Thursday, July 31, 2014

You're OK

Mollie Hemingway writes:
IN May, Burger King announced it was dropping its 40-year-old “Have It Your Way” slogan. The new tag line for the fast-food company is “Be Your Way.”

What does “being your way” have to do with burgers and fries? The company said in a statement that the new motto is intended to remind people that “they can and should live how they want anytime,” that “it’s OK to not be perfect,” and that “self-expression is most important.”

Oh for crying out loud. Still, it’s fascinating that an advertising firm was able to sell corporate giants on the idea that encouraging mediocrity, stagnation, and unbridled narcissism in consumers would somehow make mass-produced burgers more appetizing. ....

There’s no question that much of American society has embraced the idea that people “can and should live how they want anytime.” But what a departure that is from traditional Jewish and Christian values. Those systems of belief begin with the premise that man is not basically good, that man’s nature is in fact deeply problematic and that working to become virtuous is more important than self-expression, if you can imagine it. ....

A culture that tells whoppers in order to sell Whoppers isn’t a healthy one.
"Hold the Self-Regard," National Review, August 11, 2014, p. 52.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Why Ayn Rand?

“There are two novels that can transform a bookish 14-year-kld’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish daydream that can lead to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood in which large chunks of the day are spent inventing ways to make real life more like a fantasy novel. The other is a book about orcs.”
...[T]here are people like me: Conservatives who view themselves as Christians first. To us, Rand's worldview is repellent, and the fact that her works are so widespread on the right is beyond annoying.

I hate nearly everything Rand stands for. I find her prose unbearable. But I also, unlike Rand, believe in the virtue of empathy, and have decided to apply it to people who like her work. To that end, here are a few different perspectives on why so many conservatives like Ayn Rand.

1. It's a wish-fulfillment fantasy

In Ayn Rand's books, the main character is typically an implausibly awesome version of the person many conservatives would secretly like to be. Wish-fulfillment fantasies exert a powerful influence on us. There is something in our souls that tells us that we are inadequate, that reminds us of our many failures and the ways the world fails to appreciate our precious gifts. Works of fiction in which the main character unleashes our fantasies touches something deep.

For me as a geeky, bullied preteen, Ender's Game fulfilled this need. Here was a book about a supersmart, supertalented kid who is recognized for it, whose skills are groomed and appreciated, and who eventually goes on to save the world. ....

2. It's possible to dissociate a book from its politics

According to my totally nonscientific sense of things, the single most popular work of fiction among Silicon Valley geeks is The Lord of the Rings. (And even if it's not the MOST popular, it's still undeniably popular.) Much has been written about the techno-utopianism of Silicon Valley culture. But Lord of the Rings is profoundly and explicitly anti-technology; Tolkien clearly associates the forces of evil with industrial modernity, and his picture of Eden, whether the Hobbits' Shire or the Elven realms, is pre-technological. Peter Thiel, who may be the most techno-utopian futuristic billionaire in Silicon Valley, has also named not one, not two, but three companies after items or characters from Lord of the Rings. How does he reconcile these contradictions?!?!?!?!?!

It's probably very easy for him, because you don't have to love a piece of art's politics to love the piece of art itself.

.... A young conservative finds an Ayn Rand book; because it is a wish-fulfillment fantasy, it exerts a powerful pull on her and she starts to love it, perhaps a bit too much; as the conservative grows up and reads more (and better) conservative books, her politics hopefully separate a bit from Rand's extreme and insane Objectivism, even as she retains a great fondness for the books. ....

3. There are too few works of art in popular culture that have conservative values

To grow up as a conservative with an omnivorous yet discerning aesthetic palate is to get a never-ending, and I mean never-ending, education in the sometimes-difficult process of appreciating works whose political (if not metaphysical) worldview is deeply at odds with your own. ....

This dearth of conservative values in popular culture, then, doesn't just mean that conservatives will latch onto comparatively inferior cultural works that reflect their worldview, although it surely plays a role. But even as a conservative's politics deviate from Rand's, she will be more able to maintain her enjoyment of Rand's works, to an extent that may seem inexplicable to a progressive.

4. Rand's work does get at a crucial truth that almost everyone misses

.... Most defenses of free market capitalism are typically made in a utilitarian lens; partly because it's such an easy case to make and partly because that is the lens of most academic work in economics. And it is most certainly true that, yes, with some important caveats, the freer the markets, the more prosperous the polity.

But that is not the whole truth. The whole truth takes into account that part of our human nature is a deep drive to find meaning through work, productivity, and even creativity, and that the free enterprise system enables this. ....

This means that, much like democracy, capitalism is a deeply morally righteous system.

This discourse is almost never heard in contemporary society, certainly not in the realm of culture. And yet, for all its many shortcomings, it is found in 500-proof form in the works of Ayn Rand. And I think this is a key reason why so many experience her books as a revelation, despite all their shortcomings. [more]

Monday, July 28, 2014

Confusing worship with fellowship

An interesting perspective on worship:
One time a man asked Jesus, “What is the greatest commandment?” He replied, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. this is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Christ established a hierarchy of sorts: we must love God first. That’s the purpose of worship – to transcend this world and connect with God. The focus is vertical.

Fellowship is different. The focus is horizontal. Fellowship is designed to connect us with one another. This is how we fulfill the second greatest commandment. .... [more]

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Chasing coolness

Drew Dyck, of Leadership Journal, argues that "Millennials Need a Bigger God, Not a Hipper Pastor":
.... One-third of Americans under 30 now claim “no religion.”

There are 80 million Millennials in the U.S.—and approximately the same number of suggestions for how to bring them back to church. But most of the proposals I’ve heard fall into two camps.

The first goes something like this: The church needs to be more hip and relevant. Drop stodgy traditions. Play louder music. Hire pastors with tattoos and fauxhawks. Few come right out and advocate for this approach. But from pastoral search committees to denominational gatherings to popular conferences, a quest for relevance drives the agenda.

Others demand more fundamental change. They insist the church soften its positions on key doctrines and social issues. Our culture is secularizing. Let’s get with the times in order to attract the younger generation, they say. We must abandon supernatural beliefs and restrictive moral teachings. Christianity must “change or die.”

I think both approaches are flawed.

