Nature Cannot Explain Itself

In his brilliant, aphoristic demolition of the modern, Pure: Modernity, Philosophy and the One, philosopher Mark Anderson explains in a few short paragraphs why nature cannot explain nature:

A particle of matter is because of an act of existence for which it itself is not responsible. It is what it is because of its microstructure, the specific and stable organization of its constitutive elements – in a word, its form, which it itself does not produce. The same is true, mutatis mutandis, of forces and laws of nature, which neither bring themselves into being nor cause their specific and essential character.

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Reactionary Composer of the Week

Most of us reactionaries, I trust, think that modern classical music, like modern art in general, is (to paraphrase Proph) nothing but one long hideous auditory abortion. And while this is not entirely untrue, many of you may not know that several composers have in recent years tried to revive the tonal traditions of old. Near the end of his book The Aesthetics of Music, Roger Scruton writes that while many of these attempts have been valiant, and have often resulted in beautiful music, none have succeeded completely. What we need, he thinks, is a musical equivalent of Eliot’s Four Quartets: Something that rejects modernist decadence while at the same time acknowledging and reflecting the changed circumstances under which we live.

I agree with Scruton, and I want to do what I can in advancing the counterrevolution, in art as well as in culture, religion, and politics. This is why, in the coming months, I’ll highlight one reactionary 20th- or 21st-century composer each week or so, along with one or two representative pieces. Note that with a few possible exceptions, which I’ll point out as they appear, these composers are stylistic rather than political reactionaries.

First, though, it may be useful to summarize, as briefly as possible, why and how we ended up with musical modernism in the first place.

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The difference between “conservatives” and reactionaries

…is this: If liberalism were a church, “conservatives” would be its heretics, while reactionaries would be its apostates. “Conservatives” yearn for an earlier, “truer” form of liberalism—be it the industrial society of the 19th Century for some paleos and libertarians, or the New Deal and/or Civil Rights era for some neocons. This is why one often hears American movement conservatives claiming, not without warrant, to be “just old-fashioned liberals.” And much like Chesterton’s heretics of old, the “conservative” insists that he is the real liberal: “It [is] the kingdoms of the world and the police and the judges who [are] heretics. He [is] orthodox.”

The reactionary, on the other hand, is an apostate: He has left the Church of Liberalism altogether, and has no more interest in claiming its orthodoxy for himself than Richard Dawkins has in claiming to be the real bearer of the Anglican tradition.

Christian Apologetics: Giving Reasons to Believe

That’s the name of the latest addition to our Resources list. In it, we give a brief overview of the basic issues and then provide a list of recommend resources (mostly books, so far) arguing for the existence of the God of the Bible, the accuracy of the Bible, the validity of the biblical portrayal of Jesus Christ, the truth of Christian doctrine, and other basic issues.

So far, “we” is not quite the correct word. As of this writing I’m the only author, and so most (but not all) of the resources are Protestant in the sense that they were written by Protestants. That’s only because they are the works with which I’m most familiar, and not because I want to make a major case here for Protestantism. Our overall goal here at Orthosphere.org is to promote “mere” Christianity.

My non-Protestant colleagues will no doubt add some resources that reflect their views, and any serious Christian work will of necessity sometimes argue for a specific Christian tradition. Nothing wrong with that, but we shall (I hope) exclude any works whose major purpose is to argue for a specific Christian tradition. Or perhaps we can put these works in their own special “handle-with-care” pages.

Parenting, natural law style

Check out this article on the perils of trying to parent according to arbitrary, deterministic schedules rather than the natural and organic needs of one’s baby (h/t The Thinking Housewife):

By feeding on a schedule mothers risk again a diagnosis of failure to thrive: baby does not get enough milk, moms milk supply drops, baby stops gaining weight. Sadly I have seen this situation occur more than once. Most mothers catch the fact that their baby is hungry before failure to thrive is diagnosed. They supplement with formula and eventually give up on breastfeeding altogether. They don’t make the connection between the schedule and their lowered milk supply. These mothers blame their body, “I just couldn’t make enough milk.” I hear this statement nearly every time I go out and interact with other mothers.

The effect on the mother of the interrupted breastfeeding relationship that often accompanies cry it out is depression. Gordon Gallup and associates found a higher incidence of depression in mothers who bottle fed when compared with mother’s who breastfed. This makes sense when you consider the hormones released in the mother each time she brings baby to breast, hormones that promote bonding and feelings of love for her baby. In the absence of the release of these hormones via breastfeeding, the mother may experience depression.

And worse! Read the whole thing.

I admit I’ve had babies on the mind lately. I’m past the age where I should’ve started having them. And I’ve often wondered if I’d be a good father. My own father was largely absent from our lives, spotted at dinner time only; I actually grew up thinking he lived somewhere else (that fathers in general lived apart from their families), so I didn’t have much in the way of a role model.

Nonetheless, there’s something reassuring in applying the basic principles of natural law ethics to parenting, namely that what is good for us is ordained in our natures and expressed organically through it. A crying baby needs something — even if that something is just you. It makes me think any schmuck can be a good dad, if only he obeys “the body’s promise” and “the mind’s amen.”

Apologetical Weapons: Benison

Anyone who has spent time at one of the more established Christian or theist blogs will have experienced the angry atheist troll, who makes his first appearance in any comment thread spitting bitter bile and frothing at the mouth with rage, hurling contemptuous insults and heaping scorn on the other participants. Nothing can so quickly cause an edifying thread to devolve to a wrestling match in the gutter, with lots of hissing and scratching. It’s unseemly.

This happened a fair bit over at Throne & Altar, bonald’s site (which, if you are interested in the Orthospherical weltanschauung, you should definitely check out – he has a precious trove of writings posted over there, many of which have been formative for Christian Reaction). Not that bonald attracted a lot of trolls because he deserved it; on the contrary, it seems to me that there is a direct relation between the importance and seriousness of a theist site and the number of trolls it must suffer (which, if right, must mean either that Orthosphere is neither serious nor important enough to bother with, or that we are just too new to have been noticed yet; or probably both). A couple months ago I suggested over there that we should always respond to such folks with blessings:

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Apologetical Weapons: the Socratic Reductio

The reductio ad absurdum is one of the most devastating forms of argument. Show a man how his doctrines lead to absurdities, and you will almost always vanquish him in debate. Say a man is in favor of gay marriage; it is easy to show that the arguments in favor of gay marriage may also be adduced in support of polygamy or polyandry, or of marriage to animals, or even marriage to oneself, or to material objects. “Oh, pish,” he will say, “be serious. There is no slippery slope here; no one would do such silly things.” But people are already marrying inanimate objects, animals, and themselves. If you point this out to him, he won’t really have anywhere to go. You will leave him speechless.

But while you’ll make him feel frustrated and upset, you won’t change his mind (because he’ll be frustrated and upset at you). To do that, you have to talk with him in such a way that he himself elicits the absurdities implicit in his opinions. If he is himself the agent of the reductio, his defenses against intellectual attack will not have been mobilized.

The Socratic Method may be used to help moderns recognize the absurdities they espouse, and, having done so, to begin an honest deliberation toward a solution to the intellectual problem you have helped them discover.

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