Happy birthday, Greg, master of the TrainYard!
I’m very excited to announce that I have a forthcoming book (sometime this fall) from Angelico Press.
BEYOND TENEBRAE: Christian Humanism IN THE TWILIGHT OF THE WEST.
(initial) table of contents if you’re interested:
PrefaceIntroduction: Beyond Tenebrae
Section I: Conserving Christian Humanism• Humanism: A Primer• Humanism: The Corruption of a Word• The Conservative Mind• Burke and Tocqueville• What to Conserve?• Conserving Humanism
Section II: Personalities and Groups• T.E. Hulme: First Conservative of the Twentieth Century• Irving Babbitt’s Longings• Irving Babbitt and the Buddha• The Christian Humanism of Paul Elmer More• The Order Men• Willa Cather• Canon B.I. Bell• The Conversion of Christopher Dawson• Christopher Dawson and the Liberal Arts• The Gray Eminence of Christopher Dawson• Nicholas Berdyaev’s Unorthodoxy• Theodor Haecker: Man of the West• The Inklings• Two Tolkiens, Not One• Sister Madeleva Wolff• Peacenik Prophet: Russell Kirk• St Russell of Mecosta• Eric Voegelin• Eric Voegelin’s Gnosticism• Eric Voegelin’s Order• Flannery O’Connor• Clyde Kilby• Friedrich Hayek’s Intellectual Lineage• Ray Bradbury at His End• Shirley Jackson’s Haunting• Wendelin E Basgall• Julitta Kuhn Basgall• Ronald Reagan’s Ten Words• The Optimism of Ronald Reagan• Walter Miller’s Augustinian Wasteland• Alexander Solzhenitsyn as Prophet• The Ferocity of Marvin O’Connell• The Good Humor of Ralph McInerny• The Beautiful Mess that is Margaret Atwood; Conclusion: Confusions and Hope
I’m very proud to announce our third publication for SPIRIT OF CECILIA books, SEEKING CHRISTENDOM: AN AUGUSTINIAN DEFENSE OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION.
This was a book–roughly 82,000 words–I wrote over Christmas break, 2002-2003, and then revised four times between 2003 and 2008. I wrote it in between writing the biographies of J.R.R. Tolkien and Christopher Dawson as a way to understand Christian Humanism. I wanted to know its scope as well as its limits, hoping to find something to move well beyond the simple and deceptive left-right spectrum.
Here’s the opening to the original version:
The nineteenth century witnessed the flourishing of progressivist thought in social relations, politics, religion, and biology. Everything was evolving, or so it seemed, toward the better. Smiles were more frequent, and lives just kept getting happier, as the citizens of the world were becoming one, homogenized, contented mass. The blessings of modernity entangled everything, East to West, claiming that no more perfect offerings needed to be made. Once properly educated and the childhood superstitions of the race outgrown, the prophets of modernity assured us, the masses collectively would speak as a god. In a word, according to intellectuals such as Bernard Shaw and H.G. Wells, it would soon be “utopian.”
It was a lie.
Modernity was a trap, and we were its greatest victims. We failed to resist, and it greedily fed on us. In democratic regimes, the brightly colored and candy-coated machines of bureaucracy and large corporations mechanized us, making us far less than human. In non-democratic regimes, the damage proved much worse, nearly irreparable. Beginning with the assassination of a relatively minor figure by an equally obscure terrorist group in 1914, the twentieth century drowned in its vast killing fields, gulags, holocaust camps, trench warfare, and weapons of mass destruction. Whether in the camps of the European or Asian ideologues, some humans, convinced of the righteousness of their cause, viewed all other human persons as nothing more than a collection of parts, ready to be dismembered and reassembled in a Picasso-esque fashion, or perhaps simply quartered and then quartered again. Armed with the ideological doctrines of fascism, National Socialism, and Communism, the twentieth-century became a century of the inverted vision of Ezekiel: wheels within wheels, endlessly spinning, the abyss ever expanding, ever within reach. All that was sacred became irrelevant. All who remained relevant were shot. And, the State and its faithful companion, War, demanded the sacrifice of much blood to the restored gods. Demos, Mars, and Leviathan became ascendant, taking possession of the field, and claiming victory, their appetites insatiable.
