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03/20/2017

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This is funny. I was thinking about leaving a comment somewhere asking someone to explain the Benedict Option is. I didn't know he had a new book. I've just been hearing that term quite a bit in the past year or so.

AMDG

Could also refer to the option of retiring from the Papacy if you feel you are too old.

I think when you get down to nuts and bolts it's fairly vague.

I find all this a little tiresome, even exasperating, because this discussion was being held twenty-five years ago in the pages of the magazine Caelum et Terra and other places.

I knew an elderly academic who would, with his wife, attend conferences. They return from one in 1996 and she tells me her husband was exasperated. "Not one new idea". He was then 65, and came from a generation of academics who read widely but published little. You don't have time to read widely anymore (too much material), but you'd think they'd conduct literature reviews first and discover that whatever novel line of inquiry they're promoting to get tenure is a furrow that's been ploughed before.

Dreher is 50 years old so hasn't quite the excuse a younger man would in this vein. Alas, he's also an incorrigible attention whore (in addition to his other distinctive and peculiar shortcomings). This is Crunchy Cons redux.

The man that wrote that post in Mere Orthodoxy has a daughter named Davy and a son named Wendell. Makes me wonder.

I wonder whether most of you can quite grasp how bitterly sad it is to see a young man named John Paul or a young woman named Kateri denouncing Christian “homophobia” and “transphobia” on Facebook, and applauding the punishment of bakers and florists for their “discrimination.”

Once, when I was about 12 or 13, a seven year old boy walked up to me (for no reason--I didn't even know him) and socked me in the abdomen and knocked the breath out of me. That's about what it's like to read that sentence.

AMDG

"This is Crunchy Cons redux."

Bet you haven't read the book yet, have you, Arthur?

I read it last week. It's got a few parallels with C.C., but other than that it's quite different.

Gerald Russello has a good brief review up at ISI if anyone's interested.

I would note that the book is being talked about in conjunction with two other books that have recently appeared, one by Anthony Esolen and one by Cardinal Chaput. I've read the former but not the latter.

But maybe Art doesn't like them either.

*Archbishop* Chaput, I believe, not Cardinal. A conspicuous oversight when new Cardinals were last named, I recall.

I read it last week. It's got a few parallels with C.C., but other than that it's quite different.

You're not understanding me. I'm not referring to the semantic content, but to it's function.


Bet you haven't read the book yet, have you, Arthur?

See Mortimer Adler and Charles van Doren on this point: not every book merits a line-by-line reading. An inspectional reading (or less) will often do. In the case of Dreher's output, reading the reviews will do.

I have no objection to Dr. Esolen. I read his articles. His more scholarly work is in imaginative literature, and literary criticism simply is not my subject.

I don't have any objection to Apb. Chaput (a man Rod Dreher despises). I've seen no indication that the Catholic episcopacy has much insight into its own problems, much less those of a public official in a hostile world.

Missed this over the weekend. Chaput on Esolen and Dreher: "let me strongly encourage readers to buy, read, and thoroughly absorb two important new books..."

https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2017/03/in-praise-of-the-new-alarmism

Here's Rusello's review.

Craig, yes, that was an extremely conspicuous and significant "oversight".

About the Benedict Option: I understand that these challenges are not new, and that there is no silver bullet solution, but, still, it seems good to me that people talk about how to respond to these challenges, and that they try to help one another to respond well.

People have been doing so for quite a long time, as that good Mere Orthodoxy article makes clear, but these issues receive fresh urgency each time a child is born (as I can testify from personal experience), and I see no harm in having a book every so often that serves as a focal point for discussion, even if its argument is not all that different from what came before.

I think I probably will read Dreher's book at some point, unless someone recommends to me an older, better one. (Articles from CeT would be good too.)

I'm not by any means dismissing the concerns, and I probably agree with most of Dreher's diagnosis. I'm sincere in that "Godspeed." But I don't have anything new to say, and as a matter of direct concern it's over for me: my children are grown and I don't have any control over how my grandchildren will be raised.