Chasing coolness won’t work. In my experience, churches that try to be cool end up with a pathetic facsimile of what was cool about 10 years ago. And if you’ve got a congregation of businessmen and soccer moms, donning a hip veneer will only make you laughable to the younger generation.

The second tack is worse. Not only will we end up compromising core beliefs, we will shrink our churches as well. The advocates of this approach seem to have missed what happened to mainline liberal churches over the last few decades. Adopting liberal theologies and culturally acceptable beliefs has drastically reduced their numbers while more theologically conservative churches grew. ....

Millennials have a dim view of church. They are highly skeptical of religion. Yet they are still thirsty for transcendence. But when we portray God as a cosmic buddy, we lose them (they have enough friends). When we tell them that God will give them a better marriage and family, it’s white noise (they’re delaying marriage and kids or forgoing them altogether). When we tell them they’re special, we’re merely echoing what educators, coaches, and parents have told them their whole lives. But when we present a ravishing vision of a loving and holy God, it just might get their attention and capture their hearts as well. .... [more]

Friday, July 25, 2014

Morning prayer

This is the oddest submission on my list, I admit. It is a recitation of every day’s morning prayer from The Book of Common Prayer — fifteen minutes or so of biblical readings and ancient prayers set against a relaxing soundtrack. I don’t listen to this every day, but there are times when I’ll put it on in the car or house and just sit back and “listen” to the Word delivered according to the time-tested pattern of Cranmer’s liturgy.
I was reminded in conversation last night that many of my fellow evangelicals know nothing of this worship resource although they have almost certainly participated in weddings or funerals that used this book. It is an invaluable resource and ought to be known and used. "Morning Prayer"

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Barbarians at the gates

From "A Line Crossed in the Middle East" by Mark Movsesian:
Say goodbye to one of the most ancient Christian communities in the world. Last week, members of ISIS—the “Islamic State in Iraq and Syria,” a Sunni Islamist group that recently has captured parts of Iraq and declared a new caliphate—began going through the northern Iraqi city of Mosul and marking the homes of Christians with the Arabic letter “Nun.” “Nun” stands for “Nasara,” from “Nazarenes,” a word that refers to Christians. The implications were clear. Mosul’s Christians faced the same fate the Christians of Raqqa, Syria, had when ISIS captured their city last spring. “We offer them three choices,” ISIS announced: “Islam; the dhimma contract—involving payment of jizya; if they refuse this they will have nothing but the sword.”

The dhimma is the notional contract that governs relations between the Muslim community, or umma, and Christians (as well as Jews) in classical Islamic law. The dhimma allows Christians to reside in Muslim society in exchange for payment of a poll tax called the jizya—in Mosul, ISIS required a jizya of about $500—and submission to various social and legal restrictions. The dhimma forbids Christians from attracting attention during worship, for example, from building new churches, and generally from asserting equality with Muslims. ....

By last week, most Christians in Mosul had already taken a fourth option—evacuation. Their departure marks the end of a continuous Christian tradition in Mosul. For thousands of years, Mosul has been a center for Christians, particularly for Assyrians, an ethnic group that predates the Arab conquest of Mesopotamia. Indeed, the ancient Assyrian capital of Nineveh, where the Prophet Jonah preached, lies across the Tigris River. ....

As recently as a decade ago, tens of thousands of Christians lived in Mosul, some of them descendents of victims of the genocide the Ottoman Empire perpetrated against Assyrians, as well as Armenians and Greeks, during World War I. After this weekend, virtually none remain. On Saturday, ISIS expelled the fifty-two Christian families still in the city, after first requiring them to leave behind all their valuables. For good measure, ISIS also burned an 1800-year-old church and the Catholic bishop’s residence, along with its library and manuscript collection. .... [more]

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Avoid the Ivy League?

As the graduate of a small, not at all prestigious, liberal arts college, who taught at a very good public high school many of whose graduates aspired to attend elite universities, I found this article fascinating. I anticipate vigorous responses from those who are attending or have attended such schools. "Don't," the the title advises, "send your kid to the Ivy League":
.... Our system of elite education manufactures young people who are smart and talented and driven, yes, but also anxious, timid, and lost, with little intellectual curiosity and a stunted sense of purpose: trapped in a bubble of privilege, heading meekly in the same direction, great at what they’re doing but with no idea why they’re doing it. ....

So extreme are the admission standards now that kids who manage to get into elite colleges have, by definition, never experienced anything but success. The prospect of not being successful terrifies them, disorients them. The cost of falling short, even temporarily, becomes not merely practical, but existential. The result is a violent aversion to risk. You have no margin for error, so you avoid the possibility that you will ever make an error. Once, a student at Pomona told me that she’d love to have a chance to think about the things she’s studying, only she doesn’t have the time. I asked her if she had ever considered not trying to get an A in every class. She looked at me as if I had made an indecent suggestion.

There are exceptions, kids who insist, against all odds, on trying to get a real education. But their experience tends to make them feel like freaks. ....

Elite schools like to boast that they teach their students how to think, but all they mean is that they train them in the analytic and rhetorical skills that are necessary for success in business and the professions. Everything is technocratic—the development of expertise—and everything is ultimately justified in technocratic terms.

Religious colleges—even obscure, regional schools that no one has ever heard of on the coasts—often do a much better job in that respect. What an indictment of the Ivy League and its peers: that colleges four levels down on the academic totem pole, enrolling students whose SAT scores are hundreds of points lower than theirs, deliver a better education, in the highest sense of the word. ....

If there is anywhere that college is still college—anywhere that teaching and the humanities are still accorded pride of place—it is the liberal arts college. Such places are small, which is not for everyone, and they’re often fairly isolated, which is also not for everyone. .... Instead of trying to compete with Harvard and Yale, these schools have retained their allegiance to real educational values. .... [more]

Sunday, July 20, 2014

"Alone...isolated and proscribed"

In "Buchan's Power House" Philip Jenkins writes about one of my favorite authors. Jenkins thinks his heroes "boring upper class twits from a snobbish clubland England that was, happily, long-dead. And oh my, how badly most of them have dated, in language above all, not to mention in matters of gender, class and race." I think of them merely as representing a time and place with prejudices then common. In any event I enjoy the books and they are among the thrillers I re-read. Jenkins considers Power House (1916) which, as he says, is available online, a "strange and truly unsettling novella, The Power-House, can still force you to rethink the nature of the world you inhabit." Buchan's protagonist in this book is Edward Leithen, barrister and sportsman, who would appear in several later novels:
At first sight, The Power-House looks like familiar territory. Leithen discovers the evil plotting of Andrew Lumley, a wealthy Englishman who leads an international anarchist organization called the Power-House.... Lumley hopes and plans to destroy Western civilization. ....

