History

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Marriage Is Not a Water Fountain

Some proponents of homosexual pseudogamy now assert that argument is no longer necessary. We do not argue with segregationists, they say. We ignore them, we scorn them. They are not worth our time. They are mad or wicked. So too is the courageous Ryan Anderson, who says that marriage by nature requires a man and [...]

The Soul of a Gibbon

In the center of Rome stands the Capitoline Hill: the heart of the ancient city, where the temples of Jupiter, Juno, and Virtus once dominated the skyline. It was the site of the treachery of Tarpeia, and the settlement of the Sabines. It was the one part of the city that did not fall to [...]

The Coming Christian Renaissance

The linear conception of history is so seductive, even antagonistic groups like Enlightenment philosophers and Marxists adopt it.  It pervades their attitude toward religion. Both believe society matures as it sheds its religious heritage. Infantile societies practice religion, but progressive societies are secular, they maintain. Voltaire viciously expressed Enlightenment hostility toward organized religion when he [...]

The Key to the Bastille: Learning from the Past with Benedict XVI

“Show me what a man remembers of his past,” the late Fritz Wilhelmsen once said, “and I will tell you what kind of man he is.”  Like Friedrich Nietzsche, Wilhelmsen was inclined to bold affirmation and even bolder denial, and was wont to frame his statements in the irrefragable terminology of metaphysics. The gallant Thomist [...]

In Aeternum: The England that Never Changes

Recent posts about the United States and England, and especially those concerned with the decline, decay and ultimate disintegration of England have prompted my musings on the mutability of nations and cultures. Is everything subject to change? If so, is there any permanent value attached to these mutable things? Why bother about the USA or [...]

The Return of History

The gruesome gorgon of Marxist historiography has been finally and thoroughly discredited by the very historical process in which it reposed ultimate faith for its own “scientific” vindication, yet this is a fact that a still largely Marxist, or Marxist-tainted, tenured historical profession is most unwilling to acknowledge. An Italian journalist recently and prominently interviewed [...]

Pictures in a Cave

To one who has seldom given a thought to cavemen as a popular category, let alone to their proper scientific classification, last week’s news that they were painting pictures on cave walls more than 40,000 years ago required some intensive research on Wikipedia as well as an effort of the imagination. What does it mean [...]

Progressive Inhumanity, Part Three: Hatred of the Past

 I have long thought that the term “progressive” was a dodge, because no one could tell me exactly where we were supposed to be headed and why.  It seemed to me that the term was teleological but without a telos, as if someone were to practice archery without a target, or shoot a basketball without [...]

Russell Kirk on the Moral Imagination

In the franchise bookshops of the year of our Lord one thousand nine hundred eighty-one, the shelves are crowded with the prickly pears and the Dead Sea fruit of literary decadence. Yet no civilization rests forever content with literary boredom and literary violence. Once again, a conscience may speak to a conscience in the pages [...]

Christopher Dawson: Christ in History

The following essay first appeared in the April 1996 edition of Crisis Magazine. It is part of today's symposium on "the bourgeois spirit" as diagnosed by Dawson. See also Dawson's essay, Catholicism and the Bourgeois Mind, and Jeffrey Tucker's reply, In Defense of Bourgeois Civilization.   Dawson wrote with two different audiences in mind. He [...]

Hail, Sol Invictus!

Let’s imagine for a moment that Christmas had never happened and that the Roman Emperor Aurelian had succeeded in establishing the feast of Sol Invictus on December 25 back in the year 274 AD. Instead of Christmas, we would have had the Feast of the Unconquered Sun. At this time of year, just after the [...]

Lessons of History?

  It used to be common for people to urge us to learn "the lessons of history." But history gets much less attention these days and, if there are any lessons that we are offered, they are more likely to be the lessons from current polls or the lessons of political correctness. Even among those [...]

Not Disruptive Enough

Our Posthuman Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution Francis Fukuyama; Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 272 pages; $25   Francis Fukuyama thinks big and always on the cutting edge. But he’s no windbag intellectual. He actually knows things; he works hard to master the political, economic, and scientific information required to support his breathtaking theoretical claims. [...]

1943: The Diplomats’ Battle

As Foreign Minister, and Viceroy of India before that, Lord Edward Halifax was the preferred choice of the Conservative Party and the King to succeed Chamberlain as Prime Minister, but he knew he was no match for Churchill and did not press his case. In this he showed an altruism which was commonly admired, notwithstanding [...]

A War Prevented: Pope John XXIII and the Cuban Missile Crisis

The Holy See is the oldest continuing international organization in the world. Its Secretary of State office was established in 1486, and that is also when its first permanent representatives were established in Venice, Spain, the Holy Roman Empire, and France. Today, the Holy See maintains diplomatic relations with 176 states. It is also the [...]

An American Tailgunner in “Hell”

“Just existing became what was important,” says 87-year-old Frank Kravetz of Pittsburgh, captive of the “hell-hole” that was Nuremberg Prison Camp. “Yet even as I struggled with the day-to-day sadness and despair, I never once had any regrets that I signed up to serve.” An extended tour of Nazi camps as a wounded POW scratching [...]

What’s So Great About Catholicism?

With its divine foundation, sanction, and mission, nothing could be more glorious than the Catholic Church. But, of course, many people -- even many baptized Catholics -- don't see it that way. Yet when the sins of men -- secular material progress, or our own self-centeredness -- blind us to this, they blind us to [...]

The Witness of Whittaker Chambers

Whittaker Chambers: A Biography, Sam Tanenhaus, Modern Library, 1998, 638 pages, $20   It was early December 1948, and Congressman Richard Nixon was in the midst of the first of his "six crises." For the moment this particular crisis was in recess, and a supremely satisfied Nixon was posing for pictures. In his hands was [...]

Anything But Anonymous: Shakespeare the Catholic

Almost five hundred years after his death, William Shakespeare remains one of the most important figures in human history. Standing shoulder to shoulder with Homer and Dante, he is part of the triumvirate of literary giants who straddle the centuries as permanent witnesses of the permanent things. It is, therefore, gratifying that modern scholarship is [...]

Climate Change, Galileo, and the New Inquisition

Four centuries ago Galileo was condemned by the Papacy for promoting the theory of a heliocentric universe, because the science was in conflict with Biblical beliefs. Recently, Australian prelate Cardinal George Pell rang the changes on the belief versus science theme in a lecture delivered at the 2011 Global Warming Policy Annual Forum, Westminster Cathedral [...]

On this Crock

Papal Sin: Structures of Deceit, by Garry Wills, (2000) Doubleday, 328 pages, $25   When Pope John Paul II summoned Catholics to a “purification of memory” by facing up to faults, he spoke of a process that should engage us all. This stripping away of delusion and self-deception will be difficult, but it will be [...]

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