“The Myth of the Kindly General Lee” by Adam Serwer reminds me a little about how the theodicy is used to undermine the philosophical demonstrations for God. Arguments in favor of God existing include St. Thomas Aquinas’ Quinque Viae, St. Anselm of Canterbury’s Ontological Argument, and C. S. Lewis’s position that reason’s preeminence over matter points to a rational Being existing before the material universe. The theodicy or the problem of evil, aka the problem of pain, posits that an infinitely good, omnipotent and omniscient God could not permit evil in the universe. Since evil exists, God must lack goodness, omniscience, or omnipotence or not exist. At any rate, the Christian God who is omnipotent, omniscient, and all-holy cannot exist in such a universe, which is what those who argue for the theodicy go for.
The way in which the article above reminds me of this philosophical conundrum is that the theodicy does not actually undermine the traditional arguments for God. It talks about something else entirely and hopes by talking about something else entirely to make you think the traditional arguments somehow insufficient. Serwer relies exclusively on Elizabeth Brown Pryor’s Reading the Man: A Portrait of Robert E. Lee through his Letters. He’s apparently never read the major biographies of Robert E. Lee: Douglas Southall Freeman’s authoritative four volume biography, Emory Thomas’s work, or even Michael Korda’s Clouds of Glory. Nor has he likely read any primary source material not present in Pryor’s volume. I don’t see mention of John Esten Cooke, James Dabney McCabe, James Longstreet, or any other contemporaries who fought either alongside or against Lee and wrote about him. All of which goes to show that Serwer’s appraisal of Lee is very incomplete. This is very similar to how most criticism of Christopher Columbus is based on a letter written by his political rival, Francisco Bobadilla.
Today marks the 157th anniversary of the battle which ended Dixie’s hope to become its own country. Looking around at the looting and destruction occurring at major cities, one feels sorry that she did not succeed at Gettysburg. Yes, Union has provided countless blessings for all Americans and positioned the United States of America to extend the blessings of liberty around the world. Northern victory in the War Between the States also abolished America’s original sin of slavery.
Yet, Union has allowed Northerners to continually immigrate into the South, many bringing with them the poison of cultural Marxism and contempt for Southern culture. The South may very well be the most American section of the country, boasting historical figures like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Patrick Henry, and other important Founding Fathers. America would not be America without the South, and the monuments to the same above persons are those the mob most wants to destroy. And they are succeeding! I cannot but think that the American tradition of liberty might end soon, and Southern victory in the War Between the States might have enabled it to persevere forever in at least one section of the country.
At any rate, today I salute my gallant ancestors and their comrades who tried to secure their country’s independence. I even salute their gallant foes whose generosity in victory allowed the wounds of sectional strife to heal. I am especially sorry to see San Francisco’s Ulysses S. Grant statue toppled and vandalized by the mob. Grant had shortcomings both in the way he conducted the war and his presidency; yet, one cannot but feel grateful for him resisting the bloodlust of Radical Republicans after the war. When the Radicals called for the blood of Dixie’s generals and statesmen, Grant threatened to resign if the government annulled the surrender agreement he worked out at Appomattox Court House. The Savior of the Union won that argument.
I recently learned that a travesty will take place in Richmond, VA. The Governor of Virginia has okayed men to take down R. E. Lee’s statue from Monument Avenue. To remove the statue of one of the greatest Americans! O tempora! O mores! To think that one would live to see the day when Virginia was ruled by those who hate Virginians and the South!
To alleviate my frustration, I sent an e-mail to the governor’s office. I could not bring myself to refer to Northam as “honorable.” I read up on his bio and was surprised to learn that he was born and raised in Virginia and served in the U.S. Army as a doctor. One would not expect someone with such a past to support infanticide or the removal of the monuments of Virginia’s great men. At any rate, I cannot think of him as other than a Quisling.
Recently, I picked up the novel St. Elmo by Augusta Jane Evans. Part of me wonders whether it stands as the first harlequin romance-style novel, since it certainly has the woman-who-tames-savage-man plot. You might call it The Fifty Shades of Grey of the 19th century: this novel was the third bestselling novel of 19th century America behind Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Lew Wallace’s Ben-Hur. However, St. Elmo has a deeper understanding of tragedy and sorrow and is far more elevated than Fifty Shades of Grey.
So elevated, in fact, that most modern Americans can’t enjoy the book. The reviews on Goodreads revealed a common note of frustration with the Ciceronian periods, les belles lettres, and Classical and Medieval allusions. They put down the book rather than subject themselves to being tortured by someone with a Classical education for over 450 pages. That Americans are not given the same education as their ancestors places a barrier to enjoying the works of Western Civilization. And so, fewer and fewer people read Classic novels.
