Thursday, August 31, 2017


Two quotations from Dorothy L. Sayers in The Mind of the Maker:
The proper question to be asked about any creed is not, "Is it pleasant?" but, "Is it true?"

The popular mind has grown so confused that it is no longer able to receive any statement of fact except as an expression of personal feeling.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

"A ripping yarn"

The five books site asks people to recommend five books on a subject about which they are knowledgeable. Today the recommendations are about "The best books on Spies — a Five Books interview" with Ben Macintyre, a British columnist on "history, espionage, art, politics and foreign affairs." His five choices are all British, two non-fiction and three fictions. I've read four of them and like his recommendations. One that I read long ago and feel like pulling off the shelf and reading again is The Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers. Macintyre:
.... It’s a ripping yarn, it’s just so exciting. I first read it when I was about ten, and I’ve re-read it periodically since and it combines two of the things that I love most. It’s a great thriller, but it’s also brilliant about sailing. And it was written tremendously early – it was published in 1903. He really invented a new way of writing about international affairs.

It was incredibly influential. It had a profound political effect because it pointed up the fears about Britain being unprepared for war with Germany. The essential plot is about a man who stumbles across a German plan to invade Britain and it woke up a generation to the fears of German militarism. It’s terrifically old-fashioned in lots of ways: the main character is called Carruthers. ....

...[I]t combines derring-do, open air and a kind of lovely, thumping sense of duty that is very British as well. It sets the tone for an awful lot of what follows. I don’t think we’d have had James Bond in quite the same way if we hadn’t had Carruthers first.
First published in 1903 the book can be downloaded free for Kindle in a nicely formatted edition.  The Amazon description of the book:
The Riddle of the Sands: A Record of Secret Service is a patriotic British 1903 novel by Erskine Childers. It is a novel that "owes a lot to the wonderful adventure novels of writers like Rider Haggard, that were a staple of Victorian Britain"; perhaps more significantly, it was a spy novel that "established a formula that included a mass of verifiable detail, which gave authenticity to the story – the same ploy that would be used so well by John Buchan, Ian Fleming, John le Carré and many others." Ken Follett called it "the first modern thriller."

Tuesday, August 29, 2017


Michael Cromartie (1950-2017) died yesterday. He had been one of the most important Christians attempting to influence government in Washington. His death will be particularly felt because, as this speech demonstrates, he had given a great deal of thought respecting how Christians ought to think and act in the political world.
.... Prudence is defined as practical wisdom and it is the process of moral reasoning by which our ideals are approximated to the contours of a very fallen and imperfect world. So therefore, a prudent person asks what are the ends that we have seen, and then they balance and weigh the ends. And this balancing process may require that we reduce the scope of some of our ends and our goals. The prudent person is not an ideologue but instead is a person who is always open to new facts and new information and willing to adjust their views according to reality.

And so, therefor prudent Christians are Christian realists who understand that our ideals must be approximated because we live in an imperfect world. The prudent person realizes that the drawing of relative moral distinctions is a Christian’s social and political responsibility, [and] is prepared, therefor, to make imperfect choices between all terms, including not always the best alternatives we’d like to have. .... We have to make choices and sometimes the choices we have to make are not the best, but some are better than others. Therefore, learning to be prudent is vitally important because the dilemmas we face in this world are often fraught with ambiguity. The messiness of sin in this world makes many matters more contingent, relative, and uncertain. There will always be times and there will always be things that we hope for and things that we wish might have been. But being prudent means learning how to balance competing goods against lesser evils, while keeping a sharp sense of the many ambiguities that are at the heart of many of the ethical, moral dilemmas we face. ....

...I think it’s important for us to learn to develop, in whatever our vocation is, to learn to develop what I like to call Augustinian sensibility as we go about our work. Here’s what I mean: while affirming our responsibilities and obligations to the city of man, we need to remember that our true home is the City of God which is to come. So, while living in this earthly city we are to pursue temporal goals and to pursue justice. Parenthetically, Augustine said, “Remove justice and what are kingdoms but gangs of criminals on a larger scale.” We need to pursue justice but we always need to be doing it with a keen sense of who we are and [an] awareness of the fragile character of our earthly communities and our earthly alliances.

