Books, Religion

Francis De Sales’ ‘Introduction to the Devout Life': 1609’s must-read still amazing in 2015

Francis De Sales Intro Devout LifeIt is a rare occurrence to read a book and come to the conclusion that the writer’s initial inspiration was perfectly realized upon its completion. Saint Francis De Sales’ “Introduction to the Devout Life” may have been published in 1609, but its stunning insight into the human condition makes it a must-read in 2015. In another 400 years, it will still be leaving readers in awe.

While De Sales wrote for a Christian audience, the blueprint for a healthy civil society he presents is one that men and women of all faiths (or no faith) would be hard-pressed to criticize. The virtues he seeks to cultivate in his readers may be motivated by a desire to instill a love of God in  as many hearts as possible, but at the end of the day he is still talking about honesty, humility, patience, charity, fortitude, prudence, etc.

Even more impressive is how De Sales addresses the reader (“Philothea”) directly, yet with a delivery that feels like a kind and gentle father imparting time-tested wisdom to a child. De Sales (who must have consulted countless men and women from all walks of life) has such an exquisite grasp of humanity’s trials and tribulations that it is hard not to feel as though he already knows everything about you — yet still offers unconditional love.

De Sale somehow manages to write for the YouTube-Instagram-Facebook culture of 2015 while living in 1609:

“We apply the term vainglory to whatever we assign to ourselves, whether something that is not actually in us or something in us but not of us, or something in us and of us but not such that we can glory in it. Noble ancestry, patronage of great men, and popular honor are things that are not in us but either in our ancestors or in the esteem of other men. Some men become proud and overbearing because they ride a fine horse, wear a feather in their hat, or are dressed in a splendid suit of clothes. Is anyone blind to the folly of all this? If there is any glory in such things it belongs to the horse, the bird, and the tailor. It is a mean heart that borrows honor from a horse, a bird, a feather, or some passing fashion.

Others value and pride themselves because of a fine mustache, well-trimmed beard, carefully curled hair, soft hands, ability to dance, play cards well, or sing. Such light-minded men seek to increase their reputation by frivolous things. Others would like to be honored and respected by men because of a little learning, as if everyone should go to school to them and take them as their teachers. They are called pedants for this reason.

Other men have handsome bodies and therefore strut about and think that everybody dotes on them. All this is extremely vain, objectionable, and foolish and the glory based on such weak foundations is called vain, foolish, and frivolous.

We recognize genuine goodness as we do genuine balm. If balm sinks down and stays at the bottom when dropped into water, it is rated the best and most valuable. So also in order to know whether a man is truly wise, learned, generous, and noble, we must observe whether his abilities tend to humility, modesty, and obedience for in that case they will be truly good. If they float on the surface and seek to show themselves, they are so much less genuine in so far as they are more showy. Pearls conceived and nourished by wind or thunder claps are mere crusts, devoid of substance. So also men’s virtues and fine qualities conceived and nurtured by pride, show, and vanity have the mere appearance of good, without juice, marrow, solidity.” Francis De Sales, Introduction to the Devout Life (New York: Image, 2014), 121–122

The depth and breadth of De Sales’ understanding of humanity is a marvel to behold. If for no other reason, “Introduction to the Devout Life” shines a giant spotlight on just how far we’ve fallen as a culture. The book was written for the likes of carpenters, soldiers, sailors, and tailors — not academics — and yet the man on the street in 2015 would likely have a hard time digesting much of De Sales’ intellectual discourse.

If you have ever sat alone in your bed at night and tried to plumb the depths of your soul to root out what is rotten and realize what is wholly good, then I cannot recommend Francis De Sales’ “Introduction to the Devout Life” enough. If it is read with an open mind and seriously meditated upon, then I have no doubt that it will truly change your life for the better.

Obama Administration, Terrorism

Yemen falls into ‘complete chaos'; Josh Earnest goes full ‘Baghdad Bob’

Josh EarnestYears ago the American people made fun of “Baghdad Bob’s” attempts to convince the world that American troops were not closing in on the nation’s capital, even though Marines were only blocks away. Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf, the Iraqi Information Minister, was a joke. Today, Americans should hang their head in shame because they have their own Baghdad Bob — White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest.

Yemen is spiraling out of control — its president abandoned ship and U.S. special operations forces had to be evacuated this past weekend — and yet Mr. Earnest still maintained Wednesday that the Obama administration considers its efforts there to be a resounding success.

