Friday, September 23, 2011

Quote #145: on block quotation

Probably not a suitable quote for this blog, but worth reading if one plans on doing any original writing:
It is a good idea to avoid long quotations, especially quotations long enough to require indentation.  Tehe are few such quotations in academic writing that could not better be paraphrased.  Long quotations not only discourage the reader, they often serve as a substitute for thought on the part of the writer.
- Christopher Lasch (1932-1934), Plain Style:  A Guide to Written English (University of Pennsylvania Press:  2002), pg. 65. 

I assure our readers that the quotes posted on this blog serve not as substittues for, but rather encouragements to, rigorous thinking.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Quote #144: Archbishop Oscar Romero on hope

The words of a great martyr for the faith and
for his people who spoke about hope in the 
face of what appears to be insurmountable 

"Hope is not resignation; it is a commitment 
to continue to struggle even when things seem 
to warrant surrender, when hope flares, it 
allows human beings to overcome monstrous 
difficulties.  It allows people to defy common 
sense and confound strategists.  Hope 
experienced in the extreme, like faith and love, is miraculous."

Servant of God Oscar Romero, martyr, ora pro nobis!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Quote #143: nostalgia is not substitute for tradition

"A society that has made "nostalgia" a marketable commodity on the cultural exchange quickly repudiates the suggestion that life in the past was in any important way better than life today."

- Christopher Lasch (1932-1994), American social critic.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Quote #142: Natural law and the nature of government

"Good and wise men, in all ages [...] have supposed that the Deity, from the relations we stand in to Himself and to each other, has constituted an eternal and immutable law, which is indispensably obligatory upon all mankind, prior to any human institution whatever.This is what is called the law of nature, “which, being coeval with mankind, and dictated by God himself, is, of course, superior in obligations to any other. It is binding over all the globe, in all countries, and at all times. No human laws are of any validity, if contrary to this; and such of them as are valid derive all their authority, mediately or immediately, from this original.”—Blackstone.

Upon this law depend the natural rights of mankind: the Supreme Being gave existence to man, together with the means of preserving and beautifying that existence. He endowed him with rational faculties, by the help of which to discern and pursue such things as were consistent with his duty and interest; and invested him with an inviolable right to personal liberty and personal safety.
Hence, in a state of nature, no man had any moral power to deprive another of his life, limbs, property, or liberty; nor the least authority to command or exact obedience from him, except that which arose from the ties of consanguinity.

Hence, also, the origin of all civil government, justly established, must be a voluntary compact between the rulers and the ruled, and must be liable to such limitations as are necessary for the security of the absolute rights of the latter; for what original title can any man, or set of men, have to govern others, except their own consent? To usurp dominion over a people in their own despite, or to grasp at a more extensive power than they are willing to intrust, is to violate that law of nature which gives every man a right to his personal liberty, and can therefore confer no obligation to obedience.
“The principal aim of society is to protect individuals in the enjoyment of those absolute rights which were vested in them by the immutable laws of nature, but which could not be preserved in peace without that mutual assistance and intercourse which is gained by the institution of friendly and social communities. Hence it follows, that the first and primary end of human laws is to maintain and regulate these absolute rights of individuals.”—Blackstone."

- Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804), American founding father, The Farmer Refuted (1775).

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Quote #141: epistle reading for the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time

The second reading assigned in the Catholic lectionary for this Sunday is taken from St. Paul's letter to the Romans 11.13-15, 29-32.  That portion of scripture reads as follows in the venerable King James Version of the New Testament:
For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:
If by any means I may provoke to emulation [them which are] my flesh, and might save some of them.
For if the casting away of them [be] the reconciling of the world, what [shall] the receiving [of them be], but life from the dead?
For the gifts and calling of God [are] without repentance.
For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief:
Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy.
For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.
Wise words to ponder.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Quote #140: dissenting religion and the push for American Independence

From the great English statesman Edmund Burke (1729-1797) comes this analysis of the role that dissenting religion played in the American commitment to liberty at the time leading up to our Revolution:

Religion, always a principle of energy, in this new people is no way worn out or impaired; and their mode of professing it is also one main cause of this free spirit. The people are Protestants; and of that kind which is the most adverse to all implicit submission of mind and opinion. This is a persuasion not only favourable to liberty, but built upon it. I do not think, Sir, that the reason of this averseness in the dissenting churches, from all that looks like absolute government, is so much to be sought in their religious tenets, as in their history. Every one knows that the Roman Catholic religion is at least coeval with most of the governments where it prevails; that it has generally gone hand in hand with them, and received great favour and every kind of support from authority. The Church of England too was formed from her cradle under the nursing care of regular government. But the dissenting interests have sprung up in direct opposition to all the ordinary powers of the world; and could justify that opposition only on a strong claim to natural liberty. Their very existence depended on the powerful and unremitted assertion of that claim. All Protestantism, even the most cold and passive, is a sort of dissent. But the religion most prevalent in our northern colonies is a refinement on the principle of resistance; it is the dissidence of dissent, and the Protestantism of the Protestant religion. This religion, under a variety of denominations agreeing in nothing but in the communion of the spirit of liberty, is predominant in most of the northern provinces; where the Church of England, notwithstanding its legal rights, is in reality no more than a sort of private sect, not composing most probably the tenth of the people. The colonists left England when this spirit was high, and in the emigrants was the highest of all; and even that stream of foreigners, which has been constantly flowing into these colonies, has, for the greatest part, been composed of dissenters from the establishments of their several countries, and have brought with them a temper and character far from alien to that of the people with whom they mixed.
- Speech on Conciliation with the Colonies, March 22, 1775.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Quote #139: Enduring freedom is embodied freedom

