Sunday, April 30, 2006

Working it out

It's been a busy week for me! Between longer work days and toying with the new Mac, the blog seems to have fallen out a bit. As mentioned, another problem has been losing the composition tool that I used to use (w.bloggar) on the PC. I realized some time in the middle of the week that I could use blogger's "publish by e-mail" feature, and, what's more, that I could send post in via G-mail. That means all my work could be done in one application. It also offers spell check and online backup of my posts. Very nice. Also, it was probably an obvious solution to many people long before I figured it out. Because I've been so busy, I've just now gotten around to trying it out. And since my wife is making diner and not DVDs at the moment, it's carpe diem time. But what to write? I spent yesterday afternoon going over the documentation related to my new work chores with the goal of finding variances between what I really do, and what I'm scheduled to do. I found anomalies, both big and small, and will be submitting my findings tomorrow. After that it'll be out of my hands for a while. Wish me luck on this. I need at least some of these things to be approved and I'd really rather the process not be dragged out. On the Mac score, I'm getting around alright but still a newbie. I checked out David Pogue's Missing Mannual for OS X but found that to be slow going. Not because it was hard, but because it was a bit boring. My wife kindly got me Leo LaPorte's Guide to OS X and that it much better. You might know Leo if you have Tech TV. He does Call for Help, a TV show about computers that seems to be always on, and always interesting. Pogue might have fared better if I had his "Switch to OS X" instead. I'm still getting acquainted with the Finder for the most part. I really want to know about cool stuff like Spotlight, iPhoto, Airport, and so on, but I'll walk before I run. I am enjoying the machine a lot. The monitor and the "quartz" technology makes reading off this thing considerably more pleasant. Really, I had no idea what I was missing. I think a machine like this would be great for my Dad, who I have been tutoring on computer use for the past year. A one button mouse and files that are easy to find would make his life a lot easier, and .Mac has potential for sharing. I just wish it wasn't so pricey. So, that's me. If this post is successful, there will likely be more to come.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

A Mac, Mac world

Making the move I've been going through some issues at work that I won't go into here - what's relevant is that my time is less than it was. I'm happy to be back blogging again, but it's a fact posting is going to be spotty going forward. That is, unless my muse doinks me about the head and sets my pants on fire. That's the less happy part of this post. The happy part is the buried lede that starts here. Rebecca and I caved into iCulture in a big way this weekend and bought an iMac. I'll confess to wanting one in the worst way since before Christmas. Heck, my curiosity goes back to the OS X rollout. Anyway, it's here, I'm sharing it with Rebecca, and it's beautiful as all get out. The screen is fabulous and the built in speakers are surprisingly good. It's amazingly less cluttered than a PC, and that's with a wired keyboard and mouse. We are only just beginning to understand what Bluetooth and Airport could do. I'm more than a little at sea with it. It's the first Mac I've ever owned, and I haven't used one since I used once since a workplace 10 + years ago that had a couple of decrepit Mac IIs. We got it set up on our network and on the Internet without any trouble. I managed to install Firefox without breaking anything. I did gave Safari a look but it does not impress. I also managed to import all my files - including a fair sized iTunes collection - from a DVD I burned on the not-so-old HP PC that Rebecca is now using. I did loose all the ratings associated with my music, but hey... Oh, and my HP printer does not have Mac drivers available. We were lucky enought to get a deal at London Drugs where they threw in a free Canon multifunction and that works fine. It is taking me longer to do things I could do with my eyes closed in XP, but that's not the Mac's fault. I'm learning to walk here. Firefox is working dandy and between that and iTunes I'll get a lot done. I do need to replace some of the more handy tools that have no Mac counterpart and I'm hoping somebody here can help me out. High on my list is a composition tool for blogger, to replace w.bloggar. Any suggestions? We have Pages 2 but I'm not aware of any hook in to blogger like there is for MS Word. I'm also undecided about .Mac and am not sure what that offers me as a a blogger, if anything. Speaking of Office applications, I was using happily Open Office on the XP machine but see to my dismay that Open Office does not yett support Intel based Macs. I'm not a big spreadsheet user, but is there anything? I mean, besides Appleworks? That looks like it's about to be discontintued. MS Office for Mac is a no go. It's way over the top for my needs and budget. I'm also puzzed by the behavior of the "home" and "end" keys as I'm typing this. They take me to the top and bottom of the document instead of to the beginning and end of a line. Can I change that? That's annoying and I can't see any way to do it in preferences (unless I'm blind; it's happened). The built in camera sure is cool, though. Here are some sites I've been visiting to psyche myself up for this. Want to add to this list?