The web site where some C&T articles were archived seems to have gone away. If someone had interest and time to put the whole thing online...I took a few preliminary steps toward it and then realized it would be way more work than I had time for. To get the feel of it you'd have to do scans and pdfs or something, because the graphics were part of the flavor.

It would be extremely easy to do scans if you were willing to cut the pages apart. I would be willing to do that. I guess you would have to get Daniel's permission.

AMDG

Thank you. You have a different notion of "extremely easy" from me. :-) And that would be only the beginning. I think you'd need to contact all the individual authors--I think the default legal situation is that rights revert to the author after first publication. In any case it would be the right thing to do, to get the permission of the writers and artists. And somebody would have to design and build the web site. It would be a huge job.

Anyway, I think I only have one copy of each issue and don't want to cut them up. Daniel may have multiples.

Not to take anything away from Chuck Berry, but there once was an actual brand of refrigerator named Coolerator. You can see a 1948 ad for one here.

"let me strongly encourage readers to buy, read, and thoroughly absorb two important new books..."

He's a lapsed film critic / columnist / editorial writer. He doesn't produce 'important' books. He can spark a lively discussion. He runs on too long in doing that, however, and moderates the discussion badly.

Marianne, I'm crushed! All this time I thought it was a wonderful Berry neologism.

Well, I still have "motivatin' over the hill'. Or as some have it, "motorvatin'".

Rob, I'm laughing at the comment you left on Dreher's blog:

"Seriously, what’s with all the non-reading naysayers?"

Well, I'm talking about stacking up the pages on a copier and pushing two or three buttons and a PDF appearing in a file on your computer. It might take 5 minutes, but probably not. ;-) I'm not volunteering for that other stuff.

AMDG

I think it would require more than that to get the file or files in a condition that would make them of consistently good enough quality for comfortable reading. But even if that's not true, it's still an enormous project. I can't foresee myself ever wanting to spend that amount of time on it.

After reading your post last week on Dante, I came across an article in The American Scholar that says the Longfellow version is “one of the few truly successful English translations”:

...in order to “get” Dante, a translator has to be both a poet and a scholar, attuned to the poet’s vertiginous literary experimentalism as well as his superhuman grasp of cultural and intellectual history. This is why one of the few truly successful English translations comes from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, a professor of Italian at Harvard and an acclaimed poet. He produced one of the first complete, and in many respects still the best, English translations of The Divine Comedy in 1867. It did not hurt that Longfellow had also experienced the kind of traumatic loss—the death of his young wife after her dress caught fire—that brought him closer to the melancholy spirit of Dante’s writing, shaped by the lacerating exile from his beloved Florence in 1302. Longfellow succeeded in capturing the original brilliance of Dante’s lines with a close, sometimes awkwardly literal translation that allows the Tuscan to shine through the English, as though this “foreign” veneer were merely a protective layer added over the still-visible source. The critic Walter Benjamin wrote that a great translation calls our attention to a work’s original language even when we don’t speak that foreign tongue. Such extreme faithfulness can make the language of the translation feel unnatural—as though the source were shaping the translation into its own alien image. Longfellow’s English indeed comes across as Italianate: in surrendering to the letter and spirit of Dante’s Tuscan, he loses the quirks and perks of his mother tongue. For example, he translates Dante’s beautifully compact Paradiso 2.7

L’acqua ch’io prendo già mai non si corse;

with an equally concise and evocative

The sea I sail has never yet been passed:

Emulating Dante’s talent for internal rhymes laced with hypnotic sonic patterns, Longfellow expertly repeats the s’s to give his line a sinuous, propulsive feel, which is exactly what Dante aims for in his line, as he gestures toward the originality and joy of embarking on the final leg of a divinely sanctioned journey. Thus, Longfellow demonstrates the scholarly chops necessary to convey Dante’s encyclopedic learning, and the poetic talent needed to reproduce the sound and spirit—the respiro, breath—of the original Tuscan.

