Wednesday, March 29, 2006

I have Edited, therefore I Exist

The post just below this one carried some vagueness, and consequently error, which I felt must be corrected. So I fixed it. You still may not like it but I hope it is clearer. Thanks Katie.

Monday, March 27, 2006

The Way of a Lady: Rule One

A Lady is Chaste.
Her accessibility is vow appropriate.

An unchaste woman is no Lady. It is easy enough to say but more of an issue to define. The private and more intimate aspects of a woman are increasingly more vulnerable and as such, need a greater degree of trust in promised protection. Let us try to explain.

Why is it not unchaste for a married woman to passionately kiss her husband? Would we smile on the exact same action being performed by a fifteen year old girl with a boy she just met at a party. The distinction is obviously not in the act but in the qualifications of the actors. Add to that information that it would be unchaste for the married woman to be passionate with her husband in public. Why? The public has not vowed anything to deserve such inclusion in their affections. A chaste woman ought not even regale her associates with the logistics of her intimate life. A woman's privacy, from her initial conversation to her intimate aspects, are obtained chastely when a vow appears that keeps the privacy and intimacy of her life from being extended to anyone who has not honored it sufficiently. A woman strikes up a conversation with a man to whom she has not been introduced. She is not asking directions. The man will naturally say to himself, "She's hitting on me." She has allowed access, albeit very shallow access, to someone who has vowed absolutely nothing, not even knowledge of his name. At a party, a girl can chastely allow a man to fetch her a drink because he has been introduced to her and has conversed with her and a tacit vow for her circumstantial wellbeing is assumed. If she allowed him to hold her hand merely because she had been introduced, she would be considered unchaste. She is not being immoral but merely demonstrating that she doesn't understand who gets what when. A man who has vowed before witnesses to protect, honor, cherish, etcetera is allowed to enjoy the extremes of privacy that a chaste woman has denied the rest of the world. A married woman is chaste in that she reserves her privacy for the man who has vowed to protect it. In fact,since chastity here is defined by the promise being matched with appropriate affection, a woman who fails to extend such to her husband is guilty of a perverse unchastity. She is violating the vow. This is the misapprehension of the monastic; the more exquisite the denial the more chaste it claims to be. The absolute vow ("till death do us part") deserves the absolute access. A woman who denies the debt is saying that her affections are a matter of her willfulness rather than her honor. The willfulness of the traditionally unchaste lets the unpaying customer take the goods home on credit (with a liberal return policy) and ends up robbing herself of the value of her own goods. As the stuff continues to be returned, she puts it back on the shelf used and will soon discover she manages a Second-Hand store. Unwise allowance is unladylike for its folly. Denial is unladylike for its lie. A man with integrity stops into the store, vows what ever is the correct amount (the manufacturer's list price), is rung up at the register, and then is sent away without anything at all. A chaste woman charges the appropriate price for her affections and meets the conditions of the contract.

Friday, March 24, 2006

No! No! Don't do it!

In one of my comments early in the Gentleman saga, I dropped the note that there were fifteen of these babies. Look below and you will see Rule Fifteen displayed. Oh joy! Oh rapture! ...but what about the title of this post? It has an ominous quality. Well, after I had developed The Mojo Oracles (whence came the Word of a Gentleman) there were requests from the fairer sex for a seminar of their very own. The Tao of Eve became an organized body of knowledge. And if the Gentlemen had a list of behaviors, ought not the Ladies? Yes, there are fifteen. They are "The Way of a Lady".
These short remarks are designed to be a handout for a high school week of lectures the Missus and I will be giving at Montrose Academy and also a lecture I will be giving at the Society for Classical Learning conference in Greensboro, NC come June.

The Word of a Gentleman: Rule Fifteen

A Gentleman understands the Dignity of Manners.
He reverences the degree to which he has risen.

