Royal Cuckery

Proverbs 31:10 says that a virtuous wife’s “worth is far above rubies” (NKJV).  Quite true.  These days, they’re about as rare as rubies, if not more so.

That being the case, the converse must also be true:  if a virtuous wife is worth more than rubies, then a corrupt wife will cost you everything.  In the case of Prince Henry, Duke of Sussex, it cost him the Crown Jewels.

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MLK Day 2020

Here’s to another Monday off from work (for those of us blessed to work in fields that give out random days off liberally).  Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is one of those holidays that feels like an excuse to have a little taste of the recently-departed Christmas holiday.  Everyone is still dragging in January, coming off the high of Christmas and New Year’s.  I find the cold intellectually stimulating, but most of us are spending our time comfortably indoors, basking in central heating.  It all makes for seasonal sluggishness.

Last year’s MLK Day post sought to take advantage of the day’s cozy laziness with some suggested reading.  Contra the whole “make it a day ON” virtue-signalers, it really is the perfect day to crank up the heat, brew some coffee, and enjoy reading with some fried eggs (over medium, please) and toast (and, for us Southerners, a hearty helping of grits).  It’s one of the last taste of the hygge before the warm weather creeps back in (which occurs sometime in late February or early March here in South Carolina).

That’s all by way of lengthy preamble to today’s post.  I thought this year it might be worth looking at the holiday itself, and the man behind it.  The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was, indeed, a remarkable man, and one who did a great deal to advance the cause of liberty, more equally enjoyed.  But while we’re not allowed to say so—MLK has been elevated to something like sainthood in the American Pantheon—he was an imperfect vessel in many ways.

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Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony

It’s been an artistically fulfilling weekend.  First there was the play (I’m sure readers are tired of reading about it) in which I performed.  After three successful performances, my girlfriend and I took in the South Carolina Philharmonic‘s Sunday matinee performance of their popular Beethoven and Blue Jeans concert.  Classical music is even more enjoyable when you get to wear jeans.

The SC Philharmonic’s energetic conductor, Morihiko Nakahara (a show in himself), didn’t pull any punches with this year’s B&BJ program.  It was, essentially, “Beethoven’s Greatest Hits,” as I remarked to my girlfriend.  Morihiko always tosses in one piece of weird modern classical music, but after enduring young composer Jessie Montgomery‘s 2016 tone poem “Records from a Vanishing City,” it was straight into the classics:  Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6 in F Major, the so-called Pastoral, rounded out the first half of the concert.  Then it was into the thundering “DUHN DUHN DUHN DUUUUUUH, DUHN DUHN DUHN DUUUUUUUUUUUUUUH” of the Symphony No. 5 in C Minor after the break.

Everyone loves the Fifth Symphony, with its iconic opening theme (the first in symphonic music to make a rhythmic idea the theme, not a melodic one).  But for my money, the bucolic beauty of the Sixth takes the cake.

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Lazy Sunday XLIV: SubscribeStar Posts, Part II – The Search for More Money

Well, after a successful opening night and two other excellent performances, the play is in the books!  My girlfriend and I celebrated with a trip to Columbia to hear the South Carolina Philharmonic (more on that tomorrow), and I’m finally back home.  It’s been an exhausting, but artistically fulfilling, few weeks.

This week’s Lazy Sunday features some recent SubscribeStar Saturday exclusives.  To read the full posts, subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for $1 a month or more.  For a full rundown of everything your subscription gets, click here.

There’s not much to link these together thematically, other than they all will cost you a buck to read (not each, though—that just covers the subscription, and then you can binge them all for $1 total).  But they are some of my better SubscribeStar posts.

  • The Tedium of (Teaching) Slavery” – Teaching about slavery is a tedious slog, not because the topic isn’t interesting or worthy of discussion, but because it devolves into a set of magical incantations to ward against the curse of “racism.”  Political correctness deals historical education another blow.
  • End-of-the-Decade Reflections; Age and Class” – Some reflections about the long decade of the Teens, as well as an examination of the difficult financial environment in which Millennials, et. al., endure.
  • The Twenties” – Some historical writing, looking back to the 1920s, and drawing some comparisons between that turbulent, raucous decade and our own times.

