It is August. In the morning the trees greet the world with shadows long in the west, and all day long those shadows move under them, from west to east. The insects are loud, and with all this rain the plants flourish in the tropical heat, rank, untamed and wild.
I smelled grass, and it came over me as an American smell again. So many good things of this country: the milk, the cheese, the pickles, the bacon, the smell of warm wooden houses in summer which I have not smelled since I was a kid somewhere in PA in an old aunt’s house–these all flow back. When you came back to the USA, to its conveniences, automatic doors, floods of air conditioning, exotic flavors like root beer and orange juice, the drollery of American ‘cheese’, these things all had their impact when you were a kid. Pleasing, believe it or not, because not only desired instantly, but associated with paneled basements with deep carpets, the living rooms smelling of candles and adjoining dining rooms next to kitchens redolent with American cooking; the spacious and comfortable coordinated nature of life here washed over one after tile floors, uncomfortable seating, public transportation and the grime of life elsewhere.
It comes back to me in smells, now that I take it for granted. It charms me with memories of a time when I was small and all the world a wonder, and this country was brand new to me. And it still charms me, not only when I come back to the USA after being abroad. I still find grocery stores here magical from time to time, though not all the time or even most. I still get butterscotch ice cream not because I’m particularly fond of it (though I am; but I just don’t really ever crave ice cream), but because it is one of the flavors I associate this country.
It is similar to the reason I read C.S. Lewis: the associations conjured up. The order and imagination and intelligence and the goodness of a dim pub in a damp country with a good fire in the grate, the neglected joys of books, the atmosphere of all his stuff, his fondness of good cheer.
I’m a hobbit.
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I listened to a few things yesterday. A couple of good Scruton youtubes and one not so great (because he was on a panel with a couple of Canadian dimwits), and then a not-outstanding panel discussion on CS Lewis in which among others was featured one William Lane Craig. Craig said something interesting in an off-hand way: That he knew about Mormons who for whatever reason picked up Mere Christianity and were faced with Lewises Trinitarian arguments. Isn’t that interesting to consider?
They are exposed to Narnia probably, they like it, they look deeper, they find Mere Christianity, and there are faced with his rather relentless contention that a Christian believes in the Trinity. All their life they’ve been told they’re Christians, just that some Christians who aren’t exactly right about Christianity and the prophet Joseph Smith are bigoted and won’t admit them. And then they look at Lewis. Lane intimated they begin to question the prophet Joe.
Isn’t that interesting? So now William Lane Craig has said something interesting.
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I’m listening to Thomas Sowell’s Economic Facts and Fallacies. I think this is the kind of book people who lament that we no longer follow an elaborate argument might be happy for more people to read. In order to debunk the fallacies, Sowell has to go into some lengthy considerations. For example, in order to show the futility of drawing conclusions simply by contrasting how much women and on the other hand men make, he goes into all the various reasons why this is pointless, at length. It is good: a long bit of careful considerations and close reasoning. What else he also does that is very interesting to me as I’m considering the shadowy world of higher education, having some friends who are a bit snobbish about the place you get your degree and for some reason rather keen on saving money while doing it, is show how much economic skullduggery goes on in so-called higher education. Collusions and nonsense.
I also like Thomas Sowell because he’s not a snob. Like C.S. Lewis, he teaches me well in that area. Speaking of whom, Craig was on a panel of academics discussing him (degrees from Yale and Cambridge and other celebrity universities) and said panel was largely making no sense in their rambling pronunciations, or at best uttering platitudes and truisms with the added emphasis of the shaking of the head, like evangelicals.
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Speaking of evangelicals, I think I’m going to visit Southern Seminary in Louisville. I’ve been invited by them and by WTS, so far. It is a four hour drive to KY, they’ll put me up free, they’ll feed me free, and I can’t lose on it since my expectations are not high. I still have to find out whether they’ll welcome the addition of my wife, but I’m pretty sure southern hospitality will not fail us there.
I thought about it: I could go out to Philadelphia and they’d put me up in a hotel, but I’d have to fly (and take my wife who will not be left behind), pay to rent a car, pay for food, etc., and then maybe Trueman isn’t there for whatever reason (ash cloud from Iceland, say) and I end up with bitterness. Better take up Southern on their offer. Do I expect anything but programmatic enthusiasms and a glib, glossy reception? No.
What if I somehow get something more? Just slightly more? I’ll be glad, and I’ll get all the free food as well.
And what if I get someone who cares about the permanent things and evidences a real concern for the things of God and the cause of Christ in this present evil age? I will be astonished and glad beyond measure.
You have to admit that as a strategy, it has much to commend it.