Building Community

The outcome of the 2020 election is still up in the air, but whether we’re enduring President Biden (and then—Heaven help us—President Harris) in a couple of months or still partying under President Trump‘s second term, it’s important for conservatives and traditionalists to consider what comes nextAnother four years of Trump would be an extension of our current reprieve from progressives dominating the executive, but there’s no guarantees that a Republican will hold the White House after 2024.

As such, we need to begin planning and preparing for the worst immediately.  Indeed, many Americans have already done so, and I’ve spoken with many conservatives who believe the worst is yet to come.

Aside from stockpiling and gardening—and generally moving towards greater degrees of self-sufficiency—one important aspect to consider is community building.  By that I do not mean the kind of Leftist, Obama Era pabulum in which we’re all “community organizers” mobilizing nihilistic welfare queens into a low-information progressive voting bloc.  Rather, I mean genuine community building—the formation of those multitudinous, invisible bonds that bind a people together.

Doing so may very well be the most important step Christians, conservatives, and traditionalists can take to survive for the long-term.

Read More »

The Joy of Hymnals II: The Cokesbury Worship Hymnal

This week I’ve been teaching and learning a great deal about George Frideric Handel, the great German composer who became, over his long life, a great British one.  In discussing Handel and other Baroque composers with my students, we also veered into the world of hymns.

Hymns were and are important in Protestant congregations as simple, memorable tunes with theologically rich texts.  Hymn melodies are often based on folk tunes or popular compositions.  In some cases, such as the lovely Christmas carolSilent Night,” the text is written first, then set to music (indeed, most hymns, being based on Scripture, evolved this way).  Sometimes the tune is written, then an enterprising poet sets the text.  Such was the case with Isaac Watts, who set his text for “Joy to the World” to a Handel melody.  And, of course, there are hymns written and composed by the same person.

In talking about hymns, I brought to my students a slender little hymnal in my small collection of them, The Cokesbury Worship Hymnal.  From what I can gather, my copy was published in or after 1966, when the copyright from 1938 was renewed.  There is a stamp on the inside front cover stating that the hymn book once belonged to Carteret Street Methodist Church, which I thought was in Charleston, but appears to be in Beaufort, South Carolina.  The hymnal includes 296 hymns, with fifty responsive readings—a good collection, but slim by the standards of a pewback hymnal.

Read More »

Music Among the Stars

Back in 1977, NASA launched Voyager I, which is some 14 million miles from Earth.  The super nerds behind the mission stowed two golden records on board.  Those golden records included various selections to represent life on Earth, from “Johnny B. Goode” to nature sounds to classical music.

Over the Labor Day weekend a colleague e-mailed me Classical Archivesweekend newsletter, which includes some musings about why humans developed the ability to create—and their interest in—music.  The newsletter features the blog posts “Can E.T. Carry a Tune?” and “Music for Extraterrestrials… Sampling the Music Selected for NASA’s Voyager I.”

The former explores the possible deep origins of humanity’s music-making abilities.  It posits several theories developed from evolutionary biology.  As  a Christian, I find these explanations ultimately wanting, though they each make interesting points (the second proposed theory, for example, suggests “that music arose because it was a social glue that helped our ancestors bond with one another and with a group”).  Music serves many purposes, even if those purposes are not strictly utilitarian (and even then music can serve that function, such as coordinating workers’ movements via work songs).

Chiefly, though, music is intended to praise God.  Like the other arts, music is God’s grant of a small sliver of His Creative potential to His Creation—Tolkien’s “sub-creation” of Middle Earth serving as a prime literary example.  The highest form of musical expression, then, lifts up songs of praise to God.

Read More »

Things That Go Bump in the Night

Audre Myers over at Nebraska Energy Observer always has some interesting observations about the world around us (indeed, once a week she writes a post called “Random Observations“—check it out).  Her latest post—the whimsically titled “ooOOoo – BOO!“—explores the world beyond our observation, the world of ghosts, spirits, demons, and “haints.”  It’s also the world of angels, and of God.

Myers makes a point that that really hit me when I was in college taking a senior seminar history course called “Society and the Supernatural”:  that as Christians, if we believe in the Holy Trinity, we also have to believe in a broader supernatural world.  For Christians, there is ample scriptural evidence of not just the presence of the Holy Spirit, but also of angels—with their own hierarchy and roles—and demons, those fallen angels that joined Lucifer in his prideful rebellion against God.  The Bible speaks often of “principalities” and spirits that rule over ungodly nations.

