To go back to the sentiment controversy, your objection is non-sense. You argue that sentiment is delightful in art, because it is a part of human nature. Quite right. From that, you deduce that it ought not to be confined to that sphere of human nature where it is delightful – viz. art.  That is almost as sensible as to say that trousers are delightful only because they are a part of human clothes: therefore they ought to be worn, not only on the legs, but every where else.  Do you maintain that it is a highly commendable and philosophical act to wear trousers, say, on your head?  My point is that art is a receptacle of human thought: sentiment, emotion etc make up that section of human thought which are best suited to fill that definite receptacle – and no other.  For why, when we have found the best place to keep a thing, should we keep it in other places as well, or instead?  By the analogy of the trousers I have shown how ridiculous that would be.  As for your idea that to be young, one must be sentimental, let us go into it.  Young children are practically devoid of sentiment: they are moved only by bodily pain: young men are a little more sentimental, middle aged ones considerably more so, and old ones the most mawkishly so of all.  Sentiment, you see, is a distinct mark of age.

CS Lewis, letter to Arthur Greeves, 11 May 1915

I find that I begin to think in the same manner as whatever it is that I am reading, and I’m finding that definitely to be the case in this book of CS Lewis’ letters I’ve been reading.   In this letter, Lewis is about 17.  If he doesn’t grow up soon, I shall become almost unbearably obnoxious.


I’ve been reading Clauswitz’ book On War for a the last few weeks, and I think he may end up being one of my favorite authors.

War is the realm of danger; therefore courage is the soldier’s first requirement.

Courage is of two kinds: courage in the face of personal danger, and courage to accept responsibility, either before the tribunal of some outside power or before the court of one’s own conscience. Only the first kind will be discussed here.

Courage in the face of personal danger is also of two kinds. It may be indifference to danger, which could be due to the individual’s constitution, or to his holding life cheap, or to habit. In any case, it must be regarded as a permanent condition. Alternatively, courage may result from such positive motives as ambition, patriotism, or enthusiasm, not a permanent state.

These two kinds of courage act in different ways. The first is more dependable; having become second nature, it will never fail. The other will often achieve more. There is more reliability in the first kind, more boldness in the second. The first leaves the mind calmer; the second tends to stimulate, but it can also blind. The highest kind of courage is a compound of both.

His stuff is usually full of all sorts of wonderful analogies and colorful illustrations, but I really appreciate the analytical as well. He keeps saying he wants to be scientific, but he mostly comes out sounding like Aristotle.


Earlier in my life, I equated knowledge with maturity. And that is a valid position….but not spiritually. I have since come to realize that physical maturity comes with time. Soulish or Intellectual maturity comes through knowledge but spiritual maturity comes only by obedience. Which is why we have so many immature believers…..and frequently I consider myself the chief.

From: Di French (who insists she never said anything original)

Secret prayer

For the last few months, I’ve been re-reading Charles Hambrick-Stowe’s History book on Puritan devotions, The Practice of Piety. I ran across this quote-ridden paragraph today:

Regular secret prayer was not only a means of grace but also the primary and most necessary means. New Englanders continually pointed to the dire consequences of the neglect of prayer, making much of the failure, suicide, or criminal conviction of those who “never used Secret Prayer” and “frequently omitted Family Prayer too.” Thomas Shepard said that the voice of the Lord “singles a man out” and is heard by a divine and newly created “internal spirit of prayer.” The other means of grace, both public and private, were preliminary to the awakening of this ability to pray in faith. “Is it not the end of Preaching, that you may learn to pray?” John Cotton demanded. True prayer required faith, so that “a man must not fetch his prayer from his parts, as will, memory, understanding, or ability, but from the Spirit, who is the prayer-maker.” In fact, the English Puritan John Preston defined prayer as “the voice of God’s own Spirit, that is, such as arise from the regenerate part which is within us, which is quickened and enlarged to pray from the immediate help of the Holy Ghost.”

