Friday, August 18, 2017

Religion in state constitutions

From the Constitution of the State of Wisconsin:


From the Pew Research Center, "God or the divine is referenced in every state constitution":

State constitutions in Mass., N.C. have most references to God or the divine

Thursday, August 17, 2017

When we disagree

Alan Jacobs on debate and argument. I very much agree but don't consistently practice. Jacobs:
.... When we treat those we disagree with as necessarily wicked or stupid, when we forbid to “their side” practices that we cheerfully allow to “our side,” when we recklessly (and sometimes quite intentionally) misconstrue those who disagree with us, then genuine argument never happens: we descend into shouted recriminations.

Of course, many people are perfectly happy with shouted recriminations. But Christians are forbidden that. As I have reflected on these matters in the past couple of years — and I’ve spent a lot of time in such reflection — I have been struck by just how consistently concerned the New Testament is with proper responses to conflict. We are told, by Jesus in the Gospels and by the apostles in their letters, how to respond when we are attacked and vilified by those outside the “household of faith” and how to deal with various kinds of conflict within that household. ....

One of the most famous passages in the whole of Scripture, but one that almost no one seems to find relevant to the current debates, is this: “If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. ....

Friday, August 11, 2017

“That’s when I went right off the whole drug cult.”

The Weekly Standard's Andrew Ferguson, on the 50th anniversary of the "Summer of Love,": "Flowers in Their Hair." "Remember the Summer of Love? No? Lucky you.":
.... George Harrison and his wife visited San Francisco at the height of the Summer of Love. They wanted to see Haight-Ashbury. They walked the streets and quickly drew a crowd of flower children.

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band had been released just weeks before and, as was said, blown minds the world over. And here was one of its creators come to bestow a Beatle blessing on the counterculture of the Haight. The perfect alignment of man and moment, prophet and place: The photos taken that day, writes the rock music historian Joel Selvin, “became the single most enduring image from the city in the Summer of Love.”

From behind Harrison’s famous heart-shaped sunglasses, however, things looked different from what he’d been reading in the press.

“I went there expecting it to be a brilliant place,” Harrison said years later, “with groovy gypsy people making works of art and paintings and carvings in little workshops. But it was full of horrible spotty drop-out kids on drugs....

“I could only describe it as being like the Bowery: a lot of bums and drop-outs, many of them very young kids who’d dropped acid and come from all over America to this Mecca of LSD. It certainly showed me what was really happening in the drug culture. It wasn’t what I’d thought​—​spiritual awakenings and being artistic​—​it was like alcoholism, like any addiction.”

The Harrisons wandered toward the park. The crowd grew and pressed in. When Harrison declined a joint from one of the hippies, he sensed a rising air of menace. “You’re putting me down, man,” said the offended flower child. Harrison’s limo appeared and his party ducked in, headed for the airport to fly to L.A.

“That was a turning point for me,” Harrison said. “That’s when I went right off the whole drug cult.”....

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Mysteries

I just discovered this site: "Haycraft Queen Cornerstones," described thus:
"The Definitive Library of Mystery Fiction"
Howard Haycraft originally published the list in his 1941 landmark book Murder For Pleasure and was originally titled "A Reader's List of Detective Story Cornerstones". It was subsequently updated and broadened several times by Ellery Queen and became as a standard amongst dealers and collectors everywhere. The list below is the final revision and includes books from 1748 to 1952. Any entry followed by an * indicates it was added by Ellery Queen.
The list is alphabetical rather than chronological. Here is a section (the links only function at the site), with those checked off that I've read. There are several classics that I haven't. I will not run out of books to read.


Haycraft Queen Cornerstones - Complete List

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

"Be our strength in hours of weakness"


Music: Sussex, adapted by Ralph Vaughan Williams, 1906
Father, hear the prayer we offer:
Nor for ease that prayer shall be,
But for strength, that we may ever
Live our lives courageously.
Not forever by still waters
Would we idly, rest and stay;
But would smite the living fountains
From the rocks along our way.
Not forever in green pastures
Do we ask our way to be,
But the steep and rugged pathway         
May we tread rejoicingly.
Be our strength in hours of weakness,
In our wanderings be our Guide;
Through endeavor, failure, danger,
Father, be Thou at our side.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

"Begotten, not made..."

