During the following year, Hargrove interviewed coroners and pathologists around the country. "A growing number of them began saying, 'To be honest, I might get in trouble for saying this, but sids doesn't exist as such,' " he said. Hargrove concluded that sids wasn't a diagnosis or a mysterious disease but the result of people putting babies in their cribs in such a way that they suffocated during sleep. Florida tended to attribute these deaths to accidental suffocation, California to sids. In the aftermath of his story, the C.D.C. created the Sudden Unexpected Infant Death Case Registry to evaluate each death. Frank Lautenberg, a New Jersey senator, met with Hargrove and then introduced the Sudden Death Data Enhancement and Awareness Act, which President Obama signed in 2014. After the sids story, Hargrove's stock rose "insanely high in the newsroom," he said. 
He told his boss that he still wanted to try to teach a computer to detect serial killers, and this time his boss said, "You've got a year."

Posted by orrinj at 5:31 AM

THE ENTIRETY OF MEDICAL ADVANCES IS NUTRITION, SANITATION, HYGIENE AND VACCINATIONS:

Combating the Spread of Ineffective Medical Procedures : A Lesson Learned From Multiple Sclerosis (Ari J. Green, MD, MAS1,2,3,4; Hooman Kamel, MD4,5,6; S. Andrew Josephson, MD1,2,7, 11/17, JAMA Neurol. )

The Information Age has had a staggering effect on the spread and democratization of knowledge. The increased availability of cutting-edge data has accelerated the speed of breakthroughs. Faster communication of major discoveries in science has highlighted the need for scientists and physicians to hone their skills at simple and clear communication of their newfound knowledge to the general public. In medicine, we have realized significant gains by broadening international collaboration and widening the audience for medical knowledge.

However, these advances have come at a cost. The value of expertise has at times been degraded, and the careful judicious review of data has sometimes been compromised in the effort to quickly circulate new findings to the largest possible audience. At times, preliminary concepts that might have previously helped catalyze new thinking--but that still should have been considered provisional--have been inappropriately regarded as signaling a paradigm shift, without the requisite opportunity for expert appraisal. This is an important danger that we need to address.

In 2009, Zamboni et al concurrently published 2 studies1,2 on venous stasis in multiple sclerosis (MS). As part of this work, Paolo Zamboni, MD, coined the term chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency (CCSVI) to describe a phenomena of hypoplasia, intraluminal defects in the internal jugular and azygous veins, and an ill-defined concept that he termed compression. The first study1 described the CCSVI pattern and reported an extraordinarily high frequency of CCSVI findings in patients with all types of MS, with greater than 70% of patients harboring different CCSVI features (compared with 0% to 11% of controls). Zamboni et al1 also reported that patients with MS had a more than an 1100-fold increase in the odds of having reflux in their internal jugular or vertebral veins. A sister publication2 described the observed benefits of an open-label study for percutaneous balloon venoplasty in patients with MS with identified CCSVI. These publications together suggested that the field had overlooked the possibility that venous pooling in the central nervous system contributed to the pathogenesis of MS. Zamboni, who had begun his foray into MS research as an established expert in vascular disease and treatment, freely acknowledged in later press coverage that the experience his wife had with MS helped motivate him to help to do something transformational. [...]

In this issue of JAMA Neurology, Zamboni and colleagues12 report the results of their definitive randomized, double-blind sham-controlled clinical trial. This trial of 115 participants (of whom 76 were randomized to receive percutaneous transluminal venous angioplasty and 39 to receive a sham procedure) finds no benefit for "liberation treatment" for patients with MS, including no benefit in a disability outcome measure that included assessments of walking, balance, hand function, urinary function, and visual acuity. No benefit was seen for treated patients with regards to the percentage of patients who were free of new lesions or the number of new brain lesions observed. The disability outcome measure was novel and not the typical Expanded Disability Status Score or Multiple Sclerosis Functional Composite score, but this option was intentionally chosen by the investigators out of concern that the standard measures of disability would be insensitive to possible benefits. The study was smaller than initially intended, but the results suggested absolutely no benefit to treatment, with the primary end point actually favoring the sham procedure. [...]

As clinicians, we owe it to patients to protect them from false advances without appropriate efficacy and safety data, but we are often confronted with a wave of pressure from referring physicians, hospitals, advocacy groups, and the patients themselves. Zamboni et al should be applauded for their clear-eyed evaluation12 of their earlier theory1,2 in a rigorous and definitive fashion. It is difficult to refute one's own prior findings, but the authors have used the right methods to test the CCSVI theory and have yielded an unequivocal result.

We have an epidemic in medicine of these types of stories. As with infectious disease outbreaks, we can best learn how to control spread of ill-advised communicable ideas by reviewing what went wrong in the last occurrence. Hopefully, the field can use this lesson to identify what can be done to inoculate ourselves against similar future events.

Posted by orrinj at 5:31 AM

FROM THE ARCHIVES : ESTABLISHMENT IS AN AWFULLY HIGH BAR:

Thanksgiving and the Constitution (Carson Holloway, November 26th, 2013, The Public Discourse)

If we seek evidence of the broadly shared public view of the meaning of the Establishment Clause at the time of the Founding, we find not an insistence on strict separation of church and state but instead a largely uncontroversial willingness to see the government act in a non-coercive and non-discriminatory manner to encourage religious belief and practice.

This brings us to Thanksgiving and the country's tradition of presidential proclamations of thanksgiving. As Rehnquist observes in his Wallace dissent, the First Congress--the same Congress that Madison led in drafting the Establishment Clause--passed a resolution asking President George Washington to proclaim a day of thanksgiving for the nation. Washington complied, and his proclamation of October 3, 1789, is as clear an example as one could wish of government encouragement of religion.

Washington began by claiming that it is "the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor." He then proceeded to "recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be." To believe that the original understanding of the Establishment Clause requires strict separation of church and state, or utter government neutrality between religion and irreligion, we would have to believe that the first Congress and the first president pursued a line of conduct that was inconsistent with the Constitution they were then in the process of implementing.

In response, defenders of strict separation have argued that Washington's 1789 Thanksgiving Proclamation does not necessarily shed any light on the founding generation's understanding of the Establishment Clause. After all, they point out, although the First Amendment was being crafted at the same time as Congress requested the Thanksgiving Proclamation, it was not ratified for another two years. Washington's Proclamation, then, was not a violation of the Constitution because the Constitution at that time did not include the Establishment Clause. Therefore, the fact that these founding statesmen did not seem to be conscious of anything unconstitutional in their actions does not necessarily shed light on the meaning of the yet-to-be formalized Establishment Clause.

This argument is clever but unpersuasive. Clearly, the first Congress passed the Establishment Clause--adding it to the nation's fundamental law--because they thought it would be deeply improper for Congress to make any law respecting an establishment of religion. If strict separationism is a correct interpretation of the founders' understanding, then we must believe that they thought, in addition, that any government promotion of religious belief--no matter how non-discriminatory and non-coercive--was also deeply improper.

If that was in fact their belief, it is not credible that they would have sought the Thanksgiving Proclamation as they did, even if the Amendment formally prohibiting what they thought deeply improper had not yet been ratified. It is hardly reasonable to think of the leading statesmen of the founding period as the kind of men to eagerly seize the chance to get away with something they disapproved of and were in the process of forbidding. They would no more have done so than they would have tried to use unreasonable searches and seizures or deprive citizens of the right to confront their accusers while the rest of the Bill of Rights was still pending before the states.

In any case, this argument is also undercut by the fact that Washington issued a very similar proclamation in 1795, after the First Amendment had been ratified and was an operative part of the Constitution. In this pronouncement, Washington once again reminded Americans of their "duty as a people, with devout reverence and affectionate gratitude, to acknowledge our many and great obligations to Almighty God and to implore him to continue and confirm the blessings we experience." Once again, Washington went on to recommend "to all persons whomsoever" in the United States to set aside a specified day "as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer."

Similar proclamations of days of thanksgiving were issued by Washington's successor in the presidency, John Adams. And while Jefferson declined to issue any during his presidency, even James Madison, Jefferson's partner in disapproval of governmental support for religion, issued them during his tenure as president. It may well be that Madison did so against his better judgment to placate the public's expectations. Those expectations, however, once again confirm that the dominant sense of the founding generation was that there was nothing constitutionally improper in a governmental exhortation to religious activity.



[originally posted : 11/27/13]
Posted by orrinj at 5:19 AM

DEVIANCE IS SELDOM A ONE-OFF:

Two additional women accuse Al Franken of sexual misconduct (AP and Times of Israel, 11/23/17)

Two women are alleging that Minnesota Democratic US Senator Al Franken touched their buttocks during events for his first campaign for Senate, bringing the number of women leveling charges against the lawmaker to four.

The women spoke to Huffington Post on condition of anonymity, in an article published late Wednesday. The women said the events occurred in Minneapolis in 2007 and 2008.

The website said neither women was aware of the others' story, but both had been recounting the incidents privately for years.

Always fun when partisans argue that these guys deserve the benefit of the doubt for an isolated incident. The other shoes are always just waiting to drop.

Posted by orrinj at 5:09 AM

ANGLOSPHERICS ARE A FUNCTION OF COVENANT THEOLOGY:

The Mayflower Compact and the seeds of American democracy (Jeff Jacoby, 11/21/17, The Boston Globe)

Something had to be done to keep the group united. That something turned out to be the Mayflower Compact, the foundation stone of American democracy.

That may sound like an absurdly grand claim for a document barely 200 words long and improvised in haste. It contained no laws or blueprint for the governance of their new settlement. Some of those who signed were illiterate and made their mark with an 'X'. Many of the signers would be dead within the year.

And yet the Mayflower Compact was something new under the sun. More than a jerry-built expedient to keep the group together, it established the first government in the New World based on the voluntary consent of the governed. Every free man on the ship was invited to sign -- including those who in England, as mere uneducated laborers, would have had no political rights. Virtually all of them did so, forming what the Compact called "a civill body politick" with the power to elect leaders and make "just and equall lawes, ordinances, acts, constitutions, and offices" for the general good of the colony.

To be sure, the signers professed their loyalty to "our dread soveraigne Lord, King James." But they claimed authority to rule themselves not in the king's name, but from their own free will. The agreement they signed off Provincetown Harbor declared their intention to "covenant and combine our selves togeather" for the purpose of self-government. When each man "promise[d] all due submission and obedience," it was to the colony they were poised to launch in America, not to the throne back in London.

In just 200 words, the Mayflower Compact foreshadowed the themes that would be enshrined in the Declaration of Independence many decades later: that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with basic rights, that government derives legitimacy from the consent of the governed.

