Friday, April 18, 2014

Bundyland

So what exactly are we supposed to call the territory which is now under the de facto control of Cliven Bundy and his private militia, who have successfully ousted therefrom the agents of that Federal Government which still claims political jurisdiction over the territory’s citizens and ownership of much of its real property? Bundyland? That seems a proper fit. Since Cliven Bundy is not required to recognize or abide by any federal laws or any federal court orders or to even recognize the existence of the United States government, it is a very safe bet that he, and he alone, will be the only law in Bundyland. So it should probably be named after him.

More importantly, what are the boundaries of Bundyland? A certain perimeter around the Bundy home? The entirety of the Bunkerville grazing allotment which was cancelled when Cliven didn't renew his permit, but on which his cattle have continued to graze, without license from the property’s owner, and without paying any fees, for 20 years? Or are the boundaries flexible, tied to his chattel, and moving wherever his sacred freedom cows move?

This is an important point. If we are going to become Somalia, where the national government holds power over our territory in name only, but where local warlords and their private armies are actually in control on the ground, then we are all going to need to know the basics of which warlords are controlling which areas, so we can bring appropriate amounts of tribute money, or whatever else they take as payment, if we want to travel and need to pass through their borders. (I’ve heard that in Somalia, children are usually accepted.) Will the Bundylandian militia be setting up a toll booth to collect on the I-15? Or will they use pirates in Mad Max cars? I’m sure they’ll want to be paid. They need to eat after all, and they can’t leave Bundyland or the Feds might pull an Abraham Lincoln and try to take it over again. And who wants a big giant Obama statue in our nation’s capitol, sitting next to Abe? Are you kidding me? So, it’s only right that we should pay them. They are, after all, protecting our freedoms. Or so they keep ensuring us.

I’d like to thank George Washington and John Adams and Alexander Hamilton and James Madison et al., for having bequeathed unto us a government of laws and not of men. It was great while it lasted guys, it really, really was. But apparently we’ve decided to forego all that now and pursue a more dynamic and, um, libertarian, direction. Because, you know, there are important rights involved here. I’m not sure what they are. The right to point guns at government employees and call it free speech? Or the right to use government owned land for free? I can’t seem to find anyone who will tell me the specifics, but they are apparently very, very, important. Real MLK natural higher law type stuff if you know what I mean. And people seem to be really, really, happy about it, and to be rallying around this Bundy guy and his little desert oasis of freedom like he’s the greatest thing since sliced bread. And when has something like that ever gone wrong?

So I’m sure it’s going to turn out just swell. But thanks for the memories. It looks like Bundy’s followers are going to keep your vintage flag (although I’m not sure I understand the logic there), so hopefully the other warlords will follow suit. It will be nice to enjoy that nostalgia.


Chris Albright
April 18, 2014

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Stupid 21st Century Ideas

Not to be overly curmudgeonly, but, herewith, in no particular order, some prevalent modern ideas which are, in my opinion, stupid, false, counterproductive, and likely to destroy western civilization:

1.  The belief that a government dedicated to promoting equalized outcomes and "social justice" is performing a legitimate governmental function, which will not lead to totalitarianism.

2.  The idea that the government's primary function is to promote equality (in outcomes, not in treatment before the law), rather than to preserve liberty and freedom.

3.  The idea that the most important thing the founders ever did was to revolt from England, when, in fact, the most important thing they ever did was to thereafter establish a constitutional republic of laws and not of men.

4.  The idea that sex, marriage, procreation, and child-rearing need not be integrated concepts, but can all be separated into independent processes bearing no relation to each other, without any adverse effects to society.

5.  The single gender lie, which denies the basic biological fact that (with rare medical exceptions insufficiently common to upend society over) human beings come in two genders, chromosomally defined and determinable, and which promotes instead the claim that there are no inherent complementary differences between men and women, but only differences which are the result of unjust social conditioning, such that we should strive for a world in which all gender differences have been collapsed and we all behave and are treated as an undifferentiated unigender.

6.  The multiple gender lie, which denies the basic biological fact that human beings come in two genders (with rare medical exceptions insufficently common to upend society over), and which promotes instead the claim that there are a multiplicity of genders, which we must each determine for ourselves regardless of the gender we were (arbitrarily and unjustly) "assigned" at birth.

7.  All of the stupid ideas that flow from the single gender lie and from the multiple gender lie, including without limitation, cisgender privilege theory, marriage redefined (out of existence) as meaning whatever you want it to mean with no core constitutive elements, policies which terminate the role of fathers in children's lives, etc.

