Category Archives: Culture

Monopoly of force and the personalistic norm

The essence of the state is its legal monopoly of force. But force is subhuman; in words I quote incessantly, Simone Weil defined it as “that which turns a person into a thing — either corpse or slave.” It may sometimes be a necessary evil, in self-defense or defense of the innocent, but nobody can have by right what the state claims: an exclusive privilege of using it. –Joe Sobran

Against the power of the State, the proper response to a person is love.  See Karol Wojtyła’s “personalistic norm” in his Love and Responsibility, Ignatius Press, 1993, page 41.

Chesterton on patriotism

G.K. Chesterton, with his usual gentle audacity, once criticized Rudyard Kipling for his “lack of patriotism.” Since Kipling was renowned for glorifying the British Empire, this might have seemed one of Chesterton’s “paradoxes”; but it was no such thing, except in the sense that it denied what most readers thought was obvious and incontrovertible.

Chesterton, himself a “Little Englander” and opponent of empire, explained what was wrong with Kipling’s view: “He admires England, but he does not love her; for we admire things with reasons, but love them without reason. He admires England because she is strong, not because she is English.” Which implies there would be nothing to love her for if she were weak.

Of course Chesterton was right. You love your country as you love your mother — simply because it is yours, not because of its superiority to others, particularly superiority of power. –Joe Sobran

Met publications online!

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has made all its publications from 1964 onwards available for free download via  Here’s a sampler pack:

Reardon on Merton

Here’s a short but engaging memoir of Thomas Merton by his first monastic novice, Patrick Henry Reardon. It’s a good look at the pre-VII and post-VII Merton and, perhaps, a practical warning about juggling too many interests at once.  There’s a flavor of sloth or acedia that skims across the surface of things, fearful to do the work of diving down into the depths of just one thing.

Lewis and Wright on neopaganism

Modern play-pagans would be horrified by the real thing:

Having read those, I see the need for a more serious and “physical” worship of God along the lines set out by Gabriel Bunge, OSB, in his Earthen Vessels: The Practice of Personal Prayer According to the Patristic Tradition.