More than 180 years later, future president John Quincy Adams regarded what the Pilgrims had done with awe. Their shipboard agreement, he said in 1802, "is, perhaps, the only instance in human history of that positive, original social compact which speculative philosophers have imagined as the only legitimate source of government." What Locke and Rousseau would theorize about, the men on the Mayflower actually did: "Here was a unanimous and personal assent, by all the individuals of the community, to the association by which they became a nation."

Posted by orrinj at 4:52 AM

ROY WHO?:

Sexual Misconduct Claims Against President Trump (Meg Kelly, 11/22/17, The Washington Post)
Here's a list of 13 women who have publicly come forward with claims that Trump had physically touched them inappropriately in some way, and the witnesses they provided. We did not include claims that were made only through Facebook posts or other social media, or in lawsuits that subsequently were withdrawn. We also did not include the accounts of former beauty contestants who say Trump walked in on them when they were half nude because there were no allegations of touching. Trump had bragged on the Howard Stern show of his "inspections" during the pageants: "You know they're standing there with no clothes. Is everybody OK? And you see these incredible looking women. And so I sort of get away with things like that."
WHEN HAS TRUMP BEEN ACCUSED OF RAPE OR ATTEMPTED RAPE? ALLEGATIONS INCLUDE A CHILD, HIS WIFE AND A BUSINESS ASSOCIATE(CHRIS RIOTTA ON 11/16/17, Newsweek)
Trump has been accused of rape and attempted rape a total of three times, once involving an alleged victim who was a year younger than Moore's accuser.

Posted by orrinj at 4:23 AM

THE ONLY EXISTENTIAL THREAT IS INTERNAL:

US Jews have it easy, don't send kids to war, top diplomat Hotovely says (JTA, 11/23/17)

Israel's deputy foreign minister Tzipi] Hotovely decried her disinvitation earlier this month from the Princeton University Hillel because of her past comments on Israeli Arabs.  [...]

"The other issue is not understanding the complexity of the region," she said. "People that never send their children to fight for their country, most of the Jews don't have children serving as soldiers, going to the Marines, going to Afghanistan, or to Iraq. Most of them are having quite convenient lives. They don't feel how it feels to be attacked by rockets, and I think part of it is to actually experience what Israel is dealing with on a daily basis."

The most dangerous anti-Semitism in the world today is a function of Israeli politics.

Posted by orrinj at 1:51 AM

FROM THE ARCHIVES: ALL THAT AND PECAN PIE:

The Greatness of Thanksgiving (PETER LAWLER, NOVEMBER 27, 2013, Big Think)

13. The homelessness that Thanksgiving is supposed to counter is not the existential homelessness described by Pascal or Sartre. It's not the homelessness that causes us to long for regression into the womb. Or, for that matter, for a personal savior. It's the homelessness of a person separated from or otherwise deprived of family and friends. And so it's about gratitude for being with--knowing and loving with--those emotionally closest to us. It can also be gratitude for having found a new friend and being taken into a new home. My favorite Thanksgiving movie right at the moment is Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, in which the Steve Martin character experiences the first kind of gratitude, enhanced by his gift to the John Candy character of the second kind.  It's the loneliness often captured by John Candy in film--and by Roy Orbison in song--that's the enemy of Thanksgiving.

14. The greatness of Thanksgiving is that it doesn't aspire to greatness, but only to the shared experiences that make living worth living for each one of us.


[originally posted : 11/28/13]
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:47 AM

FROM THE ARCHIVES: LIBERTY, NOT FREEDOM:

Thanking the Puritans on Thanksgiving (With, of Course, the Help of Tocqueville) (Peter Lawler, 11/24/10, First Things)

There's little less fashionable today than praising the Puritans, especially for their egalitarian political idealism, their promotion of genuinely humane and liberating learning, and their capacity for enjoyment and human happiness. Praising the Puritans is especially difficult for us because even most of our Protestants have abandoned them. When a European calls us Puritanical we don't say, "yes, thanks a lot, you're right." Instead, we either deny it, saying we're way beyond those days. Or we admit it, saying that, "yes, we should be less capitalistic, less repressed, and more free thinking, just like you." But the truth is that the Puritans remain the chief source of the American difference-our ability to live freely and prosperously without unduly slighting the longings of our souls. It's the Puritans' idealism that made and even makes Americans civilized.

Tocqueville's Democracy in America almost begins by showing us how much our democracy owes the Puritans. [...]

[T]he Puritans established colonies without lords or masters --without, in fact, economic classes. They weren't out to get rich or even improve their economic condition; they were in no way driven by material necessity. They "belonged to the well-to-do-classes of the mother country" and would have been better off in the most obvious ways staying home. Their lives were structured by resources and by morality; they came to America as family men, bringing their wives and children. They were models of social virtue. They were also extremely educated men--on the cutting edge, in many ways, of European enlightenment. They were, Tocqueville observes, animated by "a purely intellectual need." They aimed "to make an idea triumph" in this world.

The Puritans were, in fact, singularly distinguished by the nobility of their idealistic, intellectual goal. They willingly imposed themselves to "the inevitable miseries of exile" to live and pray freely as they believed God intended. Those called "the pilgrims," Tocqueville observes, were that way because their "austere principles" caused them to be called Puritans. Their pure standards-their excessive claims for freedom from the alleged corruption of bodily need and pleasure-caused them to be insufferable to all the governments and societies now in existence. The Puritans always seem to others to be "enemies of pleasures" (DA,2,3,19).

Puritan principles could become real only in a new world carved out of the wilderness, where they are the founders of "a great people" of God. They had no choice, they thought, but to be "pious adventurers," combining the spirits of religion, morality, family, and education with something like the restlessness that drove other "small troop[s] of adventurers going to seek fortune beyond the seas." Unlike the Americans Tocqueville observed himself, their restlessness led them to their true home and didn't leave them isolated or disoriented.

The first Americans of the North chose exile in America not for prosperity or physical liberty, but to satisfy an intellectual need that has nothing to do with their bodies. The Virginians, by contrast, were extremely moved by singularly materialistic-really, criminal-pursuits. (Most colonies, Tocqueville notices, originate in the lawless greed characteristic of pirates.) But that's not to say the men of New England thought of themselves as too good or too pure for this world.

All those democratic political freedoms that we Americans often trace to the social contract theory of the philosopher Locke the Puritans adopted "without discussion and in fact." Being clearly derived from Biblical principle, they didn't depend on or exist merely in the speculative dialogue of the philosophers. Even the Americans Tocqueville saw for himself in his visit understood that accepting some religious dogma "without discussion" turns out to be an indispensable foundation of the effective exercise of political freedom.

Because the Puritan conception of political freedom wasn't based on the apolitical, selfish, rights-obsessed, and duty negligent Lockean individual, it both not only demanded virtuous civic participation but also connected political freedom with the creature's charitable duty to the unfortunate. It set a high or virtuous standard for political competence and incorruptibility, and it didn't seem to need to rely on institutions with teeth in them to restrain the spirit of faction and boundless ambition of leaders.


Peace, Love and Puritanism (DAVID D. HALL, 11/23/10, NY Times)
[I]n Hawthorne's day, some people realized that he had things wrong. Notably, Alexis de Tocqueville, the French writer who visited the United States in 1831. Tocqueville may not have realized that the colonists had installed participatory governance in the towns they were founding by the dozens. Yet he did credit them for the political system he admired in 19th-century America.

After all, it was the Puritans who had introduced similar practices in colony governments -- mandating annual elections, insisting that legislatures could meet even if a governor refused to summon a new session and declaring that no law was valid unless the people or their representatives had consented to it. Well aware of how English kings abused their powers of office, the colonists wanted to keep their new leaders on a short leash.

Tocqueville did not cite the churches that the colonists had organized, but he should have. Like most of their fellow Puritans in England, the colonists turned away from all forms of hierarchy. Out went bishops, out went any centralized governance; in came Congregationalism, which gave lay church members the power to elect and dismiss ministers and decide other major matters of policy. As many observed at the time, the Congregational system did much to transfer authority from the clergy to the people.

Contrary to Hawthorne's assertions of self-righteousness, the colonists hungered to recreate the ethics of love and mutual obligation spelled out in the New Testament. Church members pledged to respect the common good and to care for one another. Celebrating the liberty they had gained by coming to the New World, they echoed St. Paul's assertion that true liberty was inseparable from the obligation to serve others.

For this reason, no Puritan would have agreed with the ethic of "self-reliance" advanced by Hawthorne's contemporary, Ralph Waldo Emerson. Instead, people should agree on what was right, and make it happen.


MORE:
Albert J. Nock

Burke touches [the] matter of patriotism with a searching phrase. 'For us to love our country,' he said, 'our country ought to be lovely.' I have sometimes thought that here may be the rock on which Western civilization will finally shatter itself. Economism can build a society which is rich, prosperous, powerful, even one which has a reasonably wide diffusion of material well-being. It can not build one which is lovely, one which has savour and depth, and which exercises the irresistible attraction that loveliness wields. Perhaps by the time economism has run its course the society it has built may be tired of itself, bored by its own hideousness, and may despairingly consent to annihilation, aware that it is too ugly to be let live any longer.


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[originally posted: 11/24/10]



Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:46 AM

FROM THE ARCHIVES: REVERSING THE PILGRIMMAGE:

An English Thanksgiving, 1942: American soldiers followed in the footsteps of 17th-century Pilgrims and sat in the pew of Miles Standish. (THOMAS FLEMING, 11/24/11, WSJ)

Helping to win them over was an extraordinary act of generosity very much in keeping with the spirit of the holiday. Merchant ships had carried tons of frozen turkey across the submarine-infested Atlantic for the big day. Then the Yanks announced they would donate all of it to the thousands of British war wounded in hospitals. Instead they would dine on roast pork and eat plum pudding for desert, alas without the standard rum sauce. "The quartermaster failed to deliver the rum," a newsman reported.

Americans also took advantage of their holiday abroad to walk in the footsteps of the Pilgrims who created the first Thanksgiving in the New England wilderness in 1621. One officer sat in the pew once occupied by the legendary Miles Standish, the Pilgrim's military leader, in the small parish church at Chorley, in the county of Lancashire. The Chorley town hall flew an American flag on Thanksgiving Day--the first time in their long history that the citizens had ever honored the flag of another nation.

The Lord Mayor of Boston, in Lincolnshire, invited 100 American servicemen to be his guests for a modest wartime dinner. Afterward, a senior officer laid a wreath on a memorial to five pre-Revolutionary War royal governors who had been born in the historic city. An American private laid another wreath in the cold dark cells where some Pilgrims were confined in 1607 while trying to escape to religious freedom in Holland.

