« 52 Albums, Week 17: Nena (Nena) | Main | 52 Albums, Week 18: Spirituals and Songs From the Stoop (The Bay Ridge Band) »



Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

I think The Benedict Option may be the most mentioned book in the history of your blog, Mac.

North Korea probably is closer to 1984 these days than China is. Trump wishes he was Big Brother.

Please don't make me defend Trump, Stu.


"The Benedict Option may be the most mentioned book in the history of your blog"

Argh. I hope that's not true but it may be.

Speaking of Dreher, there's a surprisingly sympathetic profile of him in The New Yorker.


As for Trump: no, he doesn't want to be Big Brother. He just wants to be The Boss. He has no ideology. Big Brother is another kind of thing altogether.

Exactly. He doesn't want to manipulate the inside of your head. He just wants to tell you what to do.


Whereas the gender ideologues want you to conform in thought as well as deed.

I guess I could bring up Charles Dickens or Leo Tolstoy from now on every time The Benedict Option is mentioned.

I remember some years ago my Baptist preacher friend in Dallas (he married my first wife and I back in the 90s) said something to the effect that he wished more Christians would just realize that they had lost the culture wars. Instead of constant upset about that, spend their time trying their best to raise their children as Christians, read the Bible, and emulate Christ as much as possible.

Good advice. I don't worry about culture wars, or gender ideology.

Unfortunately, lay Catholics don't really have that option. Inasmuch as we have influence in the public square we are mandated to do what we can to infuse Gospel values into it. So, if the definition of marriage has an effect on the common good, then lay Catholics have to be at least minimally engaged in the promotion of the definition that most corresponds to Gospel values. I haven't yet been able to figure out how same-sex "marriage" can be seen as doing that, so I'm going to take the "marriage" question into consideration in my involvement in the public square. That makes me ipso facto a culture warrior.

I just let my First Things subscription lapse; I've been a subscriber for about 15 years, but for the last year or two I just can't find time to read it much. Issues have been piling up, unread. I've had to prioritize, and I've decided that books will take precedence over periodicals. If I had more time, however, I would continue to read it, because I usually find it quite good.

Instead of constant upset about that, spend their time trying their best to raise their children as Christians, read the Bible, and emulate Christ as much as possible.

Well, one of the things about the Culture Wars is that they don't want to allow us to do that.


Time was probably almost as much a part of the reason I didn't subscribe to FT way back when--I had young children then, too.

As for the cw--yeah, I was going to say, sure, it's fine to say just go about the business of being Christian and don't sweat it. But the first part really goes without saying, or ought to. Even setting aside what Robert says about our duty to the public sphere, like Janet said, and paraphrasing somebody or other: you may not care about the culture wars, but they care about you. One of the reasons Dreher's book has attracted such attention is that he's been documenting that for a long time.

I do very much agree, though, that we shouldn't get into a chronic state of anger and paranoia. There's a lot of it around. I think it's important to recognize the reality of what's happening, but not fall into that.

"I do very much agree, though, that we shouldn't get into a chronic state of anger and paranoia." Absolutely. That kind of thing is a sign of lack of trust in Divine Providence.

Exactly, Robert.



Here's a good review of the Esolen book, just posted this week:


Wolf Hall is told from the perspective of a player in the reformation. It's necessarily anti Catholic, how could it not be?

Yes, historical novel during an anti-Catholic period in England. Perhaps the author was drawn to this time because of her own anti-Catholic leanings. So I guess that leaves the question of whether or not her own perspective has negatively clouded the novels? I intend to read them, but have not gotten around to it.

"I guess that leaves the question of whether or not her own perspective has negatively clouded the novels?"

From everything I've read this seems to be the case. Cromwell is painted as heroic and More is a villain, for instance.

I thought I said this yesterday, but I don't see it and maybe I got to busy to send it.

Well, I wrote that an hour ago and am just getting back to it, so that's probably what happened yesterday. ;-)

Anyway, wrt the Benedict Option being the most mentioned book, nah, it can't hold a candle to Brideshead Revisited. We discussed that night and day for about a month, Stu. Too bad those comments are gone.


There's a book I need to re-read (Brideshead Revisited, that is), or revisit as the case may be. I remember Sebastian's sister telling the narrator she would say a decade of the rosary for him, and I thought that was odd. At this point I remember little else except that I loved the book.

So I suppose we can forgive John Milton for thinking that Cromwell was a hero since he is part of antiquity? But not Mantel because she is contemporary and should know better.

Kind of like our own past here in America where we are not supposed to like people like Andrew Jackson because he killed Indians and was a slave owner, I suppose.

I usually feel sort of anti- all groups, so I kind of like all these prickly folks from the past. I'm a conflicted Liberal.

"So I suppose we can forgive John Milton for thinking that Cromwell was a hero since he is part of antiquity?"

Wrong Cromwell. And Milton wasn't a Catholic, but his poetry doesn't express his anti-Catholicism like Mantel's novels apparently do.

I will forgive Andrew Jackson for killing Indians and being a slave owner (was he, I mean, I have no idea) because he was a man of his time and I don't know if he knew any better.

But I wouldn't forgive Mantel for killing Indians or owning slaves because she ought to know better.

