Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Leisure: The Basis of Culture
Chapter II

Imagining myself in the audience of the annual meeting of German Philosophers' Society is the only way I've been able to digest this chunk of the essay. (Still pretending here) I sit near the front of the auditorium in order to hear better the key-note-speaker, Josef Pieper.

Despite his calm demeanor and clear speech, I get the feeling that he intends to wave a red flag.

Pieper starts by describing the current state of affairs within the field of philosophy, mentioning two Ernsts: Niekisch and Junger. Then he goes back to the ancients and medieval in order to explain *how we know* and ties that in with the moderns, specifically Kant. As the essay continues, it is obvious that Pieper is trying to change the paradigm that is driving the architects designing 5-year plans for the rebuilding of Germany after WWII.

With reference to Cardinal Newman and his The Idea of the University, I believe Dr Pieper is defending the type of institutions of higher learning he would like to see characterize the new Germany. He doesnt want the professors (philosophers) to be functionaries. Furthermore, I think there's a good chance that Pieper thought that all of us should be philosophers to some extent. It makes us better workers.

It took several readings, both Dru's and Malsbary's, but I think I could explain ratio, intellectus, and why a third component (spiritual vision) should not be overlooked. If I had to, I could list the elements of intellectual labor. But none of those are on to-do list for lesson or curriculum planning.

In fact, I focused on some of Ruth Bell Graham's advice for preparing my charges. Take a course in dog training (obedience)! Those principles served me better in my homeschooling (parenting). My college career was not diminished by overlooking the classes in developmental psychology, introductory philosophy, or educational methodology.

In contemplating Pieper's ideas, seeking insight and wisdom, I can point to three applications for in my own life.

One, I am a product of a liberal arts education. My parents understood the value of this type of schooling: whoever is educated knows how the world as a whole behaves and made it possible for me to pursue a college degree. Here's a link to a teeny story about how I felt the day I graduated from college.

Hillsdale is one of the few private colleges remaining independent today, preserving the integrity of their professors from government-worker status. Lord willing by 2012, we will have graduated four daughters from there. That's what I call *putting your money where your mouth is*.

Second, within the field of medicine and healthcare rages a huge battle. If I follow Pieper's example of examining the history of philosophy and apply it to my own research of national health insurance, universal care, or government medicine, I find myself in the position of swimming against the current as he was. Doctors should NOT be functionaries.

Again following our convictions, DH and I will be attending the annual meeting of an organization which is fighting the battle against further government intrusion into our private lives. Here's a link to a short article with proper perspective. Dont be fooled by what you hear from politicians.

Third, Pieper was rare in his field, a theologically-grounded philosopher: Catholic-Christian, even presuppositional (I suspect). He prized the meaning of words and decried their misuse. Consider reading another of his fine essays published as Abuse of Language: Abuse of Power. It motivated me to improve my vocabulary and pay more attention to etymology.

For example, be aware that when doctrinaire planners want to implement their vision, there may well be a change in the definition of terms. I'm thinking specifically of the abortion debate where babies are referred to as POCs (products of conception). How about organ transplantation and how the definition of death was redefined in order to accomplish the end. Here's one more controversial yet applicable topic. Examine the arguments of the New Perspectives on Paul or the Federal Visionists. There appear to be new definitions for old words.

This book is a real brain exercise. This second section was long and thought-provoking. There is much to be discussed. Check out the thoughts of others and join me in cheering on our leader, Cindy.

In a *world of total work*, I know that I am not legitimized by my social function. God gave me the gift of knowledge. I know Him. His Son died for me. That makes me valuable. That gives me understanding. That makes me bound to Him.

Time to get on with my craft. :)

Then I was beside Him as a master craftsman;
And I was daily His delight,
Rejoicing always before Him,
Rejoicing in His inhabited world.

