The Classiest Easter Eggs

It’s hard to believe that Easter is this Sunday.  The weather is just right for it, of course, with bees buzzing and flowers blooming, but with everyone cloistered away in their respective hovels, it sure doesn’t feel like the joyous, victorious Easter season.

Some perspective helps, though.  Other people in other times have endured far worse at Easter.  Just last year saw the Sri Lankan church bombings, a despicable act that itself came on the heels on the disastrous Notre Dame fire.  It’s surprising—even though it shouldn’t be by now—that we’ve largely forgotten about those two terrible occurrences, both acts of Islamist terror—religious war (it’s a bit unclear in the case of Notre Dame—which ISIS overtly tried to attack in 2016—but come now).

There was also the 1975 Hamilton, Ohio “Easter Massacre,” a brutal family shooting in which Jimmy Rupert murdered his massive family of eleven in cold blood (it was so grisly, one website considers the house where the mass murder occurred haunted).

So, all things considered, staying home and watching horror movies isn’t all that bad (perhaps even a tad apropos).  Still, it isn’t all that Easter-y.

To remedy that sensation, let’s look at a charming little piece from The Epoch Times about some rather unique—and extremely valuable—Easter surprises.

Read More »

Lazy Sunday XXVIII: World History

Most of my pieces here at The Portly Politico focus on American politics and culture, with some occasional dabbling in British and European affairs.  But contrary to Ron Swanson’s historiographical claim, history did not begin in 1776 (though everything that came before may have been a mistake).

As such, I’ve written a few pieces about events, current and historical, that take place in more exotic locales.  While I am a parochial homebody, I appreciate travel and the contributions of other cultures (I still wish I’d seen London and Paris before they became part of the Caliphate).  I wish I had the time to do more of it (on that note, stay tuned for details of my trip to the Yemassee Shrimp Festival).

So, here’s some worldly pieces for your Lazy Sunday:

  • North Korea Reflections” – I wrote this little piece on the occasion of President Trump’s historic summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un in Singapore.  My interpretation of the summit was cautiously optimistic.  It’s still unclear what the future holds for US-Nork relations, but the gambit seemed to work—North Korea is a still a bloodthirsty, repressive, totalitarian regime, but they aren’t lobbing missiles around constantly anymore.
  • The Impermanence of Knowledge and Culture:  The Great Library and Notre Dame” – this post was a synthesis of two events—the destruction of the Great Library at Alexandria, and the burning of a substantial portion of the Notre Dame Cathedral.  The fire at the latter riled up conservatives and traditionalists because the structure had endured for so long as a symbol of Christianity and of France’s faithfulness.  France is not a very faithful country now, but Notre Dame remains a powerful symbol of man’s capacity for focusing on the greatness of God.  The major point of this piece was to drive home how even great edifices eventually crumble, and that knowledge and culture must be preserved actively if they are to endure.
  • Sri Lankan Church Bombings” – coming on the heels of the catastrophic Notre Dame fire, the island nation of Sri Lanka was shaken on Easter Sunday of this year with Islamic terrorist attacks on churches.  Democrats referred to the slain Christians as “Easter worshippers” in what appeared to be a concerted effort to appear politically-correct.  Yeesh.
  • America’s Roman Roots” – I wrote this piece earlier in the week, based on an excellent op-ed a colleague sent my way.  Commentators often fixate on the similarities between the United States today and the Roman Empire, but often miss the parallels to the Roman Republic.  Those parallels exist because the Framers of the Constitution pulled heavily from Roman tradition, even naming key institutions like the Senate after their Roman counterparts.  The Roman Republic holds valuable lessons for Americans for how to craft a robust society that enables citizens to live worthwhile lives.

That wraps up this little tour around the globe.  Rome, France, Sri Lanka and North Korea—not a bad start, though I’d better get Africa and Latin America into the mix soon, lest I catch flack from the SJWs for lack of inclusion.

Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

Lazy Sunday VIII: Conservatism

Today marks the last day of my glorious Spring Break, so it’s back to the races tomorrow.  I’m a bit under-the-weather, so today’s Lazy Sunday is going to be a quick one.

I’ve been mulling over some big questions lately about the state of the conservative movement, and what constitutes “conservatism.”  I’m planning on offering a course this summer called The History of Conservative Thought, and with the current state of flux in politics generally, it seems like a useful exercise.

As the Right continues to define itself, bolster its coalition, and attempt to rollback the seemingly inexorable gains of the Progressive Left, it’s all-the-more critical that conservatives understand who we are, where our ideas come from, and how we can win hearts and minds going forward.

With that, here are three pieces—two directly about the state of the Right, one about the deeper ideas that pulsate through conservative thought—for “Lazy Sunday VIII: Conservatism”:

That’s it for a quick Lazy Sunday (it is lazy, after all).  I’ll be back tomorrow, hopped up on Mucinex.

