SubscribeStar Saturday: The Queen and 9/11

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Queen Elizabeth II, the long-reigning, dignified, Stoic monarch of Great Britain, passed away this week at the age of 96.  The news was shocking, not because of the tragedy of her death itself, but because I’d always assumed she would live forever—even though I knew that wasn’t possible.  Queen Elizabeth was just always there, and it seemed like she would be.

To be honest, I’m surprised she was only 96; I thought she’d already hit 100.  As it was, she was pretty close.  Her seventy-plus-year reign is the longest in the history of the British monarchy, and the longest any woman has been a head of state in all of recorded history.

The Queen’s passing, as other commentators have noted, truly marks the end of an era, an era in which the West, while fumbling a bit, still reigned supreme, and took itself seriously as a civilization.  Her death marks the final page of a long chapter in the book of Western Civilization, as her reign was the last vestige of the Old England so many of us, even here in the States, loved so dearly.

It is, then, perhaps apropos that the Queen’s death came so close to 9/11, a day of infamy which, sadly, seems to have receded further and further into the collective imagination of our divided and bickering nation.  Both the Queen and 9/11 were once symbols of national unity and patriotism, but the latter marked the death of American liberty.  Queen Elizabeth’s death, on the other hand, is a coda, the last few measures of a piece that lost its orchestra some time ago, but which managed to maintain a few dedicated musicians to play her out.

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Flashback Friday^2: Christmas and its Symbols

Okay, okay—it’s not Christmas.  But, hey, close enough, right?

There will be an actual Christmas post tomorrow morning, though it’s going to be very short.  But I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to turn “Flashback Friday” into “Flashback Friday^2,” angering mathematicians and calendar enthusiasts everywhere.

The original post in this “series,” “Christmas and its Symbols,” contains some excellent Christmas wisdom.  So often we hear Christmas denounced as a secretly “pagan” holiday because we hang wreaths, put up trees, and dangle mistletoe.  But as one meme I’ve seen recently put it (to paraphrase), “Yes, I love to display the trophies of my vanquished foes.”

Christianity sure did kick—and continues to kick—some butt.  We could probably do with some more warrior-monks running around with maces and clubs.

For this weekend and beyond, though, Jesus—as He always does—will do.

With that, here is “Flashback Friday: Christmas and its Symbols“:

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Supporting Friends Friday: Nebraska Energy Observer

Well, it was inevitable—after dedicating an extremely popular edition of Supporting Friends Friday to the irreplaceable Audre Myers, I had to dedicate one to the man and the website that gave her an outlet:  Neo and Nebraska Energy Observer.

I’m not sure how I discovered Nebraska Energy Observer, but I suspect it involved Neo leaving a comment on one of my posts a couple of years ago.  I’m generally suspicious of unknown commenters, as the Internet is full of trolls interested in harassing right-wing bloggers, but I quickly figured out that Neo was one of the good guys.

My initial perception was that Neo was obsessed with English history, and I figured his blog was largely dedicated to the “special relationship” between the United States and our erstwhile mother country.  That relationship is, indeed, an important focus of Nebraska Energy Observer (though you’d never guess it from the title), but the blog covers a wide range of topics (including, of course, reflections on the life of an electrical lineman in Nebraska).

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Flashback Friday: Christmas and its Symbols

It’s Christmas!  Another magical day to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

2020 was a tough year, but Christ is mightier than The Virus.  Thank God—literally!—for sending His Son.

Have a wonderful, safe, loving Christmas Day.  God Bless all of your for your support and generosity, and for being such amazing readers.

Here’s 25 December 2019’s “Christmas and its Symbols“:

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TBT: History of Conservative Thought Update: Edmund Burke

The Summer 2020 session of History of Conservative Thought is really going well.  Yesterday, the three young man each gave brief presentations on three excerpts from Edmund Burke’s writing, summarizing Burke’s main points and ideas.

It was made for a lively, far-ranging discussion.  One of the students is taking another summer course, Terror and Terrorism, a popular summertime offering from one of my colleagues.  I had the pleasure to fill-in last summer for the French Revolution portion of that class while my colleague was away at an AP Summer Institute.  Apparently, that course just covered the French Revolution again, so it dovetailed nicely with our discussion of Burke’s Reflections on that bloody affair.  We had a good time contrasting Burkean “ordered liberty” and Rousseau’s “general will.”

As such, I thought this edition of TBT could look back to Summer 2019’s HoCT update, “History of Conservative Thought Update: Edmund Burke“:

A bit of a delayed post today, due to a busier-than-usual Monday, and the attendant exhaustion that came with it. The third meeting of my new History of Conservative Thought class just wrapped up, and while I should be painting right now, I wanted to give a quite update.

Last week, we began diving into the grandfather of modern conservatism, Edmund Burke. Burke prophetically saw the outcome of the French Revolution before it turned sour, writing his legendary Reflections on the Revolution in France in 1789 as the upheaval began. Burke argued that the French Revolution ended the greatness of European civilization, a Europe that governed, in various ways, its respective realms with a light hand, and a sense of “moral imagination.”

