Sunday, November 30, 2014

Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)

"Whatever is popular is wrong," 

~ Oscar Wilde.

I'll go a lot farther and say flat out, "VULGARITY IS VILE." Put in today's unfortunate vernacular that means COMMONNESS IS NOT COOL. ;-)

My instincts have always told me to avoid crowds, avoid confusion, and avoid confrontation as much as possible. I became aware early on that advertising was nothing but manipulation through a form of mass hypnosis, and so I became immune to its fake appeal. I won't even use the name again in commenting on the subject in the title of this article, because even that would be going along with the cultural pollution and degenerate, socially destructive policies we should regard as extremely distasteful.


A well-known, self-described atheist in the blogosphere quipped:

”Black Friday: The day after people give thanks for what they have and then go out and trample each other for things they don't have.”

I felt compelled to deny that assertion, because in Truth the Kingdom of God is within each one of us, regardless of his or her physical or economic circumstances, there is nothing we truly need that we do not have with us all the time.

We have only to recognize God's presence in order to benefit from His limitless store of Love and Wisdom. To deny His presence is to shut ourselves off from Him, and deny ourselves His protection.

Learning to understand who and what He is is the work of a lifetime.

We must shed our acquired sophistication, our beetle-shelled cynicism, and above all our Vanity, Conceit and Self-Centeredness in order to render ourselves as open –– and as credulous –– as a little child, if we are to receive the ever present Gift of Divine Love. That requires daily battle with the monstrous force of egoism –– a battle few-if-any ever win completely.

May God forever bless you, and keep you, and open your heart to His great glory.

PS: Whether you choose to believe it or not, God is with you whenever your heart feels love.

St. Paul (artist's representation)


  1. I recommend two articles to follow this one up.

    1) Oscar Wilde's lecture to art students from which the opening quote is taken. If you already know it, you'll still enjoy it.

    2) CS Lewis' Beyond Personality (1944) A transcript of a series of radio lectures, in which Lewis describes, pretty much without apology, christianity as he understands it. Dunno how easily you can find it, I picked it up cheap from a book fair -- I'll send mine to you, if you like FT, I'd be interested to hear to what extent you agree with it.

  2. Christmas shopping the day after Thanksgiving used to be such fun.

    No more!

    Shoppers are now aggressive and mean spirited. People get shot for jockeying over precious parking spaces.

    Not for me!

    I can't stand crowds, anyway. Some kind of weird group dynamic takes over.

  3. Ken Ya Believe this ObamanationNovember 30, 2014 at 8:26 AM

    To celebrate “Black Friday” a mob of black teens brutally beat up an Whire elderly man, and smashed his car in Memphis

    Uncivilized bastards...Lock them up and throw the away the key. All they know how to do is kill, destroy and blame.

    The Obama Administration literally wants race violence so they can drum up campaign funds and voter participation. Honestly, any chance they get they start a bunch of shit before an election. In 2016 you can expect the Democrats to start something like Trayvon Martin or Ferguson to get blacks pissed off at whites. Then they'll start talking about sexual assault or child-abuse. They focus on this because it's easier than solving problems like the economy or fighting terrorism. It's no surprise that a bunch of black kids are taking out their anger on whites and will continue unless the Democrats stop this BS.

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  5. A beautiful and well-stated outing, FreeThinke my friend.

    Who else could start with the wisdom of Oscar Wilde and segue into a charitable Christian message?

    Happy Sunday, and Happy Advent. Christ is coming, the light of the world!

  6. Hello, Jez. Having a very late start this morning, so just saw your welcome references at 11:00 AM our time. Thank you for putting Oscar Wilde's words into proper context. I've used them for many years without knowing their origin.I'll be interested to find out if he meant what I've always thought he meant. ;-)

    I believe I could be described as a genuine fan of C. S. Lewis, though I've hardly read all of his works. I've always found him to be a most powerful, engaging, and persuasive intellect.

    I would be grateful if you sent me the transcript in question. Please bear in mind, however, that I am legally blind, and any reading I do must be in very large print, and limited doses. I haven't been able to read traditional printed matter with any degree of comfort in more than ten years. That, of course, is why I spend inordinate amounts of time at this machine.

    Look forward to hearing from you.

