Approaching Weathertop: Anatomy of a Scene ~ The Imaginative Conservative

In his personal recollections of his mentor, hero, and friend, George Sayer remembered that J.R.R. Tolkien possessed the uncanny ability to match his facial expressions and speech patterns to and with the prevailing mood of any given conversation. “As I sat with him and the Lewis brothers in the pub, I remember being fascinated by the expressions on his face, the way they changed to suit what he was saying,” Sayer recollected. “Often he was smiling, genial, or wore a pixy look. A few seconds later he might burst into savage scathing criticism, looking fierce and menacing. Then he might soon again become genial.”[1] It was not affectation, but sincere intensity. The very same might (and should) be claimed of his writing ability. When the mood calls for levity, Tolkien writes with levity. When the mood calls for depth, Tolkien writes with depth. When the mood calls for contemplation, Tolkien writes contemplatively. As a twentieth-century author, he was an absolute master at this.
— Read on

Guardini on God as Creator

“But the Christian God needs no world in order that He might be; subsisting alone He is sufficient until Himself.  The doctrine of creation most decisively reveals the power of God, the Infinite Sovereign.  The world was created out of nothing by the freedom of the Almighty Whose commanding Word gives to all things being and nature; of itself that world lacks any trace of internal necessity or external possibility.  This created universe is found only in the Bible.  Elsewhere the origin of the universe was always thought to have been mythical; either some formless chaos had evolved into the world or some divine power had fashioned it from an equally formless chaos.  The Revelation of Scripture contradicted all such myth: the world is created by a God Who does not have to create in order that He might be, nor does He need the elements of the world in order that He might create.” 


Common sense philosophy of Auld pop

THOMAS MUNRO, SR WITH HIS NEPHEW JIMMY QUIGLEY CIRCA JAN 1919 CONSTANTINOPLE WHILE SERVING WITH THE 1ST BATTALION ARGYLL AND SUTHERLAND HIGHLANDERS AND THE ALLIED ARMY OF OCCUPATION. Both men served from 1914-1919 without a serious wound after having seen much action including 36 days of continuous combat at 2nd Ypres.

Auld Pop had a philosophic attitude towards life. “Save your luck for when it counts. A man has only so much luck. Sooner or later you will roll snake eyes.” “This is the only life you have this side of paradise: be a leal n’ true mon (a man of honour)”. “A soldier will die for the Colours but no’ an extra two bob a day.” Pop, we used to say you have to stop smoking! He answered “Tha moral dhaoine anns a cladh a mhianniacheadh casad a bhith aca mar seo.” (“There’s mony a man in the cemetery that wad like to hae a cough like that!”
“Cuimhnich air na daoine bhon tainig tusa” REMEMBER THE PEOPLE YOU CAME FROM. Ne obliviscaris he said many times -his Regimental motto- DO NOT FORGET. Of people who were “feckless slackers” he would say, “Such a mon has nae poosh (no push; no ambition). He is good for naething at a’! except to be a parasite hanging aroond the kitchen.” If we complained he would say, “If THAT’S A’ ye hae to worry aboot, ye hae nae worries! Hiding in a dry cave in Gallipoli , low on ammunition and water wi’ Turks scream to cut off your heid…THAT’s WORRY!!” Auld Pop had a soft spot , naturally for the Red, White and Blue of Britain, but he was a naturalized American citizen (at age 50). During WWII he built Naval vessels and liberty ships (before WWI he built Naval ships on the Clyde.

Auld Pop used to say. ” You are lucky to be alive. Every new day is a gift. Lucky to have fresh water to drink and to wash. Lucky to have a roof over your head and tea at the boil. Lucky to have someone to love and to be loved by someone. Lucky to have hot soup for dinner. Lucky to have a job to do and lucky to have legs to walk to it. Lucky to have ears for music. Lucky to have a voice for talking. Lucky to have eyes to see. Lucky to have two arms and two hands and all ten fingers. Lucky to have a dollar or two in your pocket. Lucky to see a new generation growing. Lucky to see Old Glory flying. Lucky to have had a good ride. When the evening comes. and there is peace on every hill glad to have lived. And , yes when the evening comes how peaceful will be our sleep for we saw not the sacred flame extinguished. We saw not the Colours lowered in our time.”


