Books as They Relate to the World in Which We Live - RR161AW90

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Professor: Rushdoony, Dr. R. J.
Title: Books as They Relate to the World in Which We Live
Course: Course - From the Easy Chair
Subject: Subject:Conversations and Sermons
Lesson#: 90
Length: 0:57:32
TapeCode: RR161AW90
Audio: Chalcedon Archive
Transcript: .docx Format
From the Easy Chair.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

Dr. R. J. Rushdoony, RR161AW90, Books as They Relate to the World in Which We Live from the Easy Chair, excellent colloquies on various subjects.

[Rushdoony] This R. J. Rushdoony, Easy Chair number 199, August 11, 1989.

Tonight Otto Scott and I are going to cover a number of books and, again, discuss some of the ides that appear therein. I would like to lead off with just a reference to something I was showing Otto just four or five minutes ago. It is a Scottish shepherd’s Bible given to me some years ago by Mr. E. F. Wishert. It fits in the palm of my hand and the type is the smallest type I have ever seen. However, this was the Bible that shepherds carried with them and read from regularly in the old days.

Besides the Bible, some 1400 pages include the Psalms of David in meter and the church hymnal. Remarkable that people then could read such small type and that shepherds keeping watch over their flocks carried a Bible in their pocket and used it faithfully.

Then I would like to go on to something else, a book entitled The Rule of Saint Benedict, translated with introduction and notes by Antony C. Measel and M. L. DelMastro. This is The Rule of Saint Benedict for monks in the Benedictine monasteries. It was published in 1975 in this particular translation and I bring it up not only because it is interesting to read, but because of its historical importance. Monasticism for several centuries was the great forward thrust and progress I the advancement of the Church occurred. The monks were involved in a great many things, in education and reclamation, in charity and much, much more. They were the makers of modern Europe to a very, very great extent. The standards set down by Saint Benedict are very interesting. For example, the many rules of humility begin thus, and I quote: [00:03:28]

“The first step of humility is taken when a man obeys

“The first step of humility is taken when a man obeys all of God’s commandments–never ignoring them, and fearing God in his heart,” unquote. He goes on to say, “He should know that God sees him always.”

The effect of creating this intense work ethic, this belief that, as Saint Benedict said, “Idleness is an enemy of the soul,” meant that you did not even sleep through the night. You woke up in the middle of the night to partake in another service of worship.

The work of the monks, thus, was constant, their dedication total and their impact on society has, I do not think, been fully appreciated. On the other hand, Monasticism had strong elements of Neo Platonism. And, as a result, it greatly underrated anything material and feared it, while over stressing things spiritual.

For example in chapter 33 we read, “The vice of private ownership must be uprooted from the monastery. No one without the abbot’s permission shall dare give, receive or keep anything, not book, tablet or pen, nothing at all. Monks have neither free will nor free body, but must receive all they need from the abbot. However, they may keep nothing unless permitted or given them by the abbot. All things are to be common to everyone,” end of quote.

The idea that somehow a communal living and actual Communism had a moral superiority had a great start in western civilization because of the rule of Saint Benedict so that we must say that while a great deal of good came out of the Benedictine movement, there were some strands that crated intellectual and moral problems for western civilization.

Well, with that introduction, Otto, what would you like to discuss? [00:06:12]

[Scott] Well, we are discussing books

[Scott] Well, we are discussing books. I would like to be more general. I don’t want to review a book in the beginning so much as I would like to discuss the relationships of books to the way people behave. That is much more, much closer, a much more important than a great many Americans appear to know. It wasn’t too long ago that I had a man ask me: Who reads?

And I said, “People who give orders to people like you.”

[Rushdoony] Well said.

[Scott] Now respect for literacy in the United States has been declining. I can’t say the level of literacy has been declining on the upper levels because some better books are being written now than have ever been written before, but for specialized audiences. Generally speaking, though, writing and literature is held in low esteem in this country. In Hollywood, for instance, they use writers in groups like grapes or bananas. A man whose name finally appears in the credits may have had nothing to do with it whatever. It is a... it is the committee project.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] And I know in all the various efforts of writing that I have had to do in the commercial world all the way from news articles to press releases to corporate annual reports and so on and to books and what not, is that the greatest problem is to keep the illiterate from intervening into what you are writing.

