The Fleming Foundation Cultural Commentary

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Interview With Polonia Christiana, Part I

Thomas Fleming was interviewed in August by Mike Krupa of Polonia Christiana.  For readers of Polish, the inteveiw is available here.  For those less fortunate, we have posted the original exchange in English., PC  After almost 8 years of Barack Obama’s presidency, what kind of country is the United States? TJF  When Barack Obama was elected President, reaction was divided along party lines.  Democrats, especially those who belonged to ethnic minorities, expected rapid improvement in their condition and in their opportunities for advancement. They also expected a quick end to the military adventurism that had characterized his predecessor’s administrations.  Republicans, by contrast, feared...

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John Kasich’s Bible

Governor Kasich has finally got himself into the news.   Falling asleep in the debate did not work.so now he turns to that last refuge of corrupt Republican: religion.  Accused of pandering for votes by supporting socialized medicine, he offers to give his critics free copies of the Bible. Looks like this is one more cause of a good Catholic boy who has followed the papacy into  non-revolutionary socialism. This is one we cannot blame on Pope Francis or Paul VI or even on Leo XIII.  Kasich abandoned  the Catholic Church for materialist hedonism, and when he found he needed some...

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The Autodidact’s Reading List: Romans of the Golden Age

The Essential Romans In this first draft of the Roman section, I am only going to list a few indispensable works with a few suggestions on translations.  As the weeks and months go by, I’ll be updating this and other sections that are posted. The Golden Age Poetry Vergil, The Aeneid.  I prefer the the polished if far from literal translation of John Dryden, a major work of English literature.  Otherwise, any older prose translation will do.  More recent verse translations, especially those concocted after WW II, are alien in spirit and in form.  Less entertaining the Homer, Vergil is...

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Wednesday’s Child: The Three Consuls

  In English we signal everyman randomness by speaking of Tom, Dick, and Harry, with the French it’s “Pierre, Paul or Jacques,” while the equally boring Russians employ the common surnames “Ivanov, Petrov, Sidorov.”  But when the Italians, God bless their intractable little souls, want to do the same, they speak of “Tizio, Caio e Sempronio,” that is to say, Titus, Gaius, and Sempronius.  Just imagine how that would trip off the tongue:  “If he thinks I’m gonna let every Titus, Gaius, and Sempronius use the new lawnmower, he’s got another thing coming.” When I first came to Palermo some...

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Properties of Blood I F: The Heresy of Globalism

The Rights of Nations Viewing Christianity as the enemy, intellectuals have always felt justified in misrepresenting its teachings, either to make them contemptible (as Nietzsche and the neopagans have done) or to pervert them to what they saw as good use.  So-called Christian Socialists and social gospellers made it appear that “true” Christianity (as opposed to the bogus faith of the previous two millennia) would dispense with all distinctions, including national boundaries. To delegitimate the right of nations to defend their territory, leftists like to quote Paul’s statement that in baptism “There is neither Jew nor Greek,” as if Paul’s...

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The Missing Middle Classes, Part I

It is not so long since any time historians wanted to explain something—the wealth of medieval Europe, the disappearance of bubonic plague, the Reformation—they would trot out the middle classes as the uncaused cause of all effects.  Others—the more prophetically-minded—took a gloomier view of the middle classes, and attributed all the things they disliked to them.   Bad taste in art, for instance.  How does one explain that?  Or the general stodginess and frumpiness of all those people commuting into work on the train in the morning?  Their refusal to be impressed by free-verse poetry, twelve-tone music, and abstract expressionism? ...

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On Secund Thawt: The Grammar of Dating

Good grammar is said to be all the rage on dating sites.  This story would be good news, had it been reported anywhere but in the Wall Street Journal, whose columnists and editors do not appear to know the difference between grammar and spelling.  They lead the story with a young man who was put off by a potential date who  wrote him a confirmation of their first meeting: “I’ll see you their.”  Poor Mr. Cohen—a chump more interested in spelling than romance.  The young lady has made a fortunate escape.  One is almost tempted to agree with the Columbia University...

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Wednesday’s Child: The Electric Stradivari

If I were asked to devise a novel “ontological proof” of God’s existence, in the tradition of St. Anselm and the rest of that crowd, I would probably begin by pointing out the difference between the price of a yard of cashmere tweed and a yard of blue denim.  Hierarchies exist and, despite society’s attempts to erode or invert them, are demonstrable and immutable, which suggests that some kind of apogee of the natural order of things must exist in its turn. Though our society seeks to level the field, so that a fur must now be qualified as “real”...

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The Autodidact’s Reading List, I: The Ancient Greeks

  The Autodidact’s Reading List Introduction This second draft of a reading list is offered in the hope that it will help families, schools, and people of all ages to read some of the really valuable books in the American, British, European, and classical traditions.  In general, works have been chosen for both their merit and for the wholesome influence on the development of our civilization.  Not every important book has been included:  Some works of undoubted merit have been omitted  because they grate upon the sensibilities of most Christians; others because they were too difficult or demanding; others simply...

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Sophocles’ Oedipus III

Jocaste once again reassures Oedipus  that religion is bunk.  Even if the servant changes his story about the number of Laius’s killers, “he will never prove that the killing of Laius was as predicted, namely that he would be killed by my son as Apollo prophesied.”   Thus the second witness is not crucial to the story.  Oedipus here also makes an important slip: It is not just oracle-mongers who are not to be trusted, but the god himself. The choral ode that follows is a key moment in the play.  The chorus, coming to their senses, hope for purity...