The Fleming Foundation Cultural Commentary

14

Fleming Family Wounds

Up late this morning (7:30) after being up late last night, I was washing the rest of the dinner dishes—the kitchen looked as if we had fed an army—and making coffee, when I made the mistake of turning on NPR.  The local station was playing one of their guest-commentators, a self-declared writer who was droning on about the tedium of going to dinner at a friend’s house, where the whole point was to show off their house and their hospitality and force the guests to make charming chitchat. What selfish b-stards, these people are, who invite friends into their homes!  I...

3

Annals of Trebizond III

The fortunate reign of Andronikos I was followed by succession problems that would become more serious in later days, but the long reign of Manuel I was prosperous, as Trebizond became a key player in Black Sea shipping.  His brother George, who succeeded him, fell victim to the plotting of foolish nobles who did not appear to appreciate what a dangerous world they lived in.  His younger also brother faced civil war.  During this period, the Byzantine Empire was restored by the Palaiologos clan, who would have had little regard for potential rivals in Trebizond.  Family quarrels and noble conspiracies...

6

Wednesday’s Child: Checks and Balances

An Italian friend has just been to St. Tropez, which of course does little to recommend him as a vacationer of any great discernment, seeing as here in Sicily the prickly pear is now in season and you can have your fill of the divine fruit from a street vendor, who peels it while you wait, for about $1 American.  But anyway, tastes are tastes, as the Italians are the first to say. My friend brought back a curious souvenir of the famous watering hole, Nikki Beach, where one balmy afternoon he went to have lunch, and it occurred to...

7

Welcome to Legoland

The crisis created by Islamic migrants is one more proof of the failure of conservative movements.  For several decades, I have watched the antics of various anti-immigration groups in the US, all of them reading from the same liberal prayerbook:  Illegal immigration must be curtailed, because it costs money.  How are they going to say no to all these middle class Muslims? The left, while condemning FAIR and co. as bigots, was happy to join battle on purely material grounds.  For every “conservative” study detailing the cost of educating, feeding, nurturing, and jailing illegal immigrants,  leftist groups would church out studies purporting...

2

Properties of Blood I, Part C

Like most peoples everywhere, ancient Jews respected power and success.  In looking back at their own history, they admired the exploits of Joshua, Gideon, and Samson, violent men who would not have been out of place in the American West.  King David and his son Solomon were among their greatest heroes.  David was a man of war who smote his enemies and built a powerful (albeit minuscule) kingdom; Solomon was proverbial for his wealth and women as well as for his wisdom and power. For more recent heroes, Jews could turn for inspiration to the Maccabees, who had led a...

18

The Indignity of Labor

“Why do they call it “Labor Day,” when it is a day when no one is supposed to work?” That question is probably asked several million times every year about this time. The simple answer is that this is just one more boondoggle put over on a gullible public by two sets of conmen—Big Labor and the Congress of USA—back in the early 1880’s.  In theory, the day is set aside to honor the achievements of laboring men and their corrupt unions.  Since labor unions, almost from the beginning, have been interested only in salaries and benefits and not in...

9

On Second Thought II:  September 6-12 2015

Pope Francis has been instructing Europeans to open their homes to Syrian migrants.  Obviously, many Europeans, Christian and secularist alike, might feel some reluctance about welcoming people from a country where the rule of law does not seem to exist and where it is not unusual to engage in civil war and violence against those who do not share every jot and tittle of your brand of Islam. For secularists, unless they are strict adherents to the Marxist-globalist ideology that even Bernie Sanders dissents from, practical considerations should be enough.  Christians, however, get uneasy.  Our religion, after all, teaches us...

4

On Second Thought

  Kim Davis–Saint or Sinner? At first glance, the case of Kim Davis is clear-cut:  A conscientious Christian who obeys the teaching of Scripture and refuses to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.  One more piece of anti-Christianity in the courts, and Kim Davis is being thrown to the lions, or, at least, in jail. On second thought, perhaps Ms Davis’s critics are right when they point out a  major irony in her case.  While she says repeatedly things like “I feel the institution of marriage was ordained by God in the Bible,” her own practice has been decidedly post-Christian.  She is currently working...

2

Properties of Blood I B

Exiled Children of Eve, B Beatitudes, Not Platitudes It is commonly believed that, as Judas went away from the disagreement over the wasted oil, he was disgruntled over Jesus’ failure to lead a social revolution.  It is certainly true that Jesus’ answer remains a powerful rebuke to those who would confound the gospel with one or another form of state-imposed socialism.  The poor, whom we always have with us, will be taken care of properly only when we freely behave as Christians and not when Caesar, at the point of a sword, requires us to render doubly unto him so...

1

Sophocles’ Antigone: Conclusion

I have probably overloaded the discussion with far too much detail.  My intention was partly to introduce readers to Sophocles’ career and mind-set and also to clear up some of the technical mysteries involved in reading a Greek tragedy.  These plays in part resemble our own classic drama but are also related to liturgy.  They are, after all, religious rituals that are put on in connection with the festival of Dionysus.  In addition, they are civic plays, not mere individual exercises in personal taste.  As such, they served to bind together the entire Athenian community and to involve them with moral actions...