whatsoever is true

“Truth, of course, must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for we have made fiction to suit ourselves.”

-G.K. Chesterton

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In music – thes…

In music – these days, particularly in jazz, but the cadenza of a concerto used to work the same way – improvisation is a fascinating art. Good improvisation is profoundly responsive to what has come before, and in certain ways obedient to the key and to…

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Only God is omniscient. To God alone are we to be a completely open book. To God, and only to God, should we say—or need to say—“You know when I leave and when I get back; I am never out of your sight. I look behind me and you are there, then up ahead and you are there, too…is there any place I can go to be out of your sight? If I climb to the sky, you are there! If I go underground, you are there! If I flew on morning’s wings to the far western horizon, you’d find me in a minute—You are already there waiting!” (Psalm 139:1-10). Only to God. And that is why all persons of faith should be deeply concerned about the hegemonic assumptions of the surveillance state.

-“American Stasi? What’s Wrong with NSA Surveillance”

July 1, 2013

Timothy George

Filed under religion politics

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Responding to the claim that not just reading but “high culture” in general is morally improving, Terry Eagleton points out that, during World War II, “many people were indeed deep in high culture, but … this had not prevented some of them from engaging in such activities as superintending the murder of Jews in central Europe.” If reading really was supposed to “make you a better person,” then “when the Allied troops moved into the concentration camps … to arrest commandants who had whiled away their leisure hours with a volume of Goethe, it appeared that someone had some explaining to do.”

There’s simply nothing about reading, or listening to Mozart sonatas, or viewing paintings by Raphael, that necessarily transforms or even improves someone’s character. As the eighteenth-century scientist G. C. Lichtenberg once wrote, “A book is like a mirror: if an ass looks in, you can’t expect an apostle to look out.” Nevertheless, I am going to argue, from time to time throughout the course of this book, that if you really want to become a better person, there are ways in which reading can help. But the degree to which that happens will depend not just on what you read — you’ve already seen that I’m not dictatorial about that — but also why and how. So consider yourself either warned or promised, according to your feelings about moralistic exhortation.

Alan Jacobs, AKA me (via ayjay)

(via pegobry)

Filed under education literature

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Anyway, the permanent record was one of those semi-mythical creatures that you publicly dismissed while privately fearing when you were camping in the woods and the fire had burned down. I was a rich kid in that poor town, in public school mostly because of politics related to my father’s job, and most high school discipline rolled right off me. It was a given that I’d graduate at the top of my class and decamp for some fancy college, which, indeed, I did. But I do remember the permanent record thing making me ever so slightly nervous, and if I laughed about it to my friends, then I still privately fretted that some ambitious admissions officer would haul up my file and mark me off with a red X for some past minor infraction. Now, of course, kids really do get a permanent record because schools have followed the general trend of American social hysteria and started calling the cops for the slightest infraction; detention is now a misdemeanor, and so on. That’s a shame, because the permanent record ought to be as laughable now as it ever was. Do you remember yourself when you were sixteen? Many descriptors come to mind, but fully formed isn’t one of them.

As if that weren’t bad enough, that idea that one ought to be branded with one’s own youth like a poorly considered neck tattoo, we now find not only kids, but adults (especially new adults) getting constantly dinged with the dire warning that Social Media Lasts Forever. I think this is probably patently untrue in a purely physical sense; it strikes me as probable that fifty years from now, the whole electronic record of our era will be largely lost in a sea of forgotten passwords, proprietary systems, faulty hardware, and compatibility issues. But it should also be untrue in, dare I say it, the moral sense. Educators and employers are constantly yelling that you young people have an affirmative responsibility not to post anything where a teacher or principal or, worst of all, boss or potential boss might find it, which gets the ethics of the situation precisely backwards. It isn’t your sister’s obligation to hide her diary; it’s yours not to read it. Your boyfriend shouldn’t have to close all his browser windows and hide his cell phone; you ought to refrain from checking his history and reading his texts. But, says the Director of Human Resources and the Career Counselor, social media is public; you’re putting it out there. Yes, well, then I’m sure you won’t mind if I join you guys at happy hour with this flip-cam and a stenographer. Privacy isn’t the responsibility of individuals to squirrel away secrets; it’s the decency of individuals to leave other’s lives alone.

Jacob Bacharach (via wesleyhill)

Filed under Education Society

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My position about the Churches can best be made plain by an imaginary example. Suppose I want to find out the correct interpretation of Plato’s teaching. What I am most confident in accepting is that interpretation which is common to all Platonists down all the centuries: What Aristotle and the Renaissance scholars and Paul Elmer More agree on I take to be true Platonism. Any purely modern views which claim to have discovered for the first time what Plato meant and say that everyone from Aristotle down has misunderstood him I reject out of hand.

But there is something else I would also reject. If there were an ancient Platonic Society existing at Athens and claiming to be the exclusive trustees of P’s meaning, I should approach them with great respect. But if I found that their teaching in many ways was curiously unlike his actual text and unlike what ancient interpreters said, and in some cases could not be traced back to within 1000 years of his time, I should reject these exclusive claims: while still needing, of course, to take any particular thing they thought on its merits.

I do the same with Christianity. What is certain is the vast mass of doctrine which I find agreed on by scripture, the Fathers, the Middle Ages, modern Roman Catholics, modern Protestants. That is true ‘catholic’ doctrine. Mere ‘modernism’ I reject at once.

The Roman Church where it differs from this universal tradition and specifically from apostolic Christianity I reject. Thus their theology about the B. V. M. [Blessed Virgin Mary] I reject because it seems utterly foreign to the New Testament: where indeed the words ‘Blessed is the womb that bore thee’ receive a rejoinder pointing in exactly the opposite direction. Their papalism seems equally foreign to the attitude of St. Paul towards St. Peter in the epistles. The doctrine of Transubstantiation insists in defining in a way which the New Testament seems to me not to countenance. In a word, the whole set-up of modern Romanism seems to me to be as much a provincial or local variation from the central, ancient tradition as any particular Protestant sect is. I must therefore reject their claims: though this does not mean rejecting particular things they way.

C. S. Lewis, in a letter (via theopoliticaldiscipleship)

(via affcath)

Filed under Religion