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Jesu, Juva

Archive for the ‘Quotations’ Category

Truth (3)

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See also: Truth (1), Truth (2)

Written by Scott Moonen

July 7, 2020 at 7:38 am

Posted in Quotations

Turmoil

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We have to remind our readers once again that this chapter does not attempt by any means to list all the waves which fertilized Gulag—but only those which had a political coloration. And just as, in a course in physiology, after a detailed description of the circulation of the blood, one can begin over again and describe in detail the lymphatic system, one could begin again and describe the waves of nonpolitical offenders and habitual criminals from 1918 to 1953. And this description, too, would run long. It would bring to light many famous decrees, now in part forgotten (even though they have never been repealed), which supplied abundant human material for the insatiable Archipelago. One was the Decree on Absenteeism. One was the Decree on Production of Bad Quality Goods. Another was on samogon [moonshine] distilling. Its peak period was 1922—but arrests for this were constant throughout the twenties. And the Decree on the Punishment of Collective Farmers for Failure to Fulfill the Obligatory Norm of Labor Days. And the Decree on the Introduction of Military Discipline on Railroads, issued in April, 1943—not at the beginning of the war, but when it had already taken a turn for the better.

In accordance with the ancient Petrine tradition, these decrees always put in an appearance as the most important element in all our legislation, but without any comprehension of or reference to the whole of our previous legislation. Learned jurists were supposed to coordinate the branches of the law, but they were not particularly energetic at it, nor particularly successful either.

This steady pulse of decrees led to a curious national pattern of violations and crimes. One could easily recognize that neither burglary, nor murder, nor samogon distilling, nor rape ever seemed to occur at random intervals or in random places throughout the country as a result of human weakness, lust, or failure to control one’s passions. By no means! One detected, instead, a surprising unanimity and monotony in the crimes committed. The entire Soviet Union would be in a turmoil of rape alone, or murder alone, or samogon distilling alone, each in its turn—in sensitive reaction to the latest government decree. Each particular crime or violation seemed somehow to be playing into the hands of the latest decree so that it would disappear from the scene that much faster! At that precise moment, the particular crime which had just been foreseen, and for which wise new legislation had just provided stricter punishment, would explode simultaneously everywhere.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago Volume 1, 86–87

Written by Scott Moonen

July 5, 2020 at 4:45 pm

Posted in Quotations

A confusion of terms

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Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society. As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all.

We disapprove of state education. Then the socialists say that we are opposed to any education. We object to a state religion. Then the socialists say that we want no religion at all. We object to a state-enforced equality. Then they say that we are against equality. And so on, and so on. It is as if the socialists were to accuse us of not wanting persons to eat because we do not want the state to raise grain.

Frederic Bastiat, The Law

Written by Scott Moonen

June 20, 2020 at 10:01 pm

Posted in Quotations

You will recognize them by their fruits

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In my preceding pamphlet I had no occasion to condemn the peasants, because they promised to yield to law and better instruction, as Christ also demands (Matt. 7:1). But before I can turn around, they go out and appeal to force, in spite of their promises, and rob and pillage and act like mad dogs. From this it is quite apparent what they had in their false minds, and that what they put forth under the name of the gospel in the Twelve Articles was all vain pretense. In short, they practice mere devil’s work, and it is the arch-devil himself who reigns at Mühlhausen [a reference to Münzer], indulging in nothing but robbery, murder, and bloodshed; as Christ says of the devil in John 8:44, “he was a murderer from the beginning.” Since, therefore, those peasants and miserable wretches allow themselves to be led astray and act differently from what they declared, I likewise must write differently concerning them; and first bring their sins before their eyes, as God commands (Isa. 58:1; Ezek. 2:7), whether perchance some of them may come to their senses; and, further, I would instruct those in authority how to conduct themselves in this matter.

Luther, Against the Robbing and Murdering Hordes of Peasants

Written by Scott Moonen

June 1, 2020 at 7:02 am

Scruples

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Returning to the question from my earlier post:

As a practical example, I can show love for my brother Tom by standing six feet away from him and being charitable and gracious towards his reasons for wanting to exercise caution. But is there any situation whatsoever where my brotherly love for Tom restrains me from hugging Joe?