Lumley believes that he can achieve his goal easily enough, because civilization is far weaker than anyone imagines. It will yield to pressure properly applied. As he asks,
“Did you ever reflect, Mr Leithen, how precarious is the tenure of the civilization we boast about?”

“I should have thought it fairly substantial,” I said, “and the foundations grow daily firmer.”

He laughed. “That is the lawyer’s view, but, believe me, you are wrong. Reflect, and you will find that the foundations are sand. You think that a wall as solid as the earth separates civilization from barbarism. I tell you the division is a thread, a sheet of glass. A touch here, a push there, and you bring back the reign of Saturn.”
.... As Leithen pursues the Power-House, he is walking a respectable central London street, where everyone observes the proprieties. Stern but fatherly police officers stand ready to discipline the criminal, or to remonstrate with the ill-mannered. Nothing can go wrong.

And gradually he realizes that anyone and everyone in the crowd might be an agent of the Power-House. Everyone is against him. Everyone is an anarchist:
I was alone in that crowd, isolated and proscribed, and there was no help save in my own wits. If I spoke to a policeman he would think me drunk or mad, and yet I was on the edge of being made the victim of a far subtler crime than fell within the purview of the Metropolitan force.

Now I saw how thin is the protection of civilization. An accident and a bogus ambulance — a false charge and a bogus arrest — there were a dozen ways of spiriting me out of this gay, bustling world….

Here there were fewer people, and several queer things began to happen. A little group of workmen with their tools were standing by the kerb, and they suddenly moved towards me. A pavement artist, who looked like a cripple, scrambled to his feet and moved in the same direction. There was a policeman at the corner, and I saw a well-dressed man go up to him, say something and nod in my direction, and the policeman too began to move towards me.

I did not await them. I took to my heels and ran for my life down Grosvenor Place.
That tearing noise you hear is the rending of the fabric of all known reality. This is one of the great literary descriptions of paranoia: “I was alone in that crowd, isolated and proscribed.” .... [more]
"How thin is the protection of civilization."

Friday, July 18, 2014

Children's literature

There was a golden age of children's literature in the 19th and early 20th centuries. There were magazines like St Nicholas, and authors like Mark Twain, Rudyard Kipling, Robert Louis Stevenson, George MacDonald, Howard Pyle, Edith Nesbit, and many others. provides access to many of their books in electronic form. Although I would think young readers would much prefer the actual physical books, during the "read aloud to me" phase parents might well access this resource. Today I came across these which I think should be experienced by every growing child. Each is provided in formats easily downloaded for electronic readers.

Slow down and read

Via Althouse, a review of Take My Advice: Letters to the Next Generation from People Who Know a Thing or Two, a collection of 79 letters from people like Mark Helprin, Mary McCarthy, Katharine Hepburn, Bette Davis, and William S. Burroughs, and, obviously, many others. From Florence King's advice to the next generation:
When I was getting ready to graduate from college in 1957, I was fed up and ready to drop from exhaustion, but still my mind kept telling me, “Hurry, hurry, hurry.” I felt I had to do something, go on to the next step, whatever it was — career, graduate school, as long as it was important.

This is an American disease. Put yourself on cruise control and go into limbo for a year. .... [F]orget about success for a while, get yourself an ordinary job, an ordinary place to live, and live without worrying about what Americans call, in uppercase, the Future.

Go somewhere different, but stay away from big cities. If you’re from a place you call “godforsaken,” go to a small city in another part of the country…

Get a dead-end job — they’re plentiful now because nobody wants them. Tell your employer the truth: that you’ll be around only a year or so, but promise to work hard. Keep your promise. Little triumphs are the pennies of self-esteem. ....

Live alone, even at a financial sacrifice. If you have a roommate, the whole college uproar will just start all over again. Get a one-room apartment, or simply a room in the home of a nice widow. Get to know her. She’s dying to tell somebody the story of her life, so listen.

Have a radio for emergency news, but no TV. Read, read, read. .... [more]

Thursday, July 17, 2014

"...A song of light..."

A Facebook friend asks his friends "What is your favorite piece of classical music?" This was my choice:

'The Lark Ascending', inspired by a poem of the same name by George Meredith, was begun shortly before the outbreak of the First World War but not completed until Vaughan Williams returned from active service in France.
The Lark Ascending - Ralph Vaughan Williams - YouTube

"No enemies,...just phobias"

...[T]oday we like to think that enemies are a thing of the past. There are no enemies, just phobias we haven’t been cured of yet....

...[T]oday in much of the West, as we bask in the afterglow of our achievements — eager to enjoy our rights, but unwilling to defend them — it is the West that is, slowly but surely, drifting away from itself.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A condition of freedom

Apart from the fact that John Zmirak wrote a book about Wilhelm Röpke, it is not immediately obvious to me why this portion of his review of a new book is relevant to that book. But it stands on its own as an important reminder for conservatives and especially for a certain type of libertarian:
Wilhelm Röpke
The architect of the post-war German economic “miracle,” Wilhelm Röpke, used to warn his old friends Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek that a free economy and society could only survive the convulsive changes wrought by the market’s creative destruction if the non-state sector — families, churches, and the rest of what Tocqueville called “civil society” — was strong and solid. The “spontaneous order” that makes freedom possible can break down, and as social chaos worsens, the populace will look to big government for shelter and protection. Hence fragmented families and their dysfunctions fuel the demand for social programs, and the fading of faith drives people to seek the civil religion of socialism, as Catholic historian Michael Burleigh documents in Earthly Powers. .... (more)
Which reminded me of what Burke had to say about the need for self-control:
Society cannot exist, unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere; and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without. It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters.
Edmund Burke, Letter to a Member of the National Assembly (1791).

Monday, July 14, 2014

We Glorify Thy Name

The Seventh Day Baptist Historical Society has linked to one of my previous posts and provided the pdf of "We Glorify Thy Name":
Seventh Day Baptists have long been a musical people.  From our earliest origins in England, there have been hymn writers and psalm singers among us.  The result of this has been a long musical tradition.

