The Second Great Commandment

In the discussion following Tom Bertonneau’s post Another Day in the College Classroom, commenter Johnathan J. has been arguing with Dr. Bertonneau and me about the interpretation of the Dominical injunctions that we ought to turn the other cheek, do unto others, love our neighbours as ourselves, and so forth. While I greatly respect Johnathan’s position – not least because it used to be my own – I think it is incorrect, and impossible to carry into practice while also surviving.

While I doubt it will change Johnathan’s mind, I am going to take the opportunity this presents to repost a comment I made to a discussion at VFR in 2008, on the same subject, which was itself a repost of a comment I posted to a private online discussion group, and which owed its central insight to long-time VFR commenter Sage McLaughlin. Sage is a brilliant man, and his profound comment, quoted below, cleared up a lot of questions about Christian morality that had bedeviled me for years.

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A Prayer for Lawrence Auster

Lawrence Auster is one of the seminal figures of latter-day Traditionalism. Many, many people have come to it, and to Christianity, as a result of his labors at View from the Right, one of the most important Traditionalist blogs. All true conservatives owe him a great debt of gratitude, including even those who feel at enmity with him; for whether or not they know it, and whether or not they have even read Lawrence’s writings, they have been influenced and informed by him, at least through those who have.

Lawrence is quite ill. For many months he has been suffering from cancer, and from related maladies brought on either by the disease itself, or by the chemo-therapy he has endured. While he has fought off the cancer for a long time, and soldiered bravely onward at VFR, his condition lately has worsened. Barring some sea change, his future here below seems at best bleak indeed.

It is time, and more than time, for all of us who owe him so much, and who hold him in such high regard, to do what we can to help him. So we of the Orthosphere have decided to organize a global vigil of massed intercessory prayer for him, using the web to propagate the effort as far and wide, and indeed as deep, as possible. Massed intercessory prayer has been the occasion of some truly remarkable events – not all of them physiological, by any means (and, for that matter, not all in the intended beneficiary of the prayer). Some background information may be found here.

If you wish to participate in the prayer, bless you; if you decide to use your own blogs, or email distribution lists, to spread the word, thanks. If you do, please ask respondents to post a notice of their intent to participate, as well as any comments or questions, at the Orthosphere. This will facilitate a coherent central conversation, give us all a sense of the size of the event as it builds momentum, answer frequently asked questions efficiently, and perhaps help us all learn more about prayer. The conversation can continue after the vigil; there is likely to be much to relate.

The vigil will happen in your time zone from 5:00 to 6:00 pm, Sunday, January 13. As evening falls, light a candle in an often used room, where those of your household will often see and take note of it. A burning flame is inherently interesting, and likely to be noticed. After you light the candle, and whenever you notice it again during the hour of the vigil, say a short prayer for Lawrence; something like this:

O LORD our Governor, whose help is in all the world, and by whom all things are made: bless now and keep thy servant Lawrence Auster, relieving him of all his troubles and travails, salving and healing all his wounds and illnesses, and restoring him to fullness of life in thee; and, at the last, call him home to everlasting joy in thy Heavenly Kingdom. All this I pray, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

Or, just:

O LORD, I pray thee bless, keep and heal thy servant, Lawrence. Amen.

Or, pray wordlessly. The form of the prayer is important only because it helps form the intention thereof.

It helps, in praying, to engage one’s whole body in the effort; for the engagement of the body tends to entrain the otherwise distractible mind. Bodily involvement is facilitated by bowing the head, and, especially at the invocation of the Name, by crossing oneself.

There is of course no reason why you should confine your prayers for Lawrence to the hour of the vigil, and indeed I hope that you do not. Feel free to pray for him this very moment, and continuously! But do save some special oomph, as it were, for the massed intercession of the vigil.

Thank you; and may God bless and keep all you who read this.

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What’s a Tradent?

In a contentious series of threads over at Lawrence Auster’s View from the Right, and in the midst of a very long comment on the imago dei, I used the word “tradent.” Now, normally Lawrence is quite stern with me, both about the length of my comments and about my use of obscure words. But this time, he graciously let both of my characteristic rhetorical foibles pass without comment, except to insert a bracketed question mark – a typographical cocked eyebrow – after my use of the unusual expression.

I think “tradent” might be useful to us. What does it mean? According to the OED, a tradent is, “the person who delivers or hands over any property to another.”

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The Good, the Real, & the Fake Economy

An exchange with Lawrence Auster about the possibility that the European Monetary Union might dissolve, and with it much of the impetus of the more general socialist project embodied in and effectuated by the EU, got me thinking about what would happen if the European or American government apparatus were simply to disappear. What would happen, in other words, if the whole thing were just to collapse? Sure, there would be a huge dislocation, millions of government workers thrown out of a job, etc. But, would it not also, after a while, usher in an era of much increased prosperity for the affected populations, in rather the same way that the collapse of Soviet style communism worked to the ultimate benefit of the East Germans, Czechs, and Russians?

This led me to some more general considerations.

There are three sectors of any economy: the portion of it that is good, the portion that is real, and the portion that is fake: the good economy, the real economy, and the fake economy, characterized by work and products that are good, real, or fake.

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The Righteous Liberal

Lawrence Auster raised a good question about my post on angry atheists:

I don’t understand where you get the idea that elite liberals feel personally extremely guilty for their own sins, and that this is the source of their inordinate anger and hatred against theists. There are many elite liberals who in their personal lives are responsible, decent, caring people living orderly and productive lives. Many of them are faithfully married and devoted to their families. Your portrayal of them as particularly bad sinners, and your theory that their hatred of theists comes from the fact that they, the liberal atheists, are particularly bad sinners and covering up an intense feeling of guilt, seem off the mark to me.

This got me thinking, so I tried to work it out a bit more carefully.

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Basic Readings on the Web

This is an incomplete list, and based largely on what I’ve personally found enlightening or interesting (I’ve even taken the liberty of including some of my own writings), so feel free to suggest additions.

On Liberalism and Modernity

On Conservatism and Tradition

On Particular Issues

On the Orthosphere