Even more thrilling to those with a sense of history was a visit to Southhampton, where a U.S. Army detachment stood at attention before the pier where the old freighter, Mayflower, was fitted out for her trans-Atlantic voyage. At Plymouth they visited the quay from which the Pilgrims boarded. Not far away, the Archbishop of Canterbury conducted a service in the ruins of St. Andrew's Church, where some of the Mayflower's passengers prayed before they began their 3,000-mile voyage. Virginia-born Lady Astor was on hand for these ceremonies, calling Americans "my compatriots" and joking with a Southerner from Georgia, Private Billy Harrison, about their superiority to "damn Yankees" from New York.

The most dramatic ceremony was in London's Westminster Abbey, where English kings and queens have been crowned for centuries. No British government had ever permitted any ritual on its altar except the prescribed devotions of the Church of England. But on Nov. 26, 1942, they made an exception for their American cousins.

[Originally posted: 11/24/11]
Posted by orrinj at 12:39 AM

FROM THE ARCHIVES : WHICH SHOWS YOU WHAT THE FOUNDERS THOUGHT OF FEDERALISM AND SEPARATION:

Thanksgiving, 1789 (Melanie Kirkpatrick, 11/22/12, Wall Street Journal)

Rep. Thomas Tudor Tucker, also of South Carolina, raised two further objections. "Why should the President direct the people to do what, perhaps, they have no mind to do?" he asked. "If a day of thanksgiving must take place," he said, "let it be done by the authority of the several States."

Tucker's second reservation had to do with separation of church and state. Proclaiming a day of Thanksgiving "is a religious matter," he said, "and, as such, proscribed to us." The Bill of Rights would not be ratified until 1791--but Congress had just approved the wording of First Amendment, and that debate was fresh in everyone's mind.

It fell to a New Englander to stand up in support of Thanksgiving. Connecticut's Roger Sherman praised Boudinot's resolution as "a laudable one in itself." It also was "warranted by a number of precedents" in the Bible, he said, "for instance the solemn thanksgivings and rejoicings which took place in the time of Solomon, after the building of the temple."

In the end, the Thanksgiving resolution passed--the precise vote is not recorded--and the House appointed a committee. The resolution moved to the Senate, which passed it and added its own members to the committee.

The committee took the resolution to the president, and on Oct. 3 George Washington issued his now-famous Thanksgiving Proclamation. In it, he designated Thursday, Nov. 26, 1789 as "a day of public thanksgiving and prayer." He asked Americans to render their "sincere and humble thanks" to God for "his kind care and protection of the People of this Country."

It was his first presidential proclamation, and it was well heeded.


(originally posted : 11/22/12)
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Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:38 AM

FROM THE ARCHIVES: PURITAN NATION:

Thanksgiving and American Exceptionalism (Mark Tooley, 11.24.10, American Spectator)

The left-of-center Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) and Brookings Institution have released a post-election survey showing nearly 60 percent of Americans believe God has assigned America a "special role" in human history. Over 80 percent of white evangelicals believe in this special role for America, as do two thirds of minority Christians. Majorities of white Mainline Protestants and Catholics also agree. Two thirds of the religiously unaffiliated disbelieve in any special role for America.

Probably the surveyors were discomfited by the results, especially that the devotees of American exceptionalism were not confined to white evangelicals but were nearly as numerous among minority Christians, which presumably mostly means blacks and Hispanics. American exceptionalism essentially originated with the ancestors of Mainline Protestantism, who were America's earliest European settlers and America's primary religious pillars for most of our history. A half century of leftward drift by Mainline church elites unsurprisingly has dampened their confidence in exceptionalism, but most still adhere. Likewise for most Catholics. The survey frustratingly does not provide a detailed break-down, but almost certainly most religiously active Mainline Protestants and Catholics are more prone to American exceptionalism than the nominally affiliated.

Much and perhaps most of American exceptionalism originated with the Calvinist English religious dissenters who settled New England, the first wave of whom landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620. With Thanksgiving, America celebrates those dissenters' founding holiday. Later waves of Puritan immigrants conceived of their American adventure as an "errand in the wilderness." And some metaphorically likened their new civilization to the Chosen People of the Old Testament, with special blessings but also special obligations, always under both God's gracious care and sometimes severe judgment. Subsequent immigrants were not always as religiously devout. But the Puritan conception of America on a special mission from God that would benefit not just Americans but all peoples was reinforced by the heroic and spiritually animated struggle for American independence. Later immigrants, though far removed from the British Protestant tradition, still often comfortably embraced the notion of America as a sort of Promised Land, especially when compared to the travails of the old country. The Calvinist conception of American exceptionalism expanded to include other Protestants, Catholics and Jews.

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[originally posted: 11/24/10]



Posted by orrinj at 12:36 AM

FROM THE ARCHIVES: THE TIP OF THE SPEAR:

Thanksgiving and Puritan geopolitics in the New World : Puritan settlements in New England were part of a grand strategy for controlling the wealth of the Americas. (Stratfor | 27 November 2014)

Throughout the first half of the 17th century, England was wracked by internal divisions that would lead to civil war in 1642. Religion was a huge part of this. The dispute was over the direction of the Church of England. Some factions favored "high" church practices that involved elaborate ritual. The Puritans, by contrast, wanted to clear the national religion of what they considered Catholic traces. This religious crisis compounded a political crisis at the highest levels of government, pitting Parliament against the monarchy.

By the beginning of the 17th century, England had undergone centralizing reforms that gave the king and his Parliament unrestricted power to make laws. Balance was needed. The king had the power to call Parliament into session and dismiss it. Parliament had the power to grant him vital funds needed for war or to pay down debt. However, Parliament had powerful Puritan factions that sought not only to advance their sectarian cause but also to advance the power of Parliament beyond its constraints. Kings James I and his son Charles I, for their part, sought to gain an unrestrained hold on power that would enable them to make decisive strategic choices abroad. They relied, internally and externally, on Catholics, crypto-Catholics and high church advocates -- exacerbating the displeasure of Parliament.

In 1618, the Thirty Years' War broke out in the German states -- a war that, in part, pitted Protestants against Catholics and spread throughout Central Europe. James did not wish to become involved in the war. In 1620, the Catholic Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand II, a relative of Spain's King Philip III, pushed Frederick V, the Protestant son-in-law of England's King James, out of his lands in Bohemia, and Spain attacked Frederick in his other lands in the Rhineland. The English monarchy called for a defense of Frederick but was unwilling to commit to significant military action to aid him.

Puritan factions in Parliament, however, wanted England to strike at Spain directly by attacking Spanish shipments from the Americas, which could have paid for itself in captured goods. To make matters worse, from 1614 to 1623, James I pursued an unpopular plan to marry his son Charles to the Catholic daughter of Philip III of Spain -- a plan called the "Spanish Match." Instead, Charles I ended up marrying the Catholic daughter of the king of France in 1625. This contributed to the impression that James and Charles were too friendly with Spain and Catholicism, or even were secret Catholics. Many Puritans and other zealous promoters of the Protestant cause began to feel that they had to look outside of the English government to further their cause.

Amid this complex constellation of Continental powers and England's own internal incoherence, a group of Puritan leaders in Parliament, who would later play a pivotal role in the English Civil War, focused on the geopolitical factors that were troubling England. Issues of finance and Spanish power were at the core. A group of them struck on the idea of establishing a set of Puritan colonial ventures in the Americas that would simultaneously serve to unseat Spain from her colonial empire and enrich England, tipping the geopolitical balance.

In this they were continuing Elizabeth I's strategy of 1585, when she started a privateer war in the Atlantic and Caribbean to capture Spanish treasure ships bound from the Americas. Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay were part of this early vision, but they were both far too remote to challenge the Spanish, and the group believed that the area's climate precluded it from being a source of vast wealth from cash crops. New England, however, was safe from Spanish aggression and could serve as a suitable starting point for a colonial push into the heart of Spanish territory.


[originally posted 11/28/14]
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:35 AM

FROM THE THANKSGIVING ARCHIVES: FUNDAMENTALISM

Religious Freedom and Pluralism (Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J., Spring 2002, Markets & Morality)
Although no given religion is established in the United States, our national traditions are heavily imbued with religion. Abraham Kuyper, lecturing in 1874, maintained that the people of the United States "bear a clear-cut Christian stamp more than any other nation on earth." The separation between Church and State, he said, had a very different meaning for Americans than it did for Cavour. It stemmed "not from the desire to be liberated from the Church but from the realization that the well-being of the Church and the progress of Christianity demand it."

We have had in the United States a kind of "civil," "political," or "public" religion that neither affirms the particular beliefs of any denomination nor seeks to compete with any Church or synagogue. It does not deify the State but inculcates reverence to a God by whom all States are judged. This common patrimony has some affinities with the "natural religion" of the deists but goes beyond deism in professing various biblical beliefs: for example, that God is to be worshiped and obeyed, that he hears our prayers, rewards virtue, punishes vice, has mercy on the repentant, and governs the world with his providential care.

This "civil religion," as I call it, is not legally imposed but is officially encouraged. It makes regular appearances at the time of Presidential inaugurations, Thanksgiving Day proclamations, and State funerals. Incumbents of public office are regularly sworn in with their hand on the Bible. They are expected to profess the articles of civil religion and are, at the same time, limited by it insofar as, in their public pronouncements, they are cautioned against asserting a more specific faith. Not all citizens are required to share the civil religion, but it has hitherto enjoyed solid public support. It provides a kind of protective umbrella under which, more specific religious faiths can flourish. Another feature of the American system, which distinguishes it from the laicism of nineteenth-century Europe, is the limited scope of the national government. The First Amendment originally applied only to the Federal government; it did not prevent individual States from having established churches. Even when the First Amendment was applied to individual States through the Supreme Court's interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment, allowance was made for schools, hospitals, and welfare agencies to maintain their specific religious identities.

The government, while not professing any particular form of theism, favored a situation in which religious groups had an effective cultural presence. Religious groups could take advantage of the institutions of free speech and a free press to disseminate their convictions. Many immigrant groups coming from Europe brought their denominational identity with them and settled in religiously homogeneous neighborhoods, whether Jewish or Christian. Thus, the environment in which Americans grew up was permeated with religious influences. Practically speaking, Americans reaped the benefits without the deficits of an established religion. [?]

The current retreat from engagement with truth exacts a heavy price. The American proposition, as Richard John Neuhaus reminds us, is no longer proposed. People do not know why they ought to be doing what the laws say that they should be doing. "The popularly accessible and vibrant belief systems and worldviews of our society are largely excluded from the public arena in which the decisions are made about how the society should be ordered."