Mediaite reported March 25:

John Karl: Just a quick one first on Yemen. I know you’re asked this after every time something terrible happens in Yemen, but now that we have, you know, essentially complete chaos in Yemen, does the White House still believe Yemen is the model for a counterterrorism strategy?

Josh Earnest: John, the White House does continue to believe that a successful counter terrorism strategy is one that will build up the capacity of the central government, to have local fighters on the ground take the fight to extremists in their own country. And the United States can serve both to diplomatically offer up some support to central governments. We can offer very tangible support to local security forces in the form of training and equipping. And we can also support the operations of those security forces … whether it’s the deployment of ISR capability or, in the case of Iraq, military airstrikes. And that is a template that has succeeded in mitigating the threat that we face from extremists in places like Yemen and Somalia — and is a template that we believe can succeed in mitigating the threat emanating from Syria as well.

John Karl: That’s astounding. You’re saying that you still see Yemen as a model? Building up a central government, which has now collapsed? A president who has apparently fled the country? Saudi troops massing on one border, the Iranians supporting the rebels? You consider this a model for counterterrorism?”

For those who aren’t up to speed, CNN reported March 23:

The U.S. military has pulled its remaining personnel out of Yemen due to the deteriorating security situation, the U.S. State Department said.

The evacuation involved about 100 Special Operations forces members from the Al Anad airbase, sources in the region familiar with the situation told CNN. The State Department called it a temporary relocation.

Those evacuated, which include Navy SEALs and members of the Army’s Delta Force, were the last American forces stationed in the Arab nation, which is home to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the terrorist group also known as AQAP.

The New York Times reported today:

Yemeni fighters and army units allied with the Houthi movement closed in on the last redoubt of President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi of Yemen on Wednesday amid news reports that he had fled by boat across the Gulf of Aden, possibly to the tiny African nation of Djibouti. …

The region’s most impoverished country, Yemen has been a central theater of the American fight against Al Qaeda. Along with Syria, Iraq and Libya, Yemen is also now at least the fourth state to veer toward collapse in the aftermath of the Arab Spring revolts.

What makes Yemen’s implosion all the more maddening is that the Obama administration is hoping that with the right media coverage it can make enough people believe that nothing is broken. It’s like Chris Farley in “Tommy Boy” after he broke David Spade’s car door and secretly put it back in place. When Mr. Spade’s character came back to his vehicle and the door fell from its hinges, Farley feigned surprise and asked, “What did you do?”

Tommy BoyThe next president is going to have to deal with the aftermath of Mr. Obama’s disastrous counterterrorism strategy, and when that happens his supporters will act as if it all went downhill the moment their guy left office.

Tommy Boy Chris Farley1The problem is that the world isn’t like “Tommy Boy.” When an administration fails to acknowledge reality in territory controlled by al Qaeda and its ideological allies, eventually it results in dead Americans.

Houthi APJosh Earnest went full Baghdad Bob. You never go full Baghdad Bob, no matter how painful it might be to tell the truth.

Only by telling the truth can we truly figure out how to get a handle on a bad situation. The longer we lie to ourselves, the worse our day of reckoning will be. Sadly, it seems as though the White House’s main concern is making sure that judgment day comes sometime after Mr. Obama has left 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Culture

‘Black Brunch’ campaign disrupts Atlanta diners; crime data leaves activists with egg on the face

Black Brunch protest March 2015Starbucks told America that it needed to have a conversation on race. In Atlanta, race activists decided this weekend that shouting at people who were minding their own business after church would be a better option.

For those who are unfamiliar with the “Black Brunch” campaign, activists have oddly deemed brunch to be an activity reserved exclusively for white people, and thus have moved to disrupt that aspect of the local economy. The reason: they seek to remind white people that “Black Lives Matter.” Members of these activist groups shout about Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, etc., and then get upset when college kids getting by on minimum wage and tips ask them leave.

Black Brunch Atlanta protestPersonally, I just feel bad for these activists. They’re so deluded that they think yelling at white people who are trying to have a nice meal with friends, family and loved ones is going to somehow engender sympathy and respect. In reality, such tactics are much more likely to lose potential allies forever. Then, when guys like me bring it up, they take to Twitter with “White dudes seem to have a lot of opinions on how Black youth leaders should protest.” Classic.

Black Brunch TweetIndeed, “white dudes” like me do have a lot of opinions. It may be a shocker, but we also have a lot of facts.

Black lives do matter in Atlanta and elsewhere, which makes me wonder why black people in Atlanta keep killing each other. That isn’t an opinion — it’s a fact.