As far as superhero movies go, Logan does not fit the usual mold. The villain is not someone with superpowers. The action happens in everyday settings. Sections of cities do not collapse into rubble. The good guys are not flawless paragons of virtue. That last bit especially describes the disillusioned, alcoholic, and suicidal Wolverine, who tends to go by his real name of Logan in this picture.
The plot begins with Logan working as a chauffer on both sides of the Mexican border in order to pay for the aged Dr. Xavier’s medicine. Along with Logan, the X-man Caliban helps to keep Dr. Xavier in hiding: the authorities are looking for him because they fear lest Xavier lose control of his powers and cause the demise of untold millions.
The Catholic News Service offers some great help when deciding on a movie to watch. It essentially rates movies according to how well they adhere to decency and morality. I admit that I’m more likely to follow their recommendations when it comes to crassness and sex than violence. For example, I noted that they rated London has Fallen an O for “Morally Offensive,” but decided to watch it anyway.
In the case of Death Wish, I was surprised to find that not only was the remake rated O, but so were the original five movies starring Charles Bronson. This surprised me about as much as finding out that The Outlaw Josey Wales was rated O. In doing a little digging, I discovered that revenge and vigilantism sufficed to earn a film an O rating. Yet, the Death Wish remake does not glorify revenge and casts plenty of doubt on the righteousness of vigilantism.
The following does not count as a proper movie review. The film impressed me as mediocre. Up until the car chase scene, I felt bored enough to want to leave the theater. The movie improved somewhat thereafter, but not enough for the movie to stand out from other Marvel movies.
While pondering the film more deeply, I realized that I only liked two of the characters: Ulysses Klaue and M’Baku, the prince of Wakanda’s mountain tribe. My interest in them comes down to them being the only two characters who gave me a sense of propinquity, character, and interest. (Killmonger had the first two, but it’s hard for me to care about a black supremacist.) Most of the characters struck me as pretty dull: they lacked either propinquity (T’Challa) or character (Agent Ross). The African characters were too dignified and exotic for me to actually like.
Many young men are hooked on the lectures of the Canadian psychologist and professor of the University of Toronto, Dr. Jordan Peterson. A favorite meme associated with him is “Clean your room!” This pithy command encapsulates the idea that, though your life is a mess, you can start organizing the small things. By bringing order to the small things, you can eventually start branching out into larger things. By bringing order to the things around you, you can bring meaning to your life.
An American traditionalist like me is very happy to see that Peterson’s philosophy receives the attention it rightly deserves. But, as a patriot, I’d like to point out that America had its own Jordan Peterson: Peterson’s philosophy has a living portrait in the life and words of Booker T. Washington, a famous black educator and founder of the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. Peterson can explicate his philosophy of living with brilliant Jungian archetypes and examples from political thought and history. Washington came to much of the same philosophy of living through his life experiences.
Yesterday, I read a frustrating article in The Nation. Reading articles from the Progressive perspective is a good thing for conservatives; yet, after reading the article, one must conclude that it’s far better for Progressives to read about conservatism. (I almost wrote Liberal, but what of liberty is left in a mindset which denies freedom of speech, the right to self-defense, the freedom of association, and freedom of conscience? The rights of sodomy, infanticide, and white guilt hardly make up for those.) The article talks about toxic masculinity and tries to connect gun ownership and masculinity with Trump’s bellicose statements towards North Korea and the killer in Las Vegas. (There’s no need to remember the murderer’s name, and the only reason we’re still talking about him is because we want to know why he did it.) No connection exists between the mindsets of Donald Trump and the killer. Why does Joan Walsh, the writer at The Nation, consider both toxic?
With the concept of toxic masculinity, one would think this refers to masculine excess. Yet, what is excessive about Trump uniting the nations of the world against a deranged dictator? What is masculine about the killer in Las Vegas? The killer may have been bold, but this was the boldness of a demon, who deluges a soul with temptations until the sign of a cross or the presence of angels causes the fiend to flee. It is a cowardly boldness: as soon as the police barged into the killer’s hotel room, the coward killed himself.
With the rampant popularity of the movie Dunkirk, I want to express why I number among the small minority which did not care for the film. The reasons are no where near as silly as one reviewer’s complaint about the absence of blacks in the film. As a huge fan of WWII films (I was practically raised on Guadalcanal Diary, Hell to Eternity, The Enemy Below, and The Longest Day), I am actually happy that people like the movie. More and better WWII films will result from its popularity.
Most of my complaints derive from having read Churchill’s account of the Dunkirk evacuation and being such a WWII movie buff. I hope to highlight these problems below and then provide a list of some better WWII movies, all of which I have seen, which modern audiences might want to watch.
1) Lack of Characters
In watching the movie, it seems as though Nolan did not want any particular characters to stand out. The only persons names I remember learning were the civilians on their yacht who sailed to Dunkirk: George, Peter, and Mr. Dawson. But, even these do not seem so much individuals as types.