Did God Give America a Great Reprieve?

Did God Give America a Great Reprieve?To those Americans concerned about the moral state of the nation, the immediate reaction to the November 8 elections was one of enormous relief. It was as if a colossal amount of pressure was suddenly released. There was the thrill of something entirely unexpected. People were overjoyed beyond words.

Adding to the intense drama, there was the sensation that a great danger was taken from our path. We had averted a dead-end situation for which there were no human solutions. We were somehow saved from a terrible calamity that had seemed so imminent.

Two main elements contributed to this perception of inevitable disaster. The first was that so much was at stake—the Supreme Court, anti-abortion laws, socialist big government programs, massive regulations and even the specter of persecution for the Faith. The candidate that represented all these things enjoyed all the prestige of the media and the favor of the pollsters. The foreboding of a sinister outcome could not have been greater.

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The second element was the lack of a moral solution proportional to the level of the crisis. Moral conservatives were faced with a candidate that was universally acknowledged as flawed and many considered as merely the lesser of two evils. This was an election of desperation not enthusiasm because the alternative was just too awful to fathom. Significant sectors of the electorate, however, did not feel they could unite around a candidate that did not share many of their values.

And then it happened. A startled electorate watched the results come in and saw the numbers slowly shift in their favor with a sweep of the White House, both houses of Congress, and a record number of state houses.

Analysts are still scrambling to explain the unexpected results of the elections. They point to abstract categories like the blue-collar vote, the white vote or the Catholic vote. For them, all elections are number games and media shows. They believe the outcome depends on who plays the game best and spends the most.

There was, however, another factor outside the game that should not be underestimated. In the face of an impending disaster, many Americans did something that they do not often do in political situations like these. They prayed.

Prayer is not something that can be measured by polls or political observers. And since it cannot be quantified, those without faith treat them as something quaint and childish hardly worthy of consideration. But in an election where all the rules of the game were broken, there is no reason to rule out the influence of prayer. The fact is many Americans did pray in the weeks and days leading up to that fateful November day when the course of the nation was decided.

Not only did they pray, but it appears they prayed hard. All across America, there were prayer vigils, rosaries, novenas and benediction services that were mentioned on social media or announced in church bulletins. Some fasted for the nation. Thousands gathered and prayed in the public square. Others simply poured out their souls to God in almost biblical manner asking for His aid in their moments of affliction. And as is common with such prayers, there was an implicit promise that if we were delivered from this trial, we would turn back to God.

Of course, to suggest that this prayer might have had something to do with the final results of an election is anathema. None dare whisper it for it is so politically incorrect.

But in this election that broke all the rules, why not break one more rule and shout it about? The fact is countless Americans who woke up on the morning of November 9 after the election sensed their prayers had been answered beyond all expectations. They sensed unexplainable Christian joy and hope in seeing a calamity had been averted. They were convinced in the depths of their souls that God had heard their prayers. They were energized by the results, and are determined to turn back to God.

This is not to say that God endorsed the winning candidate (he lost the popular vote) only that He heard the cries of those who were afflicted and found a way to deliver them from a catastrophic future. The victory may have been due much more to those who called it forth with their prayers than the efforts of its flawed victor.

God also did not grant total victory. However, many feel He has given America a great reprieve, a second chance, to get it right with Him.

If we have been given this reprieve, then we should use it to turn back to God. We should keep our part of the bargain and turn back to Him and His law. There is no time to be complacent or delve into purely economic solutions that sidestep the moral crisis in America. The fervent prayers must continue. Above all, we must also make sure our elected officials follow through on their promises of a platform that puts God first and thus will truly make America great.

Indeed, we have a little time, a short reprieve. We would do well to use this time wisely. This election has shown what can be done. If we uphold God’s law, we can count on Him to break all the rules.

 

To Make America Great, Turn Back to God

To Make America Great, Turn Back to God

“If the nation is to prosper, it needs to return to that moral code based on the Ten Commandments and natural law that made America great.”

More than a White House contest between two candidates, the 2016 election was the groundswell of growing discontent over America’s increasingly socialist tone.

Now, thanks be to God, the conservative vote won the White House, Senate and House, and a record number of governorships and statehouse majorities. This reality has brought relief and awakened great hopes. Above all, conservatives were buoyed by the promises of President-elect Donald Trump who assured them they would not be forgotten and that they would have a voice. Now is the time to fulfill these promises. American conservative voters must not be betrayed.

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Joining with many organizations in the conservative movement, and acting as the voice for moral values of its 200,000 campaign members nationwide, the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family, and Property—TFP expresses its hopes here and lists its demands for what must be done to right the course of the American nation.

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What moved America’s forgotten voters on November 8 was a shattered order that has affected all aspects of life. As was repeated during the election cycle, the whole system is broken, its liberal and permissive vision for society has failed and voters are desperately looking for solutions.

Burdened by overregulation and social breakdown, the American model that worked for so long no longer functions. Indeed, the system even works against the interests of citizens. It no longer fuels dreams but rather sows uncertainties and nightmares, bringing stress, anxiety and depression.

Components of a Return to Order

That is why the solution to the present crisis must involve a return to order that addresses the whole picture of what has gone wrong in America, not just pieces of the puzzle. It must above all address the forgotten moral issues that are commonly left behind by politicians.

All too often, conservatives have fought tooth and nail against that which they do not want to see implemented in the country—abortion, socialism, transgenderism, social engineering in the military. This election victory provides the opportunity to outline the kind of order they do want for America.

Thus, any proposal for a return to order must include the following three points:

1. It must be a moral order in which leaders fearlessly do everything possible to advance the cause of life, the traditional family and Christian morals. If the nation is to prosper, it needs to return to that moral code based on the Ten Commandments and natural law that made America great. People must no longer be afraid to affirm this and stand up to a politically correct culture that claims there is no right and wrong by blurring all definitions. Without this essential component, America will not recover.

