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Russian mystic and philosopher Nicholas Berdyaev (1874–1948) spoke about our world entering a new kind of Middle Ages.

Two elements battled for supremacy in the Middle Ages: barbarism and the Catholic Church. The Church won.

In the new Middle Ages, will the Chuch reassert itself . . . or will barbarism come back?

If barbarism, it will be much worse than the old barbarism. The post-modern barbarism will be, in the words of Berdyaev’s younger contemporary Henri de Lubac, “centralized, technically efficient and inhuman.”

De Lubac wrote those words in 1944. Since that time, it has become pretty clear that…

An Introduction to Basic Principles of Magic

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Do you want to live a long life? Make the image of Saturn on a sapphire. Or maybe make an image of Jupiter on a white, clear stone. You’ll be in adult diapers the longest.

Do you need to cure an illness? Carve the image of a king on a throne, in a yellow garment, next to a crow, sitting in front of the sun. That’ll do the trick.

Have a fever? Carve in marble the image of Mercury, with helmet and eagle’s feet, sitting on a throne, holding a rooster in his…

Hint: Don’t be Rousseau

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I’ve been reading some Nock. Albert Jay Nock, one of the premier American essayists of the early twentieth century and one of the founders of modern conservative/libertarian thought.

A weighty man, that Nock.

But also a disturbing man. In a 1964 biography, Robert M. Crunden said Nock was greatly fond of the ladies. Nock was also greatly fond of being absent from his wife. He apparently deserted her after she bore him two children.

Let me qualify this: I don’t know any details about the abandonment. Nock was an extremely private man who took secrecy to…

Why Did I Order a Two-Volume History of Economic Thought?

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Fun, improvement, and volunteerism. That’s how we might use current catchwords to answer the primordial question, “How ought we to live our lives?”

That question hit me hard a few summers ago when I opened up a mail package that contained Murray Rothbard’s two-volume set, An Austrian Perspective on the History of Economic Thought. “Am I really going to read these 1,000 pages?” I asked myself. “Why? How much time will it take?”

Every pursuit has an opportunity cost. That’s one reason wise men don’t become obsessed with things like golf, gardening, and fantasy football. …

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Marlboro Man, meet Pastor Phil.

I wrote those words back in 2005 when I heard that the United Methodist Church will start a four-week, $4 million effort to market its church. John Wesley’s spiritual descendants said they were “turning to those who know how to sell cars, houses, and other commercial products.”

It was part of a trend that has only grown stronger over the past 15 years. Many churches have their own “marketing arms.”

I’m not sure I like it. It’s hard to pinpoint the reason, but it’s worth remembering the most common criticism of advertising today (after its…

Uncle Fulbert: Abelard, Heloise, and the Culture of Narcissism

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It was the love story of the Middle Ages, and one of the greatest love stories of all time.

Abelard, the premier philosopher of the twelfth century and an instrumental force in the rise of the University of Paris, had become attracted to the comely young Heloise, a teenage girl about twenty years his junior, who had already gained a reputation for her learning.

He approached Heloise’s Uncle Fulbert (her guardian) and proposed to live with him and take Heloise under his erudite wing. Fulbert eagerly agreed, proud that his smart niece had been chosen by the leading intellectual light…

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I once told a spiritual adviser that I really liked Thomas a’Kempis’ The Imitation of Christ. He shook his head a bit and said he preferred to read Thomas Aquinas. He said he found the profound truths of, say, the Summa Theologica more moving spiritually than devotional works.

I tried it myself. I think he had a point.

But the point I really came away with?

To each their own.

This new book by Vicki Burbach about spiritual reading reminded me of this. …

Plus: Coptic Lemonade

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When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. ‘Get up,’ he said, ‘take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.’ So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. Gospel of Matthew, Chp. 2.

Our Christian brothers, the Copts, celebrate “The Entry of the Lord into Egypt” today.

It’s one of seven minor Coptic feasts that commemorate…

What I Saw in Sin City

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I went to Las Vegas last week, spending four nights at the iconic Golden Nugget in downtown Las Vegas. I spent Tuesday evening walking from the Nugget to the Strat, where I surveyed Vegas from 100 stories high for two hours.

The next morning, I covered five miles of downtown Las Vegas on foot, covering huge swaths of area.

On Thursday, I walked the length of the Strip, clocking in over 32,000 steps.

I took a two-hour bus tour and talked with the guide. I talked with Uber drivers. I chatted with all sorts of workers, from a farmers market…

A few notes on Sebastian Flyte

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The early pages of Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited describe the drunken antics of students Lord Sebastian Flyte and Charles Ryder (the narrator). Ryder makes the later observation that he “got drunk often, but through an excess of high spirits, in the love of the moment, and the wish to prolong and enhance it; Sebastian drank to escape.”

This difference is the same difference G.K. Chesterton touched on in his early book Heretics: “If a man drinks wine in order to obtain pleasure, he is trying to obtain something exceptional, something he does not expect…

Eric Scheske

Writer, lawyer, husband, father of seven. Pursuits: studying, gardening, falling and getting up again. “Moderation in all things except love.”

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