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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Nov. 29, 2012/ 15 Kislev, 5773

Man of the century

By Jay Ambrose




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Thanks to Jacques Barzun for a life of teaching that began at age 9 and erupted in an unbelievably great book at the age of 92. He died this past October at 104, leaving thousands grateful for all those years of giving.

I am among those thousands, happy as can be that he left France in his youth, becoming an American citizen who embraced the greatness of Western civilization just as he understood some of its weakening ways.

Though I first encountered some of Barzun's books in my teens, it was not until its publication 12 years ago that I could peruse my favorite, "From Dawn to Decadence: 500 years of Western Cultural Life." It was written in San Antonio. A New York Times obituary says Barzun moved there in his late 80s out of love for the Texas landscape. For much of his life, he had been a New Yorker, a valedictorian as a student at Columbia University and later a professor, provost and dean of faculty there, helping to design its curriculum.

The obituary tells us how upset he was at the student protests at the school in the late 1960s and how he became dismayed, as well, at something else -- how so many university curriculums had disintegrated from a focus on the best of the Western thought and literature to a "bazaar" of this, that and the other. In "Dawn to Decadence," he shares still other regrets after first telling us about major revolutions in Western history, persistent cultural themes that accompanied them and extraordinary achievements that then banged into the Great Illusion.

We're talking here about World War I, which is why Barzun became a teacher of younger children as a child -- many of the adult instructors of his French school had taken off to fight. The war was an illusion initially thought by all sides to be a wondrous glory, although, from 1914 to 1918 it took maybe 10 million lives. There were other losses described by Barzun as the "maimed, the tubercular, the incurables, the shell-shocked, the sorrowing, the driven mad, the suicides, the broken spirits the destroyed careers, the budding geniuses plowed under, the missing births ... " All of this and more "hurled the modern world on its course of self-destruction" as people became disenchanted with past ideas, Barzun writes.

The book's description of the 20th century isn't all bad, but it is hardly encouraging. And here is an intellectual who gets down to earth, as when he talks about a liberal welfare ethos that supplanted the original liberal emphasis on liberty. The state aimed to dictate a kind of perfection with rules applying to just about everything, and all of this became unbelievably costly, especially as sooner or later almost everyone signed on as a victim in need of help.

Meanwhile, when legislation runs thousands of pages, it's not elected representatives who decide details as much as behind-the-scenes technocrats. Debate goes unreported in the press, and polls get more attention than analysis by the politicians who collect millions from lobbyists to elucidate issues through TV sound bites and attacks on the character of their opponents.

The supposedly clever are always irreverent because there is nothing left to be reverent (or clever) about, and everyone is always in a hurry, mostly for entertainment. Let someone get in the way and you've got rebellion on your hands, for who respects any kind of authority anymore? People want to find themselves, forgetting, the author says, that you don't find yourself -- you make yourself. Image, he says, is what counts today, not real worth, and self-contempt runs rampant. Everybody is an amateur psychologist, and the diagnoses are all nonsense, as are dominant philosophies specializing in absurdity.

There's much more, but Barzun is not a pessimist. The consequence of this decadence, he says, is boredom, and the boredom will breed a search for past Western enthusiasms that are waiting to be rediscovered, causing people to pronounce what Erasmus and Wordsworth once said: "Oh, what a joy to be alive."

For that thought, I give Barzun thanks once again.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Comment by clicking here.

Jay Ambrose, formerly Washington director of editorial policy for Scripps Howard newspapers and the editor of dailies in El Paso, Texas, and Denver, is a columnist living in Colorado.


Previously:


