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Random Notes

By R. J. Rushdoony
May 01, 1998
  1. Chambord, a castle in the Loire region of France, was build for King Francis I. It contained 440 rooms, 80 staircases, 365 fireplaces, and about 13,750 acres of gardens and carefully tended grounds, with stocked game within the 20 or so miles of the boundary walls. Francis I, who prided himself on his correct manners, was, however, by no means a faithful husband. Was it because he had trouble finding the queen's bedroom in that jungle of rooms?
  2. The historian, Louis B. Wright, wrote a delightful account of his boyhood in Barefoot in Arcadia (1974). He tells the story of one South Carolina physician, Dr. McLeod. A patient who had not paid his bill swore at the doctor for dunning him for payment. The angry doctor grabbed his revolver and chased him down the street, firing at him every few feet. So Dr. McLeod ran past a stranger and snatched the man's hat and put it on his own head. In his trial for assault and battery, the puzzled judge asked, "Dr. McLeod, will you tell the court why you snatched the stranger's hat?" Dr. McLeod answered, "Your honor, I left my office hurriedly and was without my hat, and no gentleman likes to be conspicuous in public" (p. 148). In those days, a gentleman never forgot he was a gentleman!
  3. Psychiatrist Chester M. Pierce, in a 1973 speech at a Childhood International Education Seminar, said, "Every child in America entering school at the age of 5 is mentally ill because he comes to school with certain allegiances to our founding fathers, toward elected officials, toward his parents, toward belief in a supernatural being. . . . It's up to you as teachers to make all these sick children well—by creating an international child of the future" (Dr. Thomas Roder, Volker Jubilbers, Anthony Burwell: Psychiatrists, The Man Behind Hitler [Los Angels, California: Freedom Publishing, 1995], 306).
  4. Another choice item from Louis B. Wright's Barefoot in Arcadia is about the storekeeper's cat. It was run over by a wagon, leaving some new-born and blind kittens. To keep them warm for the time being, the storekeeper put the kittens under a setting hen. While filling an order for a boy sent there by his mother, he asked the boy to check on the hen. When the boy returned, the storekeeper asked, "Well, son, what do you think of the hen's brood?" The boy replied, "Didn't think much, but I know one thing. I done et my last egg" (p. 160).
  5. Amazing, how rapidly things change! My early years on the farm were horse and buggy days, and then came the Model T Ford years. One of the happy memories of those times was the hand-muffs that women used in the winters. On a wintry night, in a buggy or an open touring car, it was a very good feeling to slip one's hands into the muff my mother carried.

    Another memory is of button hooks; some were quite ornate and attractive. A child's shoes then, and some adult footwear also, were buttoned-hooked.

    Then, as high school students, girls wore their hair in snoods, which made their hair neat and more attractive. Snoods were nets for long hair.
  6. Occasionally, I enjoy browsing in or reading a book on the history of foods. Some interesting facts about the history of gourmet cooking emerge. First, a major reason for the development of excellent sauces and recipes was the lack, in much of history, of refrigeration. Expert chefs covered the taste of over-aging meats with superb sauces. Second, many foods, vegetables in the main, were prepared and served very tastefully because it was believed they were aphrodisiacs. Men ate them in the belief that it would stimulate their sexual prowess, and women served them to husbands or lovers with the same hope.

    I wonder, was that argument ever used on boys, "Eat your vegetables, Bobby, so your wife, when you grow up and marry, won't be disappointed by you!"

    An older book I just read, George Lang's Compendium of Culinary Nonsense and Trivia, lists many recipes for making vegetables more appealing, in by-gone years, to men.
  7. An interesting comment in Kai-fu Tsao's The Relationship Between Scholars and Rulers in Imperial China (1984) concerns the United States. The author saw the U. S., and its break with Britain, as the work of scholars like Samuel Adams, James Otis, and others. Otis wrote a treatise on Latin and Greek prosody. Men like John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and John Quincy Adams were learned men, masters of political theory, with an extensive knowledge of history (p. 184f.). In that era, the U. S. "was led by scholars." Franklin Delano Roosevelt's "brain trust" was a brief harkening back to this early emphasis.
  8. In 1924, the average American income was $2,196; a new car cost $265; a loaf of bread was 9 cents; a gallon of gas was 11 cents and a gallon of milk (not quart) was 54 cents. We were then still on the gold standard. Calvin Coolidge was then president. Ten years later, in 1934, the Depression was under way, and the average income was $1,601; a new car was $625; a loaf of bread was 8 cents; a gallon of gas was 10 cents; and a gallon of milk was 45 cents. I recall, in 1933 during a "gas price war," one service station that offered ten gallons of gas free with an oil change and a lubrication job.
  9. A few years ago, John H. Schaar, in an essay on "Power and Purity" (American Review 19, p. 166n.), observed in a footnote of Hegel's maxim, "'A hero is never a hero to his valet' — not because the hero is not a hero, but because the valet is a valet." Little men belittle everything.
  10. As the 20th century nears its finish, it is interesting to remember (or to reread in century-old magazines) that people a century ago rightly expected all kinds of remarkable inventions to mark the era, but wrongly expected that man's inner problems and failings would be solved thereby. The expected century of progress became the bloodiest century of history with the rise of new and worse tyrannies, great wars, famines, slave labor camps, mass murders, and the like. Without religious and moral progress, advancing technologies only give evil men more scope in their powers.

Topics: American History, Culture , Family & Marriage, R. J. Rushdoony, World History

R. J. Rushdoony

Rev. R.J. Rushdoony (1916–2001), was a leading theologian, church/state expert, and author of numerous works on the application of Biblical law to society. He started the Chalcedon Foundation in 1965. His Institutes of Biblical Law (1973) began the contemporary theonomy movement which posits the validity of Biblical law as God’s standard of obedience for all. He therefore saw God’s law as the basis of the modern Christian response to the cultural decline, one he attributed to the church’s false view of God’s law being opposed to His grace. This broad Christian response he described as “Christian Reconstruction.” He is credited with igniting the modern Christian school and homeschooling movements in the mid to late 20th century. He also traveled extensively lecturing and serving as an expert witness in numerous court cases regarding religious liberty. Many ministry and educational efforts that continue today, took their philosophical and Biblical roots from his lectures and books.

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