1. So the final event of THE BUILDING BETTER THAN THEY KNEW TOUR at Furman was really enjoyable. You’ll not be surprised to know that I finished my big talk by explaining that there’s no solution to our so-called crisis in health care (with its deeply demographic dimension) that doesn’t include a heightened appreciation for the virtues associated with voluntary caregiving. Those virtues can’t be understood as merely or primarily familial. The crown of the caregiving virtues is charity, which has to be distinguished from latently misanthropic pity. I also talked, as usual, about both dolphins and MAD MEN, but more about those kinds of social mammals later.

2. We also talked STRAUSS at Furman. I put forward the proposition that the distinction between NATURE and HISTORY doesn’t address the challenges we face in the era of biotechnology. That’s not to say that thinking about NATURE isn’t more important than ever. In a time that promises the reconcilation of happiness and productivity through chemical mood control, we can claim a right to our “natural moods” only if we can show that they aren’t—like everything else in the cosmos—finally random collections chemicals or just tools for species survival but are natural gifts or indispensable clues to the truth about who we are. NATURAL more than HISTORICAL determinism is our enemy now, and so the “natural right” of either Aristotle or Darwin aren’t enough to account fully for who we are by nature. Thanks to Ty Tessitore and Ben Storey both for getting the excellent students really, really prepared for our discussions and for treating me as the rock star that I am.

3. This Thursday (the 22nd) at Berry we have a series of great events, beginning at 1 p.m. There are too many highlights to mention. But at 3 p.m you can hear our anti-technocratic Ivan the K. And at 5:15, there’s Joe Fornieri explaining why Lincoln can be the foundation of a sensible and critical patriotism. Stay around until 8, and you can be stunned by the eloquence of the world’s greatest neurosurgeon and profund commentator on the spiritual dimension of ordinary life, Ben Carson. And then there’s a reception above Old Havanna in historic downtown Rome, GA. You’ll have to contact ME for more details . . .

4. The first THE TRUE SCIENCE OF BEING STUCK WITH VIRTUE conference will be at Berry on November 4-5. The general theme is Descartes, Locke, and Darwin and the origins of modern science, politics, and culture. We’re already certain that Tom Hibbs, Diana Schaub, Jeff Bishop, Larry Arnhart, Ralph Hancock, Ivan the K, Marc Guerra, and some others will be here. You’re invited too. Again, email ME for more details.

5. There’s something a bit strange about obsessing over whether Mormons are Christians in a deeply Protestant country. I was once on a relatively inane panel on the issue of whether Locke was a Protestant theologian. The great Carey McWilliams stood up and claimed it was obvious he was. The evidence (note the shot at Protestant individualism—culminating in the self-baptism we witness in the wonderful movie THE APOSTLE): He said he was.

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Articles by Peter Lawler

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