From the Stennett family in England to the evangelistic quartets of the late 19th and early 20th centuries to the Stained Glass ministries of the current General Conference to the music of Citizen Way, two members of which were brought up in our churches, we have been a musical people.

Today, we have added one resource to our Additional Resources page which is still in use in many SDB churches but is not widely available in print–”We Glorify They Name.” ....

Films from the '40s

Kyle Smith counts down his list of "The 10 Best Films of the 1940s" and it includes some of my favorite films of all time. The list is below. If you follow the links you will find the movie's original preview and a connection to Amazon where the DVD can be purchased. Some of my own favorites among the ten are indicated with a * but I have enjoyed and re-watched all except number 7 which I have never seen.
10. Double Indemnity (1944)*
9. Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)
8. Sullivan’s Travels (1941)*
7. A Letter to Three Wives (1949)
6. His Girl Friday (1940)*
5. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
4. Pinocchio (1940)
3. The Third Man (1949)*
2. Casablanca (1942)*
1. Citizen Kane (1941)

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Unintended consequences

Britain is engaged in debate about legalizing "assisted dying," i.e. killing the elderly and terminally ill at least initially with their consent. A former Archbishop of Canterbury has now come out in favor of it. I think it's a terrible idea and agree with this blogger:
...[T]he argument isn’t that there isn’t suffering that could be curtailed by a doctor killing a terminally ill patient. It’s that the effects of the change on a great number of other people will be incalculably damaging. ....

.... The moment people at the end of their lives feel that by getting a doctor to kill them they can save their family trouble and the state money, you put an intolerable pressure on them to consider that choice. There is an altruistic streak in many of our elderly, whereby they feel they shouldn’t be a burden. With the option of assisted dying, they will be obliged to entertain a notion they should not even have to consider, that they can save other people a lot of trouble by dying. ....

...[T]he message of the cross isn’t that suffering is something that should be avoided at all costs. The Christian notion of suffering involves uniting your suffering with that of Christ on Calvary and thereby giving it a very different dimension. Christians do not, at least nowadays, wilfully take suffering on themselves – beyond a bit of fast and abstinence – but they take up their cross when it comes to them. When it comes to suffering their role is to relieve it in the sufferer, not to kill him or her and so do away with it, which is why so many hospices are former or present Christian foundations. ....

We have medicalized immaturity (and a lot more)

Saving Normal: An Insider's Revolt against Out-of-Control Psychiatric Diagnosis, DSM-5, Big Pharma, and the Medicalization of Ordinary Life was authored by the chairman of the taskforce that created the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual-IV (DSM-IV). He regrets much that ensued. From the review:
.... He is particularly concerned about the exponential increase in the diagnosis of psychiatric conditions in children, writing: ‘We failed to predict or prevent three new false epidemics of mental disorder in children – autism, attention deficit, and childhood bipolar disorder. And we did nothing to contain the rampant diagnostic inflation that was already expanding the boundary of psychiatry far beyond its competence.’

Take Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), which is ‘spreading like wildfire’. This diagnosis is applied so promiscuously that ‘an amazing 10 per cent of kids now qualify’, Frances writes. In the US, boys born in December are 70 per cent more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than boys born in January. The reason diagnosing ADHD is so problematic is that it essentially is a description of immaturity, including symptoms such as ‘lack of impulse control’, ‘hyperactivity’ or ‘inattention’. Boys born in December tend to be the youngest in their school year group (in the US) and thus they are more likely to be immature. In the UK, the youngest children in a school classroom are born in August, and so here, August-born kids are more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD. We have medicalised immaturity. .... [more]

Friday, July 11, 2014

Positive and negative rights

In 1993 a bipartisan Congress almost unanimously passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act then signed into law by President Clinton. What was uncontroversial then certainly isn't now. In "Who's the Real Hobby Lobby Bully?", Megan McArdle explains what seems a disproportionate reaction by the left to the Hobby Lobby decision:
...[W]hile the religious right views religion as a fundamental, and indeed essential, part of the human experience, the secular left views it as something more like a hobby, so for them it’s as if a major administrative rule was struck down because it unduly burdened model-train enthusiasts. That emotional disconnect makes it hard for the two sides to even debate; the emotional tenor quickly spirals into hysteria as one side says “Sacred!” and the other side says, essentially, “Seriously? Model trains?” That shows in Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dissent, where it seems to me that she takes a very narrow view of what role religious groups play in the lives of believers and society as a whole.

The second, and probably more important, problem is that the long compromise worked out between the state and religious groups — do what you want within very broad limits, but don’t expect the state to promote it — is breaking down in the face of a shift in the way we view rights and the role of the government in public life.

To see what I mean, consider an argument I have now heard hundreds of times — on Facebook, in my e-mail, in comment threads here and elsewhere: “Hobby Lobby’s owners have a right to their own religious views, but they don’t have a right to impose them on others.” As I wrote the day the decision came out, the statement itself is laudable, yet it rings strange when it’s applied to this particular circumstance. How is not buying you something equivalent to “imposing” on you?

I think you can understand this, however, as the clash of principles designed for a world of negative rights, in a society that has come to embrace substantial positive rights — as well as a clash between old and new concepts of what is private and what is public.

All of us learned some version of “You have the right to your beliefs, but not to impose them on others” in civics class. It’s a classic negative right. And negative rights are easy to make reciprocal: You have a right to practice your religion without interference, and I have a right not to have your beliefs imposed on me.

This works very well in situations in which most of the other rights granted by society are negative rights, because negative rights don’t clash very often. Oh, sure, you’re going to get arguments about noise ordinances and other nuisance abatements, but unless your religious practices are extreme indeed, the odds that they will substantively violate someone else’s negative rights are pretty slim.

I’m not saying that America ever perfectly hewed to this sort of ideal. (Blue laws, anyone?) I’m just saying that the statement of this ideal was perfectly consistent with the broadly held conception of what government was for, which was to provide “public goods” in the classical economics sense, but otherwise mostly to keep other people from doing stuff to you, not to do things for you or force you to do them for other people.