Every publisher I have ever dealt with except yourself has changed the title of my work, my books. That is the first thing they do. They leap at the title. There... that is ... and usually they write the book jacket copy themselves or they have somebody write the book jacket who doesn’t understand the book, preferably somebody that has never read the book. Sometimes you feel that way at least.

So I would really like to get into the subject of books as they relate to the world in which we live.

[Rushdoony] I think that is very important. I feel that one of the problems is that on the one hand we have this disrespect for writers. Where television and films are concerned the writers are the poorest paid. And whereas 15, 20 years ago many of the television series would have a good script with some intelligent writing this has disappeared because the writers are poorly paid and more and more of them felt that all that was expected was a hack job and that was what they were giving them. [00:09:42]

Then, however, there is another aspect

Then, however, there is another aspect. The writer, too, has declined. I told someone who works in the film industry that sometimes watching television it seemed to me that the writers must have been on drugs. I was making a joke. And he said it is no joke.

[Scott] No, of course not.

[Rushdoony] It is too close to the truth. In the New York Times book review I read something that said a great deal about writers to me, that is the writers who are advanced and are popular. Let me read this.

“Perhaps modern writers might be ranked according to the breadth and depth of their boredom.

“This is Graham Greene as a young man marking time as a tutor to a boy. It is from the life of Graham Greene, volume one, 1904 to 1939 by Norman Sherry.

While at Ambervale to escape the oppression of boredom, he walked over the hills to chesterfield and found a dentist. I described to the dentist the symptoms which I knew well of an abscess. He tapped a perfectly good tooth with his little mirror and I reacted in the correct way.

“‘Better have it out,’ he advised.

“‘Yes,’ I said, ‘but with ether.’

“A few minutes unconsciousness was like a holiday from the world. I had lost a good tooth, but the boredom was for the time dispersed,” unquote.

I had read that about four times. Each time I wonder at the mentality of a man like that. And Graham Greene is regarded as one of the greater writers of the novel in this century.

[Scott] Well, Graham Greene is a very good writer. He is a puzzle as a person, but not in terms of his talent. His ideas are cloudy. He is very anti American. He underwent a conversion to Catholicism at one stage and I think he fell out of it later. But by and large I don’t think he is that unusual because writers and thinkers are not necessarily synonymous. Great novelists are not necessarily people who put forward clear intellectual structured opinions and observations. They don’t write a novel to see if it fits into their theory, unless they have been seduced by the Marxists or by some other particular structure. [00:12:51]

So I don’t... I won’t say Graham Greene is that unusual. I think he did write one great novel and that was The Labyrinthine Ways about the tribulations of the Catholic Church in Mexico in 1936-35.

[Rushdoony] I did not read that one.

[Scott] That is a very good one. I... I recommend it, because it is very poignant. And there is a certain magic in the way he accomplished the task because the priest that he took as his subject was to a good priest. But at least he didn't flee from his martyrdom. He tried feebly to evade it, but was overtaken. And at the very end of the novel—I hope I don’t spoil it for some reader—there is a surprise which suddenly reveals the fact that a man whose vocation is spiritual and all such men are worth more than they seem to be. And I can forgive a man a great deal who writes one classic. But, of course...

[Rushdoony] Yes, he did.

[Scott] ... of course the episode you recited is absolute lunacy.

[Rushdoony] Yes. Horrifying. Well, I am going to cite a book now that I have not finished reading. There is a great deal in it that I am already finding very interesting. It is by John P. Diggens and the title is Mussolini and Fascism: A View from America. The book was published by Princeton University Press in 1972.

There are a number of things interesting in it. One is that contrary what has historically been true, loyalty today depends on success. There is no loyalty to the crown no matter how rotten the king may be. In the modern state power is the important thing and as long as the holder of power is successful and is providing something... something to the people, they follow him. So there is a readiness to follow the man whom you can admire for his accomplishments. [00:15:46]

Mussolini, as a result of his success in taking Italy

Mussolini, as a result of his success in taking Italy so easily immediately had very enthusiastic accounts both by the right and the left in the United States. The New York Times, the Saturday Evening Post, Lincoln Steffans, Kenneth Roberts the novelist, the Saturday Evening Post, Fortune, Nation, The New Republic all in the 20s thought Mussolini was wonderful.