The author of the piece does say that Longfellow's “19th-century poetic diction” is rather hard-going for us today, though.

And sorry about coolerator, Mac. ;-)

Ok, I'm sold, I'm definitely going to check out Longfellow. The Dante remarks in this post were pretty hasty, and I see that what I said doesn't really sound as positive as I intended. At his best he's quite good. He was probably over-rated in his lifetime and under-rated since. bet I would still like The Song of Hiawatha.

As for coolerator, well, it's best to know the truth, even if it's painful. :-)

~~He's a lapsed film critic / columnist / editorial writer. He doesn't produce 'important' books.~~

Not quite sure how your 'B' follows from your 'A' there.

In any case the archbishop apparently disagrees.

Re: C&T, it would still be a fair amount of work, but maybe something like a "best of" selection would be doable?

"Rob, I'm laughing at the comment you left on Dreher's blog: 'Seriously, what’s with all the non-reading naysayers?'"

Yeah, that frustrates me no end. It's like all the knuckleheads who've never read one paragraph of Wendell Berry, yet criticize him for saying that everyone should move to the country and take up subsistence farming.

Sometimes I do run across a book which I feel entitled to criticize without reading. That happened with a post here some years back. Somebody had written a book making the case that the baby boomers are/were the real Greatest Generation, responsible for most of what's good in the present day. I scoffed at the idea, mentioning the book's title and author's name. I was very surprised to have the author leave an indignant comment. Apparently he had a Google Alert or something that notified him of any mention of his name.

Best of C&T--yes, that's much more doable, and in fact I gave some serious consideration to doing it a as a "self-published" book. This was at a point where my book was almost done, so I felt like I knew enough about that process to do another one, and I hadn't started on the next one. Once I got going on the latter project, though, I put the idea aside. A web site along those lines could be done, too, or instead.

By the way, Rob, I read a really interesting review of The Demon In Democracy a week or two ago that made me decide definitely to read it. Unfortunately I didn't bookmark the review (or whatever it was) and haven't been able to find it again.

"Sometimes I do run across a book which I feel entitled to criticize without reading."

Oh, sure, if you disagree with the basic thesis from the outset. But with Dreher's book many of the critics are getting the thesis wrong, then proceeding to criticize the book based on that error.

A 'Best of C&T' book might actually do pretty well.

Not quite sure how your 'B' follows from your 'A' there.

Because he does not have the intellectual apparatus to do so, which will be manifest in study and/or in demonstrated virtuosity. People who have scholarly chops that Rod Dreher never will do not produce important books. They produce niche work that advances a given discipline along a small frontier.

You might argue he has a sort of general insight which allows him to illuminate something you don't see, 'you' including academics as well. There aren't many people who write something and you say to yourself 'why didn't I think of that?'. Among the few in our time would be Thomas Sowell and Wendell Berry. The younger George Will or Charles Krauthammer had some of that quality in their writing (now long gone). Ralph McInerney had his moments. S.M. Hutchens has his.

This last is not a description of Rod Dreher, who is not one of the wise men of our age.

Yeah, that frustrates me no end. It's like all the knuckleheads who've never read one paragraph of Wendell Berry, yet criticize him for saying that everyone should move to the country and take up subsistence farming.

I have read Berry and can say his conception of the role agriculture can and should play in the economy and why farm populations decline is erroneous.

Mickey Spillane once said, "I am not an author. I am a commercial writer. Margaret Mitchell was an author. She wrote one book". You read Mickey Spillane for entertainment. He's not 'important' and doesn't claim to be. You don't need to read his books line-by-line to know that.