Indeed, any attempt to stimulate the economy without this return to morality will fail, since an economic system cannot thrive without the firm foundation of a work ethic, honesty and trust. A culture that knows no moral restraint and is obsessed by the frenetic intemperance of instant gratification will always be unbalanced and must ultimately fail. A nation that continues on the path of moral destruction can expect nothing but disaster.

2. It must be an anti-socialist order based on free enterprise. America must be freed from the burden of onerous regulations, massive one-size-fits-all government programs and high taxes. It is time to find organic solutions based on the ingenuity of the American people, their love of ordered liberty and their practical sense to get things done well. It is time for leaders at all levels of society to step up to the plate with creative solutions that eschew intrusive government. As long as America is suffocating under the yoke of socialist tyranny, there will be no return to order.

3. It must be an order that enthrones God once again. America has always been a nation that trusted in Divine Providence. However, that trust is now waning. But if we are not on God’s side, how can we expect Him to be on our side?

Enthroning God Once Again

The forgotten conservatives who worked so hard for this victory want a return to order that will make America great. More importantly, they want to build that moral America that God will bless.

It makes no sense that a nation built on Christian principles and one that defeated atheist Nazism and Communism, finds itself in a situation where Ten Commandments monuments, crosses, nativity scenes and Christmas carols are targeted by secular rage.



For too long, political correctness has held sway, banishing God from His rightful place in society, and now, in some instances, replacing Him with the public worship of Satan. Americans from all walks of life must have the courage to exercise their right to honor God in the public square. They must not be afraid to call upon God’s blessing and implore His aid in these difficult times. They must keep and respect His law by living lives of virtue and charity. If she is to prosper and be great, America must enthrone God again.

Wholesale Change

We must now adopt a program of wholesale change by immediate and urgent executive, legislative and judicial actions to right the nation’s course. The work to be done encompasses change not just in government, but at the very core of our culture. And more than just our elected officials keeping their promises, the task involves everyone in the conservative movement: clergy, individuals, families, grassroots organizations, think tanks and academia. To effect this needed change, the mindsets of many Americans must change. The labor is monumental and calls for a willingness to fight for America greater than the dogged opposition of those whose liberal agenda has brought the country to the verge of ruin.

Fighting for Life

Among America’s forgotten voters are those who fight for the most vulnerable—the unborn—demanding for them the fundamental right to life. Now is the time to bleach out the stain on America’s honor, its great sin against God: Roe v. Wade.

These forgotten voters expect President-elect Trump to nominate, and the Republican majority in the Senate to confirm, unquestionably pro-life judges for the U.S. Supreme Court and all federal courts. These judges must subscribe to our Common Law legal tradition of a higher law (divine and natural law) that should inform the laws of the land. They should interpret the Constitution to mean what was written and intended by our Founding Fathers, putting an end to the judicial activism of the past decades. They expect federal and state governments to defund Planned Parenthood.

The forgotten pro-life voter not only expects life for the unborn, but protection against euthanasia and assisted suicide that ravage the moral landscape and threaten society’s most vulnerable.

Fighting for the American Family

America’s forgotten voters also include those who defend the sacred institutions of marriage and the family.

Now is the time to overturn that second immense sin against God: Obergefell v. Hodges.

Together with getting marriage right again, America’s forgotten pro-family voters expect a Trump Administration to overturn Obama’s tyranny that forced homosexual and transgender policies on federal workers and contractors, the military and, above all, the nation’s schools.

America’s forgotten pro-family voters expect the prompt burial of Common Core, No Child Left Behind, Every Child Succeeds and a whole slew of other socialist choke holds on the wholesome and solid education of America’s children.

All these things are tearing America and its families apart. Now is the time to set them right. Without strong families, America can never be great.

Fighting for an Anti-Socialist America

The nation’s forgotten voters reject and demand the immediate repeal of a massive tide of socialist regulation, legislation and entitlements that inhibit the nation’s economic development and suffocate their efforts to prosper.

They have two sets of demands from the nation’s political leadership.

First, they demand the quick repeal of Obamacare, Dodd-Frank, the Death Tax and the thousands of socialist regulations and executive orders that are crippling and stifling America’s economy. This will liberate the nation’s potential, create jobs and help stabilize the economy.

Second, they demand the downsizing of government to its legitimate and constitutional limits. Not just the federal, but bloated and top-heavy state, county and municipal government as well.

Between killing the socialist regulatory behemoth and downsizing government, the economy will be stimulated, while government spending and debt will be reduced to manageable levels.

Fighting for America’s military and law enforcement

America’s forgotten voters demand the repeal of the sequester in our defense budget, and the homosexual, transgender and women-in-combat policies Obama imposed on our Armed Forces.

They demand a strong military and an Administration that backs it up in its role of defending the nation from all threats. These include a resurgent Russia and China, and Islamists who are pledged to destroy America and Western Christian civilization.

They are alarmed by the murder of our police officers and the anarchy now surfacing all over the country. They long for a return to the rule of law and a culture in which law and order are cherished and enforced.

Fighting for Sovereignty and a Pro-America Foreign Policy

Respect for borders is for a nation what respect for ownership and private property is to a family.

America’s forgotten voters demand this respect for borders and an end to sanctuary cities’ anarchical mocking of our immigration laws. They demand an end to the travesty of elections in which non-US citizens vote.

They demand a full reversal of Obama’s disastrous foreign policy including his Iran deal; the normalization of relations with Castro’s Marxist Cuba (the island prison); and the Paris Agreement on climate change.