The late R. C. Sproul has an interesting lecture that he entitled The Tyranny of the Weaker Brother. He says:

No, as soon as the weaker brother tried to enforce his weakness as the law of the church, the gospel was threatened. And now rather than deny his own Christian liberty, the Apostle Paul fought tooth and nail against the tyranny of the weaker brother. As soon as somebody has that scruple by which their conscience bound to themselves tries to go beyond themselves and make it the rule of the church, they must be resisted. They must not be allowed to establish laws where God has left us free. . . . Ask yourself, do you impose rules and regulations in your church where God has left people free?

Sproul’s approach is weakened (ha!) by treating this as a case of a stronger and weaker brother, rather than treating it as a case of two strong brothers. Thus, I would rather speak of the tyranny of the legalist, or of the anxious. However, we are accustomed to using “weak” in this way and, terminology aside, this is still a good framework for processing such cases. Consistent with Paul’s entire teaching and behavior, Christian brothers, in love, are to give deference to one another, up to the point where a brother (or his advocate) seeks to use this “weakness” (actual or otherwise) as a means of “strength” to bind another brother’s conscience. It is love, too, that resists such binding.

Fortunately, my social distancing brothers are neither weak nor legalistic nor tyrannical. So I am hugging and handshaking a bunch of people now, and not hugging or handshaking another bunch of people. I love them all dearly.

Written by Scott Moonen

May 20, 2020 at 10:54 pm

Posted in Miscellany, Quotations

Keep my commandments

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God’s laws aren’t at war with each other. God never puts us in a position where we have to break a commandment to love our neighbor. The commandments of God define love for our neighbor. God’s commandments tell us what love looks like.

Duane Garner, If You Love Me

Written by Scott Moonen

May 19, 2020 at 1:25 pm

Never again

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Then one of the demons answered: “Lords, we have been ruined by what we thought would benefit us most. Remember the words of the prophets, who said that the son of God would come down to earth to save the sinners descended from Adam and Eve. And we went and seized those who said that the man who would come to earth would deliver them from the torments of Hell. Everything the prophets said has now come true. He has taken away all those that we had taken hold of, and we are powerless against him. He has taken away from us all those who believe in his special birth, who believe he was born of woman in such a way that we had no part in the event and were not even aware that it was going to happen.”

“Don’t you know, then,” said another, “that he has them washed in water in his name? They are washed in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, so that we can never again have them as we used to. We have now lost them all through this washing, so that we have no power over them unless they choose to come back to us. Thus the man who has taken them away has reduced our power. Moreover he has left ministers on earth who will save them, no matter how great a part they have had in our works; they have but to repent and renounce our works and do as the ministers say. We have thus lost them all. Our Lord has offered them a great spiritual gift: to save mankind, he came to earth and deigned to be born of woman and suffer all the torments of the world; and he was born of woman unbeknownst to us and without committing any sin of the flesh. When at last we came along, we tried and tested him in every way we knew, but he resisted all our efforts and chose instead to die in order to save mankind. He must surely love all men, if he was willing to suffer such great pain to take them away from us. We now have to seek a way to win them back so that they cannot repent or even speak to the ministers who could grant them the pardon that he paid for with his death.”

Then all together they said: “We have lost everything, since he can pardon sinners up to the last moment. Whoever embrace him will be saved. Even someone who has always performed our works is now lost to us if he repents. We have now lost them all.”

From The Prose Merlin, in The Romance of Arthur: An Anthology of Medieval Texts in Translation, p. 307

I find it especially interesting that the author has the demons call Jesus Our Lord.