Both of you, do you think librarians read line-by-line every book they purchase? Acquisitions librarians do not necessarily do their jobs well, but they do have a rough and ready way of evaluating literature and they're on a budget. Mortimer Adler and Charles van Doren provide you with a means of doing so without line by line readings (which acquisitions librarians do not have time to employ).

But with Dreher's book many of the critics are getting the thesis wrong,

In Dreher's case, the thesis is subsidiary to 'look at me'.

"I read a really interesting review of The Demon In Democracy a week or two ago that made me decide definitely to read it."

Yeah, it's well worth it. Very thought-provoking.

Art, your beef over the "importance" of Dreher's book is with Abp. Chaput, not me. I simply quoted him. My objection was to the non sequitur in your comment. The idea that a "lapsed film critic / columnist / editorial writer" is somehow inherently unable to produce an important book is quite illogical, and elitist to boot.

"I have read Berry and can say his conception of the role agriculture can and should play in the economy and why farm populations decline is erroneous."

Which is fine, but I think you would agree that he doesn't propose that large segments of the population return to farming.

"Do you think librarians read line-by-line every book they purchase?"

Generally speaking, if I have questions about a given book I'll get if from the library for a perusal before I decide to purchase and/or read it closely. I don't buy many books sight unseen unless I've read reviews from people I trust. What librarians do isn't to the point, as they are reading for a different purpose.


The idea that a "lapsed film critic / columnist / editorial writer" is somehow inherently unable to produce an important book is quite illogical, and elitist to boot.

The word 'non sequitur' does not mean what you think it means. Rod Dreher's metier is turning in copy on time. He's the issue of the J-School at LSU. That's what he was trained to do. He doesn't have the tools to produce much other than ephemera, and if you read newspapers and see what's written in them, you can understand that. If you read Dreher's topical commentary, you get a pretty good idea of what he's not likely to produce. Recognizing this reality is 'elitist'? Well, go sue me.

What librarians do isn't to the point, as they are reading for a different purpose.

Yes it is the point. The acquisitions librarian is making a decision as to whether a book fits in her collection. They don't read the book line-by-line to figure this out. (Dreher's work actually is public library fare). The potential reader (if he's on his game) makes use of some similar cues to ascertain if Dreher's book is worth the time in that particular genre.

Doesn't 'non sequitur' mean "it does not follow"? If so, then I'm right about your statement, because your 'B' does not follow from your 'A.'

And again, your beef about his book's importance is with Chaput, not me.

"The potential reader (if he's on his game) makes use of some similar cues to ascertain if Dreher's book is worth the time in that particular genre."

The librarian may very well be acquiring it with no intention of ever reading it himself. Thus, the cues may be similar but the intent is quite different. I speak as one who not only has a sizable personal library, but who, in pre-internet days, also set up and maintained a resource library for a former employer.

Doesn't 'non sequitur' mean "it does not follow"? If so, then I'm right about your statement, because your 'B' does not follow from your 'A.'

Your contention that something does not follow as a matter of formal logic also is not indicative of anything. Which is not true.


The librarian may very well be acquiring it with no intention of ever reading it himself.

So what? It represents explicit and implicit costs to his employer. The librarian selects with an eye to what the institutional mission of the library is. The academic acquisitions librarian I know best would not purchase textbooks or detective fiction for her collection, because neither fulfilled the mission of curricular support. She might have purchased Dreher's book

And again, your beef about his book's importance is with Chaput, not me.

So what? You brought it up.

Not wanting to read Dreher's book is understandable. I don't plan to read it myself. But your arguments against it mostly boil down to "I really can't stand Rod Dreher." Fine, but your attempts to make it sound like a matter of objective fact or principle are unpersuasive to say the least.

"Your contention that something does not follow as a matter of formal logic also is not indicative of anything. Which is not true."

You can't have it both ways. It's either a syllogism or it isn't. If it is, then you're wrong. If it's not, then it's really just an issue of probability, and as Mac said, not a matter of objective fact or principle.