Well, that’s it.  Apologies for the late posting, but here’s hoping you enjoyed a wonderful—and lazy!—Saturday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

The Enduring Legacy of Milton Friedman

One of the major debates on the Right over the past year or so has been the efficacy of libertarianism.  Part of that debate arises from disagreement about the role of government:  should it attempt to be neutral, as libertarians argue (which, we have seen, it is not), or should it act in the “common good” (or, as the Constitution puts it, the “common welfare”)?  In a world in which the Left wins victory after victory in the long culture wars, the assumptions of the “New Right” that arose following the Second World War are increasingly called into question.

Among those assumptions are libertarian economics.  Increasingly, conservatives are adopting a more suspicious view of concepts like supply-side economics and free-market capitalism.  That suspicion is not because capitalism is a failure, per se, but because it is almost too successful:  the wealth and prosperity it brings have also brought substantial social and cultural upheaval.  Because capitalism is an impersonal and amoral system, it doesn’t make value judgments about what is “good” or “bad” in the context of marketplace exchanges.  The Market itself is the highest “good,” so any hindrance to its efficiency is bad.

Ergo, we see arguments in favor of legalized prostitution, legalized hard drugs, legalized abortion, etc.  Again, if market efficiency is the greatest good, then why not allow these “victimless” activities?

Of course, unbridled libertarianism is doomed to fail, especially as it scales up.  Legalized hard drug use might keep junkies out of prison, but we don’t want heroine addicts buying their next hit at the grocery store.  Prostitution destroys families and the lives of the women (and men) involved, and spread disease.  Abortion is straight-up murder.

Capitalism cannot sustain itself in a vacuum.  It needs socially conservative behaviors and attitudes to sustain it.  If one wanted to live in a stateless libertarian paradise, one would need a small, tight-knit community in which everyone bought into the non-aggression principle and agreed to be honest in business dealings.  But as soon as one person decided not to abide by the unwritten social code, the entire experiment would unravel, like that scene in Demolition Man when the effeminate police force doesn’t know how to use force to subdue a violent criminal.

But for all of those critiques, capitalism remains the best system we’ve ever developed.  I agree with Tucker Carlson that the economy is a tool, not an ends to itself, but if government interferes too much with the tool, the tool is no longer effective.  If anything, the economy is a chainsaw:  too much regulation and the engine stalls and the blades become dull due to misuse and neglect; too little regulation and you lose an arm (or your life), even if you cut down a ton of trees in the process.

One of the most powerful books I ever read was Milton Friedman’s Capitalism and Freedom (1962).  It transformed the way I viewed the relationship between the government and economics.  Friedman would have a huge impact on my life and my thought.  While I don’t agree with all of his conclusions, I still largely accept his conclusions.

Friedman was a minimalist when it came to government power, but he still recognized some role for government:  maintaining the national defense, combating pollution, and fighting against infectious diseases.

Here is a 1999 interview with Milton Friedman, from the excellent Uncommon Knowledge series, hosted by Peter Robinson.  It highlights some common objections to libertarian economic ideas, as we as Friedman’s thoughtful, nuanced responses:

For what it’s worth, I’ll add that Peter Robinson is a fantastic interview.  He possesses that perfect quality in an interviewer:  he doesn’t steal the limelight.  I grew so weary of Eric Metaxas‘s interviews, not because his guests were uninteresting—he has great guests!—but because he can’t help but talk over them constantly (his penchant for campiness also goes a bit overboard, and I love that kind of cheesy stuff).  After listening to some of Peter Robinson’s interviews Sunday afternoon, I never found myself wishing he would shut up—always a good sign.

Regardless, these are some weighty issues.  I have been hard on libertarians over the past year because I think they tend to reduce complex issues to supply and demand curves, and I can’t help but notice how we keep losing ground in the culture wars by espousing endless process and slow persuasion (which seems to be stalling in its effectiveness).