8.  The biggest false promise of the 60's, which nevertheless continues to be pushed today, despite all historical evidence to the contrary: that unregulated and unfettered and government financed access to birth control and abortion, for singles as well as marrieds, for youth as well as adults, will decrease illegitimate births.

9.  Generation Y's insistence that their children are so unique and special that each one of them must be given a name no one has ever heard before, which must be spelled non-phonetically.

10.  Disparate impact presumptions.  The belief that in a socially just society, every single ethnic or racial or gender group will have exactly the same outcomes as every other such group, such that, if any study between whites and non-whites, or between men and women, or between any other two groups, shows any differences in their average incomes, or average test scores, or average loan approval rates, or average graduation rates, etc., invidious discrimination/racism/sexism must be legally and politically presumed to be at fault, and inherent differences in the goals and aspirations and choices of different groups of people from different cultures cannot possibly have anything to do with it.

11.  The multiculturalism lie: The belief that no society should be judged as morally superior or inferior to any other society, except that western civilization is presumed to be inferior to all other societies.

12.  The female multicultural lie.  The belief that multiculturalism is compatible with feminism, despite the fact that no culture on earth treats women as well as western culture.

13.  The constitutional inequality lie.  The belief that it is constitutionally appropriate for the government to discriminate against Whites and Asians and in favor of other groups, granted preferential treatment in the awarding of public contracts and in public university admissions, and that this does not violate the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.

14.  The university diversity lie.  The belief that a high quality higher education requires a university student to be exposed to a diversity of ethnic groups and skin colors, but does not require the student to be exposed to any diverse political opinions.  Hence, admissions and tenure decisions are to be made on the basis of ensuring ideological conformity by people who all look different but think exactly the same.

15.  The higher education as political monastary lie.  The redefining of the purpose of higher education, which is no longer to teach students knowledge and how to think, but is, instead, to promote "social justice" via recruiting and converting students as adherents to and missionaries for the causes of the left, such that it is perfectly appropriate for speakers and teachers who do not share in those causes to be kept off of university grounds, since allowing such partisans a voice would be contrary to the purpose of the university, as those purposes are now defined.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Movies Watched in 2014

January

Epic.  Blu-ray.   3 stars out of 5.  You could see what they were going for here, and it might have been cool, but they couldn't decide whether to steep their imaginary world in fantasy or science-fiction.

The Mortal Instruments.  Blu-ray.  2.5 stars out of five.  I would have liked to have spent more time in the institute.  And I can only assume the book had more compelling plot points than the filmmakers bothered to explain before launching into their cgi-heavy climax.  We can see great CGI in lots of movies now.  Unless we care about the plot, that's not enough to make the movie any good.

Pirates of the Carribbean, Curse of the Black Pearl.  Blu-ray.  5 stars out of 5.  People forget how good this movie was, because of the sequels. But it came out of nowhere (no one expected a movie based on a theme park ride to actually be well made), introduced great characters, with a tight plot, and fantastic special effects.  Perfect for what it was trying to be.

The Wolverine.  3 stars out of 5.  Blu-ray.  This is one of those movies that is deliberately plotted so you don't understand what is going on the first time you watch it, and only "get it" in retrospect when the big reveal comes at the end that explains everything which happened before.  I suppose that makes you more likely to want to see it again, but it also prevents you from enjoying it enough the first time around to want to bother.

Reds.  2 stars out of 5.  Netflix.  How did this movie get a PG rating, given some of the language? Probably because it's so boring the MPAA panel all fell asleep. John Reed gave us the book Ten Days that Shook the World, about Lenin's overthrow of the Kerensky government and the establishment of the Soviet Union. But the movie doesn't tell the story of those ten days, or even the story of the writing of that book.  It focuses instead on his romantic relationship with . . . zzzzz.

Planes. 2 stars out of 5.  Blu-ray.  Wow.  I know it's a cool part of the theme park.  But give up on this creepy world already.