We would do well to be reminded that in this world filled with profound suffering and terrible disorders, we can strive to maintain and to create an order that approximates justice and to work fervently to prevent the very worst from happening. For instance, one of the most difficult concepts for religiously motivated political activists to grasp are these four words: Now, but not yet. Now, but not yet. The kingdom of God has entered this age now, but the final kingdom has not come, yet. Keeping this in mind is very important as we go about our business of being faithful Christian citizens [in] our various vocations and callings and having an Augustinian sensibility will give us a spiritual and emotional balance and perspective as we remind ourselves constantly that we live now at the intersection of the ages between the city of man and the City of God that is to come. .... [more]

In times of flood

ALMIGHTY GOD, who art a very present help in time of trouble; Let not the heart of Thy people fail when fear cometh, but do Thou sustain and comfort them until these calamities be overpast: and since Thou knowest the cause and reason why this grievous disaster of flood hath fallen upon men, so do Thou heal the hurt and wounded, console the bereaved and afflicted, protect the innocent and helpless, and deliver any who are still in peril, for Thy great mercy's sake. Amen (The Presbyterian Book of Common Worship, 1906)

O ALMIGHTY Lord God, who for the sin of man didst once drown all the world, except eight persons, and afterward of Thy great mercy didst promise never to destroy it so again; We humbly beseech  Thee, that although we for our iniquities have worthily deserved a plague of rain and waters, yet upon our true repentance Thou wilt send us such weather, as that we may receive the fruits of the earth in due season; and learn both by Thy punishment to amend our lives, and for Thy clemency to give Thee praise and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen (Book of Common Prayer)
Christian Social Action Disaster Relief (Seventh Day Baptist)

Monday, August 28, 2017

"The least of these"

Thomas Traherne (1637-1674):
He thought that he was to treat every man in the person of Christ. That is both as if himself were Christ in the greatness of his love, and also as if the man were Christ, he was to use him having respect to all others. For the love of Christ is to dwell within him, and every man is the object of it. God and he are to become one Spirit, that is one in will, and one in desire, Christ must live within him. He must be filled with the Holy Ghost, which is the God of Love, he must be of the same mind with Christ Jesus, and led by His Spirit. For on the other side he was well acquainted with this mystery—That every man being the object of our Saviour's Love, was to be treated as our Saviour, Who hath said, Inasmuch as ye have done it to the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. And thus he is to live upon Earth among sinners.
Centuries, "The Fourth Century"

Friday, August 25, 2017


One of my favorite G.K. Chesterton quotations:
In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, “I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away.” To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: “If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it."

This paradox rests on the most elementary common sense. The gate or fence did not grow there. It was not set up by somnambulists who built it in their sleep. It is highly improbable that it was put there by escaped lunatics who were for some reason loose in the street. Some person had some reason for thinking it would be a good thing for somebody. And until we know what the reason was, we really cannot judge whether the reason was reasonable. It is extremely probable that we have overlooked some whole aspect of the question, if something set up by human beings like ourselves seems to be entirely meaningless and mysterious. There are reformers who get over this difficulty by assuming that all their fathers were fools; but if that be so, we can only say that folly appears to be a hereditary disease. But the truth is that nobody has any business to destroy a social institution until he has really seen it as an historical institution. If he knows how it arose, and what purposes it was supposed to serve, he may really be able to say that they were bad purposes, that they have since become bad purposes, or that they are purposes which are no longer served. But if he simply stares at the thing as a senseless monstrosity that has somehow sprung up in his path, it is he and not the traditionalist who is suffering from an illusion. (The Thing, 1929)
Very Burkean:
Instead of casting away all our old prejudices,* we cherish them to a very considerable degree, and, to take more shame to ourselves, we cherish them because they are prejudices; and the longer they have lasted and the more generally they have prevailed, the more we cherish them. We are afraid to put men to live and trade each on his own private stock of reason; because we suspect that this stock in each man is small, and that the individuals would do better to avail themselves of the general bank and capital of nations and of ages. (Reflections)
*By "prejudice" Burke meant something closer to what we would call tradition.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Without excuse