On the other hand, I’m glad that conservatives don’t wield power the way progressives do; as Gavin McInnes once put it in a video (one I would never be able to locate now) after the 2016 election, Trump and conservatives have sheathed the sword of power.  Progressives, masters of psychological projection, expected Trump to come out swinging, because that’s what they would do.

I just don’t know how long we can delay them from swinging the sword again, and after Trump’s unlikely victory (and his likely reelection), I imagine progressives will no longer even engage in the pretense of even-handedness and fair play:  they will crush us relentlessly if given the chance, rather than face an uprising again.

Libertarianism doesn’t have the answer to what to do to prevent that scenario.  Unfortunately, I’m not sure any faction on the Right does—at least not in any way that is palatable.

SubscribeStar Saturday: The Twenties

Today’s post is a SubscribeStar Saturday exclusive.  To read the full post, subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for $1 a month or more.  For a full rundown of everything your subscription gets, click here.

It’s (sort of) the start of a new decade, and every blogger and tin-pot commentator (like yours portly) has been putting out prediction posts for the decade.  My good friend and fellow blogger Bette Cox has written not one, but two posts about the coming decade, based on her prayer-conversation with God.

I’ve taken more of the approach of photog at Orion’s Cold Fire:  rather than offering lock-of-the-century predictions, I’ve just commented on things as they stand currently.  I am notoriously bad at making predictions and calling elections.

That said, I thought I’d play to my strengths and instead write about The Twenties—the 1920s.  Yes, it’s a bit hackneyed, but looking back at the past can be instructive of where we are now, if not what our futures hold.

Note to subscribers:  due to a heavy rehearsal schedule today, this post may not be completed until later this evening.  Thank you for your patience.

To read the rest of this post, subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for $1 a month or more.

Birth(day), Death, and Taxes

“Nothing in life is certain except death and taxes,” the old saying goes.  But we are also born, those of us fortunate enough not to fall prey to the abortion industry.  Today marks my thirty-fifth birthday.  I celebrated by paying $162.57 in vehicle property taxes to Darlington County, South Carolina.

Yesterday, I purchased a new vehicle, my first new car in thirteen-and-a-half years, and only the third I’ve ever owned.  It’s a 2017 Nissan Versa Note SV.  The other two were a 1988 Buick Park Avenue Electra, which I bought from my older brother for $800, after my grandparents gave it to him one year, and a 2006 Dodge Caravan, which those same grandparents gave to me as a college graduation gift (after the Buick was totaled when a lady ran a yield sign and smashed into me).

The Buick is long gone, but I kept the Dodge.  I figure it’s worth more to me as stuff-hauler than I would have gotten in trade-in value.  Of course, that means maintaining insurance on both vehicles, and paying taxes on each.

Well, I awoke today to the news that our military assassinated Iranian General Qassem Soleiman last night.  When I first read that Soleiman was “assassinated,” I was picturing a fate similar to the death of the “austere religious scholar,” the ISIS guy, al-Baghdadi: covert operatives swooping in under cover of darkness, swiftly and surely relieving the general of his life.

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TBT: How the Reformation Shaped the World

It’s a brand new year, and I’m excited for what it holds.  For this week’s TBT, I looked back to the first post of 2019—which then snowballed into a year-and-counting of daily posts.

This piece drew inspiration from a Pager U video (links below), and featured some of my off-the-cuff reflections on the influence of the Protestant Reformation.

I’ll let the original speak for itself.  Here is 2019’s “How the Reformation Shaped the World“:

There’s a video up on Prager University called “How the Reformation Shaped the World” (PDF transcript for those who prefer to read).  Stephen Cornils of the Wartburg Theological Seminary gives an adequate, broad overview of the impact of the Protestant Reformation (albeit with some noise about Martin Luther’s anti-Semitism, which, while accurate, smacks of throwing a sop to politically-correct hand-wringers).  You can view the video in full below.

I’ve written about the influence of Christianity (and it was, notably, Protestant Christianity) on the founding of America, and I’ve discussed how shared Protestantism helped create an American identity.  Indeed, I would argue that, without Protestantism, there would be no America, as such.