[Scott] You don’t have to go that far. My father and most of his businessmen friends thought Mussolini was fine. He got a very good press, don’t forget.

[Rushdoony] Oh, yes.

[Scott] They had some reason to think that he was doing well. He pulled up a country that was on the verge of anarchy and turned it into a prosperous going concern. A lot of laughter is spread today on the idea that he had the trains run on time. Well, I would love to see the trains run on time in the United States. And I have discovered about the airlines, the only thing that has got to be on time is the passengers.

[Rushdoony] Yes. Well, one of the things that Diggens points out is that all these people were ready to admire a strong person, hero worship. And he makes the interesting comment, and I quote. “An age of hero worship is an age of instability,” unquote.

When people are looking to some strong figure for the solutions because they themselves no longer have it

[Scott] Well, if you will forgive me, he is taking in an unstable period to epitomize. He is putting the hero in the middle of an unstable background and drawing a connection between the two.

There have been other periods in history where heroes were quite properly honored.

[Rushdoony] Yes, but in the modern era—and I have a couple of books here that throw some light on that. When Carlyle and Emerson sought to find a substitute for Christianity they looked to hero worship and so both stressed great men as the key to history. [00:18:21]

[Scott] Well, they did

[Scott] Well, they did. And they were wrong to elevate great men over the greatest of all powers, obviously. But there is no society that can live without heroes. The saints have to exist in order for the faith to continue and Carlyle, in particular, it seems to me has been unjustly beaten up in modern times by the critics. Emerson was a third rate imitator of ... of Carlyle. He was never as direct. He was never as talented. And Carlyle made too much of the Germans and Frederick the Great and various and sundry other figures. But in my opinion you can still get a great deal of value out of Carlyle. For one thing, his honesty. He wrote as an honest man. And if some of his opinions were bizarre or exaggerate the fact of the matter is that none of them were tailored to meet the fashion.

[Rushdoony] I think we are arguing at cross purposes because we have a different definition of the hero in mid.

[Scott] That could be.

[Rushdoony] The hero as a technical term created in Greek thought...

[Scott] Yes.

[Rushdoony] ...meant a man who was in some degree divine...

[Scott] Well....

[Rushdoony] Or aided by the gods.

[Scott] They made...

[Rushdoony] ... in a supernatural way.

[Scott] They made divinity to allegory.

[Rushdoony] Yes. And he was going to be divinized if he were not already part of divine conception.

Now the great man of the saint or the leader within the history of Christendom is a totally different figure. His is a moral leadership, not a claim to be some kind of god.

[Scott] Well, no, of course. But nevertheless you have to have the more than you... extraordinary figure has to be... to have recognition.

[Rushdoony] Yes. And this is why you have saints tales throughout the Middle Ages. You had Foxe’s Book of Martyrs at the time of the Reformation. You had when we were younger and in school all kinds of stories in our readers about men like Washington, Lincoln, Daniel Boone and so on. [00:21:06]

[Scott] Essential, because otherwise you grew up without

[Scott] Essential, because otherwise you grew up without the knowledge that virtue and courage exist in the world.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] Now when you get through with Mr. Diggins, I would like to bring it up in this context of They Odyssey.

[Rushdoony] All right. Well, to go on with what Diggins has to say. He quotes Willa Cather that the world broke in two in 1922 or thereabouts. And then he says, and I quote, “Although the process had actually begun much earlier, what broke apart in 1922 was the moral order of the world. No longer could many Americans believe in the gentle, genteel idealism of the past. Gone were the common believes in moral absolutism, inevitable progress and rational man. The words honor, truth and sacred no longer had meaning for writers like Hemingway. And for historians like Carl Becker, reason and aspiration and emotion, what we call principles, faith, ideals were without their knowing it at the serviced and subtle instinctive reactions and impulses.

