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A lover of the liberal arts, especially antiquity in its diverse forms, I am nonetheless wholly devoted to, utterly transformed by divine revelation. I seek to know the thought of the past, articulate my deepest longings aroused by the wise, and understand the uneasy relationship between reason and revelation; all for the sake of proper action and contemplation, both now and in the future.


Politics From Cicero

Those who propose to take charge of the affairs of government should not fail to remember two of Plato's rules: first, to keep the good of the people so clearly in view that regardless of their own interests they will make their every action conform to that; second, to care for the welfare of the whole body politic and not in serving the interests of some one party to betray the rest. For the administration of the government, like the office of a trustee must be conducted for the benefit of those entrusted to one's care, not of those to whom it is entrusted. Now, those who care for the interests of a part of the citizens and neglect another part, introduce into the civil service a dangerous element — dissension and party strife. The result is that some are found to be loyal supporters of the democratic, others of the aristocratic party, and few of the nation as a whole.

All this the citizen who is patriotic, brave, and worthy of a leading place in the state will shun with abhorrence; he will dedicate himself unreservedly to his country, without aiming at influence or power for himself; and he will devote himself to the state in its entirety in such a way as to further the interests of all. Besides, he will not expose anyone to hatred or disrepute by groundless charges. but he will surely cleave to justice and honour so closely that he will submit to any loss, however heavy, rather than be untrue to them, and will face death itself rather than renounce them. {87} A most wretched custom, assuredly, is our electioneering and scrambling for office. Concerning this also we find a fine thought in Plato: "Those who compete against one another," he says, "to see which of two candidates shall administer the government, are like sailors quarrelling as to which one of them shall do the steering." And he likewise lays down the rule that we should regard only those as adversaries who take up arms against the state, not those who strive to have the government administered according to their convictions.


At Two Hundred Yards I Thought She Was Gorgeous

'Twas the Fourth of July I read in the paper
A circus from Kansas had pulled into town
Now elephants had always kind of intrigued me
And I hadn't seen a woman in a month and a half.

A feller gets crazy in a bachelor quarters
And wishes to gaze on a woman or two
And so I forsook all the boss' fine heifers
And went to the circus alas and alack.

At two hundred yards I thought she was gorgeous
She looked like a mermaid with long golden hair
Somehow I missed the tattoo on her shoulder
And that she weighed in close to three hundred pounds.

I should have looked closer before I embraced her
It never occurred to me that she might have
The hairiest armpits in Ockletree County
I really goofed up there alas and alack.

I guess that some lasses ain't wild about cowboys
Who sneak up behind 'em and kiss on their face
In any event though she screamed like a panther
And messed up my jaw with a wicked left hook.

I sure 'nough was shocked that she had that big husband
A wrestler in fact with a bone in his nose
Before he was finished I really looked forward
To seeing my heifers alas and alack.

I'm warning you boys who stay on them ranches
A circus is no place for fellers like us
There's something about all the glittering costumes
That makes a poor cowboy go out of his mind.

Beware of the women with big ugly husbands
Especially that one with a bone in his nose
In courting a lass...a lack of good judgment
Can shorten your lifespan alas and alack.


Aurea Mediocritas

I have long considered what constitutes the mean. There many things from which the Christian is called to abstain completely, and many things which are permitted in moderation. I have no wish for excess in anything; the Christian (and the philosopher) is forbidden to indulge beyond the mean. Furthermore, this mean is different for everyone. The amount of food I eat the constitutes the mean is a lot for a 10-year old, but insufficient for someone like Michael Phelps.

Mostly I think about the questionable pleasures: tobacco and alcohol. Alcohol is not forbidden to Christians; we may enjoy it moderately without fear. I would argue that smoking is similar. Addiction is forbidden to Christians but I see no harm in G.K. Chesterton smoking a cigar or me having a cigarette. However, God speaks and relates to all men differently. He may not require a friend of mine to abstain from smoking, but he may tell me not to. My Question: How do I know what things are forbidden to me and which are not? I am beginning to get the feeling I should quit smoking, at least for the time being. Going clean might be fun. On the other hand, it could be that I am merely not enjoying it as well as I did before; also a reason to quit; why engage in a detrimental habit that produces no enjoyment? These two reasons (perhaps the second is a product of the first) make me think about smoking. I am not sure I would pick up roll-your-owns as an alternative; they taste great (I had one about 45 seconds ago) but are far worse though the enjoyment they produce is much better.

I am close to quitting. We'll see how this goes. Maybe I'll go completely clean (no alcohol or tobacco) but alcohol is a separate matter since I consume it illegally. I will think further along these lines and make a decision soon.


In Which I Contemplate Politics

"Of all tyrannies a tyranny exercised for the good of its victim may be the most oppressive. It may 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."

C. S. Lewis wrote those fine words; truer and finer political words have seldom been written.

I do not care for democracy. Rule of the mob, even indirect rule of the mob (representative republic, current U.S. Government) will never effect Justice. Neither political candidate will deliver us, not even the one treated like the Messiah (and they're serious, too. I haven't seen such devotion to a political candidate before and it's troubling), for they are both moral busybodies.

Aristocracy has a bad rap, but ever since reading The Republic, Gorgias, Politics, and Thucydides, "rule of the best" seems more and more attractive to me. In our modern world, maybe something like a strong constitutional monarchy, for it is far easier to have one strong virtuous ruler than have 300 million strong, virtuous citizens.

I have the cynicism of youth, not the idolization of cause like most college students flocking after Obama like the rest of the sheeple. I have had it with a two-party system; neither Republicans or Democrats have the right vision with respect to this country and I am sick of politics. I'm through. My last political action will be to throw in a useless vote in November. Finis.

President Bush addresses the fucking nation!?If you aren't getting it already... this financial crisis is fucking armaggeddon.The next to go are the biggest banks in the world. Citigroup, Bank of America, Wachovia.I predicted this was going to be a society altering event, I will be proven right. Shit is going to be bad, and then the cultural misallocations are going to reveal themselves. The final gasp will be the police state, followed by a new order, whatever it may be.The end result of free market interference is ALWAYS Rome. Degree and therefore time are the only variables.

Just to clarify, that was Kaizen, not me. I'm saving that so I can mock him when Armageddon doesn't hit.


