The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014
Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology
The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious
: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain
April 14, 2014
Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time
: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic
: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships
: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin
: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate
: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure
April 11, 2014
Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden
: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does
: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer
: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You
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
: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau
: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease
April 8, 2014
Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease
Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear
April 4, 2014
A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children
Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet
Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds
Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves
April 2, 2014
Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?
Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities
It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene
Jewish World Review
Nov. 29, 2012/ 15 Kislev, 5773
Man of the century
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.
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