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God,
Begotten of the Father before all worlds,
God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God,
Begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father
By whom all things were made...
The Nicene Creed

From Mere Christianity:
One of the creeds says that Christ is the Son of God "begotten, not created"; and it adds "begotten by his Father before all worlds." Will you please get it quite clear that this has nothing to do with the fact that when Christ was born on earth as a man, that man was the son of a virgin? We are not now thinking about the Virgin Birth. We are thinking about something that happened before nature was created at all, before time began. "Before all worlds" Christ is begotten, not created. What does it mean?

We don't use the words begetting or begotten much in modem English, but everyone still knows what they mean. To beget is to become the father of: to create is to make. And the difference is this. When you beget, you beget something of the same kind as yourself. A man begets human babies, a beaver begets little beavers, and a bird begets eggs which turn into little birds. But when you make, you make something of a different kind from yourself. A bird makes a nest, a beaver builds a dam, a man makes a wireless set—or he may make something more like himself than a wireless set: say, a statue. If he is a clever enough carver, he may make a statue which is very like a man indeed. But, of course, it is not a real man; it only looks like one. It cannot breathe or think. It is not alive.

Now that is the first thing to get clear. What God begets is God; just as what man begets is man. What God creates is not God; just as what man makes is not man. That is why men are not Sons of God in the sense that Christ is. They may be like God in certain ways, but they are not things of the same kind. They are more like statues or pictures of God. ....

Monday, August 7, 2017

Making disciples

Today, we have largely diminished “being a disciple” to making a profession of faith and receiving baptism. After that, you’re on your own. American rugged individualism has led us to act as if we do not need one another.

But the early church demanded more. The initial discipleship process for new converts included a regimented three-year plan for growing new believers in the grace and knowledge of Jesus (Apostolic Tradition 17.1) . New converts—called catechumens—regularly heard biblical preaching, received basic theological training, and renounced their sinful practices. ....

The rhythm practiced by the earliest Christians was one of relational mentoring. Christians who were well-grounded in the faith would regularly engage with and teach those who were new to the faith. This practice built meaningful relationships, accountability, and responsibility into everyday Christian living. Moreover, it reminded believers of the need to grow in faith and theology.

This rhythm was at one time also found in Christian homes through a process known as catechizing. Catechizing children has long been important to disciple-making. Recognizing that this practice was standard in the early church, John Calvin exhorted all churches to reclaim this ancient practice. “How I wish that we might have kept the custom which…existed among the ancient Christians!” he exclaimed concerning catechesis. ....
If this discipline were in effect today, it would certainly arouse some slothful parents, who carelessly neglect the instruction of their children as a matter of no concern to them; for then they could not overlook it without public disgrace. There would be greater agreement in faith among Christian people, and not so many would go untaught and ignorant; some would not be so rashly carried away with new and strange doctrines; in short, all would have some methodical instruction, so to speak, in Christian doctrine. (John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion)

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Soldiers

This post is directly related to the post a few days ago about John Keegan's The Face of Battle. In 1985 the BBC broadcast an eight-part series related to the book. Wikipedia's description:
"Soldiers: A History of Men in Battle" is a 1985 BBC television documentary series about the history of warfare from antiquity to the Falklands War. Each episode looks at warfare from the perspective of different participants: infantryman, artillerist, cavalryman, tanker, airman, guerrilla, surgeon, logistician and commander. The series and a companion book were written by John Keegan and Richard Holmes, and the series was presented by Frederick Forsyth.
When I taught a unit on the military in my International Relations elective I often began with the first episode of that series. I just went looking to see if it had been issued on DVD and failed to find it. But, of course, several people have uploaded the series to YouTube. I think they are all there. Here is "SOLDIERS: Part 1. The Face of Battle":


Links to the rest of the series can be found here (look to the right of the page).

"We think Thorwald did it"


I watched the restored Rear Window again last night for the first time in several years. Amazon provides the film in several formats. I prefer the Blu-ray because of the excellent supplements including interviews with Hitchcock himself. There are also interviews with John Michael Hayes who wrote the script for Rear Window and several other Hitchcock films and with Hitchcock's assistant director — interesting to me for what they knew about the man and how he worked. There are good discussions about how Hitchcock used montage and sound. All good stuff if you enjoy his films.

