Frank Brownlow

Frank Brownlow

9

Life Lived without Law

Two unrelated events have connected themselves in my mind this week. My first story concerns a piece I read a couple of months ago about a priest in the diocese of Fall River, MA.  He had begun his career as a seminarian at St. John’s Seminary, Brighton, MA, in the early 1990s.  In his first-year there, the academic dean, one Fr. John Farrell, not only described one of his homosexual adventures to the whole first-year class, but “inappropriately touched” our student twice or, as we would say in the language of the law, assaulted him. He was not the only...

19

A NEST OF SWAMP RATS

In the past twelve months the national news has introduced us all to some remarkably loathsome people wielding considerable power from very high places.  How does this come about? A complete list of these creatures would be long and unwieldy, but a short list, on the lines of the FBI’s Most Wanted, and treated as character studies, allows us to reach some conclusions, the most important one being that we are dealing here with is entrenched mediocrity—intellectual, moral, and spiritual.      John Brennan, former head of the CIA under Obama, is an Irishman, born in New Jersey, 1955, whose...

2

Inventing Value

Another coincidental event accompanying the invention of Kraft Cheese and the Hollywood film industry was Woodrow Wilson’s signing of the Federal Reserve act, which inaugurated the evacuation of value from the dollar.  Compared to the gold-backed, pre-Federal Reserve dollar, today’s dollar is worth about 3 cents, another example of capitalism’s mass-production of imitation goods.   

4

More Mendacity: “What is a Man?” (Boethius)

If it comes to that, what is a woman?  Mention of “Gender liquidity” brings to mind a recent article in The New York Post about Mount Holyoke College. It is the oldest women’s college in the country, perhaps in the world, having been founded by Mary Lyon in 1837, and it admits only women.  Or does it? 

18

Imitation Food and Other Frauds

In the 50s and 60s both sides, left and right offered some resistance to the triumph of what we can call, in contrast to the true, the good, and the beautiful, the untrue, the bad, and the ugly.  Oddly enough, the liberal-left put up a surprisingly good fight, something hard to believe these days when NPR punctuates its news broadcasts with rap music.

6

The Inconvenience of Truth

In its original Latin use, inconvenient, meaning not accordant or unsuitable, was—as far as I know—innocent of sinister implication; but in the six hundred years since its importation into English via French, it has tended to take on the coloring of a euphemism.  Although the Oxford Dictionary shows no awareness of the fact, in the days of Elizabeth I, if her Lord Treasurer William Cecil began to think that someone’s presence or behavior was inconvenient, then it was probably time for that person to start thinking seriously about putting his property in trust, and planning a trip overseas. In contemporary...

24

The Language of Lying

North American English is now the dominant form of the language, and as one can tell by reading British newspapers or listening to British speakers, under American influence American English is edging out other, local varieties of English, bringing with it American habits of speech and the habits of mind that go with them as it does so.  This is not necessarily a welcome development. As anyone who moves to America from England immediately notices, besides the obvious differences in sound, one peculiar, noticeable feature of North American English is a constant tendency towards euphemism, suggesting that Americans, however big-hearted...

3

Constitutions and How they Die

“Limited government” is a phrase one hears a good deal, especially from Republican candidates for office, who claim to be in favor of it.  Since election to office has now become a guaranteed way to become rich quickly, we can assume that those candidates do not really mean what they say.  Besides, no government will voluntarily limit itself.  The only way to limit a government is to use force. Twice in Anglo-American history people have successfully used force to limit government.  In both cases the result was a government limited by constitutional law, and in both cases the result proved...

6

Prof. Brownlow on Early Modern English Verse

C.S.Lewis said that a “metrical mania” came over England in the 16th century, and it’s an idea that certainly explains the very odd taste for metrical versions of the Psalms in ballad meter that popped up then. There’s a late 15th–early 16th-century version of The Hunting of the Cheviot that’s a great deal more relaxed, metrically, than the later 8 + 6 “metrical” versions: 1.  The Perse owt off Northombarlonde an avowe to God made he That he wold hunte in the mowntayns off Chyviat within days thre In the magger of doughte Dogles and all that ever with him...