The Thinking 
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Hurricanes and Fashion, Part II

November 1, 2012


JAMES P. writes:

Elizabeth McBride writes:

Are you serious about the way New Yorkers are dressed after the worse storm in recorded history? Should they dress up in suits for the men, gowns and heels for the women?

I encourage everyone to search for images of past hurricanes — e.g., 1938, 1944, or 1954.

Here are images from the 1938 New England hurricane and its aftermath. How did they find time to dress?

Read More »


A Tea Party in Dallas

November 1, 2012


MEREDITH writes:

I too am saddened by the extreme casualness of our society’s dress. Just this past weekend, my daughter and I traveled to Dallas for a baby shower that was a tea party theme. Since we were going to Dallas (which tends to be much dressier than my city) I had assumed that the women would be better dressed than I, so I was sure to wear a nice, albeit homemade, dress (brown calico with a floral print) and my daughter who is six and a half years old, wore a bishop dress that I’d just finished sewing and smocking.

I nearly made myself blind to get the thing done in time for the shower, but it turned out beautifully. I was dismayed to see that most of the hostesses were wearing jeans, or short skirts and leggings with boots … only one was in a dress, but it was a leopard print and she wore it with black tights and four-inch heel pumps, which she complained were hurting her feet. Read More »


The Future of Marriage

November 1, 2012


DON’T miss the extended discussion in this entry of ecclesiastical marriage and the rejection of state marriage licenses. Especially see these comments by Jeremy, who argues that Christians can no longer with good conscience participate in the civil institution of marriage.

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Culture and the Downloadable Novel

November 1, 2012


JOHN HARRIS, editor of Praesidium and executive director of the Center for Literate Values, writes:

I happened upon Alexis de Tocqueville’s remarks about literary taste in American democracy recently. Dense irony swirled around the discovery of his words about the literary industry. He wrote:

The ever-growing crowd of readers and the continual need they have of the new assure the sale of a book that they scarcely esteem.

My Kindle allowed me to have a free copy of Tocqueville’s classic, in the first place … but I have long since learned that the price of such free stuff is a gaudy billboard staring me in the face every time I reach for my palm-held library. Last week, some TV serial titled “Nashville” hounded me. This week it’s a novel called Dawn which claims to be “Book One of the Xenogenesis Trilogy.” Has the author, then, already contracted to produce two more tomes … or is this glorious triad being republished for Kindle-owners after an initial triumph?  Or, does it even matter?  Isn’t everything a trilogy now?  Does the sort of person who reads these things actually know what a trilogy is, any more than he or she is alert to the literal absurdity behind the word “xenogenesis”?

Tocqueville foresaw that, like everything else in America, creative literature would be driven by an insatiable thirst for novelty. Exoticism would be ground out without any consideration for plausibility. Read More »


Mr. Bean Objects to Britain’s Hate Speech Law

November 1, 2012


ROWAN ATKINSON, the British actor, spoke out recently against Britain’s draconian hate speech law, which has led to hundreds of arrests for those who have violated liberal rules of etiquette, such as the man who called a police horse “gay.” The “right to insult and offend” is basic to British tradition, Atkinson said. He stated:

“‘I’m not intolerant,’ say many softly-spoken, highly educated liberal-minded people. ‘I’m only intolerant of intolerance.’ And people tend to nod sagely and say, ‘Oh yes, wise words, wise words.’ And yet if you think about this supposedly inarguable statement for longer than five seconds you realize that all it is advocating is the replacement of one kind of intolerance with another.” Read More »


Happy All Saints Day

November 1, 2012


Painting by Niccolò Antonio Colantonio, showing St. Jerome's removal of a thorn from a lion's paw.


The Thrill of Destruction

November 1, 2012


JANE S. writes:

Dennis Prager writes:

“Same-sex marriage is the only social movement to break entirely with the past, to create a moral ideal never before conceived. . .. After all, you need a lot of self-esteem to hold yourself morally superior to all those who preceded you.”

Dennis Prager doesn’t get it. To wipe out the accumulated social knowledge of the past is the goal of totalitarianism, not an incidental byproduct. That is what makes it so irresistible. Few people, it turns out, can pass up the opportunity to style themselves morally superior to every person who has ever lived.

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