Exploring Dante’s Florence: A City Recalls its Exiled Poet | National Review

So we weren’t just tourists in Florence. We were Dante tourists. We made a point of walking down Via Dante Alighieri. We ate at restaurants with names like Trattoria Pizzeria Dante and Ristorante Dante e Beatrice. We made like geeks when we came across inscriptions of Dante’s words on the sides of buildings. (The Dante Plaques, a booklet by Foresto Niccolai, describes 34 of these inscriptions, mounted around the city in 1907 and still prominent today.) My wife would whip out her phone, open her Kindle app, and look up the reference.
— Read on www.nationalreview.com/2019/01/florence-italy-art-architecture-poet-dante-alighieri/

Cuba, 60 Years On — Misery Is Communism’s Only Real Legacy | Investor’s Business Daily

Today the Revolution continues to be a police state that brutally represses any form of dissidence, and its reforms have yielded nothing but failure. As the well-respected economist Carmelo Mesa-Lago has shown, the private sector represents no more than 7% of GDP. The country is severely undercapitalized (gross capital formation is one half of Latin America’s average); and agricultural and industrial production has shrunk in the last decade. The island’s largest source of foreign exchange continues to be the export of professional services, that grotesque euphemism
— Read on www.investors.com/politics/commentary/cuba-castro-communism-misery/

Understanding Evangelicalism: A Primer

Evangelicalism has played an important role in American society for hundreds of years, and today “evangelicals” remain an influential voting bloc. The term “evangelical” is thrown around a lot in historical scholarship and political rhetoric, but its meaning is less clear than most people imagine. Twenty-first century evangelicalism shares some tenets with evangelicalism of years past, and it has changed in other ways. If we are going to understand evangelicalism’s impact on society and politics, we need to try to understand what exactly it is and where it came from.

I’m not going to get into specific leaders or institutions known for their influence on contemporary evangelicalism. That would require delving into the countless parachurch organizations, leaders, churches, radio stations, colleges, seminaries, etc. Evangelicals are interconnected yet fundamentally decentralized. Thus, it would be very difficult to make sense of that aspect of the movement (if it can even be called a movement) in a blog post. Rather, I’ll speak generally about fundamental beliefs and concepts that broadly describe evangelicals.

D. G. Hart’s Deconstructing Evangelicalism and Mark Noll’s The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind are good places to start if you are interested in this topic and want to know more about contemporary evangelicalism. John Fea recently wrote a book called Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump. This book may shed light upon current trends in evangelicalism, but I haven’t read it, so I can’t say for sure.

Continue reading Understanding Evangelicalism: A Primer

What Anti-Semites and Pro-Abortionists Have in Common ~ The Imaginative Conservative

The Nazis also systematically exterminated children with Down syndrome, regardless of their race. In similar fashion and with the same crassly inhuman spirit, children with Down syndrome are being systematically exterminated in the womb in almost every so-called “developed” nation. In the United States, Planned Parenthood is at the forefront of this genocide.

The government of Iceland even boasted that it had eradicated Down syndrome completely through the simple expedient of exterminating every child who had it. This “final solution” to the problem of Down’s was lauded by the Icelandic government as proof of its progressive credentials
— Read on theimaginativeconservative.org/2019/01/what-anti-semites-pro-abortionists-have-common-joseph-pearce.html

Spreading the Good Word of Prog

Tony Rowsick, the host of my favorite music podcast, Prog-Watch, invited me to be a “Guest DJ” on the latest episode (#603). I had a really hard time narrowing my choices down to four songs, but I eventually settled on ones by U.K., Big Big Train (of course!), Sanguine Hum, and Glass Hammer.

You can stream the episode here, or catch it via iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, etc. ( Just search for Prog-Watch)

If you are a lover of prog rock, then you need to subscribe to Prog-Watch. I have discovered more great artists through Tony’s show than any other source. He is also an excellent interviewer of prog’s biggest stars as well as up and coming ones. It comes out weekly, and it is well worth the time spent listening. As Tony would say, “Until next time, be good to each other, and Prog On, my brothers and sisters!”

Tim Morse III (Album Review)

Tim Morse, Tim Morse III (Cymbalick Music, 2018). Tracks: Wake Up; Labyrinth; The Marquis; The Path; The Mary Celeste; My Ally; and Circle/Talisman.

For any one who has followed progressive rock over the past twenty-plus years, the name Tim Morse means something.  Something very good.  Something very special.  Not only is Morse the author of one of the very best books ever published about Yes—Yes Stories: Yes In Their Own Words—but he’s a serious and truly gifted musician in his own right.

His latest cd, Tim Morse III, is nothing but a delight and a pleasure.  Morse is, to put it at its most basic, classy.  He has taste.  A lot of it. 

True to prog, he can jump from style to style as well, all with elegance and ease.  Tim Morse III has hints of Yes, Big Big Train, Lifesigns, Genesis, Glass Hammer, Steely Dan, Dave Brubeck, and others. When he needs a keyboard jam, there’s a keyboard jam. When he needs a guitar to soar, the guitar soars. While his vocal range isn’t huge, it’s quite solid, and he knows how to use his voice to its best. Heck, he even gives us cow bell on track six, the wonderfully nostalgic “My Ally.”

Most importantly, though, it’s clear that Morse loves what he does.  There’s an infectious optimism to his music that is absent in so much recent prog music. Without naming names, too many musicians have gone down the path of cynicism, outrage, and naval gazing. In short, they have become obsessed with their own worries and fears, calling their bloviatings about politics, art. It’s not, and it’s a sad moment in prog history.

Even when Morse is dark—such as on the second track, “Labyrinth,” or on the fifth track, “The Mary Celeste”—he doesn’t leave the listener there. We see the darkness, maybe even experience it, and, then, we move on.  The themes of this album are not some unrelenting and unremitting tenebrous existence but but a life of joy, forgiveness, love, and redemption.

Frankly, having spent way too much time over the last six months watching the news cycle and the social media circus that devolves from it, I’m finding Tim Morse III a breath of alpine air, clear, cool, and wholesome.

Actually, to be even more blunt, Morse’s music makes me want to be a better father, a better professor, and a better writer.

Being Christopher Dawson’s Friend ~ The Imaginative Conservative

Though he might very well have been the most important Christian Humanist intellectual of the twentieth century, Christopher Dawson (1889-1970) certainly did not possess the easiest of lives. His mother rejected him when he converted to Roman Catholicism in 1914, and he suffered from severe anxiety, depression, mania, insomnia, and extreme self-doubt his entire adult life. At times, when he lectured, he grew so nervous that his wife would have to take over the talk, speaking for him. She was “tall and beautiful with unaffected charm,” Tom Burns reminisced. “She ministered to husband, family and their guest with an easy devotion.” Indeed, without his vivacious and loving wife, Valerie, it’s not clear just how Dawson would’ve survived adulthood. Had he been born several generations later, he would’ve been probably been diagnosed with some kind of disorder, and he’d most likely be heavily medicated—on Paxil, Xanax, and Ambien.
— Read on theimaginativeconservative.org/2019/01/being-christopher-dawson-friend-bradley-birzer.html

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