The “Black Brunch” campaign did prompt me to look into black homicides in Atlanta, and the data leaves the activists with egg-covered faces. Maybe they should take that into consideration the next time they try to ruin someone’s brunch, but I digress.

In my quest to get to figure out who was really killing black people in Atlanta, I first wanted to find out how many homicides there were last year. Atlanta magazine reported that there were 84 in 2014. By a wide margin the victims were black, so I turned to the official Atlanta Police Department crime statistics to find out who was responsible. It turns out that it wasn’t old white women who like seeing their grandchildren for breakfast once a month.

Atlanta crimeReaders can feel free to peruse Atlanta’s uniform crime reports on their own. I have included two screenshots here, but there is plenty of data to swim through for those who are into that sort of thing. In short, it’s pretty damaging to the “Black Brunch” activists. If I was more energetic, then I would look up abortion statistics for Atlanta by race. Perhaps I’ll save that for another day.

Atlanta homicide Jan 2015The trend that objective observers will find indicates that race activists in Atlanta do have a lot of work to do, but unfortunately it doesn’t involve making life difficult for small business owners in the local community. The national statistics provided by the FBI are just as bad.

Atlanta Homicide Dec 2014Normally I’d end the blog post here, but since the go-to retort when guys like me use hard data to prove a point is to start talking about “white privilege,” I might as well refresh readers’ memories on a little incident involving Atlanta’s now-retired Judge Marvin Arrington.

For those who don’t remember, the judge — who is black — asked all white lawyers to leave his courtroom as he exploded on the young black men and women who were present for sentencing.

CNN reported April 2, 2008:

“I came out and saw the defendants, and it was about 99.9 percent Afro-Americans,” Arrington told CNN affiliate WSB-TV of Atlanta, “and at some point in time, I excused some lawyers — most of them white — and said to the young people in here, ‘What in the world are you doing with your lives?'”

The judge thought his message would make a greater impact if he delivered it to a black-only audience, he said.

“I didn’t want them to think I was talking down to them; trying to embarrass them or insult them; be derogatory toward them, and I was just saying, ‘Please get yourself together,'” Arrington said.

In his Tuesday night appearance on CNN, Arrington told Anderson Cooper that that seeing the same faces walk in and out of his courtroom year after year takes its toll.

That isn’t a “white dude’s” opinion — that is a “black dude’s” opinion who was so beaten down by the cultural decay within his community that he had a meltdown in his courtroom.

I do not enjoy looking up homicide statistics in Atlanta to make its local race activists look like petty clowns. There is no sick glee gained by pointing out uncomfortable racial crime data. However, when activists start acting like belligerent jerks, then it’s time to pour some cold, hard reality on their heads.

Comics

Joe Quesada, giant hypocrite, plays dumb when confronted on other comic industry hypocrites

Joe Quesada, Chief Creative Officer of Marvel Entertainment, took to Tumblr on Friday night to bemoan the way comic industry “professionals” are treated by fans. He played the world’s smallest violin for people like Steve Wacker, Dan Slott, Mark Waid, Erik Larsen, Gail Simone and countless others who say incredibly nasty things via their social media accounts. When confronted about his silence on the despicable behavior of his buddies, he chose to play dumb.

Here is what Mr. Quesada said Friday:

“It has never ceased to amaze me how some people, in defense of their favorite fictional characters or stories, treat creators and each other, flesh and blood people living actual lives with actual feelings and families, with such disrespect and cruelty as though they were two-dimensional, fictional villains who merely exist on a page or the imagination.”

A fan then called him out on the laughable attempt to play the victim.

Joe Quesada TumblrJoe Quesada’s response: What you talkin’ about Willis?

I don’t know what inexcusable behavior you’re referring to, but I known that they all love this medium and the fans as well. I see them at conventions and online, they’re giving of their time, funny, even cheeky at times, even when provoked in horrible ways. But, I’ve never known them to behave inexcusably.

Let’s take a trip down memory lane just for Joe, shall we?

There was that time Dan Slott stalked and upset a random woman on Twitter.

Dan Slott stalks girl TwitterAnd then there was that time when Dan Slott told Hobby Lobby supporters to go to “Christ-Land.”

Dan Slott ChristiansNote: I’m pretty sure that if a group of mostly Jewish individuals won a court case and I told them to go to “Jew-Land,” Dan Slott would find that rather repugnant. The same goes for a request to go to “Muslim-Land” to a group of Muslims. But hey, Mr. Quesada has “never known” Dan Slott to behave inexcusably.

