The Fleming Foundation Cultural Commentary

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Wednesday’s Child: Letter from Vienna

“If somebody were to prove to me once and for all that Christ is not Truth, and if indeed it was so that Truth lay outside Christ,” Dostoevsky famously proclaimed, “I would still choose Christ over Truth.”  Some years after the Russian writer had sounded this chord in one of his novels, Vasily Rozanov, in some ways his only spiritual heir, came up with his own version of the credo. Rozanov was a thinker who combined the flamboyance of Oscar Wilde with the originality of Friedrich Nietzsche and the modesty of Marcus Aurelius, and I have always marvelled at the...

2

Boris and Brexit

I was in the Metro.  I looked down at the newspaper the man on my left was reading.  It featured three characters.  One, a Boris Johnson jumping up and screaming “F*#% Europe!”  To his right a flustered and disturbed David Cameron wheels around, saying, “Trump?”  To his right a French footman bows and says, in French, “No, it’s the Mayor of London…” Later that same day I was writing in a cafe and four tables over I heard snippets of a conversation in French in which the words “Boris” and “Brexit” featured prominently. It was the day after Boris had delivered...

1

Properties of Blood I.3: The Disappearing Individual–Conclusion

The proper word for a human being, considered in his own right, is “person,” a neutral term that does not specify the human being’s connection to or disconnection from his society.  Wives and children are human persons and possessed of human dignity, but there are legal and social circumstances when it would be misleading to speak of them as individuals.  Is a newborn or pre-born infant an individual?  It hardly seems likely, but if not an individual than in what sense is the infant to be protected?  Pro-life advocates will leap in to say that he is a “legal person...

4

The Apogee of Imbecility

The European ruling class likes to tell its subjects that the massive influx of migrants from the Middle East is harmless.  These are people just Europeans, they say, but unlike the privileged people of the West, the migrants have have had the bd luck to be living in a war zone.  We are morally obliged to accept as many of them as would like to come, because we can never say no to a refugee from anywhere, lest we be like the cold-hearted Christians who turned a blind eye to the Holocaust. The narrative is wrong on many levels.  Perhaps...

1

Wednesday’s Child: Letter from London

  From London, though I’m yet to arrive there, with stops at Vienna and Paris, but what’s a little topographic imprecision among friends?  Vienna, because the eccentric diva who, as the reader may recall from my New Year missive, wore three different wigs in a single night, has invited us there; Paris, because a benevolent friend there gives my wife sound advice with regard to her concert career; and finally London, because there Irina has just had published a monograph on her collection of paintings, a massive tome entitled Flying in the Wake of Light.  Irina Stolyarova – such is...

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Properties of Blood I.3: The Disappearing Individual, Part G

The Pernicious Myth of the Individual The term individual is derived from individuum, a Medieval Latin word, meaning “undivided being.”  In applying it to human beings, we run into two difficulties.  The first and easiest to grasp is that “undivided” implies a single nature, whether material or spiritual.  A materialist would have no trouble in agreeing that man is a purely material being, that soul and consciousness are epiphenomenal, that is, accidental byproducts of biological processes that give us illusions like free will and the human mind.  Most non-materialists will hesitate to go down this road, though mystics or even...

5

Every Man a President

The word is out from the highest bully pulpit in the land:  Donald Trump will not be President.  Why, because being President “is a serious job.”   President Obama went on,  by way of the via negativa,  to define the presidency by saying: “It’s not hosting a talk show or a reality show, it’s not promotion, it’s not marketing… It’s not a matter of pandering and doing whatever will get you in the news on a given day.” It is pretty obvious that the President has been spending a lot of time looking at his image in the mirror, and...

5

Sickness and Technology

Dear Readers Technology is supposed to be a tool we use.  If it’s reliable, sometimes we can be shocked at its letting us down.  Last week Dr. Fleming and I spent 45 minutes trying to get him properly and digitally into our virtual studio so we could record a podcast.  We had performed the exact same actions just a few days earlier with absolutely zero trouble.  Ah, the idiosyncrasies of our digital masters. Dr. Fleming showed remarkable patience throughout and while we could have persevered on that afternoon to try for a makeshift solution, he wisely relented, and planned a...

1

The Media Masseurs, Part I

Here in Rome I read Midwestern news stories many hours late or, if the events took place at night, seven hours early.   In the morning, while my distant neighbors were still asleep, I read about the machete-wielding maniac in Columbus, Ohio, who attacked the diners in a Middle Eastern restaurant.  It was hard to get any hard facts.  The one fact that stuck out was the image of the Israeli flag in the window of a restaurant named Nazareth, along with other symbols and words in Arabic.  Some report did either report or conjecture that the owner had tried...

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Wednesday’s Child: The Way to Malibu

“Centuries after Great Schism”–well, some ten of them, to be more precise–“Pope and Patriarch are to Meet.”  So a headline in the Financial Times.  It makes me wonder if, in their editors’ and reporters’ view, all news with only a remote historical precedent is ipso facto grounds for optimism.  Now, seeing as God isn’t really these people’s beat, let’s poke around for an example closer to their hearts to illustrate my misgivings.  What about “Corporate Tax in France without Parallel at 99%”?  Or “Germany: Banks Nationalized Overnight”?  Or “All Private Property Abolished in Britain”? “Ah,” I may be told, “but...