On Jacob's Relationship to God

On Jacob’s Relationship with God
Timothy Davis
Sophomore Language, Mr. Pihas
And Iacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keepe me in this way that I goe, and will giue me bread to eate, and raiment to put on, so that I come againe to my fathers house in peace: then shall the LORD be my God.” [1][2]
And Iacob said, O God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac, the LORD which saidst vnto me, Returne vnto thy countrey, and to thy kinred, and I will deale well with thee: I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the trueth, which thou hast shewed vnto thy seruant: for with my staffe I passe ouer this Iordan, and now I am become two bands. Deliuer me, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau: for I feare him, lest he will come, and smite me, and the mother with the children. And thou sadist, I will surely doe thee good, and make thy seed as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbred for multitude.”[3]
In these two passages we have very different prayers to God. The former is confident and brief, as though Jacob is addressing an equal; the second is far longer, intimate, humble, and desperate. What are the ways that Jacob has changed between these two prayers and how does it affect his relationship to his God?
Jacob’s early years are privileged. God informs Rebekah that the elder son (Esau) will serve the younger (Jacob), and Jacob is Rebekah’s favorite child.[4] He is a confident, self-assured character when we first meet him, tricking his careless brother out of his birthright by means of a bargain that would make Odysseus proud. He is skilled in trickery and deception (even his name means “supplanter”) and since he is the weaker of the two, relies upon intellect and tricks to achieve his ends. This early confidence climaxes when he steals Esau’s blessing and deceives Isaac at Rebekah’s urging. He flees Esau to save his life and journeys towards Padan Aram to marry. Though he has no wealth and wanders alone, he has great reason to be confident; Isaac’s God has chosen him to seed Abraham’s descendents and be a great nation. Isaac has blessed him to be prosperous wherever and whenever he acts. Thus when he experiences a vision of God at Bethel he manifests his pride by making a vow which is more reminiscent of a business contract than a man doing homage to his Creator. He is conscious of his poverty and stipulates that if God will enrich him, he will serve God and even return to God some of his wealth.[5] This last clause is his first spiritually mature act and gives us hope that he will not always be arrogant.
The first blow to Jacob’s pride is Laban; a man whose intellect and craft are equal to his own. Laban exploits Jacob’s passion for Rachel so that Jacob is tricked into marrying Leah and serving him for fourteen years.[6] To our surprise, Jacob does little more than protest Laban’s deception; once he marries Rachel, he bears seven years of service without complaint as far as we know. But it is important to note that from the very beginning of Laban’s interaction with Jacob, Jacob is no longer in control. Back home with his parents and Esau, there was no question that Jacob was the crafty and clever one; he led and Esau followed. But now Laban has the initiative and Jacob is the one who is forced to adjust; Laban has wrested control over him which must certainly surprise him, and God now enters into the dispute which is the second blow to Jacob’s supposed invincibility.
Jacob never intended to marry Leah, and thus loves Rachel far more than she. God apparently sees this as unjust and permits Leah to bear many children while keeping Rachel from conceiving. A quarrel between the two sisters ensues and Jacob is in the middle, forced to deal with familial conflict after creating so much of his own. His tricks are unable to save him from domestic troubles and he again is not the dictator of events; he is passive, accepting Rachel’s leadership in taking Bilhah for a wife (a favor he gives Leah as well). His four wives bear many children but Jacob is not the leader and was unable to gain the upper hand in either this predicament or in his trials with Laban.
And his trials with Laban are only beginning. Jacob has now served Laban for more than fourteen years and God has blessed his efforts, for Laban’s flocks are more prosperous than he ever could have made them and he surely knows Jacob’s administrative talent. He is greedy for more wealth at the hands of Jacob and even agrees to pay Jacob for his work. A game of cat-and-mouse erupts between the two, as both trick each other as quickly as they can, Laban changing Jacob’s wages and Jacob practicing one-sided selective breeding to give himself the best cattle and shortchanging his uncle. But either because Jacob’s wit has finally mastered Laban’s, or God has blessed him, Jacob grows exceedingly rich in cattle and servants. He realizes that Laban’s attitude towards him has darkened, and at a word from God, he flees back to his homeland.
Jacob has now become confident again, but not solely for his own talent. He recognizes that God blessed him in his duel with Laban and this gives Jacob the courage to confront him, who gives pursuit, and even though he assumes a humble stance in the argument, it is clear he does not fear his uncle. God forbids Laban to harm Jacob, and once again, the latter has persevered. He has shown tenacity and growth for twenty years and has gained a larger perspective on his place in the world. Confident in his own ability still, he nonetheless grants God a higher place in the causes for his success.
All of this changes in chapter thirty-two, when Jacob returns towards Canaan. He immediately assumes a humble stance towards Esau, no longer thinking himself the better of the two or superior. But his messengers return saying Esau comes with four hundred men, and Jacob is petrified in terror, thinking his brother to be attacking him. His intellect and trickery cannot save him from his perceived doom, and it is now when he acknowledges God’s hand in enriching him, sending his desperate, intimate plea to God for salvation; it is here that the contrast between the two prayers is starkest. The first is clear and succinct: terms are expressly laid out and the relationship is clear: God will interact with Jacob on Jacob’s terms. But here, Jacob indulges in prose poetry in his lengthy appeal for mercy, humbling himself contrary to his nature, fully acknowledging his success to be from God, who has kept his side of the bargain, blessing him with wealth. He ends his prayer with a call of remembrance, reminding God that he will be made a great nation. No longer bargaining, Jacob is begging God to have mercy on him and remember the promises made at Bethel. The end of this petition is the opposite of the first: God would approach Jacob on God’s terms; the prayer was one-sided. Now the prayer is still one-sided but the roles have changed; God will interact with Jacob on God’s terms. Jacob knows this and therefore has humbled himself, waiting (and possibly not expecting) for God to answer. God’s answer to Jacob’s prayer is in the form of a contest:
…and there wrestled a man with him, vntill the breaking of the day. And when he saw, that he preuailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh: and of the hollow of Iacobs thigh was out of ioynt, as he wrestled with him. And he said, Let me goe, for the day breaketh: and he said, I will not let thee goe, except thou blesse me.[7]
By fighting and maintaining indomitable will, Jacob ultimately finds favor with God, for he refuses to yield even when injured, and even though God has the “upper hand”, Jacob is able to drive a bargain with the man whom he has fought to a draw. What is it about Jacob’s endurance during trial that allows him to gain God’s blessing? Is it endurance as endurance simply, or is there something particular about this endurance? One possible answer is that Jacob’s prayer represents a real change of heart from his previous “bargain” oath at Bethel, and that he is newly committed to placing the future in God’s hands but will not flag in his own mortal efforts to effect his desired ends, even when his wealth, his family, and himself is mortally threatened by his brother. Perhaps it is this will, this courage to continue in his affairs despite placing hope in God that paradoxically wins him divine favor, for if he had not shown humility and sought God with the proper heart it is doubtful that he would have been delivered.
Jacob crosses the river towards Esau a new man. He has wrestled with God and prevailed, been blessed, and given a new name. He is becoming a faithful servant of God and a great patriarch. The seeds of a new faith, built on holy fear and trembling, rather than bargains, have been sewn and the rise of God’s chosen people has begun; all because Jacob’s excesses of pride and deception have mellowed into a richer submission to the will of God. It is in his recognizing and submitting to this will that God’s covenant with him will be fulfilled.

[1] Genesis 28:20-21
[2] All quotations come from the 1611 King James Version, Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody MA, 2008
[3] Genesis 32:9-12
[4] Genesis 25:23, 28
[5] Genesis 28:20-22
[6] Genesis 29:15-30
[7] Genesis 32:24-26

Studying Greek at 5AM

Yeah, I'm back to 5AM Greek sessions. Remember those times in Fe, when I'd stay up till 3AM learning that darn Luschnig? Well it paid off and now I can sleep instead if I get up at five to finish my translation. And speaking of translation, it's getting easier. I still hate Sophocles (Don't tell Maxine), but with the aid of Lenore the Lexicon and the occasional peek at Perseus (everyone uses it here but it feels like cheating!!), I do okay:

(Lines 255-268)
οὐδ᾽ εἰ γὰρ ἦν τὸ πρᾶγμα μὴ θεήλατον,
ἀκάθαρτον ὑμᾶς εἰκὸς ἦν οὕτως ἐᾶν,
ἀνδρός γ᾽ ἀρίστου βασιλέως τ᾽ ὀλωλότος,
ἀλλ᾽ ἐξερευνᾶν: νῦν δ᾽ ἐπεὶ κυρῶ γ᾽ ἐγὼ
ἔχων μὲν ἀρχὰς ἃς ἐκεῖνος εἶχε πρίν,
260ἔχων δὲ λέκτρα καὶ γυναῖχ᾽ ὁμόσπορον,
κοινῶν τε παίδων κοίν᾽ ἄν, εἰ κείνῳ γένος
μὴ 'δυστύχησεν, ἦν ἂν ἐκπεφυκότα:
νῦν δ᾽ ἐς τὸ κείνου κρᾶτ᾽ ἐνήλαθ᾽ ἡ τύχη:
ἀνθ᾽ ὧν ἐγὼ τάδ᾽, ὡσπερεὶ τοὐμοῦ πατρός,
265ὑπερμαχοῦμαι κἀπὶ πᾶν ἀφίξομαι,
ζητῶν τὸν αὐτόχειρα τοῦ φόνου λαβεῖν,
τῷ Λαβδακείῳ παιδὶ Πολυδώρου τε καὶ
τοῦ πρόσθε Κάδμου τοῦ πάλαι τ᾽ Ἀγήνορος.

