Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Liberal Advantage

Conservatives are better at some things, and liberals are better at others.  For example, conservatives are better at target shooting, and liberals are better at appreciating bad art.  Unfortunately, the ability to effectively articulate one's political philosophy is an area where liberals have an advantage.  The reason for this is simply, simplicity.

Someone who restricts his reading to the Huffington Post might think that liberalism is a nuanced and complex philosophy, and that conservatism is nothing more than a primitive instinctual reaction to a changing world.  Like much of what one reads on HuffPo, this is not entirely accurate in the sense of being true.  Though there are plenty of complex debates between liberal technocrats about how to best apply their ideology, that ideology is actually quite simple. 

Conservatives refer to multiple "first principles" but liberals need look only to a single first principle, the principle of equality.  Russel Kirk attempted to summarize conservatism in "Ten Principles," but the liberal ethos was adequately defined in three words by John Rawls, who preached, "Justice as Fairness."  Chesterton's description of Islam as a "simple faith for simple men," is applicable to liberal egalitarianism.  This does not mean that Muslims and liberals are stupid people, but that their belief is straightforward and easy to articulate. 

When liberals talk about the need for an equal society, they sound convincing because their rhetoric comes directly from their basic principle.  When conservative politicians try to articulate their philosophy, they tend to sound uninspiring at best, and foolish at worst.  Many politicians don't want  to make the effort to thoroughly examine political ideas, and conservative ideas require more effort.  Even those conservatives who have thought deeply about their principles can struggle to communicate them because the depth of conservative thought makes it difficult to express in a soundbite.  Instead of a genuine explanation of conservative ideas, the public is treated to vague assertions about American exceptionalism and the value of a free market.

What is the solution?  I don't know; I'm a blogger, not a rhetorician.  However, I do recommend that politicians and voters alike, whatever their political persuasion, truly educate themselves about conservatism .  An education in conservatism can begin over the internet.  Check out the Russel Kirk Center and the Intercollegiate Studies Institute for stimulating conservative thought.

Crossposted on The Raven Republican

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Crazy Awesome Ghanian Movies

My mind was blown by watching clips from Ghanian action movies.  I'm not saying that these movies are crazy because I'm a xenophobic jerk who can't appreciate foreign cultures, but because they are objectively and gloriously insane.  H/T: Lasse Josephson
(I'm not providing a link because some of Jospheson's posts are disgusting, but I feel obligated by the blogger code of honor to give him an attribution.)

A badly rendered monster from the movie Predator will attack Ghana in the year 2016.  Or something.

The title of this clip calls it "The best movie ever made in Ghana and Africa."  The description says, "This effort made by director Rockson Emmanuel is exceptional.  He is the best special effects director in Ghana."  Mr. Emmanuel's work certainly is certainly unlike anything I've ever seen before, so I would say it is pretty exceptional.

In this film, one of the super-soldiers from the Crysis games shoots at people while riding a hoverbike. Actually, that sounds like the premise for a pretty good movie.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Pray like St. Dominic

A belated observation of St. Dominic's feast day.  I read Pope Benedict XVI's reflection on St. Dominic in the Magnicficat magazine and thought it was really good.  Check it out.

Dear brothers and sisters,
Today the Church celebrates the memory of St. Dominic de Guzman, priest and founder of the Order of Preachers, the Dominicans. In a previous catechesis, I already illustrated this noble figure and the vital contribution he made to the renewal of the Church of his time. Today, I would like to bring to light an essential aspect of spirituality: his life of prayer. St. Dominic was a man of prayer. In love with God, his only aspiration was the salvation of souls, especially those who, at the time, had fallen into heresy; in imitation of Christ, he radically embodied the three evangelical counsels uniting the proclamation of the Word with witness to a life of poverty, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, he progressed along the path of Christian perfection. In every moment, prayer was the force that renewed and rendered fruitful his apostolic works.

