Explaining Traditionalism at ‘The Everyman’

When it comes to society and politics, I call myself a Traditionalist, and today at The Everyman, I got to explain a little of what that means: 

Another point where the Traditionalist would reject Liberalism is on the question of freedom. For the Liberal, freedom is the highest good, and he would define freedom along the lines of, “the right to do whatever you like provided you do not interfere with another person’s rights.”

Of course, this requires a clear set of rights, which in turn require a standard for what is and is not a ‘right.’ Because if we take that definition of liberty to be substantially correct, then paradoxically the more ‘rights’ people have, the less freedom any one individual has (again, as we are daily observing in our own culture: if one man claims a right to not be insulted, then another man’s freedom of speech is proportionately limited).

As far as I am aware, this is a standard that Liberals have never been able to establish: there is no clear and objective way for a Liberal to determine what does and does not qualify as a ‘right.’ In fact, the Liberal principle that freedom is the highest good means that there can be no standard by which to judge of rights or freedoms (what can the highest or most basic of goods be judged against?).

Traditionalists, following classical philosophy, would say that rights, rather than being ‘self-evident’ foundations of freedom, are derived from moral duties and observable facts. That is, where a Liberal would say that natural rights determine moral duties, the Traditionalist would say that rationally discerned moral duties require certain rights. For instance, the fact that a man is a father imposes on him duties to provide for his family. This, in turn, requires the right of private property, since it would only be out of his own property that a man could be said to be providing (otherwise whoever owns that property—e.g. the State—would, in fact, be doing the providing). Now, that is not necessarily the only traditional justification for property, the point is that it is a justification, and one that is entirely logical.

Read the rest.

AMDG

The Nuances of How Superpowered Characters Are Received at Home

The irreplaceable Caroline Furlong has another insightful essay in her series on writing superpowered characters; this one is on how they should be viewed in their own world. In it, she hits several points of nuance that the vast majority of modern writers (especially those working in Hollywood or in the comics industry) seem incapable of comprehending: such as that maybe, just maybe, ordinary people have reasons apart from unthinking prejudice and bigotry for fearing a man who can destroy a city single-handedly:

The main reason they must not do this is simple: power of any kind will, if used for selfish motives, corrupt the wielder and lead him/her to the Dark Side. The mild illustration of a teenage couple breaking up due to the machinations of jealous peers should make this clear. Let us say that the girl in this relationship hears a false rumor about her boyfriend making fun of her with his friends, while he is lied to and told that she is cheating on him with another boy. In many situations like this, after breaking up, the two do all sorts of petty things to avenge themselves on one another for the “betrayal” they experienced.

Even without the addition of extraordinary powers, we can see that the odds of this scenario having a happy finale are not good. But take a step back and ask yourself this, future writers: “What happens if the girl discovers she is a pyrokinetc (a fire manipulator and/or generator)? What happens if the boy realizes he can move things with his mind, hear the thoughts of others, and/or compel them to do something? What does their desire to gain vengeance on one another for these perceived betrayals look like then?”

The probable answers to these inquiries are unpleasant, to say the least. If the girl has pyrokinetic powers, she might decide to use her gift to cause bodily or financial harm to her ex-boyfriend. If the boy is telepathic and telekinetic, then he could force his ex-girlfriend to walk off a bridge downtown as “punishment” for her infidelity. These are horrific uses for paranormal gifts, but they illustrate the temptations that these one or two enhanced characters will face in such a situation.

She then goes on to explore ways different stories have explored that mistrust and uncertainty in clever and creative ways. Definitely read the whole thing! 

For my own part, I would make it a rule to never play the ‘unthinking bigotry’ card, much less the ‘they fear what they don’t understand’ one. For one thing, it doesn’t ring true to me (even the most absurd bigotries have some rational basis), and for another, I think it is a very dangerous mindset to encourage; if people adopt it, it leads them to shut their ears to what others actually have to say and to slap the ‘bigot’ label on anyone who says anything they don’t like. Thus, ironically, this mode of attacking prejudice only encourages it. Far better to give the justification a fair hearing and show why and how it is wrong, or at least how it isn’t the whole story, then to dumb things down to pure, unthinking resentment. Besides, exploring ideas and settling true from false makes for a much better story than just “these people are good and innocent; these are evil and ignorant, and that’s terrible. Be grateful we are not like them.”