I would also argue—perhaps more controversially—that America’s commitment to Protestantism as opposed to Catholicism allowed the nation to avoid the anticlerical upheavals seen in France and other predominantly and officially Catholic countries.  While there were official, established churches at the State level into the 19th-century—which I wrote about in “The Influence of Christianity on America’s Founding“—the lack of federal establishment, and the general movement towards greater religious liberty, ensured a proliferation of Protestant denominations in the early Republic.

Catholicism inherently insists upon a top-down hierarchy of control.  Luther’s view of man’s relation to God is horizontal, as Bishop James D. Heiser argues in his extended sermon The One True God, the Two Kingdoms, and the Three Estates (one of my Christmas gifts, incidentally, and a good, quick read for just $5).  That is, every man is accountable to God directly, and is responsible for accepting Christ and maintaining his relationship with God.  That horizontal, rather than vertical, relationship infuses Western Civilization with a sense of individualism, the effects of which have been far-reaching and both positive and negative.

Regardless, the impact of the Protestant Reformation is staggering to consider.  The Catholic Church in the 16th century was an increasingly sclerotic and corrupt institution, one that had fallen from its great height as the pacifying influence upon a barbaric, post-Roman Europe (of course, the Counter Reformation reinvigorated and, in part, helped purify the Church).  With the advent of the printing press and translations into national languages, conditions were ripe for an explosion of religious reform in the West.  The ripple effects of the Reformation still pulse through Western life and culture.

That said, I’m not anti-Catholic, nor is that the intent of this post.  In today’s political and theological climate, committed followers of Christ must band together, be they Catholic or Protestant.  I don’t “buy” Catholic theology in toto, but I respect the Catholic Church’s longstanding traditions and consistent institutional logic.  Thomas Aquinas’s cosmological argument in the Summa Theologica is pretty much what I learned growing up as an Evangelical Protestant.  And I’m broadly sympathetic to the traditional Catholic argument that the Reformation busted up the orderly cosmos of medieval European society (see Richard Weaver‘s various essays for further elucidation of this idea).  A side effect of the Reformation naturally includes many of the cons of modernity.

Ultimately, too, Christians face the double-threat of modern progressive ideology and radical Islamism.  I’ve written about the former in detail, but not so much the latter.  For the moment, suffice it to say that the two are temporary, uneasy, but powerful allies against a traditionalist, conservative, Christian worldview, and both are deeply antithetical to Western values and culture.

These are some broad and slapdash thoughts, ones which I will gradually develop in future posts as necessary.  Any useful resources or insights are welcome—please share in the comments.

Happy New Year!

Lazy Sunday XLII: 2019’s Top Five Posts

2019 is winding down, and with this being the last Sunday of the year, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to look back at the most popular posts of 2019.

These posts aren’t necessarily the best posts—although that’s an entirely subjective measure—just the ones that received the most hits.

When looking through the most popular posts, there were a few surprises.  One thing I’ve learned from blogging is that posts I pour my heart and soul into may walk away with five views (and, oftentimes, only one!).  Then other posts that I dash off in a hurry to make my self-imposed daily goal take off like Rossini rockets, garnering dozens of hits.

Some of that is timing and promotion.  I find that the posts I have ready to launch at 6:30 AM do better on average.  But some generous linkbacks from WhatFinger.com really created some surprises here at the end of the year, surpassing even the exposure I received from Milo Yiannopoulos.  Writing posts about hot, current news items, the dropping links about said items in the comment sections of prominent news sites, also helps drive traffic, but I often lack the time required to do such “planting” (and it is a practice that can come across as spammy if not done with finesse).

Some posts take on a life of their own; I see consistent daily traffic from one of the posts on this list, “Tom Steyer’s Belt.”  Apparently, a bunch of people are as mystified as I am with Steyer’s goofy, virtue-signalling belt.

Well, it’s certainly been an adventure.  And while it may be premature—there are still two days left in the year!—here are the Top Five Posts of 2019:

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