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit.  3 stars out of 5.  Red Rock Station Movie Theatre.  Has there ever been a potential blockbuster film franchise so terribly botched as the Jack Ryan films?  These were the biggest selling novels of the 80s and 90s.  If they had just gotten the right star in the first one: Kevin Costner maybe, or Dennis Quaid.  Heck, even Tom Cruise.  And let the same actor stay in the part.  This could have been a smarter American version of Bond.  But Alec Baldwin?!?  Hunt for Red October was good despite the lead.  And then Harrison Ford was just too old for those particular novel adaptations.  And why did they all of a sudden have an R-rated entry?  Then the Ben Affleck reboot.  And now, yet another reboot.  Why is each new movie a new reboot?  Each of the movies was actually pretty good.  But they just couldn't seem to figure out how to do the obvious and find the right actor and stick with him to turn this into a series.  Sigh.  This was an entertaining evening out at the movies.  But nothing to make you believe they've finally stuck it and now we can look forward to a successful series of sequels.

FEBRUARY

The Great Gatsby (2013 version).  2.5 stars out of 5.  Blu-ray Baz Luhrmann's over-the-top visual style definitely makes this much more interesting than it would otherwise have been.  And it definitely matches the story's setting.  Good acting and well cast.  Still, I didn't really like the book and this movie mainly made me remember why.

Monuments Men.  2.5 stars out of 5.  Red Rock Theater.  I appreciated the uplifting and patriotic story.  The fact that something like this happened, and the Americans did this to give the art back, not ship it back to their own country like the Russians, made me proud.  Not particularly engagingly filmed though.

Mitt.  3 stars out of 5.  Netflix.  Why did I watch that?  Now I'm just as depressed about the 2012 election results as I was at the time.

MARCH

Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters. 3 stars out of 5.  Blu-ray.  Why wait so long for the sequel if they were going to try and build a franchise?  The teenage stars are all, what, 30 now?   The one book I read seemed quite a bit lower in caliber than the first Harry Potter novel it was clearly aiming to . . .  emulate (to put it kindly).  So it shouldn't surprise that the movies are also, commensurately, lower quality.  Still, a fun evening with the kids, although my daughter A, a big fan of the books, tells me they strayed too far from the plot here.

Books Completed in 2014

JANUARY

Killing Jesus, by Bill O'Relly and Martin Dugard.  January 6.  Kindle.  Three Stars (out of five).
A simple and straightforward account, counting on the inherent drama of the events to make a compelling narrative, without adding any unnecessary flourish.  Worth the price primarily as a reference, with great footnotes, and helpful background explanations, especially regarding the fascinating but disturbing Roman history which had recently preceded Christ's birth.  Not for younger readers.

Insurgent, by Veronica Roth.  Two Stars.  Audible.  I read (well, listened to) the first Divergent book late last year at the advice of my younger teenage daughter, who is a fan.  I liked it and found it to be tightly plotted and well paced.  A little too heavy on the female adolescent romantic angst, but I guess that's where the big Hunger Games bucks are. What made the first book worth reading, for me, was its exploration of one of my favorite subjects: how communities are formed and maintained, based on shared values and reinforcing rituals which give meaning to the lives of the community's members, and how such communities can lose their way.  The second book I just didn't enjoy nearly as much.  It felt like the author had rushed it to print for marketing purposes rather than taking as much time as was needed to get it right.  It was a narrative mess.  Although the big reveal at the end was better than anything they came up with on Lost.

Dead Mountain, by Donnie Eichar.  3.5 stars out of 5.  Kindle.  A fascinating and tragic true story which reads like an episode of the X-Files. What was the "unknown compelling force" (in the words of the official investigation) which, in February 1959, caused 9 Russian hikers to flee the security of their tent, and perish from hypothermia and other causes in the subzero temperatures of the remote landscape in which they were hiking?  An American author investigates.  His solution to the puzzle is itself highly intriguing.  But it would be more credible if someone were to conduct some follow up testing.  Could the right scientific monitors, installed over the course of a full winter or two, determine whether the area's topography really does sometimes result in the weather patterns and associated phenomenon the author describes?  Maybe somebody someday will find out.  In the meantime, there's a tragic slice of life story here which is worth reading for it's own sake to better understand life in Kruschev's Soviet Union.

In the Garden of Beasts, by Eric Larson.  3.5 stars out of 5.  Trade paperback. The true story of how FDR's unlikely choice as ambassador to Germany in the 1930s, University of Chicago history professor William Dodd, slowly recognizes just how big a threat to the world Adolf Hitler really is, but is unable to convince anyone back home to do anything about it.  Meanwhile, Dodd's promiscuous daughter Martha tries to sleep her way through a Who's Who list of seemingly every prominent Nazi and Soviet official she meets. The tale culminates in the "night of the long knives" when Hitler liquidated the SA, and settled a few dozen other old political scores, in a 24 hour spasm of dictatorial violence, arrests and executions.  An odd and unsettling book about an odd and unsettling family living through a nightmarish time.

