Voices from Russia

Thursday, 10 November 2011

10 November 2011. Points to Ponder from Paul Johnson

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The study of history’s a powerful antidote to contemporary arrogance. It’s humbling to discover how many of our glib assumptions, which seem to us novel and plausible, have been tested before, not once, but many times, and in innumerable guises; and discovered to be, at great human cost, wholly false.

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In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the Western elites were confident that men and progress were governed by reason. A prime discovery of modern times is that reason plays little part in our affairs.

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The study of history suggests that the sum total of intolerance in society doesn’t vary much. What changes is the object against which it’s directed. Those who shape the conventional wisdom at the top are always anxious to censor unorthodoxy, thus demonstrating their power and consolidating their grip.

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Most people are resistant to ideas, especially new ones, but they’re fascinated by character. Extravagance of personality is one way in which the pill can be sugared and the public induced to look at works dealing with ideas.

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Truth is much more than a means to expose the malevolent. It’s the great creative force of civilisation. For truth is knowledge; and a civilised man is one who, in [Thomas] Hobbes’ words, has a “perseverance of delight in the continual and indefatigable generation of knowledge”.

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The cruelty of ideas lies in the assumption that human beings can be bent to fit them.

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The more I study history, the more convinced I am that what happens is influenced as much by the willpower of key individuals as by the underlying presence of collective forces.

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The pursuit of truth is our civilisation’s glory, and the joy we obtain from it is the nearest we shall approach to happiness, at least on this side of the grave. If we’re steadfast in this aim, we needn’t fear the enemies of society.

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The essence of civilisation is the orderly quest for truth, the rational perception of reality and all its facets, and the adaptation of man’s behaviour to its laws. So long as we follow the path of reason, we shall not move far from the lighted circle of civilisation. Its enemies invariably lie among those who, for whatever motive, deny, distort, minimise, exaggerate, or poison the truth, and who falsify the processes of reason. At all times, civilisation has its enemies, though they are constantly changing their guise and their weapons. The great defensive art is to detect and unmask them before the damage they inflict becomes fatal. Thomas Hobbes wrote, “Hell’s truth seen too late”. Survival’s falsehood detected in time.

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Almost all intellectuals profess to love humanity and to be working for its improvement and happiness, but it’s the idea of humanity they love, rather than the actual individuals who compose it. They love humanity in general rather than men and women in particular. Loving humanity as an idea, they can then produce solutions as ideas. Therein lies the danger, for when people conflict with the solution as idea, they are first ignored or dismissed as unrepresentative; and then, when they continue to obstruct the idea, they are treated with growing hostility and categorised as enemies of humanity in general.

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Throughout history, the attachment of even the humblest people to their freedom … has come as an unpleasant shock to condescending ideologues.

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The disintegration of doctrine has, inevitably, been followed by a clouding of the moral vision.

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Reality can’t for long be banished from history. Facts have a way of making their presence felt.

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Nothing appeals to intellectuals more than the feeling that they represent “the people”. Nothing, as a rule, is further from the truth.

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BMD

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Strike Up the Band for Jonas the Great… It’s His THIRD Anniversary… and They’re Having a… Party? NO! A Pot-Luck…

As JP said, the OCA’s known for its “integrity”… that’s what he said, kids… it’s certainly an opinion. Do YOU concur in it?

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Got this from a source:

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From: Tatjana D’Arcangelo

Sent: Thursday, 10 November 2011 09.59 EST

To: Announce

Subject: FW: Liturgy this Saturday, 12 November at 09.00 EST

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

This Saturday, 12 November, there’ll be Liturgy at 09.00 EST marking His Beatitude’s third anniversary since his election as Primate (sic) {poor usage… “First Hierarch” is a closer and more correct translation: editor} of the Orthodox Church in America. His Beatitude will be serving the Liturgy. There’ll be a potluck after the Liturgy in the church hall.

In Christ,

Fr Valery

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Since when do First Hierarchs have a “potluck” to celebrate their anniversary of installation? Couldn’t Darlin’ Marilyn raise the funds to have it at a respectable restaurant or a decent catering hall? This means that you shouldn’t expect any of the other First Hierarchs to come to this shindig to show their unflagging support for El Gordo. I’ll lay ya even odds that Demetrios Trakatellis is taking bets on the side on how long JP’s gonna last… and I don’t think that anyone expects that to be long. It’s farcical, isn’t it? A POTLUCK for a First Hierarch’s Anniversary… and I thought that I’d seen EVERYTHING. Live and learn…

Editor’s Postscript:

We took a motor out to Jordanville today to visit family graves. I stood in the rain and said a prayer at dear Denise’s (her “Church name” is Dionisia) grave. Shall you say a prayer for her soul? She was there when I needed her, and I’ve NEVER forgotten that, nor have I ever lost my feeling of gratitude for her friendship at a particularly low point for me. Light a candle, if you would…

Barbara-Marie Drezhlo

Thursday 10 November 2011

Albany NY

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