19 July 2006

The Abolition of Man, I'm Agin It (though it wouldn't be a bad idea to abolish Hezbollah)


Everything you ever wanted to know about Hizbollah. Alternatively, Hezbollah.

How can we take a political party seriously if we can't even figure out how to transliterate their name?

Pardon me if I'm cranky. Someone dinked up the thermostat here, and Kuwait is currently set on 350 degrees, coincidentally the same temperature as the oven is when baking Banana Nut Bread. Jen and I made a double batch (actually, I did about 80% of the work making the batter, and Jen baked them all) according to her Grandmother's recipie. They turned out pretty decent.

I'm currently reading C. S. Lewis's The Abolition of Man. First published in 1944, it is a fairly insightful book, albeit one somewhat dated. The trends identified in this book are largely being played out today in the popular media and the educational system. What was once considered beyond argument is up for debate, and debate in the most facile terms.

Lewis posits a core of belief which he identifies (for the sake of convenience) by its Chinese name, the Tao. Within nearly all cultures are found certain beliefs about what is good and right. Whether ancient Babylonian law codes, Egyptian cultic beliefs, Norse mythology, Greek philosophy, Jewish (and hence Christian) scripture, Chinese writings, Hindu Vedas, most of the religions of the world have a set of beliefs about right conduct which are not defensible, first principles as it were. They can neither be defended or attacked except in terms relating to other elements of this body of values.

And yet, beginning in the 1920s, it became quite fashionable among the so-called intelligensia to attack these beliefs in a variety of terms. Outdated, or relics of a medieval Christian past, or insufficiently efficient or progressive, or whatever the buzzword of the day was. This process accelerated dramatically by the 1960s, by which time the educational establishment and media were largely controlled by men who held these beliefs in scorn in favor of a "modern" ideology, most predominately socialism.

And yet there is a good argument to make that these modern ideologies are but cancers on the branches of the Tao. Instead of a moderate balancing of these teachings, one aspect is glorified to the exclusion of all others, which are treated as a hindrance to "progress." After all, is not Socialism simply the common doctrine of fairness grown monstrous and mad, trampling down the other commands to be honest, to respect justice, and so forth?

Anyway, I'm not quite done with the book, but I find it to be one of the most interesting (and fortunately, short!) treatises on the subject that I have yet to read. While it is informed by C. S. Lewis's Christianity, it is not specifically Christian. Mr. Lewis quotes Seneca, Cicero, Pharoah Senusert, Aristotle, the Laws of Manu (ancient Indian), Norse Eddas, the Bible, Homer, the Chinese Analects, the Babylonian List of Sins, and other sources in plenty.

Mr. Lewis draws together and phrases much more nicely trends which I have noticed and written about previously. His verbage is more exact, and I find that I can no longer write upon the subject of ethics without reference to this work.

Oh, and I love my wife. She is so much more evocative a writer than I will ever be.


Blogger A Soldier's Girl said...

I'm not a better writer.

I don't do so well with technical stuff, although I can paint decent pictures of emotional stuff.


I miss you so very much. Love you.

1:09 AM  
Blogger Zero Ponsdorf said...

In case yer not just moderating comment and something odd happened: To repeat.

linked at: http://www.oldwardogs.us/2006/07/a_book_review_s.html

4:01 AM  
Blogger A Soldier's Girl said...

He's in transtit right now, so he's not managing to moderate much of anything.


7:10 AM  
Blogger Curmudgeon said...

Watch your six, John.

Jen, I'll be keeping both of you in my thoughts.


7:29 AM  

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