Festina Lente
(Make Haste Slowly)
Christian Contemplation of the
Arts and Sciences

Jonathan David Carson, Ph.D.

God hath chosen the weak things of the world
to confound the things which are mighty.

"Help oft shall come from the hands of the weak when the wise falter." Gandalf in The Silmarillion by J. R. R. Tolkien

"Fake But Accurate" Science?

Be that as it may, Science is the Dan Rather of science journalism. "Fake Data, but Could the Idea Still Be Right?" in the July 14 issue actually makes the following statement (emphases mine):

European investigators last week confirmed that a pioneering oral cancer researcher in Norway had fabricated much of his work. The news left experts in his field with a pressing question: What should they believe now? Suppose his findings, which precisely identified people at high risk of the deadly disease, were accurate even though data were faked?

"Great Mind Warp"

Such protection is vital in every age, but particularly vital in our own, which is the arena of a vast struggle between freedom and tyranny. The traditional Christian answer says that God so values freedom that he allowed angels in heaven to rebel against him and allowed the chief rebel to deceive the first humans and bring sin and death to us and the world in which we live. The possibility of sin is the inevitable concomitant of freedom, but freedom is more valuable than the high cost in sin and death we have to pay for it.

The entire cosmic drama, in which we ourselves play, is a struggle for the existence of creatures who freely choose good. The struggle for true freedom in the United States and the rest of the world takes place in the context of this grand cosmic drama and is part of it.

"You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: When men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours." -- Sir Charles Napier, 1782-1853

"Religions of Freedom"

If we cannot reconcile divine omnipotence and divine goodness, we must choose between them. Islam has chosen divine omnipotence. It may praise God's goodness and mercy, but because it holds that everything that happens is the direct result of God's will, it must make God responsible for rape, murder, theft, adultery, deceit, and so on, even blasphemy, and if God is responsible for these evil deeds, then they must not be evil after all. "If God did not want those people to die," says the mullah, "why did he allow those airliners to crash into the World Trade Center?"

"The more I am, the less I know." -- George Harrison, "It's All Too Much"

"Mistakes Conservatives Make: Privatization"

The Constitution is based on a philosophy of limited government, not weak government or government that disguises its transgression of its limits as private.

"If man is not a divinity, then man is a disease. Either he is the image of God, or else he is the one animal which has gone mad."
-- G. K. Chesterton, London Illustrated News, January 12, 1907

"French Lessons"

Everywhere France goes, stirring words and music are in the air and death and destruction on the ground.

If insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, always expecting a different result, France is certainly insane. We, of course, are not insane: we watch others do the same thing over and over again and always expect them to do something different.

"A new philosophy generally means in practice the praise of some old vice." -- G. K. Chesterton, London Illustrated News, January 6, 1906

"The Wrong Questions"

"Why do they hate us?" asked many as the 9/11 smoke cleared. To some this meant, "What did we do to provoke them?"; to others it meant, "What did we ever do to them?" A better question would be, "Why did they attack us?" It is one thing to hate someone, another to murder him. A still better question would be, "Why did they attack us now?" The best question would be, "Why didn't they attack us before?" They hated us before we came onto this earth. Why did they wait so long? The answer is that they were afraid.

"No form of philosophic folly is really new" -- G. K. Chesterton, London Illustrated News, June 23, 1906

from   "The Established
Religion of the United States"

We're like a condemned man who worries about the preservatives in his last meal or its cholesterol content. We'll worry about anything but our real worries. If we lived in Sudan, we'd worry about cell phone rays or the wrinkles around our eyes. The worse our problems are, the more we agonize about something else.

"They are surprised that you do not now join them in the same wild profligacy." -- 1 Peter 4.4

from   "Liberals and Islamofascists"

What merit is there in not stealing because you fear that your hand will be cut off? In not drinking because you have no alcohol? In not being aroused by a woman in a burqa?

An Islamofascist walks the streets of America and sees a man enter a massage parlor. "What an immoral society!" he thinks. He does not notice the men who do not go in. He sees the temptations Americans are subject to, but not their resistance to those temptations. He sees their immorality, but not their morality.

"Go and cry to the gods whom you have chosen;let them deliver you in the time of your distress." -- Judges 10.14

from   "Original American Sin"

We wake up in the morning, and our evil deeds begin before we have time to curse the alarm. As we slept, our refrigerators were hard at work giving Chileans skin cancer. We turn on the air conditioner, and amphibians grow extra limbs. We breathe and contribute to global warming and killer hurricanes. We put on our clothes and cover the world with sweatshops. We slip on our athletic shoes and tie children to workbenches with the laces. We poison the soil by eating breakfast. We drive to work and drown Pacific Islanders. We go to the doctor and kill cuddly, little animals. We devastate countries we have never heard of.