Moving on, we have Erik Larsen last year letting all his Christian fans know just what he thinks of their faith by posting an Easter bunny ejecting bloody eggs out of its butt, which then hatched different versions of Jesus. But again, Mr. Quesada has “never” known comic book industry “professionals” to behave inexcusably.

Erik Larson retweetWhat about if you’re a conservative comic book fan? How do writers and artists comport themselves online, then? Since Mr. Quesada has “never” known creators to behave inexcusably, let’s see a snapshot of Mark Waid’s online behavior. Ah yes, he wants Republicans to go “f**k themselves.” How quaint.

Mark WaidSpeaking of conservatives, how many conservatives work with Joe Quesada? I know he likes to talk about diversity, but I seem to have trouble finding one comic book writer employed at Marvel who is openly conservative. I guess ideological diversity doesn’t count.

I can go on and on, but since Mr. Quesada struggled to find comic book industry “professionals” acting inexcusably I’ll even add in an example from Gail Simone. Apparently it’s okay to start resorting to personal attacks against combat veterans if they disagree with Ms.Simone’s politics.

Gail SimoneIf I called Ms. Simone a “walnut-brained woolly mammoth” over a disagreement on politics or comics, I suppose Mr. Quesada would lecture me on how I need to treat her like “flesh and blood” with “actual feelings.” We all know that he won’t give that lecture to Ms. Simone, though — he agrees with her politics.

Here’s the bottom line: At Marvel, tolerance, tact and understanding are all part of a one-way street.

If you agree with them on politics or the creative direction of their books, then they’ll laugh and giggle and chortle along with you all day long. If you happen to think that young women who work the late shift at a hospital should be able to carry a handgun, then things start to change. If you think having Peter Parker make a deal with the devil goes against everything the character stands for, then it’s a different story. Steve Wacker and Dan Slott and Tom Brevoort and the whole Marvel crew can make smarmy, condescending cracks in your direction all day long, but if you’re a smart guy who has a few intellectual nuclear warheads in your back pocket, then suddenly you need to be concerned about “feelings” and “families.”

Joe Quesada is the guy who burns bridges and then berates fans for not making those bridges out of stronger material in the first place. Joe Quesada is the guy who eggs on his buddies to act like bullies, and then when fans give them a verbal beat-down he gives lectures on inflammatory rhetoric. The brown-nosing comic book and entertainment “journalists” who will do anything to cozy up to a few Marvel writers and artists may not call out inappropriate behavior, but bloggers will.

Keep playing dumb, Mr. Quesada. Keep going with the Arnold Jackson “What you talkin’ about Willis?” strategy. This isn’t 1990. The digital trail doesn’t go cold very quickly, and bloggers are always ready to chronicle your hypocrisy. If you want to know why you’re not treated with respect by countless fans — or why the comic book industry is a shadow of its former self — all you have to do is look in the mirror.

Related: Check out Colossus of Rhodey’s take on Joe Quesada’s hypocrisy.

Comics

Dan Slott: I write Peter Parker like a blockhead because Charlie Brown never kicked the football

Dan Slott LucyMarvel’s “Renew Your Vows” is just around the corner, which means Dan Slott has been making the rounds to preemptively defend the weird editorial mandates Marvel will soon shove down readers’ throats. Think of it like the “medicine” Tom Brevoort is fond of telling fans they need.

Flashback: “The medicine may not taste good, but if it makes you feel better, then you need to take it.”

Tom Brevoort Twitter OMDIn its lead-up to questions with The Amazing Spider-Man writer Dan Slott, here’s what Entertainment Weekly said March 16 about Marvel’s past attempts to administer fans their “medicine.”

While there isn’t much of a way to objectively measure these things, the dissolution of the Spider-marriage in 2007’s One More Day is easily one of the most widely disparaged story decisions for the character in recent memory. (The “death” of Peter Parker leading up to Superior Spider-Man may have come close, but a lot of people have come around on that front. Not nearly as many have said, “Hey, the Parkers selling their marriage to the devil to save Aunt May was actually great.”)

Entertainment Weekly writer Joshua Rivera (perhaps best known for not understanding why self-censorship is a bad thing for the industry), gently alluded to the possibility that Marvel would once again screw things up with “Renew Your Vows.” Dan Slott’s reaction: talk about Charles M. Schulz denying Charlie Brown the opportunity to kick the football out of Lucy’s hands.