Society, in the classical sense, presupposed a common purpose. The citizens of the State (or the vast majority of them) were expected to share a common vision concerning the good life. As diversity deepens, this consensus breaks down. Cognitive minorities go off in their own directions and cease to be concerned about the values dear to others. In the absence of a shared vision, shared meanings, and a common vocabulary, civil discourse collapses. Many Americans no longer adhere to the consensus enshrined in their founding documents. This alienation contributes to a weakening of patriotism and to what some refer to as an "eclipse of citizenship."

According to Michael Sandel, in his well-known Democracy's Discontent, the dominant tendency in political theory today is to exclude moral and religious arguments from the public realm for the sake of political harmony. The assumption is that reasonable people will always disagree about the nature of truth and justice; there are no criteria for deciding which of two contradictory opinions is true. This pragmatic relativism is manifest, Sandel reports, in the works of John Rawls, Ronald Dworkin, Robert Nozick, and Bruce Ackerman. The minimalist liberalism of these theorists, in Sandel's view, reduces all rights to the merely procedural rather than the substantive; it engenders what he calls "the procedural republic," in which toleration, freedom, and fairness are the supreme values. This procedural republic, he points out, leads to a moral void in which the citizens are deprived of the moral and intellectual vision needed to sustain a sense of national purpose and even to safeguard freedom itself.

To illustrate how minimalist liberalism fails to protect the most elemental human rights, issues such as slavery and abortion come to mind. Unless one acknowledges the inviolable value of the individual person-a postulate that defies justification on pragmatist grounds-it cannot be shown why slavery should not be legitimized by the will of the majority. The recent trend to sanction abortion when the mother chooses to do away with an unborn child violates the principle of the right to life-a principle that the Founding Fathers regarded as grounded in the eternal law of God. The sanctity of human life is further jeopardized by campaigns for infanticide, euthanasia, and assisted suicide. The American experiment started with a national consensus that offered, in the name of liberty, a common ground allowing for a good measure of religious diversity. The constitutional right to freedom, by allowing different positions to be held and propagated without external interference, protected and enhanced pluralism, but we now face the danger that extreme and unreconciled pluralism may turn against the principles that undergird religious freedom itself.

In the absence of any standard of truth by which right and wrong can be measured, decisions have no objective point of reference. Rights cease to have a firm foundation in the inviolable dignity of the person. Decisions about matters of right become, in the end, matters of self-interest or mere arbitrary whim. Nobody is secure, because everyone's rights become negotiable. As John Paul II puts it, "Freedom negates itself and destroys itself, and becomes a factor leading to the destruction of others, when it no longer recognizes and respects its essential link with truth."

In the world of agnostic relativism, religion loses its true character as a way of relating the human family to God. God himself is treated as a mere projection of human fantasy, to be exploited insofar as the idea proves interesting and socially useful. Religion becomes a psychological exercise-perhaps a form of therapy or entertainment. In the absence of a realist epistemology, in which God can be apprehended as a power beyond and above us, religion itself becomes as insecure as freedom. Religious freedom lacks any firm grounding because religion has lost its roots in transcendent reality.

Popes of the past century have often been criticized for their expressed reservations about religious freedom. They were referring to the militant secularism of their own day, but much of their criticism is applicable to the agnostic pragmatism that prevails in American society today. It is hard to refute the logic of the following words from Leo XIII:

The nature of human liberty, however it be considered, whether in individuals or in society, whether in those who command or in those who obey, supposes the necessity of obedience to some supreme and eternal law, which is no other than the authority of God, commanding good and forbidding evil. And, so far from this most just authority of God over men diminishing, or even destroying their liberty, it protects and perfects it; for the real perfection of all creatures is found in the prosecution and attainment of their respective ends. But the supreme end to which liberty must aspire is God.

If pluralism is taken to mean that the human mind will never be able to encompass the mystery of the divine, it is inevitable and justified. There will always be different points of view, different perspectives, limited insights, but where pluralism is cultivated for its own sake, as if all points of view were equally legitimate, the line must be drawn. We must agree with Murray that religious pluralism implies error and is "against the will of God." Pluralism, if it is not to become destructive, must be accompanied by fundamental agreements such as those embodied in what I have described as the American civil religion. Unless a solid majority of the citizens accept some such basic core of agreement, the prognosis for religion in the American republic is poor.

Those of us who have come to believe in the God of the Bible and of Judeo-Christian tradition, even without fully agreeing among ourselves about other points of doctrine, have an urgent, common task. We must join forces to give common testimony to the basic truths of natural and biblical religion. We must confess together the importance of declaring that God exists, that his goodness can be known, and that we have certain specifiable duties toward him. We must also insist on our right to bear witness to the further truths that we believe on the basis of Jewish and Christian revelation, as understood within our respective traditions. If many Americans fail to believe, it is partly because believers have failed to present their faith as something credible and important. If the question of religious truth is bracketed for the sake of a consensus that excludes no one, or is short-circuited by a lazy agnosticism, our pluralism may fall into suicidal excesses. Both freedom and religion are jeopardized by the skeptical relativism that threatens to become the dominant ideology of the nation.

This maintenance of fundamental truths seems the one project that any conservatism worthy of the name has to entail or we'll not be able to conserve anything. This does not mean that we need a less tolerant society but one that is based on a more traditional understanding of toleration, that practices toleration as a means to achieving a decent society without elevating the idea of tolerance to a purpose of the society. It is the difference between accepting that people believe things we must disagree with and pretending that their beliefs are as valid as ours. (originally posted: 5/03/03)


Posted by orrinj at 12:34 AM

FROM THE ARCHIVES : THUS, DUNKIN' :

Pilgrims & Baptists: the little known connection (David Roach, November 26, 2014, Baptist Press)

John Smyth, who often is credited with being the first Baptist, pastored a church where many of the Christians who later came to be known as Pilgrims were members. But when Smyth began to argue with the future Pilgrims over church government, they formed another church under the leadership of John Robinson. In 1620, a portion of Robinson's congregation sailed to Plymouth, Mass., aboard the Mayflower.

Following the split, Smyth became convinced that the Bible teaches believer's baptism and launched the Baptist movement.

"Most people don't realize how closely the Pilgrims and the first Baptists were related. John Smyth and [Plymouth Colony governor] William Bradford knew each other, and in fact Smyth pastored the church where many of the Pilgrims were members before they left England for Holland and then sailed to America," Jason Duesing, provost at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, told Baptist Press in written comments. "The world of English Separatism was very intertwined. Those that became Baptists were a formative part of the story that led to the first Thanksgiving."

Smyth and the Pilgrims both emerged from a movement in England known as Separatism.

In the late 1500s and early 1600s, the Church of England, which was controlled by the British monarch, was Protestant in its doctrine but largely followed Catholic worship practice. A group of Christians known as Puritans objected to Catholic rituals and thought worship should only include elements taught in the Bible.

[originally posted : 11/23/17]
Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:26 AM

FROM THE ARCHIVES: AND NOT A SINGLE ONE HAD A GREEN CARD:

The Pilgrims' Financial Crisis (Peter Ferrara, 11.26.08, American Spectator)

By 1623, four additional ships of settlers had arrived. The colony had initially prospered just collecting wild growing food, and securing plentiful game such as turkeys and deer providing venison, supplemented by their own agriculture. Given their religious devotion, their concern for personal wealth was not a top issue for them, and even in that time idealistic notions of communal property and sharing communal resources as offering an ideal society of happiness had a strong appeal for those striking out to start a new civilization from scratch.

But as the colony grew, this initial quasi-socialist community of share and share alike was not working to produce enough for essential basic needs, let alone the prosperity that was expected in the new world. Available wild supplies of food, in particular, were no longer enough. Bradford again wrote in his dairy,

All this while no supply [of wild corn] was heard of, neither knew they when they might expect any. So they began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop than they had done, that they might not thus languish in misery. At length, after much debate of things, the Governor (with the advice of the chiefist amongst them) gave way that they should set corn every man for his own particular, and in that regard trust to themselves; in all other things go on in the general way as before. And so assigned to every family a parcel of land, according to the proportion of their number, for that end....This had very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any means the Governor or any other could use, and saved him a great deal of trouble, and gave far better content. The women now went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn; which before would allege weakness and inability, whom to have compelled would have been thought great tyranny and oppression.

As indicated, this experiment in private agriculture was hugely successful, with the colony's agricultural output soaring. But the settlers still increasingly complained that the colony's remaining communal practices and lack of complete private property were constraining and unfair. Bradford wrote further in his diary in 1623,

The experience that was had in this common course and condition, tried sundry years and that amongst godly and sober men, may well evince the vanity of that conceit of Plato's and other ancients applauded of by some of later times; that the taking away of property and bringing in community into a commonwealth would make them happy and flourishing, as if they were wiser than God. For this community...was found to breed much confusion and discontent and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort. For the young men, that were most able and fit for labor and service, did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men's wives and children without any recompense. The strong, or man of parts, had no more in division of victuals and clothes than he that was weak and not able to do a quarter the other could; this was thought injustice....And for men's wives to be commanded to do service for other men, as dressing their meat, washing their clothes, etc., they deemed it a kind of slavery....Let none object this is men's corruption, and nothing to the course [meaning communal policy] itself. I answer, seeing all men have this corruption in them, God in his wisdom saw another course fitter for them.

Thus was capitalism born in America, sentimental notions of socialism having been tried and failed, not only as a matter of economics, but also because it was seen as a regime of unjust restrictions on personal liberty. The colony adopted private property and free trade, ending its own critical financial crisis, and creating the trademark bountiful American prosperity, which drew waves of new settlers seeking the American dream that had already been born.

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{originally posted: 11/26/08]



Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:24 AM

FROM THE ARCHIVES: EVEN OUR RADICALS ARE CONFORMISTS:

THANKSGIVING (Mark Steyn, November 18th 2007, The Orange County Register)

A lot has changed since I wrote these words, but I'll stand by them. Enjoy the turkey, and count your blessings: [...]

