Landscape around Devon Tower

My Reading Summer

Selected quotes from some of my July 2017 reading list.   All totaled there were 14 books finished during July or the first week of August.  Authors include E. M. Forster, Henry Hazlitt, C.S. Lewis, and Pat Conroy (admittedly those are the most impressive names.)  Topics covered last month include politics, religion, economics, bio-diversity, and of course history.

There were a lot of really good books this summer, so it is with difficulty I am reducing it to my favorite three.  The three books I enjoyed the most were Jerusalem: The Biography by Simon Sebag Montefiore, The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert, and of course The Age of Reason Begins (The Story of Civilization VII) by Will Durant.

The worst books, by far, this summer has been Agile!: The Good, the Hype and the Ugly by Bertrand Meyer which as near as I can tell is written for people who have decided they hate Agile and want academic justification for their opinions.

Overall, it was a pretty good month this summer and it only looks to get better.

A Room with a View by E. M. Forster

It isn’t possible to love and to part.  You will wish that it was.  You can transmute love, ignore it, muddle it, but you can never pull it out of you.  I know by experience that the poets are right, love is eternal.

Life is easy to chronicle be bewildering to practice and we welcome “nerves” or any other shibboleth that will cloak our personal desire.

Anyone can find places but finding people is a gift from God.

Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt

It is impossible in maters touching practical life to be consistently wrong.

It is the fallacy of overlooking secondary consequences.  In this lies the whole difference between good economics and bad.

The things so great that private capital could not have built it has in fact been built by private capital.  The capital that was expropriated in taxes or if borrowed must eventually be expropriated in taxes.

There is a strange idea abroad held by all monitary cranks that credit is something a bank gives to a man.  Credit, on the contrary, is something a man already has. He has it perhaps because he already has marketable assets of a greater cash value than the loan he is asking or he has it because his character and past record have earned it.  He brings it into the bank with him.

Private loans will utilize existing resources and capital far better than government loans.  Government loans will waste far more capital and resources than private loans.  Government loans, in short, compared with private loans will reduce production; not increase it.

Government guaranteed home mortgages especially when a negligible down payment or no down payment is required inevitably mean more bad loans than otherwise.  The force the general tax payer to subsides the general risk and to defray the losses.  They encourage people to buy houses they cannot really afford.  They tend to eventually to bring an over-supply of houses.

note: this book was written in 1946

The best prices are not the highest prices, but the ones that encourage the highest volume of production and the largest volume of sales.  The best wage rates for labor are not the highest wage rates, but the ones that permit full production, full employment, and the largest sustained payrolls.

Profits do not actually bulk large in our economy.  …averaging less than 6% of the total national income. It is significant that while there is a word “profiteer” to stigmatize those that allegedly make excessive profits; there is no such word as “wage-eer” or “loss-eer” even though the profits of a barbershop may average much less than wages.

When national debts have once been accumulated to a certain degree  there is scare, I believe, a single instance of their having been fairly and completely paid.

The Church by C.S. Lewis

When it succeeds, I think the performers are the most enviable of men.  Privilege while mortals to honor God like Angles and for a few golden moments to see spirit and flesh , delight and labor, skill and worship, the natural and supernatural all fused into that unity they would have had before the fall.

It is rational not to reason, or not to limit oneself to reason in the wrong place.  And the more rational a man is, the better he knows this.

Unless equal means interchangeable, equality makes nothing for the priesthood of women.

Christians think that God himself has taught us how to speak of him. To say that it does not matter it to say either that all masculine imagery is not inspired, is merely human in origin, or else that, though inspired, it is quite arbitrary and unessential.  And this is surely intolerable or if tolerable it is an argument not in favor of Christian Priestesses, but against Christianity.

The Divine Comedy by Dante Alghieri

Faith is the substance of things hoped for; and evidence of things not seen.

Every substantial form that is separate from matter and is united with it has a specific virtue residing in itself which without action is not perceived nor shows itself save by its effect as by green leaves the life in a plant.  Yet whence the intelligence of the first cognitions comes man doth not know nor whence the affection for the first objects of desire which exist in you even as zeal in the bee for making honey and this first will admits not desert of praise or blame. Now in order virtue that counsels 1 is innate in you and ought to keep the threshold of assent. This is the principle wherefrom is derived the reason of desert in you according as it gathers in and winnows good and evil loves Those who in reasoning went to the foundation took note of this innate liberty wherefore they bequeathed morals to the world. Assuming then that every love which is kindled within you arises of necessity the power exists in you to restrain it. This noble virtue Beatrice calls the free will

The Age of Reason Begins, The Story of Civilization Volume 7 by Will Durant

The nature of man confesses itself in the conduct of states for these our ourselves in gross.

