What follows is the text of the introductory lecture for a course I have taught at University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies, entitled “The Good Life:  The Search for Happiness”…

 

I hope that it is not merely more self-congratulation when I say that the subject of our course is, or perhaps I should say, ought to be, one of paramount importance.  The search for happiness has been the principal occupation and telos of human life since the very dawn of civilization.  From the moment that humans left the cocoon of animal unconsciousness, they have been aware that what distinguishes them from the beasts is the aspiration not merely to live, but to live well—to live the good and reasoned life.

It might seem odd at first that the phrases “the good life” and “happiness” are juxtaposed in our course title, as they are so often juxtaposed in the texts we are about to read.  But the “good life” is, of course, an ancient philosophical expression, and in both philosophy and theology the quest for happiness has always been inextricably bound up with the quest for virtue. Continue reading “Happiness Among the Ruins”

Never missing an opportunity to demonstrate their compassion for the wretched of the earth, the Democrats have moved briskly on from “the-border-is-a-manufactured-crisis” mantra to the usual government-shutdown threnodies about laid-off workers pining to return to the Jerusalem on the Potomac, while languishing in exile by the waters of Babylon.

Alas, furloughed federal bureaucrats are living pay check to pay check, and can’t meet their next mortgage payment.  Really?  Were that the case, it would be hard to sympathize with them, since they earn $80,000 a year on average, and if they can’t make ends meet on that, they need to stop taking lessons in deficit spending from their government employer.

Continue reading “Shut-Down Sob Stories, and Walls of Resistance”

In no other department of progressive politics has language become more corrupted by Orwellian inversions of meaning than abortion.  Almost fifty years after Roe, the propagandists of abortion continue to refer to it as a matter of “reproductive health”, as if pregnancy were a disease, and an intervention whose very raison d’etre is to render the natural reproductive process irrevocably morbid can be described as “healthy”.  Abortion is related to reproductive health more or less as decapitation is related to mental health.

While watching Fox News recently, I switched (during a commercial break) to CNN—I had been over-indulging in Christian cheer—to hear a female commentator inveighing against an “alien invasion” and “illegal occupation” of her “sovereign territory”.  What?  A Trump supporter on the Clinton News Network?  Pondering this miracle in the spirit of Christmas, I thought that, just perhaps, I should give CNN another chance.

But the commentator wasn’t talking about Mexican and South American criminal youth gangs violating America’s southern border, as I soon discovered; she was characterizing the existential status of a baby in its mother’s womb.  No compassionate appeal for inter-uterine sanctuary cities here.  And no “racism” or “xenophobia” either, of course.

Continue reading “Reasoning About Abortion”

It appears that the space on the Me-Too mantle reserved for the scalp of a Trump-appointed Supreme Court Justice will remain vacant for the moment, at least until impeachment proceedings can begin.  It was a close call.  Going in, Judge Kavanaugh already had three strikes against him:  he’s white, he’s male, and he’s (purportedly) conservative (his opinion on the Planned Parenthood case suggests that he might already have “grown” in office; but let’s see.)  The fact that fully-accredited boy-feminists such as Bill Clinton and Justin Trudeau still have their hair tells us that of the three disqualifying sins in the theology of the Church of Progress, the last is the most grievous.

Which is not to say that most progressives weren’t willing to convict Kavanaugh on any single one of them.  As Hawaii’s Democrat senator Mazi Hirono harangued America’s deplorables, the “men of this country” should “just shut up and step up”.  Now, a Carthusian vow of silence by every man and male-child in America might be a pleasant prospect, if it meant that we didn’t have to listen to Chuck Schumer waxing eschatological every time a new Trump initiative comes before the Senate.  But I doubt that Chuck would feel bound by it, since for Chuck “stepping up” always involves microphones, cameras, and a podium.

Continue reading “A Post-Kavanaugh Republican Party Autopsy”

Following my talk (see A Love Sonnet to Post-Sixties Modernism, recently posted at http://159.203.24.119/2018/12/12/love-sonnet-post-sixties-modernism/#more-1328), several members of G’s discussion group asked me what I thought was the fons et origo of today’s progressive despotism.  Of course, there are any number of explanations for the strange pathology in whose grip the West now finds itself, going back at least as far as Cromwell’s, Rousseau’s, and Robespierre’s revolutionary dreams of creating paradise on earth.  What follows is an equally inadequate, though somewhat more recent, answer.