Even in a supposedly 50/50 nation, you're struck by the assumed stability underpinning even fundamental disputes. If you go into a bookstore, the display shelves offer a smorgasbord of leftist anti-Bush tracts claiming that he and Cheney have trashed, mangled, gutted, raped and tortured, sliced'n'diced the Constitution, put it in a cement overcoat and lowered it into the East River. Yet even this argument presupposes a shared veneration for tradition unknown to most Western political cultures: When Tony Blair wanted to abolish in effect the upper house of the national legislature, he just got on and did it. I don't believe the U.S. Constitution includes a right to abortion or gay marriage or a zillion other things the Left claims to detect emanating from the penumbra, but I find it sweetly touching that in America even political radicalism has to be framed as an appeal to constitutional tradition from the powdered-wig era. In Europe, by contrast, one reason why there's no politically significant pro-life movement is because, in a world where constitutions have the life expectancy of an Oldsmobile, great questions are just seen as part of the general tide, the way things are going, no sense trying to fight it. And, by the time you realize you have to, the tide's usually up to your neck.

So Americans should be thankful they have one of the last functioning nation states. Because they've been so inept at exercising it, Europeans no longer believe in national sovereignty, whereas it would never occur to Americans not to. This profoundly different attitude to the nation state underpins in turn Euro-American attitudes to transnational institutions such as the U.N. But on this Thanksgiving the rest of the world ought to give thanks to American national sovereignty, too. When something terrible and destructive happens -- a tsunami hits Indonesia, an earthquake devastates Pakistan -- the U.S. can project itself anywhere on the planet within hours and start saving lives, setting up hospitals and restoring the water supply. Aside from Britain and France, the Europeans cannot project power in any meaningful way anywhere. When they sign on to an enterprise they claim to believe in -- shoring up Afghanistan's fledgling post-Taliban democracy -- most of them send token forces under constrained rules of engagement that prevent them doing anything more than manning the photocopier back at the base. If America were to follow the Europeans and maintain only shriveled attenuated residual military capacity, the world would very quickly be nastier and bloodier, and far more unstable. It's not just Americans and Iraqis and Afghans who owe a debt of thanks to the U.S. soldier but all the Europeans grown plump and prosperous in a globalized economy guaranteed by the most benign hegemon in history.

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[originally posted: 11/26/09]



Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:24 AM

FROM THE ARCHIVES: NOBLEST EMPIRE:

Oration at Plymouth (Delivered at Plymouth Mass. December 22, 1802
in Commemoration of the Landing of the Pilgrims by John Quincy Adams)