They demand that America immediately reassure its traditional allies that the nation will always be true to its pledged word of honor and stands ready to defend them in the event of hostilities.

They warn against a misguided and baseless trust in and cooperation with a resurgent nationalist Russia and a faithless communist China. And they urge cautious and prudent measures to forestall the danger from a rising authoritarianism, as seen recently in Islamist Turkey.

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These are the demands of millions of forgotten American voters on the cusp of the new Trump Administration and the TFP joins its voice to theirs.

May God grant wisdom, prudence, temperance, justice and fortitude to President-elect Trump and all our elected leaders.

And may the Blessed Mother protect and favor all Ten Commandments Americans who toil in the gigantic rebuilding that must be carried out, the rewarding labor of making America “one nation under God.”

 

November 15, 2016
The American TFP

 

 

No Nobility of Purpose = No Prosperity

No Nobility of Purpose = No ProsperityThere 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.

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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.

The Mysteries of the Food You Eat

pretzel

“you’ve probably noticed that there’s something deeply wrong with the way much of our food is produced and processed”

If you’re an amateur cook like me, or just enjoy wholesome food, you’ve probably noticed that there’s something deeply wrong with the way much of our food is produced and processed.

In today’s mass consumer market, it’s easy to feel like a number when you ask simple questions about your food. The fact is that basic information such as where a product comes from, how it is made, and where the raw materials were sourced are mysteries not just to the consumer, but even to the general managers of many retail stores or restaurants.

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Why is this happening?

One factor is a growing abyss between producer and customer resulting from a frenetic drive to maximize profits. Another factor is a lack of moral responsibility. In today’s global market, mass standardized products are rarely suited to one’s individuality and the consumer is being increasingly forced to accept fewer options although packaging may be varied. And it’s no different in the food industry.

In his just released book, Return to Order: From a Frenzied Economy to an Organic Christian Society, author John Horvat explains that this frenetic drive is the result of an increasing desire in society to throw off all restraint, and to gratify disordered passions. He calls this phenomenon frenetic intemperance and demonstrates the myriad ways this vice affects society and throws our economy out of balance. And, although this approach to business can build huge fortunes it also has the capacity to bulldoze values and people which stand in its path.

I recently felt this frenetic bulldozing drive to maximize profits on my own skin.

While it may not be surprising to know that a SUBWAY sandwich could contain a combination of meats from several different countries, all sorts of chemicals,1 and that those “fresh” meats have been sitting in storage for many weeks,2 it should be surprising that high-end restaurant franchises are also progressively becoming outlets where it’s impossible to get answers about their food.

I experienced this with a colleague at a recent visit to The Cheese Cake Factory.

After having a $22 farmed-fish dish, I was curious about how and where their cheese cakes were made. As a well-dressed man walked by I asked him, “Do you work here?” “Yes,” was the answer. He was actually the general manager. I then asked him whether his cheese cakes were baked in a bain-marie (water bath).

“No,” he replied, “our cheese cakes are made in a factory, either in South Carolina or California and are shipped frozen.

“I understand sir,” I answered, “but a bain-marie is actually a water bath which makes what’s baked have a creamier texture.”

“No, they’re baked in an oven,” he said.

“Of course they are,” I rejoined. “A bain-marie alone cannot bake a cake, but if you use a bain-marie while baking the cheese cake, its texture becomes creamier.”

“Ah OK, I didn’t know,” was his reply. “I’m not sure but I don’t think so.”

Just fifty years ago, this would have been an unlikely exchange with the general manager of any restaurant. Worse yet, I had this same conversation with a different manager five minutes later. And, although he had heard of a bain-marie, he did not know the method employed to make his cheese cakes.

Upon arriving home, I was determined to get an answer to my question. But, nowhere could I find anything on The Cheese Cake Factory’s web site about how their cheese cakes are made.

What I did find, however, was even more surprising: They claim to make their menu items fresh from scratch daily – the opposite from what the general manager claimed.

The website reads: “We prepare our menu items from scratch daily at our restaurants using high quality, fresh ingredients.” And cheese cake is the signature item on the menu – of course.

So I decided to write a letter explaining my experience and asking for answers. But, not before running into another road block.

Before allowing anyone to leave a simple comment The Cheese Cake Factory requires all customers to submit:

1.Full name
2. Complete residential address
3. E-mail address
4. Phone number
5. Date of visit
6. Time of visit
7. Location visited

It’s now been weeks and I’ve heard nothing in response.*

This experience was my eureka moment confirming just one of Mr. Horvat’s theses in his groundbreaking work Return to Order.

In a real consumer-driven market, the consumers’ needs are of primary concern. On the contrary, in a market possessed by frenetic intemperance the drive to maximize profits issues forth a feverish war to expand production and profits, thereby making mass standardization a necessity. If the customer wants to know something beyond the producer’s standardized straitjacket formulae, he may find himself bulldozed under.

* Below is my letter to The Cheese Cake Factory:
Dear Sir/Maam:

I asked both your managers (Arlington, Va.) whether you bake your cheese cakes in a bain-marie (water bath). Neither knew how to answer this elementary question, the general manager not even knowing what a bain-marie was (forcing me to ask the question three times).

They strongly believed the cheese cakes were not made with a bain-marie, but what they did know is that they are made in a factory off site in another state altogether. I found nothing on your web site about how the cakes are baked but I did find this:

“We prepare our menu items from scratch daily at our restaurants using high quality, fresh ingredients.” Perhaps a little disingenuous?

This contradiction is a profound expression of the growing separation of the producer from the consumer; nay, the growing separation of the producer from even the producer. Your managers didn’t even know what process was used to bake your banner product: cheese cake.

