Thought of Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy and Harold Berman - EC128

From Pocket College
Jump to: navigation, search

The media player is loading...

Contents

Lesson[edit]

Professor: Rushdoony, Dr. R. J.
Title: Thought of Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy and Harold Berman; William Hubbs Rehnquist; Cathedrals; Six Western Revolutions; St. Charles Borromeo; John Locke; History; America; Insane Ideas; Microcephalic Babies
Course: Course - Easy Chair Series
Subject: Subject:Conversations and Sermons
Lesson#: 3
Length: 0:57:28
TapeCode: ec128
Audio: Chalcedon Archive
Transcript: .docx Format
Easy Chair Series.jpg

This transcript is unedited. It was:
Archived by the Mt. Olive Tape Library
Digitized, transcribed, and published by Christ Rules
Posted by with permission.


This is R.J. Rushdoony, Easy Chair number 128, August the 18th, 1986.

I would like to begin with a book that I read recently which I regard as one of the very important books in recent years. The title of the book is Law and Revolution: The Formation of the Western Legal Tradition by Harold J. Berman, B, as in boy, E R M A N. It was published by the Harvard University Press in 1983. [00:00:40]

Before I being with some of the key points in this...[edit]

Before I being with some of the key points in this book, I would like to deal with another scholar, one who was Berman’s teacher and from whom Berman says he gained his essential thesis. That man was Eugen, or in English Eugene, Rosenstock-Huessy. In particular this book of some years ago, I believe about 1940 or thereabouts entitled Out of Revolution: The Autobiography of Western Man. In that book the point that Rosenstock-Huessy made was that the key event of history was... of western history was probably the Papal Revolution of Hildebrand, Pope Gregory VII. The Papal Revolution of Hildebrand ended the long subservience of the church to the monarchs and to the feudal lords. The problem with the church was that it had been virtually absorbed into a department of state or the private property of a local lord. The local lords made the local churches and abbeys so much a part of their property that they would place their younger sons or daughters as abbesses into the church and consider it their private property.

The kings were doing the same thing so that bishops and abbots and abbesses were under the thumb of the monarch and, very commonly, related to him. As a result the church was not serving Christ. It was serving local civil lords. And the revolution which came to focus in Hildebrand challenged this and a long battle between church and sate ensued. We are still a part of that revolution begun by Hildebrand. [00:03:18]

What Berman says in his book which develops the implications...[edit]

What Berman says in his book which develops the implications of Rosenstock-Huessy’s study is that religion and law have been basic to western society.

Let me add, by the way, that Rosenstock-Huessy said that the direction of our western civilization has increasingly been a revolution from Christ to Adam, from the supernatural man to the natural man, from the born again to the once born so that instead of exalting and regarding as basic to civilization the redeemed man in Christ, the remade person, it is the natural man with all that he represents.

Well, Rosenstock-Huessy’s thesis you can see very clearly exemplified in modern education, because education increasingly has worked to de Christianize itself and to exalt the instincts and appetites of its pupils whether it be in sex education or in any other subject. The whole direction of modern education has been to uproot every trace of Christian faith and morality from the child and to stress the natural man as against the supernatural, the born again man. [00:05:04]

“Well,” says Berman, and I quote, “The traditional symbols of community in the west, the traditional images and metaphors have been, above all, religious and legal. In the 20th century, however, for the first time religion has become largely a private affair while law has become largely a matter of practical expediency. The connection between the religious metaphor and the legal metaphor has been broken. Neither expresses any longer the community’s vision of its future and its past. Neither commands any longer its passionate loyalty,” unquote.

Berman goes on to develop this fact, something that over the years I have written and talked about a great deal. Key areas: law and theology, they have been separated from one another and both have become rootless. Both have lost their moorings. Both have become irrelevant to man and society. Religion has wandered off into a mindless pietism which does not deal with the problems of its day. Law has become irrelevant to religion and morality and therefore has become mindless also expressing only the will of the majority so that right now we see William Rehnquist being made Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court when he represents legal Positivism of a very radical sort. [00:07:00]

The irony, as the ...[edit]

The irony, as the Wall Street Journal commented about a week or so ago, is that so many conservatives have fought for him as though he were one of them. This is not the case. Christians also have risen to his defense again failing to appreciate that this man is in the tradition of Oliver Wendell Holmes. He does not believe that religion and morality have anything to do with law, nor that they are anything but private opinions which are irrelevant to law and society.