Among the sentiments of most powerful operation upon the human heart, and most highly honorable to the human character, are those of veneration for our forefathers, and of love for our posterity.
They form the connecting links between the selfish and the social passions. By the fundamental principle of Christianity, the happiness of the individual is interwoven, by innumerable and imperceptible ties, with that of his contemporaries.
By power of filial reverence and parental affection, individual existence is extended beyond the limits of individual life, and the happiness of every age is chained in mutual dependence upon that of every other. Respect for his ancestors excites, in the breast of man, interest in their history, attachment to their characters, concern for their errors, involuntary pride in their virtues.
Love for his posterity spurs him to exertion for their support, stimulates him to virtue for their example, and fills him with the tenderest solicitude for their welfare. Man, therefore, was not made for himself alone.
No, he was made for his country, by the obligations of the social compact; he was made for his species, by the Christian duties of universal charity; he was made for all ages past, by the sentiment of reverence for his forefathers; and he was made for all future times, by the impulse of affection for his progeny.
Under the influence of these principles, "Existence sees him spurn her bounded reign." They redeem his nature from the subjection of time and space; he is no longer a "puny insect shivering at a breeze"; he is the glory of creation, formed to occupy all time and all extent; bounded, during his residence upon earth, only to the boundaries of the world, and destined to life and immortality in brighter regions, when the fabric of nature itself shall dissolve and perish.
The voice of history has not, in all its compass, a note but answers in unison with these sentiments. The barbarian chieftain, who defended his country against the Roman invasion, driven to the remotest extremity of Britain, and stimulating his followers to battle by all that has power of persuasion upon the human heart, concluded his persuasion by an appeal to these irresistible feelings: "Think of your forefathers and of your posterity."
The Romans themselves, at the pinnacle of civilization, were actuated by the same impressions, and celebrated, in anniversary festivals, every great event which had signalized the annals of their forefathers.
To multiply instances where it were impossible to adduce an exception would be to waste your time and abuse your patience; but in the sacred volume, which contains the substances of our firmest faith and of our most precious hopes, these passions not only maintain their highest efficacy, but are sanctioned by the express injunctions of the Divine Legislator to his chosen people.
The revolutions of time furnish no previous example of a nation shooting up to maturity and expanding into greatness with the rapidity which has characterized the growth of the American people.
In the luxuriance of youth, and in the vigor of manhood, it is pleasing and instructive to look backward upon the helpless days of infancy; but in the continual and essential changes of a growing subject, the transactions of that early period would be soon obliterated from the memory but for some periodical call of attention to aid the silent records of the historian.
Such celebrations arouse and gratify the kindliest emotions of the bosom. They are faithful pledges of the respect we bear to the memory of our ancestors and of the tenderness with which we cherish the rising generation. They introduce the sages and heroes of ages past to the notice and emulation of succeeding times; they are at once testimonials of our gratitude, and schools of virtue to our children.
These sentiments are wise; they are honorable; they are virtuous; their cultivation is not merely innocent pleasure, it is incumbent duty. Obedient to their dictates, you, my fellow-citizens, have instituted and paid frequent observance to this annual solemnity. and what event of weightier intrinsic importance, or of more extensive consequences, was ever selected for this honorary distinction?
In reverting to the period of our origin, other nations have generally been compelled to plunge into the chaos of impenetrable antiquity, or to trace a lawless ancestry into the caverns of ravishers and robbers.
It is your peculiar privilege to commemorate, in this birthday of your nation, an event ascertained in its minutest details; an event of which the principal actors are known to you familiarly, as if belonging to your own age; an event of a magnitude before which imagination shrinks at the imperfection of her powers.
It is your further happiness to behold, in those eminent characters, who were most conspicuous in accomplishing the settlement of your country, men upon whose virtue you can dwell with honest exultation.
The founders of your race are not handed down to you, like the fathers of the Roman people, as the sucklings of a wolf. You are not descended from a nauseous compound of fanaticism and sensuality, whose only argument was the sword, and whose only paradise was a brothel.
No Gothic scourge of God, no Vandal pest of nations, no fabled fugitive from the flames of Troy, no bastard Norman tyrant, appears among the list of worthies who first landed on the rock, which your veneration has preserved as a lasting monument of their achievement.
The great actors of the day we now solemnize were illustrious by their intrepid valor no less than by their Christian graces, but the clarion of conquest has not blazoned forth their names to all the winds of heaven.
Their glory has not been wafted over oceans of blood to the remotest regions of the earth. They have not erected to themselves colossal statues upon pedestals of human bones, to provoke and insult the tardy hand of heavenly retribution.
But theirs was "the better fortitude of patience and heroic martyrdom." Theirs was the gentle temper of Christian kindness; the rigorous observance of reciprocal justice; the unconquerable soul of conscious integrity.
Worldly fame has been parsimonious of her favor to the memory of those generous companions. Their numbers were small; their stations in life obscure; the object of their enterprise unostentatious; the theatre of their exploits remote; how could they possibly be favorites of worldly Fame--that common crier, whose existence is only known by the assemblage of multitudes; that pander of wealth and greatness, so eager to haunt the palaces of fortune, and so fastidious to the houseless dignity of virtue; that parasite of pride, ever scornful to meekness, and ever obsequious to insolent power; that heedless trumpeter, whose ears are deaf to modest merit, and whose eyes are blind to bloodless, distant excellence?
When the persecuted companions of Robinson, exiles from their native land, anxiously sued for the privilege of removing a thousand leagues more distant to an untried soil, a rigorous climate, and a savage wilderness, for the sake of reconciling their sense of religious duty with their affections for their country, few, perhaps none of them, formed a conception of what would be, within two centuries, the result of their undertaking.
When the jealous and niggardly policy of their British sovereign denied them even that humblest of requests, and instead of liberty would barely consent to promise connivance, neither he nor they might be aware that they were laying the foundations of a power, and that he was sowing the seeds of a spirit, which, in less than two hundred years, would stagger the throne of his descendants, and shake his united kingdoms to the centre.
So far is it from the ordinary habits of mankind to calculate the import of events in their elementary principles, that had the first colonists of our country ever intimated as a part of their designs the project of founding a great and mighty nation, the finger of scorn would have pointed them to the cells of Bedlam as an abode more suitable for hatching vain empires than the solitude of a transatlantic desert.
These consequences, then so little foreseen, have unfolded themselves, in all their grandeur, to the eyes of the present age. It is a common amusement of speculative minds to contrast the magnitude of the most important events with the minuteness of their primeval causes, and the records of mankind are full of examples for such contemplations.
It is, however, a more profitable employment to trace the constituent principles of future greatness in their kernel; to detect in the acorn at our feet the germ of that majestic oak, whose roots shoot down to the centre, and whose branches aspire to the skies.
Let it be, then, our present occupation to inquire and endeavor to ascertain the causes first put in operation at the period of our commemoration, and already productive of such magnificent effects; to examine with reiterated care and minute attention the characters of those men who gave the first impulse to a new series of events in the history of the world; to applaud and emulate those qualities of their minds which we shall find deserving of our admiration; to recognize with candor those features which forbid approbation or even require censure, and, finally, to lay alike their frailties and their perfections to our own hearts, either as warning or as example.
Of the various European settlements upon this continent, which have finally merged in one independent nation, the first establishments were made at various times, by several nations, and under the influence of different motives. In many instances, the conviction of religious obligation formed one and a powerful inducement of the adventures; but in none, excepting the settlement at Plymouth, did they constitute the sole and exclusive actuating cause.
Worldly interest and commercial speculation entered largely into the views of other settlers, but the commands of conscience were the only stimulus to the emigrants from Leyden. Previous to their expedition hither, they had endured a long banishment from their native country.
Under every species of discouragement, they undertook the voyage; they performed it in spite of numerous and almost insuperable obstacles; they arrived upon a wilderness bound with frost and hoary with snow, without the boundaries of their charter, outcasts from all human society, and coasted five weeks together, in the dead of winter, on this tempestuous shore, exposed at once to the fury of the elements, to the arrows of the native savage, and to the impending horrors of famine.
Courage and perseverance have a magical talisman, before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish into air. These qualities have ever been displayed in their mightiest perfection, as attendants in the retinue of strong passions.
From the first discovery of the Western Hemisphere by Columbus until the settlement of Virginia which immediately preceded that of Plymouth, the various adventurers from the ancient world had exhibited upon innumerable occasions that ardor of enterprise and that stubbornness of pursuit which set all danger at defiance, and chained the violence of nature at their feet. But they were all instigated by personal interests.
Avarice and ambition had tuned their souls to that pitch of exaltation. Selfish passions were the parents of their heroism. It was reserved for the first settlers of new England to perform achievements equally arduous, to trample down obstructions equally formidable, to dispel dangers equally terrific, under the single inspiration of conscience.
To them even liberty herself was but a subordinate and secondary consideration. They claimed exemption from the mandates of human authority, as militating with their subjection to a superior power. Before the voice of Heaven they silenced even the calls of their country.
Yet, while so deeply impressed with the sense of religious obligation, they felt, in all its energy, the force of that tender tie which binds the heart of every virtuous man to his native land.
It was to renew that connection with their country which had been severed by their compulsory expatriation, that they resolved to face all the hazards of a perilous navigation and all the labors of a toilsome distant settlement.
Under the mild protection of the Batavian Government, they enjoyed already that freedom of religious worship, for which they had resigned so many comforts and enjoyments at home; but their hearts panted for a restoration to the bosom of their country.
Invited and urged by the open-hearted and truly benevolent people who had given them an asylum from the persecution of their own kindred to form their settlement within the territories then under their jurisdiction, the love of their country predominated over every influence save that of conscience alone, and they preferred the precarious chance of relaxation from the bigoted rigor of the English Government to the certain liberality and alluring offers of the Hollanders.
Observe, my countrymen, the generous patriotism, the cordial union of soul, the conscious yet unaffected vigor which beam in their application to the British monarch: "They were well weaned from the delicate milk of their mother country, and inured to the difficulties of a strange land.
They were knit together in a strict and sacred bond, to take care of the good of each other and of the whole. It was not with them as with other men, whom small things could discourage, or small discontents cause to wish themselves again at home."
Children of these exalted Pilgrims! Is there one among you ho can hear the simple and pathetic energy of these expressions without tenderness and admiration?
Venerated shades of our forefathers! No, ye were, indeed, not ordinary men! That country which had ejected you so cruelly from her bosom you still delighted to contemplate in the character of an affectionate and beloved mother. The sacred bond which knit you together was indissoluble while you lived; and oh, may it be to your descendants the example and the pledge of harmony to the latest period of time!
The difficulties and dangers, which so often had defeated attempts of similar establishments, were unable to subdue souls tempered like yours. You heard the rigid interdictions; you saw the menacing forms of toil and danger, forbidding your access to this land of promise; but you heard without dismay; you saw and disdained retreat.
Firm and undaunted in the confidence of that sacred bond; conscious of the purity, and convinced of the importance of your motives, you put your trust in the protecting shield of Providence, and smiled defiance at the combining terrors of human malice and of elemental strife.
These, in the accomplishment of your undertaking, you were summoned to encounter in their most hideous forms; these you met with that fortitude, and combated with that perseverance, which you had promised in their anticipation; these you completely vanquished in establishing the foundations of New England, and the day which we now commemorate is the perpetual memorial of your triumph.
It were an occupation peculiarly pleasing to cull from our early historians, and exhibit before you every detail of this transaction; to carry you in imagination on board their bark at the first moment of her arrival in the bay; to accompany Carver, Winslow, Bradford, and Standish, in all their excursions upon the desolate coast; to follow them into every rivulet and creek where they endeavored to find a firm footing, and to fix, with a pause of delight and exultation, the instant when the first of these heroic adventurers alighted on the spot where you, their descendants, now enjoy the glorious and happy reward of their labors.
But in this grateful task, your former orators, on this anniversary, have anticipated all that the most ardent industry could collect, and gratified all that the most inquisitive curiosity could desire.
To you, my friends, every occurrence of that momentous period is already familiar. A transient allusion to a few characteristic instances, which mark the peculiar history of the Plymouth settlers, may properly supply the place of a narrative, which, to this auditory, must be superfluous.
One of these remarkable incidents is the execution of that instrument of government by which they formed themselves into a body politic, the day after their arrival upon the coast, and previous to their first landing.
That is, perhaps, the only instance in human history of that positive, original social compact, which speculative philosophers have imagined as the only legitimate source of government.
Here was a unanimous and personal assent, by all the individuals of the community, to the association by which they became a nation. It was the result of circumstances and discussions which had occurred during their passage from Europe, and is a full demonstration that the nature of civil government, abstracted from the political institutions of their native country, had been an object of their serious meditation.
The settlers of all the former European colonies had contented themselves with the powers conferred upon them by their respective charters, without looking beyond the seal of the royal parchment for the measure of their rights and the rule of their duties.
The founders of Plymouth had been impelled by the peculiarities of their situation to examine the subject with deeper and more comprehensive research. After twelve years of banishment from the land of their first allegiance, during which they had been under an adoptive and temporary subjection to another sovereign, they must naturally have been led to reflect upon the relative rights and duties of allegiance and subjection.
They had resided in a city, the seat of a university, where the polemical and political controversies of the time were pursued with uncommon fervor. In this period they had witnessed the deadly struggle between the two parties, into which the people of the United Provinces, after their separation from the crown of Spain, had divided themselves.
The contest embraced within its compass not only theological doctrines, but political principles, and Maurice and Barnevelt were the temporal leaders of the same rival factions, of which Episcopius and Polyander were the ecclesiastical champions.
That the investigation of the fundamental principles of government was deeply implicated in these dissensions is evident from the immortal work of Grotius, upon the rights of war and peace, which undoubtedly originated from them.
Grotius himself had been a most distinguished actor and sufferer in those important scenes of internal convulsion, and his work was first published very shortly after the departure of our forefathers from Leyden.
It is well known that in the course of the contest Mr. Robinson more than once appeared, with credit to himself, as a public disputant against Episcopius; and from the manner in which the fact is related by Governor Bradford, it is apparent that the whole English Church at Leyden took a zealous interest in the religious part of the controversy.
As strangers in the land, it is presumable that they wisely and honorably avoided entangling themselves in the political contentions involved with it.
Yet the theoretic principles, as they were drawn into discussion, could not fail to arrest their attention, and must have assisted them to form accurate ideas concerning the origin and extent of authority among men, independent of positive institutions.
The importance of these circumstances will not be duly weighed without taking into consideration the state of opinion then prevalent in England. The general principles of government were there little understood and less examined. The whole substance of human authority was centred in the simple doctrine of royal prerogative, the origin of which was always traced in theory to divine institution.
Twenty years later, the subject was more industriously sifted, and for half a century became one of the principal topics of controversy between the ablest and most enlightened men in the nation. The instrument of voluntary association executed on board the "Mayflower" testifies that the parties to it had anticipated the improvement of their nation.
Another incident, from which we may derive occasion for important reflections, was the attempt of these original settlers to establish among them that community of goods and of labor, which fanciful politicians, from the days of Plato to those of Rousseau, have recommended as the fundamental law of a perfect republic.
This theory results, it must be acknowledged, from principles of reasoning most flattering to the human character. If industry, frugality, and disinterested integrity were alike the virtues of all, there would, apparently, be more of the social spirit, in making all property a common stock, and giving to each individual a proportional title to the wealth of the whole. Such is the basis upon which Plato forbids, in his Republic, the division of property.
Such is the system upon which Rousseau pronounces the first man who inclosed a field with a fence, and said, "This is mine," a traitor to the human species. A wiser and more useful philosophy, however, directs us to consider man according to the nature in which he was formed; subject to infirmities, which no wisdom can remedy; to weaknesses, which no institution can strengthen; to vices, which no legislation can correct.
Hence, it becomes obvious that separate property is the natural and indisputable right of separate exertion; that community of goods without community of toil is oppressive and unjust; that it counteracts the laws of nature, which prescribe that he only who sows the seed shall reap the harvest; that it discourages all energy, by destroying its rewards; and makes the most virtuous and active members of society the slaves and drudges of the worst.
Such was the issue of this experiment among our forefathers, and the same event demonstrated the error of the system in the elder settlement of Virginia. Let us cherish that spirit of harmony which prompted our forefathers to make the attempt, under circumstances more favorable to its success than, perhaps, ever occurred upon earth.
Let us no less admire the candor with which they relinquished it, upon discovering its irremediable inefficacy. To found principles of government upon too advantageous an estimate of the human character is an error of inexperience, the source of which is so amiable that it is impossible to censure it with severity.
We have seen the same mistake committed in our own age, and upon a larger theatre. Happily for our ancestors, their situation allowed them to repair it before its effects had proved destructive. They had no pride of vain philosophy to support, no perfidious rage of faction to glut, by persevering in their mistakes until they should be extinguished in torrents of blood.
As the attempt to establish among themselves the community of goods was a seal of that sacred bond which knit them so closely together, so the conduct they observed toward the natives of the country displays their steadfast adherence to the rules of justice and their faithful attachment to those of benevolence and charity.
No European settlement ever formed upon this continent has been more distinguished for undeviating kindness and equity toward the savages. There are, indeed, moralists who have questioned the right of the Europeans to intrude upon the possessions of the aboriginals in any case, and under any limitations whatsoever.
But have they maturely considered the whole subject? The Indian right of possession itself stands, with regard to the greater part of the country, upon a questionable foundation.
Their cultivated fields; their constructed habitations; a space of ample sufficiency for their subsistence, and whatever they had annexed to themselves by personal labor, was undoubtedly, by the laws of nature, theirs.
But what is the right of a huntsman to the forest of a thousand miles over which he has accidentally ranged in quest of prey?
Shall the liberal bounties of Providence to the race of man be monopolized by one of ten thousand for whom they were created?
Shall the exuberant bosom of the common mother, amply adequate to the nourishment of millions, be claimed exclusively by a few hundreds of her offspring?
Shall the lordly savage not only disdain the virtues and enjoyments of civilization himself, but shall he control the civilization of a world?
Shall he forbid the wilderness to blossom like a rose?
Shall he forbid the oaks of the forest to fall before the axe of industry, and to rise again, transformed into the habitations of ease and elegance?
Shall he doom an immense region of the globe to perpetual desolation, and to hear the howlings of the tiger and the wolf silence forever the voice of human gladness?
Shall the fields and the valleys, which a beneficent God has formed to teem with the life of innumerable multitudes, be condemned to everlasting barrenness?
Shall the mighty rivers, poured out by the hand of nature, as channels of communication between numerous nations, roll their waters in sullen silence and eternal solitude of the deep?
Have hundreds of commodious harbors, a thousand leagues of coast, and a boundless ocean, been spread in the front of this land, and shall every purpose of utility to which they could apply be prohibited by the tenant of the woods?
No, generous philanthropists!
Heaven has not been thus inconsistent in the works of its hands. Heaven has not thus placed at irreconcilable strife its moral laws with its physical creation.
The Pilgrims of Plymouth obtained their right of possession to the territory on which they settled, by titles as fair and unequivocal as any human property can be held.
By their voluntary association they recognized their allegiance to the government of Britain, and in process of time received whatever powers and authorities could be conferred upon them by a charter from their sovereign.
The spot on which they fixed had belonged to an Indian tribe, totally extirpated by that devouring pestilence which had swept the country shortly before their arrival. The territory, thus free from all exclusive possession, they might have taken by the natural right of occupancy.
Desirous, however, of giving amply satisfaction to every pretence of prior right, by formal and solemn conventions with the chiefs of the neighboring tribes, they acquired the further security of a purchase. At their hands the children of the desert had no cause of complaint.
On the great day of retribution, what thousands, what millions of the American race will appear at the bar of judgment to arraign their European invading conquerors! Let us humbly hope that the fathers of the Plymouth Colony will then appear in the whiteness of innocence.
Let us indulge in the belief that they will not only be free from all accusation of injustice to these unfortunate sons of nature, but that the testimonials of their acts of kindness and benevolence toward them will plead the cause of their virtues, as they are now authenticated by the record of history upon earth.
Religious discord has lost her sting; the cumbrous weapons of theological warfare are antiquated; the field of politics supplies the alchemists of our times with materials of more fatal explosion, and the butchers of mankind no longer travel to another world for instruments of cruelty and destruction.
Our age is too enlightened to contend upon topics which concern only the interests of eternity; the men who hold in proper contempt all controversies about trifles, except such as inflame their own passions, have made it a commonplace censure against your ancestors, that their zeal was enkindled by subjects of trivial importance; and that however aggrieved by the intolerance of others, they were alike intolerant themselves.
Against these objections, your candid judgment will not require an unqualified justification; but your respect and gratitude for the founders of the State may boldly claim an ample apology.
The original grounds of their separation from the Church of England were not objects of a magnitude to dissolve the bonds of communion, much less those of charity, between Christian brethren of the same essential principles. Some of them, however, were not inconsiderable, and numerous inducements concurred to give them an extraordinary interest in their eyes.
When that portentous system of abuses, the Papal dominion, was overturned, a great variety of religious sects arose in its stead in the several countries, which for many centuries before had been screwed beneath its subjection.
The fabric of the Reformation, first undertaken in England upon a contracted basis, by a capricious and sanguinary tyrant, had been successively overthrown and restored, renewed and altered, according to the varying humors and principles of four successive monarchs.
To ascertain the precise point of division between the genuine institutions of Christianity and the corruptions accumulated upon them in the progress of fifteen centuries, was found a task of extreme difficulty throughout the Christian world.
Men of the profoundest learning, of the sublimest genius, and of the purest integrity, after devoting their lives to the research, finally differed in their ideas upon many great points, both of doctrine and discipline.
The main question, it was admitted on all hands, most intimately concerned the highest interests of man, both temporal and eternal.
Can we wonder that men who felt their happiness here and their hopes of hereafter, their worldly welfare and the kingdom of heaven at stake, should sometimes attach an importance beyond their intrinsic weight to collateral points of controversy, connected with the all- involving object of the Reformation?
The changes in the forms and principles of religious worship were introduced and regulated in England by the hand of public authority. But that hand had not been uniform or steady in its operations.
During the persecutions inflicted in the interval of Popish restoration under the reign of Mary, upon all who favored the Reformation, many of the most zealous reformers had been compelled to fly their country. While residing on the continent of Europe, they had adopted the principles of the most complete and rigorous reformation, as taught and established by Calvin.
On returning afterward to their native country, they were dissatisfied with the partial reformation, at which, as they conceived, the English establishment had rested; and claiming the privilege of private conscience, upon which alone any departure from the Church of Rome could be justified, they insisted upon the right of adhering to the system of their own preference, and, of course, upon that of non-conformity to the establishment prescribed by the royal authority. The only means used to convince them of error and reclaim them from dissent was force, and force served but to confirm the opposition it was meant to suppress.
By driving the founders of the Plymouth Colony into exile, it constrained them to absolute separation irreconcilable. Viewing their religious liberties here, as held only by sufferance, yet bound to them by all the ties of conviction, and by all their sufferings for them, could they forbear to look upon every dissenter among themselves with a jealous eye?
Within two years after their landing, they beheld a rival settlement attempted in their immediate neighborhood; and not long after, the laws of self- preservation compelled them to break up a nest of revellers, who boasted of protection from the mother country, and who had recurred to the easy but pernicious resource of feeding their wanton idleness, by furnishing the savages with the means, the skill, and the instruments of European destruction. Toleration, in that instance, would have been self-murder, and many other examples might be alleged, in which their necessary measures of self-defence have been exaggerated into cruelty, and their most indispensable precautions distorted into persecution. Yet shall we not pretend that they were exempt from the common laws of mortality, or entirely free from all the errors of their age. Their zeal might sometimes be too ardent, but it was always sincere. At this day, religious indulgence is one of our clearest duties, because it is one of our undisputed rights. While we rejoice that the principles of genuine Christianity have so far triumphed over the prejudices of a former generation, let us fervently hope for the day when it will prove equally victorious over the malignant passions of our own.
In thus calling your attention to some of the peculiar features in the principles, the character, and the history of our forefathers, it is as wide from my design, as I know it would be from your approbation, to adorn their memory with a chaplet plucked from the domain of others.
The occasion and the day are more peculiarly devoted to them, and let it never be dishonored with a contracted and exclusive spirit. Our affections as citizens embrace the whole extent of the Union, and the names of Raleigh, Smith, Winthrop, Calvert, Penn and Oglethorpe excite in our minds recollections equally pleasing and gratitude equally fervent with those of Carver and Bradford.
Two centuries have not yet elapsed since the first European foot touched the soil which now constitutes the American Union. Two centuries more and our numbers must exceed those of Europe itself.
The destinies of their empire, as they appear in prospect before us, disdain the powers of human calculation. Yet, as the original founder of the Roman State is said once to have lifted upon his shoulders the fame and fortunes of all his posterity, so let us never forget that the glory and greatness of all our descendants is in our hands.
Preserve in all their purity, refine, if possible, from all their alloy, those virtues which we this day commemorate as the ornament of our forefathers. Adhere to them with inflexible resolution, as to the horns of the altar; instil them with unwearied perseverance into the minds of your children; bind your souls and theirs to the national Union as the chords of life are centred in the heart, and you shall soar with rapid and steady wing to the summit of human glory.
Nearly a century ago, one of those rare minds to whom it is given to discern future greatness in its seminal principles, upon contemplating the situation of this continent, pronounced, in a vein of poetic inspiration, "Westward the star of empire takes its way." Let us unite in ardent supplication to the Founder of nations and the Builder of worlds, that what then was prophecy may continue unfolding into history--that the dearest hopes of the human race may not be extinguished in disappointment, and that the last may prove the noblest empire of time.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:16 AM

