“Aloha” to Return to Order in Hawaii

Alohaewr FinalStepping off the plane in Honolulu, you perceive that Hawaii is a welcoming place. Almost on script, I was greeted with several leis of flowers and a warm “Aloha.” The climate of the land is also welcoming with balmy winds and temperate weather. God has endowed the nature of these islands with almost paradisiacal qualities such as marvelous ocean views, spectacular mountains, and colorful vegetation.

 

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Of course, the most welcoming of all are its people. Hawaii is blessed with a mixture of cultures that blend together in surprising ways. It is truly the gateway to the Orient, yet it still maintains its link with the American mainland. People are friendly and engaging; they seem to naturally extend their “aloha” hospitality to all who enter.

In this welcoming setting, I found that the themes of the book, Return to Order: From a Frenzied Economy to an Organic Christian Society—Where We’ve Been, How We Got Here and Where We Need to Go, resonate well on the islands. Perhaps it is because there is a clash between the agitation of the modern world and the calmer, more natural ways of these islands. The ideas of organic society expounded in the book correspond to how Hawaiian culture developed over the years. Beyond the tourist areas, the structures of family, community, and faith, although under brutal attack, are still strong on these islands where everyone seems to know everyone else.

The January 11-18 Return to Order book tour on the island of Oahu was organized by TFP representative Michael Whitcraft who frequently visits the islands to coordinate the activities of TFP supporters there. Local supporters also helped arrange events and interviews that made for a very busy schedule.

The first and most important interview was a one-hour segment of the “808 State Update” Aloha Finalradio show with the Honorable Duke Aiona and Dawn O’Brien. Judge Aiona was Hawaii’s former Lt. Governor and the Republican candidate for governor last election. Dawn is a popular radio host. The two engaged in a lively discussion about the book and its application to Hawaii. The show aired January 13 on AM 940 KKNE.

There were other interviews such as one with Kimberly Lecarr on Honolulu’s KGU-FM 99.5 The Word. Another was that of KPRP’s Sunny-Aloha Miller, directed toward the island’s large Filipino community.

Aloha FisnalSuch interviews were only part of the “aloha” experience. I came to know cultures so different from my own. I experience different cuisine and ways of life. While different, we were all united in our Catholic Faith. The Church is truly Mother to so many different children. One touching proof of this was the visible signs of devotion like that of a statue of Saint Joseph, covered Hawaiian-style with leis of flowers.

The program also consisted of two television interviews. The first was a half-hour interview with Teddy Adorable, a known figure especially in the Filipino community on Olelo Television Station. The second interview was on a program of the Trinity Broadcasting Network’s Honolulu affiliate.

The most enjoyable part of the tour was going beyond the tourist district and talking with local Hawaiian friends and supporters. Their kindness and hospitality made you feel like part of the family. In addition, book-signing events were one more way to verify that the application of the theses found in Return to Order extends beyond the mainland.

Although the frenetic intemperance of our days manifests itself differently in Hawaii, I could Subscription5.2see that everyone feels its agitation and stress. I found that everyone longs for a return to order yet adapted to the local circumstances.

I left Hawaii with a lei of flowers around my neck and thoughts about a Hawaii that will one day return to an organic Christian order with a grand “aloha” when it welcomes Our Lady back as queen.

The Communist Hatred of All Property

The Communist Hatred of All PropertyThe hatred of private property is something proper to communism. However, it is not just large properties that are targeted by the communists. They hate especially small properties since they are the seeds from which free markets later bloom.

Subscription11.1Lenin wrote: ‘Small-scale commercial production is, every moment of every day, giving birth spontaneously to capitalism and the bourgeoisie…. Wherever there is small business and freedom of trade capitalism appears.’ He is even supposed to have said: ‘capitalism begins in the village marketplace.’ (as quoted in Fernand Braudel, Civilization and Capitalism 15th-18th Century: The Perspective of the World, University of California Press, Berkeley, 1984, p. 631)

What is the Value of a $2.6 Million Watch?

72px-Vraagteken.svgThe Patek Philippe 5175R Grandmaster Chime Watch is clearly a work of art. It represents the top of the line and is undeniably beautiful. Yet one can ask: what purpose can it possibly serve if the majority of the population cannot buy it? How does it help society as a whole?

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It is true that not everyone can afford the $2.6 million watch, but everyone can admire the craftsmanship that goes into an artistic masterpiece of this sort. There is a dedication to the perfection of the pieces that is mindboggling and reflects centuries of Christian tradition. The attention to detail is astonishing. The love of making something beautiful for beauty’s sake is clearly seen in the workmanship of those who assembled this amazing watch.

In our politically-correct world, such admiration counts for little. It is much more fashionable to write off this $2.6 million watch as a superfluous luxury using money that might be better spent helping the poor or some other purpose. The politically correct would say the watch has no social value.

