Sunday, October 21, 2012

Why I'm voting Independent

One of the great injustices perpetrated over the last year or so is the blatant attack of the Catholic conscience both collectively and individually. I make no secret of the fact that I'm a Catholic and that pretty much forms who I am and what opinions I hold, or rather which lens through which I look. I think that the moral universe as described by the Catholic Church is accurate and should be followed by all who care to follow morality as it actually exists in creation. Not everyone cares to follow that morality or even admits that such a morality exists. I'm not going to force them to follow my conscience, but I will kind of expect me to follow my own. 

My conscience tells me that both candidates from the two major parties in the US are in one way or another, morally ambiguous at best and morally outrageous at worst. Clearly I can't support a candidate who will promote or enact morally outrageous policies. One such case is Obama's fervent devotion to the cause of contraception and abortion. Romney has also shown himself to be less than caring when it comes to these issues and has even said in a recent debate that all women should have access to contraception. 

To avoid my vote being associated with either of these two bastions of evil, I have only one choice. And that's why I'm voting Independent.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Why I'm voting for Obama

It's always amused me that things come out of "left field" and are "sinister" (sinister being the latin word for "left"). What's so great about the Right that the Left gets shoved to the side as being either strange, weird or just plain scary? Well, it is not our duty to question the wisdom of the ages but to accept it.

So why would I vote for Obama who is, for many, the embodiment of all that is Left? Well, if you recall from my last post, I don't like either of the candidates. I am convinced that Obama is more convinced and stubborn in his ideology than is Romney. Romney is a businessman who probably cares about profit more than policy. Presumably this might translate into profit for the United States if he is elected president. However, it might not. Romney might be in the process of the Next Great Republican Dupe (NGRD) which is a common enough occurrence, right? (no pun intended.)

The worst thing for this country is for its people to become complacent, going along with the autocratic power-grab of elites from any party that happens to be in the position to grab said power. If you give one man the power over a nation while denying that he has the power, it is much more dangerous than for one man to be openly and plainly in power and accountable to the people who are quite aware that he might tyrannize. This might in itself be a sufficient argument for monarchy over and above our current broken democratic scheme. The problem is not that those in power have too much power. That will always be the case in such large nations and large governments. The problem is that it is masked behind the idea that there are all these checks and balances and that the people decide their fate. In reality, the president can and often does step all over the legislative branch not only of the U.S. but of individual states and the president hasn't been elected by direct popular vote since that became logistically impossible.

Why am I going on this tirade in favor of Tyrants and Despots? Well, because this is about voting for Obama, right? (no pun intended.)

Romney, unless we're very careful, will lull us into the idea that he doesn't give a damn about the power he's been given because apparently he loves Freedom and the Middle Class and Small Businesses and doesn't want to tax them too much. He might very well love all these things. The problem is, he might not and his promises to care about the things that we love might be a lie and we might be subject to the NGRD.

If on the other hand Obama gets elected, we already know what to expect and for those of us who object to the promotion of abortion, contraception, and big government, we already know how to approach Obama. We aren't going to let him get away with anything. He'll keep us awake and on our toes. When someone obviously takes pleasure in having the authority to rule the people and command the world's historically most respected army and get away with almost everything, freedom-loving, gun-toting americans will always be on their guard.

Obviously, the only option is for us to stay alert and that's why I'm voting for Obama.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Why I'm voting for Romney

I have been somewhat uninterested in getting embroiled in the American Political scene since it disgusts me. Yes, the European scene isn’t much better, but for some reason it seems much more amusing. Now, however, I will be digging in with gusto and I will start with my reasons for voting for Romney. 

I don’t like either of the candidates. Obama seems to me to be an idealist for all the wrong ideals and Romney seems to me to be a pragmatist for all the wrong...pragmats? One the one hand, I can respect Obama for trying to stick his “progressive” “liberal” ideals and following through in his autocratic scheme to bring hope back to America. The problem is, he is often unable to support these ideals/principles for the annoying reason that they can’t be supported. Giving women free contraceptives does not grant them economic freedom. In fact, forcing women to buy insurance or to use insurance that supplies contraceptives means that that money can not be used for anything else, regardless of whether said woman wants to buy said contraceptives. This isn’t freedom. This is being shackled to a drug-and-rubber ideology which will drive our moral stamina and economic independence out the window. 

Obama says that he believes the Free Enterprise system to be the most important system ever (my paraphrase) and I almost believe him. Except he’s caught in between believing that and believing that Fairness dictates that those who can give more must give more under penalty of law. Not to harp on economic freedom, but does he care about economic freedom? I kind of doubt it. He wants poor women to be forced into insurance plans that cover contraceptives for free, but doesn’t allow that monetary credit to be used for other things should said poor women desire it. Also, he wants rich women to have to use their money how he (or the government) dictates. They must purchase contraceptives with their insurance and they must pay a substantially higher rate than anyone else. 

Of course, this goes for men too. They deserve economic freedom as much as women. 

Finally, Obama wants to create a culture where abortion is promoted apparently so that no one might be burdened with an unwanted child apparently in an attempt to keep the poor from becoming destitute. The thing he forgets, of course, is the economic destitution isn’t the only kind of destitution. A culture built on death is not a wealthy culture. It is a culture that will eventually commit suicide when it finds itself in the way of the economic progress of mankind. Abortion will not solve our social ills because our progress will be based on our ability to kill the unwanted. 

Obama’s support of contraception, abortion and economic slavery cause me to turn my attention to Romney. Some might say that one should not vote for a candidate because he/she is not perfect, and Romney is not perfect. I don’t want to vote for Romney because as I said, I don’t like him. He seems to me to be a politician who will do anything to get elected and to get an agenda done whether he believes it is right or not. 

He is in charge of appealing to the Conservative Christians and as such, proclaims a somewhat pro-life position, looking specifically at Catholics when he chose Paul Ryan as his running-mate. I’m not sure why, maybe to appeal to moderates, but he has been watering down the prolife position for some time and indeed has not even always held a prolife position. 

And so you might wonder why I want to vote for him. The reason is that Obama vigorously supports things I disagree with. Romney on the other hand, doesn’t seem to vigorously support anything, but rather makes motions in one or more directions that I agree with. I would rather force Romney to follow up on these motions than have to deal with direct attacks on my conscience and my ideals from Obama. 