Even if this was a deed not driven on by a god,
It would not be proper for you to leave it, uncleansed,
since a good man has been destroyed, a king. Search it out.
Now, since I hold the power which he held previously,
and hold the bed and wife he sewed together
we would have common things of common children,
if his race had not been unfortunate, who would have been born
(but as it is, fortune leapt upon his head)
Because of these things I will fight as though he were my father,
I shall go to all things, seeking with my own hand to grasp the murderer
of the son of Labdakos and [the son of] Polydoros and before him
of Kadmus and of ancient Agenor.

What do you think?


God Is Not Fair

No, nothing wrong happened to me. I am just peachy. In fact, I'm tremendous. I have a job and all the money I need, will finish sophomore year with enough money (as it looks now, at least), and have a likely summer job prepared. Everything is progressing like a charm. In short, I lead a blessed life. But apparently, I'm the only one of my friends who does, for almost everyone I know has had it rough. They've had to take years off school, don't have enough money, get doors slammed in their faces, and plain old struggle. Why does God choose to bless me beyond belief and let them struggle this way? I'm no better than anyone else, why was I chosen? Why can't he bless them as well?

I don't know how weird it is to almost feel guilty about my own success while everyone I know struggles, but there you are. Friends are trying to make enough money to pay for food and I struggle over selecting seminar readings I want to buy; Anslem? Augustine? Shakespeare?

It's frustrating, really, hearing about the troubles that plague them and being almost helpless to respond beyond prayer. I pray, of course, but I want to do more than that; I want to do something on the material plane.

I am dualistic at this point; I thank God for his blessings and pray they continue but I want my friends to have the same blessings. Is it childish to say that it's not fair? What plan does the Almighty have? I wish I knew.


Finding Guns on the Lord's Day

I have begun thinking about firearms I want to purchase when I turn twenty-one. I will most likely carry one with me on campus despite the fierce ban on guns here.

I want a 9mm handgun (probably a Beretta), a revolver, and a shotgun to start me off. I'm leaning towards the 92FS Inox, which is about seven hundred dollars, the Smith & Wesson 686 (eight, nine hundred dollars) and an 18" Remington 870 Marine Magnum (five hundred dollars). I'll get a rifle sometime after that, probably an AR-15. or something of that caliber. Also I need to learn to properly and efficiently operate, clean, and train with firearms.

The first item I would purchase is probably the Beretta, just because of its practicability in self-defense. Then the shotgun (home defense), S&W, and finally the rifle, since I don't have much use for rifles (don't hunt, and bad people I need to put down will be right in front of me).

Now I just need an extra twenty-seven hundred dollars.


Rediscovery of Sappho.

I have rediscovered Sappho's Hymn to Aphrodite. Memories of Mr. Pagano's Greek class, unite!

Ποικιλόθρον᾽ ὰθάνατ᾽ ᾽Αφροδιτα,
παῖ Δίοσ, δολόπλοκε, λίσσομαί σε
μή μ᾽ ἄσαισι μήτ᾽ ὀνίαισι δάμνα,
πότνια, θῦμον.

ἀλλά τυίδ᾽ ἔλθ᾽, αἴποτα κἀτέρωτα
τᾶσ ἔμασ αύδωσ αἴοισα πήλγι
ἔκλυεσ πάτροσ δὲ δόμον λίποισα
χρύσιον ἦλθεσ

ἄρμ᾽ ὐποζεύξαια, κάλοι δέ σ᾽ ἆγον
ὤκεεσ στροῦθοι περὶ γᾶσ μελαίνασ
πύκνα δινεῦντεσ πτέῤ ἀπ᾽ ὠράνω
αἴθεροσ διὰ μέσσω.

αῖψα δ᾽ ἐχίκοντο, σὺ δ᾽, ὦ μάσαιρα
μειδιάσαισ᾽ ἀθάνατῳ προσώπῳ,
ἤρἐ ὄττι δηὖτε πέπονθα κὤττι
δἦγτε κάλημι

κὤττι μοι μάλιστα θέλω γένεσθαι
μαινόλᾳ θύμῳ, τίνα δηὖτε πείθω
μαῖσ ἄγην ἐσ σὰν φιλότατα τίσ τ, ὦ
Πσάπφ᾽, ἀδίκηει;

καὶ γάρ αἰ φεύγει, ταχέωσ διώξει,
αἰ δὲ δῶρα μὴ δέκετ ἀλλά δώσει,
αἰ δὲ μὴ φίλει ταχέωσ φιλήσει,
κωὐκ ἐθέλοισα.

ἔλθε μοι καὶ νῦν, χαλεπᾶν δὲ λῦσον
ἐκ μερίμναν ὄσσα δέ μοι τέλεσσαι
θῦμοσ ἰμμέρρει τέλεσον, σὐ δ᾽ αὔτα
σύμμαχοσ ἔσσο.


Wisdom From Mr. Tansey.

"The heliocentric model of the universe had been taught in Europe for a century prior to the Galileo trial without censure. Galileo's defense lawyers were Jesuit priests (famous or infamous, depending on your perspective, for their fanatical loyalty to the Church). Copernicus was a Catholic monk.

Galileo got in trouble because he was quite arrogant and he presumed himself fit to lecture learned theologians on matters of scripture. It had nothing to do with his scientific theories (which, btw, he could not prove at the time)"

I intend to verify these statements. I have long suspected this but hesitated to argue it.


Constructive Critique of the Barn

It has been a blessing and a privilege to work as a wrangler this summer with the horses; riding, training, taking care of them, and teaching campers to do the same in addition to developing their own love and admiration for these magnificent creatures. I believe the barn fulfills an essential niche in the HoneyRock program for its use of live animals in an activity area; for when campers are at the barn, they ride half-ton living, breathing creatures, and not something man-made. Because horses are unpredictable and exciting animals, they force campers to interact with the natural world and nature’s laws in ways which the other activities do not require.

I purpose to outline my summer experience as a wrangler and highlight those things which in my opinion went well and also which things need to be improved or changed.

The wrangler summer began the second week of May and we received roughly four to six weeks of training, first from the Ranch Coordinator and then from the Certified Horsemanship Association clinic. This training was helpful even for the most talented barn staff and absolutely essential for us wranglers who were less experienced in riding or teaching. Of particular value was the CHA clinic, which trained us in teaching horsemanship skills to campers of various ages and skill levels. As a more inexperienced rider and a green instructor, I was exceptionally benefited by the clinic and was well-prepared to teach campers to ride. The clinic also gives the Ranch Coordinator flexibility when hiring staff, for in the event that recruiting seven highly skilled rider-instructors is impossible, she can draw upon a larger pool of willing but less skilled applicants who, when trained, provide competent instructors for the barn.