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

Sri Lankan Church Bombings

It was a lovely Easter Weekend here in South Carolina, which is, after all, God’s Country.  It was a weekend full of church, colorful clothes, a trip to the movies, and TONS of eating.  If you’ve never celebrated a major holiday (that is, an Easter- or Christmas-level event) in the South, you’re missing out on good eatin’.

Unfortunately, less than a week after the Notre Dame fire, anti-Christian terrorists persecuted fellow brothers and sisters in Christ in three cities in Sri Lanka, the island nation to the south of India.  The death toll is somewhere between 138 and 207, with approximately 450 others injured.

Islamist extremists committed these attacks on hotels and Christian churches, an act all-the-more wicked for its symbolic timing.  As Christians flocked to worship the Resurrection of Christ Jesus, Muslim terrorists callously and opportunistically slaughtered them.

Sadly, these attacks are nothing new.  In the wake of the Notre Dame fire—which was probably an accident, but could have been the result of foul-play—some news outlets quietly began to point to the persistent attacks on French churches that have been going on since February.  Europe is particularly awash in shiftless, military-aged, unassimilated Muslim men, men easily radicalized into supporting and conducting these kinds of attacks.  A shocking percentage of “moderate” Muslims support or condone terrorist attacks as sometimes justified.

I’m not as familiar with the issues Asian Christians face with Islam, but there have been attacks in the Philippines, as well as attacks on Christians of all stripes in North Africa and the Middle East.

Christianity faces twin threats today:  the progressive Left and Islamism.  The former is a more subtle, but increasingly bold, threat, that seeks to destroy Western Civilization from within.  The latter is an external threat that is very upfront about its hatred for non-Muslims, but that also leverages the tolerance of Western societies to its advantage.  The Left and Islam are allies of convenience, despite their many incompatibilities.

My prayers go out to all Christians facing persecution, from the small-scale persecution of mockery to the very real persecutions of death and intimidation.  Christ promised us that, as Christians, the world would reject us, and persecution would be inevitable.  In the United States, especially in the religious South, we’ve been spoiled, and have grown complacent, to threats to our faith.  We should never forget the real men and women who gave their lives—and continue to risk them—to keep the faith.

Here’s hoping for some better news as the week progresses.  Deus Vult!

Buttigieg and Buchanan: Redefining Morality

It’s Good Friday here in Christendom, and while it feels like Christianity took one on the chin earlier this week, we know there’s victory in Jesus.

Indeed, Christianity has been compromised quite a bit lately, with the rise of “feel-good” non-denominational churches and the decline of High Protestant denominations, both succumbing, in different ways, to social justice pabulum. Blogger Dalrock writes extensively about how “conservative” churches are snookered into radical acceptance of homosexuality (and extremist feminism) as somehow Christ-like. That goes beyond “love the sinner, not the sin,” which is correct; Dalrock writes about “same sex-attracted” preachers in prominent non-denominational churches arguing that their gayness makes them “holy.”

Political pundit, noted paleoconservative, and devout Catholic Pat Buchanan has a piece on Taki’s Magazine this week about Mayor Pete Buttigieg, the out-and-proud Democratic presidential hopeful who is making waves because he’s a.) deceptively normal but b.) also gay, which isn’t as glamorous for the Left as being transgender, but it’s still their alternative lifestyle of choice. Buchanan examines “Mayor Pete’s” assertion that God made him gay, so he’s supposed to live that lifestyle (despite some very specific New Testament injunctions against homosexuality; unless Mayor Pete is the Second Coming of Christ, he’s adding to God’s Word).

Ultimately, gayness isn’t the issue (it’s just one of many bludgeons the Left wields in a relentless culture war). The issue is a persistent redefining of morality, not to mention the moral arrogance of Leftists who believe they, not God, can redefine thousands of years of moral absolutes.

Permit me to quote Buchanan at length:

Consider what has changed already.

In the 19th century, blasphemy was a crime.

In the Roaring ’20s the “vices” of booze and gambling were outlawed. Now they are major sources of state revenue.

Divorce was a rarity. Now half of all marriages are dissolved.

After the sexual revolution of the ’60s, births out of wedlock rocketed to where 40 percent of all children are born without a father in the home, as are half of Hispanics and 70 percent of all black children.

Pornography, which used to bring a prison term, today dominates cable TV. Marijuana, once a social scourge, is the hot new product. And Sen. Kamala Harris wants prostitution legalized.

In the lifetime of many Americans, homosexuality and abortion were still scandalous crimes. They are now cherished constitutional rights.

Yet, Mayor Pete’s assertion — that God made him gay, and God intended that he live his life this way, and that this life is moral and good — is another milestone on the road to a new America.

