Wisdom Archive

Quote from Cecil Chesterton Part II

Posted May 24, 2024 By John C Wright

A second quote from Cecil Chesterton, brother to GK Chesterton, from his slim volume A History of the United States (1919).

I quote it here to solicit the opinions of my readers as to the soundness of the opinion, and its application to the modern day. I draw the reader’s attention to the final line in particular.  


Another principle, not connected by any direct logic with democracy and not set forth in the Declaration of Independence, was closely associated with the democratic thesis by the great French thinkers by whom that thesis was revived, and had a strong hold upon the mind of Jefferson—the principle of religious equality, or, as it might be more exactly defined, of the Secular State.

So many loose and absurd interpretations of this principle have been and are daily being propounded, that it may be well to state succinctly what it does and does not mean.

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Quote from Cecil Chesterton

Posted May 23, 2024 By John C Wright

Quote from Cecil Chesterton, brother to GK Chesterton, from his slim volume A History of the United States (1919).

I quote it here to help quell the eternal and eternally foolish false controversy provoked by the misreading of the word “equality” propounded during unserious political polemics. 


The first principles set out in the Declaration must be rightly grasped if American history is understood, for indeed the story of America is merely the story of the working out of those principles. Briefly the theses are two: first, that men are of right equal, and secondly, that the moral basis of the relations between governors and governed is contractual.

Both doctrines have in this age had to stand the fire of criticisms almost too puerile to be noticed.

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Infinite Problems with Infinite Universes

Posted April 9, 2024 By Guest

A Reader with the binary name of The Deuce wrote a post on the self-defeating nature of multiverse arguments. I reprint it here as a guest post.

The biggest problem with the multiverse idea (beyond the fact that it’s simply a post-hoc rationalization to explain away the necessity of an intellect behind the natural world) is that it ultimately has to assume what it’s trying to disprove: Namely that mind is real and irreducible to the action of blind, physical matter.

Conjuring up infinite chance resources to explain things has no limiting principle. The logic that multiverse proponents use to explain away cosmic-fine tuning, the origin of life, the evolution of conscious rational creatures, etc., could in principle be used to explain away *any* observation. Eg. “No, I didn’t steal the cookie from the cookie jar. It’s just that given infinite universes, there had to be infinite ones where the cookie dematerialized at the same time that I entered the kitchen alone, and that’s what happened here.”

Followed consistently, such thinking would be fatal to all empirical inferences of causality and science itself.

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Lamplighter on Formatting

Posted April 1, 2024 By Mrs. Wright
A community service post, by my lovely and talented wife,  who writes under her pen name, L. Jagi Lamplighter, on how to format a manuscript:

This is the format that, until recently, all editors wanted stories to arrive in. Nowadays, what different editors want may differ more, but this is till the default, should the specific place you are submitting to not give instructions.

  1. Name and address in the upper left. On the right, the number of words.
  2. About five spaces down, the title.
  3. One space, then author’s name.
  4. About another five spaces…putting it at the center of the page, the first page starts. (Pages after that are normal, no extra spaces needed)
  5. Every paragraph should be indented five spaces.
  6. Double space—all lines. No extra spaces between paragraphs.
  7. One inch margins.

What you do not want to do, ever, is send a manuscript to an editor or typesetter in Blog Format—i.e. no indent, extra space between paragraphs.

One manuscript was delivered to Superversive Press this way. The typesetter did not realize this and typeset it as is—with an extra line between every paragraph.

When the error was detected and the book reformatted (after the first dozen or so had sold), it shortened the final paper volume by well over 150 pages—which allowed the publisher to cut the price.

So this is not a small matter.

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Thanksgiving: The Vanity of Plato’s Conceit

Posted November 23, 2023 By John C Wright

As a public service, we reprint last year’s column for any readers who may have missed it.

For this Thanksgiving, let us give thanks for the lesson learned by the Pilgrims in the first harsh years of their colony.

The real history of the Mayflower Pilgrims was recounted by their leader, William Bradford, in his book Of Plymouth Plantation (1647).

The words below are his, where he explains how, at first the colonists attempted to hold all property in common:

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On Reparations for Historic, Collective Wrongs

Posted November 3, 2023 By John C Wright

From the Pen of Michael Z Williamson, genius. This originally appeared here in 2014, but was worth reposting.

Dear United Nations:

I note with approval that there’s a bill before the US Congress to compensate African Americans for their mistreatment in the past. However, I was talking to a Russian Jewish friend of mine, and it occurred to me that her ancestors were slaves to Nubian Africans. Should she not be compensated also?

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Guest Column: The New Paganism

Posted June 27, 2023 By John C Wright

Hilaire Belloc generously agreed to pen an essay on the most recent topics, ripped from current headlines, for my journal today.

That is did so precisely one ninety-two years ago, in 1931, is a testament to the width of his worldview, its universal application, which grants him prescience akin to prophecy.