The cast is perfect. The principles:
James Stewart        L.B. 'Jeff' Jefferies
Grace Kelly Lisa Carol Fremont
Wendell Corey Det. Lt. Thomas J. Doyle
Thelma Ritter Stella
Raymond Burr Lars Thorwald
From the 1954 Variety review:
.... Stewart portrays a news photographer confined to his apartment with a broken leg. He passes the long hours by playing peeping-tom on the people who live in the other apartments overlooking the courtyard. It’s a hot, humid summer so shades are rarely drawn to block his view of intimate goings-on. In one of the apartments occupied by Raymond Burr and his invalid, shrewish wife Stewart observes things that lead him to believe Burr has murdered and dismembered the wife.

From then on suspense tightens as Stewart tries to convince Wendell Corey, a policeman buddy, his suspicions are correct. Already sold on the idea are Miss Kelly, Stewart’s girl, and Thelma Ritter, the insurance nurse who comes daily to tend his needs. With their help, Stewart eventually is able to prove his point, and almost gets himself killed doing it. Adding to the grip the melodrama has on the audience is the fact that virtually every scene is one that could only be viewed from Stewart’s wheelchair....
There is very little actual violence portrayed in the film — murder and dismemberment are speculated upon but not shown. Nevertheless tension builds.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Robert Hardy, 1925-2017

Robert Hardy died yesterday. You may or may not recognize the name but you have seen him. He was an actor whose work spanned a couple of generations. I particularly liked a series in which he played Winston Churchill. From the BBC Obituary:
Timothy Sydney Robert Hardy was born in Cheltenham on 29 October 1925. The youngest of a large family, he was a self-professed "odd child".

His father was the headmaster of Cheltenham College and Hardy himself went to Rugby School before going up to Magdalen College, Oxford to read English. ....

Hardy returned to Oxford after his war service and gained a BA (Hons) in English as well as having enjoyed the opportunity to study under two of Oxford's most eminent names, JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis.

He had always been fascinated by Hollywood films and had determined to become an actor, joining the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in 1949. ....

In 1978, Hardy took the part of the irascible but good-natured Siegfried Farnon in All Creatures Great and Small, the long-running BBC series based on James Herriot's best-selling books.

As the senior vet of the small Yorkshire Dales practice, Robert Hardy became one of the best-known faces on British television.

Full of animals, nostalgia and rural scenery, the show became a massive hit, attracting audiences of up to 20 million. ....

...Robert Hardy's own volatility and ability to express his wrath were channeled most successfully into his many portrayals of Britain's most revered premier.

He played Winston Churchill many times, even once in French on stage in Paris, but most memorably in the 1981 mini-series The Wilderness Years. ....

Although he failed to make the lasting impact on Hollywood enjoyed by some British actors, his face became known the world over when he appeared as the Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge, in several of the Harry Potter films. ....
Episode 8 (the final episode) of The Wilderness Years:



More from the series, via PowerLine, Hardy doing speeches Churchill delivered in the House of Commons:



Wednesday, August 2, 2017

"It wants each individual whole"

...[B]etween the Church and the World there is no permanent modus-vivendi possible. We may unconsciously draw a false analogy between the position of the Church in a secular society and the position of a dissenting sect in a Christian society. The situation is very different. A dissenting minority in a Christian society can persist because of the fundamental beliefs it has in common with that society, because of a common morality and of common grounds of Christian action. Where there is a different morality there is conflict. I do not mean that the Church exists primarily for the propagation of Christian morality: morality is a means and not an end. The Church exists for the glory of God and the sanctification of souls: Christian morality is part of the means by which these ends are to be attained. But because Christian morals are based on fixed beliefs which cannot change they also are essentially unchanging: while the beliefs and in consequence the morality of the secular world can change from individual to individual, or from generation to generation, or from nation to nation. To accept two ways of life in the same society, one for the Christian and another for the rest, would be for the Church to abandon its task of evangelising the world. For the more alien the non-Christian world become, the more difficult becomes its conversion.