The perfect candidate doesn’t exist and never will. Obama has shown himself to be antithetical to much that I believe in. Romney, for all his failings as a person, at least will have to be accountable to ideals for which he claims some affinity. 

Of course, this will require those of us who vote for him to hold him accountable. I do not mind that responsibility. That is why I will vote for Romney.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Value of the Free Market

Recently, during my jaunt through my usual internet activity, I encountered two quotes. "In a democracy, like in any open market, having everyone pursue their own self-interest is supposed to generate the best outcome for society." and "The free market is the only force in human history to uplift the poor, establish the middle class and create lasting prosperity."

Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but "free" and "open" markets are essentially the same. These statements aren't exactly contradictory, in fact they both blatantly mention the free/open market in extremely positive terms, but in my mind, they say two completely different things about the market.

The first quote, which is from a piece in the Washington Post, implies that in an open market, self-interest is the key to success. Apparently, this self interest on the market is supposed to create the best society. Now, I don't know about you, but in general, I'm wary of straight up self interest. It's a little like straight up vodka. It sure gets the job done, but don't expect to feel well in the morning. If it is true that the idea of open market is based on self interest, then no wonder it is only "supposed" to generate the beat outcome; no one can say it has done so. A market based on self interest is, I assume, also related to the idea of competition as the highest of all goals. I'm no economist, so I can't for sure say that competition does or does not create the best economic climate, but I can say with certainty that self interest in the market will lead to further vice in the market. If you are interested in only how an action will affect you (in the economic, market sense), then considerations such as whether it will destroy the earth, harm other humans or damn your immortal soul are not really on your mind. Self interest may aid in the accumulation of wealth and prosperity, but that is not the definition of "the best outcome for society." We have to remember that all our actions have consequences far beyond what we immediately see.

Imagine that you make toys. Toys have a pretty short shelf-life in general because the whole human race is somewhat attention-deficient, so you think to yourself, "Why make quality toys that last? They're just going to be done playing with them soon. They might as well throw them away." So you make cheap toys with cheap labor and produce a terrible product but everyone buys it because they need toys and yours are the most plentiful. Weeks later, they are back to buy more toys because the toys you sold them are no longer fun/usable/what have you. You make tons of money because of this constant flow of cash and the fact that you don't have to pay your laborers much money. Then, the landfills fill up with broken useless toys that you sold to people.

How is any of that good for society? I would say it wasn't. Now, I'm not saying the free market or some adaptation of it is exactly like that (though this situation seems to occur a lot in our current society), but I am saying that that is an example of self-interest, and it does not produce the best outcome for society. If you make quality toys (or any other product) then they will last longer and the people will be more willing to pay more because of this. You will have to hire skilled laborers to make these higher quality products and so you will have to pay them more. Does this sound like it will make you rich? Maybe not, but I suspect that an industry based on quality will do better than one based on fast, cheap, mass production. In any case, you have created a society where skilled labor is valued, the consumer is provided with a good product and there is less waste of materials, energy and labor. I would argue that this was a better society.

Now, this isn't to demean self-interest entirely. After all, I am willing to believe, as I said, that this practice would actually produce a more thriving industry. Thus, it would be self-interested to be other interested. In fact, the dichotomy between the two is one of the more harmful ideas that pervades our society. The idea of self-interest is not a bad one and thus the free market idea isn't an unjust one, but self interest in conjunction with other interest, in fact one might say common interest, will be less prone to injustice and may perhaps do more for society than the self serving idea of the free market as many see it today.

As to the second quote, it is from a rhetorically potent video which is only missing an image of Obama at the end to indicate what they think of the current administration (although I believe Biden figures prominently a couple times.) The man in the video says a lot of interesting things some more believable than others, but the quote I put at the top is what really struck me. I actually very much disagree with it.

For one thing, the free market is not the only force in human history to uplift the poor. Not by a long shot. Let me give you one example of another force which does this. The Catholic Church. I won't, for now, dispute that the free market does indeed uplift the poor, because I'm not knowledgeable enough about that aspect of it (and I'm not sure anyone else is either...see my third point.) However, to hold the free market up as the only great force that can save the poor from their poverty is just plain laughable. Another point that I'd like to at least mention is that not having a lot of money is not a bad thing. It might be considered poor by our rich nation, but to have a roof over your head and a steady supply of food and enjoyable leisure time is possible with what could be considered a very low income. The kind of poverty from which the poor need to be uplifted is something different. It is the wretched existence of those who are starving to death or who are without homes. How the market can save these people is hard to imagine. It takes people who are willing to take these people in and help them start a life which will involve the marketplace, not the market itself.

Secondly, the video states that the free market is the only force in human history to "establish the middle class." I'm not sure I quite understand the term "middle class" but it seems to me that is means people who aren't poor and who aren't rich. Or something. Unless it refers to a very specifically American phenomenon of Suburban Living. In any case, there have always been the Wealthy, the Poor, and then everyone else, so it's impossible to claim that it's the free market that established this. And in any case, the current "middle class" we have in America is smug, cause they've gotten a job and worked for a living and can be comfortable in their suburb, and envious, cause they don't have that third car or the bigger house in the suburb and a lake home in the country. American middle class is different from "working class," which is still looked down on by most of America. The manual laborers are probably poor because they couldn't afford or didn't try for a good education which could get them a salaried position at the corner law office. Higher education is the norm for the middle class because we have to always get that better paying job. We're always wishing we weren't middle class. Middle class, in other words, is a very unpleasant and vicious place, full of smug, dissatisfied, back-stabbing, white collar Americans who think they're really educated because they watch MSNBC or Fox News.

Ma'am, please.

And so when the man in the video says that the free market established the middle class, not only is it not quite true, but in the American sense, it's not even that good.

And now for my third point, which  referenced before. The man in the video claims that the free market creates lasting prosperity. This is probably the falsest of all the claims. The free market is certainly not the only force in the world working toward prosperity in all the senses of the word "prosperity." Certainly financial prosperity is the one that most closely concerns the free market, so that might be what he meant. I will act as if he did. Our world, our nation and even the majority of people in our nation are not prosperous, even financially. Yes, we have access to capital, we have access to goods, we can produce and sell and import and export and all these things, but the financial system we have set up isn't particularly good, and it certainly doesn't seem like it will last very long. Some may argue that that is because we don't actually have pure free market economies, and that may very well be the case, but if we don't have free market economies now, how can we know that they will create lasting prosperity? We have already discussed how the free market is based on self-interest, and so perhaps it would create prosperity in some of us, but history shows that even the most self interested of investors and capitalists fall prey to economic depressions and recessions. Since we don't know what Free Market Capitalism pure and simple looks like, we can't possible know for sure that it creates any sort of prosperity whatsoever and it certainly is impossible to say whether it is lasting.