Well, to go back to Berman, Berman tells us that there have been six great revolutions in western civilization and the western legal tradition has been transformed by these six great revolutions. Three of them, the Russian Revolution, the French Revolution and the American Revolution were called Revolutions by those who participated in them, he says, although the meaning of the word “revolution” was different in each case. A fourth, the English Revolution was first called a revolution, the Glorious Revolution, only when it was coming to an end in 1688-89. In its initial stages it was called the Great Rebellion by its enemies and a Restoration of Freedom by its friends. [00:08:41]

But, at any rate, the fifth great revolution, he says...[edit]

But, at any rate, the fifth great revolution, he says, is the Protestant Reformation and the sixth, going backwards as he does in this, was the Papal Revolution of 1075-1122 which was also called a reformation at the time, the reformatio of Pope Gregory VII or the Gregorian Reform or Reformation.

Now each of these revolutions, to use Berman’s term, were concerned with law, changes or reformations in the law. And each in time produced a new system of law. Some of these revolutions, most of them, in fact, were revolts against the Papal Revolution. And others to a degree—and here I am giving my own interpretation—while some were to a degree trying to restore Christendom, others were emphatically trying to destroy it. [00:10:09]

Now there is another factor here that points to the...[edit]

Now there is another factor here that points to the validity and the reason why the Gregorian Reformation succeeded and why it created a new law structure, why it stressed that Christendom must have a Christian foundation, a Christian sense of justice. And it was this. Saint Anselm was at the same time, approximately, developing the implications of the biblical doctrine of the atonement. Now the biblical doctrine of the atonement is a legal statement. It says that God’s justice, his law has been violated by man, that beginning with Adam man has been in rebellion against God and his law. As a result, God’s justice is offended. It calls for the death penalty against man. But man’s death cannot satisfy the justice of God nor make restitution nor effect atonement whereby man can now stand cleansed in the presence of God, can say he has made atonement and wiped the slate clean. Only the death of the sinless one, Jesus Christ, only his perfect obedience to the whole law of God can effect that reconciliation between God and man so that the entire implication of the doctrine of the atonement was to stress justice, to stress law, to say that law was fundamental to the problem between God and man, that man had violated God’s law. And the law had to be satisfied and that is what the atonement was about.

Well, consider the implications, then, of the atonement. It meant that law was fundamental to the relationship between God and man. Berman doesn’t go into this, but Anselm was very important to Calvin and, hence, the particular importance of Calvin’s work. Unfortunately, however, Protestantism has lost that which it tried to restore, namely to get on the track with what Hildebrand had begun, the close association of law and religion. [00:13:15]

Well, Berman’s perspective in this is a tremendous...[edit]

Well, Berman’s perspective in this is a tremendous one. I am not saying that I agree with everything that he has to say. There are many points where I would differ, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is a book of very, very great importance. He does, however, feel that we are coming to the day when because the state has been secularized, man has been secularized, everything around us has been secularized, we are in the last days of the Papal Reformation. This would mean, of course, that it is the end of the Catholic movement that began with Hildebrand, that it is the end of the Protestant Reformation and of Calvinism and the end of everything that we regard as Christendom as the inseparable connection between religion and law and, therefore, between all of life. Berman feels we are in the twilight of the Papal Reformation.

I would, of course, emphatically disagree. Of course, that is what Chalcedon and Christian Reconstruction is about. What we are saying is that Christendom has lost the way by becoming Antinomian, which describes both Protestants and Catholics. By becoming pietistic it has abandoned its moorings. It has become incapable of seeing what the real issues of our time are about. And only as we get back, not to a sentimentalized view of the doctrine of the atonement, but to a biblical view, by seeing how fundamental law is to the atonement can we make a restoration. [00:15:39]

Well, biblical law alone will restore Christendom...[edit]

Well, biblical law alone will restore Christendom.