The Church is not merely for the elect — in other words, those whose temperament brings them to that belief and that behaviour. Nor does it allow us to be Christian in some social relations and non-Christian in others. It wants everybody, and it wants each individual whole. It therefore must struggle for a condition of society which will give the maximum of opportunity for us to lead wholly Christian lives, and the maximum of opportunity for others to become Christians. It maintains the paradox that while we are each responsible for our own souls, we are all responsible for all other souls, who are, like us, on their way to a future state of heaven or hell. And — another paradox — as the Christian attitude towards peace, happiness and well-being of peoples is that they are a means and not an end in themselves, Christians are more deeply committed to realising these ideals than are those who regards them as ends to themselves.”

—from T.S. Eliot, The Idea of a Christian Society (London: Faber & Faber Ltd., 1940)
I found this because Red Dreher referenced it in a post today.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

"The hardness of God is kinder than the softness of men..."

Those of us who use Logos software are offered a free book each month. This August the free book is John Stott's Why I Am a Christian (2003). The first chapter he titles "The Hound of Heaven" after the Francis Thompson poem:
Francis Thompson spent a lonely and loveless childhood, and failed successively in his attempts to become a Roman Catholic priest, a doctor (like his father) and a soldier. He ended up lost in London until a Christian couple recognized his poetic genius and rescued him. Throughout these years he was conscious of both pursuing and being pursued, and expressed it most eloquently in his poem ‘the Hound of Heaven’. Here is its beginning:
I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
Of my own mind; and in the midst of tears
I hid from Him, and under running laughter.
Up vistaed hopes I sped;
And shot, precipitated,
Adown Titanic glooms of chasmèd fears,
From those strong Feet that followed, followed after.
But with unhurrying chase,
And unperturbèd pace,
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
They beat—and a Voice beat
More instant than the Feet—
‘All things betray thee, who betrayest Me.
Stott goes on in the chapter to write of several converts whose experience was of being pursued by God: the apostle Paul, Augustine, Malcolm Muggeridge, and finally C.S. Lewis, about whom he writes:
But nobody has expressed this sense of the divine pursuit more eloquently than C.S. Lewis (1898–1963), whose honest account I have already referred to. Lewis was an Oxford and Cambridge scholar, literary critic, children’s fiction-writer and Christian apologist.

For some time before his conversion Lewis was aware that God was after him. In his autobiographical sketch Surprised by Joy he piles up metaphors to illustrate it. First, God was ‘the great Angler’, playing his fish, ‘and I never dreamed that the hook was in my tongue’. Next, he likened God to a cat chasing a mouse. ‘Amiable agnostics will talk cheerfully about “man’s search for God”. To me…they might as well have talked about the mouse’s search for the cat.’ Thirdly, he likened God to a pack of hounds. ‘The fox had been dislodged from the Hegelian Wood and was now running in the open…bedraggled and weary, hounds barely a field behind. And nearly everyone now (one way or another) in the pack…’ Finally, God was the Divine Chessplayer, gradually manoeuvring him into an impossible position. ‘All over the board my pieces were in the most disadvantageous positions. Soon I could no longer cherish even the illusion that the initiative lay with me. My Adversary began to make His final moves.’ So Lewis entitled his penultimate chapter ‘Checkmate’.

Lewis’s actual moment of surrender to Christ in Oxford he described in memorable words:
You must picture me alone in that room at Magdalen, night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me. In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England. I did not then see what is now the most shining and obvious thing; the Divine humility which will accept a convert even on such terms. The Prodigal Son at least walked home on his own feet. But who can duly adore that Love which will open the high gates to a prodigal who is brought in kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting his eyes in every direction for a chance of escape?… The hardness of God is kinder than the softness of men, and His compulsion is our liberation.
The Logos free book link is here. The book can also be purchased here. C.S. Lewis' spiritual autobiography, Surprised by Joy, can be found here.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

"Believers should prepare for challenges..."

From Ryan Anderson's "The Continuing Threat to Religious Liberty" in the current National Review:
Two years to the day after the Supreme Court redefined marriage in Obergefell, the Court announced that it would hear a case about the extent to which private parties may be forced to embrace this new vision of marriage. The case involves Jack Phillips, a Colorado baker who declined to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex-wedding reception.

There was nothing remarkable about Phillips’s decision. With every cake he designs, Jack believes he is serving Christ. He had previously turned down requests to create Halloween-themed cakes, lewd bachelor-party cakes, and a cake celebrating a divorce. Yet Jack was never reprimanded over those decisions. He found himself in hot water only with the same-sex-wedding cake. ....