These descriptions of the free or open market are not impressive. In fact, one of them is downright deceptive. I support neither vision of the free market, the one based on self interest nor the one which claims to be the economy of salvation. What's the answer? I'm not sure we know, but one where each member of society is considered a contributor and where the interests of others are seen as your own.

Is it possible? Maybe not, but perhaps we should still try to include these ideas in our plans and theories.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

He get it right

My brother, that is.

I am not one to let Notre Dame pass on its failures. In fact, I am one of the most vocal people I know for true reform in an educational and religious sense. I am an avid critic of Notre Dame on almost every level, from its obsession with sports (to the point that they stopped walking to the stadium from the Basilica, which they used to do) to its Catholic intellectual integrity (some of the theology classes, which ought to teach us about God, are taught by non-Catholics or even anti-Catholics. I mean, if the University is trying to teach its students about God, shouldn't it do so from a Catholic perspective?)

For all its failings, it has the potential to be what no other school in the United States has. It could be the model for a faithful Catholic research university. Its establishment is already in many ways in the tradition of the Catholic Universities of the Medieval period. If those became the seats of Catholic intellectual inquiry, why not Notre Dame?

And the reason it still has the potential is, as my brother say, because Christ and His Mother are on its side. And who are we to abandon that which God has not abandoned?

Distinction and Division

At the risk of over-simplification, I would wager that the most common human activity is distinction. What I mean by that of course is that we as humans see two things and we say "This is one thing, that is another." We make distinctions often without thinking about it. We can distinguish between two objects based on their physical quality, their quantity, their origin, their purpose or their relation to us.

For example, my first batch of french toast today burned, and so I fried up another batch (I promise though I did eat the first one too.) I acted in this way based on distinctions I made. I said "Here are two separate batches, one is burnt, one is not yet burnt, thus one and only one has the potential to be unburnt. The assumption I will make is that the burnt will be less tasty than the unburnt. Thus, I will make the second batch in the hopes of it being tastier and I will not leave the kitchen without making it." In many ways, the batches of french toast were the same. They were made in the same pan, they were both made to be eaten, and they were both made by me for me. Yet, because of the fact that they would be different, thus distinct, I made the choice, a distinct unique choice, to cook the second batch.

Another, perhaps more serious example, is what I have to do today. In the Notre Dame community, we call it DARTing, though it's really no more than registering for classes. I have 4 classes that I'm required to take for my major and one open slot (because I'm not going to overload). Because I have a choice for this last class, I have to make distinctions. I have to distinguish between a class that would interest me and one that would not, between a professor who I respect and one that I don't, or one I've never even heard of. My current plan is to take "The Age of Charlemagne" taught by Thomas Noble, a class that would interest me and a professor I respect.

We make these distinctions in our mind and make choices based on the distinctions. From this, we get actions that effect our world and ourselves. Looking at these actions, we make distinctions again, we say that they are either good or bad, virtuous or vicious. In other words, throughout our lives, we are constantly making judgements and without making them, we can not do anything. I could not write this blog post if I had not first decided that I wanted to and that I should, what topic it should cover, and that I should use "this" and not "that" (a real choice I made earlier in this post.)

Thus, judgements, whether judgements of quality, quantity, origin, purpose, or relation, are a normal and necessary part of our lives. So when we say that we should not judge the actions of ourselves and our fellow humans, we are fooling ourselves into thinking that we can live without such judgements, that we can just say "What I have done, I have done. There is nothing you can say of it."

And yet, we make these judgements, oftentimes, not in order to distinguish between what is a good action or a bad action, but in order to divide humanity, whether individuals, families, communities or countries. When we say that one person acts well and another acts wickedly, our natural (but not in any sense necessary) response is to reject the wicked person and welcome the good person. When we say that one family is a loving environment and one is dysfunctional, we wish to avoid the dysfunctional. When we say that one community is charitable and another is not, we wish to live in the one which is charitable. Thus, we set up dichotomies between persons, families and communities that set them against each other.

Now, it is not in any way to true that all people are equal in every way. We all have equal dignity before God and are all deserving of rights that result from this dignity. However it would be an equivocation to assert that that equal dignity meant that all humans were equal in every way. For example, some humans are less physically strong, others are less mentally strong. Some are more imaginative than others. Some are architects, some gymnasts, some teachers, some football players. These people are all different and have different strengths. In that sense they are not equal.

This inequality has many implications which I may go into later, but what it does not imply is a moral distinction. An architect is no more moral than a bricklayer, a teacher no more moral than a scientist, a theologian no more moral than a coal-miner. In fact, intellectual understanding of morals does not necessarily create a more moral life. Not only that, but an intellectual understanding of life does not make a more useful or productive or happy life.

The greatest problem, then, is when these inequalities, which are distinctions, are made the basis for judgements of quality, or moral judgements. All of us do bad things, and the distinctions between these actions and good actions are as I said necessary for the survival of humanity. However, less physical strength does not mean you are more or less likely to do bad things. Intellectual prowess does not either.

Thus we get divisions among humans, not because we have to keep our children away from sociopaths, but because we somehow think that the Lawyer is more respectable than a Carpenter. We set up the white collar against the blue collar. We set up intellectual against manual labor. We confuse distinction for division, and we suffer for it.

That's all.

For now.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Ends and Means

After attending perhaps one of the coolest Masses ever followed by Exposition and Adoration, you might not think that the day could get better.

Well, it did, not that what follows is in any way better or more important than what went before.

I was walking through Trastevere with a fellow architecture student and we passed a bookshop that sold books in english. We did a double take and went in. The first book I picked up was "Ends and Means" by Aldous Huxley. I opened the book and the first page I opened to was Chapter X. Let me quote:

"Chapter X: Individual Work for Reform"

Let's just stop there. I read it and suddenly got really excited. This was a book after my own heart. Let me continue:

"We have seen that the only effective methods for carrying out large-scale social reforms are non-violent methods. Violence produces only the results of violence and the attempt to impose reforms by violent methods is therefore foredoomed to failure. The only cases in which violent methods succeed are those where initial violence is rapidly followed by compensatory acts of justice, humaneness, sympathetic understanding and the like. This being so, mere common sense demands that we shall begin with non-violence and not run the risk of stultifying the whole process of reform by using violence, even as an initial measure."