One might even call such a universal worldview catholic.

— The New Paganism —

by Hilaire Belloc

Our civilization developed as a Catholic civilization. It developed and matured as a Catholic thing. With the loss of the Faith it will slip back not only into Paganism, but into barbarism with the accompaniments of Paganism, and especially the institution of slavery. It will find gods to worship, but they will be evil gods as were those of the older savage Paganism before it began its advance towards Catholicism.

The road downhill is the same as the road up the hill. It is the same road, but to go down back into the marshes again is a very different thing from coming up from the marshes into pure air. All things return to their origin. A living organic being, whether a human body or a whole state of society, turns at last into its original elements if life be not maintained in it. But in that process of return there is a phase of corruption which is very unpleasant.

That phase the modern world outside the Catholic Church has arrived at.

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A Message to Garcia by Hubbard

Posted June 7, 2023 By John C Wright
I thought this worth reprinting for those who had never seen it. A reminder of folksy Americanism from the prior Turn of the Century. Enjoy.


A Message to Garcia

By Elbert Hubbard

In all this Cuban business there is one man stands out on the horizon of my memory like Mars at Perihelion. When war broke out between Spain and the United States, it was very necessary to communicate quickly with the leader of the insurgents. García was somewhere in the mountain fastnesses of Cuba—no one knew where. No mail nor telegraph message could reach him. The President must secure his cooperation, and quickly.

What to do!

Someone said to the President, “There’s a fellow by the name of Rowan will find García for you, if anybody can.”

Rowan was sent for and given a letter to be delivered to García. How “the fellow by the name of Rowan” took the letter, sealed it up in an oilskin pouch, strapped it over his heart, in four days landed by night off the coast of Cuba from an open boat, disappeared into the jungle, and in three weeks came out on the other side of the island, having traversed a hostile country on foot and delivered his letter to García, are things I have no special desire now to tell in detail.

The point I wish to make is this: McKinley gave Rowan a letter to be delivered to García; Rowan took the letter and did not ask, “Where is he at?” By the Eternal! there is a man whose form should be cast in deathless bronze and the statue placed in every college of the land. It is not book learning young men need, nor instruction about this and that, but a stiffening of the vertebrae which will cause them to be loyal to a trust, to act promptly, concentrate their energies; do the thing—“Carry a message to García!”

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And All the Powers of Hell!

Posted June 2, 2023 By John C Wright

My beautiful and talented wife reports, that, at long last, the final installment of her essay Defending the Wood Perilous. She may, in time, write more on the subject, but this is the culmination of the original theme.


Who is the greatest peril of all?

Who is the danger who, more than any other, has managed to convince the modern world not to be afraid of him?

Who has done such a good job of publicly de-clawing himself that he has convinced us that he does not exist?

The Devil.

If we truly wish to Defend the Wood Perilous, to put heart back into heroes and soul back into stories, we have to give the Devil his due by restoring to him his perilousness.

He is the most dangerous destructive being in the universe—and yet most modern people chuckle if his name is mentioned. This is a far greater con than the Spider and the Tiger. This is the greatest con ever pulled.

I thought this next part was going to be hard. Then I read of a real-life visit to Hell, and I realized… to restore the true majesty and depravity of the Devil, all we need to do is break his spell.

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On Logismoi

Posted May 31, 2023 By John C Wright


Wisdom from our Eastern Orthodox brethren concerning Logismoi which is the struggle to bring thoughts into meek obedience. Our own PJ Wizard brought this useful word to my attention.

Here are some excerpts from the Mountain of Silence by Kyriacos Markides in his conversation with Fr. Maximos (now Metropolitan Athanasios of Limassol) on the stages of Logismoi:

“The holy elders,” Father Maximos claimed, “identify five stages in the development of a logismos. Of course, I am speaking of a logismos that goes contrary to God’s laws. The first is the assault stage, when the logismos first attacks our mind.”

“Let me give you an example. A thought enters our mind in the form of a suggestion urging us, let us say, to steal. It is as if this logismos knocks at the door of our mind and tells us: ‘Look at this pile of money. Nobody is looking. Take it.’

“When such a logismos strikes, no matter how sinful it may be, it does not render us accountable,” Father Maximos explained. “The quality of our spiritual state is not evaluated on the basis of these assaults. In simple language we commit no sin. The holy elders throughout the ages were relentlessly tempted and assaulted by similar and even worse logismoi.

“The second stage according to the holy elders is what they called interaction.

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On Writing as a Fantasist

Posted May 28, 2023 By John C Wright

This article was written for Tangent #18, Spring 1997  by the great Dave Wolverton. Reprinted here in unauthorized form for the sake of preserving this significant essay. The words below are his. 

