William Remington was something of a solitary idealist…

Apr. 30 2007

The sections below are taken from a chapter of ‘I’ll Take My Stand: The South and the Agrarian Tradition‘ by Henry Blue Kline called ‘William Remington: A Study in Individualism’. Hopefully I won’t get in trouble for posting too much from the book. Good stuff!

“By temperament William Remington was something of a solitary idealist…”

“He was graduated with two potentially weighty handicaps. The first was some knowledge and appreciation of literature, history, music and the decorative arts. The second was a deeply rooted determination to live his life, in so far as he possessed free agency to control it, on terms dictated by his own critical intelligence, and nothing else. He was no radical reformer, however; he was inclined rather to scoff at the anarchic poets and philosophers of his college class, and to defend the forces of conservatism against their hot onslaughts; he was ready and willing to subscribe to conventions and standards, insisting only upon reminding himself, whenever they became too fantastic in comparison with his self-chosen norm of human experience and common sense, that they were only standards, not revealed religion or natural theology; and he reserved the right to condemn conventions based on any morality not founded solidly in the ethics of human worth. In a word, he was due for a hard bump. He expected nothing else, for he had been taught what to look for.”

For me this is probably not much more than getting in more trouble with my neighborhood association.

“His social behavior was substantially the same as that of his friends; but their behavior seemed to be instinctive and unconscious, whereas he was unable to dispel a disquieting feeling that his own was a theatrical illusion, that he was an actor impersonating William Remington as the world wished him to be, not William Remington himself. One name for his ailment was self-consciousness, he knew; and self-consciously he decided that most of his new friends belonged to an apathetic majority which included the most of men-to the ‘happy, obliviously blissful mob,; he told himself with a slight twinge of regret for the complacent egoism of his thought-they seemed to have accepted unquestioningly a way of life to which his temperament and education rendered him alien….he could not understand the desire to fill every waking moment with some physical and sensuous activity, for he could find only too little time at best for the leisurely arts of human society and self-cultivation he loved so well.”

I think I have reason #2 why love of history is important. In my last post I detailed reason #1. Self-cultivation is important and that can include hobbies, music, literature and the study of history. If your a “history hater” you probably don’t engage a whole lot in these other pursuits.

“Life as it was being lived about him was a vast stream into which one could enter, or, by an effort of self-denial, stay out of. Most of his new friends were far out in the current; nor was he sure that they could get out of it if they would. He was not alone on the bank, but most of his companions were older, and many of the dead, known to him only through history and literature. He felt too lively for such associates and he valued his freedom to walk the dry land too well to join the group toward which his youth and natural sympathies were drawing him. He hit on a compromise-to enter the stream where he listed, keeping always close to the bank, however, in order that he might be able to get back to shore when he should come to wish it.

I am in the stream and I know it. I am currently making my way towards shore but I am not exactly sure what it will look like when I get there.

“On the other hand, from three summer vacation periods of employment in another factory-the self-styled model factory, and with some justice behind the boast-he has brought away nothing more than a rather poor epigram: The machines were ‘almost human’, their operators ‘almost mechanical'”.

“His individual and personal program was then very simple. He pledged himself to himself to maintain his ‘sales resistance’ at a very high level: he would not starve the body and its senses into submission to his will, but he would insist on being an active party in any transaction which might involve him. He would be fair game for no high-pressure salesmen and no high-pressure propaganda, and would look with a fishy eye on every blessing that was heralded to his notice through advertising and other media of “sales education”. He would become a monkey wrench in the wheels of progress, a dissenter in word and deed from the dogmas of ‘high saturation’ and ‘quick turnover.'”

I am now officially a monkey wrench in the wheels of progress. I have abandoned my loud, heavy gas mower for a reel cut mower. My five year old daughter can even push it. What will the neighbors think when they see her cutting the lawn?

“Made a little wiser by the additional experience he had gained of life, he found what he thought he was looking for…he came to a place where the social balance of progress and culture was for all practical purposes equivalent to his own eutectic balance.”

“And here, even as he had expected, he knew a new satisfaction, a sense that he ‘belonged’ at last: for here was a social soil of just such a richness that he could take root and thrive therein; here was a people who thought in his terms and respected his traditions even when, exceptionably, they could not subscribe to them; here were young men who not only how to get drunk but also the finer art of staying happily sober: here were his own people. And, being satisfied in his new companions, he discovered the very interesting truth that many kinds of meat-and-drink labors which would have been distasteful and not worth doing in the houses of strangers may seem attractive and eminently worth while when one is able to maintain a feeling that one’s efforts are in some way ‘all in the family’.”


Loving Our Wife by Loving History (and Literature)

Apr. 28 2007

On Friday I made a feeble attempt to explain to a coworker why the study of history is important. I frequently discover that I hold firmly to a number of positions which when called to defend finds that I am ill prepared to articulate in a meaningful fashion. Such was the case here. Thankfully I stumbled upon this little diddy by Doug Wilson. Consider this reason #1.