The time spent training the wranglers and developing group cohesion enabled us to work as a team and built the foundation of a friendly and professional summer. Staff rides and excursions or overnight trips were valued highly and kept the staff motivated through the camper sessions.

The position of Head Wrangler needs to be either significantly altered or discarded. Previously, the positions of Head Wrangler and Ranch Coordinator were divorced; the Head Wrangler ran the day-to-day routine of the barn and the Ranch Coordinator took charge of the administrative aspects of the barn such as herd size, feed, facilities, maintenance, etc. But the current position of Ranch Coordinator has married the two and therefore their relationship is vague and redundant. If the Head Wrangler position is retained, it should be far more of a supportive role (i.e. “ranch coordinator assistant”) than the Head of the Barn that it was four years ago.

I come now to the most important subject of this reflection: the herd. Maintaining a horse program creates unique challenges for the HoneyRock administration. Horses have a limited lifespan in which they can effectively work and a limited workday. Currently, the HoneyRock herd is too small for the tasks it is asked to perform. We have 20 saddle horses that are usable for trail riding and arena work, and they are asked to work ten hours a day, six days a week. They cannot work this hard and remain the high-quality animals that we require, for they are not automations; they are living beings who cannot work as a boat can work, and they become overworked just as people do.

When a horse is overworked it ceases to listen to the cues of a new rider and becomes obstinate and grumpy. Horses such as these are extremely detrimental to the camper’s barn experience and frustrate (sometimes to the point of tears) both camper and instructor. Furthermore, wranglers cannot condition overworked horses, and for lack of training, once-fine mounts become surly and unreliable. This has been demonstrated this summer as horses that were wonderful for Basic students cease to listen the moment a new rider is placed on their back. The horse program is meant to be challenging and fun, but it is neither when a horse ceases to listen to a student of any skill level.

There is also the problem of age. Almost half the herd is over the age of twenty (which corresponds to roughly sixty of our years), and they will soon need to be retired from the barn program and replaced.

In light of these two issues facing the herd, the size of the herd should be increased by at least six, bringing the number of usable saddle horses to twenty-six. The new horses should be as dependable and as young as possible – well under the age of ten. This increase would permit each horse in the herd to have every third day off and allow for accidents such as lameness or soreness. The herd should also be kept as young as practical, for young, willing mounts provide a far richer experience for campers than tired, old nags that refuse to go faster than a walk.

Finally, the HoneyRock administration should consult the Ranch Coordinator for advice or recommendations whenever it makes decisions concerning the barn and use her insight as much as possible. She knows the barn, the horses, and the camper program very well and her experience as Ranch Coordinator is invaluable to the administration.


The Beginning of the End

My time here in the North Woods is drawing to a close. I have been a wrangler for the past two and a half months and now I work in the kitchen, in the AM shift. After working so long with Boss-Lady and Rebekah in the barn, working in the kitchen feels artificial and forced. But I am fairly convinced that this feeling exists only because I made a transition. No doubt that I will feel a little artificial when I drive out to Annapolis in three weeks. Surely in the next day or so I will feel completely at home (and maybe be able to ride Montana again before I leave HoneyRock) washing dishes and helping out in the bakery. But I know it is the beginning of the end - not the end of the beginning, as Mr. Churchill might say.

This has been a most excellent summer - I could not have chosen a better place to earn money for the fall - and I am well aware of what a blessing it has been. I have had a lot of time to read, practice, and think to myself. I have been able to think a lot about iffy-ness and what it could possibly mean. I have been heavily tested with respect to my future decisions and the implications that they could have on me. I am little more sure about the future now than I was three months ago, but I feel much more comfortable with whatever it holds.

If I remember, I will post some anonymous poetry up here; a friend of mine wrote the most amazing bitter love poems ever last week and they're far too precious to fade into obscurity. Given my fierce celibacy, you can imagine how wonderfully I enjoyed them.



Hauled Aboard the Ark - Peter Kreeft

I was born into a loving, believing community, a Protestant "mother church" (the Reformed Church) which, though it had not for me the fullness of the faith, had strong and genuine piety. I believed, mainly because of the good example of my parents and my church. The faith of my parents, Sunday School teachers, ministers, and relatives made a real difference to their lives, a difference big enough to compensate for many shortcomings. "Love covers a multitude of sins."

I was taught what C. S. Lewis calls "mere Christianity," essentially the Bible. But no one reads the Bible as an extraterrestrial or an angel; our church community provides the colored glasses through which we read, and the framework, or horizon, or limits within which we understand. My "glasses" were of Dutch Reformed Calvinist construction, and my limiting framework stopped very far short of anything "Catholic!' The Catholic Church was regarded with utmost suspicion. In the world of the forties and fifties in which I grew up, that suspicion may have been equally reciprocated by most Catholics. Each group believed that most of the other group were probably on the road to hell. Christian ecumenism and understanding has made astonishing strides since then.

Dutch Calvinists, like most conservative Protestants, sincerely believed that Catholicism was not only heresy but idolatry; that Catholics worshipped the Church, the Pope, Mary, saints, images, and who knows what else; that the Church had added some inane "traditions of men" to the Word of God, traditions and doctrines that obviously contradicted it (how could they not see this? I wondered); and, most important of all, that Catholics believed "another gospel;' another religion, that they didn't even know how to get to Heaven: they tried to pile up brownie points with God with their good works, trying to work their way in instead of trusting in Jesus as their Savior. They never read the Bible, obviously.

I was never taught to hate Catholics, but to pity them and to fear their errors. I learned a serious concern for truth that to this day I find sadly missing in many Catholic circles. The typical Calvinist anti-Catholic attitude I knew was not so much prejudice, judgment with no concern for evidence, but judgment based on apparent and false evidence: sincere mistakes rather than dishonest rationalizations.

Though I thought it pagan rather than Christian, the richness and mystery of Catholicism fascinated me—the dimensions which avant-garde liturgists have been dismantling since the Silly Sixties. (When God saw that the Church in America lacked persecutions, he sent them liturgists.)

The first independent idea about religion I ever remember thinking was a question I asked my father, an elder in the church, a good and wise and holy man. I was amazed that he couldn't answer it. "Why do we Calvinists have the whole truth and no one else? We're so few. How could God leave the rest of the world in error? Especially the rest of the Christian churches?" Since no good answer seemed forthcoming, I then came to the explosive conclusion that the truth about God was more mysterious—more wonderfully and uncomfortably mysterious—than anything any of us could ever fully comprehend. (Calvinists would not deny that, but they do not usually teach it either. They are strong on God's "sovereignty," but weak on the richness of God's mystery.) That conviction, that the truth is always infinitely more than anyone can have, has not diminished. Not even all the infallible creeds are a container for all that is God.

I also realized at a very young age, obscurely but strongly, that the truth about God had to be far simpler than I had been taught, as well as far more complex and mysterious. I remember surprising my father with this realization (which was certainly because of God's grace rather than my intelligence, for I was only about eight, I think): "Dad, everything we learn in church and everything in the Bible comes down to just one thing, doesn't it? There's only one thing we have to worry about, isn't there?" "Why, no, I don't see that. There are many things. What do you mean?" "I mean that all God wants us to do—all the time—is to ask Him what He wants us to do, and then do it. That covers everything, doesn't it? Instead of asking ourselves, ask God!' Surprised, my father replied, "You know, you're right!'