In this context, “Do what you want, as long as you don’t try to force me to do it, too” works very well, which is why this verbal formula has had such a long life. But when you introduce positive rights into the picture, this abruptly stops working. You have a negative right not to have your religious practice interfered with, and say your church forbids the purchase or use of certain forms of birth control. If I have a negative right not to have my purchase of birth control interfered with, we can reach a perhaps uneasy truce where you don’t buy it and I do. But if I have a positive right to have birth control purchased for me, then suddenly our rights are directly opposed: You have a right not to buy birth control, and I have a right to have it bought for me, by you. .... (emphases added) [more]

"The best question anyone had asked yet"

From the third chapter of C.S. Lewis's The Last Battle, in which Shift, the ape, argues that every god is God:
"Please, please," said the high voice of a woolly lamb, who was so young that everyone was surprised he dared to speak at all.

"What is it now?" said the Ape. "Be quick."

"Please," said the Lamb, "I can't understand. What have we to do with the Calormenes? We belong to Aslan. They belong to Tash. They have a god called Tash. They say he has four arms and the head of a vulture. They kill Men on his altar. I don't believe there's any such person as Tash. But if there was, how could Aslan be friends with him?"

All the animals cocked their heads sideways and all their bright eyes flashed toward the Ape. They knew it was the best question anyone had asked yet.

The Ape jumped up and spat at the Lamb.

"Baby!" he hissed. "Silly little bleater! Go home to your mother and drink milk. What do you understand of such things? But the others, listen. Tash is only another name for Aslan. All that old idea of us being right and the Calormenes wrong is silly. We know better now. The Calormenes use different words but we all mean the same thing. Tash and Aslan are only two different names for you know Who. That's why there can never be any quarrel between them. Get that into your heads, you stupid brutes. Tash is Aslan: Aslan is Tash."
The Chronicles of Narnia are pretty good at reminding us of ancient errors always present.

When I published this quotation from The Last Battle once before a reader seemed to think I posted it because I agree with the Ape! Not hardly.

Thursday, July 10, 2014


Coming on Christmas Day, 2014, script by Joel and Ethan Coen, directed by Angelina Jolie, the story of Louis Zamperini, Olympian, WWII flier, Japanese POW, Christian. I intend to see this:

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Real life

“The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s ‘own’, or ‘real’ life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life – the life God is sending one day by day: what one calls one’s ‘real life’ is a phantom of one’s own imagination.”
C.S. Lewis, 1943

Monday, July 7, 2014

John Wayne's library

Almost finished reading John Wayne: The Life and Legend by Scott Eyman. The author obviously deplores Wayne's politics but likes him a lot nevertheless. I came across this:
.... Wayne's library was unfocused, but with an emphasis on his business. He had first editions of The Searchers and True Grit, novels by Zane Grey, stories by Bret Harte, coffee-table books of Frederic Remington and Tom Phillips.

There were conservative-oriented books on politics, pop fiction (Jaws, Centennial) and some very un-pop literary fiction: Nabokov's Lolita. There were books on Hollywood westerns, a signed copy of Darryl Zanuck's biography, unsigned copies of books about Spencer Tracy, Montgomery Clift, and Marilyn Monroe, as well as compatriots such as Raoul Walsh and Edward Dmytryk. He had a surprising taste for Tolkien, with hardcovers of all the Lord of the Rings novels. ....
That last surprised me, too.

“Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?”

In the preface to Screwtape C.S. Lewis warned that "There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them." Some Christians may be guilty of such an unhealthy interest. From "Bound to Work: 3 reasons you should not try [to] bind Satan":
Spiritual warfare is real. It might not make the news; but it ought to. Paul acknowledges this in Ephesians 6:12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

But the weapons of this warfare are often somewhat misunderstood. In some church circles, for example, it is commonplace to hear pastors and their people talk of “binding Satan” or “renouncing the devil’s presence” or some such display of confidence.

Here are three reasons I believe this is misguided.

1. Satan is (most probably) not in earshot

There is a pernicious paranoia that permeates churches today: folks think Satan can hear them speak. Some people unwittingly pad Satan’s résumé to include God’s unique attributes of omniscience and omnipresence. Yes, Satan certainly is ambulant (1 Pet 5:8), but he is confined to one place at a time. He can’t read your mind, and he doesn’t perk his ears when he hears his name mentioned in your prayers. ....

2. Binding Satan is above your pay grade

Satan can be bound, just not by you. The task of binding Satan is given to an angel. (Rev 20:1-3). It’s a pretty important task, and a lot of eschatology depends in it being done properly. ....

3. God has a better idea

The Bible is not written in code. There are sections written as descriptive narrative, which record what happened in history. And there are other narrative sections written as prescriptive commands that apply to you and me.

The only instruction Christians are given about how to confront the spiritual forces of darkness is Ephesians 6. .... [read it all here]

Penn Station

It has long been my opinion based on observed behavior that just as some people are tone-deaf, there are others who are blind to architectural beauty. For several terms I served on my city's Landmarks Commission. We were tasked with passing on proposed changes to "landmarked" buildings as well as the compatibility of new construction in designated neighborhoods. The very existence of the commission was inspired by the demolition of several beautiful late 19th century structures replaced by genuinely uninspired buildings. Once a building is gone it can almost never be brought back. A signal atrocity in this regard was the demolition of the 1910 Penn Station in New York City. R.R. Reno in "Rebuild Penn Station" argues that it could be and should be rebuilt: 

New York’s original Penn Station was one of the most remarkable public buildings ever built in America. Its designer, the great mid-century architect, Charles McKim of McKim, Mead, & White, married the grand scale and expansive ambitions of modern industrial society with the serene sense of eternity characteristic of ancient Greek and Roman designs. ....

...Penn Station was McKim’s masterpiece. Its gracious column evoked Bernini’s colonnade in front of St. Peter’s in Rome. The main waiting room with soaring vaulted ceiling was inspired by the Baths of Caracalla, also in Rome.

After World War II, the Pennsylvania Rail Road started to lose money. By the late Fifties the railroad was bent on selling the station from street level up. (The underlying tracks and platforms were of course indispensable for the inter-city and commuter rail system of New York.) In 1961 developer Irving Felt made a deal. The station was demolished and in its place he built the office towers and Madison Square Garden that stand there today. Underneath? The miserable subterranean railroad “station” that makes the banal Port Authority Bus Station on 42nd Street seem gracious. ....