How far beyond Scripture such supernatural creatures extend is a source of speculation and debate, and I suspect we won’t truly know until we’re on the other side.  There is a danger in exploring the non-godly supernatural, as it opens spiritual doors within us that could make us susceptible to demonic influence—or, at the extremes, possession.  Compulsive sinning can have the same effect, but messing with the occult—even out of an innocent curiosity to understand that world better—seems far likelier to result in catastrophic unintended consequences.

What I did learn in that college course, though, was that at least one member of the Scottish Enlightenment (whose name and work I cannot locate—blast!) expended a great deal of energy trying to discover fairies (apparently, people are still looking for them).  He reasoned that if fairies, giants, and other mythical creatures of Scottish folklore existed, that would prove the existence of the supernatural.  If the supernatural is real, God is real; if God is real, then fairies can exist.

Our groping, grasping attempts to understand the supernatural are, well, natural—it’s certainly a fascinating subject.  But the Bible makes it clear what fate awaits us if we accept Christ—and what awaits us if we reject Him.

Still, I do not discount out-of-hand the possibility of supernatural presences beyond what we know from Scripture.  I don’t want to go poking around in their domains for the reasons stated above, but it’s intellectually arrogant and shortsighted to assume we know everything.  That’s the folly of our modern age—we applaud ourselves for demystifying the world, yet we’re more lost and in the dark than ever.

And what of those Scottish fairies?  Surely their existence is more than the feeble attempts of ancient minds to explain the natural world, as the priests of scientism and materialism would argue.  No, there is too much anecdotal evidence—across thousands of years and cultures—to discount the existence of such things.

All I know is that Jesus is alive—and all this talk of ghosts has me excited for Halloween.

Psalm 13 and Patience

Yesterday my pastor’s sermon came from Psalm 13, a six-verse Psalm in which King David cries out in despair to God.  Here it is in its entirety, from the King James Version (c/o Bible Hub):

1{To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.} How long wilt thou forget me, O LORD? for ever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me?

2How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? how long shall mine enemy be exalted over me?

3Consider and hear me, O LORD my God: lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death;

4Lest mine enemy say, I have prevailed against him; and those that trouble me rejoice when I am moved.

5But I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation.

6I will sing unto the LORD, because he hath dealt bountifully with me.

The title of the sermon was “What Do You Do When God Delays?”  The whole point was that we’re always eager for answers and results now, and our tolerance for what we perceive to be as delays is pitifully short.

Of course, God isn’t delaying—He’s on His timetable, not ours.  When everything is going well, we don’t think about it, but when things go wrong, we’re often desperate for life to return to normality; if it doesn’t do so immediately, we get impatient with God.

Read More »

Lazy Sunday LXXX: Forgotten Posts, Volume IV

We’re continuing our dive into the B-sides and deep cuts of the TPP oeuvre.  For this Lazy Sunday, I decided to check out September 2019.

Whoa!  What a gold mine of hidden gems and nuggets, forgotten in the tide of events.  I didn’t realize how many good posts I generate during that first full month of the 2019-2020 school year.  There’s enough for a couple of weeks, but here are three forgotten posts to tide you over until next Sunday:

  • Remembering 1519” – With The New York Times‘s 1619 Project all the rage—a retelling of American history in which racism and slavery  are the only pertinent factors in our grand national story—this post examined a piece from The Federalist about Hernan Cortez’s conquest of the Aztecs in 1519.  Rather than framing it as evil Europeans callously destroying the peaceful natives (any fifth grader can tell you the Aztecs were anything but peaceful), he flips the script to something closer to the Truth:  the Catholic Christian Spaniards toppled a wicked regime built on human sacrifice and false gods.  The Spanish weren’t angels, but they destroyed a great evil.
  • Saturn: The Creepiest Planet?” – Quora inspired this post, and the site has now become a favorite of mine for people smarmily answering astronomy questions.  The Solar System has always fascinated me, and Saturn in particular is alluring—so mysterious and regal, with its massive rings.  I’ve even written a song, “The Rings of Saturn,” which I will hopefully record one day.  The Quora post in question asked “What is the creepiest planet in our solar system?”; the answer, per a recording of Saturn’s electromagnetic waves, is Saturn.  The embedded video to that recording is now, sadly, dead, but I’m sure some intrepid searching could turn it up.
  • A Tale of Two Cyclists” – One of my more frivolous and cantankerous posts, this short screed denounces “spandex-festooned cyclists riding in the middle of a busy lane during rush hour.”  Yet my sympathies are entirely with the second cyclist, “a black man of indeterminate age…. wearing street clothes, and riding what appeared to be a fairly rundown bike.”  I have no problem with folks who use a bike as their primary means of transportation, lacking any other options.  But these large groups of “cyclists” who ostentatiously hog entire lanes at 5 PM drive me batty.

