Terrific piece by Rabbi Moffic:
My friend, Randy Newman, recommended this essay to me. I am very interested in writers like Thoreau and Emerson. A revealing piece!
Why, given his hypocrisy, sanctimony, and misanthropy, has Thoreau been so cherished?
HT: Micah Mattix’s excellent email blast, Prufrock
Two “much food for thought” insights from the article above:
Adam Smith spoke of “the man of system” who “seems to imagine that he can arrange the different members of a great society with as much ease as the hand arranges the different pieces upon a chess-board.” [Richard] Thaler and his benevolent friends are men, and some few women, of system. They hate the Chicago School, have never heard of the Austrian School, dismiss spontaneous order, and favor bossing people around—for their own good, understand. Employing the third most unbelievable sentence in English (the other two are “The check is in the mail” and “Of course I’ll respect you in the morning”), they declare cheerily, “We’re from the government and we’re here to help.”
The great essayist Lionel Trilling wrote in 1950 that the danger is that “we who are liberal and progressive know that the poor are our equals in every sense except that of being equal to us.” The same may be said of Burkeans or conservatives, too. He also wrote that “we must be aware of the dangers that lie in our most generous wishes,” because “when once we have made our fellow men the object of our enlightened interest [we] go on to make them the objects of our pity, then of our wisdom, ultimately of our coercion.”
From C.S. Lewis:
“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be “cured” against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.”
No, it is not in Philadelphia! Doreen and I spent a wonderful day in Newport, RI during our time of study at Yale. Here is a terrific overview of Newport and the library:
Perhaps you have noticed that the book icon for Pooping Elephants, Mowing Weeds: What Business Gurus Failed to Tell You does not take you to Amazon. Well, that shall soon be remedied. Pooping Elephants, Mowing Weeds…will be released this March in ebook format for less than two bucks.
This was a fun and gratifying ebook to write. Like many ebooks, it is short at about 7,500 words. I believe it offers some needed perspective, especially for those who are in the business community.
Patrick Deneen has a very important question for David Brooks. The whole piece is terrific:
There are about half a dozen Civil War experts that I listen to on a regular basis. Here are two of them. A wonderful conversation and what an education!
In my Amazon review of John Lukacs terrific book I wrote:
If all historians wrote like Lukacs, more people would read history. Insightful and full of practical implications. I enjoyed my reread of this fine book as much as the initial time through.
So here are poignant and penetrating reflections from the author of one of my favorite books, Five Days in London: May 1940
There are many things to like about this book, no matter which one of the big three traditions (Roman Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox) you belong to.
Chaput is a lucid writer who has clearly done his homework. His book ranges over many significant thinkers, past and present. His analysis of our cultural moment is sobering, but never gloomy. He well understands the indispensable virtue of Christian hope.
I read Dreher’s The Benedict Option, but find Chaput’s approach much more in keeping with the entire record of Scripture.
An occupational danger for anyone who regularly speaks in public is to overreach and say something (with presumed authority) about a subject one has not adequately studied. General Kelly is the latest example of this, but he will be followed by many making the same mistake.
For a correction to General Kelly’s comments see Professor Caleb McDaniel:
HT: John Fea