And, the Logos wept.
If you’re interested, here’s the link to the amazon Kindle version ($4.99). If you’re interested in a copy to review for a print or online publication, please let us know through the contact button.
Thanks! And, enjoy.
“Parking my motorcycle in front of a motel at the end of a long day on the road could certainly be sweet, like finally exhaling after holding my breath all day, but best of all was setting out in the morning. Whatever torments the night had brought; whatever weather the new day threw at me, when I loaded up the bike and swung my leg over the saddle, my whole perspective changed. Focus tightened into the mechanics and mentality of operating the machine, and awareness contracted to that demanding paradigm. As I let in the clutch and turned the throttle, my world-view expanded as i moved into a whole new paradigm of landscapes, highways and wildlife. Infinite possibilities” p42, Ghost Rider
Not just the perspective, Neil Peart manages to express the very exact thoughts, emotions and even words any long distance motorcyclist would have endured. Brought back very distinct memories, even though my own experiences are from a totally different part of the globe.
Album from the archives — circa 2008-2010.
Hello Readers of Spirit of Cecilia, believe it or not, I’m going to be self-promotional (shock, horror!). The publisher of my biographies of J.R.R. Tolkien and Charles Carroll of Carrollton, ISI Books, is currently offering each for 1/2 price. How great is that? Now, you can have your Shire and your Philadelphia!
Just imagine. Rather than a quote or a snippy comment, you actually get me at my thoughtful best (well, thoughtful most).
Yep, it’s Black Friday. And, for this deal, you not only DON’T have to leave your home, but you’ll ALSO get lots and lots of nutrition for the mind!
Right now, Tom is offering a Master membership to Liberty Classroom for only $287.
If you use the link below and purchase a LC Master membership, I (Brad) will happily and eagerly and joyfully send you a signed copy of IN DEFENSE OF ANDREW JACKSON as well as RUSSELL KIRK: AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE as my gift.
After you’ve purchased your membership with the link, let me know, and I’ll send the books to you. Make sure to let me how you want them inscribed.
To Tom! To Liberty! To Classrooms of the mind!
Named for St. Cecilia, patroness of music and the arts, this blog, Spirit of Cecilia, highlights music, art, poetry, fiction, history, biography, and film. These fields of enjoyment and expression are creative and interactive, requiring both a transmitter and a recipient to achieve their fullest potential and profoundest effects.
It’s my hope that these fields, which we might usefully and with slight reservation label the humanities, can accomplish far more than partisan politics to expand the frontiers of knowledge and deepen our understanding of ourselves as human beings created by an awesome God. Anger is not a constructive starting point for connecting with strangers or political opponents if the goal is mutual understanding. Hard logic puts strangers and political opponents on the defensive, causing them to question the logician’s motives and work through whatever problems and challenges the logician has presented. But aesthetics: they provide pleasure and the kind of sensory experience in which people of diverse backgrounds and beliefs share and delight. This is not a grand claim about the universality of standards of beauty but rather a plain statement about the obvious draw of humans to phenomena that stir in them strange and wonderful emotions, that cause them to think about the timeless questions that the greatest minds over the centuries have contemplated with differing degrees of gravity and intensity. The fact that we have music, art, poetry, fiction, history, biography, and film at all suggests a certain commonality among human likes and desires across places and cultures.
I am an administrator in a law school, a recovering lawyer you might say, who happens to have earned a doctorate in English. I am grateful to Dr. Bradley Birzer for including me as a contributor to the Spirit of Cecilia and have high hopes for what it can achieve. Life is difficult for everyone at some time or another. Wouldn’t it be great if this site were a forum where friendships are built, ideas are exchanged civilly and in good faith, and a profound awareness of our shared humanity served as the predicate for our interpretations and communications? I look forward to writing in this space. May it flourish.