I realized after reading this that I agreed with what he said and that he said it with an eloquence which I admired. These are exactly my thoughts and I said "I wrote this book." My friend corrected me saying "No, he wrote the book just for you." And I believe it's true. Further proof:

"In communities ruled by hereditary monarchs it has sometime happened that an exceptionally enlightened king has tried to make reforms which, though intrinsically desirable, did not happen to be desired by the mass of his people. Akhnaton's is a case in point. Such efforts at reform made by rulers too far advances to be understood by their subjects are likely to meet with partial or complete failure.
In countries where rulers are chosen by popular vote there is no likelihood that startlingly novel and unacceptable reforms will be initiated by the central authority. In such countries the movement for reform must always start at the periphery and move toward the centre. Private individuals, either alone or in groups, must formulate the idea of reform and must popularize it among the masses. When it has become sufficiently popular, it can be incorporated into the legislation of the community."

He then goes on to talk about war and the militaristic mindset. I of course must read this book in its entirety, but I know I will enjoy it.

In any case, he seems to agree with C.S. Lewis that the most important political act is evangelization, or in other words, we must change the hearts of the people before we change the law.

How are we doing?

I don't often comment on American Politics...

...but when I do, I laugh.

I'm sure it has now come to the attention of my fellow Americans that they have once again succeeded in setting up the dichotomy that accompanies every election cycle. Disagreement, debate, and taking sides has always been part of the political decisions of the human race. There is always a dissenting voice to the voice of power. Throughout history, this has shown itself in the fights between tribes, fights between slave and master, fights between serf and lord, fights between people and their king. In these fights and disagreements we see a truly different viewpoint. Often the one side is coming from a position of power while the other is coming from a position of work and poverty.

America changed that. In America, hard work means starting at the bottom and working your way up. There is no sanctioned slavery that keeps a group of people poor (whether there is an unofficial is above my pay grade to discuss...for now). There is no "lords vs. serfs", no 'king vs. people." We all have equal voice.

And so when we come to elect politicians, it is assumed that we want someone who represents this idea. We want someone who is successful because that represents the American Spirit. We want someone who is neither king nor slave. We want the Middle Man. In fact, we worship the Middle Man.

The Middle Man is the one who is just grey enough not to set up a division with either the extremely wealthy or the extremely poor. Our good friend Obama is a moderately wealthy man who is able to associate with the wealthy because he graduated from Harvard Law and knows the ropes, so to speak. He is also a great friend to the poor, has set up all sorts of welfare programs and spends a lot of time with the poor. Ok, so maybe I'm getting my facts wrong. I don't know. I don't live in the US any more.

On the other hand, our good friend Romney is a Mormon bishop who is quite wealthy to the point of not being able to hide it at all. He also cares about the poor, setting up healthcare programs in his state and appealing to minority (?) groups like poor pro-life Christians.

Like I said, maybe I've got it all wrong, but these men apparently both really love the poor...and they are both really involved in the world of the wealthy. They are the perfect Middle Men. They are the perfect American Politician. We no longer have a wealthy class who supports the wealthy class candidate and a lower class supporting the rights of the lower classes. We have Middle Men who are supported by members of the wealthy class and Middle Men who are also supported by the lower classes. Generally these Middle Men are themselves in the wealthy classes.

Maybe it was just his facade, but at least Santorum didn't look like he graduated from the Ivy League. In any case, it doesn't matter because he's no longer in the race. It is the two Middle Men in the race, and when we have a choice between two middle men, who are we supposed to choose?

I guess the only thing we can do is choose our color and go with whichever grey most resembles that color. That's what it's come down to. If we have to choose between two Middle Men, the main difference is the party to which they belong. They both support the American Dream. The difference is how that is to be accomplished. And when you no longer disagree on what is good but rather how to accomplish it, you can only look at how each method works. And so you have to try them out. We have many examples of 4-8 years of each method and thy both work in some ways and not in others. Thus we have a never ending cycle of distrust. One Party can easily say "See, the other party's way didn't work."

The people may care about different goods, but in a political system that caters to the Middle Man and relativism, we can't assert one good above the other. Yet, we have parties that claim that they do assert one good above the other so as to get the support of the people.

But what is important? The survival of America. Why is the economy important? So that American and its system will continue. Thus it doesn't matter if we keep borrowing money to bolster said economy because it keeps the US project working. Why do we fight wars? To keep our ideas, the idea of America alive so that we are not destroyed by those that disagree. Why is the government allowed to spy on its citizens and detain them indefinitely? So that the System can stay in place. Why are the incredibly wealthy allowed to bolster up their wealth at the expense of their workers? Because they are the ones funding the system, the ones backing the politicians that keep this System in order.

We are a country obsessed with itself. A country obsessed with itself will eventually implode.

But as long as we continue to grey-wash our disagreements with Middle Men and relativism, we will not overcome them and the country will not survive. Thus all that we hope for will in fact not come to pass.

It's not working. If you care so much about results, know that it's not working.

Romney vs. Obama 2012?


Thursday, March 22, 2012

News, news, and more news.

It's been a while since I've posted here, not that many people care.

But I'm still here and I'm not going anywhere.

Tim Tebow might join the Packers, that might be great.

Rowan Williams is stepping down, or becoming a Master at Cambridge at any rate.

Greece flounders and Italy remains the same

Germany just seems to be playing the same game

France is having an election and maybe so are we

But you wouldn't know it here in Italy

There are hints of wars and we despair of peace

And Uganda is exploited, will that never cease?

What's the quickest way to make money, apparently not architecture

A video on Youtube or a boundary pushing lecture

Reverse the teachings of a two millennium Church

You'll end up leaving the world in the lurch.

Abominations abound, and the Pope gets older

And they just keep piling the blame on his shoulder

An empire is tottering like all the ones before it

And I'm not sure we can afford to ignore it.