The rule of money over the rule of honor? I’m quite sure I know the answer to what your managers didn’t know. I just don’t know why you would say “your menu items are prepared from scratch daily” when it’s not true.

The floor is yours…

1 http://www.subway.com/Nutrition/Files/usProdIngredients.pdf

2 (Thailand, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Germany, Holland, Denmark or the UK) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/foodanddrinknews/7386214/Fast-food-chicken-arrives-frozen-on-the-slow-boat.html

From the Mail: Is Profit Man’s Only Motivation?

wonderI received a very kind letter from a gentleman who read and appreciated many of the concepts found in Return to Order. However, after some generous compliments about the work, he concluded that the application of the book’s principles is highly unlikely.

Human nature being what it is,” he noted, “the prospect of people’s acting on such principles when to do so would conflict with apparent profit potential appears remote.”

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Such a position reflects a classical liberal stance that profit or self-interest is seen as the sole motivation for man’s acts. Human actions are caused by either the pursuit of pleasure or the avoidance of pain. According to this modern school of thought, to expect people to act selflessly runs contrary to reality and reason.


Thus, to those who might think the book is somewhat naïve by assuming that men can act beyond what appears to be their own self-interest, I thought it might be interesting to list those areas in our present day society where men put principles above profit and value character more than capital. In this way, we can show that acting upon the principles mentioned in Return to Order is not only possible, but plausible. In other words, acting in “conflict with apparent profit potential” is not a pipe dream, but actually quite common in our postmodern society.

As Return to Order affirms, selfless action occurs especially in a society where honor rules. The fact that we can still find many remnants of this action in today’s hostile culture is proof that our thesis is not unrealistic. Moreover, these same actions attract youth which ensures they have a future.
398px-Índice_de_Biografías_-_Esteban_Murillo_-_Santo_Tomás_de_Villanueva_dando_limosna
The first area of selfless action I would list is that of the Church. Aided by grace, countless men and women live abnegated lives, to worship and give glory to God. They often give up promising careers and fulfilling lives to help their fellow men out of love of God. The priest adopts the celibate life to more freely serve the Church; likewise, the young nun offers up her virginity; the faithful are encouraged to embrace both the joys and sufferings that life affords. In so doing, the Church encourages a broad and realistic vision of life that extends beyond self-interest alone that so constricts and saddens the lives of men.

A second field of action where self-interest does not rule would be that of the military. The military profession is sustained much more by a sense of honor than a desire for money. The underpaid soldier puts the welfare of the nation above his own. In the blossoming years of youth, he volunteers to endure heat, cold, hunger, wounds and enemy fire. He is disposed at every moment to forfeit all, rendering the ultimate sacrifice – his very life.

US_Army

A third field of action is that of the traditional family. In this case, the spouses put their union and their children’s welfare above their own self-interest. faith_brings_harmonyContrary to the hedonistic same-sex unions of our days where self-gratification is the supreme goal, spouses in a traditional marriage vow to remain united until death parts them, for better or worse, in sickness and health, in poverty and riches, in a selfless act of mutual giving to one another. They welcome into their lives the blessings of children who they must support and love at great sacrifice…and with great joys. The mother selflessly gives birth to new life often at the expense of her career and both parents expose themselves to endure possible tragedy, disappointment and ingratitude.

How_should_we_ProductsWe find selfless action among true artists, craftsmen and artisans. This is a class of people who take upon themselves the task of doing things well and experience a disinterested joy in seeing anything perfect, beautiful, or well made—even when not their own. We might single out an artist who is willing to forego monetary gain in order to paint a masterpiece, solely for beauty’s sake.

Finally, we might mention the role of true and natural leaders at all levels of society who take upon themselves the burden of leadership to serve the common good. We think of that teacher who gives all to inspire and help students; that businessman who takes the interests of his workers to heart by helping them in matters beyond the cold and rigid terms of a labor contract; that doctor who gives freely of his time in providing medical care to patients who are unable to pay him for his services. In short, those who hold positions of true leadership usually excel by going beyond self-interest, thereby earning the admiration and respect of those who follow.

These are but some examples of fields where self-interest and profit are not the sole motivation for action. Someone might object that since these actions can eventually bring about joy and even profit, they ultimately favor self-interest. To this, I would respond that they do not always bring about joy. The person engaged in these actions must take a risk that may result in misunderstanding, failure, suffering or disappointment. The person must usually forego an immediate pleasure and embrace a situation of suffering and sacrifice. This is especially true in a Christian society where men are motivated to do things by a pure love of God. Such a society is contrary to the culture of instant gratification that accompanies the actions of those who follow only what I call the rule of money.

Moreover, I would respond that this tendency to go beyond self-interest is not something exceptional. Rather, we naturally tend toward the spiritual values of the good, true and beautiful while our materialistic culture (under the rule of money) tries to suppress them. Human nature, being what it is, is also drawn to metaphysical and spiritual values. We are drawn to the rule of honor that highlights these values.

In fact, this rule is so powerful that when honor is spread throughout all levels of society, the rule of money loses its attraction. When honor reigns, money’s influence wanes, institutions are zealous of their reputation, families uphold their good name, and culture flourishes.

And so, I can agree with my reader that there are indeed many in our present culture who only pursue their self-interest, to the point of selfishness. I would even admit this self-interest could benefit economy. However, I would disagree that this is the only motivation of human action. There are still many today who forego pleasure and embrace suffering for a noble cause and this serves a very important function in society. Subscription8.11This self-sacrifice provides the cement that bonds people together. It forges ties of confidence and trust which many sociologists call the “social capital” that makes for good economy. In times of crisis, those accustomed to looking beyond self-interest provide leadership and direction.

