Both Nisbet and Nock find this sad state of affairs very human, but also very counter to the American tradition of strong societies that take care of alcoholism, crime, homelessness, and mental illness. In its expanded role, the State becomes a kind of Nanny, a mothering hen. Further, as the State grows, it reshapes the rules of society, giving itself the advantage in all conflicts with parts (or wholes) of the population. As Nock understood it in the 1930s, and Nisbet in the 1960s, the State desired—whether it openly admitted this or not—to assume all power over society and thus render society—and its myriads of conflicting authorities (in and through which the human person found freedom)—obsolete in the long run. Indeed, the State wanted to take the place of the Church as the only glue that holds all together. This was just as true, both Nock and Nisbet feared, in collectivist societies, whether they called themselves republican, fascist, or communist.
— Read on theimaginativeconservative.org/2020/09/nock-nisbet-society-state-bradley-birzer.html
Stewart: One of the goals for your book is to rescue the term “humanism” for Christians who are suspicious of it based on the dominant strand that traces its lineage to the Humanist Manifesto of 1933. You offer five “canons of humanism” in order to recover an alternative variation of the tradition. Briefly, humanists are bonded by the following: 1) belief in human dignity; 2) defense of liberal education; 3) affirmation that humans are irreducibly spiritual and material; 4) citizenship in the Republic of Letters; 5) belief in “a power of some supernatural order” (1-11). What have Christians lost by holding this word in suspicion? Has suspicion of the word itself prevented the tradition as well?
Birzer: Great question, Matthew. Words matter, and, of course, as has happened so often in the English tradition, words evolve. Humanism became a serious “god-like” term—equivalent to liberty, democracy, etc.—in the nineteenth century. It became so popular by the 1890s and early 1900s that everyone wanted to claim humanism for their own. Like our current use of democracy, it had come to mean “everything that is good.” The height of such cultural capture of the term came in the late 1920s, when a wayward Protestant minister adopted the term for his own form of “religion.” That form of religion—devoid of anything supernatural and really, frankly, not so kind to the natural—eventually evolved into the powerful Humanist Manifesto of 1933, which its professions of desired secularism. Simply put, the writers of that manifesto captured the word and have held it in captivity—by their allies and their opponents—for nearly a century now. At its most simple definition, being a humanist means believing in the humanities, the liberal arts. At its most simple definition, then, being a Christian means being a follower of Jesus Christ. A Christian humanist, properly understand and at the most fundamental level, means being a follower of Jesus Christ and being a lover of the liberal arts. Of course, the implications for these things are immense, especially when one starts getting into the Word and the Incarnation
— Read on www.frontporchrepublic.com/2020/09/brass-spittoon-bradley-birzer-on-christian-humanism/
Several years ago, I read Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France and offered here at The Imaginative Conservative seventeen separate essays (observations) on that grand work. I now propose—over the course of the next half year—to do the same with Alexis de Tocqueville’s masterwork, Democracy in America. I will be reading it from page one and proceeding through both volumes. If you’d like to follow along, I’ll be using the two-volume 2012 Liberty Fund edition, available in a print edition as well as (free) in a download PDF/ebook edition.
— Read on theimaginativeconservative.org/2020/09/reflections-tocqueville-pervasiveness-equality-bradley-birzer.html
As the man pleaded his case, Father Maximilian Kolbe came forward and offered his life for the one pleading. The German commandant of Auschwitz—probably rather shocked—agreed, and Kolbe, with nine others, stripped naked and entered the 3-foot high concrete bunker… (essay by Bradley J. Birzer)
— Read on theimaginativeconservative.org/2010/08/sacrificial-love-saint-maximilian-kolbe-bradley-birzer.html
Many high schools and colleges across America canceled in-person graduations during the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic, but Hillsdale College decided to host an in-person ceremony a few months late. The college approached state and local authorities, worked with the local health department and four epidemiologists, and hosted a crowd of roughly 2,000 people on July 18. More than two weeks later, no new coronavirus cases have been traced to the ceremony.
— Read on pjmedia.com/culture/tyler-o-neil/2020/08/04/hillsdale-college-had-graduation-during-covid-and-the-black-plague-of-death-didnt-descend-n733768
Jump now to the time of Corona, in the year of our Lord 2020. “Conservative is kind of a meaningless word now,” a young and skilled writer (one I like to read, Brad Polumbo) recently stated on social media. Meanwhile, over at the venerable Intercollegiate Studies Institute, an institution charged with promoting conservatism within higher education, another young and gifted writer, Gracy Olmstead, writes: “I am loath, in fact, to embrace the label ‘conservative’ myself—in part because of the ways most people define it, and in part because I am unsure whether any political label fully defines my beliefs.”
I suppose it must be age and, perhaps to some extent, ego, but I find such statements to be as mystifying as they are unsatisfying. While I agree that conservatism is not, nor ever should be, a political label, I am far less certain that it should be loathed or dismissed so readily. I also fear that in this age of Trumpian populism and soft authoritarianism, conservatism is all too readily confused with populism.
The most important question for any conservative remains: what should be conserved?