Religious schools adhering to the historic vision of marriage are also at risk. They stand to lose accreditation and nonprofit tax status as well as eligibility for student loans, vouchers, and education savings accounts. The Left regularly equates “homophobia” with racism, knowing full well that the latter can serve as grounds for ending tax-exempt status, as happened to Bob Jones University in the 1970s as a result of racist policies (lifted in 2000) regarding dating and marriage.

During Obergefell oral arguments, Justice Samuel Alito asked the solicitor general whether the state should yank tax exemptions for schools that uphold marriage as the union of man and woman. The solicitor general replied: “It’s certainly going to be an issue.” Right on cue, the Sunday after the Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell, the New York Times’ religion columnist wrote a piece for Time magazine titled “Now’s the Time to End Tax Exemptions for Religious Institutions.”

These vulnerabilities extend to Orthodox Jews, Roman Catholics, Evangelical Christians, confessional Lutherans, Latter-day Saints, Muslims, and anyone else who believes that we are created male and female, and that male and female are created for each other. Charities, schools, and professionals will find themselves on the wrong side of regulations: bans on what government deems “discrimination” in public accommodations and employment; mandates in health care and education; revocation of nonprofit status, accreditation, licensing, and funding. ....

.... As the law insists that social conservatives are like racists, big businesses and other institutions will bring their own pressure to bear on anyone who dissents. Professional associations, through licensing and accreditation procedures, will enforce the new orthodoxy. The American Bar Association has promulgated new model rules of professional conduct that make it unethical for lawyers to “discriminate” on the “basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status or socioeconomic status,” including in “social activities,” which, as Attorney General Ed Meese has explained, would include “church membership and worship activities.” Legally and culturally, believers should prepare for challenges. ....

Religious liberty is not an embrace of relativism. As we disagree about religious truth, we need to agree to leave legal room for that disagreement to play out in worthy and healthy ways — among people who are free to persuade and convert. People are free to try to convince Jack that he should bake the cake, but the government shouldn’t be allowed to force him to do so. ....
Ryan Anderson is a co-author of Debating Religious Liberty and Discrimination.

Monday, July 24, 2017

"Real evil still haunts the world..."

The importance of reading history is an emphasis of several posts I've come across today. A film reviewer suggests that many of those viewing Dunkirk probably had no idea it was about an actual event. Myron Magnet at age nineteen learned for the first time about the Holocaust — "I never dreamed it possible, and learning that it had actually happened, in my own lifetime and to my own kinsmen, turned my worldview upside-down." In "See No Evil?" he worries:
Why am I telling you all this? Because I fear that, except for a few of us remaining graybeards and some immigrants from the world’s manifold tyrannies and anarchies, most Americans are too young to remember, even vicariously, the ills that the world can inflict and the effort it takes to withstand and restrain them. They have studied no history, so not only can they not distinguish Napoleon from Hitler, but also they have no conception of how many ills mankind has suffered or inflicted on itself and how heroic has been the effort of the great, the wise, and the good over the centuries to advance the world’s enlightenment and civilization—efforts that the young have learned to scorn as the self-interested machinations of dead white men to maintain their dominance. While young people are examining their belly buttons for micro-aggressions, real evil still haunts the world, still inheres in human nature; and those who don’t know this are at risk of being ambushed and crushed by it.

Slogans, placards, and chants won’t stop it: the world is not a campus, Donald Trump is not Adolf Hitler, the Israelis are not Nazis. Moreover, it is disgracefully, cloyingly naive to think—as the professor hurt in the melee to keep Charles Murray from addressing a Middlebury College audience recently put it in the New York Times—that “All violence is a breakdown of communication.” An hour’s talk over a nice cup of tea would not have kept Vladimir Putin from invading Ukraine, or persuaded an Islamist terrorist not to explode his bomb. Misunderstanding does not cause murder, and reasoned conversation does not penetrate the heart of darkness.

Much as I revere Yeats, I do not share his theory that history is cyclical, with civilizations rising and decaying, until something new arises from the ashes. Perhaps it’s the ember of mid-century optimism still alive in me, but I can’t believe that “All things fall and are built again.” I don’t want to believe, with Conrad in his darkest moods, that “we live in the flicker,” that moments of enlightenment shine but briefly between the eras of ignorance and barbarism.