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

An unrelated matter

In an unrelated matter, this is to point out that Lileks is a funny guy:
... then I remembered he's more of a control freak (and there's another term I can't stand, mostly because of the "freak" part. I'd prefer situation administrator or perhaps orderliness enthusiast. "Freak" has sixties / seventies vibe. [As does "vibe," for that matter. Half the slang used by aging boomers was tired when it was used by some guy in a white jump suit and aviator-framed sunglasses, nodding his head to the Love Unlimited Orchestra as he made his way across the fern bar with a White Russian in one hand, fingering the coke spoon around his next with the other. I do not belong to that era. I do not belong to any era, except perhaps the era when all your friends' dads looked like Bill Cullen.] It was a term of approval: let your freak flag fly! Shock the man! Make Anita Bryant wet herself in fear and disgust! Why don't we do it in the road? Oh, I don't know - maybe because it's a truck route, and the idea of making some working guy jack-knife his rig because he spots some Abbie-Hoffman type in a "Makin' Bacon" T-shirt bent over his old lady, looking up at the last minute to flip the driver the bird? Is that a good enough reason? No? Fine.) than I am.
That's my kind of run-on sentence.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Warren on Easter

David Warren adds his two fine bits to the topic of tradition and apocrypha here.

Easter reflection, two

I'm continuing where I left off Saturday by placing questions and "new angles" about the Christian story along side Orthodoxy as I know it. These Davinci Code sort of questions are all the rage at the moment, and the fire is helped along by scholars like Bart Ehrman feeding the flames by pointing to supposed problems in the Bible itself. My favourite Gnostic is on it, and so is Scott Adams over at The Dilbert Blog:
Just to give you a flavor of the magnitude of the problems, according to Ehrman, there are more changes (both intentional and unintentional) in the Bible than there are words in the New Testament. The estimates range from 200,000 to 400,000. Yesterday I read that half of the people who voted for President Bush believe that the popular King James version of the Bible is the literal word of God. How does one reconcile that belief with the fact that experts know the Bible is riddled with human additions and errors? Here are the only arguments I can think of:
1. You infidel! 200,000 changes isn't that many. 2. Those document experts are Satan's helpers. There are no changes. 3. I never knew about those 200,000 changes. I renounce my faith! 4. God works in mysterious ways. In this case he used thousands of semi-literate, opinionated morons to edit the Bible until now it's perfect. 5. Let me freshen your drink.
The answer to Adams' question is #4 and it isn't as silly as Adams makes it out to be. #1 and #2 are eyes closed fundamentalism and #3 and #5 are what happens to fundamentalists when they can't force their eyes shut any longer. If the bulk of your information on the subject is coming to you from mass media you will hear very little about #4, which, by the way, Scott has garbled. He's still hung up on the idea that the Bible simply must be a fixed text to be of any value. But there is no such thing as a "fixed" text and there never has been. There is much to be said on this point, which we'll get to. Quick question first though: Why is Adams, as are so many, quick to place his trust in something he read, namely, "half of the people who voted for President Bush believe that the popular King James version of the Bible is the literal word of God." Where is that from? What was the methodology? Heck, Adams does not name his source, so why should I believe it unless I simply place my trust in his honesty and skill in separating real facts from bogus factoids? Let's move along and work our way through Chapter Three of the First Vatican Council's Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation. From Chapter Three:
SACRED SCRIPTURE, ITS INSPIRATION AND DIVINE INTERPRETATION 11. Those divinely revealed realities which are contained and presented in Sacred Scripture have been committed to writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. For holy mother Church, relying on the belief of the Apostles (see John 20:31; 2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Peter 1:19-20, 3:15-16), holds that the books of both the Old and New Testaments in their entirety, with all their parts, are sacred and canonical because written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their author and have been handed on as such to the Church herself. (1) In composing the sacred books, God chose men and while employed by Him (2) they made use of their powers and abilities, so that with Him acting in them and through them, (3) they, as true authors, consigned to writing everything and only those things which He wanted. (4) Therefore, since everything asserted by the inspired authors or sacred writers must be held to be asserted by the Holy Spirit, it follows that the books of Scripture must be acknowledged as teaching solidly, faithfully and without error that truth which God wanted put into sacred writings (5) for the sake of salvation.
Yadda, yadda, yadda. This is not far off from the standard the Bible is a "book written by the flaming hand of God stuff." If the Vatican document stopped here, scholarship like Ehrman's would be much more of a threat than it in fact is. Providentially, perhaps, the document is considerably more sophisticated than that.
12. However, since God speaks in Sacred Scripture through men in human fashion, (6) the interpreter of Sacred Scripture, in order to see clearly what God wanted to communicate to us, should carefully investigate what meaning the sacred writers really intended, and what God wanted to manifest by means of their words. To search out the intention of the sacred writers, attention should be given, among other things, to "literary forms." For truth is set forth and expressed differently in texts which are variously historical, prophetic, poetic, or of other forms of discourse. The interpreter must investigate what meaning the sacred writer * intended to express and actually expressed ** in particular circumstances *** by using contemporary literary forms **** in accordance with the situation of his own time and culture. [edited for emphasis - ed.] (7) For the correct understanding of what the sacred author wanted to assert, due attention must be paid to the customary and characteristic styles of feeling, speaking and narrating which prevailed at the time of the sacred writer, and to the patterns men normally employed at that period in their everyday dealings with one another. (8)
