Everyman

Everyman by Anonymous. The first known performance is recorded in 1510.

You can read this play in its entirety, at this link.

“You can’t take it with you”. We’ve all heard this saying, and we all know what it means. A close corollary is similar:  “No man laments on his death bed: ‘I wish I’d spent more time at work’.”

These themes are expressed in the short play Everyman, written by an anonymous author during the medieval period. You may recall that our children are studying medieval literature this year, and this most recent offering from their literary adventures is highly compelling. They’ve also read The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood, as well as King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table, which I may review at a later date.

Everyman outlines the journey that well, every man, must travel. To be born is to begin our sojourn toward the end of life. This might happen at a ripe old age, the best case scenario, or it could occur earlier. Whatever the day, it nearly always arrives at a most inopportune time.

When death comes to notify Everyman that his time is up, and that his end is imminent, he is understandably shaken. In his distress he implores death to give him more time, but is denied. The language is not modern, but flows more easily once you get the rhythm of it:

DEATH:

But to the heart suddenly I shall smite

Without any advisement.

And now out of thy sight I will me hie;

See thou make thee ready shortly,

For thou mayest say, this is the day

That no man living may escape away.

Once Everyman accepts the inevitability of his fate, he begins to take inventory. He wonders if he can take his possessions with him. Death makes it clear that his things were only loaned to him for this life. They are not his to take to the next life. At this point, all the elements of his life and humanity enter the picture. Fellowship, represented by his friends and acquaintances come first. They offer him whatever he needs, up to and including assisting in the darkest of deeds. So he asks them to come with him, but of course, Fellowship denies his request.

 

FELLOWSHIP

Now, in good faith, I will not that way;

But, if thou will murder, or any man kill,

In that I will help thee with a good will.

EVERYMAN

Oh, that is a simple advice indeed:

Gentle Fellowship, help me in my necessity;

We have loved long, and now I need,

And now, gentle Fellowship, remember me.

FELLOWSHIP

Whether ye have loved me or no,

By Saint John, I will not with thee go.

 

Everyman then encounters and entreats all of the elements of his life: Kindred, Strength, Knowledge, Beauty, Goods, and Wits. None can accompany him to what is next, save one thing. His good deeds make themselves known as well, and hold slightly more power than the rest of the elements of his life.

This is without question a “big C Catholic” play, but it its message is both universal and powerful. It’s a quick read, worth the 45 minutes. It is good for us to be reminded of the temporary nature of this world we so heavily invest in. Today more than any other, the urgency of this balanced view of life looms large. No one has lamented on her death bed, “I wish I’d cared more about political shenanigans”.

Take some time and give it a read. Whether you are religious or not, it speaks to the universality of our fragile existence and our ultimate lack of control over it all.

 

 

 

Quotable Literary Quotes: Booker T. Washington

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I’ve been ruminating on the work, life and philosophy of Booker T. Washington ever since I posted this Jason Whitlock video as my last Friday Fave. To that end, I thought it would be good to begin the week with some of the most profound quotes from his autobiography, Up From Slavery.

His thoughts on education:

“Education is not a thing apart from life—not a “system,” nor a philosophy; it is direct teaching how to live and how to work.”
 
This shouldn’t be novel, but it feels like it in this current zeitgeist. More:
 
“The ambition to secure an education was most praiseworthy and encouraging. The idea, however, was too prevalent that, as soon as one secured a little education, in some unexplainable way he would be free from most of the hardships of the world, and, at any rate, could live without manual labour.”
 
I loved that, because it speaks well to our current situation, where education is not a means of personal development in life or training in productive citizenship, but as a way to get out of having to work hard. Shame on us for propagating a hatred of hard work!
 
I recognize that in a cognitive economy, manual labor is prohibitive as a means of making a living. However, that’s a different matter from raising an entire generation of people who are unwilling to engage in manual labor, both due to lack of skill as well as on principle.
 