Stick around. Well see what comes of it all

Cause the last Word, like the first Word is never the Fall.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Happy Birthday

Today is the 200th birthday of one of my favorite historical figures. Known for his strong defense of Gothic as the height of Christian Architectural expression, A. W. N. Pugin was a Victorian era Catholic who with the help of his Patron designed and built numerous Catholic churches and other Gothic buildings in England and the Colonies (if I'm not mistaken...)

Anyway, not only is Pugin mentioned in my sidebar, he also was part of the design team for the building that is at the top of this blog. I've been there in person. It is impressive to say the least.

Pugin is one of the reasons I love Gothic architecture so much. Before I studied him, I had some sort of innate sense that Gothic was Awesome-beyond-belief. After I studied him, I discovered a reason for it. Of course, it wasn't only Pugin, but Viollet-le-Duc, Sugér, and Ruskin (I think it was Ruskin.) Viollet-lu-Duc confirmed the structural brilliance of the style, Suger discussed the theological basis, Ruskin talks of the connection to primal architecture and nature. Or perhaps he was the one that discussed the hand-crafts one of which is stone-carving which was used in the Gothic style. I'll have to revisit Ruskin.

And Pugin showed me how not only is Gothic a very Christian architecture in its inception and in its history (although some of the forms have origins in the East...kind of like Christianity), but also how it has such an important symbolic value because within it is the freedom to represent myriad symbols in stone, glass and geometry.

I could go on about Gothic architecture, but I won't. Instead, I'll point you to a blog-post about a new book about Pugin and Gothic Revival architecture.

Happy Birthday Pugin, and thanks for everything.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The University according to the Liberal Arts

Simul-posted at

Warning: This is almost an excerpt from a highly thorough non-fiction book that I have yet to write. If that is not your cup of tea (or glass of wine as the case may be) then you are certainly welcome to stay, but just remember you were warned. Catholic Education is one of my passions.

My very own Catholic University.

In discussions concerning Catholic Universities (and believe me, attending the University of Notre Dame I have heard more than my fair share), the focus seems to be how to best promote the Catholic Identity of the University. In other words, what makes the University a Catholic one? Does it actively promote a healthy faithful spirituality? Does it hire orthodox professors? Is its mission to form its students in mind and heart? Does University policy conform to Catholic teaching both Social and otherwise?

These questions are essential to the reform of the Catholic University, however I think that not enough thought is given to curricular reform. At a small Catholic Liberal Arts college, it is very easy to only offer classes that fit into the a Catholic conception of an education, at least for those who are looking for a Liberal Arts degree. The question of whether this is for everyone or when the Liberal Arts ought to be taught is a topic for another post (and believe me, there will be another). The question I would like to ask is this: Is it possible for a University with a full range of majors in the sciences, arts, and humanities and extensive graduate programs with an emphasis on research to create for itself an integrated education for each of its students based on the Liberal Arts?

First of all, it must be clarified that in an intensely specialized field such as Microbiology with an Emphasis on the Protein Structures Present in Fruit-flies, the Liberal Arts do not play a major role, nor should they. The dialogue between these specialized disciplines is certainly possible through symposia about relevant mutual subjects, but a more direct dialogue is required if we are to create a University environment based on the Liberal Arts and a Catholic understanding of education.

The question should then arise (after reading that last paragraph) "What constitutes a Catholic understanding of education?"

Having a chapel attached is helpful. (King's College, Cambridge)

The purpose of a Catholic education is to bring students to a closer proximity to their fulfillment which is in Christ. To be fully human is to be Christ-like.We are currently discussing an intellectual education (there are other kinds...topic for another post) and so we must determine what can an intellectual education can do to make us more Christ-like. There are three areas of growth that not only build on one another but are also sometimes the same thing. They are knowledge, wisdom, and holiness. 
Today, I will focus on knowledge. Of what should our knowledge as members of the intellectual community consist in order to aid our path to God?  How should it be organized?

Or we could use the college system... (Trinity College, Cambridge.)

The immediate problem once again comes in the form of specialization. At a University such as the one we are considering, each student chooses a major, a specific field in which to study. If students are immediately thrown into a major and they start to work toward it, the possibility of losing the cohesive Catholic education is greatly increased. The depth of their knowledge in that specific subject may become great, but the breadth of their knowledge which leads to wisdom and holiness is left behind. If we are to have majors at a University (and I argue that we indeed should have them) then we need to have some way of connecting them to a broader picture: In short, we must make our education an full integrated education based on the Liberal Arts and the Truth.

Let us look for a moment at where each discipline falls in terms of these Liberal Arts. The seven Liberal Arts are the Trivium (Grammar, Logic, Rhetoric) and the Quadrivium (Geometry, Music, Arithmetic, Astronomy). The Sciences in general would fall under the Quadrivium (Astronomy mostly, which refers more to the study of the three-dimensional world than to mere star-study). Linguistic studies and Philosophical studies would fall under the Trivium for the most part. Representative arts would fall under the Quadrivium (Geometry and Arithmetic). Obviously this is a very brief overview, but it's important. If we can place all these disciplines in relation to each other in this way, we can more easily create the educational structures we desire.

Is it enough to read the Great Books?

Considering a somewhat Utopian existence (if I'm not mistaken, it's not unheard of) where the student was educated in the Liberal Arts in high school, the task of a University is to take that basis and point it toward a specific discipline. Thus, the biologist should learn not only how to experiment on life forms, but also to speak and write logically, grammatically and rhetorically about them. The linguist should learn not only how to speak and write logically, grammatically and rhetorically in languages, but also to understand the origins of language in a given society and culture. A painter should not just learn how to represent forms but also should learn how the forms work together in a logical or rhetorical way.

What the Catholic university needs, then, is a curricular structure that recognizes the inherent connection between these disciplines. Of course I am not saying that a painter should take as many logic classes as art classes, but his art classes should be based on logic (or rhetoric...or music for that matter). No student can be an expert at everything, but in order to be an expert at one thing, that one thing must be completed by this more integrated idea of knowledge.

Finally, all disciplines at a Catholic university must refer to the philosophical basis of the Catholic faith. In other words, they must all be taught with reference to the Truth--how the world works, what our place is in it and the existence of God as the source of all creation. It is not enough to say "You have to take this many theology courses, but it's not really part of your major." No, Theology and Philosophy are essential to understanding all disciplines in their essence.

Now what this exactly looks like is certainly up for debate.