Return to Order was written for that sector of public opinion that values honor over money. I believe the rule of honor is still a fitting response to the rule of money. And I believe that, with the help of God, a return to such a rule is not only necessary, but possible.

What Has Happened to Community?

charityIn modern society, there is no longer the sense of communal space where conversation and leisure normally took place. There is no longer a feeling of community where people sense the satisfaction of being together.

That is not to say people do not gather in crowds. There are plenty of places where large numbers of people congregate. However the rules of communication have changed dramatically.

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Psychologist Sherry Turkle claims that people can be together, but more often than not they are alone together – each isolated as in a bubble in the midst of the crowd. She writes: “In this new regime, a train station (like an airport, a café, or a park) is no longer a communal space but a place of social collection: people come together but do not speak to each other. Each is tethered to a mobile device and to the people and places to which that device serves as a portal.” (Sherry Turkle, Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other, New York, Basic Books, 2011, p. 155)

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This is a topic that is discussed at length in the book, Return to Order. Order your book now!


When Was Musical Harmony Invented?

When Was Musical Harmony Invented?

“It was medieval musicians who invented polyphony”

At the time of the Romans and Greeks, all voices and instruments sang and played a single musical line. They had no idea of creating harmonies.

Historian Rodney Stark reveals that,

“It was medieval musicians who invented polyphony, the simultaneous sounding of two or more musical lines, hence harmonies. Just when this occurred is uncertain, but it was already well known when described in a manual published around 900. Moreover, it was during the Dark Ages that the instruments needed to fully exploit harmonies were perfected: the pipe organ, the clavichord and harpsichord, the violin and bass fiddle among others. And in about the tenth century, an adequate system of musical notation was invented and popularized so that music could be accurately performed by musicians who had never heard it.”



(Rodney Stark, The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success, New York, Random House, 2005, p. 51.)

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Praise for Return to Order — Rep. Lou Barletta

Praise for Return to Order -- Rep. Lou BarlettaReturn to Order is a refreshing breath of air in a time of economic and political distress. It reminds us of those basic and foundational institutions and practices that helped shape the generations of our fathers and mothers. And, it reminds us that we can be successful and solve the issues America is currently facing without terse political discourse, but with a strong Church, strong family and strong community. Horvat’s Return to Order is much like his book jacket illustration, a beacon on a hill enlightening the way for readers in a time of American uncertainty.”

Congressman Lou Barletta,
U.S. House of Representatives, serving Pennsylvania’s 11th District.

Addressing Our Fractured Republic

Addressing Our Fractured Republic

“No one disputes the fact that the nation is polarized and coming apart.”

No one disputes the fact that the nation is polarized and coming apart. This is so evident especially in light of the 2016 election cycle. Likewise, no reasonable person can deny that we need to return to the order of social bonds that mitigate the effects of extreme individualism, especially the erosion of our national unity.

Yuval Levin’s fascinating book, The Fractured Republic: Renewing America’s Social Contract in the Age of Individualism does much to address these great problems and offer corresponding solutions. The book is a well-written historical analysis of what has led to the fracturing of the nation. Thankfully, Levin does not resort to instant push-button solutions. Rather he recognizes the need to propose ways to mend and meld these fractures over the long term.

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What Levin describes is the battle between two conflicting yet inadequate visions of American society. Simplifying a bit, one is a conservative America that yearns for the security of moral values and social unity. The other is the progressive America that longs for the heady idealism of extreme individualism, income equality and governmental safety nets. Both visions are the two main baby boomer narratives, which also represent a clash of “nostalgias” where one side longs for the stable 50s and the other for the restless 60s.

Levin, an avowed conservative, outlines the unique historic circumstances that gave rise to these competing visions and their nostalgias. He makes the case that all uniting factors have eroded over the last several decades. America’s broad political consensus has broken down. The mediating institutions of family, community and faith that normally stand between the individual and the State are being “hollowed out” and worn away. These middle layers are “where people see each other face-to-face, offer a middle ground between radical individualism and extreme centralization.”

The author suggests that the competing visions are “blinded by their nostalgias” and eroded by the culture. Neither one has the power to recapture the mainstream. Neither one can afford to follow the present narrative which does not address the present reality. Something different must be done.


The second part is aptly titled “the next America” in which Levin asks his readers to visualize what the nation’s future might look like. In the book’s introduction, the author makes it clear he is not providing a detailed blueprint for America. He is rather groping and grappling toward organic bottom-up remedies that cannot be rigidly planned or imposed. Levin’s grappling approach is therefore refreshing, original… and problematic.

The refreshing part of his remedy can be summed up in one word: subsidiarity. He defines this social concept as “putting power, authority, and significance as close to the level of interpersonal community as reasonably possible.” That is to say letting each social unit take care of itself while relying on larger institutions, especially government, only when necessary.

Subsidiarity makes sense considering his evaluation of the crisis. For if the problem in America is the loss of bottom-up mediating institutions of family, community, and faith, then the solution is the restoration of that middle layer that fosters social bonds. Levin claims that “The mediating institutions do not need to be unleashed — they need to be revived, reinforced and empowered.”

Such a remedy is original in that it does not come from the government — the preferred agent of change in today’s world. Indeed, it is as if “government” and “solution” are two words that normally should not appear together. Levin puts the responsibility for solving the present moral crisis where it belongs — with moral institutions. He desires the next America to be “a free society rooted in an understanding of liberty that depends upon our institutions of moral formation and on the kind of person they produce — the citizen fit for virtuous freedom.”

How such a remedy might be implemented is more problematic. Levin proposes that Americans replace the outdated narrative of the Culture War, blinded as it is by nostalgia. However, Levin himself appears a bit blinded by the nostalgia, since he fails to mention the moral values, principles, and ideals that are so much a part of the Culture War. It is not clear how these very important non-nostaglic issues (like abortion, for example) should be handled in his proposal.