What this second passage does is remind us that a text is a dead letter until we enter into it, and/or or it enters into us. This does not mean, as some of the post modernists tell us, that in a text we see only our own reflection and never enter into a dialogue with the author. It does mean, as the postmoderns tell us, that no book is ever closed. Every time we learn something new, our interaction with the text has the potential to alter, to deepen. The presumption of the fixed text school of thought - sadly, held by most people it seems, including Ehrman and Adams - is that when we learn something new about a text, there is a high probability that the text will be broken. Adams can perhaps be forgiven more easily than Ehrman. Coming from the world of engineering and computing, where texts are very "brittle" in the sense that they are very precise and will truly need to be rethought if a contradiction is found, Adams might be tempted to carry such a method over to the poetic and prophetic world of scripture. The temptation is understandable but unwise. Ehrman, however, because he is working with the scriptures, should be more adaptable than that. It seems instead that he wants and expects scripture to provide him with clear and positive evidence with which to prop up his faith. This is backwards. One does not read in order to believe, but one believes in order to read. And in reading, one finds food in which to nourish belief. That's a logical circle and unacceptable to many; I'm well aware of it. It also happens to be true, and not just of religious texts. Any syllogism you construct will present you with a number of premises which you have to accept or reject in your evaluation of it. Determining the truth or falsity of any one of them could draw you to another syllogism, ad finititum, until you bump up against the sorts of metaphysical constructs that can't be falsified or verified. Like what? Like "time exists", "some things are alive and some are not", "I have an idependent existence from other people", "other people do exist and are like me", "events are caused by other events", "the world behaves in largely predictable ways", and "I have the mental skills to work out a reliable way of thinking". Any school of thought one can name stands on any number of foundation stones like these. There is nothing dirty or dishonest about recognizing that we have mental lenses through which we look at the world, and we cannot pick our lenses objectively because until we try one on we are completely blind. This is not to say that all such mental lenses are equal. People really do have heartbreaking moments when they can no longer accomodate incoming data with their lenses. At these moments, which we can call "conversion", the lens must be changed or altered in ways that can be extremely disorienting. Ehrman gives every appearance of having passed through such a moment. From where I sit, he's reshaped his lense in the wrong spot, keeping his positivism and ditching his Christian faith; he could have ditched the positivism and learned to be more nuanced in his faith. Returning to the Vatican I document we get to the meat of the matter, a rebuttal of Erhman and a mature response for Adams:
since Holy Scripture must be read and interpreted in the sacred spirit in which it was written, (9) no less serious attention must be given to the content and unity of the whole of Scripture if the meaning of the sacred texts is to be correctly worked out. The living tradition of the whole Church must be taken into account along with the harmony which exists between elements of the faith. It is the task of exegetes to work according to these rules toward a better understanding and explanation of the meaning of Sacred Scripture, so that through preparatory study the judgment of the Church may mature. For all of what has been said about the way of interpreting Scripture is subject finally to the judgment of the Church, which carries out the divine commission and ministry of guarding and interpreting the word of God. (10) 13. In Sacred Scripture, therefore, while the truth and holiness of God always remains intact, the marvelous "condescension" of eternal wisdom is clearly shown, "that we may learn the gentle kindness of God, which words cannot express, and how far He has gone in adapting His language with thoughtful concern for our weak human nature." (11) For the words of God, expressed in human language, have been made like human discourse, just as the word of the eternal Father, when He took to Himself the flesh of human weakness, was in every way made like men.
The seeming openess of texts is a result of our inability to grasp the world - including texts, sacred and otherwise - as they truly are. The Word is fixed and eternal but we never enter it fully in this life. An example might help to clarify. One of the ceremonial elements in Catholic worship that I really like is incensing the Bible just before the gospel is read. Often this creates a stunning image of just what I am talking about. One sees smoke appearing to rise from the book towards the priest doing the reading. It is an image of the text leaving the confines of the page and entering us in the hope that we might enter into it. This smoke wafts its way to the pews, continuing the image, and one does not just see it, but also smells it. The smell is warm, attractive, and above all brief in duration. It comes and it goes and usually by the time the reading is done there are only traces left. Underscoring the above, before the text is read, the priest says "May the Spirit be with you", and the congregation responds, "and also with you." In other words our helplessness in fully grasping the Word is made plain, and the aid of the Spirit is invoked to help overcome that gap (for lay and religious alike). This approach is not unique to Catholics. There are Protestant groups who invoke the Spirit to guide them as well. The difference and the scandal is that for Catholics the Spirit takes form in the Church's Magesterium, narrowing the bounds of interpretation and roping off false trails. For both groups, however, invoking the Spirit underscores that being a Christian is not merely a matter book learning, a matter of getting the facts and the ceremonies right. It is a about a relationship with the Divine person, and the Divine book is a tool to that end. All of the poetry, history and imagery it uses has to be understood in that light. I include in this not only the intellectual challenge posed by a story like Lazarus' rising from the dead, but also challenges like those Erhman raises. His issues do not bother me inordinately because the Bible is not a dead canonical letter but a ring with a fuzzy boundary in which the Spirit may be tussled with. One should not expect the matter of interpretation to go away. One should embrace it like an athlete going to the gym.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Screwtape on DaVinci