"The secularists have not wrecked divine things; but the secularists have wrecked secular things, if that is any comfort to them. The Titans did not scale heaven; but they laid waste the world." -- G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

from   "We Could Lose Everything"

Since the war is a two-front war, a shooting war and a war of truth against falsehood, it is a war that our armed forces cannot win by themselves. Every American has a responsibility to the truth. Abdicating this responsibility and forcing the military to fight alone is stupid, selfish, self-defeating, shortsighted, and immoral.

"The things said most confidently by advanced persons to crowded audiences are generally those quite opposite to the fact." -- G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

from   "The Not-So-Golden
Age of Islamic Philosophy"

In "Christianity and Islam," a chapter of The Oxford Illustrated History of Christianity, Jeremy Johns says that "the relationship between Christianity and Islam during the Middle Ages is usually seen, in the West, in terms of military conflict, and, in the East, in terms of the Arab contribution to Western culture." (The West fixates on the conquest of most of Christendom by the armies of Islam; the East is stung by the ingratitude of Christians and their failure to acknowledge the superiority of Islamic culture.)

"These past few weeks [in Iraq] have taught me that war is hard and sad, but necessary. I often reminded the soldiers that war is love's response to a neighbor threatened by force. The great men and women of the coalition forces have proven their love for God and neighbor."

-- Fr. Michael Heninger, a Catholic priest serving as an Army chaplain in Iraq

from   "AAAS's Snarky History of Islamic Philosophy"

So the great rescue of Greek philosophy by translation into Arabic turns out to mean no rescue of Plato and the transmission of Latin translations of Arabic translations of Greek texts of Aristotle, either directly or more often via Syriac or Hebrew, to a Christendom that already had the Greek texts and had already translated most of them into Latin, with almost all of the work of translation from any of these languages into any other having been done by Christians and Jews and none of it by Muslims.

The continuo "should make a euphonious harmony for the glory of God and the permitted delectation of the mind; and like all music its finis and final cause should never be anything else but the glory of God and the recreation of the mind. When this is not heeded, there really is no music, but a hellish howl and clatter." -- Johann Sebastian Bach

"Scientific? American?"

The pitiful rock is friendless now, with Saddam Hussein eating Doritos and remembering the good old days of mass murder. In the United States, there is also plenty to be wistfully nostalgic about, such as scientists with a sense of proportion and Americans with a loyalty to the truth.

"The battleline between good and evil runs through the heart of every man." -- Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Gulag Archipelago

from   "Sin of the Eyes"

Contemporary science suffers a fatal contradiction. The things that have been made give evidence of God. Therefore, the more we know about the things that have been made, the more evidence we have of God. As long as scientists construe the scientific method as requiring that there be no evidence of God, they will be compelled to suppress the evidence. Clearly, science cannot suppress evidence and remain science. And there is more and more evidence to suppress: an apparent beginning of the universe, proof that evolution cannot occur by chance, the fine-tuning of the universe for life.

"Not all those who wander are lost." -- J. R. R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings

from   "Dessert First"

Now if it were true that Horace and the great poets of the English Renaissance advocated the pursuit of pleasure in response to aging and death, textbook publishers could be reproached with at most a failure to warn students that pleasure is not the same thing as happiness, which is the result of virtue. But it is not true. And finding out why it is not true means unlearning most of what we have been taught about English literature and learning how to fill the rest of our lives with glimpses of heaven.

"One man of you puts to flight a thousand." -- Joshua 23.10

from   "Galileo Redux"

"If we succeed in blocking climate change," Gore says, "it will be because of the dedication" Sabrina and her compatriots have shown. Gore is telling teenage girls that if they plant trees and recycle, climate will no longer change on a world that has had billions of years of changing climates. However, fear ye not therefore, Sabrina, for Gore will arise, and rebuke the winds and the sea; and there will be a great calm. But the men will marvel, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!

Festina Lente
Festina lente was a favorite saying of Augustus Caesar. It is usually translated, "Make haste slowly," which captures its paradoxical quality, but loses the broader meaning of lente. We could also say, "Make haste with toughness, with suppleness." Augustus applied this saying mostly to warfare; we apply it to spiritual warfare with the powers and principalities of this world. When stepped upon, a tough and supple twig springs back upright. Beaten down, we spring back to life and resume the battle, chastened. Contact
Festina Lente

"As Leon Trotsky is supposed to have said, 'You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you.'" -- Michael Barone

"In ceremonies of the horsemen / Even the pawn must hold a grudge." -- Bob Dylan, Love Minus Zero/No Limit

"It's truer to say that these days patriotism is the highest form of dissent--against a culture where the media award each other Pulittzers for damaging national security, and the only way a soldier's mom can become a household name is if she's a Bush-is-the-real-terrorist kook like Cindy Sheehan." -- Mark Steyn

"Mr. Chamberlain was faced with a choice between surrender and war; he chose surrender, and he got war." -- Winston Churchill

"If you were my husband, I'd put poison in your coffee." -- Lady Astor

"And if you were my wife, I'd drink it." -- Winston Churchill