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  7. Les, I've asked you -- and everyone else -- please to avoid making "personal remarks." Such commentary, as we should know all too well by now, adds nothing of value to the conversation, and tends to divert attention from whatever point may be at issue.

    While I may not agree with everything he said, in my judgment KYBTON expressed a legitimate point of view that deserves more consideration than a rudely insulting dismissal.

    If you feel like taking exception to his statement, why not explain in some detail what you believe to be wrong with it without insulting him?

    Personally, I am not pleased to see the conversation move toward the tiresome, ever-present theme of racism. Railing on about it from any angle does nothing to advance the cause of fairness, tolerance, understanding, acceptance and improvement; it merely fans the flames of fury that renew and reaffirm old prejudices.

    These endless games of Tit for Tat are a waste of time. It doesn't matter who's right or wrong. The test of value is whether or not these exchanges could possibly be productive.

    I apologize for giving way to too frequent expression of impatience, exasperation and contempt, myself. Nevertheless, I still think it very important in the interests of promoting greater understanding and possible enlightenment to establish parameters that set and maintain higher standards of discourse. We've seen more than enough proof that simplistic, self-serving concepts of the meaning of "freedom" almost invariably lead to abusive practices wholly destructive to civilized conversation.

  8. Thank you, Silver Fiddle. It may seem absurd to those with a narrow, dogmatic turn of mind, but it occurred to me that the-still-controversial literary genius Oscar Wilde and Saul of Tarsus, who became "Saint Paul" after he became an ardent follower of our Jesus, really have a great deal n common.

    Most can't seem to get past Oscar's eccentric, non-conformist attitudes and brittle, often scathing wit informed no doubt by his homosexuality, but underneath his unseemly passions and mannered exterior beat a great heart. This innate love of Charity and beguiling tender-heartedness comes out most famously in The Canterville Ghost, and is even more evident in some of his poetry and lesser known tales, particularly one involving a giant and his garden.

    At any rate, St. Paul's famous words giving the most profound, eloquently phrased disquisition on Love yet written (Corinthians I, 13) seem entirely compatible with Oscar Wilde’s deep, rarely expressed understanding of human nature.

    I’ve always thought it odd that Beauty is rarely-if-ever referred to in the Bible when the Bible in its most inspired and compelling passages evokes the very nature of Beauty so poignantly.

    I don’t believe St. Paul ever used the term, himself, but surely his more optimistic, encouraging passages evoke the very essence of true beauty as well or better than anyone else ever has when he said:

    ”[W]hatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

    ~ St. Paul - Philippians IV, 8 (KJV)

    Could anyone hope to find better words to live by anywhere else?

  9. I'd gathered your eyesight was fading, but didn't realise how much. Sorry for that.
    I hope you're aware of the ability most web browsers have to zoom in and out (tap + or - respectively while holding ctrl). I do that often myself. Also, selecting the text can sometimes improve the contrast on websites with poor choices of colour.

    I have found a scan of "beyond personality" here:
    Dunno the copyright status, but I'm sure Clive wouldn't mind :)

  10. BTW, if anyone sees in me a determination to emphasize the most positive aspects of my religion while eschewing negative thoughts on the subject, [lease understand that this is exactly what Christians are supposed to do.

    While I fully realize now easy it might be to debunk and defame the faith, because of all the dreadful things that happen, I feel it my duty to God, to myself, and to society to look ceaselessly for ways to bolster, enhance and in every way encourage my faith.

    Steeping oneself in arguments fraught with cynicism, insolence, doubt and derision has no appeal to those searching everywhere for affirmation.

    At the same time I see self-roguteousness and captiousness towards others as antithetical to genuine Christian faith. Either we do our best to convert through loving example, or failing that we simply have to "leave them to heaven."

    Chastisement and Castigation have no place in my personal understanding of Christ's Intent -- famous biblical examples to the contrary notwithstanding.

    If Jesus occasionally lost His temper, it could only have been to prove to the world that He was, indeed, fully human. -- the most vital past of His mission.

  11. Hmm, a comment from earlier didn't make it. Gist of it was:
    Sorry about your sight, FreeThinke. Good thing about computers is you can always zoom in or change colours to make text clearer. I found a scan of Beyond Personality, I hope you can read it.