Maybe it should be classified as a tautology rather than a non sequitur: Rod Dreher's book is not important because Rod Dreher does not write important books. ;-)

In one limited sense it is undoubtedly an "important" book, in that it has aroused a lot of interest and commentary.

I was surprised, btw, to learn (assuming it's true) that Dreher is 50 years old. I thought he was more like 40.

Anyway, back to the book: I read Gerald Russello's review, and it illustrates my reason for not being very interested in reading the book. For instance:

"Dreher’s argument is that the left-right divide is outdated, an argument that is more common among conservative intellectuals and others now than it was in 2006. Both left and right share an anthropology that is essentially modern in character and constructed largely without reference to theological understanding of humanity "

I agree 100% with this, and it's important. But I've read it, and said it myself, many times. I'm sure there are people who need to be convinced of it, who need to hear "Put not your trust in princes," etc. But I'm not one of them.

I had never heard of Rod Dreher, nor his book, but I did go look at this website and read a few of the recent posts he has up and found them interesting. I won't be reading the book, but I also will not be egging his house with Art!

For me, the most important aspects of the book are those related to how Christian families and communities can respond to an increasingly hostile culture -- how to "strengthen the things that remain," in other words.

Again, this shouldn't be news, but for some it will be, and for the rest of us sometimes it's helpful to be reminded.

You can't have it both ways. It's either a syllogism or it isn't. If it is, then you're wrong. If

I never attempted to. Seeing it as a syllogism is your misconception. And, no, I'm not wrong.

"Dreher’s argument is that the left-right divide is outdated, an argument that is more common among conservative intellectuals and others now than it was in 2006.

That sounds like our man, and it's foolish. Taxa are not comprehensively valid or useful. That does not render them worthless in every circumstance.

I said "this" as if I was going to copy it for you all, but I meant "his" website. All the recent posts are good and informative. I'm still sitting here thinking about kids, pornography, and smart phones. I have been talked into the idea that all kids need a smart phone by a certain age because of school. While my stepdaughter is probably not interested in pursuing anything pornographic, it is much more likely with boys and my stepson who is now exactly at the age of craziness (14).

No, your stepdaughter is more likely to be befriended online by someone who will invite her to visit and do her harm.

AMDG

For me, the most important aspects of the book are those related to how Christian families and communities can respond to an increasingly hostile culture -- how to "strengthen the things that remain," in other words.

I'm wondering how moving your family from one city to another every 3 or 4 years (not including decamping to Baton Rouge after he swore up and down he would stay put where his family had been living in West Feliciana Parish) and turning your brother-in-law's domestic problems into fodder for your daily blog ("It only took Hannah 12 days to realize...") fits into the 'response'. I wondered that too when Mr. Organic produce admitted that all the windows in his house in Dallas were painted shut and they had the AC running 24/7.

You ever read about Eppie Lederer and her daughter Margo Howard? You're asking for trouble offering personal advice to an abstract audience.

Whether Dreher practices what he preaches or not is more or less irrelevant to the truth of what he preaches.

I'm *really* worried about my grandsons, smart phones, and pornography. Porn is a deadly drug. When I think of the effect that relatively mild stuff like Playboy centerfolds had on me as a teenager, I can't imagine what the effect of hard-core pornography would be on a young mind. The fact that our society is willing to tolerate its easy accessibility is a terrible indictment.

"That sounds like our man, and it's foolish. Taxa are not comprehensively valid or useful. That does not render them worthless in every circumstance."

I do not recall in Dreher, or in any of the writers he draws upon, ever reading any contention that the left/right binary is "worthless in every circumstance." Merely stating that it is outdated certainly doesn't imply so.

And, I must say, that for someone who considers him unimportant, you seem to know a hell of a lot about him.


Thanks for that happy thought, Janet!

Apropos of nothing, and to move the conversation away from poor ol Rod Dreher, here is something amusing attributed to the Wall Street Journal.