Proverbs 8:30

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Eliot Introduces Leisure

After the first week of book club where we're focused on Josef Pieper's Basis of Culture, I felt the need to step back and re-read. Roger Scruton introduces my 1998 edition (translated by Malsbary).

Fortunately I discovered an online copy of the book and read T. S. Eliot's (pictured above) 1948 assessment.

BTW Happy Birthday, dear sir!

Basically, we book club participants are off and running with our insightful comments and words of wisdom, making us modern-day philosophers. Yeah, right?! Joking aside, I feel compelled to find my roots and confirm that my philosophical thoughts are growing in the right direction.

That confirmation came in Mr. Eliot's introduction to Leisure: The Basis of Culture.

He decries the 20th century divorce of philosophy from theology and hails Josef Pieper's clear attempt to restore this right relation in the two essays which make up the book. Furthermore, Eliot recognizes that Pieper's arguments contribute to the restoration of the importance of philosophy for every educated person.

By affirming the dependence of philosophy upon revelation, and a proper respect for the wisdom of the ancients, Pieper's philosophical influence has the potential to avert two dangers:
1)that philosophy would imitate exact science and
2)that one-man philosophies (worldviews) would abound.

In much the same way that every Christian must be a theologian, every educated person must be a philosopher. That gives me two reasons to finish reading Leisure.

The third is no less important.

As a mother rearing those in charge of the next generation, I aim to apprehend Pieper's insight and wisdom for rebuilding our house (culture), thereby fulfilling my role in the ritual of public sacrifice.

Sounds lofty?


But it's necessary.

So, read with us..... Josef Pieper's Leisure: The Basis of Culture.

It's refreshing!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Fashion Friday:Statement Color

Honey-colored Satchel -Meet #9 & #10

on the Top Ten List of Items to Look For in my closet as I'm organizing the Fall/Winter Wardrobe.

#9 = Something Glittery/Shiney :)

#10 = Statement Color

Choosing statement color over statement jewelry is the way I tailor fashion to my own predilections.

Granted this over-sized pocketbook was not already in the closet, but as I was *weeding*the closet, I began to see the colors in a different way.

Leonardo came to mind.... da Vinci, not Caprio.

There are three classes of people:

those who see, those who see when they are shown, those who do not see.

This fashion report is teaching me to see.

A warmer, more subdued Honey Yellow carries the 2009
color of the year, PANTONE 14-0848 Mimosa, through to
fall and winter with its golden tones. Pairing Honey Yellow
with its color wheel opposite, Purple Heart, will surely add
a surprising flair. Or, for a more typical fall combination,
group Honey Yellow with Burnt Sienna and Iron.

I was amazed at the number of times I kept seeing this color in my closet.

Here's the satchel in her work environment.

Notice the grey electronics?

That's close to *Iron*, right?

I'm thinking a gray-colored dress is in my future.

Seasonal Color - that's the ticket!

What's yours?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Fall/Winter 2009

Top Ten Clothing Items:
1) Feminine Blouse
2) Boho Skirt
3) Jean Vest
4) Chunky Sweater
5) Novelty Jacket
6) Fashionable Dress
7) Sweater Set
8) Anything with Ruffles
9) Something Glittery or Shiney
10)Pantone Color Palette

So, you've read this far and dont feel inspired?Okay, here's the best fashion advice I've ever received. It was from the owner of an upscale accessory shop.If you cant do anything else, Dana, pay attention to your lips and your ears.

Top Five Accessories:
1) Lipstick
2) Earrings
3) Watch
4) Pocketbook
5) Sunglasses

Monday, September 21, 2009

Leisure: The Basis of Culture

Long before I'd heard the term *worldview* (weltanschauung for Pieper) I knew I was philosophically driven.

In my teenaged-mind, I defined that as knowing AND applying my principles and convictions.

In fact, I used to quip that *thinking* got me into trouble.

I think it still does.

But I'm a slow (life-long) learner, determined to examine my contemplations and measure them up against standards.