So wars determine theology and philosophy, and the ability to kill and destroy  is a prerequisite to live and build.

Faith might hold to beliefs for which science and philosophy could find no evidence but philosophy should depend only on reason, and science should seek purely secular explanations in terms of physical cause and effect.

By 1789 the English had digested their two rebellions and could look with horror and eloquence upon a revolutions that, like its own, had incarnadined a country and killed a king because the past had tried to stand still.

But even perfection pause when it is long continued. Change is necessary to life, sensation, and thought.  An exciting novelty may seem by its very novelty to be beautiful until the forgotten old returns on the wheel of time and is embraced as young and new.

History smiles at all attempts to force its flow into theoretical patterns or logical groves.  It plays havoc with our generalizations, breaks all our rules.  History is baroque.

History, like oratory, seldom makes a point without exaggeration.

Fame is a fashion.  We tire of wearing old admirations on our pens and find it exhilarating to discard worn idols from our fancy.  To take down the dead mighty from their seats and to put on the praises of new gods blown up by our originality or exhumed by some fresh renown.

Adjustment to a changing environment is the essence of life, and its price.

Only the fortunate can take life without mythology.

Science now began to liberate itself from the placenta of its mother philosophy…  It did not put its faith in pure reason, reason independent of experience and experiment.  To often such reasoning had woven mythical webs.  Reason as well as tradition and authority was now to be check by the study and record of lowly facts.    And whatever logic might say, science would aspirate to accept only what could only be quantitatively measured, mathematically expressed, and experimentally proved.

The soul of a civilization is its’ religion, and it dies with its faith.

My Reading Life by Pat Conroy

In a reading life, one thing leads to another in a circle of accident and chance.

As an American liberal with impeccable credentials, I’d like to say that political correctness is going to kill American liberalism if it is not fought to the death by people like me for the dangers it represents to free speech, to the exchange of ideas, to open heartedness or to the spirit of art itself. Political correctness has a stranglehold on academia, on  feminism, and on the media.  It is a form above madness and maggotry and has already silenced the voices of writers like James Dicky across the land.

The Sixth Extinction by  Elizabeth Kolbert

If you want to think about why humans are so dangerous to other species you can picture a poacher in Africa with an AK-47, or a logger in the Amazon gripping an ax, or better still you can picture yourself holding a book on your lap.

With the capacity to represent the world in signs and symbols come the capacity to change it which, as it happens, is also the capacity to destroy it.

As soon as humans started to use signs and symbols to represent the natural  world they pushed beyond the limits of that world.  In may ways, human language is like the genetic code.  Information is stored and transmitted with modifications down the generations Communication hold societies together and allows humans to escape evolution.

Religious Literacy by Stephen Prothero

What we have here is yet another effort to turn religion into a water boy for morality.  …the collapse of religion into virtue.

Faith without knowledge is dangerous.

Learning was highly prized in the early colonies and the republic.  Puritan clergy were… the first class of American intellectuals and the nations founders were sages, scientists, men of broad cultivation, many of them apt in classical learning.

Most Americans, in short, remain far more committed to respecting other religions than to learning about them.

Efforts to update catechetical training have replace time honored instruction about church traditions with touchy-feely conversations about one’s personal values.

…a shift in emphasis from participating in the sacraments to loving Jesus and a growing tenancy to reduce the sum of religion to moral behavior.

Among academics curiosities is the persistent skepticism of its inhabitants, their tenancy to dismiss faith as fanaticism.  Theorists postulating the death of religion under modernity’s crush or, at a minimum, its retreat into the closet of the private often base their predictions on nothing more than the vague air of skepticism they detected at the Dean’s sherry hour.  If academia was marching away from god, or so the logic when, the rest of the modern world would surely follow.

Evangelicalism today has become less a matter of learning that it is a matter of experiencing.  Pop psychology has elbowed Biblicalexegesis out of many born again pulpits.  Self help books outsell theological works in most Christian book stores.

Few school administrators understand the crutal distinction… between studying the Bible academically, which is constitutional, and reading it devotionally which is not.   …the distinction between teaching about religions and teaching of religion.