However, the Patek Philippe 5175R watch offers all society something of inestimable value. It provides a standard of excellence that belongs to everyone.

The high craftsmanship of this watch is the model for all watchmakers. Thus, all watchmakers are inspired to foster in their own way a dedication to perfection and attention to detail. Looking at this watch’s beauty, they all sense the full beauty of their craft.  Based on this watch’s design, other watchmakers find inspiration for their own beautiful watches proportional to the budget of those at all levels of society that prefer to buy their handiwork. Their watches become not just practical instruments, but works of art or even family heirlooms that could be passed down for generations. The spirit of craftsmanship of this fine watch permeates throughout the craft and, yes, to all of society.

But the watch not only provides a standard of excellence, it also provides a launching pad to dream of even greater things. It is only natural that when someone finishes making something beautiful, it prompts the person to think of creating even greater beauty. Every new creation triggers the same question: “How might I do this better and more beautifully?”

The role of the $2.6 million watch is not to be the plaything of the rich. Rather, in an organic society, it serves to push things toward higher perfection. And when something becomes more perfect, it elevates the whole class of things. The quest for a perfect watch pushes all watchmaking upward toward perfection. All society benefits from this constant push upward. This quest is in fact the basis of all culture.

Finally, beautiful things tend to appear in public places since they are made to be displayed. They tend to create a world of beautiful things that come to belong to everyone, not just rich people. Everyone is enriched in such a world of wonder. Christian civilization gave ample testimony of this role when it filled the world with rich and magnificent liturgy, art, architecture, and so many other marvels that were fully integrated into the lives of the common people, allowing them to live their ordinary lives in extraordinary ways.

The tragedy of today’s cheap culture of instant gratification is that it deadens people’s sensitivity to the beauty of crafted things in general. It is not that we no longer can afford craftsmanship; everyone buys terribly expensive gadgets and gizmos. Rather, craftsmanship is no longer so universally valued.

That is why a society that fails to admire the beauty of watches like the Patek Philippe Subscription135175R does so to its detriment. When people admire great things, they acquire something of the stature of that which they admire. But when people become immersed in the cheap, superficial and sensational, they create a culture where more value is given to the material over the spiritual, the useful over the beautiful, and the common over the extraordinary. All culture deteriorates and people lose their capacity to dream of a more beautiful and better world.

The watch belongs to a fortunate individual who has decided to invest in a work of art. But the rest of society definitely benefits from its high standards. Some might claim that the Patek Philippe 5175R Grandmaster Chime Watch is not for everyone — but, actually, it is.

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When Charity was Administered by the Church Not the State

CharityThe modern welfare state has its origins in the breakdown of traditional structures that normally took care of those suffering from misfortune. This was especially true of the Church’s institutions of charity that were ideally suited to carrying out this arduous task.

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England was one of the first to use state intervention. In the fifteenth century, Henry VIII broke with the Catholic Church, confiscated and plundered the monasteries, and squandered Church riches. Shortly after, Elizabeth I saw how important the monasteries were to general wellbeing of the nation. Without the charity of the monks, the poor were left without aid in time of need; their numbers proliferated. The state stepped in to fill the gap by instituting poor laws and establishing poor houses. The cold bureaucratic “charity” often made the problem worse by turning alms into entitlements.

398px-Índice_de_Biografías_-_Esteban_Murillo_-_Santo_Tomás_de_Villanueva_dando_limosnaIt is noteworthy that nineteenth century British prime minister Benjamin Disraeli recognized the great good done by those abnegated monks who administered charity in the name of Christ. How contrary were their actions to the modern bureaucratic welfare state!

Disraeli affirms: “The monks were, in short, in every district a point of refuge for all who needed succor, counsel and protection; a body of individuals having no cares of their own, with wisdom to guide the inexperienced, with wealth to relieve the suffering, and often with power to protect the oppressed.” (As quoted in Harry C. Veryster, It Didn’t Have to Be This Way: Why Boom and Bust is Unnecessary—and How the Austrian School of Economics Breaks the Cycle, Intercollegiate Studies Institute, Wilmington, Del., 2013, p. 171.)