  12. Les, I wish I could get you to understand -- once and for all -- that these threads are not about you, and are not here for you to attempt to control.

    You are welcome to state ideas and opinions dealing specifically with the subject of each thread or relevant tangential issues, but I must ask you once again please to refrain from expressing opinions -- con OR pro -- about about others who comment here or elsewhere, unless they happen to be public figures whose activities may have bearing on all our lives.

    If you can't observe this simple rule, I'll have to ask you to leave once again, and start deleting your remarks.

  13. Jez, just wanted you to know, i you're still looking in that I have read three of the seven lectures by C.S. Lewis. How i wish I'd been able to hear him to deliver them on the air!

    FYI: I was able to enlarge the type to a very satisfactory level. Thank you again for sending the material. It's meaty stuff to say the least, so I will refrain from comment until I've read all seven pieces. I'm taking a few notes as I go along since I lack the great gift of total recall. ;-)

    Needless to say I am favorably impressed with the strength and quality of his argument. It is humbling to try to come to grips with the challenges presented by a mind as fine as his.

  14. How would Jesus express his righteous outrage today at the "moneychangers" against whom railed in the temple?

    Considering that today's "moneychangers" have the self appointed function to create money out of thin air, holding the so-called sacred promise of the state to make good on the debt through the enslaved taxpayers, it appears that the system today is much worse than it was in Jesus' days in the temple.

  15. Waylon: Jesus was angry at the moneychangers because they desecrated the temple. Where in the bible does He resist taxation?

  16. JEZ, I thought the moneychangers literally changed money, making money from changing one currency to another, being that Roman coins weren't actually clean enough to be used in the temple.


  17. Here's a commentary on the cleansing of the temple:

    Cleansing of the Temple

    It is a Catholic source, but I don't think there is anything in there that the fiery of Baptists would find objectionable.

    The moneychangers were providing a legitimate service of selling sacrificial animals to travelers, but they were cheating people in the exchanges.

    Also, the temple authorities granted them space to do this, but it was the space where Gentiles worshiped, making a mockery of Judaism's claim to be a religion of all people.

  18. FreeThinke: here's one last, remaining instalment of Lewis' original broadcast series.

  19. I did some checking, and unfortunately, very few (perhaps only one) recordings of CS Lewis' radio broadcasts have survived.

  20. Some may consider the good rabbis manning the gates of the temple to be shrewd businessmen who profited from changing the coin of the realm of the Roman Empire (dinarii) to shekels at a favorable rate or even an unfair rate of exchange to the temple and those operating it. The temple rabbis also were in the business of lending money to the peasants to pay their taxes which also happened to be collected by those same fine folks since the shekel was the currency unit of tax.

    As SF mentions, another scam perpetrated was the concession of providing the required lambs for the sacrifice on the altars of the temple for the several annual holidays to be celebrated by pilgrims coming to the temple.

    Scam is the term used by another worthy Catholic, Bill O'Reilly, in his well-researched book "Killing Jesus".

  21. Lovely to hear Lewis's beautuful, cultivated voice, and what a luxury to have the text present as well. Thank you, Jez.

    I had read this segment on my own already, and marveled at his clarity in trying to explain the difference between our painfully limiting, earthly sense of Time and that of Eternity, which other metaphysicians have described as "The Eternal Now." How all that is, was, or ever will be always has and always will exist simultaneously in the inscrutable Mind of God.

    These words from Lewis's lecture stood out:

    "If a person didn't know about salt, wouldn't he think that anything with such a strong taste would kill the taste of all the other things in any dish you put it into? We know, as a matter of fact, it brings out the real taste.

    "Well, it's rather like that with Christ. When you've completely given up your-self to His personality you will then, for the first time in your life, be developing into a real person. He made the whole world. He invented it as an author invents characters in a book, all different men that you and I were intended to be.

    "Our real selves are, so to speak, all waiting for us in Him."

    Yes. The incredible paradox that puzzles, disturbs and arouses anger in so many who regard themselves as "thinking people."

