The Influence of Irving Babbitt’s Humanism ~ The Imaginative Conservative

Most diabolically, it had become—quite truly—a false religion. Founded by the former Baptist and Unitarian minister, Charles Francis Potter’s humanism went public at the very beginning of the fall of 1929 when he delivered a homily to 244 New Yorkers, having turned away well over 400 to meet the fire code. “Just as Protestantism was an offshoot of Roman Catholicism, and Liberalism, as represented by Unitarianism and Universalism, was born of Protestantism, so also Humanism has come forth from Unitarianism.”[1] Blatantly taking the name of his new faith from Babbitt and More (whom he thought would be allies in his new religion) he asked his congregants to give up their primitive “deity obsession.”[2] Only from man, Potter claimed, could one find true dignity. “Out of the heart of man have arisen all his noble impulses and aspirations.”[3] Babbitt and More, horrified, condemned the new movement, and the scare almost certainly moved More toward Anglican orthodoxy. Potter, however, with the aid of the effete John Dewey and bizarre Harry Elmer Barnes, founded the American Humanist Association and issued the Humanist Manifesto in 1933. To be sure, the word “humanism” has never recovered.
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Book Review: ‘Mr. Straight Arrow’ Illuminates Writings of John Hersey | National Review

Ironically, one of Hersey’s talents lay in his ability to focus on people. In The Algiers Motel Incident, he focused on the victims of police brutality. In The Wall, he told the story of resisters in the Warsaw ghetto. In Hiroshima, Hersey wrote about six people, what they were doing when the atomic bomb fell, and how they were affected by the destruction it sowed.

As Treglown shows, Hersey was a “war poet as much as a journalist.” Although he did not write poems per se, reading Hersey, one sees how he transferred his musical ability and feel for rhythm to the sound of words.

Hersey’s understanding of the power of imagery shines through his opus — especially in Hiroshima. Treglown says the book showcases Hersey’s “startling intimacy with the people he writes about” and his innate sensitivity for language. Even the title of the first section, “A Noiseless Flash,” suggests Hersey’s appreciation for the image.
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Review: Google Chrome has become surveillance software. It’s time to switch. – Silicon Valley

Lately I’ve been investigating the secret life of my data, running experiments to see what technology really is up to under the cover of privacy policies that nobody reads. It turns out, having the world’s biggest advertising company make the most-popular web browser was about as smart as letting kids run a candy shop.

It made me decide to ditch Chrome for a new version of nonprofit Mozilla’s Firefox, which has default privacy protections. Switching involved less inconvenience than you might imagine.

My tests of Chrome versus Firefox unearthed a personal data caper of absurd proportions. In a week of web surfing on my desktop, I discovered 11,189 requests for tracker “cookies” that Chrome would have ushered right onto my computer, but were automatically blocked by Firefox. These little files are the hooks that data firms, including Google itself, use to follow what websites you visit so they can build profiles of your interests, income and personality.
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“The Hanging God”: Poet as a Bridge of Great Magnificence ~ The Imaginative Conservative

Of our living poets—to my mind—no greater one exists than James Matthew Wilson. A prominent and energetic professor of the humanities at an Augustinian university by day, Wilson edits and writes poetry with equal prominence and energy by night. Not only does he write excellent (make that brilliant) verse, but he also encourages the art of others.

His latest book of poetry, The Hanging God, brings together more than thirty of his poems, all of which were originally published elsewhere but none of which appeared in precisely the form they do in this collection. In other words, context matters, and Wilson understands this more than most. Not surprisingly, given Wilson’s vast interests, the topics of the poem range from pure love to diabolical Nietzsche. Some of the poems take place then, and many now. Some never. Some take place here, and others elsewhere. Some nowhere.
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America’s Uneven Legacy of Religious Freedom ~ The Imaginative Conservative

Our standard textbooks, sadly, tell a false story. Not only do they claim “religious freedom” from the beginning of colonial settlement, but they also attempt to do so by identifying each colony as a place of refuge for a particular denomination. New England for the Puritans (Calvinists), Pennsylvania for the Quakers, Maryland for the Catholics, Virginia for the Anglicans, etc. What our textbooks fail to note, however, is that these colonies which might very well offer complete religious freedom to one denomination rarely do the same for competitor denominations. Virginia, for example, encouraged the members of the Church of England to the nth degree, but they persecuted Calvinists, Baptists, and any other dissenters. New England despised Catholics, but they hated the Baptists even more.
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Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles review | Batman News

Two things in particular surprised me about this movie, striking me in different ways.  First, it is genuinely funny.  There were several times where I had to stop myself from laughing at the shenanigans in the film, especially when the Turtles find their way into the Batcave.  Some of the best gags from the comic make their way over to the movie (my personal favorite being Mikey’s wipe-board presentation on why Batman may and may not be a cool dude), and there are tons of little throwaway lines that have a great payoff.  Have you ever wondered why Gotham has so many blimps flying around?  Rest assured, the Turtles do too, and they find out their purpose in one of the movie’s best jokes.