"WSJ: Trump clings to wiretap claim ‘like a drunk to an empty gin bottle,’ damaging his credibility"

Heh!

Added to my previous comment: the effect of porn on girls is just as bad, although I think usually more indirect, having to do with how they are viewed and treated, by themselves as well as others.

I'm deadly serious, Stu, and I know what I'm talking about.

AMDG

At a minimum, if it cannot be gotten rid of altogether, porn should somehow be kept from being free on the internet to anyone willing to click there. Playboy centerfolds are more comparable to pictures of kittens than they are to the sick stuff out there on the internet.

Whether Dreher practices what he preaches or not is more or less irrelevant to the truth of what he preaches.


Mr. Rob G said:

For me, the most important aspects of the book are those related to how Christian families and communities can respond to an increasingly hostile culture -


The practice is what's salient. What is he doing? What has he done that shows organization or motivational skill? Why is he telling me what I should do in some sort of evangelical or institution-building enterprise? In truth, Rod Dreher is a critic by inclination (and so is yours truly). He's someone who can tell you you're doing something wrong. He doesn't have any demonstrable people sense above and beyond persuading someone to marry him (which 95% of the male population manage to do).

I thought the business of his painted-shut windows was amusing because he did not do something obvious and readily accomplished and that he was relying 24/7 on technology that was a novelty in the Southern United States within his father's lifetime if not his. The other thing that was grimly amusing is that a man who had been so vociferously exhibitionistic about the safety of children wasn't anxious about what house fires might do to his. (I also thought it was amusing in light of domestic projects in force the previous summer chez nous).

And, I must say, that for someone who considers him unimportant, you seem to know a hell of a lot about him.

Well, if I read his blog, I can't help it. His life is what writers call 'material' as far as he's concerned. To some extent, it's the amount of content he produces. Still, if I run down the list of prominent Catholic or starboard bloggers (say, Amy Welborn or Mark Shea or Donald McClarey among the former - all of whom have gone through periods of producing daily content), I cannot think of any so given to self-disclosure (up to and including posting images of his father on the man's deathbed).

Not wanting to read Dreher's book is understandable. I don't plan to read it myself. But your arguments against it mostly boil down to "I really can't stand Rod Dreher." Fine, but your attempts to make it sound like a matter of objective fact or principle are unpersuasive to say the least.

I don't find him an appealing person for a variety of reasons, some under discussion here in this forum, some not. That's not my argument. My argument is that he does not have the equipment to produce a monograph worth that much of an investment in time. (I skim through his blog because he sparks interesting discussions. Emphasis on 'skim').

I do not recall in Dreher, or in any of the writers he draws upon, ever reading any contention that the left/right binary is "worthless in every circumstance." Merely stating that it is outdated certainly doesn't imply so.

OK, what does saying it's 'outdated' imply?

"The practice is what's salient. What is he doing? What has he done that shows organization or motivational skill? Why is he telling me what I should do in some sort of evangelical or institution-building enterprise?"

That's relevant in relation only to whether you want to examine his ideas in the first place. But it's got zilch to do with the validity of the ideas themselves.

"OK, what does saying it's 'outdated' imply?"

My laptop is outdated -- it's seven years old. That doesn't mean it's worthless. But it's not as valuable, helpful, etc., as is used to be.

Again, no one I've read has suggested throwing out the left/right terminology altogether.

One of my young nephews was recently "cultivated" online – as it turned out, solely for a monetary scam which left him about a hundred dollars poorer (a lot of money for a boy that age). But one shudders to think.

Hopefully it will have been a salutary experience.

My laptop is outdated -- it's seven years old. That doesn't mean it's worthless. But it's not as valuable, helpful, etc., as is used to be.

No, eventually firms stop supporting your technology and you cannot get it fixed anymore.

That's relevant in relation only to whether you want to examine his ideas in the first place. But it's got zilch to do with the validity of the ideas themselves.