 

When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, even the career fellow travelers at the New York Times, CNN, CBC, and the Toronto Star (a.k.a Pravda West) were high-fiving one another.  After decades of promoting détente, promulgating risible doctrines of moral equivalence, and excoriating Ronald Reagan as a war-mongering simpleton, suddenly–as they wanted us to believe–, they had become anti-communists all.  Inevitably, following the Western intelligentsia’s death-bed conversion, nothing really changed.  Worse, the romance of revolutionary utopian socialism has only become more intoxicating, with its reductive narrative of victimhood (racism, sexism, homophobia), patriarchal oppression, male rape culture, white privilege, Eurocentrism, colonialist “hegemony”, and class-hatred/envy of the “rich”.

Continue reading “More Love for Post-Sixties Modernism”

What follows is an excerpt from Part V of Involuted Mysteries….The Symbolism of Numbers, an eighteen-part series originally posted in these pages (http://159.203.24.119/2009/07/08/involuted-mysteries-part-v/) some years ago.  I re-post it this Christmastide for the ensuing reasons.

As I have been reminded recently, the doctrine of the Trinity remains an almost insurmountable obstacle for Christians and non-Christians alike. Literally understood, it is quite unamenable to ordinary reason. Perhaps more than any other Christian dogma, the Trinity is permanently befogged in what Jung called “sacrosanct unintelligibility”.  It can be accepted on faith, of course, but faith is a gift of Grace, and will not be commanded by even the most muscular exertion of the will.  Those who possess it ought to be admired, indeed, envied, by anyone with a soul (i.e., anyone other than a militant New Atheist). But for those who don’t, Augustine’s injunction, Crede, ut intelligas, is less than efficacious, and ought probably to be turned on its head.  In the spirit, then, of Priceton’s neo-Augustinian motto, Intellige, ut credas, I offer the following meditation on triplicity, triunity, and the triadic Godhead…

 

Three is probably the most important number of all. It is the number in which the opposites are reconciled, and the original unity is restored.

The whole rhythm of existence is triadic, of course. Every process has a beginning, a middle, and an end; or speaking mythologically, which is to say, anthropomorphically, a youth, a maturity, and an old age; a birth, a growth, and a death.

Continue reading “A Meditation on the Triune God”

While Mrs. P was in the kitchen this Advent baking her self-identified and non-binary-gendered gingerbread persons, I was wondering whether in a hundred years from now the Christmas story would have to be flagged by a trigger warning, or banned outright.

After all, the three principal characters belong to an all-white, conventionally heterosexual family.  As the inheritors of white privilege, they are adored by poor and oppressed shepherds; and the only people of colour in the Nativity frame are stereotyped as third-world despots paying fulsome tribute to an aristocratic Prince who will soon extend his colonial hegemony over the entire world.

Continue reading “Priceton’s Third Annual Christmas Trigger Warning, or, The Christmas Story 2118”

What follows is the text of a short talk I gave recently for a small discussion group on the narrowly-bounded theme of the decline of Western civilization.

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The topic that G has proposed for this evening is, in his words, How have the foundational values of the West been eroded over the past 50 years, and what are we to do about it?  As for the second question, I don’t have a clue–other than to observe that the world, having regressed to a state of irredeemable moral and intellectual barbarism, is long overdue for another flood.

Continue reading “A Love Sonnet to Post-Sixties Modernism”

In the context of Brett Kavanaugh’s protracted lynching by the Democrats (temporarily in abeyance, though orders of impeachment are already being drawn up), I re-publish the following, originally posted in these pages in February, 2018.  An essay on Kavanaugh’s Senate agon will follow in due course.

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It is admittedly hard for social conservatives not to take pleasure in the discomfiture of so many sanctimonious, progressive males who have been cut down by the biblical scourge known as the #MeToo movement:  Patrick Brown, for instance (most recently among them), who having stabbed so-cons in the very backs upon which he was carried to victory in the Ontario PC leadership race, has now been hoist with the petard of the progressive politics he belatedly and cynically adopted. Continue reading “Me-Tooism, Still”