The word "dignity" is rarely used positively. Americans understand subconsciously that the word refers to something that they will not like. We suspect emotionally that our "betters" exist but our political/social theory denies it. We use a corollary word when we speak of "dignitaries" and it, as well, hints at the embarrassing subject. One's dignity is one's placement in the up and down axis of the Universe. Your dignity is the realm of responsibility to which you have been appointed and the reason for the honor that you ought to be given. The world today, although it needs Gentlemen and accepts the services and kindnesses of the Gentleman, rarely responds well to the realization of one. To acknowledge the actuality of a Gentleman is to be, probably, below him. The Western world, out of its addiction to leveling egalitarianism, tends not be willing to honor the rank to which a Gentleman rises. The Gentleman might be the only one who knows what exactly he is and he himself must honor it. We are not speaking of bragging or self reward but of the realization that it is a higher person the Gentleman has become and he must hold that person in appropriate respect. It is as if, in the governing of His Universe, God delegated realms to various authorities to hold chaos in check. In the immediate social moment, it is the Gentleman who is in charge. He doesn't have police action power, the task is too low for that. He captains the rudder of the conversation and the Universe has need of him. The Gentlemen ought to know, even if no one else does, that they are part of the Great Chain of Being and part of God's system of Law and Order. Somewhere between the obsequious admiration of those who erroneously believe they can't govern themselves adequately and the envious rebellion of those who erroneously think they can, between them is the government of the Gentleman and the wise society that gratefully, and graciously accepts that guidance.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

The Word of a Gentleman: Rule Fourteen

A Gentleman is Employed.
He is advancing when not in company.

By employment we are not suggesting having a job, as beneficial as that is. What we mean is that a Gentleman should not be static, content with the status quo in the breadth of his circumstances. Much of this Word of a Gentleman has described his time in society. This Rule addresses what is done in society's absence. In that absence, a Gentleman is free from the performance obligations, but a Gentleman does not switch off. What he is, what he contains, can advance and increase if he employs himself in those spheres. This employment can be anything from reading the newspaper to formal education, anything that contributes more of the outside world to his fiefdom. Without growth, it is not long before the Gentleman's offerings in society become stale, like his jokes he keeps repeating and with his "pithy sayings" numbered and feared by his friends. Employment in personal advances allows a Gentleman to offer things he has not as yet offered. The old things, already given, should be fondly remembered and not repeatedly encountered. The scope of a Gentleman's possessions (intellectual and practical) can continually elevate that man's standing. As more territory comes into his realm and is ruled by his will he takes a higher state, with more noblesse oblige, and faces a philanthropy of himself at a potentially grander scale. The more you have as self-possession the better you can serve.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The Word of a Gentleman: Rule Thirteen

A Gentleman has Sundry Small Accomplishments.
He has a capable familiarity with tasks considered needful though small.

Small accomplishments are the gauge for a observant society to read when it cannot possibly see the whole of a Gentleman's gifts. When he shuffles the cards at poker night, when he opens the champagne, when he ties his tie, and when he helps his wife, mother, or hostess in the kitchen, the watching (who may already be informed of the grace of his general presence) gain a knowledge that they can legitimately suspect is part of a complete man. If civilization is advanced along a path of greater and greater intricacy of order, it will be in the small things, to which a Gentleman sets his hand successfully, that that society measures his place. This is, of course, merely the reputational aspect of this capability. The Gentleman is moved by the need others around him encounter. The women in our company only rarely are accosted by dragons but their lives are continually beset by household and social symtoms of fiendish Futility. "Can you fix it?" they ask if a small part of their world separates from its functional place. Can you be trusted to position a centerpiece without her help and without her needing to adjust it later? How about changing a tire? Consider the rough spots, however small, that rise to our notice. Are you the man to keep it from happening or to deal with it once it does? Most of us menfolk assume that we are ready to stand up and be counted when enemies invade and the shooting starts. While we await that unlikely occasion, our company fails to cast any anxiety toward that and other grand fears. They want someone to chop the wood without hurting themselves. They want a hole drilled and a picture hung. They want a smattering of experience regarding the internal combustion engine. It warms them to see a sheaf of maps in his hand when setting out on a journey. A civilized society has already been offered a broad peace in the relatively capable national/regional authorities. The Gentleman offers an increase of localized peace by capable manipulation of small chaotic interruptions.

Monday, March 20, 2006

The Word of a Gentleman: Rule Twelve

A Gentleman is not a Clown.
He has command of his passions.