That's why I'm reading Leisure: The Basis of Culture with others and discussing it online at Cindy's blog.

After WWII, Josef Pieper, a 20th-century, German, Catholic, Professor of Philosophic Anthropology, published his answer to the ills of the evil age. So very well-received was this slim volume, that it's been republished (different translators and introducers) several times, and continues to be reviewed and lauded by others.

Also, it's interesting to note here that the two previous books* reviewed by this book club (Ideas Have Consequences and Economics in One Lesson) were published mid-century (1948 and 1946, respectively.) Both were proposing remedies for stemming the demise of Western culture/civilization.

Right away, I can agree with Pieper's premise that rest/leisure (what we do when we're not working) is inextricably interwined with culture. Which is tied to worship. I grasp the connection.

But I'm a little bogged down with following all the references to philosophers, their theories and approaches. I mix them up as readily as I do the Greek/Roman gods/goddesses, their life stories and children. It's soap-opera-ish.

Inherently, I know that understanding these fundamental issues and problems will serve me well as I worship God: serving my husband, rearing a family, and ministering in my community. Here's a link to one application: Sundays.

So, I'm donning my thinking cap and ready-ing my brain cells for a nice, long, explore in the philosophical woods.

Join me?

I dont want to get lost.

*Temporarily forgot about All God's Children and Blue Suede Shoes.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Leisure: The Basis of Culture

Towards the end of the apology on leisure, Josef Pieper imagines that someone may well ask -

What are we to do about it?

Well, the considerations put forward in this essay were NOT designed to give advice and draw up a line of action; they were meant to make men think.

In that sense, with me, he accomplished the goal.

But I also want to talk about it...... I think because I'm dedicated to hope.

bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father, I Thess 1:3

Hope inspires me to action. My moving and being each and every day are nothing but preparation for that day of leisure, in which I consciously remove myself from the world of work, means, and industry.

I focus on faith, festival, and feasting.

Specifically, I've learned the language and vocabulary of my faith. Words like regeneration, justification, sanctification, and glorification.

Those words inspire me to order my six days in anticipation of that seventh one, which is the highlight - a festival celebrated weekly.

Last but not least, I feast on Sundays, not just by partaking in the Lord's Supper, but by sharing a meal afterwards with fellow believers.

These are just a few of my thoughts about redeeming the time, recapturing culture, and breinging all thoughts captive to the Savior.

It's not that difficult.

It's as straightforward as getting ready for church.

See you there.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Fashion Fridays: Boho Skirt

Planning my work


working my plan...

in this fine example of


#2 & #3 on the list :)

Just three weeks ago, I started thinking *Fall* - time to turn over a new leaf, rustle the wardrobe, and basically position myself for autumnal audacity.

I just feel better when *dressed*

That means, my countenance is refreshed and my outlook is positive.

I accomplish more.

I'm ready for *leisure*

Don't just do something: stand there!

How about you?

*Truth in blogging: all items already in the closet (vest purchased in 1993!) except skirt which was recently acquired from TJMaxx.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Red Velvet Cake

1/2 cup shortening (butter)                               1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cups sugar                                               2 1/4 cups cake flour
2 eggs                                                               1 tsp soda
2 oz red food coloring                                      1 tsp salt
1 tsp vinegar                                                     2 Tbs cocoa

Cream together the butter and sugar.  Add eggs one at the time, mixing after each.   Make a paste of the red food coloring and cocoa powder.  Then add to butter/sugar mixture.  Add the cake flour (and salt) alternately with the buttermilk (and vanilla), all the while blending gently.  Lastly add the soda and then vinegar.

Divide equally into two prepared 9-in cake pans.  Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees, checking for doneness at 25 minutes.

Cool and frost.


Blend together 5 Tbs flour with 1 cup whole milk and cook over low heat until thick.  Cool completely.

Cream 1 cup granulated white sugar with 1 cup real butter until light.  Add 1 tsp vanilla.  Blend in cooled flour mixture, beating until it resembles whipped cream.

