FOR THE TIME BEING, I am consumed with reading and research for the final third of my novel, TIMES OF DISTRESS, the first book in my Winterbine Series. I have little time for other writing which explains why most of my posts on my two websites are links (sometimes with an introduction) to essays or comments I feel are of particular interest.
I will add to my important section on Cardinal Pell as soon as I have time.
I have recently opened a Facebook page for The Edmund Burke Society – Australia. I would really appreciate it if you would give it a like. The more likes I have, the more coverage the page gets. Many thanks.
Roger Scruton, perhaps the greatest philosopher of the 20th century, has died. He has left a vast trove of philosophical writing that requires inexhaustible study. It is significant that the left did all it could to destroy him. His FOOLS, FRAUDS AND FIREBRANDS: THINKERS OF THE NEW LEFT (2005) is among his most powerful books. The Edmund Burke Society strongly recommends this book to gain an understanding of left’s motivations over the last 60 years.
EPPC Mourns Death of Sir Roger Scruton
January 13, 2020
The Ethics and Public Policy Center mourns the death of EPPC Senior Fellow Sir Roger Scruton, who died on Sunday, January 12, at age 75.
“We grieve the loss of our brilliant colleague Roger Scruton. We are deeply grateful that Roger made EPPC his American think-tank home for the past seven years. He has left a remarkably robust intellectual legacy,” said EPPC President Ed Whelan.
The author of more than 50 books on topics such as art, music, architecture, conservation, philosophy, and religion, Sir Roger was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2016 for his “services to philosophy, teaching and public education.” In 2019, he earned recognition from the governments of Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic for his courageous anti-communist efforts and his legacy of moral and intellectual leadership.
My 2018 ended with a hate storm, in response to my appointment as chair of the government’s Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission. But the new year brings a lull, and I hope and pray that the Grand Inquisitor enthroned by social media will find another target.
The 27th is my 75th birthday, and as it happens the last Wednesday meet of foxhounds for the season. We host the meet and celebrate with our neighbours. Despite my wife Sophie’s protests, I maintain my resolve to give up hunting at 75, counting again the broken bones, sprains and muscular disorders acquired over 35 years in the saddle, or, rather, out of it. On my last hunt, I am glad to say, I stay in the saddle all day.
There is a blaze of commentary about the undisguised pagan activity in the Vatican during the so-called Amazon Synod, including powerful insightful comment from people on the traditional Catholic side. Dr Taylor Marshall and Church Militant are excelling. Dr Marshall with his sidekick Timothy Gordon is terrific on the theological and philosophical implications. Michael Voris continues to pound the clerical weak minds running the show. But for me, the third member of the trio I follow, Michael Matt of Remnant newspaper, is out there leading the charge. His videos are a combination of cold-sober dissection and satirising of the absurdities the Vatican people think we can’t see through. I will continue to provide the link to the best of Matt’s videos.
For those looking around for a program in Western Civilization, try Augustine Academy. It’s a college established by a graduate of Campion College. Its website features a wonderful quote from St Augustine.
“Instruction in the liberal arts, if only it is moderate and concise, produces devotees more alert and steadfast and better equipped for embracing truth.”
The processes and ideology destroying American universities described below by Professor emeritus Garrett Ward Sheldon of the University of Virginia are almost an exact parallel with the decline – or rather degeneration – of Australian universities.
Since retiring from the university, several people have asked if I miss it. I tell them I miss what it was, but not what it has become. Higher education in America has gone from being the best in the world to one of the most pathetic. Why? It’s hard to describe what academia was to me and to millions in the past. It was not just a job, but a way of life, and of Western Civilization; and I’m so close to it, that it’s hard to describe—like trying to describe one’s own mother (hence alma mater!).
But let me try. University life at its best was both the most serious, difficult, challenging and maddening existence; and yet, it was also the most exciting, lively, rewarding, and fun experience.