Wondering what Screwtape makes of The DaVinci Code? Wonder no more!
My dear Wormwood, ... another extremely admirable facet of this book is the author's intimate knowledge of his audience's skyscraping ignorance, which he exploits to devastating effect. One must ever endeavor to capitalize upon ignorance, Wormwood. This is one of the chiefest weapons in our arsenal, and let me observe—and not without some glee—that the ignorance of contemporary Western Society in matters of history and theology both, is of an absolutely unprecedented greatness. Never before have so many known so little about so much of great importance. Ask your average fellow in the street the slightest detail of a daft sitcom of forty years ago and he will move heaven and earth to supply you with the answer, and then will likely prate on with other similarly inane details—as if knowing who lived at 1313 Mockingbird Lane was his very passport to the Elysian Fields. Ha! But ask him to tell you about the Nicean Council, or ask him what are the Synoptic Gospels and you will suddenly find yourself in the presence of a weatherbeaten cigar store Injun! But then go ahead and ask him who played drums for The Monkees, or the name of that blasted itinerant peddlar on Green Acres and you will think yourself in the presence of a very Voltaire! Our television executives Down Under have been awfully successful! As I say, this book exploits the ignorance of its readership with an exemplary elan. One particularly daring example claims that the Crusades were principally concerned with gathering and destroying information! This is bold and laughable twaddle, but it fits so nicely into ye olde conspiracy theory—that the powerful religious hypocrites want to keep the "truth" out of the hands of their powerless subjects. And what do readers of this book know of the Crusades? Then there's that double whopper with cheese, about how the Emperor Constantine "invented" Christianity in the fourth century! Never mind that people had been believing it for all those years before it was "invented". And in the same masterstroke the author undermines the authority of the Bible by declaring that what it contains arrived on a strictly "political" vote. All of those wonderful "Gospels" that didn't fit with the "patriarchal" version of things were cruelly—always "cruelly"—suppressed and rejected; the oppressive messages it now contains were slipped in to fit Constantine's political agenda! Who among this book's readers will know that for three centuries most of those same Gospels were already considered a part of the scriptural canon? Who among his doughheaded readers even knows the meaning of the word "canonical"! My nostrils flare in admiration.