I recall when I was a student coming into contact—this was back in the late 30s, when I was a seminary student and also serving at the time a church—with someone from one of the ultra, ultra fundamental seminaries in this country and the thing that appalled me because this person had done some teaching there and he showed me the writings in syllabi of one of the professors there. And the man at one point was critically weak, the doctrine of the atonement. What did he say was the meaning of the atonement? He said we can never fathom what it was. We don’t really know what it means, but we know that Jesus by his death saved us and somehow the blood of Jesus Christ wipes out all our sins. And we mustn’t get too specific about it because it is a matter of heart religion. Your heart will tell you that Jesus saves you and you don’t need to go into what the atonement means.

Well, that is why Fundamentalism has been weak, even though its strength has been very great numerically. It has not appreciated the law foundations of our faith and of the doctrine of the atonement. [00:17:35]

Let’s go back to a statement that Berman made, namely...[edit]

Let’s go back to a statement that Berman made, namely that because religion has been made a private matter and law, a matter of majority preferences and social needs, both have isolated themselves one from another and, therefore, from reality. Law is not important to modern man except in so far as it is a problem to him, and he may profess to be a Christian from cover... and believe the Bible from cover to cover, but he doesn't apply it.

Someone who is with us this weekend and last month also has been telling me about some of the problems he faces at work. When he tried to read the Bible at work after being converted, he only aroused hostility, even though the boss himself is a person who has a Fundamentalist affiliation and has been a very generous contributor, a major contributor to his church. Now this kind of thing is commonplace. Don’t trouble me with religion. I go to church and to prayer meeting, but what has it got to do with my business? A very common attitude and statement. [00:19:22]

But we cannot understand the greatness of western civilizati...[edit]

But we cannot understand the greatness of western civilization which we are now busily destroying if we don’t realize that once this was basic.

I will turn now to another book which will give a graphic illustration of what I am saying. It is by Ian Dunlop, D U N L O P, The Cathedral’s Crusade: The Rise of the Gothic Style in France, published in New York by Taplinger in 1982 and I believe now out of print. It tells us something about the construction of the cathedrals in France and of their meaning. For example, the fact that teams of pilgrims and believers would harness themselves to the wagons that carried the stones from some distance to, for example, Chartres to build the cathedral there. It tells us of the intense dedication of believers to the cathedral in the age of cathedral construction and the high point of its existence.

Now turning to another book for a little more on cathedrals. This is Volume I of Rowland H. Bainton, B, as in boy, A I N T O N, Christendom: A Short History of Christianity and Its Impact on Western Civilization. And this is what Bainton, a liberal and a Protestant, has to say, and I quote from page 200. [00:21:30]

“The cathedral was more than a church...[edit]

“The cathedral was more than a church. It was a community house and the seat of municipal government. The cities with cathedrals did not at first build hotels de Ville because business was conducted in the church whose sacred portion was only the chancel, whereas the nave would not be desecrated if put to mundane use. The cathedral was often large enough to accommodate the entire populous of the bishopric. The cathedral of Amiens could hold nearly 10,000 persons, the total population of the city at the time of its completion.

“The building of a cathedral did much to unite the community. During the construction of the cathedral at Chartres, for example, the town’s inhabitants, from nobles to children, harnessed themselves to carts like beasts to haul the stones and it is said tugged in silence save for a penitential prayers and of pause for rest. Even mortal foes competed in the common purpose of beautifying the house of God,” unquote. [00:22:49]

Well, there is a great deal more...[edit]

Well, there is a great deal more. But I think that gives you some idea of the importance of the church. In fact, when the French Revolution centuries later broke out, one of the great sources of resistance the revolutionists who were talking about giving government to the people was the peasantry and the {?} in particular marked the bitterest resistance by the peasants to the French Revolution. As far as they were concerned, the peasants felt, they had far more democracy than the revolutionists could give them. In fact, the French Revolutionaries were taking it away from them. People would meet in the local parish church to decide the community matters, to assign themselves to tasks by common assent, road building or repairs, bridge construction or bridge repairs and so on. And now a central power in Paris was going to take all of this away from them.