After eight years of public elementary school, my parents offered me a choice between two high schools: public or Christian (Calvinist), and I chose the latter, even though it meant leaving old friends. Eastern Christian High School was run by a sister denomination, the Christian Reformed Church. Asking myself now why I made that choice, I cannot say. Providence often works in obscurity. I was not a remarkably religious kid, and loved the New York Giants baseball team with considerable more passion and less guilt than I loved God.

I won an essay contest in high school with a meditation on Dostoyevski's story "The Grand Inquisitor;" interpreted as an anti-Catholic, anti-authoritarian cautionary tale. The Church, like Communism, seemed a great, dark, totalitarian threat.

I then went to Calvin College, the Christian Reformed college which has such a great influence for its small size and provincial locale (Grand Rapids, Michigan) because it takes both its faith and its scholarship very seriously. I registered as a pre-seminary student because, though I did not think I was personally "called" by God to be a clergyman, I thought I might "give it a try." I was deeply impressed by the caption under a picture of Christ on the cross: "This is what I did for thee. What will you do for Me?"

But in college I quickly fell in love with English, and then Philosophy, and thus twice changed my major. Both subjects were widening my appreciation of the history of Western civilization and therefore of things Catholic. The first serious doubt about my anti-Catholic beliefs was planted in my mind by my roommate, who was becoming an Anglican: "Why don't Protestants pray to saints? There's nothing wrong in you asking me to pray for you, is there? Why not ask the dead, then, if we believe they're alive with God in Heaven, part of the 'great cloud of witnesses' that surrounds us (Hebrews 12)?" It was the first serious question I had absolutely no answer to, and that bothered me. I attended Anglican liturgy with my roommate and was enthralled by the same things that captivated Tom Howard (see his essay in this volume) and many others: not just the aesthetic beauty but the full-ness, the solidity, the moreness of it all.

I remember a church service I went to while at Calvin, in the Wealthy Street Baptist Temple (fundamentalist). I had never heard such faith and conviction, such joy in the music, such love of Jesus. I needed to focus my aroused love of God on an object. But God is invisible, and we are not angels. There was no religious object in the church. It was a bare, Protestant church; images were "idols." I suddenly understood why Protestants were so subjectivistic: their love of God had no visible object to focus it. The living water welling up from within had no material riverbed, no shores, to direct its flow to the far divine sea. It rushed back upon itself and became a pool of froth.

Then I caught sight of a Catholic spy in the Protestant camp: a gold cross atop the pole of the church flag. Adoring Christ required using that symbol. The alternative was the froth. My gratitude to the Catholic Church for this one relic, this remnant, of her riches, was immense. For this good Protestant water to flow, there had to be Catholic aqueducts. To change the metaphor, I had been told that reliance on external things was a "crutch!' I now realized that I was a cripple. And I thanked the Catholic "hospital" (that's what the Church is) for responding to my needs.

Perhaps, I thought, these good Protestant people could worship like angels, but I could not. Then I realized that they couldn't either. Their ears were using crutches but not their eyes. They used beautiful hymns, for which I would gladly exchange the new, flat, unmusical, wimpy "liturgical responses" no one sings in our masses—their audible imagery is their crutch. I think that in Heaven, Protestants will teach Catholics to sing and Catholics will teach Protestants to dance and sculpt.

I developed a strong intellectual and aesthetic love for things medieval: Gregorian chant, Gothic architecture, Thomistic philosophy, illuminated manuscripts, etc. I felt vaguely guilty about it, for that was the Catholic era. I thought I could separate these legitimate cultural forms from the "dangerous" Catholic essence, as the modern Church separated the essence from these discarded forms. Yet I saw a natural connection.

Then one summer, on the beach at Ocean Grove, New Jersey, I read St. John of the Cross. I did not understand much of it, but I knew, with undeniable certainty, that here was reality, something as massive and positive as a mountain range. I felt as if I had just come out of a small, comfortable cave, in which I had lived all my life, and found that there was an unsuspected world outside of incredible dimensions. Above all, the dimensions were those of holiness, goodness, purity of heart, obedience to the first and greatest commandment, willing God's will, the one absolute I had discovered, at the age of eight. I was very far from saintly, but that did not prevent me from fascinated admiration from afar; the valley dweller appreciates the height of the mountain more than the dweller on the foothills. I read other Catholic saints and mystics, and discovered the same reality there, however different the style (even St. Thérèse "The Little Flower"!) I felt sure it was the same reality I had learned to love from my parents and teachers, only a far deeper version of it. It did not seem alien and other. It was not another religion but the adult version of my own.

Then in a church history class at Calvin a professor gave me a way to investigate the claims of the Catholic Church on my own. The essential claim is historical: that Christ founded the Catholic Church, that there is historical continuity. If that were true, I would have to be a Catholic out of obedience to my one absolute, the will of my Lord. The teacher explained the Protestant belief. He said that Catholics accuse we who are Protestants of going back only to Luther and Calvin; but this is not true; we go back to Christ. Christ had never intended a Catholic-style Church, but a Protestant-style one. The Catholic additions to the simple, Protestant-style New Testament church had grown up gradually in the Middle Ages like barnacles on the hull of a ship, and the Protestant Reformers had merely scraped off the barnacles, the alien, pagan accretions. The Catholics, on the other hand, believed that Christ established the Church Catholic from the start, and that the doctrines and practices that Protestants saw as barnacles were, in fact, the very living and inseparable parts of the planks and beams of the ship.

I thought this made the Catholic claim empirically testable, and I wanted to test it because I was worried by this time about my dangerous interest in things Catholic. Half of me wanted to discover it was the true Church (that was the more adventurous half); the other half wanted to prove it false (that was the comfortable half). My adventurous half rejoiced when I discovered in the early Church such Catholic elements as the centrality of the Eucharist, the Real Presence, prayers to saints, devotion to Mary, an insistence on visible unity, and apostolic succession. Furthermore, the Church Fathers just "smelled" more Catholic than Protestant, especially St. Augustine, my personal favorite and a hero to most Protestants too. It seemed very obvious that if Augustine or Jerome or Ignatius of Antioch or Anthony of the Desert, or Justin Martyr, or Clement of Alexandria, or Athanasius were alive today they would be Catholics, not Protestants.

The issue of the Church's historical roots was crucial to me, for the thing I had found in the Catholic Church and in no Protestant church was simply this: the massive historical fact that there she is, majestic and unsinkable. It was the same old seaworthy ship, the Noah's ark that Jesus had commissioned. It was like discovering not an accurate picture of the ark, or even a real relic of its wood, but the whole ark itself, still sailing unscathed on the seas of history! It was like a fairy tale come true, like a "myth become fact;' to use C. S. Lewis' formula for the Incarnation.

The parallel between Christ and Church, Incarnation and Church history, goes still further. I thought, just as Jesus made a claim about His identity that forces us into one of only two camps, His enemies or His worshippers, those who call Him liar and those who call Him Lord; so the Catholic Church's claim to be the one true Church, the Church Christ founded, forces us to say either that this is the most arrogant, blasphemous and wicked claim imaginable, if it is not true, or else that she is just what she claims to be. Just as Jesus stood out as the absolute exception to all other human teachers in claiming to be more than human and more than a teacher, so the Catholic Church stood out above all other denominations in claiming to be not merely a denomination, but the Body of Christ incarnate, infallible, one, and holy, presenting the really present Christ in her Eucharist. I could never rest in a comfortable, respectable ecumenical halfway house of measured admiration from a distance. I had to shout either "Crucify her!" or "Hosanna!" if I could not love and believe her, honesty forced me to despise and fight her.