FEBRUARY

The God Who Weeps  by Terryl and Fiona Givens.  5 Stars.  Kindle.  There's an ethereal and esoteric quality to the writing here that is a little hard to get used to.  Not your normal LDS doctrinal style.  And certainly nothing akin to the frank and matter-of-fact plainspoken style of the best non-LDS Christian doctrinal writers, such as C.S. Lewis or G.K. Chesterton.  Nevertheless, once you get used to the style, there are some real treasures here.  Deserves a place on that bookshelf of items I go back to again and again, for years to come.

The Triple Package  by Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld.  3 Stars.  Kindle.  The premise of this book is that certain cultural groups (including my cultural group: Mormons) rise and achieve more in America because they possess three qualities: a belief in their superiority which is innate to their cultural or doctrinal self-perception, an inferiority complex/insecurity based on their lack of acceptance in mainstream American society, and impulse control.  There's a lot to be said, pro and con, about this book, and I'll be writing a separate blog entry about it.  Suffice it to say for now that I think Mormons can be charged with having a lot of confidence, but the idea that we feel superior is a misreading of our doctrine.  The concept of our insecurity, based on being outsiders in the larger culture (mocked by the secular left on Broadway, while simultaneously attacked as a cult by our "allies" in the culture wars on the religious right) and the drive to succeed which that produces is a concept I'm comfortable with.  And, yes, I suppose our missions, and our abstemious lifestyle in a "if it feels good do it" world does give us more impulse control than the typical early 21st Century, anything-goes, American.  But I think Chua is missing a fourth ingredient which is more important than the rest: the advantages of being raised in stable low-conflict homes, by our own two biological married parents, from birth to adulthood (as so many more Mormons than the general population experience), provides us with an advantage in a world where studies have increasingly proven just how much family structure matters, and just how disruptive it is that family structures have, for the past 50 years, lost their historic stability.

Theodore Roosevelt's History of the United States  compiled by  Daniel Ruddy. 5 stars out of 5.  Trade Paperback.  Man do I have conflicted feelings about Theodore Roosevelt.  Love some of his political positions and hate others. But I sure do enjoy the man and his personality: His willingness to decide what he believes and stick to his guns on those beliefs no matter the criticism of others; his intellectual capacity combined with his physically "strenuous" life.  This book collects excerpts from his historical writings and his letters to give us a snapshot of his views on various historical figures, from the Revolutionary era until the end of World War I.  It's clear his political and historical opinions were cast in iron by his coming of age during the Civil War.  Anyone who did anything to strengthen this country and its government (including the presidency and the judiciary), like Washington, Hamilton, most of all Lincoln, and of course himself: GOOD. Anyone who toyed with weakening the government or pursuing policies such as nullification that ultimately provided the doctrinal underpinnings for secession, like Jefferson, Madison, Gouverneur Morris: BAD.  This book will at turns shock, with Roosevelt's prescience; offend, with his politically incorrect jingoism; and cause out loud laughter, at his bombastic patriotism.  Loved it.

MARCH

David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell.  4 out of 5 stars.  I enjoyed this almost as much as Outliers, which remains my favorite Malcolm Gladwell book.

When I was growing up, my father had two favorite quotes: "Every advantage has its tax" by Ralph Waldo Emerson, from his essay, Compensation; and "[w]ithin every disadvantage lays the seed of an equivalent benefit" which he attributed to Emerson, but which I believe was actually motivational writer Napoleon Hill's riff on Emerson's first statement.  David and Goliath is a book-length treatise on the truth behind these two quotes.

The Gladwell formula is by now familiar:  develop a counterintutive theme, and tell lots of interesting stories about it, interspersing in each chapter one such story with research findings from the relevant field, backing up the contrarian wisdom of your premise.  In this volume, Gladwell has hit upon a theme which perfectly matches his gifts, as he explores the notion of "desirable difficulty."  There are hardships we wouldn't wish on our own children which can actually help a person to succeed, either (a) because of the character traits (strength, grit, determination) they gain from overcoming their difficulties, or (b) because, lacking traditional advantages, they have to break the rules in ways which exploit the weaknesses of traditionally strong opponents (think guerilla warfare or a scrappy basketball team's willingness to employ a full court press).  As should be expected from a story-teller as gifted as Gladwell, this volume has plenty of engaging, well-told tales.