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The Vicious Cycle of Mass Markets

1280px-Thessaloniki-Vlali_MarketIt is readily admitted that mass markets have yielded great abundance. However, philosopher and culture critic Mark C. Taylor claims that the cycle of production and consumption can also lead to imbalance. He writes:

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“We have seen that the rationality of markets requires efficiency, which, in turn, depends Subscription5.2on speed. As markets become more rational, they accelerate, and as they accelerate, they become more efficient. At a certain point, however, production becomes so fast and efficient that it is excessive. The only way to deal with the irrationality and inefficiency of overproduction is through overconsumption. This requires consumers to borrow and spend money they don’t have for stuff they don’t need.” (Mark C. Taylor, Speed Limits: Where Time Went and Why We Have So Little Left, Yale University Press, New Haven, 2014, p. 157)

Finding Fifteen More Ways to Promote Return to Order

RTO in PortlandBelow are fifteen more ways to promote Return to Order adapted from some excellent suggestions by book promotion expert John Kremer. The list tells how a person can support a friend’s book. They are below:

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1. If you went to college and/or professional or graduate school with the author (in this case Kansas University), contact your alma mater and ask for the name of the alumni newsletter or magazine editor. Send a copy of the new book along and suggest he or she review the book and/or schedule an author interview. Or, better yet, volunteer to do one yourself.

2. If you have friends, family members, or colleagues in other countries, ask them if they have any contacts who might want to promote the book.

3. If the author has bookmarks or other imprinted items, offer to carry some with you to hand out (judiciously) to others you think might find the book of interest.

4. If the author doesn’t have imprinted items (including pens, pencils, or bookmarks), offer to have them printed up.

5. Go to your local library, or go to their online website and catalog, and if they don’t have your friend’s book, make a written request that they order it.

6. If you have a blog, write a story about how the book and the author have impacted your life and why others should read it.

7. If you have any contacts at companies that might find the book useful to their employees, let them know about the book by sending along a review copy and a personal note.

8. Make a commitment to tell at least one new person a day for a week about your friend’s new book.

9. If you have any friends or relatives who work in the media, ask them to consider this book and its author as a guest.

10. As a gift to your friend, offer to buy ads for the book. (To avoid any potential problems, show your friend the ad in advance for approval.)

11. Include mention of the new book in your signature line when you send out an email, as appropriate.

12. Ask your friend if he has a digital file of the book cover and/or an author photo that you could include when you’re doing email pitches.

13. If you know someone who might be interested and/or helpful to your friend, send them an email. Be prepared to follow up with a review copy, if requested. (Of course use your judgment about to whom you will send a review copy; when in doubt, ask your friend for approval.)

14. Keep your friend’s book in mind whenever you are visiting websites or reading blogs. Subscription5.1Mention the book and author in the “comments” part of the blog if you think it makes sense to do so.

15. Pray. Prayer always helps. Pray for your friend and his book.

Imagine a Marvelous Harp…

Harp_395px-JM_Schleyer_1888What is the effect of the family upon the individual? The following passage explains.

The family provides temperance. By governing man’s natural appetites in accordance with right reason, the family restrains those yearnings for pleasures and delights that most powerfully attract the human heart. It not only bridles the passions, but it allows man to properly enjoy legitimate marvels and delights.

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To use the comparison of Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, we might liken our experience of the world to a harp with a universe of marvelous notes created by God to be enjoyed by men. The quality of the notes depends upon how each of us plays our own harp.

When we practice intemperance, we are dominated by stress, nervousness, or obsessions that distort and warp the sound of the notes. The family introduces elements of temperance and control that allow us to play the notes correctly and hear all the marvels of harmony our harps have to offer. This temperate “playing” of the harp in accordance with the plan of God is where each one discovers the true joys of life and ultimately develops an appetite for Heaven.

The above selection is an excerpt from the book, Return to Order: From a Frenzied Subscribe to Return to OrderEconomy to an Organic Christian Society—Where We’ve Been, How We Got Here, and Where We Need to Go.

The Successful Revolution of 1968

successful_revolution_68The Sexual Revolution of 1968 did much to change society and destroy several of the institutions that serve to keep economy in balance.

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This revolution shook the West with riots and protests in Berkeley and Columbia in the United States and massive student demonstrations in the Sorbonne University in France. These protests were eventually suppressed. However, these manifestations should not be judged a failure.

Indeed, Herbert Marcuse, who became an unwilling guru of this revolution, later said that Subscription8.1‘it is stupid to describe 1968 as a defeat.’ Historian Fernand Braudel explains that “1968 shook the foundation of society, broke habits and taboos, even destroyed apathy: the fabric of family and society was sufficiently torn for new life styles to be created at every level of society. It is in this sense that it really was a cultural revolution.” (Fernand Braudel, Civilization and Capitalism 15th-18th Century: The Perspective of the World, University of California Press, Berkeley, 1984, p. 625.)

A Brutal Pace of Life: The Fruit of Intemperance

Many people associate the virtue of temperance with the control of one’s appetite. A temperate person does not eat or drink in excess. This perception is undoubtedly true but temperance involves much more.

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Temperance involves the control of one’s appetites, sentiments, passions and instincts according to light of reason. It is the virtue that keeps everything in balance and functioning according to its nature.