We must remember, too, that because the church was so basic in the life of the people, it was able to exert a great deal of power. The peace of God is one example of that. We hear a great deal today about the problems and the sufferings, for example of the Jews during the medieval era and it is true that at times there were popular outbreaks against them. We must remember two things. First, Europe when converted was made up of Barbarians. These Barbarians were, in many cases, involved in human sacrifice. As men involved in human sacrifice they had a long ways to go to be good Christians. [00:25:13]

On top of that, we must remember that for a thousand...[edit]

On top of that, we must remember that for a thousand years Europe was subjected to invasions. It was overrun with new arrivals, people who were themselves barbarians. So it had a continual influx of Barbarian peoples who were more used to killing than being good neighbors. As a result, both Christians and Jews were regularly massacred by these outsiders. And as these people were converted they weren’t the best of citizens at times, but we must remember the church worked slowly, patiently to civilize these people as it Christianized them and that the popes placed the Jews under their own particular protection.

So the kind of stories we get today are one sided. And they expect the men of the year 600 to act like people do today. Well, they were Barbarians like our people today have become because they have abandoned the faith.

So we cannot appreciate all the implications of the Papal Revolution. It had to fight against Barbarians and the Barbarians were still coming after Hildebrand’s day. It had to fight against the monarchs, the rulers. It had to fight against corruption and sin in its own circles. It was a remarkable task. [00:27:19]

We can—and I am not averse to criticizing the faults of the medieval church. They were real. And, of course, the state, finally, after the Council of Constance, began to govern the Vatican and progressively deny it the right to be Christian and to confine itself to culture, to the arts and the Renaissance began in Italy as a result of the impetus of the Vatican.

So there were very real problems. The battle is not yet over. Right now the enemy is particularly strong, but the revolution that began with Hildebrand, while both Protestants and Catholics, no doubt, can find many things to disagree with as far as Gregory VII was concerned and those around him, still is basic to our civilization if it is going to continue as Christian or be restored as Christian. It established the connection between law and religion. It did it by establishing the faith firmly on the doctrine of the atonement as a legal act, the legal satisfaction of the justice of God by Jesus Christ as our Atoner and Mediator.’ [00:28:56]

As a result, it is of critical importance for us to...[edit]

As a result, it is of critical importance for us to appreciate the significance here of the work of both Rosenstock-Huessy and of his pupil Berman.

Let me say Rosenstock-Huessy read one of my books and we were in correspondence although we never met, but in a sense I am a pupil of Rosenstock-Huessy also.

I would like to turn now briefly to another work, an old one published in 1938. The author was Margaret Yeo, Y E O, Reformer: St. Charles Borromeo. This is a book about a very interesting Catholic reformer whose works in his day, in the 1500s, were extremely important. It was reformation from within the church. He was a man who recognized very clearly the problems of his time. It was said by someone that a Christian has no right to dissipate the fortune which God has given him. He should employ it for good. And St. Charles Borromeo has been called the patron of efficiency, because he brought to Christian charity and to Christian works teaching, a witness, efficiency. [00:30:48]

I mention him because this is something that is signally...[edit]

I mention him because this is something that is signally lacking in our time. If it is for the Lord, intentions are supposed to replace common sense and efficiency. And we could do well to learn from men like St. Charles Borromeo. It is interesting that in those days with the Renaissance still very much underway Pope Paul III is said to have remarked about Benvenuto Cellini, “Men like Cellini are bound by no laws. Men like Cellini are bound by no laws.”

What Paul III meant by that was that geniuses were an exception to law, an idea that is still very popular among us and it was not original with him. And this has been democratized so that people feel that it is a mark of a free person to be bound by no laws. And one of the things that is very appealing to me about St. Charles Borromeo is that he was a man who placed himself under law and, therefore, functioned efficiently and very ably.

To illustrate what this all involves, let me give you a later example of this idea of not being bound by law. [00:32:37]

John Locke is regarded by some people very, very erroneously...[edit]

John Locke is regarded by some people very, very erroneously as having been a good Christian. Well, he claimed to be one, but first he did not believe in original sin. He believed that man was by nature a clean slate, neither good nor evil, but just what he made himself. This denies Scripture, of course. There were many other beliefs that marked Locke that are very, very radical. But we have to recognize at the heart of it was Locke’s demand for universal moral autonomy, every man free to do what he pleases, which means that every man is his own god, that every man is free to decide good and evil for himself. This makes clear that Locke was a better example of original sin than of Christianity.