We will cross that bridge when we come to it. (Queen's College, Cambridge)
In my architecture education, I've experienced the hints and potential for a theological and philosophical basis for architecture as well as the influence of grammar, logic and rhetoric. I have often asserted that architecture, being a manual art, a visual art, a language, a work in sociology and psychology, a work of geometry and a practical science of building encompasses the Liberal Arts better than any single discipline. Now, I'm not quite saying that everyone should learn architecture (although as a high school education in the Liberal Arts, it might not be bad...). What I am saying is that it's possible to integrate philosophy, theology, science and art into an education. Why shouldn't a pre-med student learn Euclidian construction? A better sense of space and the precision that the constructions require will not only help train the mind, but could also help in the practical training of medical school.

With an education in a specific discipline, the student can establish a clear relationship with God through the channels that that discipline offers. With the support of the other aspects of the Liberal Arts, that relationship can deepen not only because it gives a broader understanding of the Truth, but also because it helps the chosen discipline to show its particular view of God's being.

This, then is where wisdom and holiness enter the picture. With the knowledge obtained through such an education, the wisdom to judge rightly comes more easily and the path to holiness becomes more apparent.

And I think that should bring that to an end. Anyone who got through that, I congratulate you. Tune in next time.....

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Germany to take over Greece.

Not really, but doesn't it always seem that every so often, Germany gets way too much power and then basically has everyone else fawning. At least in Europe.

This time, though, it's a peaceful process. At least for the Germans. As Greece faces the violence of fire bombs and riots, the German officials sign away its economic connection to the European Union.

Now, you might say "Don't you hate the EU? Isn't this a good thing for Greece, to finally be rid of this oppressive System?" If you did, you would be putting words in my mouth. But actually, in some ways, I think it would be good for Greece to depart from economic dependency on countries like Germany. As my room mate from last year said, then Greece will start to use its own currency, start a thriving economy and then buy Germany. That's about the size of it.

In all seriousness though, the fact that Germany is able to influence the economy and the global status of the less powerful countries in the EU is kind of scary. What if they decided that instead of letting Greece go, they decided to keep it tied to the euro and have to pay tribute to Germany and the other powerhouses. Oh wait, that's what happened with the Bailout, isn't it?

Essentially, Germany has the power to form a non-bloody empire. I don't like the sound of that.

Red Hat'd

Yesterday, Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York was made a Cardinal, princeps ecclesiae here in Rome. Well, technically, it was in the Vatican. I went to the Consistory but since I was a little late (as in half an hour early) I was only able to stand outside. It was mostly a lot of men in red parading in front of Pope Benedict and receiving birettas and rings. No big deal, right?

Wrong. It was amazing. Apostolic succession is one of my favorite things in the world, and the fact that my former archbishop is now a Cardinal is pretty swell. It seems to indicate that the Pope trusts him. Since I trust the Pope and I happen to agree with the Pope about Dolan, it's all good.

Is he papabile though? Could they make him pope? I think they could. Let us look at the Pros and Cons.

Pro: He's very friendly
Con: He's fat
Pro: He's Jolly
Con: He doesn't know Italian that well
Pro: He is popular
Con: He's not  a trained philosopher
Pro: He's is very clear on the important issues of the day
Con: He's an American and there hasn't been an American Pope in a Long Time. As in Never.
Pro: He's prayerful
Con: He's non-curial
Pro: He's the President of the USCCB and so he knows how to lead an unruly mob of apathetic ambivalent and sometimes faithful bishops.
Con: He's Irish
Pro: He seems to exude humility and Joy.

I'm seeing a clear winner.

Dolan for Pope? Maybe, but let's not forget that Benedict is still rocking the socks off the Catholic World.

The Mountain Lion leaps forth

So, my friends will tell you that I am a huge supporter of Apple, Monarchy, and Hot Chocolate. Or else they won't admit that they are my friends because of this. Whatever the case, I currently have one MacBook open to the internet while another one is being used to write a book on architecture (the summary of which can be found in the "Concerning Architectural Theory" tab above.) The reasons for this are irrelevant, but it did remind me about something I heard recently.

Apple is coming out with its latest version of OS X. In the tradition which it started a while back with "Tiger" "Leopard" "Snow Leopard" and "Lion", this new version is called "Mountain Lion." I usually like to suspend my judgement on these things, so I'm not going to rave about supposed features or anything. I doubt I'll get the update anyway.

One question I have though is why haven't they made an OS XI yet? Is the X just way too good to let go of? When does an Operating System cease being the same after it's been changed over and over and over again. It's like the Theseus's Ship problem.

Whatever the case, I'm excited because Apple seems to keep great products coming, and it seems as if this version of OS X will be more and more integrated with the tablet and smartphone mentality which the iPhone and iPad revolutionized.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Address to the American people and their Federal Government