Emasculate the course

Andrei Toom:

To survive against competition every university and every college has to pretend that it gives something modern, advanced and immediately marketable. But is it possible to give advanced courses to students who are ignorant in elementary mathematics? Of course not. What to do? Very simple! Emasculate the course by excluding everything non-trivial, reduce the students’ task to applying ready-made recipes without understanding—and you will survive and succeed. Your pretensions that you teach something advanced will allow the students to pretend that they are educated, and this will allow the firms and departments that hire them to pretend that they hire educated people. But at some point this chain of pretensions will have to break.

Toom is talking here about his frustrations in teaching “Business Calculus” to college students, but the curious thing is that his remarks could just as easily be said about teaching grammar to middle school students.

Other articles by Andrei Toom can be found here.

Not Dead Yet

I’ve just learned (via Orson Scott Card) that the National Endowment of the Arts is suffering a remarkable renewal. It seems that, since 2001, the head of the NEA has been a businessman and a professional poet who has never been positioned on the authoritarian side of the professor’s podium, a man named Dana Gioia.

I’m now in the process of reading his article from the Atlantic Monthly, Can Poetry Matter?, which discusses the fact that much poetry written today isn’t even *intended* to matter. A key quote:

Most editors run poems and poetry reviews the way a prosperous Montana rancher might keep a few buffalo around—not to eat the endangered creatures but to display them for tradition’s sake.

This is essentially the reason that I’ve given up poetry for the most part – I was trained in the art of saying nothing, and saying it well. But it was no way to make a living without a lot of long shots.

At any rate, I see a glimmer of hope that Gioia may play a part in a revival of poetry that actually means something, and may be transforming the NEA into an organization that decent people admire, rather than revile

A Single Line

that caught my attention:

“If death is to be approached as martyrdom” he says, in the context of dying of old age, as if that were an assumption that everyone had already thought of. We proceed from there:

If death is to be approached as martyrdom, i.e., as an opportunity to witness to our faith, what do services do we require or request of our healthcare especially at end-of-life? how can that goal be realized in the greater Chrisitian community, i.e., the Church. For example, individuals lifetime spending on healthcare is concentrated to an astounding degree on the final decade of life. Is that a Christian response to healthcare?

One could say that this single perspective could change your whole view on medicine at the end of life…

Jesus, Really

But as for me, I do not place my hopes in one who died for me in appearance, but in reality. For that which is false is quite abhorrent to the truth. Mary then did truly conceive a body which had God inhabiting it. And God the Word was truly born of a Virgin, having clothed Himself with a body of like passions with our own. He who forms all men in the womb was Himself really in the womb, and made for Himself a body of the seed of the Virgin, but without any intercourse of man. He was carried in the womb even as we are, for the usual period of time; and was really born, as we also are; and was in reality nourished with milk, and partook of common meat and drink, even as we do.

And when He had lived among men for thirty years, He was baptized by .John, really and not in appearance; and when He had preached the Gospel three years, and done signs and wonders, He who was Himself the Judge was judged by the Jews (falsely so called), and by Pilate the governor; was scourged, was smitten on the cheek, was spit upon. He wore a crown of thorns and a purple robe; He was condemned: He was crucified in reality and not in appearance, not in imagination, not in deceit.

He really died, and was buried, and rose from the dead, even as he prayed in a certain place, saying, “But do Thou, O Lord, raise me up again, and I shall recompense them.” And the Father, who always hears Him, answered and said, “Arise, O God, and judge the earth; for Thou shalt receive all the heathen for Thine inheritance.”

The Father therefore, who raised Him up, will also raise us up through Him, apart from whom no one will attain to true life. For says He, “I am the life; he that believeth in me, even though he die, shall live: and every one that liveth and believeth in me, even though he die, shall live for ever.” Do ye therefore flee from these ungodly heresies; for they are the inventions of the devil, that serpent who was the author of evil, and who by means of the woman deceived Adam, the father of our race.

–Ignatius of Antioch, letter to the Trallians

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