He doesn't have any ideas distinct from practice.

Ok, Art, you don't think well of Dreher at all and you're quite sure his book has nothing useful to say. Message received and acknowledged. How about just leaving it at that now?

That's scary, Paul. I hope he learned the lesson.

"How about just leaving it at that now?"

Speaking for myself, I'm happy to leave it. Didn't expect such a brouhaha.

One last thing related to Dreher and Abp. Chaput. In addition to Chaput's recommending of Dreher's book, Rod has also strongly recommended Chaput's book on several occasions on his site (and Esolen's book as well.)

I got Esolen's book to listen to (because Rob mentioned it) during Lent, but haven't gotten to it yet. I've been listening to Paul Elie's The Life You Save May Be Your Own, which is all right except that I sometime find his interpretation of things grating, and that I've already read almost everything he's talking about and I'm beginning to think I should just go read the original again.

AMDG

Something I read sort of put me off Elie's book. I don't remember what. May have been unfair.

I don't think I've offered an opinion of Dreher and his work. My reasons for not reading Benedict Option don't really have anything to do with him personally. I probably won't read the Chaput and Esolen books, either, not because I don't think they'd be good but because that's just not what I'm interested in reading now. But anyway, the only things by Dreher that I've read are Crunchy Cons and his blog, and on the basis of those I think he's a smart guy, not to mention energetic. But I don't read his blog all that often because it so often has a feverish sky-is-falling tone, and that gets tiresome. I thought Crunchy Cons was interesting but ultimately somewhat disappointing--in the end it didn't seem to add up to a lot.

The Elie book is sitting on my shelf here at work ... it may just sit there forever. I rarely read any non-fiction, but am currently reading some James Martin SJ books for Lent, right now My Life With the Saints which is quite enjoyable.

I generally have a fiction and a non-fiction book going at the same time. Right now it's Dombey and Son and this:

http://www.ugapress.org/index.php/books/conscientious_thinking/

My lenten read this year is Traherne's Centuries.

Traherne is really interesting and indirectly had a big influence on me, via the Incredible String Band.

I don't by the way mean to be saying no more talk about Dreher and/or the Benedict book. Just tired of the argument that the book can't be worth reading because Dreher is a fool.

I picture the scene from Frankenstein with all of us (led by Art) running with pitchforks and torches to Dreher's house!

:-)

And the torches are actually copies of The Benedict Option attached to broomsticks or something like that...

I haven't read much by Dreher since Crunchy Cons, which I don't think I finished. This conversation is making me want to go see what's going on there.

AMDG

It has also been making me laugh.

AMDG

We might be better off reading Dombey and Son with Rob!

No, I really liked Rod's book -- well worth a read, esp. in tandem with Esolen's.

Dombey and Son is the slowest moving of the Dickens novels I've read so far. Which is not to say it's not good. It's actually very good. Just not as much of a page-turner as the others.

Dickens is never a bad idea, but I've sworn off novels for Lent, except that I have to read Quo Vadis for book club and I am fighting it every page of the way. I read it when I was 13 (I was in the play!) and again probably in my 20s. It is rife with purple prose and drives me crazy.

May be a good Lenten sacrifice.

AMDG

Traherne is really interesting and indirectly had a big influence on me, via the Incredible String Band.

Please explain?

I read Traherne's Centuries -- part of it, anyway -- last year during Lent. I have to say I didn't get a great deal out of it. This year I've been reading RH Benson's conversion memoir, Confessions of a Convert, as well as St Athanasius' On the Incarnation. Both have been pretty good.

Dombey and Son I liked very much when I read it a few years ago. For me it got better as it proceeded.

I downloaded the Benson after we talked about it on your blog because I found it for free, but I haven't had a chance to look at it yet.

I have never read D&S, but I watched the BBC version. It was very sad. I should probably read it. I have deliberately not read all of Dickens, because I didn't want to run out of them.