That’s it for this Sunday!  We’ll continue our exploration for at least another week, as there are some more goodies from September 2019 to explore.

Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

TBT^2: Back to School with Richard Weaver

Today marks the first day of school for the 2020-2021 school year:  The Year of The Virus, if we were to affix a Chinese Zodiac-style name to it.  It’s going to be the most unusual school year any of us have ever experienced, I imagine.  Please keep teachers, students, administrators, and staff in your prayers.

As I’ve noted often, I reread at least the introduction to Richard Weaver’s Ideas Have Consequences every school year.  The introduction offers a strong diagnosis of modernity’s ills, and it reminds me why teaching is so important—not just the accumulation of random facts into worldly knowledge, but to inculcate deeper knowledge and virtue—what we might call “wisdom.”

Here is “TBT: Back to School with Richard Weaver“:

Every year I try to reread the introduction to Ideas Have Consequences, Richard Weaver’s masterful work of analysis and prophecy.

With school starting back in just FOUR DAYS—may God have mercy on us all—it seemed germane to bring back this post from 2018, itself a contextualization of a Facebook post from 2014.

Here is “Back to School with Richard Weaver“:

Every year, I try to sit down and re-read at least the introduction to Richard Weaver’s seminal Ideas Have Consequences, probably the most powerful book I’ve ever read.  I tend to undertake this re-reading around the time school resumes, as it helps remind me why I teach.

In addition to Ideas Have Consequences, Weaver wrote some of the most eloquent essays on the South—and what it means to be Southern—in the twentieth century.  In 2014, I posted the following quotation on Facebook; I will allow it to speak for itself[:]

I’m undertaking my annual baptism in the works of Richard Weaver to focus my philosophical thinking for a rapidly approaching school year, and, as always, I’m presented with an embarrassment of riches. Few thinkers cram so many nuggets of truth into so little space. Every paragraph of Weaver’s writings yields insights that speak to the very heart of humanity.

Read More »

Lazy Sunday LXXIX: Forgotten Posts, Volume III

Lazy Sunday is rolling on with some more “Forgotten Posts” (check out Volume I and Volume II).  Again, the criteria for selection is pretty loose—I scroll through my archives and find posts I don’t link to very often, or which I’ve largely forgotten that I wrote.  Even that’s not a hard-and-fast rule.

This week’s selections come from June 2019.  The summer is always a slow month for new; ergo, it’s a slow month for blogging.  But with a self-imposed daily post requirement, I’ve gotta come up with something.  Here’s a taste of those somethings:

There’s another Lazy Sunday in the books.  Speaking of books, I’ll be cracking them pretty hard this week, as school resumes this Thursday.  It’s going to be an interesting year.  Wish me luck.

In the meantime, enjoy your Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

Cancelling Jesus

Yesterday, I wrote about the destruction of statues of American leaders—the destruction of American history.  My position is that tearing down virtually any statue—Confederate, Union, Theodore Roosevelt, etc.—is the untenable erasure of our nation’s history.  Further, the historic illiteracy of the woke SJWs has seen the defenestration of statues of abolitionists—an absurdity for groups that claim to be fighting against the legacy of slavery.

In that context, I made a big deal about the toppling of a statue of Abraham Lincoln.  Lincoln has assumed something of a demigod status in American history, one that glosses over some of the thorny issues of how to respond to the secession of the Southern States (a real question at the time was, having opted into the Constitution, could States later opt out; for a good biographical read on that issue, check out “A Voice of Reason” by John Marquardt at the Abbeville Institute).  Lincoln was certainly a man with many noble qualities, and a keen constitutional mind.  The toppling of his statues is the height of insanity—or nearly so.

In my haste, I neglected the even more egregious calls to destroy statues and stained glass windows depicting The most important Figure in world historyJesus Christ.

Read More »