Category: Fleming

8

Blackboard Jungles

I hate to sound like a bonehead movement conservative, but….I find it hard to believe anything I see in the news, which in my case consists mostly of the headlines of The Daily Mail.  I don’t mean I think the writers and editors are lying.  I just find it hard to believe that anyone could make the stupid comments that inspire the headlines, that a writer would find them worth repeating, that an editor who did not work for his middle school newsletter would print them, and, finally, that anyone would take the trouble to click on the headline and...

0

Orestes, Part II

Orestes puts his case to Menelaus.  His uncle owes Agamemnon for all he did in launching an expedition to regain Menelaus’ wife.  After all, Orestes is not asking Menelaus to kill his own daughter to fulfill his duty—a look back at Agamemnon’s sacrifice of his daughter Iphigenia and forward to Orestes’ plot to kidnap Hermione. In what should be a clinching argument for a normal Greek, Orestes points out that if he and Electra die, so does the line of Agamemnon.  Menelaus (682 ff) agrees—up to a point—that kinsmen should endure each others’ misfortunes/evils, but only if the god gives...

5

Euripides’ Orestes

The Orestes, performed in 408, is one of Euripides’ last surviving plays–the poet died only two years later.  It was very popular in the Hellenistic and Byzantine eras, much cited and taught in schools.   It is a vivid melodrama (in the modern not the ancient sense), but it is also a profound and difficult meditation on the meaning of friendship. One caveat before I make a few remarks on the play.  Though Euripides was, in the following centuries, the most popular writer of tragedies, I have always rated him distinctly third compared with his predecessors, Aeschylus and Sophocles.  I...

29

Welcome to the World of Stephen King

Stephen King, on learning of a train crash in which Republican members of Congress were shaken up and the driver of a garbage truck was killed, tweeted: “A trainload of Republicans on their way to a pricey retreat hit a garbage truck,” King noted Thursday. “My friend Russ calls that karma.” King was immediately attacked and he later apologized for his indiscretion. If we wish to be kind, we might recall that King was a suicidal alcoholic who drank mouthwash, when he could not get real booze, and ink when he could not get mouthwash. If we probed deeper, we...

8

Marriage and Divorce in the Early Church: POB II.2

Divorce and Remarriage In the early Church, marriage was honorable, sexual relations are legitimate even when not entirely necessary for procreation, and separation or divorce  permitted when the marriage made it impossible or difficult to practice the faith.   (I say “separation or divorce,”  because early Christian writers did not use these terms with any precision. )  But were there circumstances under which a divorced person might legitimately remarry?  This was a question seriously debated in the early Church, because none of the three principal cultures that influenced the Church–Greek, Roman, Judaic–had preserved earlier prohibitions on divorce.   Ancient Jewish...

1

A PS on Trump’s Dirty Mouth

When I posted my comments about Trump on Facebook, some “friends” seemed to think that I was endorsing or defending his language.  I added this clarification: I am far from accepting, much less endorsing, such speech. As an observer of political reality, though, I refuse to indulge in idle speculation about a world that no longer exists. I find very little in public life to be even minimally acceptable, from the poor English, incomprehensible reasoning, and indeceny in broadcasting to the filth of popular music to the pornography of movies and television. I do not go out to movies, even...

13

Between a Rock and a Hard Place: The Legacy of the Doctored King

This morning my wife, who has a bad habit of following the news,  asked me about the “legacy” of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “I know he plagiarized his dissertation and just about every major speech or statement he made, advised soldiers to betray their country during the Vietnam War, maintained significant contacts with Communist agents, and betrayed his wife incessantly and with teenage girls.  But, to be fair, a lot of great men have had feet of clay.  What are his positive accomplishments that would be worth celebrating?” It’s not only a fair question but a valuable one.  Before...

1

The Haiti We Shall Always Have With Us

This is from a web piece posted in 2004 When will there be peace and stability in Iraq? When will the United States be able to sign off on an Iraqi democracy and bring the troops home?” Many Americans have been asking these question over the past six months. The obvious answer to both questions is: “Never.” The foreign-policy leaders of the Bush administration know that Iraq, like Afghanistan, has no cultural or historical basis for a democracy. They also know that we are increasingly hated by all parties, and that the rising resistance to U.S. occupation will invite more...

4

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Question:  Is everyone angry with Trump for using the vulgar language we hear everyday on the street or for telling the plain truth about Haiti.  I have even heard American blacks refer contemptuously to “Hessians”–and they were not talking about German mercenaries in the American Revolution.   I suppose there must be some place with more hapless, dependent, filthy, and violent people, but none with a history like Haiti’s.  It took a witchdoctor like Papa Doc Duvalier to impose any order, and these days all they seem to be doing is to lie around waiting for another hurricane to give...

4

Adam Smith: The briefest of conclusions

There is much that is useful in Hutcheson and Hume, who correct many errors of the Enlightenment, and there would be little point to denying the significance of Adam Smith as the first person who comprehensively demonstrated the superiority of the free market over all the deluded wise men who think they can regulate and plan an economic system:  Although we are free to reject the selfish individualism of Mandeville and Smith, their analysis gives us true insight into the way social and economic systems actually work. It is quite another thing to say that it is our human destiny...