Don Briel, Genuine Man of Brilliance and Integrity

brielAs some of you no doubt know, Don Briel–now professor at the University of Mary in North Dakota, after a long career as the founder and fountainhead of the Catholic Studies Program at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul–has been diagnosed with two forms of cancer.  He is not expected to live more than a few more days.  Not surprisingly, for those of us privileged to have met Don, he’s taking the inevitable with all due Christian stoicism and, amazingly, even joy.

Though I’ve followed Don’s work for well over two decades, I’ve only met him in person once.  It was several summers ago, when he very graciously had invited me to lead a week-long faculty summer seminar on Christian Humanism.  It was one of the nicest and coolest invitations I’d ever received up to that point in my career.  My whole week at UST was rather magical, frankly.  I’d never quite realized how much my scholarship might actually mean to anyone besides myself.  I hope this doesn’t sound arrogant–it’s not meant to.  But, when I met with roughly 15 brilliant peers for a week, I realized, wow, Christian Humanism really is fascinating and vital.  It was a great moment of personal and professional encouragement.

That week, I had lunch with Don.  Though it was a rather humid and hot summer, we walked a long distance to a really nice bistro.  Both of us in ties and suits, sweating like mad, we never ran out of things to say.  We talked nonstop about ideas, institutions, and, really, everything that matters in life.

When I came away from that week–on a total confidence boost and high–I realized that I had met one of the “greats” in the form of Don Briel.  I’ve felt this way a time or two in my life–when finally meeting those I’d always admired but only at a distance.  When I’ve met them, I’ve often come away disappointed only because I’d had such a high opinion that I had built in my own mind.  And, more often than not, those I meet still have the brilliance, but they also have all too often the arrogance that so sadly goes along with brilliance.  Not Don.  He is too brilliant, I think, to be troubled with something as petty as arrogance.  He was just. . . well, Don.  Totally confident and comfortable with himself.

When my wonderful friend, Winston Elliott, asked me about Don (Winston is a fellow admirer of Don, but, unfortunately, only from a distance), I replied, “Well, imagine the integrity and mind of Socrates in the suave form of Cary Grant.”

Don, I can’t even imagine how many lives you’ve touched in this all-too short life.  Through your students, your institutional building, and your books, you have truly been one of the greats of the last century, along with Father Marvin O’Connell, Ralph McInerny, and some others.  Thank you.  Thank you for your life, and thank you for your witness.  Thank you for your dignity, and thank you for the confidence you so graciously gave to all of those around you.

You have lived love as it was meant to be.  Not as something to possess, but as something to give and share.

Do me a favor.  When you enter the Kingdom, please say hello and thank you to Christopher Dawson, Russell Kirk, and J.R.R. Tolkien for me.  And, say a prayer or two or twenty that someday I’ll get to hang out with you as well.

Russell Kirk’s Unfinished Justice — The Imaginative Conservative

Russell Kirk thought that because justice is rooted in nature and because in its perfection transcends all time and space, one can innately observe virtue in the actions of wise women and men. 1,429 more words

via Russell Kirk’s Unfinished Justice — The Imaginative Conservative

3 Ways to Protect Your Online Accounts


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As some of you know, I’ve now proudly earned the enmity of several alt nuts. So, let me recommend three things to protect yourself NOW rather than later from these thugs. After all, they don’t just harass, they’re actually using relatively intelligent and sophisticated cyber attacks against personal and professional accounts.

You (at a company, think tank, magazine, university) need to take serious personal precautions. That is, don’t wait for your institution to protect you.  They might not be able; they might not want the publicity; and they might just hope the attacks will go away.  You have to take charge of your own accounts.

As one of John Moser’s friends, Joe Murphy, reminded me, be proactive rather than waiting for an attack–after which you have no choice but to be reactive.

If you’re on a Mac, it’s indispensable that you use
1) a password vault. I’ve fallen in love with 1password from Agile Bits. Not only is the program intuitive, but the folks who run the program respond IMMEDIATELY to any problems. One solid company.

2) Malware/virus protection (yes, even on a Mac). I recommend VirusBarrier from Intego. Once again, I can’t praise the company highly enough. I needed help immediately when the attacks came, and the company went overboard to help me.

Both companies have earned my lifelong loyalty. Again, do not wait for your institutions to provide protection. Do it personally.

And, third, for all folks of Mac, Linux, or PC persuasion,
rewatch The Sound of Music. Be Captain Von Trapp, and rip up racist rags.

Looking Back at Law School (Pulliam)

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Pulliam’s homepage.  Go, quick now, said the bird.

Mark Pulliam’s new blog is a thing of wit and intelligence.  Enjoy.

In recent years my law school alma mater has hosted an annual “celebration of diversity” event, which I recently attended out of curiosity. I thought that my law school class of long ago was quite diverse, with students from all over Texas, who had attended a variety of colleges and universities located throughout the country, representing a wide range of backgrounds—socio-economic, age, marital status, political orientation, and otherwise.

Alas, that is not what “diversity” means these days. “Diversity” connotes the politically-correct assortment of students (and faculty) from specific racial and ethnic groups that were “under-represented” in the era of primarily meritocratic admissions.  Race-conscious affirmative action at the University of Texas School of Law—once considered controversial and sparingly used—has “fixed” that.

To keep reading, please click here:

Mark Pulliam’s New Blog

Mark Pulliam, writer and thinker extraordinaire, has a new blog.  Make sure to visit and register.

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Pray for Russell Kirk’s Beatification (TIC)

As shocking as it might seem to those who knew Russell Kirk as a bad (in terms of practice) Catholic, he deserves sainthood. Here is my case for Saint Russell of Mecosta… 1,202 more words

via Saint Russell of Mecosta? — The Imaginative Conservative

Glenn Arbry (TIC): Shaping the Culture

For much of contemporary thought, God is an invention. But the idea of God accords with the nature of reality. Belief in God is useful for human order, as it centers and grounds all knowledge… 856 more words

via Shaping the Culture — The Imaginative Conservative

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