Levin believes efforts might be better employed in what he calls “subcultural wars.” For cultural conservatives, this would entail offering attractive alternatives that embody a vision of the virtuous good life. “The center has not held in American life, so we must instead find our centers for ourselves as communities of like-minded citizens, and then build out the American ethic from there.”

Subscription8Levin’s option makes many assumptions that are not necessarily certain to happen. He assumes that a cultural ceasefire might be arranged that would allow political space for such communities to grow and flourish. The present judicial and regulatory infrastructures may not be so willing to relinquish their stranglehold upon American life, or cease their hostility, that makes so many good life alternatives difficult if not impossible.

It cannot be presupposed that the mere presentation of the good life, however attractive, will guarantee its widespread acceptance since arduous virtue has always struggled to compete with easy vice. Example alone may not be compelling enough to reverse the inebriating “freedom” of an extreme individualism.

Finally, there is the assumption that strong subcultures will necessarily repair the fractured republic. Without proportionally strong unifying principles, there is the risk that these strong subcultures might just shatter the nation.

The Fractured Republic is an important commentary on the present state of disunity and polarization. Levin has the courage to talk about the politically incorrect principle of subsidiarity. His work frames the debate where it should be framed — around those institutions of moral formation that really matter.

As seen on americanthinker.com

Toward Virtuous Leadership: Fixing the Military’s Moral Compass

Marines War Memorial

Toward Virtuous Leadership

By Lieutenant Colonel David G. Bolgiano, USAF, Retired*

Alexandre Havard writes in Virtuous Leadership on the importance and relevance of the cardinal virtues – prudence, fortitude (or courage), temperance (or self-control) and justice – to both leaders and organizations. Any person or group that lacks in one or more of these core character traits is doomed to failure. As William Penn, the founder and namesake of Pennsylvania, said:

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Governments, like clocks, go from the motion men give them; and as governments are made and moved by men, so by them they are ruined too … Let men be good and the government cannot be bad … But if men be bad, let the government be never so good, they will endeavor to warp and spoil it to their turn.

Likewise, our military depends on good people to lead and man it. Historically, it has consistently embraced the cardinal virtues to better ensure a spirit of selfless sacrifice and service amongst its members. Herodotus’s commentary on the duties of the ancient Persians, “to ride well, shoot straight, and speak the truth,” recognizes that there are absolute truths and an internal moral compass that warriors should follow.

These beliefs have formed the cornerstone of our military’s ethos. It is now under subtle attack by those that decry such beliefs as antiquated or even unconstitutional. Such efforts must be soundly repulsed, as military leaders’ moral compasses must be immune to quaint notions of modernity that recognize no fundamental truths.

party_over

“… self-absorbed, licentious behaviors such as one routinely observes in Hollywood and professional sports leagues.”

For years, living by the cardinal virtues has inoculated the military from self-absorbed, licentious behaviors such as one routinely observes in Hollywood and professional sports leagues. America’s modern military culture has fairly consistently remained above the fray of partisan politics and the gutter of licentiousness. Unfortunately, there are those trying to change that very culture by marginalizing the voices of virtue within our force.

115_Arlington National Cemetery_052610

“…it must not proceed under the false belief that aspiring to live virtuously is somehow an antiquated and irrelevant modality.”

If the Armed Forces of the United States is to remain a dominant player in geopolitics as well as a guardian of our populace, it must not proceed under the false belief that aspiring to live virtuously is somehow an antiquated and irrelevant modality for a postmodern world. The first obstacle often thrown out by those objecting to infusing virtue’s lessons into policy is that doing so somehow violates the Constitution of the United States’ First Amendment’s Establishment Clause, which proscribes a formal church-state relationship. Such an objection is a canard that is predicated on ignorance of history and the law. Historically, discussions of the cardinal virtues can be found not only in all of the world’s major religions, but also in classical literature and philosophy. Legally, those that rail against any open religious activity in the military, such as the presence of a Chaplains’ Corps, seem to ignore the Free Exercise Clause of that very same Constitutional Amendment. Sadly, these voices have found traction of late within the Executive Branch.

The Cardinal Virtues

Prudence or Competency

(VBSS) training

Visit Board Search and Seizure (VBSS) team.

As Francis Bacon noted, one rarely finds a wise head on a young body. Hence, this virtue, like all the others, must be taught and learned. Aristotle defined prudence as recta ratio agibilium, meaning “right reason applied to practice.” In the military, this is reflected in a commander who has mastered fundamental tasks so well that in the fog of war these are enabling, rather than distracting. At a purely tactical level, it is that Visit Board Search and Seizure (VBSS) team member so intimate with his weapon systems that he can focus on potential threats, not on whether his weapon’s selector switch is on safe or fire.

When a leader consistently makes wrong decisions – or makes rash decisions, right or wrong – then that individual is imprudent. Due to the complexity of the modern battlefield, it is easy to err in this fashion. Accordingly, competent leaders seek the counsel of others and quickly learn to delegate responsibility and authority to trusted subordinates. They also encourage freethinking amongst their staff. Those assigned to a dysfunctional staff, where the commander browbeats those who disagree, will instantly recognize this lack of virtue in their boss. “Don’t be the nail that sticks above the surface” is the unspoken advice in such commands. Sadly, courageous subordinates are often crushed; while sycophants, or those who simply remain silent, get promoted.