But I could not despise her. The beauty and sanctity and wisdom of her, like that of Christ, prevented me from calling her liar or lunatic, just as it prevented me from calling Christ that. But simple logic offered then one and only one other option: this must be the Church my Lord provided for me—my Lord, for me. So she had better become my Church if He is my Lord.

There were many strands in the rope that hauled me aboard the ark, though this one—the Church's claim to be the one Church historically founded by Christ—was the central and deciding one. The book that more than any other decided it for me was Ronald Knox's The Belief of Catholics. He and Chesterton "spoke with authority, and not as the scribes!' Even C. S. Lewis, the darling of Protestant Evangelicals, "smelled" Catholic most of the time. A recent book by a Calvinist author I went to high school with, John Beversluis, mercilessly tries to tear all Lewis' arguments to shreds; but Lewis is left without a scratch and Beversluis comes out looking like an atheist. Lewis is the only author I ever have read whom I thought I could completely trust and completely understand. But he believed in Purgatory, the Real Presence in the Eucharist, and not Total Depravity. He was no Calvinist. In fact, he was a medieval.

William Harry Jellema, the greatest teacher I ever knew, though a Calvinist, showed me what I can only call the Catholic vision of the history of philosophy, embracing the Greek and medieval tradition and the view of reason it assumed, a thick rather than a thin one. Technically this was "realism" (Aquinas) as vs. "nominalism" (Ockham and Luther). Commonsensically, it meant wisdom rather than mere logical consistency, insight rather than mere calculation. I saw Protestant theology as infected with shallow nominalism and Descartes' narrow scientificization of reason.

A second and related difference is that Catholics, like their Greek and medieval teachers, still believed that reason was essentially reliable, not utterly untrustworthy because fallen. We make mistakes in using it, yes. There are "noetic effects of sin," yes. But the instrument is reliable. Only our misuse of it is not.

This is connected with a third difference. For Catholics, reason is not just subjective but objective; reason is not our artificial little man-made rules for our own subjective thought processes or intersubjective communications, but a window on the world. And not just the material world, but form, order, objective truth. Reason was from God. All truth was God's truth. When Plato or Socrates knew the truth, the logos, they knew Christ, unless John lies in chapter 1 of his gospel. I gave a chapel speech at Calvin calling Socrates a "common-grace Christian" and unwittingly scandalized the powers that be. They still remember it, 30 years later.

The only person who almost kept me Protestant was Kierkegaard. Not Calvin or Luther. Their denial of free will made human choice a sham game of predestined dice. Kierkegaard offered a brilliant, consistent alternative to Catholicism, but such a quirkily individualistic one, such a pessimistic and antirational one, that he was incompletely human. He could hold a candle to Augustine and Aquinas, I thought—the only Protestant thinker I ever found who could—but he was only the rebel in the ark, while they were the family, Noah's sons.

But if Catholic dogma contradicted Scripture or itself at any point, I could not believe it. I explored all the cases of claimed contradiction and found each to he a Protestant misunderstanding. No matter how morally bad the Church had gotten in the Renaissance, it never taught heresy. I was impressed with its very hypocrisy: even when it didn't raise its practice to its preaching, it never lowered its preaching to its practice. Hypocrisy, someone said, is the tribute vice pays to virtue.

I was impressed by the argument that "the Church wrote the Bible:" Christianity was preached by the Church before the New Testament was written—that is simply a historical fact. It is also a fact that the apostles wrote the New Testament and the Church canonized it, deciding which books were divinely inspired. I knew, from logic and common sense, that a cause can never be less than its effect. You can't give what you don't have. If the Church has no divine inspiration and no infallibility, no divine authority, then neither can the New Testament. Protestantism logically entails Modernism. I had to be either a Catholic or a Modernist. That decided it; that was like saying I had to be either a patriot or a traitor.

One afternoon I knelt alone in my room and prayed God would decide for me, for I am good at thinking but bad at acting, like Hamlet. Unexpectedly, I seemed to sense my heroes Augustine and Aquinas and thousands of other saints and sages calling out to me from the great ark, "Come aboard! We are really here. We still live. Join us. Here is the Body of Christ." I said Yes. My intellect and feelings had long been conquered; the will is the last to surrender.

One crucial issue remained to be resolved: Justification by Faith, the central bone of contention of the Reformation. Luther was obviously right here: the doctrine is dearly taught in Romans and Galatians. If the Catholic Church teaches "another gospel" of salvation by works, then it teaches fundamental heresy. I found here however another case of misunderstanding. I read in Aquinas' Summa on grace, and the decrees of the Council of Trent, and found them just as strong on grace as Luther or Calvin. I was overjoyed to find that the Catholic Church had read the Bible too! At Heaven's gate our entrance ticket, according to Scripture and Church dogma, is not our good works or our sincerity, but our faith, which glues us to Jesus. He saves us; we do not save ourselves. But I find, incredibly, that 9 out of 10 Catholics do not know this, the absolutely central, core, essential dogma of Christianity. Protestants are right: most Catholics do in fact believe a whole other religion. Well over 90% of students I have polled who have had 12 years of catechism classes, even Catholic high schools, say they expect to go to Heaven because they tried, or did their best, or had compassionate feelings to everyone, or were sincere. They hardly ever mention Jesus. Asked why they hope to be saved, they mention almost anything except the Savior. Who taught them? Who wrote their textbooks? These teachers have stolen from our precious children the most valuable thing in the world, the "pearl of great price;' their faith. Jesus had some rather terrifying warnings about such things something about millstones.

Catholicism taught that we are saved by faith, by grace, by Christ, however few Catholics understood this. And Protestants taught that true faith necessarily produces good works. The fundamental issue of the Reformation is an argument between the roots and the blossoms on the same flower.

But though Luther did not neglect good works, he connected them to faith by only a thin and unreliable thread: human gratitude. In response to God's great gift of salvation, which we accept by faith, we do good works out of gratitude, he taught. But gratitude is only a feeling, and dependent on the self. The Catholic connection between faith and works is a far stronger and more reliable one. I found it in C. S. Lewis' Mere Christianity, the best introduction to Christianity I have ever read. It is the ontological reality of we, supernatural life, sanctifying grace, God's own life in the soul, which is received by faith and then itself produces good works. God comes in one end and out the other: the very same thing that comes in by faith (the life of God) goes out as works, through our free cooperation.

I was also dissatisfied with Luther's teaching that justification was a legal fiction on God's part rather than a real event in us; that God looks on the Christian in Christ, sees only Christ's righteousness, and legally counts or imputes Christ's righteousness as ours. I thought it had to be as Catholicism says, that God actually imparts Christ to us, in baptism and through faith (these two are usually together in the New Testament). Here I found the fundamentalists, especially the Baptists, more philosophically sound than the Calvinists and Lutherans. For me, their language, however sloganish and satirizable, is more accurate when they speak of "Receiving Christ as your personal Savior."

Though my doubts were all resolved and the choice was made in 1959, my senior year at Calvin, actual membership came a year later, at Yale. My parents were horrified, and only gradually came to realize I had not lost my head or my soul, that Catholics were Christians, not pagans. It was very difficult, for I am a shy and soft-hearted sort, and almost nothing is worse for me than to hurt people I love. I think that I hurt almost as much as they did. But God marvelously binds up wounds.