Mr. Slott said:

“With any story where you give people what they want—there’s a difference, as a storyteller, between what your readers want and what your readers need. In a good Peanuts story, you want Charlie Brown to kick that football. But if Charlie Brown kicks the football, it’s over!” says Slott. “All the best stories in serialized fiction–it’s always about teasing the greatest wishes and wants, but monkey-pawing it. Always giving you what you want, but not the way you want it.”

The Marvel writer was so proud of his false analogy that he even started using it on Twitter:

Dan Slott Charlie BrownHow bizarre is it that Dan Slott willingly casts himself as the comic industry’s Lucy Van Pelt and then wonders why fans often want to verbally kick him around like a football? Regardless, like Mr. Brevoort’s “medicine” comment, the hubris of the modern comic book creator is on full display. Tom Brevoort knows what medicine you “need” to take. Dan Slott knows what you “need” — and it’s not what you want.

Dan Slott Charlie Brown footballDan Slott seems to really believe he is comparing apples to apples when he compares a static character who never ages with one who is much more dynamic. In one instance there is Charlie Brown — the sole property of Charles M. Schulz — who is inspired by the artist’s childhood. In the other instance there is Peter Parker, a character who was created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, but in no way meant to be trapped in his own hell-ish editorial version of Groundhog Day.

Why is it “over” if Charlie Brown kicks the ball? It’s not. It’s only over if your point all along was to convey some strange message about how women are duplicitous jerks who send good men reeling when they are trusted.

Is Dan Slott saying that Peter Parker’s “Lucy and the football” situation is marriage to a strong woman like MJ? What does Dan Slott have against writing a married version of Peter Parker? Just as it’s totally legitimate to ask what the heck Charles M. Shulz was thinking by never allowing Charlie Brown to kick the football, it is also quite valid to wonder why so many writers and editors at Marvel are uncomfortable with a marriage between Peter and MJ.

If Dan Slott really believes that his job as a writer is to be the best “monkey-pawer” in the business — and I have no reason to doubt that he is sincere when he makes that case — then it should be abundantly clear why the relaunch of The Amazing Spider-Man has been an embarrassment in terms of Peter Parker’s characterization.

Dan Slott is great at telling naked Spider-Ham jokes and he is great at treating Peter Parker like Charlie Brown trying to kick at the old pigskin, but he is not great at characterization. If you plan on buying “Renew Your Vows,” then you should take the writer at his word when he says that his job is not to give the fans what they want.

Comics, Culture

Batgirl 41 variant cover pulled after SJWs cry like babies, demand Joker not act like Joker

Batgirl variantWhen you live in a country where college campuses have to issue “trigger warnings” any time a discussion might challenge a few worldviews, it’s only a matter a time before hyper-sensitive millennials bring their crybaby-dictator personalities into the real world. The most recent example can be found with DC’s decision to pull a variant cover of Batgirl 41. Joker is apparently no longer allowed to be Joker if he’s interacting with women.

Here is what artist Rafael Albuquerque had to say after a campaign started by “Feminist Batman” picked up steam.

“My intention was never to hurt or upset anyone through my art. For that reason, I have recommended to DC that the variant cover be pulled.”

Since when was it the artist’s job to produce art that doesn’t upset someone’s sensibilities? Since when did artists begin torpedoing their work when it was deemed offensive to feminists and Gender Studies majors on Tumblr? At what point are we allowed to tell “Feminist Batman” and her friends that they’re acting like whiny kids who need to grow up and behave like a adults?

Ms. “Feminist Batman” said on Tumblr:

There are a lot of potential Joker variant covers that would have been amazing. I would have loved to see Barbara stepping on the joker’s face after punching him to the ground, perhaps using that iconic camera of his to take a selfie. But a violent, bloody cover of a weeping Batgirl as the man who molested her smiles by her side is sickening. It’s disgusting. And I am tired of her scenes in The Killing Joke being referenced while the serious issues involving her assault are casually ignored.

The great thing about art is that you can produce as much as you want. There is a 100 percent chance that Feminist Batman will find future covers and variant covers to her liking, so it seems incredibly bizarre for her to act as if this one variant cover somehow negates whatever progress her favorite character has made since the publication of 1988’s The Killing Joke.

As Patrick Bissett pointed out for The Daily Caller on March 17:

The Joker is a fictional character, a comic book villain whose raison d’être is to cause mayhem, to injure, to hurt, and to provide the Yin to Batman’s oftentimes complicated Yang. It doesn’t make sense to find the actions of a fictional character offensive, especially when those actions are central to the personality of that character.

Sadly, for every Mr. Bissett there is a Joshua Rivera out there who simply doesn’t get the big picture.