“With the demise of traditional idealism, much of the order, overall impulse of American Progressivism collapsed as well. Americans, as a whole may not have gone so far as to dispose of Liberalism like an empty whiskey flask, according to Parrington, but a generation in which the best people lacked conviction about politics was hardly a generation to rebuke Mussolini who himself was only trying it dissenthrone the goddess of liberty,” unquote.

[Scott] Well, of course, here, he is talking about the style setters.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] When he is talking about Hemingway and Parrington and Willa Cather and the others. He is talking about the great communicators who rationalize. The average person didn’t know that the world had fallen apart. They just knew that times had gotten very difficult, that there was a change in the way the employer treated you or in the way that the police treated you.

I remember pieces of the 20s and you do, too. And you know it was a very rough decade. People write about it, wrote about it later as though it was some sort of an interesting and pleasure mad period, but I thought it was a grim period. It was a difficult time, a very... a lot of nitty gritty came into American life which, I understand didn’t exist before. And Hemingway, disillusioned, non fighter that he was, represented a whole group. [00:24:20]

[Rushdoony] Yes

[Rushdoony] Yes. Well, to back up a bit and look at things a little definitely, another interesting book that I read recently is a reprint. The book was by William Coppett and it dates back to 1817, A History of the Last 100 Days of English Freedom, a very interesting title. And it is a series of articles published in the form of letters dating from June 10, 1817 to August 15, 1817. And it is interesting how a person living in a time of crisis when there was a great deal of fear, Napoleon was out of the way to a degree, but the upper class still treated the people as the enemy. And, as a result, the feeling was a kind of end of the world mood, an end of the world mentality, a sense of despair, that there was no future because at every point and there nothing was going wrong.

And the faith of many was in time, not in God, but in time, which helps explain why so many of those around Cobbett were in despair. The issue was raised at that time, which has since become endemic in the western world, people versus property. It as Theodore Roosevelt who introduced that very European contrast into American thinking, because up until Roosevelt in the United States the association was people and property, because most people did have property. So I... I felt this was a very interesting book because it makes you aware of the fact that people facing very difficult situations, as the people did in Cobbett’s time and even more so do we now, are ready to have an end of the world mentality when this is nonsense. [00:27:15]

[Scott] Well, you are treating your books now as intellectua

[Scott] Well, you are treating your books now as intellectual artifacts and they always are to some extent, but they are also cultural. And I think, overall, the effect of literature is more cultural than it is intellectual. You can analyze these ideas, but very few people, very few readers to. They don’t read that way. In fact, they don't read, generally speaking, intellectual books to begin with. They read books that put them into a certain frame of mind which may have a philosophic content, but it is not one that is verbalized.

[Rushdoony] Well, Cobbett was a great man. I didn’t say that to be derogatory of him. I... I am rather partial to Cobbett, while disagreeing with him. But it is possible and very common for people to be so wrapped up in the things of the moment, in what is happening to them in history in their day that they feel that history is going to end if what they are working for doesn’t come to pass.

[Scott] Well, of course, history does end. It ends when we leave and I understand that after we leave we are no longer particularly interested, because there is a more interesting world we enter. I hope that is the best description we can do of heaven.

[Rushdoony] Yes. Well, we will continue with some other ideas...

[Scott] Oh, I would like to get a book or two in, two.

[Rushdoony] Please.

[Scott] I would like to take a few words from The Captive Nine by Cheslaw N. Milosz. I am not positive how to pronounce that name, M I L O S Z. He won the Nobel prize a few years ago and The Captive Mind was first printed in 1953 by Alfred A. Knopf in New York and the author is really a poet, but this happens to be a book and he begins by saying it is was only toward the middle of the 20th century that the inhabitants of many European countries came, in general unpleasantly, to the realization that their fate could be influenced directly by intricate and abstruse books of philosophy. Their bread, their work, their private lives began to depend on this or that decision, in disputes on principles to which until then they had never paid any attention. [00:30:06]

I think this is relevant to what we were saying

I think this is relevant to what we were saying.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] In their eyes the philosopher had always been a sort of dreamer. The average human being, even if he had once been exposed to it, wrote philosophy off as utterly impractical and useless. Therefore the great intellectual work of the Marxist could just as easily pass as just one more variation on a sterile pastime. Only a few understood the causes and consequences of this indifference.

