About Flyoverpen

This blog is an online journal dedicated to commentary on all sorts of issues of the past, present and future: political, cultural and spiritual.  In all of these domains, my own perspective is unabashedly conservatarian and orthodox Christian.  The best way I know to try to fill this out is to explicate the words of the site subtitle, all of them carefully chosen—

  • Veritas (Truth).  Today this word is one of the most controversial in our public lexicon, but it shouldn’t be.  The only rationally plausible view of truth is that it is objective and absolute.  Attempts to treat truth as relative to a group or culture—most notably today by those who can be classified under the rubric of postmodernism—collapse immediately into ineluctable self-refutation.  When followed to its logical end, truth-relativism forces its advocates either to melt away into pathetic and futile moral ennui or to seek a basis for agency in naked, raw power.  Does this mean that everything said in this journal by me or commenters is necessarily true?  By no means: we mortals are all fallen creatures with spatiotemporal limitations.  Whatever is said here, however, must be truthful, i.e. truth as best we can know it.  Deceitfulness is summarily cast beyond the pale.  Where do I find truth: in matters secular, by conscientiously seeking, as a substantive person/subject, to bring about consistent and reliable sensory connections between myself and the cosmic reality around me; in matters spiritual, to come to know the will of God via the Bible and through the person of his Son, Jesus Christ.
  • Libertas (Liberty).  This word is also controversial.  There are those who insist that it means freedom from want or need.  Others take it to mean a casting aside of virtually all restraints on human behavior as long as one person doesn’t “harm” another.  The first inevitably ends with the tyranny required to plunder the “haves” on behalf of the “needy;” the second terminates eventually in anomie and moral degeneracy.   My understanding of liberty requires an implicit modifier, ordered. We cannot take down the street light and let everybody barrel through the four-way intersection whenever they want without producing wreckage and carnage.  It also presupposes the sovereignty of the individual; collective liberty is oxymoronic.  This doesn’t mean that people shouldn’t collaborate in groups to achieve certain ends, only that such collective efforts should be the free choice of the individuals who form the group, not compliance arbitrarily imposed by some powerful authority.  I believe that this concept of liberty, as ordered and rooted in individual sovereignty, is the only one that is approved and commanded by the Bible.
  • Lex Naturalis (Natural Law).  Today many believe that there is no basis in law, either ethical or epistemological, for absolute principles.  Such legal relativism takes a number of forms, among them positivism, historicism and the so-called “living constitution.”  They all have in common a repudiation of natural law, which specifies absolute principles that are transtemporal and transcultural.  Natural law is the basis for the founding, in the late 18th century, of the present-day United States.  Therefore those who abjure natural law are enemies of our Declaration of Independence and Constitution.  But what is natural law, and who or what authorizes it?  Natural law, in simple terms, is law as discerned by observing nature and also mandated by the human conscience.  Its authority comes from the Creator God, who implanted knowledge of His law in the conscience.  This implantation itself is perfect, but it is also willfully corrupted by the fallen condition of mankind.  For this reason, natural law needs continuing verification by God’s revealed law as found in the Bible.

But why use Latin words for all this; why not plain English?  There are a couple of reasons.  First, the use of Latin pays honor to historical intellectual tradition.  Latin, contrary to rumors, is not a dead language; it’s just not the present-day patois spoken anywhere by living people.  Until recently it was the primary transgenerational language in the western world for higher intellectual activity; no other language has ever borne this function.

Second, and to my mind more important, the counsel of Latin can sometimes force us to sharpen the rigor we apply to word distinctions and definitions.  Our everyday English contains countless words that trace their etymological ancestry to Latin.  Sometimes language drift pushes such words in a definitional direction that makes them more useful to us; on the other hand, Latin descendants can become corrupted and conflated with other words, which misserves effective communication.

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