Today, I heard an interview with professor Arthur Brooks, who wrote Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth about Compassionate Conservatism. He makes remarkable claims which contrast the books by atheists which we’ve discussed briefly in earlier posts. The book cover summarizes one of Brooks’ points: “Strong families, church attendance, earned income (as opposed to state-subsidized income), and the belief that individuals, not government, offer the best solution to social ills-all of these factors determine how likely one is to give.” That points a political spin on it, but in the interview today, Brooks said religious people in general are more charitable than irreligious people–er, I mean, secular people. He didn’t distinguish between religions, at least in the interview, so I understand him to say that faithful commitment to broadly religious ideas indicate a charitable spirit. Brooks went so far as to say that if you take out local religious people, the local PTA will fall.
Also, kudos go to Sea Shell Books of Clearwater, Florida for another copy of the same book and a few others. Sea Shell has under 400,000 titles for sale through Alibris.com, if not other used book networks.
Still feeling punk. Left work early again, as soon as an assistant was in to watch the library.
I put my (artificial) Christmas tree up over the weekend. It’s in front of one of the big windows at the front of my house, so that you can see it from outside, and it gives the interior a warm glow.
I don’t belong to the “Welcome to St. Nick’s Casino” school of Christmas lighting. I prefer my lights to say, “This is a home full of love” (that mine isn’t a home full of love is beside the point.).
When people pass by I want them to say, “It looks warm and cozy in there. I’d like to be in that house.”
But of course they can’t come in. It’s my house. Mine, mine, mine!
And after all, isn’t that what Christmas is all about?
Talk show hosts Michael Medved and Dennis Prager disagree today on whether freshman congressman Keith Ellison should be permitted to be sworn in on the Koran. Medved says yes, Prager says no.
Since I’m going to be one of Mr. Ellison’s constituents (for my sins), I’ll break the tie.
Medved is right.
There is no religious test for public office in America. If that puts the Koran into an American ceremony, well, I may not like it but I’ll have to live with it.
Redemption returns with ‘Christmas Carol’ by Tony Brown
“And while others give gifts, an undertaker, a charwoman and a laundress sell a dead man’s belongings to the local fence. Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol in Prose, Being a Ghost Story of Christmas’ is no walk around the tinseled mall.”
“Ex-Scrooge is a fine director of `Christmas Carol’ present by Chris Jones
Last year, old Ebenezer at the Goodman Theatre was starting to look dangerously like an undigested bit of beef. This year, a recovering Scrooge has swung open the coffin door of this seasonal perennial and breathed notable new life into its tired Dickensian veins.”
‘Christmas Carol’ stays true to Dickens’ voice by David Lewellen
“Charles Dickens’ novella became an instant classic when it was published in 1843, and stage versions have proliferated ever since.”
A Veritable Chorus Of `Carol’s By Deborah Hornblow
From downtown Hartford to Westport to Ivoryton and Stockbridge, Mass., the spirit of Christmas has arrived at theaters, where six distinct productions of the Charles Dickens classic “A Christmas Carol” inspire holiday cheer in audiences of all ages.
Vision Forum has staged a three-phase treasure hunt for a chest of 400 solid gold coins. They say, “To crack the code and find the four hundred gold coins, you must take a journey through history that will reveal America’s greatest national treasure — the providential hand of God in the life of this nation.” Read about The Jameston 400, which coincides with the 400th anniversary of its founding, May 13, 1607.
This will be short, if I have anything to say about it. I’m not feeling very well. One swollen gland (on the left side of my jaw, in case you’re making a diagram), and feeling run down. I chickened out of work a little early today, and hope to spend the evening on my back.
My renter has moved in, and so far he has made himself almost invisible. That’s how we like our renters around here. He’s even found a couple things in the house he thinks he can upgrade for me.
Of course that’s how it would start, wouldn’t it, if this were a slasher movie? The quiet, helpful tenant moves in and proceeds to gradually take over the house, and then my life, until the moment when he finally reveals his horrid, unspeakable plans for me…
However, I’ve noticed that real life generally resembles horror movies only in this regard, that if you feel under your seat you’ll find dried gum.