I have been happy as a Catholic for many years now. The honeymoon faded, of course, but the marriage has deepened. Like all converts I ever have heard of, I was hauled aboard not by those Catholics who try to "sell" the church by conforming it to the spirit of the times by saying Catholics are just like everyone else, but by those who joyfully held out the ancient and orthodox faith in all its fullness and prophetic challenge to the world. The minimalists, who reduce miracles to myths, dogmas to opinions, laws to values, and the Body of Christ to a psycho-social club, have always elicited wrath, pity, or boredom from me. So has political partisanship masquerading as religion. I am happy as a child to follow Christ's vicar on earth everywhere he leads. What he loves, I love; what he leaves, I leave; where he leads, I follow. For the Lord we both adore said to Peter his predecessor, "Who hears you, hears Me." That is why I am a Catholic: because I am a Christian.


The Ides of August

The Ides of August will see me in a very different position. My wrangling will be completed 8 August and on the following Monday I begin work in the kitchen as Head Ass. of the AM shift, serving food for 30 tables three times a day. It will be a rough fortnight.

It will be strange leaving the barn. It has been my home for the past ninety days and I have enjoyed myself thoroughly. My classes by and large have been excellent, especially this last class of nine Intermediate girls. I cannot begin to say how adorable they were, nor how squirrelly; yet they all paid attention to the material, even as I had expected. Whether it is genetics (which my sister thinks) or it is conditioning (as I think it is), I prefer teaching Basic and Intermediate girls than boys; they listen closer, they work harder, and they have a much stronger drive to become skilled horsemen than their male peers, who seem to me only to want fun, not necessarily improvement.

Just think; this summer, seventy days of teaching, fourteen days of dishes: coming to a close in three weeks. And then...! Annapolis! I can barely contain my excitement whenever I contemplate this fall. I have studied the Greco-Roman world, this semester I study the Judeo-Christian world, and next semester I study the medievals, who united the two in a beautiful synthesis. Thus this sophomore year will be tremendously exciting and challenging, with horribly difficult Greek, dense music theory, wretched geometry and Descartes, and an ever increasing pressure from my enabling essay. I will meet this challenge in the best way I know how: as of right now, before lunch, before I teach with Rebekah at 1430, even at this moment, I will return to my cabin and take a fat nap.



In Which Charles Krauthammer Rips Into Obama

The Audacity of Vanity

"Barack Obama wants to speak at the Brandenburg Gate.

He figures it would be a nice backdrop. The supporting cast -- a cheering audience and a few fainting frauleins -- would be a picturesque way to bolster his foreign policy credentials.

What Obama does not seem to understand is that the Brandenburg Gate is something you earn. President Reagan earned the right to speak there because his relentless pressure had brought the Soviet empire to its knees and he was demanding its final "tear down this wall" liquidation. When President Kennedy visited the Brandenburg Gate on the day of his "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech, he was representing a country that was prepared to go to the brink of nuclear war to defend West Berlin.

Who is Obama representing? And what exactly has he done in his lifetime to merit appropriating the Brandenburg Gate as a campaign prop? What was his role in the fight against communism, the liberation of Eastern Europe, the creation of what George Bush 41 -- who presided over the fall of the Berlin Wall but modestly declined to go there for a victory lap -- called "a Europe whole and free"?

Does Obama not see the incongruity? It's as if a German pol took a campaign trip to America and demanded the Statue of Liberty as a venue for a campaign speech. (The Germans have now gently nudged Obama into looking at other venues.)

Americans are beginning to notice Obama's elevated opinion of himself.

There's nothing new about narcissism in politics. Every senator looks in the mirror and sees a president. Nonetheless, has there ever been a presidential nominee with a wider gap between his estimation of himself and the sum total of his lifetime achievements?

Obama is a three-year senator without a single important legislative achievement to his name, a former Illinois state senator who voted "present" nearly 130 times. As president of the Harvard Law Review, as law professor and as legislator, has he ever produced a single notable piece of scholarship? Written a single memorable article? His most memorable work is a biography of his favorite subject: himself.

It is a subject upon which he can dilate effortlessly. In his victory speech upon winning the nomination, Obama declared it a great turning point in history -- "generations from now we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment" -- when, among other wonders, "the rise of the oceans began to slow." As economist Irwin Stelzer noted in his London Daily Telegraph column, "Moses made the waters recede, but he had help." Obama apparently works alone.

Obama may think he's King Canute, but the good king ordered the tides to halt precisely to refute sycophantic aides who suggested that he had such power. Obama has no such modesty.

After all, in the words of his own slogan, "we are the ones we've been waiting for," which, translating the royal "we," means: "I am the one we've been waiting for." Amazingly, he had a quasi-presidential seal with its own Latin inscription affixed to his podium, until general ridicule -- it was pointed out that he was not yet president -- induced him to take it down

He lectures us that instead of worrying about immigrants learning English, "you need to make sure your child can speak Spanish" -- a language Obama does not speak. He further admonishes us on how "embarrassing" it is that Europeans are multilingual but "we go over to Europe, and all we can say is, 'merci beaucoup.'" Obama speaks no French.

His fluent English does, however, feature many such admonitions, instructions and improvements. His wife assures us that President Obama will be a stern taskmaster: "Barack Obama will require you to work. He is going to demand that you shed your cynicism ... that you come out of your isolation. ... Barack will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual, uninvolved, uninformed."

For the first few months of the campaign, the question about Obama was: Who is he? The question now is: Who does he think he is?

We are getting to know. Redeemer of our uninvolved, uninformed lives. Lord of the seas. And more. As he said on victory night, his rise marks the moment when "our planet began to heal." As I recall -- I'm no expert on this -- Jesus practiced his healing just on the sick. Obama operates on a larger canvas."

I think this essay - or flambait, as I'd call it - is hilarious and fairly accurate. While devoid of actual issues (on purpose I'm sure) it really rips into him with delight and vigor. Ann Coulter could not have done better. He'd probably do as good a job as President Bush, but maybe it's just that I don't really care about politics anymore. Republican or Democrat, neither are good enough for me, and thus I have no problem with an essay that attacks Obama rather ignorantly but hilariously and I hope articles like this continue. But boy, I wish it were three pages longer!


Independance Day

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America:

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

O Lord, bless and defend the United States. Forgive her.


Big Shift.

In two days I went from arid New Mexico to (comparatively speaking) humid Wisconsin, where I will spend at least two months - 27 May - 8 August. Hopefully I can be employed in the kitchen or in the barn and earn a few more hundred dollars, but whatever the god wills.

It is a big shift, however. I miss seminar and discussing great ideas with people who really care and can talk about them without becoming heated or upset. I have left the world of philosophy and am setting faith first priority - reason and faith together accomplish what reason alone cannot. So I am studying the Bible far more though I am also about to start Aristotle's De Anima. I finished Chesterton's The Everlasting Man, which gave me a wonderful introduction to Chesterton's thought and style; both of which I am a fan. I want to read his Orthodoxy now.

I am working as a wrangler in HoneyRock's barn, about 40 hours a week. It is awesome but I will be very glad to return to St. John's and something new - Annapolis! But I am enjoying myself thoroughly and I love my job. I am working out five days a week, I am running again, and feel better than I have in a long, long time. My connection to the god remains strong and I am his servant, acting in his will. Therefore I am confident that he will provide for my every need as long as I take every opportunity to help myself and be his representative on earth. I will do what I promised and he will do what he promised, for it is not a one-way relationship.

Life has seldom moved this quickly. June is almost over and I get the feeling that July will move even quicker, quicker than the swift-footed Achilleus. And then my wrangler job will be over unless Boss-Lady hires me for Passage! I love this life - I am 19 and full of excitement and enthusiasm; I can hardly wait to see what comes next.


Sappho - A Master Poetess


─ˆ─ˆ─ˆˆ─ˆ── 1,2,3;
─ˆˆ── 4.

