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Thursday’s reading list: Physical toil, US Christians and the boy in the princess dress


The first reading list of 2018 begins with City Journal and a piece on the Shape of Work to Come. In this thought-provoking long read, Victor Davis Hanson asks: Does physical labour have a future?

I like this piece because it highlights for the city dweller, blogger, and tweeter like myself just how different and challenging physical labour can be. It does not fall into the trap of romanticising the often brutal toil of the past. But it does make you aware how different working environments can lead to differing political opinions.

Hanson writes: ‘Physical work has an intrinsic satisfaction in that it is real, in the primordial sense that nonphysical work is not. The head of the Federal Reserve Board may be more important to our general welfare than the city road crew patching asphalt roads, but there remains something wondrous in transforming material conditions through the hands, an act that can be seen and felt rather than just spoken or written about. Changing the physical landscape, either by building or destroying something previously constructed or altering it, lends a sense of confidence that the human body can still manifest one’s ideas by concrete action.’

He goes on to explain: ‘For the past four decades, I have split my time between teaching classics and writing, and working on a farm. I cannot say that either world is nobler than the other. But I did learn that small farmers and farm laborers complained much less about their own often-unenviable lots than did academics about their comparatively enviable compensation and generous time off. Working outdoors, often alone, with one’s hands encourages a tragic acceptance of nature and its limitations. Talking and writing indoors with like kind promote a more therapeutic sense that life can be changed through discourse and argument.’

It is a rewarding read.

Over at the National Review, David French asks: Can America survive as a post-Christian nation?

French believes it can, but as a more divided, coarsened place with little to unite blue and red states. ‘When a nation lacks a common moral language and common religious culture, it frequently devolves into tribalism,’ he says.

‘Much of the elite media celebrates religious decline without seriously and realistically grappling with the consequences. There is so much underlying ignorance of and hostility toward orthodox Christianity in elite media circles that I fear they’re still trapped in the false belief that less Christianity means a better America.’ It’s an interesting piece.

I end with the shaming of Lewis Hamilton who posted a video of his nephew wearing a princess dress while Lewis tells him boys don’t wear princess dresses. Lewis, of course, was hustled into an apology.

This piece echoes my feelings perfectly: there was nothing wrong with what Lewis said to his nephew as generally boys do not wear dresses, but boys can and do play make-believe by dressing up. But it is make-believe to think that boys can become girls, which is what the transgender bully-boys want you to think and say.

However, and it is a big however, Hamilton should not have shared this video. This was a family time, dresses aside, and sums up my whole objection to people posting endless photos and videos of intimate family moments on social media.

Georgi Boorman at the Federalist: ‘Children need and crave stability, normalcy, rules and clear examples to follow. Of course, the freedom to play make-believe, to pretend for an hour or so that one is a girl, and try on various outfits without having adults confuse toddlers about their sex is important. Yet that freedom and comfort can only exist in a heteronormative regime, not one that tries to raise children outside of reality-based sexual norms. The rules are what allow children to play make-believe, and to separate the fantasy from reality.’ Finally: ‘So let toddlers play dress-up, but let them do it privately in the safety and normalcy of their own homes.’

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