Botticelli — Fortitude


“What is chiefly notable in her is–that you would not, if you had to guess who she was, take her for Fortitude at all. Everybody else’s Fortitudes announce themselves clearly and proudly. They have tower-like shields and lion-like helmets, and stand firm astride on their legs, and are confidently ready for all comers. But Botticelli’s Fortitude is no match, it may be, for any that are coming. Worn, somewhat; and not a little weary, instead of standing ready for all comers, she is sitting, apparently in reverie, her fingers playing restlessly and idly–nay, I think, even nervously–about the hild of her sword. For her battle is not to begin to-day; nor did it begin yesterday. Many a morn and eve have passed since it began–and now–is this to be the ending day of it? And if this–by what manner of end? That is what Sandro’s Fortitude is thinking, and the playing fingers about the sword-hilt would fain let it fall, if it might be; and yet, how swiftly and gladly will they close on it, when the far-off trumpet blows, which she will hear thorugh all her reverie!” (J. Ruskin, “Mornings in Florence,” iii. 57.58. Quoted from “The Spirit of Discipline” by F. Paget, p. 50).

Tradition and history

Came across this pithy quote regarding Christian doctrine…

Tradition without history has homogenized all the stages of development into one statically defined truth; history without tradition has produced a historicism that relativizes the development of Christian doctrine in such a way as to make the distinction between authentic growth and cancerous aberration seem completely arbitrary. (Pelikan, Byzantine Theology-Historical Trends and Doctrinal Themes, New York, 1979, 2nd ed., p. 224)

Fukuyama on Identity and Migration


Francis Fukuyama is professor of international political economy at Johns Hopkins School of International Studies. This piece is adapted from an article first published in Journal of Democracy 17:2 (2006) © National Endowment for Democracy and the Johns Hopkins University Press.

Modern identity politics springs from a hole in the political theory underlying liberal democracy. That hole is liberalism’s silence about the place and significance of groups. The line of modern political theory that begins with Machiavelli and continues through Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau and the American founding fathers understands the issue of political freedom as one that pits the state against individuals rather than groups. Hobbes and Locke, for example, argue that human beings possess natural rights as individuals in the state of nature—rights that can only be secured through a social contract that prevents one individual’s pursuit of self-interest from harming others.
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The Bible and Beauty

“… the beauty of the language of the Bible can be like a set of dentist’s instruments neatly laid out on a table and hanging on a wall, intriguing in their technological complexity and with their stainless steel highly polished–until they set to work on the job for which they were originally designed. The all of a sudden my reaction changes from “How shiny and beautiful they all are!” to “Get that damned thing out of my mouth!” Once I begin to read it anew, perhaps in the freshness of a new translation, it stops speaking in cliches and begins to address me directly” (Pelikan, Whose Bible Is It? 229).