Ποικιλόθρον’ άθανάτ’ Αφρόδιτα,
Παι Δίος δολόπλοκε, λίσσομαί σε,
Μη μ’ασαισι μηδ’όνίαισι δάμνα
Πότνια, θυμον,

Αλλα τθίδ’ ελθ’, αι ποτα κάτέρωτα
Τας εμας αθδας αίοισα πηλοι
Εκλυες, πάτρος δε δόμον λίποισα
Χρύσιον ηλθες

Αρμ’ θπασδύξαισα· κάλοι δέ σ’αγον
Ωκεες στρουθοι περι γας μελαίνας
Πύκνα δίννεντες πτέρ απ’ ςρνωοιθε-
Ρος δια μέσσω,

Αιψα δ’εξίκοντο· συ δ’, ω μάκαιρα,
Μειδιαίσαισ’ αθανάτω πρσσώπω
Ηρε’ οττι δηυτε πέπονθα κωττι
Δηυτε κάλημμι

Κωττι μοι μάλιστα θέλ γένεσθαι
Μαινόλα θύμω·τίνα δηυτε πείθω
αψ σ’αγαην ες υαν φιλότατα; Τίς σ’, ω
Ψάπφ’, αδικήει;

Και γαρ αι ψεύγει, ταχέως διώξει
Αι δε δωρα μη δέκεται, αλλα δωσει·
Αι δε μη φίλει, ταχέως φιλήσει
Τωυκ εθέλοισα.

Ελθε μοι και νθν, χαλέπαν δε λυσον
Εκ μέριμναν, οσσα δέ μοι τέλεσσαι
Θμος ιμέρρει, τέλεσον σθ δ’αθτα
Συμμαχος εσσο.


....Where did my sanity go?! Cursed penguins...

What a fine two weeks. I managed to pull myself together and write three papers and work hard. This next week is still somewhat of a challenge due to summer sickness, but all I have left is Seminar and Language, for I ended Lab and Math Thursday and Friday respectively. I look forward to only having one class on Monday though that means my Don Rag is at 1100 Monday morning; this causes me a bit of apprehension. Not as much as Olivia regularly engages in to be sure, but a little.

This next week will not be as difficult as last week; there are no difficult Seminar readings (well, the Poetics will be kind of difficult), just the Poetics and Sophocles' Philoctetes. Hardly the Metaphysics, right? Of course right. Furthermore, all we have for Greek on Wednesday is a page of Sappho - difficult Greek, I bet, but I'm going to translate it all over the weekend and be kick off the summer with an awesome finale to Greek.

However, though next week will be easier on me (no all nighters and I'll get to bed on time), I'm not going to slack off one bit - I'm habituating myself in terms of Sophomore Year. It's going to be hard and I'll also need to adjust to Annapolis, so habits of hard work and hard play need to be effected as soon as possible. Hopefully the summer will help with that, me being a wrangler and all. So no slacking off - wait until the end of the year, and then knock off with a good cigarette and head home with Kyle!

Keep up the good fight. I'll get my sanity back soon as I find those dratted penguins..


One by One the Penguins Steal My Sanity

There is a lot to do and very little time in which to do it. Focus, Mr. Davis. You're almost there. Hit the books hard these next few weeks, and enjoy yourself. That is your portage; a three-weeker. You can do it. Laziness is weakness. Diligence is strength. Self-control is power. And as always, Reason Prevails!

I need to buckle down and focus. I am going to work harder these next three weeks than you ever thought possible. I am going to make up for Junio Year, Senior year, and last semester. Just you wait and see.


Everything fits into Place

The final month of the semester is here. In five weeks, God willing, I will be in the North Woods working with Ms. Webber and any other wranglers that show up. And in addition, I will get to meet the new foal that Ginger birthed! I hope they name him/her either Brasidas or Antigone.

What a mind job. The switch will be absolutely tremendous! From secular-as-hell St. John's to thoroughly Christian HoneyRock. I'll adjust just fine once I get used to hearing people speak without profanity and hopefully there exists a piano still at camp.

The work will be very hard, of course, and I will be reveiwing Greek (I fully expect to work through the entire Luschnig text and translate a book from the New Testament) and reading like crazy: On the Soul, Nichomachean Ethics, Gorgias, and The Peloponnesian War. I'll finish those in plenty of time assuming I can actually read between 30 and 50 pages of Thucydides a day. In addition, I hope to finish Chopin's Etude No.3 in E major and maybe even putt around with his third Ballade. Who can say?

Everything is fitting into place. After Reality I'll be home for a day, spend the entire summer at HoneyRock, and off to Annapolis for a year. (And the campus is so gorgeous I can hardly believe it)

Alas, this post is very stream-of-concious. I apologize and will never post like this again as long as I can help myself.


Running Plan

I am about to continue running again, and this time I will continue. I plan to begin at HoneyRock, where I will work up to three miles over six weeks, and by the last month or so I should be at 15 miles a week, and able to keep that pace up sophmore year. Finally I will achieve my long-distance running dream!

My plan:

Week 1:
Mon. 5 min run with 5 min cool down. This will be walking.

Wed. 5 min run with 5 min cool down.
Fri. 10 min run, cool down.

Week 2:
Mon. 7 min run, cool down
Wed. 7 min run, cool down
Fri. 15 min run, cool down

Week 3
M: 12 min run, cool down
W: 15 min run, cool down
F: 20 min run, cool down

Week 4
M: 15 min run, cool down
W: 18 min run, cool down
F: 25 min run, cool down

Week 5
M: 20 min run, cool down
W: 25 minute run, cool down
F: 30 min. run, cool down

Week 6
M: 20 min run, cool down
W:25 min run, cool down
F: 30 min run, cool down


The Thrill of Spring

So things are starting to work out better than I had hoped. Hurdles I thought insurmountable are passed, with not exactly ease, persay, but far less effort than I had originally anticipated. For example:
  • I might be going to Annapolis! There are 9 rising sophmores who want to transfer, and God be praised, I am No.1! Getting my application in was quite a challenge, but I fnially was able to obtain a waver for the $500 entrance fee so it looks like Sophmore Year will be spent in Maryland. How cool is that?
  • I'm working at HRC over the summer! I spent a lot of time agonizing over the decision, but B&G isn't a job I would enjoy as much, and it would earn me almost as much as HRC because for two weeks I would need to find a place to stay. I think I made the right decision. I am very excited to work with Becky again and work as a wrangler. Maybe I can even stay after Res Camp is over and help with Passage and whatnot. Mmmmm...
  • There is a good chance, according to Mr. Johnston, that I can stay in town over spring break. That would be awesome, but it's almost time to book a plane ticket or something and I'm really antsy. I try not to worry about it, I really do. Living without worry is so much better than the alternative, but sometimes I can't help it. But whatever happens will happen.
  • I'm learning Greek! We're on the Meno, and I can finally keep up. I've been working much harder and making good progress. I have a purely selfish goal; impressing Mr. Pagano. This might sound childish, but in all honesty he is a tutor whose respect I would really love to have.

Stuff is happening. The 07-08 year is wrapping up, and in but a few months I will be a rising sophmore! Incredibly exciting. I think I'm in the perfect school, and I believe I am following God's will for my life. Hence I am confident and self-assured. Why? Because it's not up to me, so why bother about it? I could try and run my own life. Heck, if I had, I'd probably be in Iraq right now instead of receiving the best education money can possibly buy. (while being a soldier is something I would LOVE to do, I'm holding off on it till further notice. Maybe I'll put in a word to God about it)

I am very curious to see what this summer will hold for me..