Blessed Jordan of Saxony (who died in 1237), his successor as head of the Order, thus writes: “During the day, no-one was more sociable than he…conversely at night, no one more diligent in keeping vigil in prayer. He devoted his days to others, but the night he gave to God “(P. Filippini, Domenico visto dai suoi contemporanei, Bologna 1982, p 133). In St. Dominic we can see an example of the harmonious integration of contemplation of the divine mysteries and apostolic activity. According to the testimonies of those closest to him, “he always spoke with God or of God.” This observation indicates his deep communion with the Lord and at the same time, a continued commitment to lead others to this communion with God. He did not leave writings on prayer, but the Dominican tradition collected and handed down his living experience in a work entitled: The Nine Ways of Prayer of St. Dominic. This was composed between 1260 and 1288 by a Dominican friar, it helps us to understand something of the Saint’s inner life, it also helps us in all our differences to learn something about how to pray.

There are therefore, nine ways of praying according to the Saint, and each of these was always carried out in front of Jesus Crucified, and express a corporal and spiritual attitude, that intimately interpenetrating, favor recollection and fervor. The first seven ways follow an ascending line, like the steps of a journey, towards an intimate communion with God, with the Trinity: St. Dominic prayed standing, bowing to express humility, lying prostrate on the ground to ask forgiveness for his sins, on his knees in penance to participate in the sufferings of the Lord, with his arms open staring at the crucifix to contemplate the Supreme Love, with his gaze directed towards the heavens feeling himself drawn towards the world of God. Therefore there are three forms, standing, on ones’ knees, lying prostrate on the ground, but always with our gaze toward the Crucified Lord.

However, I would like to pause briefly on the last two ways which correspond to two forms of piety that the Saint normally practiced. First, personal meditation, where prayer acquires a more intimate, fervent and soothing dimension. At the end of the recitation of the Liturgy of the Hours, and after the celebration of Mass, St. Dominic prolonged his conversation with God, without any time limits. He would sit in an attitude of quite recollection and listening, reading a book or staring at the Crucifix. He lived these moments of his relationship with God so intensely that his reactions of joy or tears were outwardly perceptible. Thus he assimilated this through the reality of faith. Witnesses say that at times he would go into a sort of ecstasy, his face transfigured, but immediately afterwards he would humbly resume his daily activities recharged by the power that comes from on High. Then prayer while traveling between one monastery or another, he would recite Lauds, Sext, Vespers with companions, and, crossing the valleys and hills, contemplate the beauty of creation. At such times a hymn of praise and thanksgiving to God for so many gifts would gush from his heart, especially for the greatest wonder of all: the redemption accomplished by Christ.

Dear friends, St. Dominic reminds us that at the origin of witnessing to the faith, which every Christian should give in the family, at work, in society, and even in moments of relaxation, is prayer, a personal contact with God; only this real relationship with God gives us the strength to live every event, especially the most suffered moments, intensely. This saint reminds us of the importance of external attitudes in our prayers. That to kneel, to stand before the Lord, to fix our gaze on the Crucifix, to pause and gather ourselves in silence, is not a secondary act, but helps to us to place ourselves, our whole person, in relation to God. Once again, I would like draw attention to the need to find moments to pray quietly everyday for our spiritual life, we particularly have to take this time for ourselves during our vacation, to have time for this attempt to talk with God. This is also a way to help those who are near to us to enter into the luminous rays of the presence of God, who brings the peace and love that we all need.
-Pope Benedict XVI

Friday, August 9, 2013

To Prog

The word "prog" is used a derogatory shortened version of the word "progressive."  I was amused by this entry from Samuel Johnson's 1755 Dictionary:

to prog

1. To rob; to steal.
2. To shift meanly for provisions.  A low word.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Metro

My sister and I have just returned from a trip to Washington DC.  She visited Catholic University to check out its undergraduate program while I looked into the law school.  I also visited George Mason School of Law in Arlington.  To get around, we rode the Metro, which reminded me of this song:

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Worrying about Hillary Movies

The Chairman of the RNC is unhappy about two upcoming documentaries about Hillary Clinton.

Dylan Byers reports,
On Monday, RNC chairman Reince Priebus threatened to pull NBC and CNN's access to the 2016 Republican primary debates unless those companies pulled their Clinton-related film projects.
Preibus' complaints seem very silly too me.  How many Americans does he really think will take time out of their day to watch a Hillary Clinton documentary?  Of those few people, the large majority are going to vote for Hillary anyway.  The networks are certainly biased, but threatening them like this makes Republicans look weak and desperate.