Browsing in The Conservative Tradition in European Thought (1970), I came across this by the Roman lawyer and Senator, Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 BC–43 BC).
.... True law is right reason in agreement with nature; it is of universal application, unchanging and everlasting; it summons to duty by its commands, and averts from wrongdoing by its prohibitions. And it does not lay its commands or prohibitions upon good men in vain, though neither have any effect on the wicked.. It is a sin to try and alter this law, nor is it allowable to attempt to repeal any part of it, and it is impossible to abolish it entirely. We cannot be freed from its obligations by senate or people, and we need not look outside ourselves for an expounder or interpreter of it. And there will not be different laws at Rome and at Athens, or different laws now and in the future, but one eternal and unchangeable law will be valid for all nations and all times, and there will be one master and ruler, that is, God, over us all, for he is the author of this law, its promulgator, and its enforcing judge. Whoever is disobedient is fleeing from himself and denying his human nature, and by reason of this very fact he will suffer the worst penalties, even if he escapes what is commonly considered punishment.... (Republic, Book III)
For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. (Romans 1:20)

For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness... (Romans 2:14–15)

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The American civil war

Upon retirement I donated many of the books in the history section of my library but kept those about the War of the Rebellion. My Civil War shelf:

The earliest I acquired were Bruce Catton's three volume Centennial History of the Civil War. I also have his two volumes about Grant as general and the three volume Army of the Potomac. Catton is very readable. The best short history — political, social, and military — is James M. McPherson's Battle Cry of Freedom. It is also free of any illusions about what the war was really about: slavery.

Manhunt is about the pursuit of John Wilkes Booth after Lincoln's assassination. The Goodwin book is subtitled "The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln" and is a very good read including biographies of the members of his Cabinet and how he managed that rather disparate group during the war. There are a few books on that shelf that I have never read but should.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

John Buchan

The sections below from Suzannah's site were originally posted in 2011, the material after that regarding Buchan's reputed anti-Semitism is new to this site.

I've been exploring the site I discovered a couple of days ago, In Which I Read Vintage Novels, and enjoying it thoroughly especially since Suzannah's six favorite authors are also among my favorites. One of those authors is John Buchan. In her review of his The Thirty-Nine Steps, she explains one of the reasons Christian readers may particularly enjoy the books:
.... His characters may rarely mention it and they certainly never preach, but they, like their creator move within the paradigm of the Bible, the Pilgrim's Progress, and the kirk (Scots for 'church'): it is a part of their lives in an unobtrusive, all-encompassing way: if it isn't an off-hand quotation of Scripture, it's a reference to the hero being an elder of the Free Kirk (like Dickson McCunn). .... How many fictional church-going people do you know that are as interesting as the real kind? Either they're too heavenly-minded to be any earthly use, or they are slimy evil hypocrites (depending on whether the author is religious or not). I have already mentioned that Buchan made virtue deeply beautiful to me; and he did so in large part by depicting an active, masculine, un-pietistic Christianity that lives rather than preaches what it believes. ....
In another post she expands upon that point:
.... In my review of The Thirty-Nine Steps I tried to explain why I so deeply love Buchan's casual references to his characters' Christianity. The reason why I love it so is that it seems the dead opposite of the internal pietism that plagues Christian literature today. I did not have space to fully develop it then, so by your leave I'll try it again here.