.... As my architect friend Richard Cameron pointed out to me, many of historic buildings in war-ravaged Europe were rebuilt. The entire baroque city of Dresden was destroyed by Allied bombs, but after a loving and historically accurate rebuilding it is now a tourist destination. On December 5, 1931, Stalin had the Moscow Cathedral of Christ the Savior dynamited to make way for a Palace of the Soviets (which was never built). It was rebuilt in the 1990s. There’s certainly precedent for rebuilding Penn Station. ....

Architectural critic Vincent Scully famously wrote this of the old Penn Station. “Through it one entered the city like a god.” Of the current station: “One scuttles in now like a rat.” .... [more]
"The Rise and Fall of Penn Station" from PBS's American Experience:

Sunday, July 6, 2014

The people who look at things

From one of C.S. Lewis's famous essays, "Meditation in a Toolshed":
I was standing today in the dark toolshed. The sun was shining outside and through the crack at the top of the door there came a sunbeam. From where I stood that beam of light, with the specks of dust floating in it, was the most striking thing in the place. Everything else was almost pitch-black. I was seeing the beam, not seeing things by it.

Then I moved, so that the beam fell on my eyes. Instantly the whole previous picture vanished. I saw no toolshed, and (above all) no beam. Instead I saw, framed in the irregular cranny at the top of the door, green leaves moving on the branches of a tree outside and beyond that, 90 odd million miles away, the sun. Looking along the beam, and looking at the beam are very different experiences. ....

As soon as you have grasped this simple distinction, it raises a question. You get one experience of a thing when you look along it and another when you look at it. Which is the “true” or “valid” experience? Which tells you most about the thing? And you can hardly ask that question without noticing that for the last fifty years or so everyone has been taking the answer for granted. It has been assumed without discussion that if you want the true account of religion you must go, not to religious people, but to anthropologists; that if you want the true account of sexual love you must go, not to lovers, but to psychologists; that if you want to understand some “ideology” (such as medieval chivalry or the nineteenth-century idea of a “gentleman”), you must listen not to those who lived inside it, but to sociologists.

The people who look at things have had it all their own way; the people who look along things have simply been brow-beaten. It has even come to be taken for granted that the external account of a thing somehow refutes or “debunks” the account given from inside. ....

... We must, on pain of idiocy, deny from the very outset the idea that looking at is, by its own nature, intrinsically truer or better than looking along. One must look both along and at everything. In particular cases we shall find reason for regarding the one or the other vision as inferior. Thus the inside vision of rational thinking must be truer than the outside vision which sees only movements of the grey matter; for if the outside vision were the correct one all thought (including this thought itself) would be valueless, and this is self-contradictory. .... [more]

Friday, July 4, 2014

From the foundation of the world

The Declaration of Independence justifies separation from Britain arguing that government is created by men to secure rights given by God and when it doesn't do that "it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it." In the document there are several references to the Deity: "the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God," "...endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights..." "...appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions..." and "...with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence...." Zach Hutchins at The Christian Century in "The Genesis of the Declaration of Independence," explains where all this came from:
...[T]he concept of natural law and phrases such as “Nature’s God” had been used to signal a theistic understanding of government for centuries before Thomas Jefferson put pen to paper. Hugo Grotius and Thomas Hobbes, political theorists hardly noted for their piety, presented natural law as a code of conduct instituted by the God of Genesis, at the creation of the world. “This original law of nature,” wrote John Locke, can be traced back to the divine injunction in Genesis 1:28 when
“God and his reason commanded him [Adam] to subdue the earth, i.e. improve it for the benefit of life and therein lay out something upon it that was his own, his labour. He that, in obedience to this command of God, subdued, tilled, and sowed any part of it, thereby annexed to it something that was his property, which another had no title to, nor could without injury take from him.”
The right reason and commandments given by God to Adam in Eden were a basis for the “law of nature” that forbids one individual “to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions” in Locke's thinking.

James Otis and other colonial agitators who paved the way for American Revolution also grounded their claims in the language of Genesis. The Rights of the British Colonies (1764) popularized the doctrines that Jefferson would later incorporate into the Declaration. There Otis rejected Parliament’s attempts to tax the colonies: “There must be in every instance, a higher authority, viz. GOD. Should an act of parliament be against any of his natural laws, which are immutably true, their declaration would be contrary to eternal truth, equity and justice, and consequently void.” Government, Otis argued, is an outgrowth of God’s work in Eden:
“The same omniscient, omnipotent, infinitely good and gracious Creator of the universe, who has been pleased to make it necessary that what we call matter should gravitate...has made it equally necessary that from Adam and Eve to these degenerate days, the different sexes should sweetly attract each other, form societies of single families, of which larger bodies and communities are as naturally, mechanically, and necessarily combined, as the dew of Heaven and the soft distilling rain is collected by the all enliv’ning heat of the sun. Government is therefore most evidently founded on the necessities of our nature.”
Colonists versed in both the Bible and the natural law tradition viewed their freedom from tyranny as a right guaranteed by God during the creation in Genesis. .... [more]

"My first, my last, and almost my only prayer"

Previously posted on Independence Day: It is particularly appropriate this day to remember Governor Samuel Ward of Rhode Island, especially by Seventh Day Baptists.

Samuel Ward

Samuel Ward was Chief Justice of the Rhode Island Supreme Court, son of a governor of Rhode Island, three times governor himself, and presiding officer over the Continental Congress when it was meeting in Committee of the Whole.

Samuel Ward
He was the only colonial governor who refused to enforce the Stamp Act, and was actively involved in resistance to British authority – organizing committees of intelligence in every Rhode Island community.

Ward was elected to the Continental Congress in 1774. There he was a close ally of Samuel Adams and John Adams of Massachusetts. Perhaps his closest friend and political ally was Benjamin Franklin. He is remembered as the man who nominated George Washington as commander of the Continental Army. He was a close friend of and correspondent with Nathanael Greene — perhaps Washington’s best general. He advocated an American navy and introduced the resolution authorizing the construction of its first ships.

He died of smallpox in Philadelphia on March 25, 1776, having delayed inoculation out of fear that it would incapacitate him when important work needed to be done. The entire Congress attended his funeral.

