Sabbatical Reading: Talking About a Revolution

Finishing Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France was a bit of a personal triumph for me, so bear with some short musings as catch my literary breath for a moment.

Despite a predilection for complex sentence structures and multi-page paragraphs, Burke is brilliant. At the very least, I walked away with an new appreciation of the French Revolution that contrasted with the neo-Jeffersonian interpretation of events.

Histories I had read emphasize the excesses of the Reign of Terror. Burke acknowledges and decries the atrocities but does not use them to weave a polemic. Instead he focuses on the fundamental shortcomings of the revolutionary government itself. He does not embark on the kind of ideological screed that fills political tracts today as much as he delivers a cogent practical critique of the revolution, and by extension all scorched-earth paroxysms of change. Progress is essential, Burke emphasizes, but change is not the same as progress. and while for true progress to take place there must be change, that change must be modest and incremental.

The phrase that hung above my head as I watched Burke dissect the National Assembly was “consequences unintended, unforeseen but not unforeseeable.” No doubt I will return to his work in the future, but other exponents of the matured values upon which Burke expounded, like Russell Kirk, Max Weber, Leo Strauss, and Irving Babbit, now call for my attention.

A final note: I find it fascinating that Burke, who stands at the center of the Anglo-American conservative pantheon, sounds less like a right-wing icon than he does a moderate conservative, and someone who might well be dubbed a RINO.

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Bye, Baby

After five delightful years, we decided to sell our Itasca Navion motor home. We loved our house-on-wheels, but the painful truth that we discovered was that between my business travel, my son’s school, the demands that scouting placed on our weekends, and my wife’s growing preference for hotel rooms, we just weren’t using it as much as we should.

So we did the best thing for her and for us, and we took her back to the wonderful folks at Conejo RV, who had originally sold her to us, and they gave us a very fair price to pass her on to another (hopefully less busy) family.

I cannot say enough great things about either Itasca (which is to Winnebago what Lexus is to Toyota) or the Navion, or the dealer. We had an unforgettable experience all around, and (don’t tell my wife) I will be purchasing an RV again when 60-70-hour work weeks are no longer a regular occurrence in my life, and when the open road and solo camping are at least a weekend a month.

For now, though, my SUV and my pup-tent are my second home, as is appropriate for a scout leader with a day job.

Bye, baby. And thank you.

A Pitch by Any Other Name

To me it always be “New Highbury” rather than “Emirates Stadium,” but the name is far less important than what this place represents: the home of Arsenal.

Defiantly unlike the curated star lineup that is Manchester United or Chelsea, Arsenal is a scrappy, idiosyncratic North London soccer team that develops players and combines them with overlooked talent from around the world. They are more Dodgers than Yankees, more Lakers than Warriors, more Steelers than Patriots.

And for all of those reasons, they are more lovable, especially to people who have built their success on a mixture of heritage, talent, and determination in the face of adversity.

Maybe I am projecting, but I don’t mind. These are the virtues I admire, I choose my heroes accordingly.

Arsenal won this match, as it happens, a win that bumped them up from 6th in the standings to 5th. An incredible day for me, one that served as a fitting preface to my sabbatical that starts after next week.