 

Do the Powers Make the Hero?

The Irreplaceable Caroline Furlong writes an excellent piece about whether the superhuman powers of a hero is what makes him a hero worth rooting for, or not:

Due to the numerous ways extraordinary faculties can be introduced into a tale, there are several conditions that an author must consider when creating powered protagonists. In today’s post, we are focusing on the most important one: whether or not strange abilities make the lead character a hero. Is it his special powers that make the sci-fi/fantasy protagonist a champion? Or are the forces that he wields less important than the character himself?

The answer to the first question should be no, because a protagonist who is only memorable for his special talents or whizz-bang gadgets is not a character. He is, rather, a prop; a device that demonstrates the author’s cool ideas in a series of happy (or unhappy) accidents. No one enjoys watching a prop being moved around the stage by the play’s director, even if he is honestly trying to save the show. They will feel sympathy for him, but nothing else. In the same manner, no one will respect or admire a writer who cannot create characters who are alive.

In order to illustrate this fact, let us compare Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Thor: The Dark World, which each have Rey and Thor as the respective lead characters. In the sequel Star Wars films Rey commands nearly cosmic Force powers; she can use the Force with almost no training whatsoever. Thor, on the other hand, is – well, the god of thunder. He can raise storms at will, he is the strongest Asgardian still living, he can survive explosive decompression and hard vacuum, and he is relatively indestructible.

Read the whole thing!

As a side note, I really love this poster of Thor: the Dark World. It really captures the sense of the heroism and adventure that Thor ought to be about.

Related image

Robert Davi Speaks the Truth

Veteran character actor Robert Davi (of Licensed to Kill, Die Hard, and The Goonies among others) shares his heartbreak in a quiet, powerful video in response to New York’s barbaric new abortion law:

Money quote: “You really think you can rip a baby from its mother’s womb at nine months and it’s ok?”

This is the kind of statement that should be coming from every Catholic, Christian, and civilized human being in public life in the country. But until that happens, we should be grateful for what we get.

I’ve always appreciated seeing Mr. Davi show up in films, and I’ll appreciate it all the more after this.

Traditional Masculinity with Larry Correia

After all the nonsense we’ve heard in the news lately about ‘toxic masculinity,’ a restorative seems in order. To that end, I offer another fisk by the incomparable Larry Correia. In this one, Mr. Correia tears into a painfully ignorant and narrow-minded piece listing ‘obsolete’ male skills and in the process demonstrates what real manhood looks like.

As always with Mr. Correia, language advisory: he puts the lie to the idea that manly men hide their feelings.

I particularly appreciate the section where the author lists ‘fighting’ as an obsolete skill. Needless to say, this brings out the brutal truth:

It’s a pretty common conception that at the root of every male confrontation is the possibility of physical violence.

If by “common conception” you mean what we’ve learned from all of human history and human nature, no ****, Sherlock. 

Road rage incidents, bar standoffs, most guys have found themselves in a situation that felt like a prelude to fisticuffs.

That’s because whether you like it or not the world has many violent, predatory ***holes in it.

And in a violent dog-eat-dog world, there’s a certain logic to that approach.

There is a great deal of logic to it, unless you have a magic wand that can make murder vanish. In the meantime you can either be prepared to defend yourself or you can just be a victim.

But how many of those situations actually evolve into a fight?

Trust me. One is enough.

And why should any of them?

Because the other ***hole gets a vote too.

Physical fighting literally doesn’t solve anything — it just leaves people angry and bruised, or worse.

BULL-F******-S***.  That is some sheltered, Pollyanna, Kumbaya singing, wishful thinking, delusional nonsense right there. That attitude is the most “white privilege”, ivory tower, I Live In A Gated Community, nonsense I know of.  And I think the very concept of “white privilege” is idiotic, but if it exists, it’s that **** right there.

There are evil people in the world. And I’m not talking about the car mechanic who called Ian a sissy. There are murderers, rapists, terrorists, and people who want to hurt you just because it makes them happy to see you bleed. In addition to those actual evil people, you’ve got morons, who sometimes do stupid **** that gets out of control.  

People who claim violence never solve anything are profoundly, painfully ignorant of the world. Violence solves lots of things. It doesn’t solve them pretty, but it solves them.