A curious book appeared in Warsaw in 1932. It was a novel in two volumes entitled Insatiability. Its author was Witkiewcz a painter, writer and philosopher who had constructed a philosophic system akin to {?} and as in his earlier novel Farewell to Autumn his language was difficult and full of {?} brutal descriptions of erotic scenes alternated with whole pages of discussion on various contemporary philosophers. The action of the book took place in Europe, more precisely in Poland at some time in the near future, that is in the 30s or 40s or 50s and the social group it portrayed was that of musicians, painters, philosophers, aristocrats, higher ranking military officers. And the book was nothing but a study of decay, mad dissonant music, erotic perversion, widespread use of narcotics, dispossessed thinking, false conversions to Catholicism and complex psychopathic personalities.

This decadence reigned at a time when western civilization was said to be threatened by an army from the East, a Sino Mongolian army that dominated all the territories stretching from the Pacific to the Baltic.

Witkiewicz’ heroes are unhappy because they have no faith and no sense of meaning in their work. The atmosphere of decay and senselessness extends throughout the entire country. And at that moment a great number of hawkers appear in the cities peddling Murky Bing pills. Murky Bing was a Mongolian philosopher who had succeeded in producing an organic means of transporting a philosophy of life. And this philosophy for life which constituted the strength of the Sino Mongolian army was contained in pills in an extremely condensed form. A man who used these pills changed completely. He became serene and happy. The problems he struggled with until then appeared to be superficial and unimportant. He smiled at those who continued to worry. And most affected were all questions pertaining to unsolvable ontological difficulties. A man who swallowed Murky Bing pills became impervious to any metaphysical concern. The excesses into which art falls when people vainly seek in form the wherewithal to appease their spiritual hunger were but outmoded stupidities for him. [00:33:27]

In the approach of the Sino Mongolian army was no longer

In the approach of the Sino Mongolian army was no longer a tragedy for his own civilization. He lived in the midst of his compatriots like a healthy individual surrounded by mad men. And as more and more people took the Murky Bing cure the resulting calm contrasted sharply with a nervousness of their environment.

The epilogue in a few words. The outbreak of the war led to a meeting of the armies of the West with those of the East and in the decisive moment, just before the great battle, the leader of the western army surrendered to the enemy and an exchange, although with the greatest of honors he was beheaded. The eastern army occupied the country and the new life, that of the Murk Bingism began.

Now that was written in the 20s.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] And what Milosz, by recalling this is recalling the state of mid in his eastern European native country, Czechoslovakia in the 50s. And I remember giving this book in the 50s to a friend of mine who was a member of the Communist Party who quit the party after he finished the book. It was one of the most successful efforts I ever made. I insisted that the read it. And he was an honest man and he did read it and it changed him, totally, completely. He had an eastern European background, but he was born and raised here and he could share the thoughts and the attitudes.

Now to me that is literature. To apply ... to... to bring it out of the library and I said earlier I wanted to mention the Odyssey. I read the Odyssey I am 12 years old again. It brings back boyhood even tough the descriptions of the battle are gruesome and they don’t... let’s not forget that the Odyssey did for an awfully long time comprise the bread, literary bread of a civilization. We have counterparts to that today. I think... when I think of literature I think of it in ... in not so much in the ideas as, for instance, in the English. The English people who have done all the things that any critic will accuse them off admittedly have done them all. Nevertheless their literature is so enchanting that they have made intellectual friends and emotional friends of every other civilization. [00:36:30]

[Rushdoony] Yes

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] And while admitting their errors, they have never fallen into the American habit of hating one another.

[Rushdoony] Of hating themselves.

[Scott] Or maybe hating themselves.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] Yes. They don't hate themselves.

[Rushdoony] No, except they do, we have found...

[Scott] Well, nowadays...

[Rushdoony] They downgrade their imperial past.

[Scott] Well, they have... they have been exposed to the literature of the recent past.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] Which has upended Kipling and made a villain out of the colonizer and a hero out of the colonized.