FROM THE THANKSGIVING ARCHIVES: WHEN A NOBLE EXPERIMENT FAILS, STOP RUNNING IT:

Private Enterprise Regained (Henry Hazlitt, The Freeman: Ideas on Liberty)

Governor Bradford�s own history of the Plymouth Bay Colony over which he presided is a story that deserves to be far better known�particularly in an age that has acquired a mania for socialism and communism, regards them as peculiarly "progressive" and entirely new, and is sure that they represent "the wave of the future."

Most of us have forgotten that when the Pilgrim Fathers landed on the shores of Massachusetts they established a communist system. Out of their common product and storehouse they set up a system of rationing, though it came to "but a quarter of a pound of bread a day to each person." Even when harvest came, "it arose to but a little." A vicious circle seemed to set in. The people complained that they were too weak from want of food to tend the crops as they should. Deeply religious though they were, they took to stealing from each other. "So as it well appeared," writes Governor Bradford, "that famine must still ensue the next year also, if not some way prevented."

So the colonists, he continues, "began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop than they had done, that they might not still thus languish in misery. At length [in 1623] after much debate of things, the Gov. (with the advice of the chiefest among them) gave way that they should set corn every man for his own particular, and in that regard trust to themselves. . . .

"And so assigned to every family a parcel of land. . . .

A Great Success

"This had very good success; for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any means the Gov. or any other could use, and saved him a great deal of trouble, and gave far better content.

"The women now went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn, which before would allege weakness, and inability; whom to have compelled would have been thought great tyranny and oppression.

"The experience that was had in this common course and condition, tried sundry years, and that among godly and sober men, may well evince the vanity of that conceit of Plato�s and other ancients, applauded by some of later times;�that the taking away of property, and bringing in community into a commonwealth, would make them happy and flourishing; as if they were wiser than God. For this community (so far as it was) was found to breed much confusion and discontent, and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort."


How different might the bloody history of the Enlightenment have been were rationalists as open-minded?

(originally posted: 11/25/04)



Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:16 AM

FROM THE ARCHIVES: FREEDOM VS LIBERTY:

On Liberty (John Winthrop, 1645)

For the other point concerning liberty, I observe a great mistake in the country about that. There is a twofold liberty, natural (I mean as our nature is now corrupt) and civil or federal. The first is common to man with beasts and other creatures. By this, man, as he stands in relation to man simply, hath liberty to do what he lists; it is a liberty to evil as well as to good. This liberty is incompatible and inconsistent with authority and cannot endure the least restraint of the most just authority. The exercise and maintaining of this liberty makes men grow more evil and in time to be worse than brute beasts: omnes sumus licentia deteriores. This is that great enemy of truth and peace, that wild beast, which all of the ordinances of God are bent against, to restrain and subdue it. The other kind of liberty I call civil or federal; it may also be termed moral, in reference to the covenant between God and man, in the moral law, and the politic covenants and constitutions amongst men themselves. This liberty is the proper end and object of authority and cannot subsist without it; and it is a liberty to that only which is good, just, and honest. This liberty you are to stand for, with the hazard (not only of your goods, but) of your lives, if need be. Whatsoever crosseth this is not authority but a distemper thereof. This liberty is maintained and exercised in a way of subjection to authority; it is of the same kind of liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free. The women's own choice makes such a man her husband; yet, being so chosen, he is her lord, and she is to be subject to him, yet in a way of liberty, not of bondage; and a true wife accounts her subjection her honor and freedom and would not think her condition safe and free but in her subjection to her husband's authority. Such is the liberty of the church under the authority of Christ, her king and husband; his yoke is so easy and sweet to her as a bride's ornaments; and if through forwardness or wantonness, etc., she shake it off, at any time, she is at no rest in her spirit, until she take it up again; and whether her lord smiles upon her and embraceth her in his arms, or whether he frowns, or rebukes, or smites her, she apprehends the sweetness of his love in all, and is refreshed, supported, and instructed by every such dispensation of his authority over her. On the other side, ye know who they are that complain of this yoke and say, Let us break their bands, etc.; we will not have this man to rule over us. Even so, brethren, it will be between you and your magistrates. If you want to stand for your natural corrupt liberties, and will do what is good in your own eyes, you will not endure the least weight of authority, but will murmur, and oppose, and be always striving to shake off that yoke; but if you will be satisfied to enjoy such civil and lawful liberties, such as Christ allows you, then will you quietly and cheerfully submit unto that authority which is set over you, in all the administrations of it, for your good. Wherein, if we fail at any time, we hope we shall be willing (by God's assistance) to hearken to good advice from any of you, or in any other way of God; so shall your liberties be preserved in upholding the honor and power of authority amongst you.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:16 AM

FROM THE ARCHIVE: THE EXTRAORDINARY ADVENTURE:

America The Valiant: Giving thanks for our prosperous, resilient and free nation. (Claudia Rosett, 11.26.09, Forbes)

[F]or America to choose decline would be to break faith with what this country is. America did not set out to become a great power and engineer a system to achieve it. Rather, America is built on principles of freedom that allow its citizens to make the most of their individual talents, energies and dreams. That is what earned America its place as No. 1.