Moreover, let me quote—and this is from a book by Edmund Leites, L E I T E S, The Puritan Conscience and Modern Sexuality published in 1986 by Yale University Press. So it is available. And Leites says this and I quote from page 49. [00:34:16]

“Locke also says that parental parent support is a...[edit]

“Locke also says that parental parent support is a right of children. Once created, a child has a rightful claim to aid from his parents. Inheritance is another natural right of children who, thus, have a claim against their parents even as adults. The rights of children also require that husband and wife stay together. But for how long? Locke sees no inherent reason why the marriage compact may not be made determinable or of limited duration to end either by consent at a certain time or upon certain conditions. That is, when children can stand on their own two feet and when their inheritance is taken care of. Marriage would then be like other voluntary compacts which need not be made for life. There is no necessity in the nature of marriage nor to the ends of it that it should always be for life. Indeed, beyond the natural purposes of marriage which bind partners to certain terms, the ends of marriage should be set by the partners themselves. The terms of a marriage contract should answer the particular interests of those who wed,” unquote.

In other words, for Locke there was no higher law. For him the moral autonomy of man was basic. It really baffles me how some very fine people can argue that Locke was a Christian and feel confident in asserting that as a Christian we need to read and study him. In fact, some Christian schools will actually assign readings in Locke to their children as though this were godly. [00:36:16]

In the introduction, Leites has an interesting passage...[edit]

In the introduction, Leites has an interesting passage which, I think, is very important. He says, and I quote, “In the 1740s and even earlier there was a new demand for prudishness on the part of women and a development of the notion that the true woman is not interested in sex and is more ethical than men.”

Let me add parenthetically this was a product of Enlightenment thinking.

“Women became the bearers of civilization and of moral culture and men the bearers of energy, vitality and sexuality.”

Again, to interject my own thinking, I have talked about this and written about it several times. This was the first movement towards the destruction of the family that began with the Enlightenment, the movement of men’s liberation from the family and, therefore, they said that women now had the responsibility for children. Women were to be the bearers of civilization.

Well, to continue with what Leites has to say. [00:37:34]

“This is truly a remarkable development in light of...[edit]

“This is truly a remarkable development in light of the fact that late medieval high culture, as much a creation of men as 18th century culture, if not more so, held to the classical and early medieval idea that women were eth lustier of the two sexes and that men were the bearers of culture and morality,” unquote.

Well, that is a very important point. One would have to say that he is wrong in limiting it to the early medieval and some classical, although I don’t think he is entirely accurate there, because when we go to the Bible the penalties for man’s sin are greater. The Bible says from beginning to end what our Lord says that to whom much is given, of them much is expected. And because men have the greater authority, much more is expected from them. They are more accountable. They are the bearers of the responsibility in society and in the family as well as in every other sphere. [00:38:53]

But, of course, the modern trend is to depreciate man...[edit]

But, of course, the modern trend is to depreciate man as much as possible and to reduce history to something that is virtually biological. I think that this has been well summarized in a book published in 1980 and 81. It is by Gordon Wright, W R I G H T, Insiders and Outsiders: The Individual in History, published by W. H. Freeman and Company in San Francisco. This book was originally a part of the Portable Stanford, a book published by the Stanford Alumni Association under the title Insiders and Outsiders: A Procession of Frenchmen.

Well, according to Wright—and I quote, “‘We now know,’ says eminent French social historian Fernand Raudell, that, in fact, the individuals’ role, past or present, is insignificant at best. He is imprisoned within a destiny in which he himself has little free action fixed in a landscape in which the infinite perspectives of the centuries stretch into the distance both behind him and before him.’ Viewed from this angle, individual men and women virtually fade out of the picture. The record of the past becomes a record of economic and social forces, of trends and classes and demographic curves until it ends as the British sociologist Tom Bottom Moore Puts it, ‘in a ghostly dance of bloodless categories.’ The new and fashionable school called the Structuralists, most of whom are not historians, but anthropologists, linguists and literary critics, goes still further. Its spokesmen find little difference between primitive and advanced cultures and see little change in the basic structures of human society over time. For them not only the individual in history itself ought to be consigned to the scrap heap.”