Can Gladwell be trusted?  Of course not.  His stories are obviously simplified, and it's fairly apparent that what's being left out is any nuance that would prevent the story from fitting into his current book's theme. Except when they don't: each of Gladwell's books always seems to devolve into filler in the last couple of chapters, with stories that don't seem to have anything obvious to do with his treatise, but which he stretches or twists to try to make them fit some element of his pattern.  Nevertheless, it's always an enjoyable ride, and there's always a few of his stories or the research findings he presents that you find wanting to discuss with your friends and family members.  (As the father of two college kids, I was especially intrigued by this book's chapter on the disadvantages of an Ivy League education, as an application of the big fish small pond theory). Sign me up for Gladwell's next one.  I'll keep reading.

Allegiant by Veronica Roth.  Two stars.  Audible.  I usually enjoy getting out of a sci-fi/fantasy world's established locale and learning the big reveals about the backstory truth.  The chapters in the fourth Wheel of Time book, for example, when Rand passes through the temple at Rhuidean and learns the true history of the Aiel, are some of my favorites in the whole series.  However, this can be overdone.  It's one thing to be shown tantalizing bits of the back story, which intrigue us with the knowledge that we are reading about an interesting world with a deep and resonant geography and history.  It's another thing to be jerked away from the world we've come to enjoy, and told to spend the rest of our time in backstoryland, so that we no longer find it all that intriguing.  Think the Star Wars prequels, or trying to slog through the Silmarillion.  That's the problem I had with this book, which focuses on the true reasons why dystopian Chicago has come to exist, and is set almost entirely outside of Chicago.  That outside world, however, just didn't seem very well-thought out or convincing or interesting to me, compared to the factioned dystopian world that had been established in the first book, where there was still plenty of room for more exploration.  

APRIL

Brave New World  Aldous Huxley.  Kindle.  Five Stars.  Back iin the 20th century, when literary dystopias were intended as social commentary, rather than useful settings for young adult romantic adventure books, three titles arose as the most significant: 1984, Fahrenheit 451, and Brave New World.  I'm not sure why this is the only one of the three that I've never read until now.  Maybe because I knew the basic idea from a cheesy TV Movie version I remember seeing in the 80s (now available on Youtube) and so I never bothered to read it.  That was a mistake.  It's clear that, of the three works, this was the most prescient, the one that worked least effectively as warning, and most effectively as prophecy.  Marriage abolished?  On our way. Children taught to enjoy sexual promiscuity at an ever earlier age, in public schools?  Check.  Sexual promiscuity as a norm?  Check. Sex and procreation and child-rearing all treated as sundered and independent processes having nothing to do with each other?  Check  An economy based on conditioning the masses to believe they stand in constant need of new stuff?  Check.  Pharmacological -induced emotions in lieu of dealing with life?  Check, check and double check.  The scariest thing about this book, to me, is how few people would read it today and understand that it's meant to be dystopian.  And how many people would read it as describing the Utopia they are working to achieve.

Friday, December 27, 2013

On the World's Religions

Here are a couple of books everyone should read and keep handy as a reference.  Religious Literacy, by Stephen Prothero, explains how Americans have become so woefully ignorant about faith, and aims to correct the problem by detailing the most essential things we ought to know about the bible and the world's major religions.  God Is Not One, by the same author, gives a more in depth view of each of the world's major faiths, discussing what each sees as the cosmic problem faced by humanity and the divine answer thereto.





Thursday, December 12, 2013

EVERYTHING I EVER NEEDED TO KNOW I LEARNED FROM READING THE LORD OF THE RINGS

I first discovered Tolkien when, in 5th grade, I was cast as Fili the Dwarf in a local children's theater production of The Hobbit that ran at the Reed Whipple Center.  Reading the novel was a requirement for being in the Play.  I loved the book, and was annoyed that it was described on the cover as "The enchanting prelude to the Lord of the Rings" rather than being able to be its own thing.  But when I was a bit older, and I read the Lord of the Rings, I understood.  I've re-read LOTR many times since.  It was the book that turned me into a reader, and much of the reading I've done since, even today, has been motivated by an attempt to try to find something like what I experienced in its pages.  Of course that's impossible.  Mainly because I am, unfortunately, no longer 12.  Nevertheless, the book has profoundly influenced my worldview on too many subjects to count, including these:

On materialism and the danger of being possessed by our possessions:

“It has got far too much hold on you.  Let it go!  And then you can go yourself, and be free.”  (Book 1 Chapter 1, A Long Expected Party)

On faith:

 “Behind that there was something else at work, beyond any design of the Ring-maker.  I can put it no plainer than by saying that Bilbo was meant to find the Ring, and not by its maker.  In which case you also were meant to have it.  And that may be an encouraging thought.” (Book 1 Chapter 2 The Shadow of the Past)

"'Do we walk in legends or on the green earth in the daylight?'  'A man may do both,' said Aragorn.  'For not we but those who come after will make the legends of our time.  The green earth, say you?  That is a mighty matter of legend, though you tread it under the light of day.'"  (Book 3, Chapter 2, The Riders of Rohan)

"And then it seemed to him that as in his dream in the house of Bombadil, the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a far green country under a swift sunrise."  (Book 6, Chapter 9, The Grey Havens)

On free will:

“The two powers strove in him.  For a moment, perfectly balanced between their piercing points, he writhed, tormented.  Suddenly he was aware of himself again, Frodo, neither the Voice nor the Eye: free to choose, and with one remaining instant in which to do so.  He took the Ring off his finger.”  (Book 2 Chapter 10, the Breaking of the Fellowship).

On the Nature and Limitations of Evil:

“The shadow that bred them can only mock, it cannot make: not real new things of its own.  I don’t think it gave life to the orcs, it only ruined them and twisted them . . . .”  (Book 6, Chapter 1, The Tower of Cirith Ungol)

On the Persistence of Evil and the Need for Preparedness:

“‘It needs but one foe to breed a war, not two, master Warden,’ answered Eowyn, ‘And those who have not swords can still die upon them.’” (Book 6 Chapter 5, The Steward and the King)

On the objective nature of good and evil:  

“‘How shall a man judge what to do in such times?’  “‘As he ever has judged,’ said Aragorn.  ‘Good and ill have not changed since yesteryear; nor are they one thing among Elves and Dwarves and another among Men.  It is a man’s part to discern them, as much in the Golden Wood as in his own house.”  (Book 4, Chapter 2, The Riders of Rohan)

On the power of duty, as an antidote to despair:

“‘I wish it need not have happened in my time,’ said Frodo. ‘So do I,’ said Gandalf, ‘and so do all who live to see such times.  But that is not for them to decide.  All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.’” (Book 1, Chapter 2, The Shadow of the Past)

“‘[M]ay I not now spend my life as I will?’  ‘Few may do that with honor,’ [Aragorn] answered.”

“A time may come soon,’ said [Aragorn], ‘when . . . there will be need of valor without renown, for none shall remember the deeds that are done in the last defense of your homes.  Yet the deeds will not be less valiant because they are unpraised.”  (Book 5, Chapter 2, The Passing of the Grey Company)

“He knew all the arguments of despair and would not listen to them.  His will was set, and only death would break it.”  (Book 6, Chapter 3 Mount Doom)

On the Nature of Stewardship: 

“‘[T]he rule of Gondor, my lord, is mine and no other man’s, unless the king should come again.’ ‘Unless the king should come again?’ said Gandalf.  ‘Well, my Lord Steward, it is your task to keep some kingdom still against that event, which few now look to see.  In that task you shall have all the aid that you are pleased to ask for.  But I will say this: the rule of no realm is mine, . . . .  But all worthy things that are in peril as the world now stands, those are my care.  And for my part, I shall not wholly fail of my task . . . if anything passes through this night that can still grow fair or bear fruit and flower again in days to come.  For I also am a steward.  Did you not know?’” (Book Five, Chapter 1, Minas Tirith)

On the corrupting dangers of power, and the basis for conservative politics:

“Do not tempt me!  For I do not wish to become like the Dark Lord himself.  Yet the way of the Ring to my heart is by pity, pity for weakness and the desire of strength to do good.  Do not tempt me!  I dare not take it, not even to keep it safe, unused.  The wish to wield it would be too great for my strength.”  (Book 1 Chapter 2 The Shadow of the Past)

“‘Well, no, the year’s been good enough,’ said Hob. ‘We grows a lot of food, but we don’t rightly know what becomes of it.  It’s all these “gatherers” and “sharers”, I reckon, going round counting and measuring and taking off to storage. They do more gathering than sharing, and we never see most of the stuff again.’” (Book 6, Chapter 8, The Scouring of the Shire.)

On the Restoration of the Gospel and the Second Coming

"For it is said in old lore: the hands of the king are the hands of a healer. And so the rightful king could ever be known."  (Book 5, Chapter 8, The Houses of Healing).

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.