He was a Seventh Day Baptist, a member of the Sabbatarian Church of Christ in Westerly & Hopkinton. His profession of faith and request for membership is in the possession of the Seventh Day Baptist Historical Society.
To the Sabbatarian Church of Christ in Westerly & Hopkinton:

Being fully satisfied that Baptism is a Christian Duty I desire to be admitted to that Ordinance this Day: my Life & Conversation are well known; my religious Sentiments are That there is one God the Father of whom are all Things and one Lord Jesus Christ by whom are all Things, That the Universe thus created has been preserved and governed by infinite Wisdom, Power and Goodness from the Beginning, That mankind having fallen into the most gross & unnatural Idolatry, Superstition and Wickedness it pleased God for their Recovery to make a Revelation of his mind & will in the holy Scriptures which (excepting the ceremonial Law and some part of the Judicial Law peculiar to the Jews) It is the Duty of all mankind to whom they are made known sincerely to believe and obey: my Sins I sincerely & heartily repent of and firmly rely upon the unbounded Goodness and Mercy of God in his only begotten Son Christ Jesus for Pardon & eternal Life: and I sincerely desire and Resolve by his Grace for the future to walk in all the Commandments and Ordinances of the Lord

Sam: Ward
August 5, 1769
information from Kenneth E. Smith, Sam: Ward: Founding Father, Seventh Day Baptist Historical Society, 1967

A site devoted to the Ward family provides this about Samuel Ward:
...[I]n 1763, he won election as Governor of Rhode Island. He was reelected in 1765 and held office until 1767. When the British parliament passed the infamous Stamp Act which imposed taxes on imports into the American Colonies — without any representation of these colonists in that legislative body — the Americans became infuriated. Samuel was the only one of the governors of the 13 colonies who refused to sign a required oath to sustain and enforce it.

He was appointed a delegate from Rhode Island to the Continental Congress to be held at Philadelphia as tensions heightened in the period leading up to the American Revolution.

The drama of revolution and war opened with all its horrors of bloodshed and devastation, and all its glorious scenes of devotion to the rights of man, and determination to obtain liberty, at any and every cost. Samuel played a prominent part in these scenes and performed it well. Samuel wrote a letter in 1775 to his brother, speaking of his own position and his feelings; he said:
"I have traced the progress of this unnatural war, through burning towns, devastation of the country, and every subsequent evil. I have realized, with regard to myself, the bullet, the bayonet and the halter; and, compared with the immense object I have in view, they are all less than nothing. No man living, perhaps, is more fond of his children than I am, and I am not so old as to be tired of life; and yet, as far as I can now judge, the tenderest connections and the most important private concerns are very minute objects. Heaven save our country, I was going to say, is my first, my last, and almost my only prayer"
Samuel took an active part in helping organize the Rhode Island Militia for the war. His son Samuel Jr., recently out of college, entered the Colonial Army with the commission of captain.

When the Continental Congress met, Samuel was chosen Chairman of the "Committee of the Whole". The committee recommended "...that a general be appointed to command all the Continental forces raised, or to be raised, for the defence of American liberty." This was passed and George Washington was chosen by ballot to take command of American forces.

Samuel was a devoted admirer of Gen. Washington, and a sincere advocate of his election. A few weeks after the appointment, he wrote to Gen. Washington:
"I most cheerfully entered upon a solemn engagement, upon your appointment, to support you with my life and my fortune; and I shall most religiously, and with the highest pleasure, endeavor to discharge that duty."
We find Governor Ward a most active member of Congress, and untiring in his efforts to organize and advance the preparations for defence on the part of the colonists. He was warmly in favor of pronouncing a declaration of independence; and, although he did not live to sign the Declaration, yet he was one of the most active and determined among those who consummated it.

During the Congress, Samuel contracted smallpox and fell ill in March 1776. He last attended sessions on Mar 15. He died 26 Mar and was buried at the First Baptist Church Cemetery in Philadelphia. All the members of the Congress and a large crowd of friends and supporters attended his funeral.

The remains of Governor Ward were exhumed and removed to the Old Cemetery at Newport, Rhode Island in 1860. The slab over his grave, contains the following inscription, written by John Jay (Supreme Court Justice):
"In memory of the Honorable Samuel Ward, formerly Governor of the colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations; afterwards delegated from that colony to the General Congress; in which station, he died, at Philadelphia, of the small pox, March 26th, 1776, in the fifty-first year of his age. His great abilities, his unshaken integrity, his ardor in the cause of freedom, his fidelity in the offices he filled, induced the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations to erect this grateful testimony of their respect."
Wards in the United States Congress, Part 2

Independence Day

Thursday, July 3, 2014

A cad and a bounder

Asked by The American Spectator to recommend summer reading and drinks, Freddy Gray, the managing editor of the London Spectator, chose an excellent series of books and I heartily endorse his recommendation, at least for the mature reader:
At the London Spectator, we have just established a “Cad of the Year” prize.... We invented the prize partly in reaction to Country Life’s “Gentleman of the Year” award, but more as homage to the Flashman novels, which are enjoying something of a revival at the moment.

Flashman, in case you didn’t know, is English fiction’s greatest anti-hero. He first appeared as Thomas Hughes’s Tom Brown’s Schooldays as the bully who torments Brown and his pious little friends, gets “beastly drunk,” and is then expelled from Rugby. George MacDonald Fraser then had the genius idea of taking on Flashman’s life and wrote a series of adventure novels, narrated by the bounder himself, Sir Harry Flashman. (Starter for ten: What’s the difference between a cad and a bounder?) Flashman gets into all sorts of scrapes, meets the greatest figures of the nineteenth century, and pulls one over all of them. He ends up a decorated military hero—even though he is always a coward, a liar, and a scoundrel.

The books are, almost without exception, outrageously funny. It’s like P.G. Wodehouse, only filthy rather than innocent. So I’ll be re-reading the best Flashy novels in the evenings this summer—and getting pleasantly unsober on white port throughout. Only white port though. Like Flashman, I know better than to mix my drinks.​
The "filth" isn't particularly erotic but is an important aspect of Flashman's extremely disreputable character. The history "Flashman" recounts is mostly accurate (and footnoted) — apart from the presence of Flashman himself. From Wikipedia:
During his travels Flashman meets people who took part in 19th-century events, including Queen Victoria, Abraham Lincoln, Otto von Bismarck, Oscar Wilde and Florence Nightingale, and he is involved as a participant in some of the century's most notable events, including the Indian Mutiny, the Taiping Rebellion, the charge of the Light Brigade, the Siege of Khartoum, John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry and the Battle of the Little Bighorn.
The books at Amazon: The Flashman Papers. The Wikipedia article on The Flashman Papers includes, at the end, the books listed according to the chronology of Flashman's fictional life.