There is nothing in that to apologize for, and everything to be proud of. How to translate that basic truth into action is a matter of individual choice. But here's one place to begin: It's time to luxuriate in patriotism and not be ashamed to spin legends again--not about our current politicians, who are already involved in quite enough spinning, but about American heroes, adventurers, the out-sized figures who years ago, imagined or real, populated American lore. [...]

I did some foraging on the bookshelves this week (though the Internet will also serve) and came away much refreshed by such classics as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem about the midnight ride of Paul Revere. The verses might not meet the brooding standards of the psychoanalytically inclined critics of our day. But they can still thrill and inspire, as the rider sets out to raise the alarm that the British are coming:

...a spark
Struck out by the steed flying fearless and fleet:
That was all! And yet through the gleam and the light,
The fate of a nation was riding that night,

Longfellow had a marvelous confidence that this spirit would endure. He ended that poem with the lines:

... Borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the midnight message of Paul Revere.

The days of legend and valor need not be over. To be American is to be part of an extraordinary and noble adventure on the frontiers of freedom. From that arises the immense bounty for which Americans, over turkey and pie, give thanks. If that seems too proud and simple a message for complex times, it is anything but. It is the real bottom line and rallying point for a better world.

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[originally posted: 11/26/09]



Posted by Orrin Judd at 12:14 AM

FROM THE THANKSGIVING ARCHIVES: A RELIGIOUS REPUBLIC, JUST NOT SECTARIAN:

The faith of our fathers (Jay Tolson, Jun 19, 2004, US News)

Some say the mystery of American religiosity is contained in a paradox: America is a godly nation because it has kept church and state separate, at least in the sense set forth by the Constitution. "Congress," the First Amendment famously begins, "shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . . . " Perhaps the greater mystery, though, is that those two clauses did not produce conflicts during most of our history, even though religious sentiments and symbols liberally suffused the public square and much of civic life. But if most Americans have long approved of their civil religion, why have some in recent years found it so objectionable?

Much confusion and litigation have arisen from the perception that America's founders intended religion to be strictly a matter of private choice that should never impinge upon public life. That may be as much a misunderstanding of the founders' intent as the view that the founders intended to create an explicitly Christian nation. According to Purdue University historian Frank Lambert, in his book The Founding Fathers and the Place of Religion in America, both extremes fail to acknowledge that America had two different sets of spiritual fathers. The "Planting Fathers," particularly the Puritans of New England, sought both to practice their own brand of Christianity and to found a Christian state. Establishing Congregationalism, they supported it with taxes and compelled their chief magistrates to govern "according to the rule of the word of God." The southern colonies, meanwhile, generally enforced Anglicanism, while the middle colonies worked out more pluralistic arrangements. But some 150 years after the Puritans signed their charters, a different group of national leaders, the Founding Fathers, hammered out a new national compact, this one guaranteeing that the state would have no voice in determining matters of conscience.

Clearly, much had happened in the years separating the Planting Fathers from the Founding Fathers. While many of the colonial elite had been touched by the skeptical scientific rationalism of the Enlightenment, even greater numbers of common folk were transformed by a powerful religious revival that swept through the colonies in the 1740s. Called the First Great Awakening, it emphasized individual religious experience and subtly challenged the authority of the established sects. By the time the Founding Fathers gathered in Philadelphia, most of them knew that the people of the new United States were too diverse to be forced into conformity with a national church.

Yet the founders never sought to drive religion from the public realm. The words they spoke, the symbols they embraced, and the rituals they established--from state-declared days of thanksgiving to prayers at the start of Congress to military chaplaincies--all made clear that even semiofficial acknowledgment of divine providence was not only acceptable but good. This public piety was distinctly nonsectarian and centered upon what might be called a benevolent theism. But as James Hutson, chief of the manuscript division of the Library of Congress, argues in his Religion and the Founding of the American Republic, whether they were old-line Calvinists or liberal deists, the Founders believed divine will legitimized their institutions and laws and made citizens more willing to respect them. Even Thomas Jefferson, who thought most Americans would become rationalist Unitarians within a generation or two, considered the acknowledgment of providential authority essential to public virtue.

Contrary to Jefferson's rationalist prediction, Americans became even more enthusiastically religious. [...]

Secularists often ignore the fact that civil religion has long served as a prod to civic conscience and as a check on national hubris. As McClay points out, "Expressions like 'under God' in the pledge suggest that the nation is under judgment and subject to higher moral principles. Even people deeply suspicious of civil religion ought to appreciate some sort of higher restraint."


In his classic, Democracy and Leadership, the great Irving Babbitt put the point well:
Not the least singular feature of the singular epoch in which we are living is that the very persons who are least willing to hear about the veto power are likewise the persons who are most certain that they stand for the virtues that depend upon its exercise--for example, peace and brotherhood. As against the expansionists of every kind, I do not hesitate to affirm that what is specifically human in man and ultimately divine is a certain quality of will, a will that is felt in its relation to his ordinary self as a will to refrain. The affirmation of this quality of will is nothing new: it is implied in the Pauline opposition between a law of the spirit and a law of the members. In general, the primacy accorded to will over intellect in Oriental. The idea of humility, the idea that man needs to defer to a higher will, came into Europe with an Oriental religion, Christianity. This idea has been losing ground in almost exact ratio to the decline of Christianity. Inasmuch as the recognition of the supremacy of will seems to me imperative in any wise view of life, I side in important respects with the Christian against those who have in the Occident, whether in ancient or in modern times, inclined to give first place either to the intellect or to the emotions.
.
Suffice it to say, Mr. Babbitt would have understood this phenomenon perfectly.

MORE:
-LECTURE: Irving Babbitt and Cultural Renewal (James Seaton, April 13, 2002, The Philadelphia Society)
-REVIEW: of Democracy and Leadership by Irving Babbitt (John Attarian, The Freeman: Ideas on Liberty)

(originally posted: 6/23/04)

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Posted by orrinj at 12:13 AM

FROM THE ARCHIVES: PURITAN NATION:

Pilgrims and the Roots of the American Thanksgiving (MALCOLM GASKILL, Nov. 26, 2014, WSJ)

But then why had anyone come in the first place? Their reasons were manifold. The Pilgrims wanted to worship freely outside the Church of England. Others wanted to reform English religion. Most Virginians simply wanted to find land where they could make a living.

All of the colonists were trying to recreate a better version of the Old World rather than inventing something new. In society and economy, politics and religion, England was changing, many felt for the worse, and nostalgia for a golden age of faith--based on scripture, healthy social relations and charity among neighbors--was a powerful incentive to emigrate.

Winthrop's "city upon a hill" speech, beloved of modern presidential speechwriters, was more of a reactionary manifesto than a radical one. It spoke of values that had decayed in English life to be resurrected across the Atlantic. This was revolution 17th-century style: a return to the status quo ante.

So the colonists set about building English houses, mixing arable farmland with pasture, approximating English meals and wearing their warm woolens, regardless of the weather. They behaved, so far as possible, as if nothing had changed. They imposed familiar hierarchies, enforced English laws and appointed magistrates and constables.

Wherever they went, they anglicized Indian place-names. Dozens of English towns and villages--Dorchester, Ipswich, Springfield--were reborn in America: Boston had been, and still is, a small Lincolnshire port. Long Island became "Yorkshire," split into three parts or "ridings," just like the English county.

America was the child, conceived and raised in the image of the parent--an extension of England, not its replacement. Writing in 1697, John Higginson, a minister at Salem, Mass., desired only "that the Little Daughter of New England in America may bow down herself to her Mother England."

In the end, however, pretending to be in England, like turning expectantly to a lost golden age, was futile. Many succumbed to homesickness. One woman faked an inheritance that, she said, had to be collected in person, just so that her husband would let her go home. Some returned for good--one in five New Englanders by 1640.

Nor were the English alone in America. The varied character of their colonies was due not just to the pressures of landscape and ecology but to tense relations with Native Americans and European neighbors.

Failing to retain a recognizably English identity caused anxiety and disappointment. But from failure emerged something truly striking, a spirit that resonates in America across the centuries. Colonial character was driven by a creative tension between lofty ideals and mundane desires. Trying to remain the same, it turned out, demanded a constant effort of industry and reinvention.

The liberties that many migrants felt were being abused at home, by royal contempt for the rights of freeborn Englishmen, ended up being defended in America through the bondage of others--both indentured servants and slaves--and the disinheritance and dispersal of Native Americans. And for all their inward-looking community spirit, the fortunes of many New England communities depended on their expansion. The Puritan idea of a "sufficiency"--having just enough land to be comfortable--was compromised by commercial greed and voracious land grabs.

American religion also evolved in a surprising way. In Philadelphia--"the city of brotherly love"--and other economic centers, Christian virtues were extolled in an expanding world of litigiousness and competition. The secularism in civil government propagated in Rhode Island has its legacy today in the constitutional separation of church and state, but this coexists with an intense religiosity in politics that the Pilgrim fathers would have recognized and admired.

Still, for all their diversity and contradictions, English migrants to America tended to conform to a single recognizable type: the intrepid, resilient, undaunted pioneer. In every colony, similar challenges were met with the same determination and optimism.


[originally posted 11/27/14]


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