Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Roots of American Order:Perspective

Following are three clips from Chapter II of our online book club.

Keeping them in mind is helping me keep Kirk's landscape in proper perspective .

What picture, you say?

Remember the painting whose colors we are refreshing? (page 8 Chapter I)

The one on the right is of Dr. Kirk walking through a field....

it was painted in 1985, by a college friend of mine:

Deborah Melvin (now Beisner)

Although America is no Bible state, without some knowledge of the Bible, the fabric of American order cannot be understood tolerably well. (pg 22) 

All the more reason for all Americans, believers and non-believers to read The Bible in school.

Without venturing rashly here into the labyrinths of biblical scholarship, it is possible to describe the prophets' enduring significance for modern men, and to suggest how deeply interwoven with the fabric of American order this prophetic teaching remains. (pg 30)

This is why I am not so concerned about two Isaiahs or whether Micah or Hosea said it.

Historically speaking, such are the Hebraic roots of American order, whether or not the reader of this book wholly accepts the Law and the Prophets.  To undertake Jewish or Christian apologetics - that is, to undertake a theological defense of these beliefs on the basis of reason - is beyond our present purpose and beyond the limitations of space. (pg 38)

Kirk's purpose for writing Roots was to assist the renewal of the structure of America's order and improve it with love and prudence, in God's own good time.

For your further enjoyment, I am sharing a link to Gleaves Whitney's review of The Roots of American Order:Jerusalem.  Listed below are his main points associated with this city of symbolic of divine wisdom and the ways in which the Jews permanently changed the human estate.

  1. The Hebrews' most basic insight:  religion is the bedrock of culture.
  2. The Bible - the most influential assemblage of books in human history?
  3. Moral Order
  4. Monotheism
  5. Human Rights of each individual
  6. Freedom
  7. A "chosen" with a Covenant and a "Manifest Destiny"
  8. Judgment of the Nations
  9. Remnant
  10. Linear conception of time
Roots of American Order, book club posts, and Russell Kirk are peppering my everyday conversation and enlightening my take on current politics.

How about you?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Roots of American Order Book Club
Chapter II - The Law and The Prophets

Welcome to my living room, ladies!

On this sofa is where I imagine some of you would sit, if we were gathering  physically in time and space for book club.

There is lots of room, seating for a crowd.  

So, dont be shy about speaking up aka commenting.

I decided to continue with an acrostic-like synopsis of the weekly assignment and plugged in some key words from Chapter II.

O - Origins
Levantine seeds from the Hebrews -> Israelites -> Jews were planted in new soil,  have germinated, flowered, grown and developed, producing a strong, healthy tree in a new land.

R - Revelation
The unveiling of truths that man could not have obtained from simple experience in this world is how we know.

D - Diety
There is only one.  He is just.  His name is YAHWEH -> Jehovah. He is for all people.

E - Establish
The Law - Decalogue, Pentateuch, Torah, The Bible - as articulated by seers who gave clear ethical meaning to human existence
R - Root
The high contribution of Israelites to modern society is the understanding that all true law comes from God; and that God is the source of order and justice.  The validity of this body of beliefs is determined by pragmatic evidence:  survival through the centuries and continuing relevance.

Americans inherited this understanding.

Without this legacy the human condition would be unendurable for many.

Therefore, I feel a duty to honor this foundation by sharing the message.

Read here about my favorite section from Chapter II.

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Roots of American Order

Chapter II - The Law and the Prophets

Comfort food might be an unlikely category for classifying this week's book club reading assignment, but that's where I place this section based on the way I felt after reading it.

I'm illustrating my commentary with a picture of what I prepared for Sunday dinner.

Shepherd's pie made from leftover venison pot roast
and sweet potato souffle,
freshly steamed broccoli,
buttered multi-grain bread
and a glass of Chilean red wine.

Am I keeping your attention?

Both endeavors required forethought, planning, labor, waiting, and consummation, leaving me with an intense feeling of satisfaction and strengthening.

It was worthwhile work.

Section Five Under God in Time and History was my favorite portion of the six sections in Chapter II because Kirk explained the Hebrew sense of time (psychic) in comparison to others or Greek (linear).  Which in turn explains how I can know that Christ knew my name when He was hanging on the cross and paying the debt for my sins, even though I was not yet born.

Furthermore, Kirk differentiated between sacred and secular histories, extrapolating the concept that it (experience and affairs) is not all about us, but all about Him (YAHWEH).

These two ideas comfort me (hence the categorization) because I recognize that I am part of the order of the people under the Covenant with God who will survive (the current presidential election process, if you will), even if America does not.

That's what matters.

So, repair to THE TAP ROOT created and nourished by the Old Testament aka the Law and the Prophets.

 for the purpose of
  • understanding
  • maintaining
  • renewing
our country's moral order ~

* inscription of my copy of The Roots of American Order

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Roots of American Order Book Club

Chapter I - O.R.D.E.R., The First Need of All

Acrostically speaking I have outlined what I expect to learn by reading Russell Kirk's survey with Cindy's online book club.

O - Origins
Who, What, Where, When, and How - 
Granted I may already be familiar with the answers to these crucial questions, but it behooves me to revisit the stories.  Repetition is good.
R - Recognition
I don't want to miss the road signs (beliefs and laws) so I'm studying the map (worldview) again. And I wonder if I could give good directions to a fellow traveler.
D - Direction
While I've never felt aimless and lost like the example given by Simone Weil, I want to make sure my path and pattern are impervious to disorder.  Read Cindy's use of this term in her recent post on parenting. Also, remember Dr. Kirk suggests that understanding disorder is a way of grasping the meaning of order
E - Establish
Individual and societal arrangements are designed to be systematic and harmonious for the benefit of everyone.  Where do I get my sense of order?  In my own home how do I imitate order/orderliness?  Are the roots of these arrangements well-established, i.e healthy and growing? Or in need of fertilizer and/or water?
R - Refresh
Thinking of Lady Mary of Downton Abbey fame (when she's contemplating furnishing a new home with Sir Richard) and speaking figuratively myself, I'm fortunate to have an inheritance - the *picture* of these United States of America - and a role in a new chapter of our manor (country). 

As Kirk advises, it's time to clean up the painting: to remove the varnish*, preserve it's form and outlines, and thereby see the vision more clearly.

Only then can we discover the the light in the picture that will invigorate healthy growth.

Dr. Kirk's The Roots of American Order is a perfect guide.

In the 1940s, the varnish was removed from this famous Rembrandt painting that I'm using as an illustration for my commentary on this first book club post.  After hundreds of years believing the setting was at night, the art world had to revamp their thinking to militiamen gathering for a daytime march.

Click here for a visit to the Rijksmuseum's website and more information about erroneously known as the  Night Watch.

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Roots of American Order Book Club

Online book club hostessed by Cindy Rollins starts Tuesday, February 21st.

Secure a copy of this valuable book even if you can't participate.

Display it prominently in your home.

There are few books which so carefully explain the fabric of the society in which we live.

Andrew Kern says ~

"This may be one of the most important history/civics books for an American young person to read."

I say ~

The Roots of American Order is foundational to understanding our times and is crucial, no vital, reading for anyone who is voting in this year's Presidential election.

When I first heard the title and met the author in September 1975, I was overwhelmed with the breadth and depth of his knowledge.

That's why I am looking forward to revisiting Kirk's expostion of what holds America together.

Join us?

PS  Blue dust jacket is from my 1975 First Edition, 2nd Printing and does not include the forward by Forrest McDonald that is included in newer editions.  However, I can read it on my Kindle edition (read Happy Valentine's Day to me!)