    I've fought against it all my life, myself, but as I've aged after weathering many a storm I see more and more how surrender to the Christ Ideal is the only way I could ever hope to find inner peace. However, I am only "a-work-in-progress." As surely you can see for yourself, "I have promises to keep, and miles to go before i sleep." ;-)

  22. In addition, Jez, I found the following particularly helpful, because it clarifies, amplifies and reinforces principles it took me decades even to BEGIN to learn:

    "it's just no good at all going to Christ for the sake of divinity or for a personality. As long as that's what you're bothering about you haven't begun, because the very first step towards getting a real self is to forget about the self. It will come only if you're looking for something else.

    "That holds, you know, even for earthly matters: Even in literature or art, no man who cares about originality will ever be original. It's the man who's only thinking about doing a good job or telling the truth who becomes really original -- and doesn't notice it.

    "Even in social life you'll never make a good impression on other people until you stop thinking what sort of impression you make."

  23. I apologize for being so slow, Jez, but if you'd like I will keep returning to this thread with more examples of snippets from C.S. Lewis's broadcasts I've fond illuminating.

    Also, I'd like to discuss Oscar Wilde's essay once I've read it. To help provide a better sense of background, I read the WIKI article on Oscar last night. I had experienced some of his varied output with pleasure, but had only the vaguest idea of what his life had been like and his formidable achievements as a scholar, editor, linguist and supreme individualist.

    The horrible -- but essentially trivial -- considerations that finally overtook and destroyed him made the life of a unique, incredibly brilliant, remarkably industrious and productive man a terrible tragedy. The dichotomy between sacred and profane, arrogant brilliance and true humility, tenderheartedness and caustic criticism lived inside of him and must have produced constant inner conflict.

    He had a wife and two sons of whom one sees little mention. I can't help but wonder what their lives must have been like both before and after Oscar's tragic downfall?

  24. Don't apologise. It's more than one sitting's worth -- I haven't finished them either. ;) (also, unlike you I'm not taking notes so I probably won't have anything clever to say when I get to the end...)

  25. Jez,

    Perhaps it ought not be so much a matter of being "clever," as one of being honest and sincere?

    At any rate, it feels right and good that we are finally talking to and with -- instead of at -- one another.

    And I thank you once again for recommending material of such fine quality. Like most good things it nourishes as it challenges.

    Hope to see you later.

  26. Honesty and sincerity go without saying; just wanted to manage your expectations re the level of insight I'll likely be bringing to the table. :)

  27. I've just finished the entire series, Jez, and probably took too many notes -- meaning I have selected and lifted many quotations from the texts that struck me as particularly significant or unusually well phrased.

    This one I thought very helpful in trying to see ourselves as individuals from a cosmic perspective:


    "[I]n the case of ... toy soldiers or [a group of] statues, if one came to life, of course that wouldn't make any difference to the rest. They are all separate. But human beings aren't. They look separate because you see them walking about separately. But then, we are so made that we can see only the present moment. If we could see the past, then of course it would look different. For there was a time when every man was part of his mother, and (earlier still) part of his father as well: and when they were part of his grandparents. So if you could see humanity spread out in time, as God sees it, it wouldn't look like a lot of separate things dotted about. It would look like one single growing thing rather like a very complicated tree.

    "Every individual would appear connected with every other. And not only that. Individuals aren't really separate from God any more than from one another. Every man, woman, and child all over the world is feeling and breathing at this moment only because God ... is ‘keeping him going.’”


    There are so many things I like about these lectures I might well write a book of my own enumerating and describing them. Like Lewis, himself, of course I seek always to use what brainpower I may have to find reasons to bolster, reaffirm and enhance my faith. This doubtless annoys skeptical intellectuals who want always to question the veracity of everything. I can see value in this approach, but feel it tends to promote cynicism that in causes anxiety, and resentment that work to promote hostility. That doesn't mean I reject "Science," or wish Darwin had never lived or any of those other rather silly, divisive things that preoccupy Christian Fundamentalists, whom I'd prefer to call "Simplicists" for want of a better term.

    As Lewis clearly states within the body of this magnificent text being a Christian is never a matter of merely following a set of rules.

    Regardless of the grievous errors and fatuous policies made by the temporal-institutional Church over many centuries, the underlying Truth, the bedrock of Creation remains eternal and unchanging no matter how often is is ignored, neglected, abused or twisted to serve venal ends.

    My faith, imperfect as it is, rests in GOD not the Church.