In other words, both the individual and history are to be junked. [00:41:24]

“As for the most influential group of new social historians...[edit]

“As for the most influential group of new social historians, the so-called {?} from the title of their periodical, {?} Economy, Society, Civilizations, the enemy to be destroyed is what they call the history environmental.”

That is, episodic or eventish history put its stress on politics in the state, on precise and dated events, on individual actions.

“Eventish history,” laments one rising star of the new generation, Michelle Winoch, “has been dying for an unconscionably long time. For him and for many of his contemporaries it is something of a public scandal that the old guard historians refuse to face facts and to admit they are dead. Since the death notices have been posted, they might, at the very least, have the common decency to lie down,” end of quote. [00:42:28]

Well, you remember about seven or eight months ago...[edit]

Well, you remember about seven or eight months ago we had as a guest one of our staff members, Jean Mark Vertue from Switzerland. And Jean Mark called attention to the fact that this kind of history is now required n France, that no dates are taught, no sequences. Eventish history is abolished. Of course, we have a great deal of that in this country also. And the results are deadly. The individual becomes increasingly viewed as insignificant and unimportant.

Now turning to another work by a Carl Bode, B, as in boy, O D E, Midcentury America: Life in the 1850s. It is an interesting work, mainly a series of excerpts from works of the 1850s with brief introductions to each section by Bode. This was published in 1972 and is not available any longer. [00:43:48]

I would like to share, however, some of his comments...[edit]

I would like to share, however, some of his comments at the very beginning. In his introduction Bode writes, and I quote, “If you were the average American—and nobody ever is—living in the 1850s, you would, I think, be worse off physically and better off mentally than you are today. This is a paradox and an unprovable one, the sort that historians love to leap on with a yell. In a careful investigation of this interesting decade, a close look at its documents and artifacts, its gaudy mementos and odd paraphernalia leads pretty surely to that conclusion. You would be smaller and sicklier, but also more sanguine. You would probably be more superstitious, more ignorant. It is certain that you would be smaller. Such men’s clothing as has survived the attic and the moth looks shrunken to us. So do the women’s. The Smithsonian Institute has an exhibit of gowns worn by president’s wives and the further they go from our time, the smaller the gowns get. You would be sicklier since disease would be stalking you often. The deadliest of ills you would be exposed to would be tuberculosis, diphtheria and typhoid. If you become a parent in the 1850s in Massachusetts, the only state to keep life expectancy records then, your baby had a life expectancy of only about 40 years.”

Let me stop there and comment. The reason why a baby in Massachusetts in the 1850s would have a life expectancy of only 40 years was for the very simple reason that so many babies did not survive the ailments of childhood. There was a high death rate for small children. But if you survived childhood, your life expectancy was not that much different than it has been in our day.

Well, to get back to Bode. [00:46:04]

“Still, you would feel more sanguine than you would...[edit]

“Still, you would feel more sanguine than you would today. Though few of us learn to take disease or death for granted, you would learn to live with it as we have learned to live with the hydrogen bomb. In fact, you would expect your children to catch certain diseases and be troubled if they did not knowing vaguely that it would be worse to catch them later. You would feel more secure in the present nor optimistic about the future because the history both of your country and your people had been one of spectacular progress. The only obstacle to continued progress, though a formidable one, slavery, you ignored if you lived in the north and refused to consider an obstacle if you lived in the south. You would feel more secure because you would have more absolutes than you do now. You would trust I the great social institutions of church, family, school and country. You would believe unwaveringly in God. You would have faith in the universe which he created and continued benignly to supervise. You would be certain that he family stood solid as a rock. Your Americanism would be unalloyed. You would speak sincerely about the rising glory of America.

“You would be more superstitious because you would probably still carry with you a baggage of old world belief to add to the new. You would be more ignorant because you would be less schooled. Though we all know that schooling does not necessarily abolish ignorance, the fact is that in 1850, slightly less than half of the school age population went to school.”