Bad things happen. Period. You might win the lottery and never have a violent encounter in your life. But if you do, then having some measure of knowledge and skill to keep from having your skull caved in is mighty handy.

Instead, Learn How to Mediate

Problem-solving with an eye to compromise and healthy conflict resolution is something that, by and large, men just aren’t taught growing up.

An absolute lie.

I grew up rural poor, surrounded by men with what the APA would surely say are guilty of “toxic masculinity”, and though we learned to fight, we ALSO learned how not to. And it mattered MORE, because we were dealing with strong people who could really **** you up when it mattered.

That’s one of the reasons many of us are so quick to start swinging or shoving rather than handling things with our words.

Ian is projecting. 

In reality, guys who know how to really fight, also know how badly injured the human body can be by a proper strike to the head, or a bad fall. And so we tend to avoid pointless conflict.

If I may add: as someone who has about twenty-years martial arts experience under his belt, I can testify that it is usually the morons who never actually learn to fight, or who take the pretty, show-off style classes who talk about violence as if it were a game. The people who actually spend time sparring, going back and forth with rubber knives, and practicing how to hurt someone know better. How many of those antifa types or the people calling for violent “resistance” do you think have ever actually been punched in the face, let alone been shot at? My guess is not many. Not that there aren’t exceptions, but in my experience those who have the best idea of how to hurt someone are also among the least willing to start a fight over something stupid.

But then again, it also tends to be the sheltered and the naive who parrot the idiotic ‘violence never solves anything’ line and talk as though ‘mediation’ with a predator or a coked up lunatic were possible because they have no idea what reality is really like.

Anyway, read the rest and enjoy the sight of some ‘traditional masculinity’ in action.

Discussing Changes at Catholic Match

In today’s post at ‘Catholic Match,’ I give advice on when you should ask your significant other to change:

In the first place, let’s be clear that you do have the right to ask your significant other to ‘change’ in some way.

When you enter a relationship with someone, your life is no longer quite your own, and thus what you do affects the other person and hence they are well within their right to ask you to be a certain way.

That is, to an extent. It must be remembered that intentional change is difficult and stressful, and so basic charity requires that it should only be demanded in important cases. If you find one of your girlfriend’s habits to be mildly annoying, or if she occasionally does something embarrassing or silly, then you should really let it go at a comment or two and not insist that she alter it. If you try to get her to correct every minor fault or quirk as it arises, she’ll feel badgered and stressed, and what is worse, she won’t be as inclined to listen if you ask her to change something serious.

Just as human laws do not, as a matter of practicality, cover the whole moral law, so you should not try to ‘fix’ every flaw in the other person. Everyone has flaws, and some flaws you simply have to learn to live with because the cost of removing them isn’t worth the pain and effort.

Read the rest here.

At the Everyman, Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus

The Everyman asked me to tackle the question of salvation outside the Church, following Bishop Barron’s infamous interview with Ben Shapiro. Fortunately, I’d just been reading up some on the subject.

This one’s probably gonna generate some controversy; if you have a comment, please either leave it at the ‘Everyman’ site, or under this post.

The reason for this is inherent in the Christian claim. Christ came to save mankind from his sins, and by His saving death and resurrection He has opened a path to Heaven for those who follow Him. Salvation, in other words, is the exception, not the rule; we are not naturally directed to heaven. “wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and those who enter through it are many,” says the Lord (Matt. 7:13). Christ is not, as His Excellency said, the “privileged route” (whatever that means), He is the only route.

Our Lord is very clear on this: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6), “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me” (Matt. 10:37), “To as many as believed in Him, He gave power to become sons of God” (John 1:12) and so on.

Christians, amid the heresies and schisms of the first few centuries after Christ, taught from very early on that there was one Church, which alone was the Body of Christ on Earth. Membership in this body is an essential part of following Christ, and hence there is no salvation outside it.

This is a hard saying (though not quite so hard as it seems, as we’ll see), but as with many of the hard sayings of the Catholic Church, it ultimately comes down to the question of whether the Church is what she claims to be, namely, the Bride of Christ and His instrument upon Earth. If she is, then of course there can be no salvation outside of her, since there is no salvation apart from Christ.

Go here to read the rest.