On Writing as a Fantasist

By Dave Wolverton

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Seven Answers to the Problem of Pain

Posted May 8, 2023 By John C Wright

A reader with the sunny, angelic, yet septentrionic name of Uriel7 penned a miniature guest column last year, which was brought to my attention again, and which I think merits repeating:

There are seven answers to “the problem of pain” or “how to be happy”.

The Buddhist answer. Existence is pain. Happiness is illusion. Blessedness comes from cessation of existence.

The Pantheist answer. Division – existence as a separate being – is pain. Happiness is found by becoming one with everything – cessation of existence as an individual being.

The Hedonist answer. Existence is pointless suffering and happiness is a lie. Existence can be rendered more tolerable by the maximization of pleasure and minimization of pain.

The Stoic answer. Existence is suffering. The self-commanded man can become happy by disregarding pleasure & pain, becoming indifferent to the travails of the world and motivated only by his sovereign will.

The Gnostic/Bolshevik answer. The current state of existence is a lie designed to entrap and disenfranchise men by an evil and arbitrary authority. The internalization of this evil system by men produces suffering. Happiness can be found if the current order is destroyed; thus, for salvation to be accomplished, both the current state of existence and the nature of man must be changed. This change can only be accomplished by transgression and destruction. The new order of salvation will arise once sufficient transgression and destruction has been accomplished, bringing happiness.

The Theistic answer. Suffering is brought about by transgression of the Law, given by God. Salvation comes through following the Law. If you are saved, God will make you happy. This understanding is fundamentally transactional; pay undeserved suffering & obedience, receive happiness.

The Christian answer. For man, suffering and death came with the Fall. God blessed and hallowed suffering and death by Himself choosing to suffer and die – so He does not ask of us anything He has not done Himself.

Salvation comes via cooperation with God – He who is the Real, the Beautiful, the True, and the Good in His very nature.

This cooperation is accomplished through obedience and imitation of Christ, the Logos – the Way, the Truth, and the Life, the right order and reason of all things.

Obedience consists, in part, of accepting suffering – to “embrace the Cross” as our Captain sought and embraced His Cross. Happiness, in this life and the next, comes from union with God – a “marriage” between God and man. This is a non-transactional relationship. Ultimately, those Saved will become Sons of God – things like Himself, in union with Him.

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This is the Work to be Done

Posted October 22, 2022 By John C Wright

A unexpected guest column from our own radio-jockeyish yet thaumaturgical RJ Wizard. The words below are his. Perhaps we should heed them:

These comments follow a pattern. Mr. Wright posts the latest miscarriage of justice, and several commenters (not always the same ones) howl War! and suggest we lower ourselves to various, but not explicitly identified, forms of violence. I don’t think most people realize how far down the pike we are. That they so freely and without thought throw such words out there, out of all context and consideration.

I just read Walker Percy’s THE MOVIEGOER published in 1960 (that is 62 years ago, more than two generations have passed) and one of his characters laments the post-Christian world of lax sexual visions.

Post-Christian. Think about that. Walker Percy was no dummy (see LOVE in the RUINS). 1960. He was calling it, our world, his Southern, Bible-belt world, post-Christian before the onslaught of the sexual revolution made its first major assault (though the battle was well underway plenty before then) and the general downfall in public decorum, manners. Before the full on assault on education, morality and every single thing that Western Civilization stands for and rests upon was openly underway. Before openly and publicly spitting on Christ was openly and publicly applauded. Before Christian was a sneer word. Before Jesus was invited into the pot circle as an eastern guru in the late 60’s and early 70’s.

Now if it be true that it was already a post-Christian world by then, what is it now sixty-two years later?

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Coop Le Presto on Celeborn’s Glory

Posted September 19, 2022 By John C Wright

I found this comment while wandering at random amid the wilds of social media, and asked Mr. LePresto to share it with you. The words below are his:

Shout out to my man Celeborn.

According to the Rings of Power, Galadriel is THE MOST insufferable, toxic, unlikable, arrogant, conceited, self-centered, RETARDED, elf on Middle Earth and one of the most incompetent leaders you could have the misfortune of serving under.

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Remark on Geo RR Martin

Posted June 15, 2022 By John C Wright

A friend sent me this remark, and I pass it along without comment:

The issue Martin ran into with ASOIAF [A Song of Ice and Fire] is, ironically, one of this own hand… he spent five books subverting expectations, killing key characters, torturing and scattering the survivors to the ends of creation… and only now realized that there’s no way in hell he can actually bring them all back in one place and piece together a story that makes sense in just two books. The problem with endless deconstruction is that, eventually, you have nothing left to build with.

That legacy is why Martin will never write the book – the old hippie has made his life’s work a refutation of classic fantasy like Tolkien, and admitting that maybe he was wrong? That would sting worse than even declining sales. Better an unfinished book with a ton of questions than a badly ended one that disproves its own central thesis.

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