"The only freedom which can last is a freedom embodied somewhere, rooted in a history, located in space, sanctioned by a genealogy, and blessed by a religious establishment.  The only equality which abstract rights, insisted upon outside the context of politics, are likely to provide is the equality of universal slavery.  It is a lesson which Western man is only now beginning to learn."

- M.E. Bradford, A Better Guide Than Reason: Federalists & Anti-Federalists (Transaction Publishers: 1994), pg. xviii.

[Cross-posted at my own blog, Ordered Liberty.]

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Quote #138: on the duty of a Christian soldier

For it was a mark of a Christian solider to combine the greatest fortitude with the greatest attention to military discipline, and to add to nobility of mind immovable fidelity towards his prince.  But, if anything dishonorable was required of him, as, for instance, to break the law of God, or to turn his sword against innocent disciples of christ, then, indeed, he refused to execute the orders, yet in such wise that he would rather retire from the army and die for his religion than oppose the public authority by means of sedition and tumult.
- Pope Leo XIII, Encyclical Letter Diuturnum (On Civil Government) (1881), chapter 20.

[Cross-posted at my own blog Ordered Liberty.]

Monday, April 4, 2011

Quote #137: on constitutional interpretation

From one of the most influential justices in the history of the Supreme Court:
In construing the constitution of the United States, we are, in the first instance, to consider, what are its nature and objects, its scope and design, as apparent from the structure of the instrument, viewed as a whole, and also viewed in its component parts. Where its words are plain, clear, and determinate, they require no interpretation; and it should, therefore, be admitted, if at all, with great caution, and only from necessity, either to escape some absurd consequence, or to guard against some fatal evil. Where the words admit of two senses, each of which is conformable to common usage, that sense is to be adopted, which, without departing from the literal import of the words, best harmonizes with the nature and objects, the scope and design of the instrument. Where the words are unambiguous, but the provision may cover more or less ground according to the intention, which is yet subject to conjecture; or where it may include in its general terms more or less, than might seem dictated by the general design, as that may be gathered from other parts of the instrument, there is much more room for controversy; and the argument from inconvenience will probably have different influences upon different minds. Whenever such questions arise, they will probably be settled, each upon its own peculiar grounds; and whenever it is a question of power, it should be approached with infinite caution, and affirmed only upon the most persuasive reasons. In examining the constitution, the antecedent situation of the country, and its institutions, the existence and operations of the state governments, the powers and operations of the confederation, in short all the circumstances, which had a tendency to produce, or to obstruct its formation and ratification, deserve a careful attention. Much, also, may be gathered from contemporary history, and contemporary interpretation, to aid us in just conclusions
Jospeh Story (1799-1845), Commentaries on the Constitution, Chapter V,  § 405. II (1833).

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Quote #136: On protecting our democratic republic

We should be unfaithful to ourselves if we should ever lose sight of the danger to our liberties if anything partial or extraneous should infect the purity of our free, fair, virtuous, and independent elections. If an election is to be determined by a majority of a single vote, and that can be procured by a party through artifice or corruption, the Government may be the choice of a party for its own ends, not of the nation for the national good. If that solitary suffrage can be obtained by foreign nations by flattery or menaces, by fraud or violence, by terror, intrigue, or venality, the Government may not be the choice of the American people, but of foreign nations. It may be foreign nations who govern us, and not we, the people, who govern ourselves; and candid men will acknowledge that in such cases choice would have little advantage to boast of over lot or chance.
- John Adams (1735-1826), second president of the United States,
Inaugural Address (1797).

Monday, January 3, 2011

Quote #135: on virtue, happiness and the foundation of good government

"All sober inquirers after truth, ancient and modern, pagan and Christian, have declared that the happiness of man, as well as his dignity, consists in virtue. Confucius, Zo-roaster, Socrates, Mahomet, not to mention authorities really sacred, have agreed in this. 

If there is a form of government, then, whose principle and foundation is virtue, will not every sober man acknowledge it better calculated to promote the general happiness than any other form?" 

- John Adams (1735-1826), Thoughts on Government  (April 1776).

St. Augustine (by Sandro Botticelli)

St. Ignatius Loyola (by Francisco Zurbaran)

Benjamin Rush (by Charles Willson Peale)

Patrick Henry at the Virginia House of Burgesses (by Henry Rothermel)

Edmund Burke (by Sir Joshua Reynolds)

Samuel Adams (by John Singleton Copley)

Alexander Hamilton (by John Trumbull)