Easter reflection, one

An Easter reflection for you:
The Person which assumed human nature was not created, as is the case of all other persons. His Person was the pre-existent Word or Logos. His human nature on the other hand, was derived from the miraculous conception by Mary, in which the Divine forshadowing of the human spirit and the human Fiat or the consent of a woman, were most beautifully blended. This is the beginning of a new humanity out of the material of the fallen race. When the Word became flesh, it did not mean that any change took place in the Divine Word. The Word of God proceeding forth did not leave the Father's side. What happened was not so much the conversion of the Godhead into flesh, as the taking of manhood into God. There was continuity with the fallen race of man through the manhood taken from Mary; there is discontinuity through the fact that the Person of Christ is the pre-existent Logos. Christ thus literally becomes the second Adam, the man through whom the human race starts over. His teaching centered on the incorporation of human natures into Him, after the manner in which the human nature that He took from Mary was united to the Eternal Word. It is hard for a human being to understand the humility that was involved in the Word becoming flesh. Imagine, if it were possible, a human person divesting himself of his body, and then sending his soul into the body of a serpent. A double humiliation would follow: first, accepting the limitations of a serpentine organism, knowing all the while that his mind was superior, and that fangs could not adequately articulate thoughts no serpent ever possessed. The second humiliation would be to be forced as a result of this "emptying of self" to live in the companionship of serpents. But all this is nothing compared to the emptying of God, by which he took on the form of man and accepted the limitations of humanity, such as hunger and persecution; not trivial either was it for the Wisdom of God to condemn himself to association with poor fishermen who knew so little. But this humiliation which began in Nazareth when he was conceived in the virgin Mary was only the first of many to counteract the pride of man, until the final humiliation of of death on the Cross. If there were no Cross, there would have been no crib; if there had been no nails, there would have been no straw. But he could not teach the lesson of the Cross as payment for sin; He had to take it. Fulton J. Sheen, Life of Christ
I picked up this book from the parish library this week on a bit of a lark. I read a collection of Sheen's writings before and found them to be simplistic and, worse, sorely dated in places. This book is much better. It attempts to tell the story of Christ's life as we have it, and to weave the theology of the Church into the telling, so that we can see how the two are intertwined. It's my experience that knowing this story reasonably well, especially the philosophical underpinnings, puts a considerable amount of cold water on the silly thought experiments of Dan Brown and his pack of wannabes. The problem with all of these speculations is that they don't ever seem to address the existential question of Being. The Gospel of John simply puts them to shame. In other words, the alternatives appeal to cloudy headed people of faith and materialists of all stripes. The materialists think the universe has always been and will always be. I respectfully disagree with them and the Big Bang theory just might be on my side. More puzzlingly, however, do the fuzzy headed "faithful" realize that doing away with the Incarnation rips Authority away from Jesus' teachings? All of them including the ones about mercy and forgiveness? Don't they see it leaves us with an unsympathetic Deity along the lines of what we see in Islam? Here is Hillaire Belloc on Islam. Spot the similarities...