A wonderful message that my friend Richard Munro shared about his grandfather, Thomas Munro: RULES FOR SURVIVING THE GREAT WAR (1914-1919).

He wore a kilt (with a canvass cover) every day for almost five years. He used to kill bugs that crawled up his legs with his cigarettes; he said it took practice to burn the bugs off with out burning yourself. He also said tobacco smoke helped keep the bugs away. Auld Pop was a quiet man but touch not that cat but with a glove. He had killed his first man at age 10 with a Martini-Henry rifle (a Sumatran Pirate); He and his mates killed so many Germans they literally lost count. Once they killed about 50 Germans in less than 10 minutes wiped out a whole platoon before they got off a single shot. It was not for nothing the Germans called them the “Ladies from Hell”.

Thomas Munro, Sr fourth from right Constantinople January 1919

Auld Pop: When goin’ over the top, furrst, stan’ behind the tallest man or the broadest tree. Aye (always), a guid thing tae do!

ASH January 1919 Constantinople

2nd Shoot true; dae untae others before they dae untae you! 30 rounds a minute wi’ yer Enfield for the Jairmans an’ 20 for the Turk -15 for the Buggers (Bulgarians).

3rd When carrying boxes o’ provisions bring at least one Webley pistol, prrreferrably two, fully loaded. Aye, the Jairman’s no liked THAT!

4th always carry a bayonet an’ a sgian dubh (the dagger traditionally carried by Highlanders in their sock) in yer leggin’s. Just a wee bit extra for close up warrrk.

5th Eat when ye can and boil yer tea.

6th Make nice with the Dins (Indian Soldiers); you never know when they will hold yer flank. Chai lao! (Bring tea!)

7th take cover and pray like hell during a artillery bombardment.

8th never volunteer for anything; just do your job and stand by yer mates.

9th never smoke at night while on watch. NEVER.

10th Think o’ hame, think o’ your mates, think o’ your loved ones an’ thank God when it’s all over.

REPEAT #1 and #2 and #7 as often as possible!!!

I asked him what the British Army did with near-eyed soldiers who needed glasses. He said, “Och, we pit (put) them in the front lines for a closer “luke” (look)!!!!

Thomas Munro , Sr Dec 22 1886 -June 9, 1962 Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders August 1914-May 1919 (Constantinople), MM 2nd Ypres.
The Dins (Indian Soldiers of the 27th Division) called him “Chang Dhost” (the Good Comrade) and Changa Gori Spahis (“The Good White Soldier”). The Jocks of the Ants (Company A) called him “Pops” or Auld Pops, Later Auld Pop.

At one point he saw 36 days of continuous combat on the Western Front experiencing almost daily bombardments and hand to hand combat with the Germans as well as witnessing the first poison gas attack in history. They had only urine-soaked handkerchiefs for protection. In April-May 1915 he lost many of his relatives, in-laws and best friends as well as his first Company Commander in the 1st Battalion Captain Dick MacDonald Porteous (KIA May 10 , 1915). He saw action at Gallipoli, Salonika and the Struma Valley. Only three men in his company were on active service by Armistice day; everyone else was killed or invalided out due to serious wounds.

The Argylls, alone suffered 7,131 killed and over 25,000 casualties. NE OBLIVISCARIS not forget.

organic metaphors and the west

“The reason for this is simple and statement, massive and theoretical implication. The future does not lie in the present. Nor did the present, as we know it, ever lie in the past. What is at issue here is a whole, wide-ranging, encompassing habit of mind, one that has been deep in Western thought ever since the pre-Socratic Greeks made the momentous analogy between the biological organism and social structure, declaring that his growth isn’t in alienable attribute of organismic structure, so change — that is a ‘natural’ pattern of change needing only to be described by the sociologists as the lifecycle of growth is described by the biologist — is an inalienable part of the structure of whatever social system we may have in view at any given moment. We have all around us, today has in the days of the organism intoxicated Greeks, is the spell of the metaphor of growth. Closely associated is another metaphor: the metaphor of genealogy. This is of more interest to historians, and has been since the time of Thucydides, that it usually is to the growth fascinated sociologists and economists and political scientists. Here we are dealing with the imagined genealogical linkage of events, acts and personages in history.”

–Robert Nisbet, The Making of Modern Society, pp. 84-85.

the cure at 40

Curaetion. Well worth owning. Trust me!