It has been said that America is the land of the free and home of the brave. It has been said that we are a “sweet land of liberty.” My friends, it has been said: “In God we trust.” These ideas are foundational to the ideas on which this country is built. If we have the audacity to profess the belief in these ideas, we will be able to create a structure that is impervious to the attacks of malignant ideologies. If we deny these principles that have shaped the American identity since its inception, I can not but conclude that our founders dreamed in vain. If we are to truly pledge allegiance to this identity, we must preserve these ideals, not merely as an idol protected by glass and guns, not merely in the sentimental anthems which give them voice, not merely in the vibrant colors of patriotic displays of affection but also in the common, natural law of the American heart.
HOWEVER, while we have been at war abroad, a tumor has taken hold of our heart. While we spread the gospel of Democracy to every nation, the infection has only grown. Are we doctors of freedom? Physician, cure thyself! Do we denounce tyranny and corruption? Thus it always is with tyrants. Shall we hold ourselves up as the sole standard of political sanity? See, we write our diatribes and propaganda on padded walls.
What is this cancer that is now with ferocious appetite eating away at the very substance of America? It should come as no surprise that the threat comes not from the citizen who lives, works, and dies in relative anonymity; who builds the stage and sets the lights and runs the tele-prompter. Instead, this disease is a result of a direct attack on the principles of the nation by those that, having sworn to serve these principles, have been granted the power over our nation.
And what nobility resides in the hearts and minds of these public servants, so called! They are called noble because of their dedication to the cause of universal health and rightly so. They are called great because of their gallant fight for the rights of the oppressed. They are called wise because of their powerful diplomacy that makes tyrants subservient and military regimes lay down their arms. They have been praised for these and rightly so, for they have accomplished much in creating this, the greatest nation on the planet, built on the ideals of the Constitution as ratified by out Founding Fathers. 
And yet, they have turned their ideals and their policies on their head as their smiles become frowns. No longer do they look with delight on those they serve. They say “universal health care?” What they mean is conditional health care, and the conditions are the destruction of religious liberty. They speak of the rights of the oppressed, but are in fact oppressing those whose rights are guaranteed by our very constitution. They exhibit diplomacy in the face of grave moral evil and refuse to listen to their own citizens.
In short, there are certain members of our government who have, in the face of substantial protest and the certain threat of civil disobedience, decided to force certain constituencies to pay for that which they consider morally abhorrent. 
My friends, is it not enough that you may hold us without limit on a mere suspicion of the support of terrorism?  Is it not enough to have the power to take away our citizenship? Is it not enough to be able to define our beliefs for us? No, you must also force us to pay for the destruction of human life, the trivialization of Marriage, the bane of families! This shall not only destroy American society (indeed, has already begun to do so!) but shall also rip out the heart of this nation. 
Never since the persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire has such a blatantly offensive command been made. We have been offered the idol of contraception, but will never worship. It is a false god, a human deformation of a sacred act. If the Christians of old refused to worship the Roman pantheon because God alone rules the world, how much more should we refuse to bow to this idol whose sole purpose is to prevent or destroy life?
My friends, this is our belief, and yet you command us to throw it away! And for what? Is there some greater good that will result from closing off our nation to the love of human life? Support this evil. We will not. Are the rights of the majority being trampled on? Support this evil. We will not. We will not pay for that which defies our morality and lays waste to our consciences. 
My friends, you have made enemies of us. You have divided a country still reeling from a time when some were considered less than others. This house can not stand. America can not stand. In fact, we refuse to stand for this violation, this rape of the conscience of Americans. If you refuse to turn from this evil, I only pray that when you look upon us, bruised and exhausted, you will repent. For we will not let it destroy us. No, we will in fact bring the fruit of our persecution to birth and we will once again raise the standard of our beliefs, daring the American people to discover that freedom, even ill-begotten by tyranny is beautiful.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

School of Rhetoric

So, I'd really like to start a school of rhetoric. Now my friends will tell you that I never stop wanting to do things, so I'll probably leave this project to them, since I am confident that they will get it done.

Turns out, I'm not the only one who wants to see a return of the great art of rhetoric. Good Old Elizabeth Scalia from Patheos talks about the absence of good old American oratory.

We're talking not only Ronald Reagan, John F. Kennedy, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. Our tradition of oratory goes back to our founding and beyond. Patrick Henry, Thomas Paine, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, the names go on. But more importantly these men are connected to a longer tradition, that of Cicero and the Roman school. It just so happens that one of my favorite men in the whole history of the human race was a part of this Roman tradition: St. Augustine.

Rhetoric, along with Logic and Grammar make up the Trivium (My father will tell you that I hated studying the Trivium in high school). These three with the Quadrivium make up the seven Conservat--er, Liberal Arts. While I'm sure that the Liberal Arts schools focus quite a bit on grammar and logic and certainly some written rhetoric, but what of spoken rhetoric?

After looking at a lot of my writing, I find that a lot of it was written as if I were speaking it. A lot of academic writing seems to be written with the opposite intention. Neither is better, per se, but if we are trying to revive the practice of great oratory, we must be able to write great speeches.

So, for your edification, I am going to post a speech that I soon as I write it.

Prepare yourself.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Death of a Nation