Extremes in behavior are rarely needed. In war you might be called upon to throw yourself on a handgrenade but in the day to day life of a stable society, extremes of action and voice are to be measured by cause. I do not say "measured by need" because, by definition, extremes exceed the need. To act in extreme is to act by a passion fueled assessment which shows a lack of understanding of the actions the circumstance would truly be benefited by. One of the passions that fuels the clown is that of self attention. The normal circumstance and the appropriate action does not award enough, rapidly enough, of what the clown desires. He must be louder, cruder, and be breaking with the contained peace of a moment. Another passion is that of "stirring things up" so, as he assesses it, the moment would not be so boring. In his mind, order is boring and chaos is excitement. His hyperbole and raucous behavior is a self-conscious act to liven things. He provides what the drunk provides. The clown with the proverbial lampshade on his head decides that humor driven by wit is outside his range and with the philosophy of the lower primates combines the unlikely elements to gain a laugh. On every axis of the social moment (volume, movement, content) this disrupter reaches for the point past the outside limit. He wants to be thought funny or he wishes the others would be having fun that he understands. He is admitting in this that he is not bright enough for the tone of the moment and is brazen enough to do something about it. He needs the "large-print" version as his lack of soul-acuity cannot read what a Gentleman can. His only other choice is to admit his blindness. A Gentleman, even without an excellent sense of humor, will always serve the peace of the circumstance. If it means that he has less to say, so be it. The extremes of clownishness leaves everyone else with nothing to say. In his performance, the clown can only include other clowns or victims. And as a performer his behavior is off to the side, on an emotionally suspect stage, to which the rest of his society did not assent.

Friday, March 17, 2006

The Word of a Gentleman: Rule Eleven

A Gentleman chooses Good Company.
He knows his future lies in whom he has opportunity to imitate.

It says in Proverbs that "he who walks with the wise will be wise." St. Paul shares the adage, "Bad company ruins good morals." We all know that all the fruit in a canned fruit cocktail tastes the same. This is because the flavor of substances, constrained to be together, "marry" over time. Cigars, when stored together, take on the common flavor, leveling out any idiosyncrasies in a unique cigar. Have I made the point? What you will be will be shaped decisively by the society in which you travel. While its true that they will take on some of your qualities, there are more of them "blessing" you with suggestions regarding your character. This is not the magic of some fruit cocktail osmosis but is the result of your selection of a set of men with whom you wish to belong. In that selection you are already leaning approvingly into the patterns of that group. You want to know the inside arcana, the speech, the opinions that will have them smile at your presence. In C.S. Lewis' essay "The Inner Ring" he bemoans the damage it does to the moral fiber of an individual to be adjusting himself constantly to gain an entree to more and more exclusive social groups. A Gentleman, on a different axis, joins a higher, rather than inner ring. The up and down axis (versus in and out) is the God-established means of benefiting the whole. Up and down rules and is ruled. A Gentleman is linked in the "Great Chain of Being" to his responsibility. Do not join yourself to an "inner ring" that professes to be an exclusive "set" of gentlemen. They may have all the little imitations of a culture's ennobled traditions but they are a fraud. Seek instead the group that evinces no arrogance and much kindness to all humanity.

In a sense, unless you are a bold and dynamic leader of men, you are in service to the company you keep. And Our Lord says, "A servant is not greater than his master." With the cigars mentioned earlier it is intended that the flavors marry so that the purchaser can reasonably expect that the next will taste the same as the first. That is a choice you must make as well. That it happens is certain. The choice you make is a plan for your future. If you want to be established as an adolescent fraternity brother the company you seek is easy enough to find. Make a list of the qualities you would like others (such as a wife and children) to see in you ten years hence. If it includes nobility and charity,you would be a gentleman and such company you must find.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

What if Christ Loved the Church Like You Love Your Wife?

A lot of Christians spiritualize marriage. Since St. Paul compares it to and claims it represents Christ and the Church, these Christians let their confidence in that heavenly relationship bring on an ambivalence about their own earthly one. "It's what's in heaven that matters." Others have a far more horizontal effort toward marriage. They consider adultery a calamity because it hurts spouse, kids, and others. These Christians are not ambivalent but counteract these forces by restoring romance, holding marriage conferences, and writing how-to books that we can't politely discuss on this page.

Both approaches are recognizing true things. It is all about Christ and the Church, and we do need practical help. And if we spoke of the practical goods and evils in terms of the spiritual reality, might we not sound like St. Paul? Violations of marital goodwill should not be merely assessed as a failure of spousal obligation, but a blow against the very name of Christ our Lord.

"Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I therefore take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who joins himself to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, "The two shall become one flesh." But he who is united to the Lord becomes one spirit with him."
I Corinthians 6:15-17

Consider that visiting a prostitute is not primarily a crime against your marriage (while it is that), but the phrase "Do you not know...?" suggests that your awareness of your unity with Christ ought be the compelling force to say, "Never". Also in this short passage the physical union "one flesh" with the prostitute mitigates against your spiritual union with Christ. Where then does your physical union with your wife fit in?

"Shun immorality. Every other sin which a man commits is outside the body; but the immoral man sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God? You are not your own; you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body." I Corinthians 6:18-20

Your body (in this case your sexual body) is a place of glorification of the Lord. Your relationship with your spouse is the metaphor for the glories of the Gospel and Our Lord's care and consideration. It's not that a strong emotional, spiritual, and sexual bond in your marriage does not benefit your struggle against temptation (see I Corinthians 7:1-7). But you are not just avoiding a negative assault by your deeper relationship, you are declaring a positive good. Christ your Savior is being declared by your love for your wife or husband. If you measure your actions toward your spouse by what mercies Christ has given or what obediences he ought expect of the Church, the power to set aside sin is manifestly absolute. If you are only practical and horizontal, realize that there are Gentiles that can enjoy a rewarding marriage by God's common graces. And a satisfying sexuality can be as much of a temptation to illicit behavior as the absence of it. If your marital nature is not defined by Christ's supernature, it will define itself by quantities of human gratification alone. And you must then keep adding benefits to your marriage, more adventure, romance, communication, etc. All of these are, in truth, good and valid enjoyments, and large armies usually win the wars. The Scriptures tell that "the battle does not always go to the strong" and it warns you not to trust in the "arm of flesh" or the "chariots of Egypt". These have certain powers, but sin can call you across a line that the greatest wife in the world is insufficient to bar. Remember that Eve lived in a perfect world.

Christ and the Church is the reality of which your marriage writes. Your practical efforts are not to build up your troop strength against the temptations of the flesh, but to write on your husband's or your wife's flesh a metaphor that all will say is apt. "I am the Lord," says the husband, "and my wife the elect." "I am the ransomed," says the wife, "and my husband is my Lord who purchased me." "As Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him Lord." says I Peter. Notice St. Paul on this:

"Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. Even so husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no man ever hates his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." This mystery is a profound one, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church; however, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband." Ephesians 5:22-33

Monday, March 13, 2006

The Big Haus Society News

Some of you who visit this blog might not know what sort of ministry is ours at The Big Haus. You may have never clicked on the available link or dug far enough in to see our newsletter update. A new one was posted minutes ago and in self-serving fashion I provide you with the link.

If you would like to be a part of the Society, go to the Society page and our email addresses are there. We send out a mass email with the link whenever a new North is posted.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Because Two Lunatics Told Me to Post This

I am a monarchist. In fact, I would enjoy seeing the future of America go the way of Rome and abandon the Republic and move to Empire. George Bush (peace be upon him) should follow the path set forward by the Emperor Augustus. Pax Americana!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

The Word of a Gentleman: Rule Ten

A Gentleman is Knowledgeable of the World
He has an informed philosophy of Mankind that makes his reactions humane.

A Gentleman is not a dictionary of trivia, filled with disconnected facts. All that a Gentleman takes in from the world around him must be processed. And a Gentleman is processing far more than to merely decide if issues are true or false. He is analyzing what he discovers to be true in the elements of politics, gender, family, and other varied events created by mankind (like sport or the arts or money) that is the range of what is a civilized society. To be informed he has paid attention to this wide variety of phenomena and created a basic, perhaps simple systematic that prepares him for the "new" events that enter his life. Each "new" event will either be explicable by or corrective to his understanding. This life philosophy is a ground for a Gentleman's behavior and, since that behavior is to be humane, these thoughts ought easily be drawn upon to defend his actions. In this way he can act with his surrounding company perceiving a pattern to his deeds and finding them justified should they question him on it. He becomes an grounding asset to the moment. Since everything happens (everyone knows) for a reason, he is the one who, perhaps, knows which reason. This keeps him from being merely a Pharisee obedient to the laws of a given society and makes him a Freeman obedient to his understanding. It requires an astute appraisal and logical understanding of cause and effect with a education in the nature of man.