The Wisdom of Our Ancestors: Why We Need the Ancient Books

Many years ago, a giant in the field of literature by the name of Clive Staples Lewis – commonly known as C.S. Lewis – wrote a marvelous essay (I believed published posthumously) entitled,  “On The Reading Of Old Books” [Lewis, C.S., GOD in the Dock, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1970.].

In this beautifully written article, C.S. Lewis puts forth the argument that modern men and women too often forsake the wisdom and sage counsel of the “classic writings” of the past.

Why is this so?

Mr. Lewis offers some fascinating insights.

First, and foremost, Lewis observed that many of the students that he taught were often intimidated by the great works of the past.  His students felt that these works would be difficult to read and understand.

Secondly, many of Lewis’ students prefered to read books and articles that dealt with contemporary issues, policy matters, and new jargons /discussions.

Mr. Lewis ‘counsel to his students and to those who would be intimidated by the classics of the past was simply this:  “Dive in!”

Lewis told his students that in all reality that there is nothing for them to be intimidated by for if they would take the time to pick up one of the translations of Plato’s work, they would be surprised by how much of what Plato wrote would be easily accessible.

C.S. Lewis felt that many of the  modern commentaries that attempted to explain Plato’s thought were actually much harder to read than the original works authored by Plato.

Mr. Lewis put forth the thesis that one of the main reasons that the classics MUST BE READ is that they act as a positive antidote against contemporary error and hubris (Greek for overweening pride).

Let us attempt to decipher Lewis’ exhortation.

Lewis put forth the warning that every generation and the people who live in their peculiar time period are subject to the “blind spots” and to “the erroneous thinking of their time.”

Unfortunately, they are (or, we are) so caught up in “the moment that they /we live in” that they /we do not take the time to engage in exercises that would stretch our “self-awareness” by forcing us to take “personal and /or corporate inventory.”

Perhaps an illustration or series of illustrations would help.

In the year 1860, many Americans were indifferent to two things:

(1.) The denial of Women of the right to vote, and (2.) the plight of more than 4 Million descendants of Africa who were enslaved in the “land of freedom and liberty.

Looking back more than 157 years later, we as a people recoil in horror on how the ancestors of Washington, Adams (John and Abigail and Quincy), Thomas Jefferson, and Andrew Jackson could have been so indifferent to the terrible plight of both Women and Negroes (Blacks or African-Americans in today’s parlance).

Yet, if one were to transport oneself back into the 18th and 19th centuries, one would observe that the common disposition of the time period is that submission by women to their husbands – and to men – virtually extended into all areas of economic, political, and social endeavor.

It would not have occurred to most of the men in power (men who were White, Anglo-Saxon and Protestant – WASP) that they were in some way living in a way that was inherently immoral, unethical, or cruel.

Lewis suggested that if Men and Women,  Adolescents and Children would take more time to read the GREAT CLASSICS OF THE PAST – BOOKS SUCH AS:  The Holy Bible, Saint Augustine’s Confessions and The City of GOD, Boethius’ The Consolation of Philosophy, The Credo of the Council of Nicaea (which produced the The Nicaean Creed” which is often affirmed, prayed and recited during Christian Worship services), Saint Francis of Assisi’s The Prayer of Saint Francis, Saint Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologica, Mother Julian’s Revelations of Divine Love et cetera then they /we would possess the tools and means of detecting many of the errors, falsehoods, and deceptions of our own time period.

We would do better at discerning the errors and falsehoods of our own time that continually war against our souls.

Lewis believed that if we had access to future books that they too would work as a positive antidote to our modern afflictions.

But,  because the future has yet to occur then we cannot rely upon future books that have yet to be written to help us “discover the faulty and erroneous thinking of the spirit of our age.

Why should we engage in the reading of old books?

Let me give a couple of essential reasons:

A Matter of Pursuing the Highest Ideals

Christians and Jews are men and women of “Faith.”

Jews look to the Law (The Torah or Old Testament) as their authoritative guide for life and living.

Christians agree with their Jewish friends on the authenticity of the Old Testament, but Christians hold that the 27 books of the New Testament are equally binding (our Jewish friends respectfully disagree).

Nevertheless, both Christians and Jews believe that GOD took the initiative to reveal Himself by The Law – and in the case of the Christian community by providing us with the ultimate Self-disclosure of Himself in the Incarnation of JESUS CHRIST.

What we know about GOD is primarily learned by His Self-Disclosure; we receive His lifeflow by Prayer, The Holy Sacraments and by the Study of His Holy Word.

We must use our minds; we must read, study, and interpret the propositional statements that GOD has given us in order to properly appropriate the Wisdom of the Past in order to live successfully today and in the Future.

A Matter of Growth and Maturity

Years ago, I was taught a quote by the great British writer Matthew Arnold that stated that, No man who knows nothing else knows even his Bible.”

On the surface, this sounds like a scandalously blasphemous statement.

However, upon closer inspection, it seems that Arnold recognized that one could not faithfully embrace the first and great commandment of faith found in The Old Testament Shema (Deuteronomy 6.4-5) unless one was given to a life of serious mental contemplation and study.

The Shema in Deuteronomy 6.4-5 instructs us that:

4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone.

