Year's best

My 2015 favorites

I’m pretty late this year, but who cares? Here are my favorites from 2015! As usual, for books, the nominees are books I finished reading for the first time in 2015, regardless of their publication date. Movies and film scores must have been first released in the USA in 2015.

Year’s best live action film:Jurassic World

Year’s best animated film:Inside Out

Year’s best film score:Pan

Year’s best nonfiction book:Book of Talent

Year’s best fiction book:Fugitives of Chaos

By S P Hannifin, ago
Philosophy

We must become saints

Author John C. Wright has written a long essay called Restless Heart of Darkness. He writes in the first part:

At the risk of giving away the surprise ending (which, honestly, I suppose is not a surprise to anyone but me) I realized why it is that the current mainstream modern thought, despite its illogical and pointless nature, is so persistent, nay, so desperate.

I realized why they never admit they are wrong no matter how obvious the error, nor can they compromise, nor hold a rational discussion, nor a polite one, nor can they restrain themselves. They can neither win nor surrender.

I realized why their hearts were so restless. It is obvious once one sees it.

The essay has four parts: Part One, Part Two, Part Three, and Part Four. It is a long read, but should be of interest to anyone who, like me, finds himself constantly growing confused and angry with the direction of the modern world. (And it’s not just a matter of blaming a younger generation; I’m twenty-eight, still a bit too young to do that. But it won’t be long!)

I quote the essay’s conclusion here (with a few typos fixed), which I found to be the best part. (Yes, I’m blatantly giving away the surprise ending.) It was something I needed to read at the exact moment I did, as if it were answering my thoughts:

Despair is the key. It explains nearly everything that is so puzzling about the madness of modern life, the pack of self-contradictory dogmas that make up the default assumptions of the Dark Ages in which we live.

They have nothing else. No wonder they are bitter. No wonder they are irrational. No wonder they lie like dogs. No wonder they boast. No wonder they are full of envy and malice. No wonder they kill babies in the womb and fete socialist dictators and mass murderers. No wonder they love death. No wonder they admire, protect and love Islamic terrorists. No wonder they admire, protect, and love sexual perversion.

It is because they have nothing else. They live in a world of darkness, without hope, with nothing but their seven great friends to sustain them: pride, which they call self esteem; envy, which they call social justice; wrath, which they call activism and protest; sloth, which they call enlightenment; gluttony, which they call health food and legalization of recreational drugs; greed, which they call fairness in taxation; lust, which they call sexual liberation.

The modern age is suffering from spiritual and philosophical starvation in the midst of what should be the greatest feast of mind and spirit imaginable. Someone has told them offal was food and food was poison, and so they gnaw on foul things which cannot satisfy them, which make their hungers grow. They are dying of thirst, and someone offers them seawater to drink.

Let us now and forever eschew anger and indignation at these creatures. They are like blind kittens who cling and claw and scratch the hands that come to feed and comfort. No man should be angered at a blind scratch.

Neither should we do them the honor of assuming theirs is a philosophy, political or otherwise, or a coherent worldview, or anything that can be discussed or debated. It is a dream, a delirium, a vision, a nightmare.

Surely was can answer, or at least fend off, any questions they might have concerning our vision, which is brighter and better and sane and whole and true, because more often than not, it is a frivolous reason, a matter of mere emotion, which prevents them from seeing this light. Their eyes are closed, their reason is dark. Reason is of limited use to them, who have no faith in reason.

Beauty is the key to lure them into opening their eyes. I mean not merely the physical beauty in song and architecture and story telling where Christendom has no lack and has no peers; I mean also the beauty of virtue, of charity, of sympathy, of humanity, of heroism, of martyrdom.

Did not the sheer mind-boggling beauty of Mother Teresa of Calcutta attract more skeptics to our banners than did the sneering sarcastic ugliness of Christopher Hitchens attract to his?

They are lost in the dark. That is the truth that stabbed my soul like lightning. They wander in their jerky motions from one idle fashion and meaningless fancy to the next not because they are bored, but because they are desperate, because they are starving.

To cure them we must love them. That is what I saw.

To cure them, we must be a light to them.

We must actually live up to the difficult, nay, the impossible task of becoming saints, as humble and glorious as stars in the host of heaven.

We must first cure ourselves.

By S P Hannifin, ago