Buchan, like most devout Christian writers until this century, refused to turn his novels into tracts: instead of preaching to his audience, he draws them into a Lewisian Enjoyment of Christendom. It is much more powerful to mention that your brave, honourable, plucky, and humble hero is an elder of the Guthrie Memorial Kirk than to have him stop mid-story and deliver a short sermon on Psalm 15. And never does Buchan list or preach the attributes of a godly man. He simply depicts them ceaselessly: courage, valour, strength, perseverance, fortitude, chastity, humility, loyalty, honesty. He depicts these virtues as admirable things, embodied by capable men, and then by casual references peppered throughout his works lets the reader know that the homeland of these good qualities is Christendom. It is Christian perseverance that gives Buchan's heroes the ability to stand fast and quit themselves like men, whether charging into wartime Germany or street brawls.

The result is that the reader is drawn into the experience and enjoyment of faith, rather than exhorted to study it; and both the Christian and the secular readers are presented with a persuasive argument of the delightfulness of Christian virtue. ....
The most problematic aspect of Buchan's thrillers is the appearance of racial and ethnic stereotypes, among which his portrayal of Jews. Gertrude Himmelfarb, in her collection of essays titled Victorian Minds, writes about Buchan in chapter IX, "John Buchan: The Last Victorian," addressing the question of anti-Semitism:
.... The same observations may be made of Buchan's alleged anti-Semitism. What some have condemned as insensitivity or condescension may also be taken as a forthright expression of opinion—or not so much opinion, because that is to dignify it as a conscious judgment, but rather impression or experience. One cannot reasonably object to references to Jewish rag dealers and pawnbrokers, Jewish Communists and financiers, when these were in fact conspicuous both as individuals and as types in an otherwise ethnically homogeneous society—unless one is prepared to impose a decree of silence on the entire subject of Jews. Nor is it reasonable to take offense at the patently fairy-tale account of an international conspiracy devised by Jewish anarchists and Jewish financiers for different and ingenious reasons, and led by a "little white-faced Jew in a bath-chair with an eye like a rattlesnake" who is avenging himself for centuries of persecution. If Buchan's Jewish villains are to be kept account of, the ledger ought also to include the Jewish heroes: the "richest man in the world," who is an entirely honorable and sympathetic figure and who is made the victim of another conspiracy precisely because his mission was to secure peace in the world....

This is not to suggest that Buchan's novels can be acquitted of the charge of anti-Semitism.  .... But this kind of anti-Semitism, indulged in at that time and place, was both too common and too passive to be scandalous. Men were normally anti-Semitic, unless by some quirk of temperament or ideology they happened to be philo-Semitic. So long as the world itself was normal, this was of no great consequence. .... It was Hitler, attaching such abnormal significance to filiation and physiognomy, who put an end to the casual, innocent anti-Semitism of the clubman. When the conspiracies of the English adventure tale became the realities of German politics, Buchan and others had the grace to realize that what was permissible under civilized conditions was not permissible with civilization in extremis. Mountain Meadow, his last book, composed on the eve of World War II and in the shadow of his own death, was a tract exalting "brotherhood," as that term is understood in the now orthodox liberal lexicon. It is amusing to note that among the many financiers appearing in its pages, there is not a single Jew.

Nor was it only in his later novels that Buchan displayed an admirable sense of social responsibility. Early in 1934, long before most Englishmen had even discovered the fact, Buchan publicly denounced Hitler's anti-Semitism, and, like Milner before him, espoused the cause of Zionism. It is tempting to remark upon the irony of the fact that the fictional perpetrator of Jewish-capitalist-communist conspiracies should have had his name inscribed, in solemn ceremony, in the Golden Book of the Jewish National Fund. Buchan himself would have found nothing "ironic" about this. Fiction was fiction, reality reality. Moreover his Zionism, like his fiction, was concerned not to obliterate differences but to respect them, not to deny, in more conventional liberal fashion, the Jewish identity, but to assert and promote it. ....
The Himmelfarb Buchan essay can also be found here as a pdf.

I've posted a number of times about Buchan on this site.

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


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

"What God begets is God"

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


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.