[Rushdoony] Well, of course we have writers now who have a hatred for humanity and would prefer to turn the world over to animals and trees and just a handful of intellectuals like themselves.

[Scott] Well, it is a very... that is a slip back into Paganism. I heard on the radio this evening that some particular group has been associating swimmers with the porpoises and apparently they are conducting some sort of exercises with the porpoises and they have suddenly run into a terrible snag because the porpoises have gotten sick and some of the people have gotten sick. And it brings up the possibility that there is a transmission of illness from porpoise to human or human to porpoise or whatever. And the man who is... so therefore they were deciding... they had decided that they would have to cancel these wonderful exercises. I don’t know what ... could only speculate on what they were like. And he said you do have to remember, he said, one of the men who was managing this enterprise, that a porpoise is a living being, not simply a fish in the ocean.

[Rushdoony] Well, there is a book out to be one of a series which may possibly be well underway which is a children’s storybook and at no point do you ever find out whether the protagonist is a boy or a girl. It is referred to throughout as it.

[Scott] Oh, really? [00:39:18]

[Rushdoony] Yes, because the minute you introduce

[Rushdoony] Yes, because the minute you introduce—according to the thesis of the publishers and the writer—the terms male and female you bring in a whole world of bigotry and sexual stereotypes.

[Scott] Well, now there you see the effect of intellect on literature. It is destroying literature.

[Rushdoony] Yes. But apparently this is to be the pattern for children’s literature. They are not to think of themselves as male and female. Want to bet they won’t learn their lesson?

[Scott] What a difference from the classical thing. I was yesterday I the county library in San Andreas. I had to waste an hour or so before I went over to the restaurant across the street. I found out two things. I found out that that two books in mind that I had donated to the library had not been accepted because I was not entered in the catalog and the books were not on the shelf.

[Rushdoony] That is routine.

[Scott] And I... I wasn’t too happy about that.

[Rushdoony] What have they done with them?

[Scott] They... they didn’t... nobody knew.

[Rushdoony] They dispose of books...

[Scott] Yeah.

[Rushdoony] ...that are not recommended by the ALA.

[Scott] And yet I looked on the shelf and Carrie McWilliams’ book written in 1939 Ill Fares the Land...

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] ...which is a Socialist diatribe on the decay of agriculture. You remember how agriculture has expanded since. They had two copies of that 50 year old book on the shelf.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] And totally outmoded and antiquated. The other thing was that I wanted... I picked up... took a book off the shelf by Random. I am sorry now that I didn’t take it out, because I am going to have to go back and get it. It is one of those I read it and I thought, well, that is an amusing opening and I put it back on the shelf and went away and immediately, that night, decided I had to go back and read the book. It opened up saying that in the Middle Ages a count, a French count and I can’t recall the name of the province, let’s say Provence, or whatever. The Count of Provence was married very happily to a very beautiful countess and they had four very nice children. And, of course, went to church every Sunday, but they began to notice after a while that just before the communion the countess would find some reason to leave, something that she had forgotten. There was something she had to do, whatever. And the people in the village began to talk and he, the count spoke to her and she said, “Well, just a coincidence. It just happened to be that way.” And... but it continued and continued.

So finally he had several of his men stand close to her in the cathedral and when the host was about to appear he had... she made a gesture as though she just remembered something and turned to leave, but they stepped on her cloak and the host came... appeared and she gave a great shriek and picked up two of the children and flew out of one of the big windows of the cathedral. She was the daughter of Satan. And ever since then the villagers were sure that all the counts’ family was descendants of Lucifer. [00:42:47]

Now I put it back, but the anecdote remained in my

Now I put it back, but the anecdote remained in my mind, because the rest of the book is a biography of the reign of one of the counts.

[Rushdoony] Oh.

[Scott] So, of course, I have go to back and get it. So you can be caught. I can be caught just as I was caught when I was a boy by that sort of an opening.

[Rushdoony] Well, that is how I buy a lot of books. I get hooked by something I see.