On the subject of the role and limitations of government:
 
“Among a large class, there seemed to be a dependence upon the government for every conceivable thing. The members of this class had little ambition to create a position for themselves, but wanted the federal officials to create one for them.”
 
He offers an alternative solution:
 
“How many times I wished then and have often wished since, that by some power of magic, I might remove the great bulk of these people into the country districts and plant them upon the soil – upon the solid and never deceptive foundation of Mother Nature, where all nations and races that have ever succeeded have gotten their start – a start that at first may be slow and toilsome, but one that nevertheless is real.”
 
Washington again points out the place which is a truly level playing field, in the real world, in the dirt, working hard. More:
 
“I have begun everything with the idea that I could succeed, and I never had much patience with the multitudes of people who are always ready to explain why one cannot succeed.”
 
So much for victimhood, but when you read Up From Slavery, it becomes painfully apparent why Booker T. Washington is held in low regard by many progressives. Despite the amazing work he did with the newly freed slaves and the exceptional accomplishments he achieved The Tuskegee Institute, his failure to fully embrace a narrative which denied the God-given agency of black Americans still relegates him to the fringes of the historical black American record. And that’s too bad.
 
Hope this provided food for thought.
 
Happy Monday, all!
 
 

 

Word Nerd Wednesday: Train Wreck

This installment doesn’t warrant much in the way of explanation or commentary, so here goes. We’re resorting to slang this week, so consider this fair warning.

Train Wreck: describes something that is so bad that you don’t want to keep watching or following but you just can’t look away from it.

For example: Last night’s presidential debate was a total train wreck.

It was actually three old men yelling at each other, but I think that about covers it…

Friday Fave: A Brief Political Detour

I don’t have a lot to say about the politics of the day. My latest book review probably reveals plenty, but I ran across a video from the insightful Jason Whitlock of Outkick, and I decided to share a snippet of it here. I will add a link to the entire video for those who may be interested.

However, in the interest of expediency, I am offering a small 2 minute portion that beautifully encapsulates my political stance in this contentious election year. It’s a great rebuttal to those people who insist that people of particular ethnicity (or sex or age or whatever) must belong to a particular school of thought.

 
I couldn’t have said it any better, honestly. You can find Mr. Whitlock’s full rebuttal to the WaPo hit piece on him and his colleague here.
 
Edited to add: Not sure why my embedded video didn’t show up in the post, and my IT guy is at work. So, you’ll just have to click the link. But I promise it’s worth the 1 minute, 20 seconds. It really is. He even mentions Booker T. Washington not once, but twice! Twice! In 80 seconds.

Blackout Reveals the Emperor’s Nakedness.

Blackout: How Black America Can Make Its second Escape from the Democrat Plantation, by Candace Owens. Published September 15, 2020. Hardcover, 320 pages.

I looked forward to reading this book for many reasons, but learning new information was not one of them. I “left the Democrat plantation” over two decades ago, when I was in my early twenties. I knew that there would be scant little here that I don’t already know. Candace Owens stands on the shoulders of giants, black intellectuals that I first encountered when she was but a tyke. Those giants are men like Dr. Thomas Sowell, Dr. Walter E. Williams, and the esteemed Larry Elder.

Owens is important because she offers these perspectives in a simple, straightforward way to a new generation, yet without insulting its intelligence. The Emperor of Progressivism is naked, especially as it relates to delivering any kind of benefit to the black community, and she calls that out. For anyone willing to look past emotionalism and demagoguery, to look for evidence and at hard facts, this is obvious. Too many people aren’t willing to do that, and the black community is poorer for it, both literally and figuratively; culturally and economically.

Candace Owens is often ripped on for growing and changing from the girl who experienced a documented racial incident to a woman who figured out that leftism really doesn’t give a darn about black people. There are few black people who haven’t experienced racism at some point.