Prudence or competency is the result of practice. But, it also may require personal humility. Disregarding the advice or warnings of others whose judgment does not coincide with one’s own may be a sign of imprudence. It is possible that the commander is right and his staff wrong; but the opposite may be true, especially if the commander is consistently disagreeing with those whose demonstrated judgment is sound. Absent a moral barometer, either derived from natural law or the Ten Commandments, there is no measure of right reason. Accordingly, bad commanders will simply bully others to get their way. That is why assaults upon the military’s seemingly archaic moral code are so intrinsically dangerous. For he who believes in everything believes nothing and, consequently, lacks a compass by which to steer a true and straight course.

Justice

Prudence or competency is the internal focus of one’s intellectual abilities: the application of right reason to a given problem. Justice is more outwardly focused. It is that trait which seeks to give everyone his or her rightful due. This requires much more than simply abiding by the rules set forth in the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) or General Orders. While maintaining discipline in the Armed Forces is very important to the orderly conduct of military operations, and most people desire and expect malefactors to be brought to justice, the virtue of justice is much greater than the sum of what is set forth in those rules and procedures. Good commanders utilize justice as a positive motivator on the path toward a humble and magnanimous career for themselves and their subordinates.

Field Marshal William Slim 1950

Field Marshal William Slim, commander of the China-Burma-India Theater of Operations in World War II

Members of a successful military command are more concerned with respecting the rights of others and giving them proper credit where credit is due. It was said of Field Marshal William Slim, Commander of the China-Burma-India Theater of Operations in World War II, that he never said “I,” rarely said “We,” and always said “You.” Sam Damon, the protagonist in Anton Myer’s brilliant novel Once an Eagle, further exemplifies such a person. Damon is a professional warrior who puts duty, honor, and the men he commands above self-interest. He justly earns his promotions. The book’s antagonist, Courtney Massengale, is an unjust, self-absorbed bully who advances by political scheming and trampling upon subordinates and contemporaries. Once an Eagle should be mandatory reading for all officers and non-commissioned officers.

Justice also requires an acknowledgement of and obeisance to the natural law or divinely-inspired law. Absent such a framework, we are left with simply the subordinate laws and whims of man. We would be well served to remember that Adolf Hitler did nothing illegal under the laws of the Third Reich. The reason that Hitler’s acts were so unspeakable is that they contravened Divine or natural law. A just leader respects both the natural rights of others (to be secure in life and limb, their obligations to family and associates, fundamental property rights, and to practice one’s religion and hold sacred beliefs) and the legal rights of others (command authorities, the UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice), personal contract rights, and other rights and entitlements found under the law). Should legal rights ever come into conflict with natural rights, however, the latter take precedence. Hence, a warrior has both a right and an obligation to disobey clearly unlawful, unethical or unconstitutional orders. Without an underlying concept of right or wrong – what is justice – how would a service member ever be able to discern this?

Courage

Finding Our Knight

Col. John Ripley, opposed the inclusion of females into units routinely expected to be engaged in close quarters combat (CQB) missions. Fought for the protection of femininity, motherhood and graceful conduct of women.

One may assume that anyone donning the uniform of the Armed Forces has physical courage. However, what is being discussed here is an overarching moral courage. A person could be physically courageous enough to charge a machine gun nest, but still be a moral coward in other important leadership capacities. Moral courage, or fortitude, is that rock-steady virtue that seeks to elevate others above self. Competency and justice are the virtues by which we decide what ought to be done. Courage provides us the will and strength to do so, even in the face of obstacles. For day-to-day life, it is the constant practice of seeking and speaking the truth in the face of adversity or peer pressure to do otherwise. It is what gives that subordinate staff officer the strength to raise a hand during a command briefing and disagree with a politically expedient, but morally wrong or unjust, course of action.

traditional marriage campaign

TFP Traditional marriage caravan in Illinois at Lake Michigan.

Courage may require one to speak out against voguish but evil spirits of the times, impure conduct or trends, and the common tendency to seek the path of least resistance. It also requires one to speak the truth even if doing so may be personally painful: “For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins.” (Hebrews 10:26)

The New Testament also speaks to those who “are willingly ignorant.” The meaning is the same. It is one thing to be unaware of the truth; it is altogether different when people know what is true, yet ignore it out of cowardice or political expediency. By a casual reading of today’s headlines, it appears to all but the naïve or complicit that many of our senior military leaders have failed to stand up for what they must, in their hearts, know to be right and just. This is likely for want of courage.

Self-Control or Temperance

Mtn. Home Air Force Base

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho — Airman 1st Class John Sriharong, 366th Equipment Maintenance technician, prays during a men’s prayer group Fed. 26 at Liberty Chapel.

Epistemologically, self-control or temperance demands control of one’s animal desire for pleasure. We wring our hands and wonder why so many of our warriors commit acts of sexual assault; and, how come so many flag officers commit other diverse acts of moral turpitude. Often, these acts are a failure to moderate desires in the face of temptation. Self-control is that virtue which attempts to overcome the human condition best stated as “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” But, if we have institutionally disavowed the notion that there are fundamental rights and wrongs, is it any wonder we are in this quandary?

However, self-control is much more than just tempering base sexual desires. In the realm of virtuous leaders, self-control might mean that choleric personalities restrain their tempers; impatient persons exercise listening skills; tardiness is replaced by timeliness; or phlegmatic persons make an effort to be more outgoing. “Everything that grows begins small. It is by constant and progressive feeding that it gradually grows big.” This notion applies to seeding and growing virtue in organizations and individual lives. Taking such seemingly small steps can gradually build a command imbued with a sense of unit humility. It can truly help transform an organization from a dour, miserable workplace to a magnanimous command where people are excited and proud to serve.