It was deadly serious because we constantly examined the most intense human issues: historical and personal tragedies; ethical dilemmas, philosophical complexities; theological mysteries; and scientific wonders. It was hard because it stretched you intellectually and emotionally, made you question everything and be changed by that knowledge. And it was difficult, because of the enormous workload and demands; assignments, exams, papers, presentations and seminars. I don’t know of another situation, except possibly the military during a war, where one could be tested so much.
On ‘My Books‘ page I have posted a short synopsis of the first book in the Winterbine Tetralogy. I am more than halfway through the writing and am confident of a release date in December 2019.
IN TIMES OF DISTRESS Book One of the Winterbine Tetralogy. Fr Jos van Engelen, a Dutch missionary priest stationed in New Guinea, is recalled to Holland in March 1940 to help the Superior-General in combating suspected subversion within the order. At the German invasion of Holland, he is drawn into dangerous covert operations against the Nazis which results in the execution of close collaborators. While in Amsterdam, he saves a young woman and her baby from being crushed in a stampede. It’s the start of a relationship with the young woman and a deadly tussle with her occultist husband. At the same time, he enters into a running conflict with the same subversive elements within his order. The conflict comes to a head during the Second Vatican Council, the result of which is his expulsion to Binawarra, a small country town in Australia. In a parallel plot, Anneke van Engelen, the priest’s niece, goes astray during the student radicalism of the 1960s with disastrous consequences. Fr van Engelen and Anneke van Engelen feature in THE CASTLE OF HEAVENLY BLISS, book three of the Winterbine tetralogy.
The ‘Goddess’, neo-paganism, the occult and Gnosticism are introduced as the themes of the Winterbine series. The ideological conflicts of the 1960s and 1970s form the background. Publication December 2019 More information HERE.
This was a talk I gave on the occasion of the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta.
Edmund Burke devoted the eighth chapter in his Abridgment of English History, to King John’s reign. He records that it was near the end of John’s reign that the barons forced him to place the royal seal on the provisions and undertakings that form the document called Magna Carta, Latin for Great Charter. The Abridgment of English History is a little known and almost entirely disregarded work of Burke’s. He began it in 1757 as a commission from publisher Robert Dodsley. It was one of the projects taken up when he abandoned the law to devote himself to a literary career. He never completed the planned series of books. Indeed, chapter eight is the final full chapter. The eight chapters plus a fragment of chapter nine, ‘An Essay Towards An History Of The Laws Of England’, appeared after his death.
The reader has to take seriously Burke’s title to his work on English history because a distinct purpose is revealed in the process of abridgment. Through the sometimes sparse historical details, the reader finds a concentration on the effect of the different settled arrangements (like custom and tradition) on the development of the law governing the English people. The contrast, though nowhere near as explicit as in his later writings, is between law as developed out of the concrete circumstances of a people being a people and law as the product of abstract speculation. The fragment of chapter nine confirms this analysis.
Mervyn F. Bendle is one of Australia’s foremost conservative intellectuals. He frequently contributes to Quadrant magazine and Quadrant Online, Australia’s foremost organ for the display of conservative thought. Quadrant‘s importance is highlighted by the constant attempts of Australia’s dominant leftist class to shut it down. It is a magazine that belongs in the library of every philosophical conservative. The article below is a survey of the philosophy of the world’s foremost conservative intellectual Roger Scruton. There could hardly be a more readable survey and introduction to Scruton’s thought than this article. Lovers of the writings of Edmund Burke will recognise Burke’s deep influence on Scruton.
One of the best-known passages from Edmund Burke’s writing is his lament over the capture of the French royal family and their being force-marched twelve miles from the Palace of Versailles into Paris ‘amidst the horrid yells, and shrilling screams, and frantic dances, and infamous contumelies, and all the unutterable abominations of the furies of hell in the abused shape of the vilest of women.’
Burke’s lament was provoked not so much by this melancholy scene and the barbarism of the revolutionaries. It was rather the Revolution Society’s glorification at the Old Jewry of the bloody revolutionary action that moved him. In particular, the raptures of radical preacher Dr Richard Price proclaiming the victory of reason and the dawn of freedom nerved Burke’s pen to write several pages of soaring prose bemoaning far more the ideological defeat of European Christian culture than the tragic predicament of the Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.