But who can deny that there are some truths that history has taught—the Copybook Headings, Rudyard Kipling calls them—that we ignore at our peril? Has not history’s recurring tale been, as Kipling cautions, that “a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome?” So beware of UN-style promises of perpetual peace through disarmament, which you’ll find will have “sold us and delivered us bound to our foe.” Beware of a sexual freedom that will end when “our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith.” Don’t believe that you can achieve “abundance for all,/ By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul,” because the eternal truth is, “If you don’t work you die.” And the truth that history teaches is that when
the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!
Man is a believing animal. We live by some of those beliefs, made plausible by the labors of the good and the great to embody them, and of the wise to explain how they have created a freer, more prosperous, more just, and more fulfilling life for mankind. But other beliefs, the stock-in-trade of the world’s deluded or power-hungry demagogues and charlatans, will kill us. Our nation’s fate depends on relearning the difference. [more]

Rooted

...[C]hurch history is a treasure box, not a map. We err if we look to the past in order to chart the precise path of faithfulness for the future. We are marching to Zion, not retreating to Constantinople or Geneva. For this reason, we should look to the past in order to retrieve the resources we need in order to fortify and renew our faith in the present as we discern with wisdom and prudence the way forward. ....

...[O]ne of the things we must do as preachers, both for ourselves and also for our people, is to lift our eyes from our current moment, to listen to the words of the psalmist, hear the laments of the prophets, recall the stories of our ancestors, visit our church fathers, read and learn from our missionary mothers, and realize that spiritual struggle is the norm, not the exception. ....

By quoting from ancient church leaders, we remind our congregations that our faith is relevant not because it is "modern," but because it is rooted.

We also protect our people from being convinced that their novel, never-before-heard-of interpretation of a text cannot be challenged. The Holy Spirit is not stingy with spiritual insights. He has been at work for thousands of years. We make this truth clear when we quote from ancient saints. ....

To think that I'm better off—just me and the Holy Spirit and my Bible—without ever consulting the Spirit-filled people of God who have gone before me is to impoverish myself from insights that flow through the centuries. ....

Saturday, July 22, 2017

"Breaths there the man...."

In the early 1970s I added to my library Breathes There the Man: Heroic Ballads and Poems of the English Speaking Peoples, edited by Frank S. Meyer, an ex-leftist and an early editor at National Review. The book title is self-explanatory. The first four chapters collect examples from the United States. Poems and ballads from England, Scotland, Ireland and "Other Lands" fill out the remaing chapters. It is a great book for browsing. Today from the Civil War collection:
The Battle-Cry of Freedom
Yes, we'll rally 'round the flag, boys, we'll rally once again,
Shouting the battle-cry of freedom;
We will rally from the hillside, we'll gather from the plain,
Shouting the battle-cry of freedom.
Chorus:
The Union forever, hurrah, boys, hurrah!
Down with the traitor, up with the star,
While we rally 'round the flag, boys, rally once again,
Shouting the battle-cry of freedom.
We are springing to the call of our brothers gone before,
Shouting the battle-cry of freedom,
And we'll fill the vacant ranks with a million freemen more,
Shouting the battle-cry of freedom.
We will welcome to our numbers the loyal, true, and brave,
Shouting the battle-cry of freedom,
And altho' they may be poor, not a man shall be a slave,
Shouting the battle-cry of freedom.
So we're springing to the call from the East and from the West,
Shouting the battle-cry of freedom,
And we'll hurl the rebel crew from the land we love the best,
Shouting the battle-cry of freedom.
And the poem that saved the U.S.S. Constitution, by Oliver Wendell Holmes. The ship, now in Boston harbor, was headed for the wreckers when this was written:

Old Ironsides
Ay, tear her tattered ensign down!
Long has it waved on high;
And many an eye has danced to see
That banner in the sky;
Beneath it rung the battle shout,
And burst the cannon's roar;—
The meteor of the ocean air
Shall sweep the clouds no more.
Her deck, once red with heroes' blood,
Where knelt the vanquished foe,
When winds were hurrying o'er the flood,
And waves were white below,
No more shall feel the victor's tread,
Or know the conquered knee;
The harpies of the shore shall pluck
The eagle of the sea!
O, better that her shattered hulk
Should sink beneath the wave;
Her thunders shook the mighty deep,
And there should be her grave;
Nail to the mast her holy flag,
Set every threadbare sail,
And give her to the god of storms.
The lightning and the gale!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