Well, an interesting book that I picked up a while back and not especially good, published in England in 1982 is Hillary Evans Intrusions: Society and the Paranormal. It is basically about the supernatural. It is not Christian. There are some very good things in it. I would like to read the this paragraph because it tells us a great deal about the problem we face both morally and intellectually. He says, “So long as men believed in the existence of a divine power which was able and willing to perform miracles, they could continue to believe in an inviolable natural order which was, paradoxically, violable by divine authority.”

If I may stop there a moment, the point he makes is the belief in God meant that God had created an order, an order of law, an order of certainty, but also an order that he could alter at his will, as the maker through supernatural acts.

To continue. “Today there is a growing reluctance to make use of this convenient loophole. Consequently, we cannot avoid the confrontation between orthodoxy and the phenomenon which challenges that orthodoxy. For unfortunately when the philosophers rejected the idea of an authority which could override the otherwise inviolable laws of nature, God, they did not at the same time discard the idea of inviolability all together, which logically they should have done. Consequently, they reasoned themselves into an impossible position. Classically expressed by the Scottish philosopher David Hume who with a dogmatism as absolute as any of the Church fathers declared, quote, ‘A miracle is a violation of the laws of nature and as a firm and unalterable experience has established these facts, the proof against a miracle from the very nature of the fact is as entire as any argument from experience can possibly be imagined,’” unquote. [00:46:15]

Evans continues

Evans continues. “To the man in the street this is apt to sound suspiciously like playing with words and the suspicion is confirmed when on the following page Hume goes on to say there must be a uniform experience against every miraculous event. Otherwise the event would not merit that appellation. That is to say an occurrence is miraculous only when experience is 100 percent against it. For if there is any experience of it actually occurring it cannot be called a miracle which is tantamount to saying that a miracle cannot occur for the simple reason that if it occurs it is not a miracle.

“Well, if miracles can’t happen we need not waste time in questioning whether his first argument, the one about laws of nature is sound, though, as it happens, it isn’t. For his premise that the are inviolable laws of nature is quite indemonstrable, as much an act of faith on Hume’s part as any of the religious dogma he scorned,” unquote.

[Scott] Well, yes, that brings us back to Galileo and the pope in which Galileo said, “This is the law of the planets,” and the pope said, “You cannot necessitate almighty God. If God wants to, he could reverse the course of the planets, why not?”

[Rushdoony] Yes and the point Evan makes and, as I say, he gives no evidence of being a Christian, is that while they insist on their scientific dogmatism and their dealing in the world of hard facts, all facts are dissolved.

[Scott] Oh, of course. [00:48:06]

[Rushdoony] So the net result us that people want some

[Rushdoony] So the net result us that people want some kind of certainty in a world where everything has been eroded by philosophy and science.

[Scott] Well, this is particularly true today. I don’t know if I ever told you that I had a friend in New York who had a halfway house and I wanted to write it up. I wanted to write a book about him and all the people that he had helped rehabilitate themselves. He took anyone from an institution, mental institutions, physical institutions, prisons, male, female, all races. And he had a remarkable record of success.

Well, first of all the agent Sterling Lord, who is still one of the big agents in New York thought I wasn’t the right fellow to write such a book, because, he said, “You know, when the people read, Otto,” he said, “They like to see pictures. And when I read your work I can’t see any pictures.”

Consequently he picked Al Hirschberg who had written the Jimmy Pearsol story and Al did an outline of the ... of the projected book and they... they hawked it up and down publisher’s row. And I saw the commentary of one of the senior editors of one of the biggest firms, I forget which one now. And this lady wanted to know at what precise time, at what precise moment did these people begin to straighten out in the halfway house. And Al Hirschberg said, “Could you answer that question?”

I said, “Well, maybe from the next world, but not in this one.”

Now the... the assininity of the question got me.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] But I would like... are you going to go four or more, Mr. Evans?

[Rushdoony] Just this. Because of this lack, because God has been removed from the world, what people turn to is magic, Occultism. And he quotes from an American popular song of about 1979.

You must believe in magic.

You must believe in the guiding hand,

For if you believe in magic,

You have the universe at your command.

Having dispensed with God everybody is going to be God and they are destroying themselves with that idiocy.