Government mandates v. religious conviction

GetReligion — an always interesting site concerned with how religion stories are reported ("The press...just doesn't get religion") — reminds us that the Supreme Court decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. didn't address a very important category of groups affected by ACA mandates:
While the post-Hobby Lobby meltdown continues on the cultural and journalistic left — this New Yorker piece is beyond parody — it’s important to remember that, from a church-state separation point of view, the most serious issues linked to the Health & Human Services mandate have not been settled. ....

(1) First, there are churches, synagogues, mosques and other religious institutions that are directly linked to “freedom of worship” and, thus, in the eyes of the White House, should be granted a full exemption by the state. The problem is that the U.S. Supreme Court has never been anxious to define what is and what is not “worship,” since that is a doctrinal matter.

(2) Religious ministries, non-profits and schools that — functioning as voluntary associations — believe that their work in the public square should continue to be defined by specific doctrines and traditions. The leaders of these groups, for religious reasons, also believe that these doctrines and traditions should either be affirmed by their employees or that, at the very least, that their employees should not expect the organization’s aid in opposing them. In other words, these ministries do not want to fund acts that they consider sinful or cooperate in their employees (or others in the voluntary community, such as students) being part of such activities. More on this shortly.

(3) For-profit, closely held corporations such as Hobby Lobby which are owned by believers who do not want to be required to violate their own beliefs.

There are no conflicts, at this point, about group one. A major case linked to group three has just been addressed by the high court. But did the so-called Hobby Lobby decision also settle the cases in that second category? .... [more]

Displaying the flag

Tomorrow many of us will be putting out our flags in honor of Independence Day. I have previously posted versions of this information, usually on Flag Day.

In my files I have a pamphlet, undated, published by the Marine Corps, titled How to Respect and Display Our Flag. A stamp on it indicates that it was distributed by the "Marine Corps Recruiting Sub-Station" in Janesville, Wisconsin. Since the flags in the illustrations have forty-eight stars, it must be from the late 1950s. The rules it specifies seem almost quaint after the events of the last half century.

Here is the section from that pamphlet titled "How to Display the Flag":
Respect your flag and render it the courtesies to which it is entitled by observing the following rules, which are in accordance with the practices approved by leading flag authorities:

The National flag should be raised and lowered by hand. It should be displayed only from sunrise to sunset, or between such hours as may be designated by proper authority. Do not raise the flag while it is furled. Unfurl, then hoist quickly to the top of the staff. Lower it slowly and with dignity. Place no objects on or over the flag. Various articles are sometimes placed on a speaker's table covered with the flag. This practice should be avoided.

When displayed in the chancel or on a platform in a church, the flag should be placed on a staff at the clergyman's right; other flags at his left. If displayed in the body of the church, the flag should be at the congregation's right as they face the clergyman.

Do not use the flag as a portion of a costume or athletic uniform. Do not embroider it upon cushions or handkerchiefs nor print it on paper napkins or boxes.
1. When displayed over the middle of the street, the flag should be suspended vertically with the union to the north in an east and west street, or to the east in a north and south street.
2. When displayed with another flag from crossed staffs, the flag of the United States of America should be on the right (the flag's own right) and its staff should be in front of the staff of the other flag.
3. When it is to be flown at half-mast, the flag should be hoisted to the peak for an instant and then lowered to the half-mast position; but before lowering the flag for the day it should again be raised to the peak. By half-mast is meant hauling down the flag to one-half the distance between the top and the bottom of the staff. On Memorial Day display at half-mast until noon only; then hoist to top of staff.
4. When flags of states or cities or pennants of societies are flown on the same halyard with the flag of the United States of America, the latter should always be at the peak. When flown from adjacent staffs the Stars and Stripes should be hoisted first and lowered last.
5. When the flag is suspended over a sidewalk from a rope, extending from house to pole at the edge of the sidewalk, the flag should be hoisted out from the building, toward the pole, union first.
6. When the flag is displayed from a staff projecting horizontally or at any angle from the window sill, balcony, or front of a building, the union of the flag should go clear to peak of the staff (unless the flag is to be displayed at half-mast).
7. When the flag is used to cover a casket, it should be so placed that the union is at the head and over the left shoulder. The flag should not be lowered into the grave or allowed to touch the ground.
8. When the flag is displayed in a manner other than by being flown from a staff, it should be displayed flat, whether indoors or out. When displayed either horizontally or vertically against a wall, the union should be uppermost and to the flag's own right, that is, to the observer's left. When displayed in a window it should be displayed in the same way, that is, with the union or blue field to the left of the observer in the street. When festoons, rosettes or drapings are desired, bunting of blue, white and red should be used, but never the flag.
9. When carried in a procession with another flag or flags, the Stars and Stripes should be either on the marching right, or when there is a line of other flags, our National flag may be in front of the center of that line.
10. When a number of flags of states or cities or pennants of societies are grouped and displayed from staffs with our National flag, the latter should be at the center or at the highest point of the group.
11. When the flags of two or more nations are displayed they should be flown from separate staffs of the same height and the flags should be of approximately equal size. International usage forbids the display of the flag of one nation above that of another nation in time of peace.
A federal law provides that a trademark cannot be registered which consists of, or comprises among other things, "the flag, coat-of-arms or other insignia of the United States, or any simulation thereof."

Take every precaution to prevent the flag from becoming soiled. It should not be allowed to touch the ground or floor, nor to brush against objects.

When the flag is used in unveiling a statue or monument, it should not be used as a covering of the object to be unveiled. If it is displayed on such occasions, do not allow the flag to fall to the ground, but let it be carried aloft to form a feature of the ceremony.

On suitable occasions repeat this pledge to the flag:
"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
The pamphlet also has the words of our National Anthem. We almost never sing anything beyond the first verse. The third is particularly good:
Oh, thus be it ever when freemen shall stand,
Between their loved home and the war's desolation;
Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the heav'n-rescued land
Praise the Power that has made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust";
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
First posted in 2009