As noted recently on Spirit of Cecilia, The Cure are on the verge of releasing three new albums. Robert Smith revealed this in an interview with a New Music Express affiliate. Exciting news. Indeed, somewhat astounding news, especially given that the band hasn’t released anything since 2008. When Smith goes into the studio, he clearly means to make the most of it.

Last year, though, Smith gave us a three-disk deluxe set of The Cure’s 1990 remix album, MIXED UP, unquestionably announcing that the band is VERY much alive and well. The music, especially, holds up well.

Just last week, The Cure released its massive eight disks (two blu ray, two DVD, and four CD) of live material, CURAETION, all recorded in in 2018 to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the band.

What’s astounding to me is that the band sounds as good as it’s ever sounded, and this is saying something special. After all, this is a band that has been audiophiliac from album 1. That forty years on they can still sound so amazing (crisp, intense, meaningful) really does speak volumes about the band.

I’ve been a hardcore fan since JAPANESE WHISPERS first appeared in 1983.

While I don’t mind (not in the least) the wackier, sillier, poppier side of The Cure (for example, “Friday I’m in Love”), I have always preferred the band’s darker side. DISINTEGRATION is still a top-ten album for me, whatever music genre we’re discussing. To me, DISINTEGRATION is every bit as prog-gy as CLOSE TO THE EDGE.

Regardless, I highly recommend CURAETION. You’ll have to choose between a variety of sets, but choose you must. Well worth it. I went whole hog and bought the 2 blu-ray set as well as the 2DVD/4CD set. And, yes, I’m a happy man.

It’s Saturday, and I’m in love again.

“Beowulf” and the Men of the Twilight ~ The Imaginative Conservative

J.R.R. Tolkien’s numerous—and now, thankfully, available—lectures on the medieval epic poem, Beowulf, pop as well as dazzle his audience in fascinating ways. No sentence is without insight, and no paragraph is without some unique revelation about Beowulf’s significance and relevance—to his world and to our own. The poem is not only perfectly coherent as a poem and as a story, but it was also written by “a single hand and mind.”[1] Drawing upon the work of his friend and fellow parishioner, Christopher Dawson, Tolkien thought the poet a member of the first generation of Christian converts, written at “the time of that great outburst of missionary enterprise which fired all England,” having at the end of the enterprise, the greatest of all Englishman, St. Boniface.[2]
— Read on

The Radical Equality of Christianity ~ The Imaginative Conservative

In our world of recriminating hatreds—in which we desire more to label those we don’t like as sexist, imperialist, racist, homophobic, transphobic, and, simultaneously, mark ourselves as victims—we often forget some important historical truths. Here’s one we conveniently ignore, dismiss, or mock: Nothing in the world has brought about more equality and justice than has the Christian religion.

To be sure, various paganisms—such as the Heraclitan Logos, Socratic ethics, and Stoic philosophy—had sought the universal as well. Each, however, hit understandable walls of resistance and fierce competition from non-egalitarian Gnostic systems.

Christianity, however, was the first to achieve a proper, just, and serious equality in any radical and meaningful way.
— Read on

The Noble Pagan ~ The Imaginative Conservative

Given its epic nature, the Beowulf poem also drew from other mythologies circulating in its own time: the Roman Aeneid; the Norse Volsunga; and the Germanic Niebelungleid. Even the pagans, after all, believed in evil and the eternal death of the damned. There was, in summary, a sort of fusion of many things.
— Read on

approaching our first birthday

Well, birthdays all around!

XTC as Dukes. Does it get much better? Yes, Steven Wilson as Porcupine Tree remixes.

Tomorrow, our wonderful poet-in-residence, Kevin McCormick, is turning 52. Just a good deck of cards.

On November 22, the website turns one. How great is this? Too great, to be sure.

Very recently, some excellent music has shown up in the Spirit of Cecilia mailbox. New Flower Kings, new Cure (well, new live Cure), new Elbow, new old Peter Gabriel, and new old Dukes of Stratosphear. Some new Bruce Soord, too. A blessing of riches. If all goes well, Glass Hammer’s remixed and renewed LEX REX should show up tomorrow.

Reviews forthcoming. . .

And, of course, expect great pieces from Tad, Erik, Mahesh, Richard, and Alex and others! All to the good.