11/21/12: A big scandal coming?
11/14/12: U.S. should follow the Swedish path
11/07/12: Hanging from a poll
10/31/12: A dream that wouldn't come true
10/29/12: When the 'kooks' and 'racists' turn out to be your ideological allies
10/24/12: The pettiness refuge
10/18/12: An interruption that tells a bigger tale
10/17/12: A recovery that wasn't
10/12/12: Big Bird squabble points to something real
10/11/12: The 'war' you don't hear about --- the one on average Americans
08/22/12: Obama leadership: Romney's returns trump road to recovery
08/15/12: Saving Medicare the Ryan way
08/01/12: Combatting free speech
07/25/12: Good and bad reactions to Colorado horror
07/18/12: Apology time for Obama
07/16/12: Free markets solve climate change threats
07/11/12: Humans and particles and those who would order them
07/06/12: Why we'll miss Andy Griffith
07/05/12: All will feel Affordable Care Act's bite
07/02/12: A social solution --- homes with dads
06/27/12: Being a 'nation of immigrants' is not an excuse
06/20/12: Barack Obama the autocrat
06/18/12: Bradbury's lessons for today
06/13/12: Should this leaking administration sink?
06/11/12: Simpson bashes back on reform
06/05/12: Legalize sugary drinks, ban dangerous drugs
06/04/12: Keep America from going Greek
06/01/12: Don't believe in Obama's fairy tales
05/30/12: Writing a book? Beats prison
05/23/12: Student loans fail students
05/21/12: Europeanizing America into crisis
05/16/12: Obama a bully, too
05/15/12: Walker recall vote could swing national pension policy
05/07/12: Bumbling, fumbling, benighted, old Washington near tipping point where freedom is done for
05/02/12: The Communists cannot be happy
04/30/12: There's no objective truth, least of all concerning behavior
04/25/12: Forgive the extremist?
04/23/12: Educational excellence is a game
04/18/12: Obama's interventions help a few by the most autocratic, complicated, ineffective means possible, yet hurt many more
04/16/12: Overregulation strikes again: The nanny state threatens to turn us into children
04/11/12: Obama is not bonkers
04/04/12: Will America vote against authoritarianism?
04/02/12: 'Tipping point' on federal restraint approaches
03/28/12: Obama truth from an open mike
03/21/12: The progressive campaign for voter fraud
03/19/12: Public pensions will get us if we don't watch out
03/14/12: Politics needs reporting, not speculation
03/12/12: Home of the free, the brave, the endangered
03/07/12: Obama used Limbaugh as scapegoat
03/05/12: Campaign substance lost in media melodrama
03/01/12: When Big Brother drowns
02/24/12: Obama goes gaseous on gas
02/22/12: Political tears for trust in personal empowerment --- except in the bedroom
02/17/12: Of cut-off ears and silenced mouths
02/15/12: Obama is a joke whose antics aren't funny
02/10/12: An energy boom looms, despite Obama
02/08/12: Obama's assault on faith
02/03/12: Can Romney get serious?
01/27/12: Obama is like an Italian ship captain
01/25/12: Newt Gingrich's first 100 days
01/20/12: Obama's Keystone pipeline lies
01/18/12: Critics worse than urinating Marines
01/13/12: Ron Paul is a cartoonish character
01/11/12: Newt Gingrich upset by Mitt Romney's brilliance
01/09/12: How about regulating presidents, too?
01/04/12: How America smothers itself
12/30/11: A tax break that helps break the nation
12/28/11: Watch out for the banana peel, Newt
12/21/11: A tale of two men
12/16/11: Strange happenings in Russia
12/14/11: Tim Tebow is a man of character
12/09/11: A populist, envy-mongering fraud divisively exacerbating resentment among different groups of Americans
12/07/11: Tax games threaten nation
12/05/11: Why Wal-Mart serves us better than Barney Frank
11/30/11: Not writing off Newt
11/28/11: Answers to the Iranian threat
11/23/11: Failure of the incumbency investment
11/18/11: Occupiers: Chop off their heads!
11/16/11: Obama asks jobless to sacrifice
11/09/11: Michael Moore's insufferable occupation
11/04/11: Political tipping point is coming
11/02/11: Idealogues versus 7 billion
10/28/11: Obama games on student loans
10/26/11: Wit and quick moves v. humanity and thoroughgoing honesty? It's no contest —- or at least shouldn't be
10/07/11: Baptists, bootleggers and Wall Street protesters
10/05/11: Federal law will get you even if you watch out
09/28/11: Leftist bugbears on the march
09/23/11: Still hope for coal to help us
09/21/11: Obama's Madoff ploy
09/19/11: U.S. can't afford to wait until it happens
09/14/11: Defending -- and strengthening -- gung ho collectivism
09/12/11: A pipeline to better times
09/08/11: Obama just keeps destroying jobs
09/06/11: Ultra-feminists thwarting justice
08/31/11: Corporations are people? Yes, Count the ways
08/26/11: What an earthquake tells us about debt
08/25/11: The tyranny of scientific consensus
08/23/11: Fracking hardly a public health threat
08/17/11: Why Obamacare won't control births
08/15/11: Balanced budget amendment unbalanced idea
08/10/11: Kerry's war on citizen speech
08/05/11: Upside to the compromise leaving the door open for obnoxious maneuvers
08/03/11: The people who may save America
07/29/11: On making deals, Obama is no LBJ
07/27/11: The threat behind the debt
07/23/11: Mean opposition to means-testing
07/20/11: Leftist babble makes debt crisis even worse
07/18/11: Time to raise demagoguery ceiling
07/13/11: Obama treating treaties badly
07/08/11: Is decline of U.S. exaggerated?
07/05/11: Not math deficiency, but demagoguery



© 2011, SCRIPPS HOWARD NEWS SERVICE

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