Batman also has some fun in the movie, as he’s presented as terse and gruff, but not without a sense of humor.  It’s refreshing to see a Batman who isn’t a jerk and lets the sillier personalities of the Turtles win him over.  Sure, he’s not cracking wise alongside them, but he doesn’t treat them like they’re idiots for being goofballs either.  In fact, he shows each of his allies great respect in different ways, from Batgirl to Robin to each of the four Turtles.  Like I said, it’s nice to see Batman value and cherish the presence of others in his war on crime, and even more to see him relate to them on a personal level.
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Russell Kirk’s Forgotten “Intelligent Citizen’s Guide to Conservatism” ~ The Imaginative Conservative

Not surprisingly, it’s beautifully written. But, more importantly, it anticipates almost every major contribution the Vatican II Council would offer with its understanding and doctrine of personalism. As such, it holds its own when compared to the works of Thomas Merton, Josef Pieper, Etienne Gilson, Jacques Maritain, Gabriel Marcel, Romano Guardini, and Max Picard, all of whom influenced Kirk mightily in the 1940s and 1950s.
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Cicero: No Slave of Plato ~ The Imaginative Conservative

Cicero never hid the fact that he wrote his own On the Republic in imitation of, and as a corrective of, Plato’s more famous Republic. Indeed, Cicero reveled in the idea. Yet, his own work is never slavish. In book four of Cicero’s version—of which, sadly, very little survives and much of it only in fragments quoted in other works—Cicero openly criticizes Plato for several things. Even in his criticisms, though, Cicero is playful, with the participants of the dialogue noting that Plato seems to be exempt from all wrong doing.

Not so, Cicero declares
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True Law is Right Reason in Agreement With Nature ~ The Imaginative Conservative

Second, real law comes not from the mind of man but from the essence of creation itself. That is, man does not create law, he discovers it. It has always been there, though man has ignored, mocked, distorted, or forgotten it. And, as it is always there, it can never be destroyed, while it can always, critically, be remembered. A people might go two thousand years in ignorance (willful or not) of the true law, but the true law remains. If it fails in Troy, it can be remembered in Rome. If it fails there, it can be remembered in London. And, if it fails there, it can be remembered in Philadelphia. Truth, after all, is permanent and nothing man does can destroy it, no matter how vicious our intentions.
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The Natural and the Foreign: Republics from Rome to America ~ The Imaginative Conservative

As Cicero critically notes, during all of its history, Rome came about by trial and error, custom and habit, not by design. “Our commonwealth, in contrast, was not shaped by one man’s talent but by that of many; and not in one person’s lifetime, but over many generations.” Livy, later, argued the same point, but in Polybian fashion. Cicero notes that through On the Republic he hopes to “show you our commonwealth as it is born, grows up, and comes of age.” By implication, of course, Cicero anticipates the decay, corruption, middle-age, and eventual death of the republic. Unlike in the American experience, the Roman republicans could not appeal to its “founders” or its “founding” or its specific constitution. Instead, all things came into being over time and through incredibly difficult and painstaking work. America’s Republic might be a mighty fortress, but Rome’s was poetic. Only in the divine, Cicero claims, could one find an origin of Rome. The rest was, simply put, experience and tenacity.
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The Fusionist Mind of Stephen Tonsor ~ The Imaginative Conservative

Tonsor adopted the fusionist project but ultimately transformed it into a civilizational mission that went far beyond American politics. He believed that the Roman and Anglo-Catholics who comprised the traditionalist wing of the post-World War II conservative movement in the U.S. represented the last hurrah of Catholic humanism in the West to that point. In previous ages, Catholic humanists had risen up to help the Church prevail against the Roman Empire, Germanic invasions, Protestant Reformation, and Modern Age. Beginning in the 1960s, as late modernity began transitioning to postmodernity, Catholic humanists were called on, once again, to fight a culture war – this time in a battle of the books that drew in positivists, Marxists, nihilists, statists, and postmodernists. When Tonsor and other Catholic humanists confronted modern and postmodern movements, they did not just reject them outright. Rather, the task was to sift and weigh and test contemporary thought for what was wheat and what was chaff. Whatever was true, good, and beautiful in modern-postmodern thought could be – should be – baptized and redeemed. 
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The Immortal Four: Tolkien and the Barrovian Society ~ The Imaginative Conservative

Its own kind of debating society, the TCBS considered almost any question as long as it avoided relationships with girls. “Oh, we [TCBS] discussed everything under the sun except girls I should say. Oh, yes. That was what bound us together. Somehow you felt ‘this chap and I can talk about anything.’” Wiseman later remembered, “And we also shared the philosophy that, number one is at the top. And I don’t know why those things impressed me so that now you’re sitting there and they sort of come out again. But there it is, and I feel sure that I’ve got it right. . . . But as I say, we formed the TCBS because it—when we had a gap in these exam programs we pushed off to Barrow’s stores in order to have some tea.”[9] And, yet, it wasn’t just girls. Though current events were not prohibited, Tolkien avoided them. “I mean to say that Tolkien was a very constructive person, in a narrow line,” Wiseman explained. “You ask him about Norse poetry, he’s bound to get it right. You asked him about Calvin Coolidge, he might quite easily get it wrong.”[10] Still, if Wiseman remembered correctly, Tolkien dominated the discussions, not just because of his personality, but because of his penetrating intelligence and knowledge. “Well, you couldn’t [feel comradeship] with John Ronald. He wasn’t the comrade of anybody except himself. . . . Oh yes, and he deserved it, too.”[11] Several other students at King Edward’s joined the TCBS as well, but Tolkien, Wiseman, Gilson, and Smith remained the core four of the group.[12]
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