Makes enough to frost one two-layer cake.

The Snow Goose

Illustrator Beth Peck's reputation drew my attention to The Snow Goose,

but it was author Paul Gallico's touching story of sacrificial love that captured my heart.

Set during the early 1940s, the narrative establishes the friendship of two unlikely characters in the small coastal town of Dunkirk.

Philip, the misfit artist and nature lover befriends Frith, a teenaged girl who brings an injured bird to his isolated doorstep. While this storyline develops and resolves, another is happening in the world at large - wartime.

At this point, the plot becomes both historical and spiritual. Philip is departing in his boat to help stranded soldiers.
Frith stared at Philip. He had changed so. For the first time she saw that he was no longer ugly mis-shapen or grotesque, but very beautiful. Things were turmoiling in her own soul, crying to be said, and she did not know how to say them.

The Snow Goose rates high on my list of gift books. The writing is descriptive, the plot instructive, and the illustrations enchanting.

I am not sure who will be the beneficiary of my copy.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Inaugural Address of the President
Fulton County (GA) Medical Society

The following is only one paragraph from a speech given by my maternal grandfather as he took the helm of his local medical society in 1950. More of the address will be posted (for the sake of posterity) when I have time to type it up, or when I figure out how to work my scanner, whichever comes first :) In another post I reference to these remarks.

America today stands at the cross-roads, and there seems to be a tremendous urge to go down the road of least resistance, which leads to chaos and ruin. If what I say smacks of non-medical politics, let those that are burned make the most of it. America must have a change in the way of thinking of our men in high political places or our way of living will surely collapse. Justice Brandeis warned, "The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning, but without understanding." We are borrowing from the future and robbing the purses of our children and grandchildren by continuing the deficit operation of our government. It behooves us to fight in every way possible those who would torpedo the medical profession and scuttle American freedom to satisfy the whims and political aspirations of these demagogs. I plead with you to support your political leaders who are interested in free enterprise and in the economic operation of your government.

by A O Linch, MD
January 1950

Monday, September 07, 2009

Labor Day

Federally legislated after its first celebration in 1882, Labor Day seems to have strayed far from course, not much celebrated for its original intent of protecting the laborers. However, I've never been a member of a labor union, so perhaps it is still alive and well in those brotherhoods.

Most of the weekend's activities center around recreation and rest. In our local newspaper, I found one article touting the *true* meaning of Labor Day.

From Wikipedia:

The form for the celebration of Labor Day was outlined in the first proposal of the holiday: A street parade to exhibit to the public "the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations," followed by a festival for the workers and their families.

I dont think I've ever attended a Labor Day Parade. Have you?

I will admit to attending a political rally around this time of year (in my youth), but now I fall clearly into the camp that this holiday represents the end-of-the-summer-beginning-of-football-season camp.

Fashion-wise, it is an important day, too.

No more white shoes!

I switched to these!

However, there are others who are trying to capture attention by renaming the day to Vocation Day.

Here's a link to Gene Veith's proposal, which is really a thinly-veiled advertisement for his book, God at Work. I like his opinions, but dont own many of his books.

Blogging buddy, Cindy, created an interesting discussion about Motherhood and Vocation, which I hope she will continue because she raised some good questions. We workers at home clearly have the best job of all, enjoying the rewards of the most important career known to man.

That's why it is so important to know who we are and our nature.

I think an integral part of seeing myself (my vocation AND my avocation) accurately must include an understanding of how others view me and how I fit into the overall situation (society).

So, today I'm starting with this Valley of Vision prayer entitled Vocation. It's helping me be faithful.

Now it's time to fix a couple of side dishes for tonight's dinner of BBQ ribs.

How are you marking this special day?

Sunday, September 06, 2009


Heavenly Father,
Thou hast placed me in the church
which thy Son purchased by his own blood.
Add grace to grace that I may live worthy of my vocation.

