Category Archives: Republic of Letters

When In Gotham . . . | Front Porch Republic

So far as the politics of our debased republic go, the mid-twentieth century quarrel of the leftist C. Wright Mills with his liberal critics comes to mind.  Said Mills by way of response to their demand for what he acidly termed “A Balanced View”: “I feel no need for, and perhaps am incapable of arranging for you, a lyric upsurge, a cheerful little pat on the moral back.”2  In our pitiable circumstance, we all, whether we’re making policy or casting votes, face nothing more immediately hopeful than prudential choices for compromised parties, positions, and politicians—which is not to say that all such options are equal.  We have real choices to make.  To my mind, the most urgent political action today centers on our systemic needs: protecting and promoting (negatively) the separation of powers and (positively) citizen rule.  Such a stance at least will keep us, whatever our take on globalism, from succumbing to nationalist fantasies of repristinated bliss.
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Home and Hearth: A Cautionary Christmas with Washington Irving ~ The Imaginative Conservative

Washington Irving has been credited with inspiring the romantic revival of Christmas in America. But does romanticizing the holiday and its trappings carry with it a moral danger? (essay by Christine Norvell)
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The Weird Thrillers Bundle, curated by Kevin J. Anderson: Just when you thought it was safe to go back to your e-reader! I’ve curated an innovative new StoryBundle, imaginative thrillers, each with a fantasy twist, some funny, some nail-biting, all enjoyable.

As always with, you get a lot of books and you name your own price—in this case (of strange cases!) you’ll receive 14 novels for as little as $15. A portion of the income goes directly to a wonderful charity, and the rest is split among indie authors.
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I’m always up for supporting Kevin J. Anderson, our greatest living sci-fi author.

Presidential Libraries: Treason to a Republic ~ The Imaginative Conservative

Presidential libraries symbolize so much that is wrong about our present-day republic: abuse, corruption, and decadence. For my money, a presidential library is treason, bribery, and a high crime and misdemeanor. A real republican leads because he is needed. When he is done, he does not ask for a monument. (essay by Bradley Birzer)
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[Full confession–I have a honorific from the Reagan Presidential Library, so I’m being a bit hypocritical]

Our Presidents Have Become God-kings

If we still had a republic, we would NEVER have allowed the kind of ceremony that disgraced the very essence of the Constitution yesterday.

It’s one thing to honor a worthy man for his service, it’s another to bury him as a god-king.

Without getting into his politics, George Bush seems to have been a good father and grandfather. Certainly, his service in World War II against the Japanese imperialists was extraordinary.

But, in the end, he was just a man. And, if a republican, he should have departed as once did Cincinnatus.

President Andrew Jackson even refused a simple monument, noting that real republicans die in peace, not in stone.

Sadly, yesterday’s pageant had far more in common with Caesar than with Cicero. Disgusting and abhorrent.

The Embodied Person as Gift ~ The Imaginative Conservative

First principle. The soul is “the principle of unity of the human being, whereby it exists as a whole—corpore et anima unus—as a person” (Veritatis splendor, 48). “It is in the unity of body and soul that the person is the subject of his… acts” (VS, 48). “The human person cannot be reduced to a freedom which is self-designing, but entails a particular spiritual and bodily structure” (VS, 48).

These statements, first of all, affirm the unity of the human being as a dual, or differentiated, unity of body and soul.
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Advent “is a time for being deeply shaken…”

(Image: Alex Gindin |

Advent is perhaps my favorite season of the liturgical year. One reason is that I knew nothing of Advent while growing up as a Fundamentalist—there was Christmas and Easter, and really nothing else to mark any sort of sacred day or season (that would have been “Romanish” and “pagan”). The irony, I suppose, is that we, as Fundamentalists were quite obsessed with the End Times, readily seeking out signs of impending apocalypse in a world moving from one fatalistic sign of doom to the next. And Advent is a season intimately connected with eschatology, judgment, and apocalypse, even while it is also rooted in the Incarnation, joyful anticipation, and eternal hope. In that way it readily demonstrates the “eschatological tension” reflected upon by St. John Paul II in his final encyclical, Ecclesia de Eucharistia (2003), which delves deeply into the Eucharistic character of the Church and the Kingdom. 

The reflections below were written in 2006, and have been lightly edited for this posting. 

Preparing To Meet the Lord: Reflections on the Readings for Advent

An advent, of course, is a coming; the word means “to come to.” Advent anticipates the coming–or comings–of the Son of Man: in his Incarnation two thousand years ago, in his future return in glory, and in the mystery of the sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “When the Church celebrates the liturgy of Advent each year, she makes present this ancient expectancy of the Messiah, for by sharing in the long preparation for the Saviour’s first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for his second coming” (CCC 524). Simply put, Advent is about being prepared to meet Christ–not on our terms, but on His terms. By preparing us to meet the tiny Incarnate Word of God lying in a manger, Advent also directs our hearts and minds toward the return of that child as glorious King and Lord of all. 

In a book of reflections titled Seek That Which Is Above, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger wrote that the purpose of Advent is “to awaken the most profound and basic emotional memory within us, namely, the memory of God who became a child. This is a healing memory; it brings hope.” Later, he states that Advent is also about shaking off spiritual slumber and sloth: “So Advent means getting up, being awake, emerging out of sleep and darkness.” In Advent of the Heart, a collection of sermons and prison writings, the priest and martyr Fr. Alfred Delp contemplates Advent from a similar perspective. “Advent,” he writes, “is a time for being deeply shaken, so that man will wake up to himself. … It is precisely in the severity of this awakening, in the helplessness of coming to consciousness, in the wretchedness of experiencing our limitations that the golden threads running between Heaven and earth during this season reach us; the threads that give the world a hint of the abundance to which it is called, the abundance of which it is capable.” 

Advent is marked by anticipation, contemplation, joy, conversion, discernment, repentance, hope, faith, and–last but never least–charity. The readings for this Advent (cycle C) aptly reflect all of this, always within the context of historical events and realities involving men and women who face difficulties and struggles similar to those that confront us today. Here, then, are seven themes and/or persons who have stood out to me as I have studied and contemplated the readings for Sunday liturgies during this Advent season. 

Supreme Court & Affirmative Action: Call It Racial Discrimination | National Review

Harvard’s racial and ethnic balancing is the poisonous fruit of the Supreme Court’s jurisprudence on race and affirmative action. And higher education isn’t the only place where racism rears its ugly head. Take the drawing of districts for congressional elections, especially the practice of gerrymandering, whereby legislatures create electoral maps to maximize their party’s advantages. The Supreme Court has injected itself into this most political of activities, one that the Constitution explicitly assigns to state legislatures and whose politically partisan use is as old as the Constitution itself (the word “gerrymander” itself comes from Elbridge Gerry’s drawing of a Massachusetts state-senate district that resembled a salamander; Gerry was a signer of the Declaration of Independence, a delegate to the Constitutional Convention, and a contributor to the first Judiciary Act and the Bill of Rights). Historically, Southern state legislatures used gerrymandering to reduce the voting strength of racial minorities, particularly African Americans. But now the Supreme Court has allowed the federal government and states to consider race in drawing voting districts designed to maximize the voting strengths of racial groups.
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