A miracle at Dunkirk


Via Denny Burk, from the Preamble of William Manchester, The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill, Visions of Glory (Vol. 1):
The French had collapsed. The Dutch had been overwhelmed. The Belgians had surrendered. The British army, trapped, fought free and fell back toward the Channel ports, converging on a fishing town whose name was then spelled Dunkerque.

Behind them lay the sea.

It was England’s greatest crisis since the Norman conquest, vaster than those precipitated by Philip II’s Spanish Armada, Louis XIV’s triumphant armies, or Napoleon’s invasion barges massed at Boulogne. This time Britain stood alone. If the Germans crossed the Channel and established uncontested beachheads, all would be lost…

Now the 220,000 Tommies at Dunkirk, Britain’s only hope, seemed doomed. On the Flanders beaches they stood around in angular, existential attitudes, like dim purgatorial souls awaiting disposition. There appeared to be no way to bring more than a handful of them home. The Royal Navy’s vessels were inadequate. King George VI has been told that they would be lucky to save 17,000. The House of Commons was warned to prepare for “hard and heavy tidings.” Then, from the streams and estuaries of Kent and Dover, a strange fleet appeared: trawlers and tugs, scows and fishing sloops, lifeboats and pleasure crafts, smacks and coasters; the island ferry Gracie Fields; Tom Sopwith’s America’s Cup challenger Endeavour; even the London fire brigade’s fire-float Massey Shaw—all of them manned by civilian volunteers: English fathers, sailing to rescue England’s exhausted, bleeding sons.
Burk:
When it was all said and done, this rag-tag armada of leisure crafts and fishing boats evacuated 338,226 soldiers (198,229 British and 139,997 French). It was one of the most impressive escapes in history, and it enabled the Allies to fight another day.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

An evening prayer

On the 200th anniversary of her death, one of Jane Austen's prayers:
Father of Heaven, whose goodness has brought me in safety to the close of this day, dispose my heart in fervent prayer. Another day is now gone and added to those for which I was already accountable. Teach me, Almighty Father, to consider this solemn truth, as I should do, that I may feel the importance of every day and every hour as it passes, and earnestly strive to make a better use of what your goodness may yet bestow on me than I have done of the time past.

Give me grace to endeavor after a truly Christian spirit to seek to attain that temper of forbearance and patience of which my blessed savior has set me the highest example, and which, while it prepares me for the spiritual happiness of the life to come, will secure the best enjoyment of what the world can give. Incline me, O God, to think humbly of myself, to be severe only in the examination of my own conduct, to consider my fellow creatures with kindness, and to judge of all they say and do with that charity that I would desire from them myself.

I thank you with all my heart for every gracious dispensation, for all the blessings that have attended my life, for every hour of safety, health, and peace; and of domestic comfort and innocent enjoyment. I feel that I have been blessed far beyond anything that I have deserved. And though I cannot but pray for a continuance of all these mercies, I acknowledge my unworthiness of them and implore you to pardon the presumption of my desires.

Keep me, O Heavenly Father, from evil this night. Bring me in safety to the beginning of another day, and grant that I may rise again with every serious and religious feeling that now directs me.

May your mercy be extended over all mankind, bringing the ignorant to the knowledge of your truth, awakening the impenitent, touching the hardened. Look with compassion upon the afflicted of every condition. Assuage the pangs of disease, comfort the broken in spirit.

More particularly do I pray for the safety and welfare of my own family and friends wheresoever dispersed, beseeching you to avert from them all material and lasting evil of body and mind. And may I, by the assistance of your Holy Spirit, to so conduct myself on Earth as to secure an eternity of happiness in your Heavenly kingdom.

Grant this, most merciful Father, for the sake of my blessed savior, in whose name and words I further address you,
Our Father, who art in Heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done,
On Earth as it is in Heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
And forgive us our trespasses
As we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
The power, and glory,
Forever and ever. Amen.