We may have our successor to Fr. Schall in Brad Birzer, himself a near-legendary writer and professor at Hillsdale College. In Beyond Tenebrae, Birzer ranges widely across subjects and authors in defense of a truly human education. His style is similar to that of Schall as well: Birzer’s friendly, conversational writing brings you in, and his deep learning keeps you reading. It is as if you are hearing a friend talk about the great things he’s been reading and thinking about and wants you to share in the adventure. These essays are autobiographical as well as analytical, so we see both the power of the ideas and how they affected Birzer as reader, scholar, and person. These essays cover writers from Ray Bradbury to Shirley Jackson, Russell Kirk to Friedrich Hayek, Willa Cather to Walter Miller, and are filled with suggestions for further reading.
— Read on www.catholicworldreport.com/2020/01/21/beyond-tenebrae-is-a-robust-winsome-defense-of-christian-humanism/
On Wednesday, January 15, 2020, the holy host of the Valar (all 14 members of that august body) welcomed and praised Christopher Tolkien as he gently passed from this Middle-earth toward the Blessed Realm, with a quick stop in Tol Eressëa. It was yet one more grievous loss to us in early 2020, and one more celebrated in the Halls of Manwë. Christopher Tolkien had led an exemplary life, one of immense piety. He’d dedicated himself to his father in mythology, to his country in wartime, and to his civilization in crisis.
— Read on www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/now-residing-in-the-blessed-realm-christopher-tolkien-1924-2020/
Sixty minutes long, The Underfall Yard praises the gentle ingenuity and social order of the late Victorian and Edwardian periods in England. Almost utterly English in its tone and expression, the album captures the mythic soul of an era. With a fragile but virtuous invocation of an autumnal twilight of a culture, the album begins with the appearance of the evening star, always a sign of hope. But, through the hour of immersion, the listener visits fallen aristocrats, bygone brickworks, and decaying railways.
The song that is most profound in its lyrics is “Winchester Diver,” the true story of a man, William Walker, who spent years fixing the flooded area that was ruining the foundations of Winchester Cathedral. Spending hours at a time in darkness, sustained by an oxygen tank, the diver could hear the Mass celebrated above him while encountering what he assumed were visions of demons and hell below him. In this purgatorial moment, progressive rock reaches its height — a connection of the earth and the sky, the water and the land, heaven and hell. The human person, filled with integrity and determination, finds himself surrounded on all sides by adversity. In the end, though, he perseveres. The cathedral remains in form as well as in spirit.
The final song, the 23-minute “The Underfall Yard,” expresses the same longings as the rest of the album — the longings of progressive rock and, ultimately, of the human condition.
— Read on www.nationalreview.com/2012/05/different-kind-progressive-bradley-j-birzer/
When I got home that day, I took the cellophane off of the album, pulled it gently out of its sleeve, and then properly dusted each side of the album to avoid the unavoidable pops. Before playing the music, though, I studied the lyrics, the liner notes, and the sleeve photos. For some reason, the three members of the band—Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and Neil Peart—looked really old to me, but I heartily approved. If old people could make rock music, they must be ok! Little did I know, then, that Peart was only fifteen years old than me.
The needle on my turntable descended and that first massive chord opening “Tom Sawyer” thundered throughout the house. I was a devout follower of the band from that moment through today.
— Read on www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/a-homeric-life-neil-peart-1952-2020/
The flagship title of Artists, Writers & Artisans.
— Read on www.newsarama.com/48456-straczynski-deodato-launch-a-new-superhero-universe-in-the-resistance-1-first-look.html
New progressive rock duo The Bardic Depths are the first signing to Cosmograf man Robin Armstrong’s new label Gravity Dream. The band consist of multi-instrumentalist Dave Bandana and noted US historian Brad Birzer, who many here will know from the respected Progarchy website, who has supplied the lyrics and concept behind the duo’s forthcoming new album The Bardic Depths, which will be released on March 27.
“The album is about friendship and its ability to get us through anything including war, with the concept centring on the literary friendship formed between J.R.R Tolkien and C. S Lewis between 1931 and 1949, “ the Lanzarote based band leader Bandana tells Prog.
— Read on www.loudersound.com/news/cosmograf-mans-new-label-announce-first-signing-the-bardic-depths
Any understanding of human dignity in the twenty-first century demands an understanding of the Judeo-Christian Logos (Memra in Hebrew). Without it, there is only chaos and darkness, dispiritedness and confusion, blackness and the abyss. One only has to witness the evil sown by the attempted coup against the Judeo-Christian Logos in the last century by Mars, Demos, and Leviathan and its agents in the ideological struggles of that fell time to realize how fragile and yet how necessary a vital comprehension of the concept is. Progressivism, fascism, socialism, communism, and democracy all despised the Logos, seeing it, properly, as that which stifled all utilitarianism as well as all materialistic ambitions.