... the central point where this new heresy struck home with a mortal blow against Catholic tradition was a full denial of the Incarnation. Mohammed did not merely take the first steps toward that denial, as the Arians had done; he advanced a clear affirmation full and complete, against the whole doctrine of an incarnate God. He taught that Our Lord was the greatest of all the prophets, but still only a prophet: a man like other men. He eliminated the Trinity altogether. With that denial of the Incarnation went the whole sacramental structure. He refused to know anything of the Eucharist, with it's Real Presence; he stopped the sacrifice of the Mass, and therefore the institution of a special priesthood. In other words, he, like so many other lesser heresiarchs, founded his heresy on simplification. Catholic doctrine was true (he seemed to say), but it had become encumbered with false accretions; it had become complicated by needless man-made additions, including the idea that the founder was Divine, and the growth of a parasitical caste of priests who battened on a late, imagined, system of sacraments which they alone could administer. All those corrupt accretions must be swept away. Hillaire Belloc, The Great Heresies
There is very likely to be another post to be had on this subject. Perhaps tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Loud and Proud

Regular readers know (and irregular readers have probably guessed) that I am of central european extraction. I can claim physical ancestors from Austria and Germany, and spiritual ancestors from Italy and probably Hungary as well. The culture in this house is undeniably Germanic once you scratch the maple syrup. Deutsche Welle is carrying a nifty photo essay on Germany that I enjoyed a lot. Here's to us!

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Who let YOU out?

During this quiet time there has been no blog that I have enjoyed more than Gagdad Bob's One Cosmos. He has simply been on fire for the past month. Here is my collection of hits from his post today (with the addition of a cartoon link from the comments thread):
Science, of course, proceeds on the basis that the cosmos is ultimately a closed system. While there may be local entities that temporarily escape that fact and become open systems--such as biological organisms--in the end, it is all nothing more than a brief and futile reprieve from the iron hand of entropy. From death you arose and to death you shall return. It's funny how science starts out with such admirably modest aims and methods, but soon makes such grandiose pronouncements. I yield to no one in my respect for science as science, but at the same time, when philosophically unschooled scientists start leaping to unwarranted metaphysical pronouncements, we should all be concerned. Through a sleight of language, science doesn't just replace religion, but becomes a religion. And a bad one at that. ... Likewise, from the standpoint of science, Life Itself--the vertical doorway out of the material cosmos--can really be nothing more than a very rare pattern of matter. Similarly, consciousness--the vertical pathway out the lifedoor--can only be an ephemeral and meaningless side effect of cellular activity. If this is true, then scientists--not to mention scientific "truth"--is a merely a meaningless side effect of matter. The scientist wants to give you the truth, as if he is speaking from a privileged vantage point of verticality, above the material fray. But how can he be? If he wishes to be consistent, he must concede in all modesty that matter can't really know anything, much less the truth about itself. Let's not kid our nonselves: this is your brain on science. Among other things, religions are vertical escape hatches from the grinding ineluctability of mere animal existence. For example, Moses' horizontal dash out of Egypt was in fact a vertical one, leading the Israelites from servitude in the horizontal wasteland of Egypt into the possibility of a higher life in the unknown vertical desert. ... Science deals only with repetition. Without the vertical element, time, no matter how long, can produce nothing truly novel. It can just combine and recombine in a linear or cyclical way. But it certainly cannot account for the startling ontological discontinuities represented by the leap from matter to life or from life to mind. It can rearrange the furniture, but cannot explain how we go from one ontological floor to the next. The only way you can really believe this horizontal nonsense is if your own life has become utterly linear, circular, and closed off to the vertical. Then it is a philosophy that makes a great deal of sense. Plus it is an excellent metaphysical defense mechanism, because you have an airtight explanation for your own vertical Failure to Launch. If it's impossible, why bother? Indeed Horizontal Man is superior to Vertical Man, because at least he does not live in the comfort of fanciful delusions about nonexistent vertical realms!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Crunchy Manifesto