Magnanimity is an underutilized and not frequently understood word. It is the loftiness of spirit enabling one to bear trouble calmly, to disdain meanness and pettiness, and to display a noble generosity. It is the essence of chivalry. A magnanimous person is the opposite of a pusillanimous or small-minded person. Every military leader should strive to foster an environment where magnanimity flourishes. Absent a deep understanding and practice of the cardinal virtues, however, such a goal is futile because the leader lacks the inherent capacity to foster unit humility and magnanimity.

Words of Caution

The dangers for the military not acknowledging and living pursuant to the cardinal virtues should be obvious. But, when one considers how to boil a frog, the pitfalls may not be as obvious as they once recently might have been. Just consider the myriad “hot button” issues, critical to the continued integrity and strength of our military, which have now all but been placed “off limits” by senior leaders who seem more concerned with keeping their stars than speaking or hearing the truth. For example, any rational discussion concerning these topics – (1) the possibility that core tenets of Sharia law are incompatible with a Constitutional Republican form of governance that respects religious freedoms; (2) forced affirmation of vice in the form of acceptance of homosexual conduct within our forces; and (3) the inclusion of females into units routinely expected to be engaged in close quarters combat (CQB) missions – has been effectively quashed in today’s military. This is true, despite the fact that a majority of those serving have principled questions about each of these topics.

But anyone that now questions the wisdom of such policies is, at best, quickly marginalized. Truth, or at least rational attempts to discern the truth, has been labeled as “Hate Speech.” In some instances, as in the case of Army Lieutenant Colonel Matthew Dooley who was crushed by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for daring to raise the aforementioned Sharia issue, otherwise stellar careers are ruined for not toeing the party line. We should do well to heed the words of Isaiah: “Woe to you that call evil good, and good evil: that put darkness for light, and light for darkness: that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter.”

Douglas MacArthur lands Leyte Gulf

General Douglas MacArthur, accompanied by President Sergio Osmena of the Philippines (L), land at Palo Beach, Leyte, on October 20, 1944.

While it is imperative – as General of the Army Douglas MacArthur tested during the Korean War – that the military remain subordinate to its civilian masters in matters of policy and strategy, it must nevertheless vigorously resist attempts to dilute its core values by means of crass political bullying. Moreover, if there are rational and moral concerns about any policy or course of action, voices expressing such concerns should be encouraged, rather than quelled or shunned. Sadly and dangerously, this does not appear to be happening in today’s military.

Trends to muzzle the virtuous voices in the military must be reversed if our Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Army and Coast Guard are to remain morally fit and strong. The silence of the admirals and generals has been deafening in this regard. Six years into this Administration’s grand experiment to radically transform America has caused serious erosion in our military’s capability and discipline; yet, we hear crickets instead of voices of truth and moral incorruptibility from our flag officers. Consequently, we now have a military that appears more concerned with providing benefits to random sexual partners or forcing the square peg of “gender” equality into the round hole of readiness.

No objectively honest person should be surprised that an overwhelming majority of female candidates simply can’t make it through physically demanding courses such as the Army’s Ranger School, Marine Infantry Officers Course, Basic Underwater Demolition School (SEAL-BUDS) and Special Forces Qualification Course. By not accepting the fact that “war is hard” and close-quarters combat is necessarily a realm for masculine males, the military scrambles to change the standards to ensure “sex” equality occurs despite costs to our readiness.

USMC Training

“There is a reason there are no female athletes in the National Football League.”

When it comes to matters of national defense, specious beliefs in the physical equality of the sexes should not trump the harsh reality of the battlefield. There is a reason there are no female athletes in the National Football League (or any other professional sports league): men are better suited to such physical conflict. All the politically correct thought and indoctrination in the world can’t change this fact of nature and God’s design. If we allow courts or policy makers not anchored by virtues to challenge this immutable truth, we will end up not only with boring sports contests but also a less effective combat force. But, first, we must acknowledge there are immutable facts and truths. Voices of reason and truth, like that expressed by Marine Captain Katie Petronio, are few and far between in this discussion. They appear entirely absent amongst our flag ranks.

Repeating lies loudly and often enough does not make them true. Senior leaders must not simply parrot the opinions of their political masters. Sometimes, the cardinal virtues demand they speak the truth. But, perhaps paralyzed by the fear of losing their stars or not getting a “top block” on that section of their fitness report that demonstrates the proper degree of political correctness, most will remain silent.

Subordinates watch and learn from their leaders. If those leaders go into defilade instead of standing up for what is virtuous, what lessons will be passed down to the next generation? This is not a matter of arguing the value of one combat system over another or the next evolution or revolution of warfare. This is about retaining core virtuous principles that spawn courage, truth and selflessness.

Occupy Wall Street

“…a Marine Corp Private stands head and shoulders above ‘Occupy Wall Street’ types”

Citizens expect such high standards from their Armed Forces: it is why a Marine Corp Private stands head and shoulders above “Occupy Wall Street” types or the likes of Bradley (Chelsea?) Manning. Service members must forfeit many of their erstwhile civilian idiosyncrasies – faddish haircuts, sleeping late, using illegal drugs, and being couch potatoes – in order to become part of a greater whole. First and foremost, our Armed Forces should be a corps of moral, disciplined, steely-eyed killers – exemplified by distinguished commanders such as Arleigh Burke, Chesty Puller and Jim Mattis – that can close with and destroy our Republic’s enemies on the seas and fields of battle. Hence, we must never forget to ride well, shoot straight and speak the truth: even if doing so ruffles some political feathers. Our warriors deserve nothing less.

About the Author:

Lt. Col. David G. Bolgiano is a retired paratrooper who has deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan on multiple occasions. He is the author of Combat Self-Defense: Saving America’s Warriors from Risk-Averse Commanders and their Lawyers and co-author of Fighting Today’s Wars: How America’s Leaders Have Failed Our Warriors.

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