I just looked up Hilary Mantel to make sure she was a she. Am I crazy or does she favor Hillary?


Funny you mention that, because I'd seen a picture of her and that hadn't occurred to me, but just now saw this one, and she does, a little:


Comments I've read from Mantel, as well as the perceptions of reviewers both pro and con, indicate not that Mantel is being unjustly accused of implicit anti-Catholicism because she decided to make Cromwell a sympathetic character, but that she is consciously and intentionally anti-Catholic, and is writing novels that embody that point of view. It's not really about whether one should or should not sympathize with and/or forgive historical figures, or even whether we should forgive Hilary Mantel, but just a recognition that that's what's going on.

My comment really had more to do with Andrew Jackson. ;-) Until I saw the picture.


I wondered that about Brideshead, too--about the number of mentions. Also Atlas Shrugged. Both those were some of the longest comment threads ever on this blog, and both disappeared with Haloscan.

Oh, and, in response to Elizabeth's comment: just from the point of view of the craft of writing, one could write from Cromwell's point of view without being anti-Catholic in a deliberate way. You could, for instance, still treat him as a villain even as you portrayed things through his eyes. Or you could just be trying to get at what made him tick. In Mantel's case she's apparently not just pro-Cromwell but anti-More. As I recall that was what made Hitchens so happy about the book. :-/

Btw: in that FT piece Patricia Snow is described simply as "a writer." So I was curious and googled her: she's Ross Douthat's mother.

I think Jackson actually was a pretty brutal man, even by the standards of the time. I hate to say that because I'm distantly related to him. Maybe only by marriage though...I never can keep that straight....

I was pretty much kidding around. What little I know about Jackson comes from a story in a Catholic reader, a movie, and a novel by Irving Stone. Also I know that in 1814 he took a little trip down the might Mississipp.


Another relative: Johnny Horton. (No, not really.)

I still find that song remarkably catchy and enjoyable. It's a very well-crafted match of words and music: "There wasn't quite as many as there was a while ago" flows so nicely.

Jackson, though, was one of the driving forces behind the Trail of Tears.

It was written by Jimmy Driftwood. Driftwood was instrumental in the beginnings of the Ozark Folk Center in Mountain View, AR (His home.), but through some political machinations or whatever, he lost control. But he did have a place called the Jimmy Driftwood Barn. The seats were old movie seats--very rickety and uncomfortable. The music was smooth and prettied up like that at the folk center, but very authentic blue grass and the like. There's a term for it, but I forget. We went to Mountain View fairly often, and the barn was a lot of fun.

I agree about that song. It's kind of strange that it became popular on Top 40 stations at the same time the Beatles, et al were the going thing.


By the way, are you related to the Horton who hatched the Who?


"Well, they ran through the briars and they ran through the bramblers..."

That's how I sang it when I was little, apparently combining 'bramble' with 'Rambler,' which was a popular car make back then.

I wonder what image was in your mind. :-)

Janet, many people tend to assume so, but as far as I know, no. As with Johnny, distantly if at all. But even more distantly.

I haven't read the book or seen the BBC production of Wolf Hall, but I'd say the TV show will probably have a more malign influence simply because it’s TV and because of the casting. Anton Lesser in the role of More. I can't imagine any actor more the opposite of Paul Scofield than him. And sensitive-looking, mellifluous-voiced Mark Rylance as Cromwell. Sheesh.

Very early music video?


Goodness. That was something. I wonder how many albino raccoons and deer died to make that possible.

I just realized for the first time that they're saying "nigh as many," not "quite as many."

You're probably right, Marianne. Although I have the impression that the TV show isn't all that popular, I may only think so because I'm not watching it.

What was going through the mind of the person who designed those costumes?!


I had the same question. Someone with wide knowledge of early 19th century frontier life, obviously. ;-)

Deneen has a great essay in the new number of Modern Age on conservatism in the Trump age. Doesn't seem to be posted online yet, however.

The word "conservative" is getting less and less useful in reference to the specific political situation in the U.S., though I still think it's meaningful as a description of a general cultural stance. Somewhere in the past week or so I read a conservative describing himself as a constitutionalist. With respect to actual, immediate politics, I'd describe myself that way. It's more specific than "conservative" and also describes what I consider to be sort of a last-ditch political stand for American conservatives. If/when the constitution truly becomes a dead letter, we can consider the American experiment over.

Seems like I read somewhere online that the T administration would like to do some damage to the first amendment. I would like to annul the second amendment myself, but I have less power than they do.

They can't do any more than you can about the first amendment, unless Congress and the courts let them. That's been one of the big worries of constitutionalists over the past 8 years and more.

Today while I mowed the grass, I listened to the Esolen book. I didn't really want to listen to it, but I didn't have anything else downloaded and didn't want to wait. I must say that I was pleasantly surprised. I thought it was really good.


You mean you've already heard the whole thing?

I guess you've heard that he's leaving Providence College. He only talks here about the place he's going to, not about what Providence was doing to make his life miserable, but obviously that was part of it.


No, I'm not sure how far into it I am. Not more than a few chapters.

I hadn't heard that, but I figured it was coming. I was also pretty sure he wouldn't lack for opportunities.


Yeah, he's enough of a star to have options. The average liberal arts faculty member is lucky to have any job at all, and knows it.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)