The Monks of Springbank: Accomplishing What Leviathan Never Could

Over at the New Liturgical Movement, I have posted a story about the Abbey of Our Lady of Springbank, a Cistercian monastery in rural Wisconsin.  They were featured this morning on the Today show:

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The amazing thing about these monks is that they have achieved everything that Leviathan has tried to achieve but could not.  They noticed printer cartridges selling for obscene mark-ups, so they started selling them at reasonable prices (instead of enacting price controls a la Richard Nixon).  They teach people how to ride horses, and they even do charitable work and give useful employment (not make-work projects like FDR) to those who need it.

This is all part of a great tradition of the Catholic Church:  helping to build up the community.  It is accomplished through hard work and the discernment of what the existing needs are in a given area, and this kind of success depends at least in part upon the glorious principle of subsidiarity.  Of all of this, the government is completely incapable.

One further note:  after the fall of Rome in the 5th century, A.D., those who rebuilt western civilization were not the State-worshipers or the flag-wavers, but indeed they were the monasteries, who preserved all manner of things, including learning.

So, three cheers for the monks of Springbank.

Clearly, I would make a bad businessman

One of the worst things you can do for your blog traffic is to disappear for the better part of a month. That’s what I just did. Long story short, work was busy: I spent at least a week preparing for what ended up being a fool’s errand. Then I got a last minute gig to put together a Gregorian chant schola at the National Shrine in Washington, D.C. this past weekend. Last week, therefore, more closely resembled Christmas or Eastertide for me. I am presently on a self-imposed three day vacation and trying not to do anything but the most minimal tasks.

In any case, while I’ve been pre-occupied, the rank and file of the USA scored a major victory when the $700 billion bailout went down to ignominious defeat yesterday–which was, of all days, Ludwig von Mises’ birthday. The question remains as to whether or not the plutocrats will try this again, starting instead in the Senate.

In short, there is much to write about, and I hope to catch you up on all my most irreverent and iconoclastic political thoughts in the next few days.

Slow posting, et al

Apologies for the slow posting of late.  This is crunch time in my business, so I only get to blog at irregular intervals.  Please keep coming back!

While I am presently elbow-deep in William Byrd’s music, the government is busy screwing us over for a good generation or two.  Strangely enough, the modern liberals I know are more upset about all these bailouts than self-identified “conservatives”  are.  We are in the midst of repeating the mistakes of the Herbert Hoover administration, and the FDR administration.  I saw a cartoon the other day comparing McCain to Hoover, and the intended implication, certainly, was that both are do-nothing “losers.”  That, however, is not the real reason these two clowns deserve to be paired:  In fact, both are economic interventionists.  Hoover, by his interventionism, made the Great Depression much worse than it needed to be, and he prolonged it.  I suspect that John McCain would do the same thing as president.  So would Barack Obama.

“More regulation!” we keep hearing from people.  But it’s the regulation that has gotten us into this mess, the government’s refusal to keep its grubby hands off private enterprise.  Businesses are therefore left to make decisions based on what constitutes the best way to negotiate the law in a non-catastrophic manner, and real market factors get left aside in the gutter.  The answer to all this is to de-regulate.  Even the jobs going overseas are the result of government regulation that make it unduly difficult for businesses to run plants on American soil.

People keep insisting on the government’s help, though.  Friends, the government is not your friend.  It is your enemy.  It is screwing you in the front pocket (taxes) and in the back pocket (Federal Reserve), and upside down, backwards, and forwards.

Oh but don’t worry!  Sarah Palin is a libertarian, right?  Right?????

Glenn Gould plays Brahms

One of my favorite musicians plays one of my favorite composers.  The Glenn Gould year is just winding down, and what better way to mark it than with the golden autumnal works of Johannes Brahms?

Die Polizei: Helping you to fund Leviathan since 1789

On Saturday, I had the immense, if only occasional, privilege of sitting in the dreadful traffic on I-76 just west of Philadelphia. Even weekends around here are no guarantee that traffic will be tolerable, and so, with nothing but a nice warm dinner on my mind, I crawled through suburban PA at 10 mph, wondering what the holdup was this time.

Shortly thereafter, we passed a cop, who had pulled someone over and was now writing a blessed traffic ticket. “Ah, rubbernecking,” I thought. Rubbernecking is a stupid thing but it is never going to go away, no matter how much the positivists rail against it. It is a fact of human nature. While this was a stupid reason for traffic to slow to a crawl, I was relieved that at least we were out of the woods.

Not so fast. The traffic backup continued, until finally we passed two cars which had collided with each other. The drivers were sitting there, barely onto the shoulder of one of the most dangerous roads there is, waiting for someone to help them with their quandary.

So much for the police, though. They were too damn busy writing tickets to help people who actually had a real problem. (There was another cop several miles farther down the road, also writing a ticket.) Keep this in mind, friends, the next time some cop tells you that he’s here to help. He’s not. He is a tax collector for the State.

The modern social acceptability of rudeness

I work as a church organist, and this is in fact an interesting perch from which to view the doings of modern man.  I can tell stories that you wouldn’t believe.  Some clergymen could tell you even better ones.