I am a voyager across life's ocean;
Safe in heaven's ark, may I pass through a troubled world
into the harbour of eternal rest.

I am a tree of the vineyard thou has planted.
Grant me not to be barren, with worthless leaves and wild grapes;
Prune me of useless branches;
Water me with dews of blessing.
I am part of the Lamb's bride, the church.
Help me to be true, faithful, chaste, loving, pure, devoted;
let no strong affection wantonly dally with the world.
May I live high above a love of things temporal,
sanctified, cleansed, unblemished, hallowed by grace,
thy love my fullness,
thy love my joy,
thy precepts my pathway,
thy cross my resting place.
My heart is not always a flame of adoring love,
But, resting in thy Son's redemption,
I look forward to the days of heaven,
where no langour shall oppress,
no iniquities, chill,
no mists of unbelief dim the eye,
no zeal ever tires.

Father, these thoughts are the stay, prop, and comfort of my soul.

The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions

Friday, September 04, 2009

Fashion on Fridays

Time to get dressed!!

Last week I made a list of items to look for in my closet as I transition my wardrobe from summer to fall to winter.

And here's my first accomplishment: #7 on the list is *sweater set*.

Found in the dresser drawer, this two-piece, light-weight, celery-colored top is perfect for this time of year. I've paired it with a basic jean skirt and updated the outfit by wearing a long multi-colored scarf. Shoes will be comfortable since I'm the sensible type :)

Here's the link to my list.

If you havent looked at any of it, I'm hoping I can at least pique your interest in reading the Pantone report and choosing a color to highlight this season.

I've got my eye on one (TBA).

What about you?

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

September 1, 1939

It was a Friday.

by W. H. Auden
Anglo-American poet

I sit in one of the dives
On Fifty-second Street
Uncertain and afraid
As the clever hopes expire
Of a low dishonest decade:
Waves of anger and fear
Circulate over the bright
And darkened lands of the earth,
Obsessing our private lives;
The unmentionable odour of death
Offends the September night.

Accurate scholarship can
Unearth the whole offence
From Luther until now
That has driven a culture mad,
Find what occurred at Linz,
What huge imago made
A psychopathic god:
I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return.

Exiled Thucydides knew
All that a speech can say
About Democracy,
And what dictators do,
The elderly rubbish they talk
To an apathetic grave;
Analysed all in his book,
The enlightenment driven away,
The habit-forming pain,
Mismanagement and grief:
We must suffer them all again.

Into this neutral air
Where blind skyscrapers use
Their full height to proclaim
The strength of Collective Man,
Each language pours its vain
Competitive excuse:
But who can live for long
In an euphoric dream;
Out of the mirror they stare,
Imperialism's face
And the international wrong.

Faces along the bar
Cling to their average day:
The lights must never go out,
The music must always play,
All the conventions conspire
To make this fort assume
The furniture of home;
Lest we should see where we are,
Lost in a haunted wood,
Children afraid of the night
Who have never been happy or good.

The windiest militant trash
Important Persons shout
Is not so crude as our wish:
What mad Nijinsky wrote
About Diaghilev
Is true of the normal heart;
For the error bred in the bone
Of each woman and each man
Craves what it cannot have,
Not universal love
But to be loved alone.

From the conservative dark
Into the ethical life
The dense commuters come,
Repeating their morning vow;
"I will be true to the wife,
I'll concentrate more on my work,"
And helpless governors wake
To resume their compulsory game:
Who can release them now,
Who can reach the deaf,
Who can speak for the dumb?

All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain
Of the sensual man-in-the-street
And the lie of Authority
Whose buildings grope the sky:
There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or (and) die.

Defenceless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.

Have you ever read that poem before?

I hadnt, although I'm vaguely familiar with the italicized phrase. So, these verses will jump-start today's lessons for a life-long learner.

What's memorable about September 1st for you?