To quote Burke reflecting on the Queen of France:

“I thought ten thousand swords must have leaped from their scabbards to avenge even a look that threatened her with insult. But the age of chivalry is gone. That of sophisters, economists, and calculators, has succeeded; and the glory of Europe is extinguished forever. Never, never more, shall we behold that generous loyalty to rank and sex, that proud submission, that dignified obedience, that subordination of the heart, which kept alive, even in servitude itself, the spirit of an exalted freedom. The unbought grace of life, the cheap defence of nations, the nurse of manly sentiment and heroick enterprise is gone! It is gone, that sensibility of principle, that chastity of honour, which felt a stain like a wound, which inspired courage whilst it mitigated ferocity, which ennobled whatever it touched, and under which vice itself lost half its evil, by losing all its grossness.”

What a powerful excerpt! The “sophisters, economists, and calculators,” indeed, reign in the West. What Burke was driving at here was that the rationalistic, abstract bureaucrats who would abandon tradition in their quest for a perfect society would sacrifice everything that made their country great, and life worth living.

Burke was also arguing that there is more to obedience to a government or king than the mere threat of power. People are invested in their country and society—and willing to submit to authority—because of organic culture from which it grows. Uprooting the great tree of tradition in favor of abstract foundations merely destroys the tree, and plants its seedlings in shallow ruts of stone. What grows will be anemic and pitiful by comparison.

Volumes could and have been written about Burke, but I’ll leave it here for now. Next week we’re getting into the development of Northern and Southern conservatism, which should make for some pre-Independence Day fun.

The Magna Carta Turns 805

Good old Scott Rasmussen’s Number of the Day observes that King John signed the venerable Magna Carta 805 years ago today.  The beleaguered king signed the great charter essentially at sword point, as his barons had him cornered at Runnymede on 15 June 1215.

The Magna Carta’s history is a fascinating one.  King John challenged the document’s legitimacy almost immediately, but his son reaffirmed it.  Essentially, the Magna Carta was not a sweeping guarantee of the rights of all Englishmen; rather, it was a guarantee of the rights of a narrow band of English nobility (the aforementioned barons), and that the king was subject to his own laws.  No taxes could be levied on the nobility without their consent.

It took another four hundred-odd years, during the events leading up to and following the English Civil War, for the Magna Carta to be applied more broadly.  The Stuart monarchs sought to aggrandize the monarchy, turning it into a form of absolute monarchy in the mode of the French kings.  Parliament—jealous of its prerogatives—dug up the Magna Carta and used it in its legal case against absolute monarchy.

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SubscribeStar Saturday: The Conservative Revolution

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Friday’s post, “The Cultural Consequences of the American Civil War,” has enjoyed more traffic than my usual posts thanks to a.) the controversial topic of the American Civil War (gasp!—someone’s not denouncing the South!) and b.) and Dr. Rachel Fulton Brown graciously sharing the post far and wide.  Thanks, Doc!

It’s put me in a bit of a historical mood.  In history, the important points—the Truth—is often in the details, but I’ve always appreciated the contemplation of the philosophical implications of historical events.  Thus, my mini-essay on the American Civil War focused more on the cultural and political costs of the war than the nitty-gritty details.

The costs were, of course, considerable.  Historians of a conservative bent will sometimes refer to “reconstitutions” in United States history, with the Progressive Era and its immediate offspring, the New Deal, often cited as a major “reconstitution.”  The 1964 Civil Rights Act, which elevated anti-racism and social justice above the freedom of association, was another such reconstitution.

Similarly, the American Civil War, as I detailed yesterday, resulted in a reconstitution of the Constitution, as it served to centralize more power in the hands of the federal government, curtailing States’ rights in the process.

An observant reader will note that each of these “reconstitutions” reflected some revolutionary fervor or upheaval:  the horror of war, the agitation of Progressive reformers, the privations of the Depression, and the struggle for equal rights.  They almost all resulted in an increase in federal power, too, often to intrusive degrees.  In each instance, the ratchet turned towards more centralization and fewer liberties overall.

But the American Revolution—which made the Constitution possible—is nearly unique in the annals of modern history—much less American history—in that it was a conservative revolution.  That is, it was a revolution that sought to conserve—or, perhaps more accurately, to preserve—a set of traditions and privileges, rather than to tear them up, root and branch.

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Independence Day

The day has finally come—after three-and-a-half years, Great Britain is finally leaving the European Union.  The British people are regaining their sovereignty and will begin their way back to enjoying their traditional English liberties.

The European Union is an overweaning, elitist, supranational tyranny.  It is a progressive dream, which is why the Leftists are melting down over Brexit, and attempted to thwart it for so many years.  Progressives today—just like progressives in the early twentieth century—are gaga for technocratic rule and elitist dominance.

It’s not about “democracy”; if it was, they would have accepted the outcome of the 2016 referendum.  Democracy only matters to progressives when it advances their ends.  That’s why progressives hold elections and referendums—repeatedly, if necessary—until they get the outcomes they want—and then the matter is settled forever.  If that doesn’t work, courts or the bureaucracy will effectively veto the voters’ “incorrect” choices.

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Christmas and its Symbols

It’s Christmas!  Imagine “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” played on an uptempo French horn and a crackling fire.  That’s how I imagine Christmas morning—like a 1970s Christmas variety show.

In all seriousness, it’s truly the most wonderful time of the year.  Christ is born!  It’s a day for celebrating His Birth with family and friends.  Just like the Wise Men of yore, we exchange presents to celebrate (and to stimulate the economy).

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