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Posts Tagged ‘C.S. Lewis

“Perhaps home is not a place but simply an irrevocable condition”*…

 

The idea that American life is increasingly transient and uprooted is a myth: people are moving less, but worrying more.

In 1971, the great Carole King sang: ‘So far away/ Doesn’t anyone stay in one place anymore?’ Thirty years later, the editors of The New York Times explained that families in the United States are changing because of ‘the ever-growing mobility of Americans’. And in 2010, a psychologist argued that ‘an increased rate of residential mobility played a role in the historical shift’ toward individualism. It’s a common US lament that human bonds are fraying because people are moving around more and more. Americans fear the fracturing of communities that constant moving seems to bring.

Yet when King sang, Americans had been moving around less and less for generations. That decline was even more obvious when the Times editorial appeared in 2001, and it has continued to decline through the 2010s. The increasingly mobile US is a myth that refuses to move on…

More on this widespread misapprehension– and what it means– in “The great settling down.”

* James Baldwin, Giovanni’s Room

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As we tend the roots we’ve put down, we might recall that it was on this date in 1963 that we lost two greats of imaginative literature:

C.S. Lewis, the novelist The Chronicles of Narnia, The Screwtape Letters, and others), poet, academic, medievalist, literary critic, essayist, lay theologian, broadcaster, lecturer, and Christian apologist (Mere Christianity).

And Aldous Huxley, the writer, novelist, philosopher best remembered for Brave New World.

Neither passing was much remarked at the time, as they happened on the same day as the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

 

The Groves of Academe…

It’s that time of year- graduation season.  So, from our friends at Good, a look back at what college graduates will remember, and a peek forward to what those escaping high school can expect:  “The Top 10 Oddest College Courses that $50,000 Can Buy.”

Beyond Narnia: The Political Theory and Writings of C.S. Lewis
Offered by Brown University (Providence, Rhode Island)
Annual cost of tuition and fees: $52,030
Photo (cc) by Flickr user menj

More provocative pedagogy at “The Top 10 Oddest College Courses that $50,000 Can Buy.”

As we sharpen our pencils, we might recall that it was on this date in 1839 that Chinese authorities led by Lin Zexu destroyed 1.2 million kg of opium confiscated from British merchants in Canton.  Sino-British trade had been brisk since 1756.  Initially the trade was an exchange of British silver for Chinese luxury goods; but this generated a trade imbalance that the British addressed by beginning, in the 1780’s to substitute opium (harvested in India) for silver.  While opium had some documented medical uses, the primarily application was “recreational”– and it proved very popular indeed.  Imports of the narcotic exploded.  In the 1830’s the British East India Company’s monopoly on Chinese trade was ended, and Americans began to import cheaper Turkish opium to compete with the British.  Use in China grew even more widespread… and the problem that it created became undeniable.  In 1839, the Daoguang Emperor appointed Lin Zexu governor of Canton, charging him with ending the opium trade… and so it was that the First Opium War was begun.

The Chinese underestimated Britain’s commitment to its merchants– and its newly-strengthened military and naval power.  The War ended In 1842 with the Treaty of Nanking, the first of what the Chinese called “the unequal treaties,” which granted an indemnity to Britain, opened five “treaty [free, for the British] ports,” and the ceded of Hong Kong Island to the Crown.  But even these concessions failed to satisfy the British appetite for trade; the Second Opium War began in 1856.

HMS Nemesis destroying Chinese junks during the First Opium War (source)

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