Mr. Rivera writes for Entertainment Weekly:

There are those that aren’t pleased with this decision, who think we’re seeing art being censored because it’s offensive. The claim of “censorship,” however, is objectively false. The art was never suppressed. You can look at it all you want—in this article, even! The fact that the creators themselves were involved in the cover’s cancellation is further proof that this is a move for artistic integrity—the people making the book have a vision for it, and the cover did not match that vision.

Josh can’t see that what is happening is worse than censorship — we now have artists who actually think it’s their job to produce art that doesn’t offend contemporary culture. We now have artists who will scrap their projects when the shrieks of politically correct kids reach a high enough decibel level. The artist willingly capitulates to the caprices of fickle feminists, online bullies, and ideological censorship clowns who inadvertently remind us that the seeds of tyranny exist within all of us.

If you’ve ever wondered why the comic industry seems to be in dire straits, then look no further than DC’s decision to pull its Batgirl 41 variant cover. The scope of what artists and writers can create these days is incredibly narrow because one wrong move results in an “off with their heads!” campaign, which only serves to stifle muses and crush imagination. Coddling the likes of “Feminist Batgirl” and her online allies may make Rafael Albuquerque feel good for a few days, but it does long term damage to the industry he loves.

Books, Culture, Obama Administration, Politics

‘The Great Degeneration': Niall Ferguson explains how America is engineering its own demise

The Great DegenerationWith ‘Civilization: The West and the Rest,’ Niall Ferguson described the “killer apps” that Western civilization used to propel itself past its rivals. With ‘The Great Degeneration: How Institutions Decay and Economies Die,’ he shows readers how quickly the wheels can come off the bus and send all of civil society’s passengers over a cliff.

While Mr. Ferguson’s analysis does not exclusively focus on the U.S., by the time he’s done unsealing the “boxes” of democracy, capitalism, the rule of law, and civil society, it is obvious that America is very, very sick — perhaps terminally ill — and that short of a miracle our experiment in self governance will not end well.

As Mr. Ferguson states:

“Where bad institutions pertain, people get stuck in vicious circles of ignorance, ill health, poverty, and, often, violence. Unfortunately, history suggests that there are more of these suboptimal frameworks than there are optimal frameworks. A really good set of institutions is hard to achieve. Bad institutions, by contrast, are easy to get stuck in. And this is why most countries have been poor for most of history, as well as illiterate, unhealthy and bloody.” Niall Ferguson, The Great Degeneration: How Institutions Decay and Economies Die (New York: Penguin, 2012), 18.

When the author speaks of the rule of law turning into the rule of lawyers, it’s hard not to think of what America has become. When the author talks about a “corrupt and monopolistic elite” exploiting the system of law and administration to their own advantage, it’s hard not to think of what America has become. When the author talks about public debt being managed to allow the current generation of voters to “live at the expense of those as yet too young to vote or as yet unborn,” it’s hard not to think of what America has become.

Over and over again, ‘The Great Degeneration’ shows that we as a society are creating complex systems that are destined to fail. What makes the story all the more tragic is that it’s all quite predictable.

As Tocqueville said in 1835 with the publication of ‘Democracy in America':

I see an innumerable crowd of like and equal men who revolve on themselves without repose, procuring the small and vulgar pleasures with which they fill their souls. Each of them, withdrawn and apart, is like a stranger to the destiny of all the other: his children and his particular friends form the whole human species for him; as for dwelling with his fellow citizens, he is beside them, but he does not see them; he touches them and does not feel them; he exists only in himself and for himself alone. …

Above these an immense tutelary power is elevated, which alone takes charge of assuring their enjoyments and watching over their fate. It is absolute, detailed, regular, far-seeing, and mild. It would resemble paternal power if, like that, it had for its object to prepare men for manhood; but on the contrary, it seeks only to keep them fixed irrevocably in childhood. …

Regular readers of this blog know that a shift in tone began to occur roughly three years ago. That is because I share many of the author’s conclusions about modern-day America and western civilization. Our culture is sick, but it is only willing to talk about its symptoms instead of the disease. The institutions have been compromised, and until they are fixed our slide into irrelevance will continue.

‘The Great Degeneration’ is a rather quick read at 153 pages. If you get a chance, pick it up at your local book store. If for no other reason, it is fascinating to think about some of the events that have occurred since its publication; Mr. Ferguson’s knowledge of the past helps him to accurately predict the future. You’ll give him a round of applause for the effort — after you wipe a few tears from your eyes.