touchstone archives

Commonplaces

Piquant excerpts lifted from Touchstone editors' own reading & listening.

Topic: Culture



I am very glad that our fashionable fiction seems to be full of a return to paganism, for it may possibly be the first step of a return to Christianity. Neo-pagans have sometimes forgotten, when they set out to do everything the old pagans did, that the final thing the old pagans did was to get christened.

G. K. Chesterton
(1926)


Culture Commonplaces #12 May/June 2020


After five centuries, things settled down, and today there is a new moral-political orthodoxy we can call individualism. Though it lacks theological trappings, it actually owes a great deal to Jesus, who was a libertarian avant la lettre prophesying the final triumph of the individual soul and its inner experience over the domination of traditional communal bonds and illegitimate religious authority. The new orthodoxy brought a perfectly coherent worldview that makes sense of the human condition (we are bodies that are born and die alone), of what lies beyond (nothing), and of what we need to be happy (carpe diem). And it also, not insignificantly, keeps the peace, since war is bad for business. The new catechism has not reached everyone, and resistance in certain regions is strong and sometimes armed. But if these retrogrades do not convert, their children or grandchildren eventually will. And the world will be as one. . . . It's a compelling story—and an old one, pieced together with fragments from Julian the Apostate, Eusebius, Otto of Freising, Bacon, Condorcet, Hegel, Feuerbach, and today's Silicon Valley futurists. Of course, it is nothing but a myth—not a lie, just an imaginative assemblage of past events and ideas and present hopes and fears.

Mark Lilla
The Shipwrecked Mind (2016)


Culture Commonplaces #38 Sept/Oct 2019


• [I]f evil men were not now and then slain, it would not be a good world for weaponless dreamers.

• Many wear the Robe, but few keep the Way.

• The husbands of the talkative have a great reward hereafter.

Rudyard Kipling
Kim (1901)


Culture Commonplaces #50 May/June 2019


To a small boy, his father is more than his father—he's his vision of the future, his portrait of adult manhood. If that vision is discredited, then growing up itself is discredited.

J. Budziszewski
Ask Me Anything (2004)


Culture Commonplaces #51 May/June 2019


The Glossop method is based on the patient being given an excess of whatever it is he most desires—as it may be alcohol or the companionship of the opposite sex or, as in Lord Bittlesham's case, food. The patient will eventually revolt at the sheer immoderation of it and voluntarily deny himself. . . . It's theoretically impeccable, Bertie, and extremely popular.

P. G. Wodehouse
Jeeves and Wooster, television screenplay (1990-1993)


Culture Commonplaces #54 May/June 2019

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