Now let me interject something. Again, that is true. But remember Lincoln only went to school for about three years and only a few weeks each year and he was highly literate. Most people at school age were out in the working world and could read and write and compute.

Well, getting back to Bode. [00:48:10]

“Everything considered, you would probably be happier...[edit]

“Everything considered, you would probably be happier if you lived in the 1850s. All this, that is, if you were an average American, an average white American. If you were black you could never escape the brutal, miserable fact that some white man owned you. Though your owner would be apt to say loudly that you were better off than you would have been back in Africa.”

Well, Bode continues to say that, “Then men believed in doing more for themselves. But we are calling now on the government and the school to do more for us. And we are less sure about the future, less sure about the present, less sure about ourselves so that we have changed dramatically as a people.” [00:49:06]

He does an interesting bit of work in digging up documents...[edit]

He does an interesting bit of work in digging up documents of the times, about machinery and inventions, agriculture, businessmen and clerks, lawyers, the American home, the art of homemaking, children, family affairs, women, the American mind, adult education, science, religion, Protestant and Catholic and much, much more, the social life, the pleasures of life, slavery from documents of the time. And all in all it is delightful reading.

I found it a refreshing look because it describes this country as people today are unwilling to recognize it.

Then very briefly to John McManners, Death and the Enlightenment: Changing Attitudes to Death in 18th Century France. This is published by the Oxford University Press in 1985. I am not going to take time to go into this book, although there is a great deal here of interest, but just to comment on how intellectuals can sometimes come up with really insane ideas. This was the day of the Rationalists, the Enlightenment, the Philisophs in France and they actually reached a point where following Locke’s thinking about all ideas being acquired not innate, they came to some amazing conclusions one of which was that death was an acquired idea, that naturally we would never think about death and we would just die unconsciously without any concern because death is not an innate idea. It is an acquired idea and death would come to people like falling asleep or relaxing after making love, to quote from the book, if it had not been for those who brainwashed people and created this perspective concerning death that marked Christianity. And, as a result, the churches were savagely attacked as being responsible for all kinds of superstitious ideas about death and of having created the fear of death and of dying. [00:52:31]

Well, now to skip over the centuries to the present...[edit]

Well, now to skip over the centuries to the present. A little book, not small in price, 14.95 hardback, published in 1986 by Good Books in Intercourse, Pennsylvania. The title is Dr. Frau, F R A U. The author Dr. Grace H. Kaiser, a woman doctor who worked with the Amish and the Mennonites in Pennsylvania.

It is a delightful book and {?} at the Mennonites and Amish with all their weaknesses and strength. Dorothy and I both read it. It is a book of only about 165 pages and it can be read in a single sitting. But one of the things that was revelatory was that Dr. Kaiser, although obviously a good woman who retired recently, had no awareness of the kind of faith her patients had. The reason for this judgment—and Dorothy, in particular, was very distressed by her attitude—was this. She described the delivery of a microcephalic child and said that there were many microcephalic babies born and others, Downs children, hydrocephalic, {?}, children with deformities who died usually in three or four years at the most. And this came from the extensive inbreeding because the Mennonite and Amish communities there are very much inbred. [00:54:50]

But what she failed to see, although it comes through...[edit]

But what she failed to see, although it comes through her book, was that these Amish and Mennonite parents did not regard such babies as a disaster and something to fall apart over, rather they welcomed them with love. And as one of them told the doctor, “At least we had him for a little while to love and care for. God is good.”

They saw these babies as children they were going to live with throughout all eternity, as children who, here for a brief time, were afflicted with a condition that made them unable to function properly. But they were someone to love, their own and they were going to see them in good health and perfect mind and body throughout all eternity, a very marvelous faith. [00:56:07]

She reports it in a sentence...[edit]

She reports it in a sentence. It comes throughout her account that she never really understands it. And I think it says a great deal about our culture that we see things only in terms of time. If we see things only in terms of time, we are going to be shattered. We are going to forget that we are here for 50, 60, 70, 100 years and that is not the end. We have all eternity and so do these children who are born defective.

Well, thank you for listening. It has been good to be with you again and I trust that you enjoyed the session we have had. God bless you all.