One aspect of temperance is related to speed. Whenever someone practices the vice of intemperance, it often comes accompanied with a desire for an excessive and disproportional speed. The person develops a taste for super-rapid excessive speeds as might be seen in physical speeds of traveling. There is the speed of a quick thrill found in the person who is inebriated or drugged. The thrill of constant and quick communication found in modern gadgetry can easily throw a person out of balance.

Intemperance can also be found in excessive slowness. The desire for a quick high often leads to a corresponding low. A person falls victim to false slowness, lethargy and depression. This frenzy of action is followed by a period of unproductive listlessness. The stressful person simultaneously feels he has no time for anything, yet senses that he does nothing at all with his time.

On the contrary, the temperate individual likes speeds appropriate to normal human development. This person enjoys invigorating and ordered action in which one’s full potential can be developed. The same individual also enjoys refreshing leisure and profound contemplation. All of these actions and their corresponding speeds are proportional to our human nature.

When a person loses this equilibrium, the appetites and passions begin to take hold, and one begins to be intoxicated by the sensation of speed for the sake of speed, or slowness for slowness’ sake. The means become an end.

Modern society and economy favor such intemperate speeds. Ever since the days of the Industrial Revolution, the inventions that attracted the most attention and inebriated the public the most are those that favored a rapid pace of life and instant connectivity. The exhilaration of the markets has an element of frenetic intemperance which promotes the sensation of speed and constant transaction.

What was lost was the internal equilibrium of man, which is the essence of his innocence. There is no longer that sense of calm and peace that comes when a person governs himself proportionately according to human nature. What is needed is the practice of temperance where a person is free to develop himself to the fullest without disturbing the equilibrium of passions, appetites, instincts and sentiments. What is needed is a return to order.

 

No Nobility of Purpose = No Prosperity

Ten Misconceptions About an Organic Christian SocietyThere are those who think that if we put our economy back on track, everything will be all right. Material prosperity is their sole solution. They speak of happiness as if it can be expressed in terms of GDP, government statistics and employment benefits.

We certainly do need material prosperity but such a vision is really only a half-solution. This purely materialistic model takes care of the body but not the soul. It neglects the most important part of life.

This vision favors a bland secular society officially stripped of its spiritual elements. To use the words of Irving Kristol, it is a society with “no high nobility of purpose, no selfless devotion to transcendental ends, no awe-inspiring heroism.”

Such a stifling perspective has brought a certain sadness over the land. Even though we maximize our every material comfort and minimize every physical suffering, this materialist model will not satisfy us. That is why so many of us put on a show with our outward appearances, Facebook pages, and even great material wealth. In the depths of our souls, we are frustrated and sad; we want something more – we want the other half of the solution.

This “other half” becomes all the more urgent by the fact that our materialistic world is itself in crisis and even material comfort is becoming increasingly difficult to achieve.

What would this half of the solution consist of? It would involve going beyond our worn-out materialistic models. So many of us are tired of fake, cheap and inauthentic things that have no depth or organic connection with our lives. We desire, in their stead, things of excellence and quality that speak to us of the good, true and beautiful – and ultimately of God Himself.

The “other half” of the solution involves going beyond the media hype, sound bytes and the shallowness of thought that our Internet world has brought us. We are made for reflection and profound thought that allow us to probe and savor the meaning of life.

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The “other half” would especially address our relationships. So many of us are tired of the superficial links where each uses the other to get ahead. Too long we have endured the stress of what Thomas Hobbes called the “war of every man against every man” where each looks at the other as a brutal competitor.

What is needed now are meaningful ties to family, natural leaders, and community. How much better things would be if we could experience the happiness of truly authentic relationships that a million Facebook friends cannot supply.

The other half of the solution leads to a desire to connect with something – a place, an extended family, a community or a tradition. It awakens in us the joy and consolation of being part of something that is greater than ourselves – God, family, country. From this, there naturally flows a desire to sacrifice, to serve a higher ideal and to fight for a higher cause. And in these things we would find happiness.

We do not have to invent this order since it has long existed. It is that order which we call an organic Christian society which is based on the fundamentals of family, community and the Faith. This order always emerges since it comes from the very nature of man himself; it is valid for all times and all peoples. It is firmly based on natural law. And although it applies to everyone, the Church is its best and most secure guardian.

Not only did this order exist but it is possible once again. This organic Christian society is described in my book, Return to Order: From a Frenzied Economy to an Organic Christian Society—Where We’ve Been, How We Got Here, and Where We Need to Go.

As materialistic models fail, what we need today is an order that invites us to reconnect with that “noble purpose,” that “selfless devotion” and “awe-inspiring heroism” from which we have become separated. It is time to return to the “other half” of the solution.