— Read on theimaginativeconservative.org/2020/01/pagan-roots-christian-logos-bradley-birzer.html
I suspect that much of the neglect of virtue comes as much from its inconvenience for the powermongers as much as it does from its necessary reliance on free will. “Men will be good or bad builders as a result of building well or building badly,” Aristotle claimed. “For if this were not so, there would have been no need of a teacher, but all men would have been born good or bad at their craft. This, then, is the case with the virtues also.” Somewhat horrifically, though, for the last two-hundred years, western civilization, in particular, has moved steadily away from a belief in real choices and toward determinisms of various types.
The virtues, however, are rooted in nature, in creation, and in God’s will for us. They can be forgotten, mocked, or distorted, but, being real and true and beautiful, they can never be conquered. Russell Kirk argued that virtue “is [the] energy of soul employed for the general good.” Thus, there is never a bad time to remember the virtues, and our society desperately needs them. God distributes these, then, according to His Will, through His Economy of Grace. “For just as in a single human body there are many limbs and organs, all with different functions,” St. Paul wrote, “so all of us, united with Christ, form one body, serving individually as limbs and organs to one another.” Gifts such as teaching, counseling, or speaking “differ as they are allotted to us by God’s grace, and must be exercised accordingly.” Our gifts should be for the common good, for the Body of Christ—that is, the Church.
— Read on theimaginativeconservative.org/2020/01/remembering-virtues-bradley-birzer.html
Book Review: Beyond Tenebrae: Christian Humanism in the Twilight of the West – Entering the Public Square
It is these defenders of order that Birzer seeks to highlight. For people like myself, it is easy to feel like you are alone, watching the world burn, but not knowing what to do about it. I live in a state with a very small Christian minority. While I am thankful for the Christians I have in my life, we all know that we are, in the words of Russell Moore, a prophetic minority. Birzer’s work serves as an antidote and an encouragement. There is a vast tradition of those who have looked into the abyss but have remained strong. In fact, they have done more than that, they have created. They have harnessed pieces of the Good, True and Beautiful and presented them to us for our fortification and enjoyment.
— Read on www.enteringthepublicsquare.com/blog/book-review-beyond-tenebrae-christian-humanism-in-the-twilight-of-the-west
A more serious challenge came from English poet and historian Robert Conquest who charged Lewis and Charles Williams with holding and promoting totalitarian sympathies. While his criticism applied mainly to Williams, Lewis became a part of the controversy by praising Williams’s Arthurian poetry. The two men, Conquest claimed, willfully obscured the venerable mythology, thus rendering it and its story unintelligible to the average person. They turned the vast Arthurian legend into a “complex intellectual parlour game,” a gnostic jumble, accessible only to the Elect. In Williams (and, by inference, in Lewis), one finds “a genuine writer who has fully accepted a closed and monopolistic system of ideas and feelings, and what is more, puts it forthrightly with its libidinal component scarcely disguised.” That which is intelligible advocates the use of violence “to bring in unbelievers” with human beings treated merely as a means to an end. Lewis and Williams each promote a “psychology of totalitarianism—of hierarchy and sadism.”
— Read on theimaginativeconservative.org/2019/12/cs-lewis-his-critics-bradley-birzer.html
Like no other songwriters of their time, the British band encapsulated fears of tyranny and conformity, war and mass consumption.
— Read on www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/if-orwell-had-an-anthem-pink-floyd-would-have-produced-it/
Cicero took this line of argumentation much further—and with much greater depth—in his famous dialogue, On the Laws. Here, though, Cicero’s speaker claimed that through reason the universe is one with God, offering a sort of intelligent pantheism. “Thus we can assume that the universe must possess wisdom and that the element which holds together all that exists excels in perfect reason. From this we see that the universe is in fact God and that the vital force of the universe is held together by this divine nature.” In and through its own reason, the universe also moves toward perfection, order, and harmony. From its beginning, the universe was good and wise, and it only moves towards an even greater goodness, truth, and beauty. In our contemplation of the good, the true, and the beautiful, we humans become better. “Humans have emerged for contemplating and imitating the universe. We are certainly not perfect, but we are a part of perfection.”
— Read on theimaginativeconservative.org/2019/12/how-think-about-god-pagan-mere-christianity-bradley-birzer.html