Written by Scott Moonen

May 16, 2020 at 3:48 pm

Alive

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Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. (Philippians 1:18b–21 ESV)

The Bible does not assume that you need to be healthy, or even alive, to be happy and to glorify God. . . Death is a temporary trouble. (Michael Stalker)

Written by Scott Moonen

May 10, 2020 at 1:54 pm

A child forever

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When I think of the small passions of men of our day, the softness of their mores, the extent of their enlightenment, the purity of their religion, the mildness of their morality, their laborious and steady habits, the restraint that almost all preserve in vice as in virtue, I do not fear that in their chiefs they will find tyrants, but rather schoolmasters.

I think therefore that the kind of oppression with which democratic peoples are threatened will resemble nothing that has preceded it in the world; our contemporaries would not find its image in their memories. I myself seek in vain an expression that exactly reproduces the idea that I form of it for myself and that contains it; the old words despotism and tyranny are not suitable. The thing is new, therefore I must try to define it, since I cannot name it.

I want to imagine with what new features despotism could be produced in the world: I see an innumerable crowd of like and equal men who revolve on themselves without repose, procuring the small and vulgar pleasures with which they fill their souls. Each of them, withdrawn and apart, is like a stranger to the destiny of all the others: his children and his particular friends form the whole human species for him; as for dwelling with his fellow citizens, he is beside them, but he does not see them; he touches them and does not feel them; he exists only in himself alone, and if a family still remains for him, one can at least say that he no longer has a native country.

Above these an immense tutelary power is elevated, which alone takes charge of assuring their enjoyments and watching over their fate. It is absolute, detailed, regular, far-seeing, and mild. It would resemble paternal power if, like that, it had for its object to prepare men for manhood; but on the contrary, it seeks only to keep them fixed irrevocably in childhood; it likes citizens to enjoy themselves provided that they think only of enjoying themselves. It willingly works for their happiness; but it wants to be the unique agent and sole arbiter of that; it provides for their security, foresees and secures their needs, facilitates their pleasures, conducts their principal affairs, directs their industries, regulates their estates, divides their inheritances; can it not take away from them entirely the trouble of thinking and the pain of living?

So it is that every day it renders the employment of free will less useful and more rare; it confines the action of the will in a smaller space and little by little steals the very use of free will from each citizen. Equality has prepared men for all these things: it has disposed them to tolerate them and often even to regard them as a benefit.

Thus, after taking each individual by turns in its powerful hands and kneading him as it likes, the sovereign extends its arms over society as whole; it covers its surface with a network of small, complicated, painstaking, uniform rules through which the most original minds and the most vigorous souls cannot clear a way to surpass the crowd; it does not break wills, but softens them, bends them, and directs them; it rarely forces one to act, but it constantly opposes itself to one’s acting; it does not tyrannize, it hinders, compromises, enervates, extinguishes, dazes, and finally reduces each nation to being nothing more than a herd of timid and industrious animals of which the government is the shepherd.

Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, volume 2, book 4, chapter 6

HT: Brad Hodges

Written by Scott Moonen

May 8, 2020 at 2:06 pm

Posted in Quotations

A week’s answer, or none

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‘Hullo, Sam!’ Said Rosie. ‘Where’ve you been? They said you were dead; but I’ve been expecting you since the Spring. You haven’t hurried, have you?’

‘Perhaps not,’ said Sam abashed. ‘But I’m hurrying now. We’re setting about the ruffians, and I’ve got to get back to Mr. Frodo. But I thought I’d have a look and see how Mrs. Cotton was keeping, and you, Rosie.’

‘We’re keeping nicely, thank you,’ said Mrs. Cotton. ‘Or should be, if it weren’t for these thieving ruffians.’

‘Well, be off with you!’ said Rosie. ‘If you’ve been looking after Mr. Frodo all this while, what d’you want to leave him for, as soon as things look dangerous?’

This was too much for Sam. It needed a week’s answer, or none. He turned away and mounted his pony. But as he started off, Rosie ran down the steps.

‘I think you look fine, Sam,’ she said. ‘Go on now! But take care of yourself, and come straight back as soon as you have settled the ruffians!’

Tolkien, “The Scouring of the Shire,” The Return of the King

Written by Scott Moonen

May 2, 2020 at 6:38 pm

Posted in Quotations