It wasn’t so long ago when they were saying that the sun never set on the British Empire. Of course, two great wars later and a century of social revolution, the British are still reeling from their loss of global influence. The sad thing is, while reeling, they’re missing the tell-tale signs of the sun setting once again and this time on the British nation. Once the greatest power in the world, rivaling even the Roman Empire in its influence on culture and politics, Britain is now struggling to keep its own culture alive in an age where globalization and financial crises call for the sort of assimilation and uniformity of modern democracies. The facets of particularly British culture are barely shadows of what they used to be: brilliantly glinting sides of this jewel of Western civilization. The land of the Magna Carta is now the land of an almost defunct parliamentary system under the almost nominal authority of a dying monarchy, which, like a star, is exploding in tremendous fashion. The country once known for Cathedrals, Colleges, and Palaces now sees its historic rivers lined with dirty, dilapidated condominiums and flats. Even Norman Foster with his glass erections has failed to bring any amount of self-reflection to the British people. In cities where martyrs gave witness to something higher, scientific discoveries were made, philosophical breakthroughs were developed, and the common folk lived and died, tourists roam the streets, buying cheap reminders of a country that once was. 
I passed Buckingham Palace that day. I had been on my feet for hours having been back and forth across western London. At that moment, I realized I was looking on possibly the last fading years of the greatest monarchy in human history. Elizabeth II Regina is just about to celebrate her 60th Anniversary as Queen and still seems to be kicking strong. It is an illusion. She may have years ahead of her, but she inhabits a shell. She who once was Supreme Head of a church now mostly sits aside  while the Archbishop of Canterbury effectively rules the Anglican Communion. Of course, being a Catholic, I can’t mourn too much that the act that definitively split the English Church from the Roman has almost expired. The fact that the power of the Church is instead in the hands of a schismatic see, however, is little comfort. This is  just one sign that the Monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain is letting go of all that makes her what she is. The ideal of the Western world is, politically, democracy, as if we can somehow adapt the principles of the Greek city-states to our own globalized world. Because of this, it is by a thread, and a golden one, that the monarchs of England are holding onto their place in the political world. The Queen makes no policy, enacts no laws, welcomes no ambassadors but in name only. It is an honor to be greeted by the Queen, but it is to Downing Street that the world’s leaders really turn. She may declare the laws to be in effect as the ruler of a nation, but it is Parliament that votes, as a good democratic system does. The monarchy, once the symbol of a nation, is now merely a bumper sticker to be bought on your way through London-town, a sight for tourists where it should be a sign for the loyal British subjects. The pomp of court and the honor endowed on the Royal Family is now no more than a waste of money, a flashy symbol of a city overrun with foreigners. What does it then mean to be British to the normal subject of the British Crown? Is it still fashionable to pray for “her majesty the Queen?” Shall God indeed save the Queen? Or will the Crown fall with Elizabeth’s children, who care no more  for religion than for a gnat flying in the ear, and who seem to prefer activism to authority. With William we might have a chance, with Charles never. If it is the “will of the people,” will Parliament abolish the monarchy? Will Charles abolish it himself? What then will distinguish Great Britain from the many other European countries that have lost their monarch? And perhaps there are those who do not want to be so very different from the other European countries. It is, after all, part of Europe, is it not? But if there is no longer anything to identify it as Britain, what sort of identity will its people have? They will forget their history or worse, learn to despise it.  They shall learn to despise their monarchy even as the French have. They will send their identity to the guillotine just as surely as the French sent their nobles and King.
Will Britain, then, become like France, a land of Eiffel Towers and ineffectual politicians? Already London has become little  more than landmarks. “See London” say the signs: “Harrod’s Madam Toussad’s, Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar, St. Paul’s.” Is that  London? Is it a place to live or merely a city of hotels, department stores, and tourist destinations? When the business is tourism, the rest of the city can go to rot. This is what I saw as I walked through London. Moments of majestic beauty in a sea of increasingly pervasive ugliness and monotony. For there is nothing quite as ugly as monotony. I would wager that Hell is, above all else, monotonous. Across the river that was once the gateway to exploration and trade, stand stacks and stacks of flats that, besides the ill use of their building site, contrast so starkly with the near side of the river so as to be almost a different city. It might send a message; architecture often does. Don’t cross the river. Nothing here. No shops to explore, no parks to relax in, nothing but dirt, grime, and aluminum. This is, of course, a lie. There are parks including the Thames river-walk. There are shops and life, if you choose to look beyond the face that London has chosen for itself. Why has London chosen this? Why should it wish to hide its better self? Why should it divide itself? One may very well ask, “isn’t the Thames a natural division and hasn’t it always been? Wasn’t Southwark notorious for being nothing less than a den of thieves and murderers?” I commend the questioner for even paying attention to history, but a point is missed. A river may divide or it may be a seam that connects two complementary parts of a city. Southwark may well have a reputation, but must it be so? History does not beg us to repeat it, merely to learn from it, both its successes and its failures. Has London fallen into such cynicism that it does not believe in itself? Is there truly “no England now,” as some native Londoners sang even 40 years ago? Perhaps not, and perhaps they are cynical for good reason.
Around every corner is a restaurant or pub advertising  a “traditional English breakfast.” Funny, isn’t it? If it were the English they were appealing to, the English would scoff in their faces and go home and cook themselves some bacon from Sainsbury or Marks and Spencer. No, it is the tourist to whom they call. It is about the “experience” of London, as if a traditional English breakfast was eaten in a cafe off Hyde Park. No wonder London does not believe in itself. It has sold itself out and replaced its piping hot sausage with what might be called a “bread and soya bean” mentality. C.S. Lewis, from whom this phrase comes, might also note the lack of the “homely” or ordinary, everyday experience. Where is the Banks family, flying their kite? Where is the Matchman, the Sweep, the sidewalk artist? One can hardly see the native walking his dog for the throng of tourists coming to see the Royal Albert Hall. And yet, the London of the world of Mary Poppins is the very London that now masks its life. Edwardian England has destroyed London. Everything is white colonnades and identical townhouse façades. There is no Admiral Boom; he was released from service when the Empire fell. After a destruction as deadly to culture as the Blitz was to the city itself, a mere shell of this life remains, but the people have closed themselves off from the city, and why?  Likely we all would  if our lives were to become congested with tourists and the miserable excuses for a London experience. If you live in one of the Edwardian townhouses, will you want a plastic Bobby helmet? Just the phrase itself brings with it a sense of the third-rate quality that pervades the London gift shops. And so, the tourist wanders the street where the citizen dare not tread. 
And yet, this disease that is slowly choking a nation to death is not a pervasive virus. Once outside the city centre of London, one can find relief. Indeed, outside of all the great cities of England is a life that might be called underground if that did not conjure up images of metal cars and dark tunnels. For every Manchester, there is a Bolton, a Swinton, a Kearsley. Outside of the grime of industry and the pathetic appeal to the tourist there is still room for a pint at your local, a walk on the green, a morning at the market. Some cities have avoided the inevitable and chosen to close their doors to the supposed progress of the tourist industry. Cambridge is certainly no stranger to tourists, and yet it boasts greens, markets, and pubs that are still frequented by locals. It allows tourists in while not groveling at their feet for economic stimulus. Cambridge has maintained its local architectural tradition, both heroic and humble. Its colleges not only have provided the world with some of its best minds, but are also enduring structures that amaze the mind. No wonder the tourist comes. It has not, like London, however, created a divide between the local and the tourist, the heroic and the humble, the attractive and the unattractive. Across from King’s College is a row of shops that could be called anything but heroic. There is no sudden change from city centre to suburb, but rather a seamless continuity that connects community to community. 
If England is to be saved, its people--specifically its rulers--must look to these models of community and balance. London has sold itself and created for itself a hell, but not so in Cambridge! Manchester, always an industrial city, has planted itself with hideous constructions of cheap metal and glass, but not so in Bolton (and I would wager they are happier in Bolton). But are the corporate gurus, the government leaders, and the social planners concerned with happiness, or merely commodity and utility? We may never know, but certainly their current course of action suggests that they do not care  if the British nation rots from within. 
What does Britain mean to its subjects and what does Britain mean to the rest of the world? To the world, it is like a quirky uncle, a nation caught up in itself and its former glories, unwilling to  commit fully to union and to what is expected of it. It is a nation that holds not to its guns and religion, but to its measuring systems and currency. It is a nation that prides itself with being a cut above the rest. Britain will not dirty itself in the low-brow dealings of the European crisis. No wonder it will not be allowed to exist. They call for it to conform and it will not, and so it will die a slow and painful death. 
To its subjects, it can only seem like a great show of things for nothing. A grand parliament building to house a bunch of bickering men, a Royal Family that costs money and does precious little else. All flashy expression and no interior meaning. If the people themselves believe this, who can blame them for wanting to do away with such a nation? Britain is slowly committing suicide, for it has reached the end; there is no going on. And when Britain is dead, they will look back and see what they did. When it has become another France, Germany, or Belgium, they will regret it, but it is too late, for even the Cambridges and Boltons will be gone, sacrificed to the idol of progress, globalization, and industry.