[Scott] Well, of course, belief in magic spreads pretty far. Some people approach Christianity as a form of magic and they have the same child like expectations.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] Of the results of conversion that a child has for magic. But even more I would like to just bring up what I think is one of the most important books of the modern world. It is Machiavelli’s The Prince. The prince was advised by Machiavelli not to let anything interfere with the pursuit of application of authority and power. But Machiavelli advised the prince to always make it appear as though what he was doing was for the benefit of the people. Therefore the prince was the patron of the arts. The prince was the dispenser of charity. He prince was the one who put up the nice buildings, who cleaned... kept the streets clean, whose men guarded you and kept you safe from attack and so forth. [00:51:49]

Now we have reached the stage where the American presidency

Now we have reached the stage where the American presidency is operated according to the lines of the public relations. Machiavelli, you might say, was the first really good public relations counselor in the modern world. He advised people to do things... the ruler to do things not because it was good, but because it looked good. And this is how we are being governed today, by what sounds good and what looks good irrespective of what it does to us. That is a very important book.

[Rushdoony] Yes, a friend of mine, {?} has recently retranslated Machiavelli...

[Scott] ... in... in modern language.

[Rushdoony] Yes. And some of the aspects of his thinking come across much more powerfully.

[Scott] I would like to read that. That sounds interesting.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Scott] That sounds interesting. Because the language is antique.

[Rushdoony] Yes, in the...

[Scott] Yes.

[Rushdoony] ... modern library and other editions.

[Scott] Right. Right.

[Rushdoony] Well, to go on to another book very briefly this is an older work, again, by T. D. Kendrick, The Lisbon Earthquake, published by Lippincott some years ago. I don’t know the date of publication, 55, yes. The Lisbon earthquake in 1755 was the worst single catastrophe to hit Europe after the explosion of Vesuvius and the destruction of Pompeii.

[Scott] Yeah, Voltaire used it to great ... to great advantage to attack religion.

[Rushdoony] Yes. The religion of the day had become quite heavily semi deistic and they believed that everything was done for the benefit of man, that God was really there to ensure the health, wealth and happiness of the human race, especially those who are his. And Europeans, as a result, had developed a kind of smug Christianity which was no Christianity at all, the Enlightenment thinking and it was very heavy. [00:54:24]

And suddenly with the Lisbon earthquake this was destroyed

And suddenly with the Lisbon earthquake this was destroyed and the Lisbon earthquake did a great deal to undermine both the pseudo Christianity of the day and Enlightenment thinking. Men like Voltaire, as you have pointed out, made heavy use of it. However, their thinking was also over because he was an old fashioned rationalist and men like Rousseau, romanticists, began to come to the fore. So the Lisbon earthquake was an event in the intellectual history of Europe.

[Scott] Yes, it was.

[Rushdoony] And I think... thought of this because the San Francisco Chronicle about a week ago had an article on earthquakes and how the world is ripe for them, how the east coast especially, there are the deep faults only trigger every few generations. Having to experienced one for a couple of hundred years almost or more in some areas, is especially ripe for it and how vulnerable Manhattan is...

[Scott] Oh, Manhattan, by legend is based on a rock. I am surprised to hear that it is in the middle of a fault. The whole region may be in the middle of a fault, but Manhattan, an island is a rock.

[Rushdoony] Well, I don’t know that, but there... the point is...

[Scott] I hope for their sake that that is true.

[Rushdoony] Yes. His point is that it would destroy the market and the insurance companies would suffer just as an earthquake in Japan would wipe out insurance companies...

[Scott] Oh, can you imagine?

[Rushdoony] Worldwide {?}

[multiple voices]

[Scott] Looking at a tragedy of that size from an economic point of view. That is a strange fellow.

[Rushdoony] It would have, the point is, international repercussions about it.

[Scott] Oh, yes. Of course.

[Rushdoony] But the thing that interested me and concerns me is the Lisbon earthquake throughout the western world had profound intellectual impact. What is going to happen when we get the kind of thing that is coming?

Well, our time is up. So we are going to have to say good night and we will continue this some other time.

[Voice] Authorized by the Chalcedon Foundation. Archived by the Mount Olive Tape Library. Digitized by

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