Lent is almost done and so I'm going to let slip this one wee post. Rod Deher's Crunchy Conservatism has been talked to death on NRO and other US conservative sites. The points he raises are not specific to the U.S., however. With a new conservative government and all, Canadians might want to hash these over. An important point for Canadians to consider in this environment is that the US Republican party is not the criterion of what conservatism is all about. Other examples and traditions do exist. I recently finished Steven Ozment's A Mighty Fortress, which is a history of the German people, and one of the things I took away from it was the role of Christian Democrats as a strong moderating force in that part of the world. You can read some of that story here. The current Merkel led German government might be considered the current heirs to role of the Center party. Rod's points and the German examples I've linked are useful because of the Canadian Tories' minority position in the house. The object of the current government is to use the powers it has wisely, and to show the country that it can be trusted with majority powers down the road. Given the elephant in the living room nature of our relationship with the US and the strong brand of conservatism on display there, Canadian Tories need to be Conservative without being US Republicans in miniature. Canada is not the U.S., and neither is it Germany, but the overlap I see between the Crunchy and the German 'center' speaks to me of universally appealing points we may want to examine. Here is Rod's manifesto: 1. We are conservatives who stand outside the conservative mainstream; therefore, we can see things that matter more clearly. 2. Modern conservatism has become too focused on money, power, and the accumulation of stuff, and insufficiently concerned with the content of our individual and social character. 3. Big business deserves as much skepticism as big government. 4. Culture is more important than politics and economics. 5. A conservatism that does not practice restraint, humility, and good stewardship—especially of the natural world—is not fundamentally conservative. 6. Small, Local, Old, and Particular are almost always better than Big, Global, New, and Abstract. 7. Beauty is more important than efficiency. 8. The relentlessness of media-driven pop culture deadens our senses to authentic truth, beauty, and wisdom. 9. We share Russell Kirk’s conviction that “the institution most essential to conserve is the family.” 10. Politics and economics won’t save us; if our culture is to be saved at all, it will be by faithfully living by the Permanent Things, conserving these ancient moral truths in the choices we make in our everyday lives. My two cents: 1. is empty; anyone can make such a claim. It gains us nothing; drop it, it smacks of pretention and elitism. 2. This is very true but needn't be true. 3. Absolutely. 4. In many ways, this is THE theme that has emerged in my thinking as I have steered NWW through the past year +. 5. There is nothing conservative about paving paradise. 6. Remember kids, glass and steel mixed with gargantuanism sucks. 7. and 8. People dead to beauty are not to be trusted. 9. Don't let the left get away with the lie that family protection means entrenched power and abuse. A family is both a collection of people and how they interact. They break the unit into atoms and choose sides; we uphold the union, properly balanced. 10. Don't doubt your ability to impact your community through acts of grace, small and large. Imposed solutions seldom work.