Just as husbands are commanded to imitate the Savior, so they should also imitate saviors. These lesser saviors must be understood scripturally—men who laid down or risked their lives in the way of Christ-like sacrifice. And this means that husbands should learn from Tirian, King une, Aragorn, Beowulf, Robert E. Lee, Alfred the Great, Samwise Gamgee, Roland, Antipas, Polycarp, Jim Eliot, Hugh Latimer, Sam Adams, Ransom, Bonhoffer, and Athanasius…

What should a husband imitate? The central thing to learn is what an immense array of sacrificial options present themselves to a man who would love his wife in a fallen world, in a world where there are dragons and giants. He can sacrifice his life. Or his wealth. Or his reputation. Or his family. Or his nation. This is because love takes many different forms, according to the lines of the story. And since a man does not know beforehand how his story will go, he should have some awareness of how nobility behaves according to the situation.

Read the whole article here. One final thought, I have heard it said that all education is inherently religious. Take the above as good evidence in support of that claim.

Jay Ungar and Molly Mason – Fiddle and Guitar

Apr. 25 2007

If you are interested in listening to some great music check out the Dancing On The Air Radio Archive featuring Jay Unger and Molly Mason and a number of other artists. Jay and Molly are perhaps best known for doing the music for the Ken Burn’s Civil War documentary.

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Deadly Poison

Apr. 24 2007

“But no human being can subdue the tongue; it is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” – James 3

“You have heard that it was said to an older generation, ‘Do not murder,’ and ‘whoever murders will be subjected to judgment.’ But I say to you that anyone who is angry with a brother will be subjected to judgment. And whoever insults a brother will be brought before the council, and whoever says ‘Fool’ will be sent to fiery hell.” – Matthew 5

“For out of the heart come evil ideas, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.” – Matthew 15


While thinking of these verses tonight a TV show came to mind. You know the one. Jerry makes a living by encouraging his guests to put the content of these verses on display for millions to see. I think the case would not be hard to make that many of our entertainment choices (movies, news, radio, music, TV, magazines and books) are essentially doing the same thing but to a lesser degree. It gives me something to think about when making my choices.

Food Fight: A Teach-in On the 2007 Farm Bill

Apr. 23 2007

Watch this event here (I have not seen it yet, but have enjoyed Pollan’s book ‘The Omnivores Dilemma’

Michael Pollan moderates a panel discussion of the 2007 farm bill, now being debated, with guests Dan Imhoff, the author of Food Fight: A Citizen’s Guide to the Farm Bill; George Naylor, Iowa corn farmer and president of the National Family Farms Coalition; Ann Cooper, Director of Nutrition Services for the Berkeley school system, and other leaders in the effort to reform federal agricultural policies.

Every five years or so, the President signs an obscure piece of legislation that determines what happens on a couple of hundred million acres of private land in America, what sort of food Americans eat (and how much it costs) and, directly as a result, the health of our population. The American food system is a game played according to a precise set of rules that are written by Congress, typically with virtually no input from anyone beyond a handful of farm-state legislators. Nothing could do more to reform the American food system –an by doing so improve the condition of America’s environment and public health– than if the rest of us were to start paying attention to the farm bill.

Biblical Economics

Apr. 18 2007

“To get a firm grasp on profit, and its counterpart, loss, you might want to consider the Biblical quotation, ‘What does it profit a man if he gain the whole world but lose his soul?’ For an economist, the correct way to answer this question would be to calculate the revenues received from gaining the whole world and subtract the costs incurred by losing one’s soul. If the difference (known as ‘the bottom line’) is a positive number, you have a profit.” – An Incomplete Education [Source]


Apr. 18 2007

A couple of recent posts from Doug Wilson that I have found some profit in reading.

Candy Prizes at a Kids’ Party (makes me want to build a home that will last 500 years, perhaps a replica of Mt. Vernon, enjoy the virtual tour here).

Guilt and Responsibility (on Deuteronomy)

It is our modern practice to consider the law of God barbaric and calloused, but look here at the differences between us. Here, the elders of the city assume responsibility for a murder that was simply close to their town, with the culprit unknown. The elders of our cities will not take responsibility for the murder of millions of unborn children—and the murderers advertise in the yellow pages. And we have the nerve to say the Old Testament law is barbaric.

This is a feature of Old Testament law that did not embarrass the Lord Jesus in the slightest. Quite the contrary (Mark 7:10).

A Cornucopia of Bushwah

The evangelical world is still sitting under modernity’s table, eager for any crumbs that may fall our way. The big news down here is when some rock star or other intimates that it is possible that, under certain conditions, he might believe in a divine being other than himself. We snatch it up eagerly and feast for weeks. We have our own cycles of celebrity gossip down below table level, but given the nature of crumbs, our fixings are meager.

Greeting Cards and the Atonement

The Church of Jesus Christ believes herself to be just another special interest, alongside all the others. We have reduced ourselves to the level of big tobacco, or the gun lobby, or the greens. We want what we want just like they want what they want. Our authority for wanting it resides in our numbers, and not in the authority of God.

The center of our cultural life is found in the family, and at the center of every Christian family is a particular theology of atonement.

the best thing which a husband could do for his marriage, and his nation, would be to put down that copy of How to Put Zing Back in the Ol’ Marriage, and pick up John Owen’s The Death of Death in the Death of Christ.