For what Buttigieg is saying is that either God changes his moral law to conform to the changing behavior of mankind or that, for 2,000 years, Christian preaching and practice toward homosexuals has been bigoted, injurious and morally indefensible.

The decline of the family and Christianity, I believe, are twin evils that brought us to this point. The two go hand in hand: without strong families, moral instruction falls to the wayside (or is delegated to progressive educators and the system that supports them). Without Christianity, the foundation that makes strong family formation possible is missing (at least, family formation loses its metaphysical component).

To be clear, we should not persecute homosexuals, and should treat them with dignity and respect. That said, we should not indulge their petulant outbursts, much less their insistence that their lifestyle is not just normal, but somehow godly. Statistically and morally, neither of those claims are valid or borne out by history or Scripture.

We should love one another, acknowledging we are all sinners in need of Christ. That does not mean we have to condone or enable sin, in whatever form. Homosexuality is particularly difficult to address, but we could start by not openly celebrating it all the time, nor should we encourage people struggling with those proclivities to define their entire being around their sexual preferences. What a terrible foundation upon which to build your identity!

Enjoy this Good Friday, and pray for direction on how we can renew our nation and our relationship with God.

The Impermanence of Knowledge and Culture: The Great Library and Notre Dame

On Sunday, blogger and antiquarian Quintus Curtius posted a piece about the famed Great Library at Alexandria.  The Library is considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient War, and its destruction is an event that stands as one of the great cautionary tales of history.

Except, as Curtius points out, it wasn’t a single event.  Historians point to the accidental burning in 48 B.C., when Julius Caesar’s men’s burned Pompey’s fleet, and the flames spread, consuming a substantial portion of the Library’s connections.  Curtius mentions other events that may have damaged the Library, including Emperor Theodosius II’s decree to destroy pagan temples and buildings.

But, significantly, Curtius argues that it was centuries of neglect that destroyed the Great Library, rather than one single, spectacular event.  The burning of the Library in 48 B.C. makes for a dramatic story, but lack of maintenance, poor funding, and corrupt officials, Curtius contends, ultimately destroyed the Library.

To quote Curtius (emphasis is his):

The point is that libraries, like all institutions of culture, must be maintained and refurbished by every generation.  As I see it, the evidence points to a stark truth that tells us much about human nature.  The primary destroyer of the library, and perhaps of most cultural artifacts, was apathy.  How does this happen, in practice?  It is very simple.  It happens the same way official neglect happens today.  A new king or government minister would have said to himself, “I don’t think we need to allocate funds to the Alexandrian Library right now.  I have other priorities.  I would rather spend the money on ships, the army, or my new summer retreat.”  And this is how it starts.

Apathy—a general lack of care and concern for our cultural artifacts—destroys them far more effectively than book burnings.  Death by a thousand insouciant cuts, rather than the dramatic thrust of the sword, causes all things to wither away.

Having read Curtius’s piece (and a podcast related to it, which I cannot now locate), I very much had this topic on my mind when I heard about the tragic fire at the Notre Dame Cathedral on Monday.  I did not realize that the great cathedral is 850-years old.

Let that sink in:  it’s stood for nearly a millennium, surviving the Wars of Religion in France; the Thirty Years’ War; and the First and Second World Wars.  It also survived the French Revolution, which saw many churches destroyed or converted into blasphemous “Temples of Reason” throughout Paris and France.

Notre Dame is a powerful symbol of Western Civilization:  a bold testament of the faith and piety of a once-proud, Christian people.  A civilization that believes in itself and its God builds and maintains an edifice like Notre Dame.

We don’t yet know the source of the Notre Dame fire (at least, I don’t), and I’ve heard and read several explanations, from the careless (a dropped cigarette) to the, if true, quite wicked (Islamic terrorism; to reiterate, I am not claiming this was the cause of the fire, just that I’ve heard it insinuated).

What we do know is that France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, has promised to rebuild the destroyed roof and upper level of the cathedral “in a way consistent with our modern diverse nation.”  I let out a moan of despair upon reading that phrase.

Notre Dame is a not a symbol of a “modern diverse nation,” nor should it be.  The only universalism it embodies is Christ’s universal Love for all of humanity.  Beyond that, it is a symbol of the French people, and of Christendom.  I am not convinced that the “diverse” Maghreb and Bedouin tribesman of the banlieues are deserving of that patrimony.

The West is constantly bending over backwards to accommodate foreign cultures in a show of cosmopolitan hospitality, but the favor is never returned.  Unassimilated migrants and “refugees” don’t deserve architectural “representation” in a building that never would have been built were it not for Charles “The Hammer” Martel.

Knowledge and culture are both one generation away from darkness.  Westerners should understand the deep roots of our civilization, and protect it at all costs.  That means teaching it to our children, and instilling them a love of and reverence for our institutions, culture, and faith.