Monday, July 30, 2007

The Rockford Institute

I spent a very pleasant week in Rockford, Illinois, in mid July. Evey year at that time The Rockford Institute conducts a program, officially called The Regnery Lectures, but everyone involved refers to it as "Summer School."
This year the topic was The Stuarts and the English Civil war. Readings involved The Pilgrim's Progress, Paradise Lost, David Hume's history, poems of the time, Lord Clarendon's history, Hobbes and Locke.

There were some parallels with the American experience. The Puritans settled in New England, while the Anglicans tended to settle the South. Yet one wonders how much the Scots had to do with the whole thing, and whether the Jacobites could have brought about a different kind of England.

Was the English Civil War the first "philosophical" rather than "religious" war? One could ask a similar question about the original jihad, in which another iconoclastic movement tried to convert the world to abstraction. It did not succeed. The Puritans did. Their decisive victory over Christianity led to Hobbes' Leviathan. Yes, I did mean "Christianity," because after that war Christianity ceased to be a factor in English public policy. Hume would never have accepted such a philosophy, because reason can provide no values. Like all philosophers, Hobbes imported his values from pre-reflective sources, whether custom, revelation, personal interest, or projected common interest. Unlike Hume he did not acknowledge that.

The first king to be beheaded was not Louis XVI, it was Charles I, one of the better monarchs.
It is impossible to view Cromwell in a positive light. You don't have to be Irish to find him abominable. I'm glad that most people know little of him except for the brief comment in Gray's Elegy. It is a fitting one.

The evening meals were provided, Tuesday shish kabobs at the Institute office, Wednesday a buffet at the Irish Rose Saloon, Thursday another buffet at the Arboretum, followed by poetry readings, and Friday an Italian dinner at Altamore's. Saturday evening we were at Thomas Fleming's house for a cook-out.

We had wonderful presenters, in fact some of you may know Aaron Wolf who gave the talk on Bunyan. He is a Lutheran home-schooler.


At 11:24 AM, Blogger Marie N. said...

I'm glad you had a great time! What is the topic for next year? What books are on the book list?


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