The fact that there are individual idiots among us is not breaking news, and it doesn’t mean we should have to pledge our blind, lifelong allegiance to a party that mostly pays lip service to fighting racism. Especially when a mere scratch of the surface clearly reveals that they are the true racists, using the black community as a vehicle for political power. But this is about the book, and I am digressing. This was one of my favorite quotes:

Prior to the abolishment of Jim Crow laws, black Americans had never been granted true freedom. Segregation made it so that we were still oppressed through various limitation. Blacks were not free to choose where to educate themselves, where to live, or even whom to socialize with. Unfortunately, however, LBJ continued his address by stating, “But freedom is not enough. You do not wipe away the scars of centuries by saying, ‘Now you are free to go where you want, and do as you desire, and choose the leaders you please.'”

Here he is wrong. Dangerously wrong. Being freed was enough for black America. The year 1964 should have represented a new beginning, when we began assuming full responsibility over our own lives.

After outlining some of the things we should have felt free to do on the strength of our own competency and ability, Owens continues:

Against this reality the president who granted us our rights told us, in the same breath, that we needed help from white Americans to get ahead. Miraculously, just as soon as we were given personal responsibility, it was taken away. In the darkest of ironies, after 345 years of having our personal responsibility stripped from us by governing white society, we allowed that same society to take it right back. Their method for taking it had certainly changed. Rather than callously telling us that we couldn’t be responsible for ourselves, by outwardly barring and banning us from various institutions, this time, they began telling us we shouldn’t be responsible for ourselves because it was unimaginable that blacks would suddenly be expected to perform at their level.

This is spot on, and it’s glaringly obvious to anyone willing to look past the faux empathy and nauseating white guilt to see what has really been going on for the past 60 years. Spoiler alert: The Democrat party didn’t “switch”.  Love her or hate her, this is a smart young woman.

I liked the book, overall. There were a few points of opinion on which I disagreed with Owens, but the overall thrust of her book is well presented, and most importantly, well sourced. The final 19 of the 320 pages consist of notes so that the reader can check the quotes, stats, and historical information present for themselves.

I do think the book could have done well with a fairly ruthless editor. There were instances where the friendship of commas would have been valuable. There were a few minor literary faux pas, but the average reader would hardly notice them, and are not certified copy editors. Since the book is written for the average reader, these are perfectly forgivable. I only mention them because I recognize that some people who read this blog are the types who will notice minor verbiage issues and sentence structure. In the grand scheme however, these are insignificant.

The fact that we live in an age where distortions, half-truths, and outright lies are being used to manipulate black Americans to a regressive rather than a truly progressive future makes this book important for millennials and younger generations to read. It’s a prescription for black Americans, but I would argue that it is an enlightening book for all Americans. I can hardly believe we are having serious discussions about socialism and praising the virtues of forced segregation. Make no mistake: that is exactly what we are doing. The fact that black students and activists are forcing it doesn’t make it any less forced.

In short, I recommend this book. It breaks down and strips bare the truth of what we are being sold as black Americans, and Americans as a whole.

4 out of 5 stars.

Word Nerd Wednesday: Ignominy

This week’s word is ignominy, inspired by this quote:

In the town I was in, there were no such back-alleys in the literal sense, but morally there were. If you were like me, you’d know what that means. I loved vice, I loved the ignominy of vice. ~ Dimitri, The Brothers Karamazov

I am still crawling through The Brothers Karamazov, and loving it. The story is compelling and worthy of contemplation, so I am taking it slow. It’s taking longer than I’d like, but I have other responsibilities tugging at me, slowing me further. I  also feel obliged to read the books my children are assigned in their literature class. In other words, it’ll be a while before I finish The Brothers Karamazov.

I look forward to discussing it in great detail and from myriad perspectives. There is much to discuss here, beginning with the quote above, where Dimitri describes his uncontrollable thirst for vice, including his relishing the ignominy that accompanied it. I suppose we should define ignominy:

Ignominy:

1. disgrace; dishonor; public contempt.