I have two jobs, and at one of them this morning, we had some guests present who are not normally with us.  Evidently they don’t know how to behave at a religious service.  They talked, and they talked, and they talked.  They talked during the prelude, they talked during the opening hymn, they talked whenever they felt like it.  I hope they didn’t mind our tendency to interrupt their conversation with readings, music, and other suchlike.

Some might be tempted to chalk this up to the decline of Christianity, but I think this issue goes beyond Church decorum.  In fact, it seems to me that this behavior would have been offensive almost anywhere, except at sports events, which are arguably the real religion of modern man.  It is bad enough when children talk out of turn and are not corrected, but when adults are doing it, one wants to despair.

The gauche behavior does not encapsulate this entire social disease, however.  The second part of the problem is perhaps the worst, and that is the unwillingness or fear of others to correct those who are not living up to expectations.  There were once men who did this.  They were called fathers.  Alas, manliness is no longer in vogue, and when some do try to correct others, even discreetly, they risk having the riot act read to them by some illiterate libertine.   There is no longer any sense of shared values, and this amounts to rudeness being socially acceptable.

What will it take to fix this?  It seems to me that, at the very least, and beyond the re-establishment of a basis for standards, it will require a certain amount of a “let them walk away” mentality.  We are so stupidly worried these days about what everyone else thinks.  I do not mean to condemn those who have lost their nerve; I too have lost mine in many situations when I should have stepped up and made certain situations right.  This is only a natural human tendency, especially when our contemporary “devil words,” as Richard Weaver called them, include adjectives such as “antisocial,” where antisocial indicates a simple refusal to go along with the crowd.

Ultimately, however, putting the rude right will only be a band-aid.  The bigger problem is making the impression that there are in fact times to be serious and times when we share in an activity larger than ourselves, and therefore we have not the right to do whatever we want.  There is more to life than mindless chatter and entertaining ourselves to death, more to life than acquiring job skills and making good money.  There is a time to speak and a time to be silent, a time to talk and a time to listen.

Now, where do we begin with a society that does not even believe in philosophical transcendentals?

The whole Ron Paul press conference has now been YouTubed

You can see it here.

What Congressman Paul has done here is quite brilliant.  Yes, this project is making for some strange bedfellows–Chuck Baldwin, Ralph Nader, Bob Barr (?), and Cynthia McKinney–but it is designed not as a complete platform but rather as (a) a way to express agreement on four crucial issues and (b) to get people thinking outside the Republicrat box.  Wouldn’t it be nice to see even only 10% of the votes go third party?

U.S. Catholic Bishops take on Bush Administration’s immigration raids

From Rocco comes this story:

For over a year now, DHS has targeted employers who hire unauthorized workers by using force to enter worksites and arrest immigrant workers. During the process of these raids, U.S.-citizen children have been separated from their parents for days, if not longer; immigrants arrested have not been afforded the rights of due process; and local communities, including legal permanent residents and U.S. citizens, have been disrupted and dislocated. The sweeping nature of these raids—which often involve hundreds of law enforcement personnel with weapons—strike fear in immigrant communities and make it difficult for those arrested to secure basic due process protections, including legal counsel.

I used to be staunchly against illegal immigration, but the inconvenient facts of the matter show that this mess can hardly be laid entirely at the feet of the immigrants, or even at the feet of their employers. Our nation was founded upon the philosophical idea of the natural rights of man, but somehow this doesn’t obtain anymore when it’s inconvenient for the government or for bourgeois WASP culture. The present immigration laws are ridiculous, with many hoops for people to jump through in order to become citizens. The U.S. government even harasses students who come here to study, then want to stay. These are people who without doubt want to contribute to our society, and the government makes them pay outrageous fees and play a kind of lottery even to stand a chance of winning citizenship.

It may be a bad idea to have no immigration policy whatsoever, but the one we have now is unjust, and moreover, hardly beneficial to our culture. So, keep talking, Catholic bishops. This is one area in which you actually don’t drive me completely nuts.

Criminalizing sloppy dress

This story comes to us from the “government is a panacea” department.  Riviera Beach, FL is cracking down on the insidious behavior of sloppy dress.

Um, doesn’t it seem pretty obvious that if someone hasn’t enough pride to dress properly, no law is going to get them to do so?  These laws often sound good to puritans and other uptight sorts, but really, the absurdity of all this is readily apparent when you see the mug shots of the people who are caught in this net of stupidity.

Underlying all of this, of course, is the irrational American fear of nudity.  It’s a good thing the U.S. didn’t keep the land it fought on in Italy in World War II.  Otherwise, General Eisenhower might have stopped by to put a pair of pants on Michelangelo’s David.

The Ice Cream Diet: An Update

A few weeks ago I explained my new diet, which involved, among running and other things, eating ice cream. After I lost ten pounds, though, I hit a plateau, and the result of this is that ice cream is only part of my day roughly twice a week. I am now running up to 4.5 miles a day and have lost 15.5 pounds. Not bad considering I only started at the beginning of August.

I have been very well-behaved, but at the price of my social life: I have been avoiding places which are not friendly to the waist line, which includes all restaurants and bars–the loci of the great majority of my socializing. I’m really feeling like I need a drink, though. I’m tired of living in a “cave,” as it were. Maybe I’ll run out for one tonight.

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