AMDG

I also want to read Dombey and Son. Janet, you remind me of John Irving, who claims he has read all Dickens except for Our Mutual Friend which he intends to read when he is quite old as the final one. Dickens is his favorite author.

Oh, I wouldn't take a chance on dying before Our Mutual Friend. That's one of my favorites.

AMDG

Janet, when you don't use italics for the book's title, it seems you might be talking about A Mysterious Person.

Tit-for-tat: I checked Four Seasons in Rome from the library at least 6 weeks ago, but so far I've read only 8 pages. But they were a really good 8 pages! Once again, I've got myself into one of those states where I'm trying to read too many books at once, and making slow progress on all fronts.

That's kind of driving me crazy--the inability to get through one book. I seem to read more slowly and to have a hard time finding time to read. I know that sounds crazy since I'm 3/4 retired, but it's true. I'm reading two books related to the book I'm working on, a novel, and was intending to read a theology book for Lent, but I keep forgetting about it. Bad priorities, I know. The novel is going on the shelf until after Lent.

Actually I suppose if I included the time spent reading current events etc. online my time spent reading would add up to a fair amount. That's what I should cut back on.

"Please explain" about Traherne and the ISB. They quote his "You never enjoy the world aright..." in one of their songs, and it had a healthy influence on me. For more details you'll have to read my book. :-) Or maybe read the excerpt(s) I'll be posting here.

"I read Traherne's Centuries -- part of it, anyway -- last year during Lent. I have to say I didn't get a great deal out of it."

I didn't get much out of the first two 'centuries,' but I plowed on, and I'm finding No. 3 much more helpful. The first two were more along the lines of instruction to his correspondent, while the third commences a sort of spiritual autobiography, which to me has been more inspiring.

I'm not sure exactly what I read. It's been a while.

About Dreher: a Facebook friend tells me "The author/book will be on BookTV this Saturday @7:00pm, and 12:00pm Sunday (CST)"

I don't get BookTV anymore now that I've downgraded our cable service, but maybe it will be online here after the broadcast:

https://www.c-span.org/video/?425495-1/benedict-option

Rod posted yesterday that his book debuted at No. 7 on the NYT bestseller nonfiction list. This surprised everyone, including him.

Well, good for him. Seriously.

Though I have to admit it's also very funny.

I see No. 9, but hey, not bad. No. 10 is Big Agenda: Trump's Plan to Save America by your friend David Horowitz.

AMDG

No. 11 is On Tyranny.

I'm really enjoying this.

AMDG

Oh, I see, that was the combined E-Book and Print list. He's No. 7 on the Hardcover NF list--behind Horowitz at No. 6. I'm not sure about the math on that.

AMDG

I guess TBO sold a bigger percentage of E-books.

AMDG

You caused me to look at the list, which is a rather striking assortment of books. Can't remember the last time I saw it. I'm surprised at the presence of right-wing or conservative-ish books.

And then there's Homo Deus.

I hadn't gotten as far down on the list as Homo Deus, so I had to look and see what it was, because I thought that had already happened.

I think I won't stick around for that.


AMDG

When all the posts are named either "Sunday Night Journal" or "52 Albums," it gets kind of difficult to find comments you are looking for, so I'll just post here because it's about a movie and we talk about them everywhere anyway.

Friday night, we watched The Man Who Knew Infinity, and I really liked it. It's about an Indian (from India) man in the early 20th century who had an intuitive understanding of complex mathematical concepts and his struggle to have his work published despite the fact that he had no degree. This is based on the true story of Srinivasa Ramanujan who traveled to Oxford and worked with G. H. Hardy, a famous mathematician about whom I knew nothing, but who is played by Jeremy Irons, so 'nuff said.

AMDG

Sounds interesting.

You can use the Undead thread for comments that don't have an obvious home. Only problem with that is that if there's a very active conversation on a post and not the thread, it gets pushed off the Recent list pretty quickly.

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