Dennis Prager had a guest on the other day who’d written a book on grammar. One subject they brought up was the common “John and I” mistake, where the person says, “He delivered the pizza to John and I.”
In fact it ought to be “John and me” in this sentence. You can figure out what to do by simply dropping John (and believe me, honey, you should have dropped the bum long ago) and seeing how the sentence goes without him. “He delivered the pizza to me” is obviously correct. Adding John to the mix does not change the matter.
But I know where the problem comes from. It comes from overextended rule-following. I remember even today my mother hearing me say, “Moloch and me went out into the grove,” and she corrected me. “It’s ‘Moloch and I went out to the grove.’”
She failed to add (and I probably wouldn’t have understood it if she had, at that age) that this only applied to the objects of sentences, not the subjects. (Or is it subjects, not objects? I always get them confused. Look it up? I’m sick, you sadist!)
Anyway, many people never get past that lesson and believe that “X and I” is correct in all situations.
Thus do we try to apply as absolutes rules which are only conditional. No doubt there are many such situations, in grammar and life.
But I’m too tired to think about it.
Are science books back in demand? Bryan Appleyard talks about them and some of their problems. A loathing of religion and dismissal of philosophy . . .
Such crude certainties are, of course, absurd, since good science is predicated on uncertainty, but it was essential to the marketing of these books. Uncertainty, it was thought, doesn’t sell. What sold were big final statements. These books — especially those by Dennett, Hawking and Dawkins — were preaching to the converted, to people who broadly accepted the terms of this impregnable certainty. They sold well because they became the texts of the dominant faith of our time: secular scientism. They were exclusive works: you were either in or out. It’s not stretching a point too far to say that their hard certainties and exclusivity played some part in the decline of interest in science among the young. They lacked the essential ingredient that turns children into scientists — wonder.
I’ll give that a hearty amen!
One of the books Appleyard doesn’t mention is the latest by astrophysicist Hugh Ross, called Creation As Science. Ross attempts to give four viewpoints a fair shake: evolution, theistic evolution, old age creation, and young age creation. This description may tease your interest a bit. Ross’ concludes his book with predictions from each viewpoint on matters he believes will be revealed at least in part within a few years. He argues that good scientific theory should be able to predict what will happen under certain circumstances, and he hopes one of the four viewpoints will have demonstrably more supporting evidence after a few years of research announcements. I hope to see a big bang out of that.
[via Kenyon Review’s blog]
BitterSweetLife is asking for quotes from authors about other authors. He leads in this quote from Flannery O’Connor:
This book of C.S. Lewis on prayer is a good one but I don’t like to pray any better for reading it. I also just read one of his called Miracles, which is very fine. Deceptively simple. You really need to read every sentence twice. Go among the biblical scholars, says he, as a sheep among wolves. – “Habit of Being”
The only one I can contribute is one I added to the quotes at the top of BwB this weekend. P.G. Wodehouse in the later part of his life said, “I don’t want to be like Bernard Shaw. He turned out some awfully bad stuff in his nineties. He said he knew the stuff was bad but he couldn’t stop writing.”
Sherry has several quotes though.
A Salt Lake City, Utah couple has been accused of stealing millions of federal grant money intended for textbooks. One example from the indictment states the school paid $93 for $13 books.
They say, “You can’t tell me how to live. ‘Judge not lest ye be judged.'”
But change the subject, and they say, “What you are doing is bad for you and dangerous to everyone else. Stop it.”
The worst possible thing happened at Thanksgiving, from a blogger’s point of view.
Everything went fine.
Moloch and his wife drove up on Wednesday night, so as to roust me out of bed early, to remind me that Turkeys Take Time. With their supervision I set about the mighty enterprise, le grande ouvre, den store gjerning.