    I find in C.S. Lewis a most powerful, encouraging, utterly beneficent ally in my personal search for fulfillment.

  28. Those are both good bits.
    They're related to one bit -- i'm trying to find it -- that prompted me to recommend this to you -- it's to do with the church, and how it (christians worshipping en masse) is the apparatus through which an individual examines God, like a biologist might use a microscope.

    Ah, here it is
    "... the one really adequate instrument for learning about God, is the whole Christian community, waiting for Him together. Christian brotherhood is, so to speak, the technical equipment for this science -- the laboratory outfit. That's why all these people who turn up every few years with some patent simplified religion of their own as a substitute for the Christian tradition are really wasting time. Like a man who has no instrument but an old pair of field glasses setting out to put all the real astronomers right. He may be a clever chap -- he may be cleverer than some of the real astronomers, but he isn't giving himself a chance."

    Isn't it better the way he says it?

    Lewis clearly thinks the Church is important. I suppose he means the fellowship here, while you mean the Institution above?

  29. Being something of a determined individualist, Jez, I can't say I completely agree with Lewis on every point. I am wary and highly suspicious of any form of GroupThink no matter how well motivated it purports to be.

    I think what Lewis might have meant -- and what I, myself, would support -- is the idea that gathering together for the specific purpose of affirming and enhancing our faith -- IF that is what we truly are doing -- is or could be of great value for ourselves as individuals and for society as a whole.

    Getting together for the purpose of looking down on those not so fine, so noble or enlightened as our august selves (a regrettable phenomenon that occurs all too frequently to say the least) would be un-Christian and counter-productive to spreading any proper understanding of the Word.

    Smugness and self-righteousness have nothing to do with solid faith in Jesus Christ. They fall under the heading of Vanity (Pride), and ought to be discouraged at every turn.

    So actually I have little respect for the Institution of the Church as such, but the highest regard for the best it has fostered in art, music, architecture, literature, mysticism, and such -- and for those who honestly search for ways to keep their faith alive and working through practical application in daily life.

    I've been disappointed in myself at the degree of resentment I've expressed toward those who don't share my beliefs or understand my passions. I've been wrong and have betrayed the faith in letting myself give way to anger and feelings of contempt.

    It may sound trite, but there should never be a time when The Golden Rule does not apply.

    Another way of saying it would be we should never respond in kind when approached with disagreeable conduct or unwanted assertions, etc.

    This is very hard to do without sounding priggish, especially in today's world where indolence and carelessness, insolence and disrespect seem to have become standard.

    At any rate, these radio lectures are for me an inexhaustible treasure.

    I hope I've given you a satisfactory reply?

  30. PS: I have read about two-thirds of Wilde's lecture, and have enjoyed it, as you predicted, although his passion for vivid, theatrical overstatement sometimes gets in the way of serious points he's trying to make, as well I should know. ;-) In the main I certainly agree with his thesis telling us the importance of understanding the different between good and bad art -- between the prosaic and the profound, the merely pretty and the truly beautiful, the diverting and the directing, the evocative and the didactic, etc. -- plus the often missed kinship and great similarity between the Sacred and the Profane.

    The true artist's struggle against the Academy and Philistinism was highly active concern in the nineteenth century. Unfortunately, these days the Philistines seem to have been overcome and pretty much done in by the neo-Barbarians while the devotees and practitioners of true art have been relegated to the sidelines at best, oblivion at worst.

    Perhaps it has been ever thus? The glorification of Low to the detriment of High for false-humanitarian reasons has become an intellectual, spiritual and aesthetic plague. One can only hope that -- like the Black Death of former times -- it too shall pass.

    But then there's always that unknown "Rough Beast" slouching on its way toward Bethlehem, isn't there?

    Endless strife, however, seems endemic to human existence no matter how far Medicine, Science and Technology appear to advance.

    Could that be the "carrot" that keeps the "donkey" forever on the move? ;-)

  31. I'm glad you enjoyed both items.

    Of course, I don't interpret Lewis' emphasis on christian fellowship as advocacy for groupthink. But that's my objection to church too, I can't abide groupthink.

  32. Well then, we appear to have have found common ground at last. ;-) HALLELUJAH!

    I hope you and yours thoroughly enjoy the Christmas Season.



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