2. shameful or dishonorable quality or conduct or an instance of this.

Upon first read this portion of Dimitri’s confession to his young, devout brother Aloysha, my reaction was shock at the pleasure Dimitri seemed to take in being a disgrace. He didn’t just accept ignominy; he loved it. He loved not only the moral morass in which he existed, he loved the infamy.

I wondered if there is such a thing anymore as ignominy; shameful or dishonorable conduct. I know we have shameful and dishonorable beliefs these days. But there is scant a man can do, and nothing a woman can do, that would rise to the level of ignominy.

Just one of those things I paused to think about.

 

A Most Southern Cookbook

This is post is inspired by the latest post from my favorite food blogger, a scrumptious breakfast sandwich she came up with after perusing this book:

I think this book has been on my bookshelf for about ten years, but it may be closer to fifteen. When I found it, I didn’t know that Edna Lewis was a legend in the southern culinary world. I haven’t purchased any of her other books, but it definitely on my to-do list.

Besides the fact that my roots are Georgian and Louisianan, the thing that most draws me to southern cooking is that it’s the closest thing to a uniquely American food tradition, in the way that jazz is a uniquely American art form.

Southern cooking was born of southern poverty, from people both black and white, who took using the scraps and raised it to a culinary art form. There are some southern dishes I simply won’t eat, such as chitterlings (pronounced “chit’lins” by Southerners) or blood sausage, but I appreciate them nonetheless.

That my children have embraced southern cooking pleases me. It’s not often that younger generations are interested in the traditions of the prior generations. Of course, over time, we’ve switched to healthier versions of the dishes we love. I don’t use shortening for just about anything, for example. Well, at least not until Thanksgiving and Christmas. Making a pie crust with what produces the flakiest crust once or twice a year isn’t gonna kill us, after all.

Edna Lewis’s dedication to wholesome ingredients and food made from scratch was a thing long before the clean eating movement was born. She was, as she was known, the grande dame of Southern cooking.

I don’t use cookbooks very often, but some books are worth keeping for the legacy they impart. The Gift of Southern Cooking is one of those books.

Word Nerd Wednesday/Quotable Literary Quote Double Play

We live in a world that is, by every observable measure, going insane.

It occurs to me with every obvious incongruity, shouted maniacally and accepted as gospel truth.

It occurs to me whenever I see banality celebrated as genius, vulgarity hailed as art, and beauty denigrated as bigotry.

I think of it when I hear pleas for virtue dismissed as weakness and acts of vice lauded as justice.

What manner of madness is this? Did I miss something important when I looked up from the grindstone of daily family life, where right and wrong, sane and insane meant something totally different than they appear to mean now?

So I decided to look up the word sanity; just to make sure I hadn’t missed one of Merriam-Webster’s famous updates:

Sanity: The quality or state of being sane. Especially soundness or health of mind.

So it does still mean what I thought it meant. Soundness or health of mind used to mean an observable congruence, coherence, and harmony in thinking and reasoning.

Most days, I think I’m pretty sane, but what my troglodyte parents taught me is no longer considered good sense. It made me think of a quote I once saw quoted,  but never knew where it came from. I did some clicking and learned that it is attributed to Kurt Vonnegut:

A sane person to an insane society must appear insane.~ from Welcome to the Monkey House by Kurt Vonnegut

picture credit 

*I have never read Welcome to the Monkey House. If anyone has, feel free to weight in because it isn’t in my queue.

Shameless Plug

Thankfully, Hearth took the initiative here because I’m not motivated to advertise, but I’m very excited to unpack femininity from a truly traditional perspective.

Focusing on the 1950s template (from the right) or the 1960s revolutionary woman (from the right and left) has landed us in a ditch. Neither of these are what we see historically or what God intended.

Check out Historical Femininity!

Hands, Heart, Hearth

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