— Read on www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/theres-no-real-definition-of-conservatism-and-thats-a-good-thing/
Stanislaw Augustus (1732-1798) was the last Polish king. Not without controversy, he was one of the greatest patrons of the arts and sciences in his day. In his many efforts, he supported publishing, libraries, architecture, education, painting, cartography, ballet, theater, and industry. He was also the co-author of the Polish constitution of May 3, 1791. A great and meaningful reformer, the last monarch essentially undid his own position.
In An Appeal from the Old Whigs to the New, the grand Anglo-Irish statesman, Edmund Burke, praised the May 3, 1791 constitution as one of the great reforms of the modern world. It should be remembered that this was the so-called “Age of Revolutions,” and Burke had witnessed both the glories of the American Revolution and the hideousness of the French Revolution. Poland’s reforms and constitution, he thought, offered real meaning, much closer to the American experience than the French one.
— Read on theimaginativeconservative.org/2020/07/edmund-burke-last-polish-king-bradley-birzer.html
What then does our conservatism mean in 2020? What does it mean as statues tumble, as injustice reigns, and as anger seethes? What does it mean when our leaders seek not the common good, but mob-ish acceptance? What does it mean when our children are indoctrinated with racialism and collectivism rather than individualism and personalism?
At its essence, conservatism has not changed over the years. While the debates may be about a variety of things, the meaning of conservatism lies in understanding that, taken as a whole, our ancestors are not utter fools. The past for the conservative must remain the great laboratory of human experience, human knowledge, and human wisdom. The past is our depository of strength, our trust fund of morality. Now, more than ever, we must preserve what has come before us. Every statue torn down by the violent is a terrorist attack on our very civilization and our very strength as a people. Like the unsung heroes of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451—the men and women who memorize each book burned by its society—we must remember and preserve our statues, our museums, and our cultural storehouses—even if only in our own minds and souls. Like those around the immortal Cato the Younger, we must become living embodiments of the virtues.
— Read on theimaginativeconservative.org/2020/07/conserving-2020-499-bradley-birzer.html
Experts on amphibious forces note the PLA already has powerful army units that are trained and equipped to make the kind of landings necessary for an invasion of Taiwan. In expanding the marines, they argue, PLA military planners are looking at operations across the globe, in places where China has extensive offshore investments. These commercial interests are likely to multiply as Beijing presses ahead with its Belt and Road Initiative, an ambitious bid to put China at the center of global trading routes.
— Read on www.reuters.com/article/us-china-military-amphibious-specialrepo-idUSKCN24L17B
Later, of course, we find the commandment to keep the seventh day holy and free from trials and corruption. As the tablets commanded:
Remember the sabbath day—keep it holy. Six days you may labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God. You shall not do any work, either you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your work animal, or the resident alien within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the Lord has blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.
Again, my words can add little to this, but it is quite clear that the Sabbath matters, and it matters intensely. In part (only in part, but an essential part, nonetheless), the human person must rest on the seventh day.
— Read on theimaginativeconservative.org/2020/07/learning-rest-bradley-birzer.html
From the beginning of our existence, we have known that, to the best of our ability, we must try to do both. Our inspiration—and this is not meant to sound pretentious, just honest—came from the two greatest institutions of the Middle Ages, the monastery and the university. The one protected the best behind thick walls and even denser prayer. The other promoted the best through inquiry and scholarship. At the beginning of the Middle Ages, though, the monastery was indispensable to the very survival of classical civilization in the West. As Christopher Dawson explained: “Ninety-nine out of a hundred monasteries could be burnt and the monks killed or driven out, and yet the whole tradition could be reconstituted from the one survivor, and the desolate sites could be re-peopled by fresh supplies of monks who would take up again the broken tradition, following the same rule, singing the same liturgy, reading the same books and thinking the same thoughts as their predecessors.” Those books were everything from Platonic dialogues to Holy Scripture, and every breath of every monk preserved the best of the past for those who would never know them and sadly, almost certainly not praise them for their innumerable sacrifices over a thousand years. Sacrifice there was… in abundance.
— Read on theimaginativeconservative.org/2020/07/the-imaginative-conservative-ten-years-preserving-advancing-bradley-birzer.html
Throughout his career, Bradbury spoke bravely and openly against “political correctness,” recognizing it for the evil and the tyranny it is. In 1953, it was against Joseph McCarthy. “Whether or not my ideas on censorship via the fire department will be old hat by this time next week, I dare not predict,” he wrote, but “when the wind is right, a faint odor of kerosene is exhaled from Senator McCarthy.” In the early 1990s, in Chronicles magazine, he stated: “Someone said to me recently, aren’t you afraid? No, I said, I never react in fear; I react in anger. As with graffiti, you must counterattack within the moment, not a day, a month, or a year later. All the politically correct terrorists must be driven back into the stands. There is no place for them in the open field of democratic ballplaying.”
In this dread year of our Lord, 2020, we have seen Killing Fields’ style public confessionals, policemen and politicians betraying their oaths to their respective communities, the wide-spread destruction of property, the killing of innocents, threats with the guillotine, and the tearing down of public monuments. Whether Bradbury is correct in assessing the government as a lesser danger than the mob, this much is certain: The mob hates dissent, hates liberty, hates individuality, hates personhood, hates God, and hates truth. Yes, there are traitors in our midst, more domestic than foreign.
— Read on theimaginativeconservative.org/2020/07/ray-bradbury-predicted-2020-bradley-birzer.html