Our commitments need to be confirmed and fleshed out in word and action. It is a light thing to make a promise but far more arduous to mean and keep it. Consistency and courage are required to think through an assignment, promise, or obligation and then carry it out. Commitment comes with consequences and diminishes previous freedom: it means one cannot simply walk away.

When the single guiding principle in a person’s life is whatever is possible, morality can easily be trampled underfoot to fall by the wayside. Commitment is rarely seen as a decision with consequences that diminish the freedom one had to make that commitment.

-Udo Middelmann God and Man at Work




Spanish violin virtuoso Pablo de Sarasate (1844–1908),the late-Romantic era’s Paganini, gave his one and only New York Philharmonic performance in February 1872, in the U.S. Premiere of a concerto that the New York Herald predicted would “rank beside Mendelssohn’s celebrated work for the same instrument.” The piece was Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1, now one of the cornerstones of the violin repertoire.

The history in this program‘ The New York Philharmonic


But the true mental captivity of our time lies elsewhere. Our contemporary faith in “the market” rigorously tracks its radical nineteenth-century doppelgaenger—the unquestioning belief in necessity, progress, and History. Just as the hapless British Labour chancellor in 1929–1931, Philip Snowden, threw up his hands in the face of the Depression and declared that there was no point opposing the ineluctable laws of capitalism, so Europe’s leaders today scuttle into budgetary austerity to appease “the markets.”

But “the market”—like “dialectical materialism”—is just an abstraction: at once ultra-rational (its argument trumps all) and the acme of unreason (it is not open to question). It has its true believers—mediocre thinkers by contrast with the founding fathers, but influential withal; its fellow travelers—who may privately doubt the claims of the dogma but see no alternative to preaching it; and its victims, many of whom in the US especially have dutifully swallowed their pill and proudly proclaim the virtues of a doctrine whose benefits they will never see.

But there is nothing innocent about Western (and Eastern) commentators’ voluntary servitude before the new pan-orthodoxy. Many of them, Ketman-like, know better but prefer not to raise their heads above the parapet. In this sense at least, they have something truly in common with the intellectuals of the Communist age. One hundred years after his birth, fifty-seven years after the publication of his seminal essay, Milosz’s indictment of the servile intellectual rings truer than ever: “his chief characteristic is his fear of thinking for himself.”

-Tony Judt ‘Captive minds, then and now‘ The New York Review of Books

common system

As long as society’s best minds were occupied by theological questions, it was possible to speak of a given religion as a way of thinking of the whole social organism. All the matters which most actively concerned the people were referred to it and discussed in its terms. But that belongs to a dying era. We have come by easy stages to a lack of a common system of thought that could unite the peasant cutting his hay, the student poring over formal logic, and the mechanic working in an automobile factory. Out of this lack arises the painful sense of detachment or abstraction that oppresses the ‘creators of culture.’ Religion has been replaced by philosophy which, however, has strayed into spheres increasingly less accessible to the layman. The discussions of Husserl by Witkiewicz’s heroes can scarcely interest a reader of even better-than-average education; whereas the peasants remained bound to the Church, be it only emotionally and traditionally.

-Czeslaw Milosz The Captive Mind

While most evangelicals were watching Gunsmoke and taking their kids to the newly opened Walt Disney World, Schaeffer was listening and watching as a new worldview was taking hold of the larger culture

-Albert Mohler ‘How Will We Live Now? Francis Schaeffer’s “How Should We Then Live” After 40 Years

playing pretty

A play where the flow is perfect, the rhythm is perfect,” Curry said. That is how he defined beautiful basketball.

Jerry West, a Hall of Fame player for the Lakers who, as a team executive, built decades of championship rosters, is now a consultant to the Warriors.

“Aesthetics absolutely matter,” West said. “They matter because it usually means you’re more proficient in what you’re doing.”

In other words, these days, playing pretty is playing to win.

-John Branch ‘The Golden State Warriors Play the Beautiful Game‘ The New York Times

to perform

Global fame at the age of 22 is early, but not sudden, not if the will to get there possessed you as a child and had you standing at the top of the stairs singing the same song over and over, trying the patience of your family, who nevertheless understood and supported you. “I remember so clearly being just enamored and overwhelmed by the mystery of Judy Garland in ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ and her voice and her power as a performer,” she said. “It used to make me cry, and even when I was really little I always wanted to be an actress.” (As if fated, Gaga will star in Bradley Cooper’s remake of “A Star Is Born,” in the role previously played by Garland.)

To perform is not a need for her, it is a must: “My whole life is a theater piece.” She doesn’t remember herself as being different from her classmates, though she will concede that they may have felt it in her eagerness to practice, in her willingness to miss out on the fun, to be in almost every school show, the jazz band, to study piano, take ballet and tap classes. Her career answered them.

-Darryl Pinckney ‘Lady Gaga on Her New Album — and Everything That Came Before‘ The New York Times Style Magazine


He finds, as we all do perhaps, that the pace of life is faster today than it was a generation ago. Estates are “no longer family-transferred like before” and maintained lovingly with a deference to history and patrimony, but sold to new owners who have a different take on how things should be, and a garden’s lifespan is growing shorter. Whereas once a gardener planted with the hope that in a half-century his work would be complete — slender saplings aging into great oaks, small shrubs into immense hedges — now a gardener may only have a few years. It is an artistry whereby the artist rarely sees his vision fully realized.

-Dana Thomas ‘Gardens by France’s most revered landscape designer‘ The New York Times Style Magazine

I am able to be in the room when a decision is made. I am on the scene when a story is being covered. And I am one more voice in the room asking questions. A lot of people talk, write, and even preach about ‘converting Hollywood’ or ‘bringing morals back to television.’

And you know what? Most of the people who have written on this topic have never spent a day working in either industry. They suggest boycotts and campaigns, but I don’t think that approach always works. I think sometimes God uses us most effectively when we are involved in the day-to-day operations–when we get coffee with a colleague, work late at night on a story, or write a script with a coworker. Take a seat at the table where your voice can be heard. Organizational change is most effective coming from the inside, rather than the outside looking in.

-Megan Alexander Faith in the Spotlight