5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. 6 Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. 7 Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. 8 Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, 9 and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

How Are We To Apply This?

We start where we are.

There is an old Chinese adage that the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.

We need to put aside a little bit of time each week to turn off T.V., Smart phones, I-Phones, and electronic devices so that we can take time to reflect, meditate, study, and pray.

GOD walked with Adam and Even “in the cool of the day” (this was a quiet time of intimacy and contemplation).

Our cool of the day would be a time of refreshing, renewal, and reflection.

Secondly, Lewis suggests in his essay that for every current book that we read that we should read at least two old books – dare we say classics – for every new book that we indulge.

If we cannot read 2:1 (two old books for every new book) then we should read at least one old book for every new book that we imbibe.


Life is too short to only rely upon the current wisdom and moral capital of our age; this leaves us in a great deficiency.

Let us live our lives Coram DEO (in the Presence of GOD) and make a concerted effort to seek His Face in His Holy Word and in the Spiritual Classics.

There will be plenty of time to indulge in the worldly wisdom of FOX and MSNBC after we apply ourselves to the true “goldmine” of Eternal Wisdom and Light.

Best Looking Bikes EVAH!

Deplorable Baskets are the coolest things that I have seen in a long time, and they are attached to neon green (my favorite color) rental bicycles! Via The American Mirror:

Just when you think Los Angeles street artist Sabo can’t top himself, he ups his game.

The artist recently posted several photos on Facebook showing his latest work: “Basket of Deplorables” branding on the front of rental bikes.

The ingenious art shows a skull smoking a cigarette with Donald Trump’s signature hair and “Trump 2020”:

“Basket of Deplorables” refers to the derogatory term Hillary Clinton used to describe “half” of Donald Trump’s supporters late in the campaign.

The term, which many saw as an unforced error, became a badge of honor for Trump supporters.



Now, I am too old and crippled up for much bike riding, and I live in a rural area where bikes are salvaged from other people’s trash rather than rented from a city bike renting outlet (or whatever they call them), but, those bikes sure are pretty! I hope Sabo will put similar baskets up for sale somewhere and I can attach ’em to some of the wheeled things that we have hanging around ye olde woodland shack.


MJ Stevenson, AKA Zilla, is best known on the web as Zilla at She lives in a woodland shack near a creek, in one of those rural parts of New York State that nobody knows or cares about, with her family and a large pack of guardian companion animals. 

De Blasio rushes off to G-20

New York City mayor Bill de Blasio (née Warren Wilhelm Jr.) apparently “rushed off at the last minute” to Hamburg, Germany, to join the protestors at the G-20 summit (emphasis added):

Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday skipped an NYPD swearing-in ceremony made somber by this week’s assassination of a cop — then hours later revealed he was busy preparing to jet off on a surprise trip to join leftist protesters at the G-20 summit in Germany.

Hizzoner’s overseas jaunt was kept under wraps until just 90 minutes before he took off from Newark Airport. A last-minute announcement said he “will attend several events surrounding the G-20 Summit, including Saturday’s Hamburg Zeigt Haltung rally.”

Or as the Church Lady said, “isn’t that special!”

Hamburg Zeigt Haltung means Hamburg Shows Attitude, and de Blasio will be the keynote speaker, where the rally organizers will be paying for his expenses and that of his spokesman and two other toadies.

De Blasio, a former sandalista Sandinista supporter who honeymooned in communist Cuba, may have to travel across the Atlantic to Show Attitude, but you can’t expect him to show spine anywhere:

Asked why de Blasio — who spent the day holed up at Gracie Mansion — didn’t join O’Neill to help rally the recruits, spokesman Eric Phillips replied: “Scheduling conflicts.”

I could not find if de Blasio’s “scheduling conflicts” prevented him from calling the relatives of slaughtered NYPD officer Miosotis Familia, but the NY Post reports that

Following Familia’s slaying, her sister, Adriana Sanchez, ripped de Blasio, saying that “the mayor has to do something for this madness to stop,”

since the city is not protecting its police officers.

De Blasio left town to Show Attitude, but the NY Post gets the final word:

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes on U. S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog

PintasticNE 2017 Day one First Videos

We interrupt our coverage of CNN & the MSM’s heads exploding to remind you that it’s once again time for Pintastic New England 2017

No matter what side of the aisle you are on, forget the politics and come down and have some fun.

Gabriel D’Annunzio is back and he brought a bunch of Machines to the VIP room with him

In the main room which closed much earlier there were plenty of machines that are inexpensive to buy if you want to pay under a grand

In fact some are under $500

And if you’re one of those folks who played for hours for only $15 thank guys like Gabe and Brian Bushey

I should point out there are some classic arcades games and a nintendo tournament as well

so if you are in driving distance of Sturbridge come on down either today or tomorrow and have some good clean fun.

Incidentally my new book Hail Mary the Perfect Protestant (and Catholic) prayer is now available at Amazon

and this blog are capitalistic ventures. So if you like what we do here and want to support it please consider buying this book (A portion of every sale will go to WQPH 89.3 Catholic Radio) or Hitting DaTipJar

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And as I’ve said before if you can’t spare the cash we will be happy to accept your prayers.