And it was a total success. I followed Martha Stewart’s turkey instructions (brother Baal had sent me a link to her site), and the result was as perfect a turkey as I’ve ever enjoyed. I don’t think I’ll go to the extent of following her giblet gravy recipe again in the future (it was a lot of work and I didn’t like it any better than the kind we usually make), but even I, who live to make jokes about myself, can’t find any reason to quibble.
It was, in fact, pretty much the kind of holiday experience I’d hoped to facilitate when I bought a house that could be a central holiday gathering place for the Walker clan. Blithering Heights is a little cramped with more than five people in it at once, but we got along well in the close quarters. Not so much as a political or theological discussion arose to trouble the waters.
We laughed loudly when The Oldest Niece spoke to her boyfriend on the phone thus:
TON: “I’m here in Minneapolis with my family.”
TON: “Yeah, well, you don’t know my family.”
(Fill in the blank yourself.)
We also had some laughs when The Oldest Nephew brought out his newly purchased Wii gaming box and hooked it up to my TV. He showed us the games he had. Moloch’s wife showed remarkable enthusiasm playing the boxing game against Moloch. I averted my eyes, wounded by this gratuitous display of virtual domestic violence. But Mrs. Moloch seemed to enjoy herself a whole lot.
The best part of the Wii system, in my opinion, was the opportunity to create avatars of ourselves. We worked as a committee to caricature each one of us in turn, and we got some remarkable likenesses. My avatar, everyone agreed, was the most successful, largely because my hair and beard are fairly distinctive. Smooth-faced kids are the toughest.
I’m sorry that this report isn’t as entertaining as a “drop-kick the turkey” Thanksgiving horror story would be.
But not very sorry.
Help me out with a couple questions on matters of serious fantasy. In this age of brand name appliances, Playstations, video games, hand-crafted swords, and premium roasted coffee, is it more likely that Santa Claus has become the world’s largest importer, bringing in products from Sony, Intel, Tyco, Random House, BMW, and GE for distribution around the world, or that Santa Claus has contracted with foreign manufacturers to produce “toys” for him? The latter possibility would mean Santa is the mind behind Steve Jobs of Apple Computers and Bob Eckert of Mattel. Or could it be that Santa Claus dissolved his manufacturing interests long ago and become a distribution center for the world’s toymakers, which means no toys are actually made by Santa today, not even the quaint old-fashioned ones?
‘Tis the gift to be simple,
‘Tis the gift to be free,
‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
It will be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gained,
to bow and to bend, we will not be ashamed
To turn, turn, will be our delight,
‘Til by turning, turning, we come round right.
I’m not glad President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Far from it. But I am glad that, if he had to be assassinated, Providence scheduled the event for November 22, 1963, because that’s the day C. S. Lewis died. (Aldous Huxley too, but who cares about him?) I hadn’t read Lewis yet at the time (I was thirteen years old), but it comforts me somewhat to know I mourned deeply that day.
I remember it well. I was in an art class in school when the radio broadcast came over the intercom system with the news from Dallas. It was my brother Baal’s birthday, which was rather tough for him. Moloch and I gave him a great gift—a plastic car designed to fly to pieces spectacularly when you crashed it into a wall. But the news dampened even his eight-year-old spirits.
I credit Lewis with being God’s instrument to preserve my faith through all the challenges it met in college and since. He was the first writer to tell me that faith involved reason as well as feeling. It seemed too good to be true at first. I thought surely I’d learn somewhere that this was heresy. But it wasn’t. So I planted my banner on the orthodox side of the battle-lines for life.
Here’s a quote from Lewis’ letter to his friend Owen Barfield, April 4, 1949:
Talking of beasts and birds, have you ever noticed this contrast: that when you read a scientific account of any animal’s life you get an impression of laborious, incessant, almost rational economic activity (as if all animals were Germans) but when you study any animal you know – what at once strikes you is their cheerful fatuity, the pointlessness of nearly all they do. Say what you like, Barfield, the world is sillier and better fun than they make out.
Have a great Thanksgiving, friends.