Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Roy Porter, "Madness: A Brief History" (2002)

This short but pithy and informative book is an excellent read.

This similarly short and to-the-point review from Medical History will suffice to whet your appetite.

Comments and references that caught my attention:
- 32/33: “John Locke wrote to insist upon The Reasonableness of Christianity (1694): even religion now had to be rational. This pathologization of religious madness led Enlightenment free-thinkers to pathologize religiosity at large. In effect, this was also, much later, Freud’s position. God was an illusion, faith ‘wish-fulfilment’, and belief, though all too real, was a mental projection satisfying neurotic needs, to be explained in terms of the sublimation of suppressed sexuality or of the death wish. In reducing religion to psychopathology, Freud was echoing the more biting of the philosophes, like Voltaire and Diderot, who adjudged Christian beliefs the morbid secretion of sick brains. These days, while the Churches continue to accept, in principle, the reality of visions, spirit possession, and exorcism, they are profoundly suspicious of credulity and deception. The Roman Catholic or Anglican who claims to be assailed by the Devil has become an embarrassment. His priest may try to persuade him that such doctrines are merely metaphorical; and, if he persists, he may be urged to see a psychotherapist.”

- 89: “Foucault claimed that the great confinement essentially involved the sequestration of the mad poor by supporters of the bourgeois work ethic, and in his Madmen and the Bourgeoisie: A Social History of Insanity and Psychiatry (1981) Klaus Doerner followed suit. But there is little trace of organized labour in early asylums—indeed, critics accused them of being dens of idleness. And enterprising madhouse proprietors naturally sought rich and genteel patients, who would not be expected to work.”

- 93/94: “The decades around 1800 brought surging faith in the efficacy of personal treatment in sheltered asylum environments. In England, such doctors as Thomas Arnold, Joseph Mason Cox, and Francis Willis (called in to treat George III in 1788) followed Battie’s watchword that ‘management did more than medicine’ and pioneered a ‘moral management’ through which the experienced therapist would outwit the deluded psyche of his patient.”

- 94: “Shortly afterwards, the York Retreat developed ‘moral therapy’, with its emphasis upon community life in a domestic environment designed to recondition behaviour. The York Asylum, a charitable institution, had become bemired in scandal. By way of a counterinitiative, the local Quaker community, led by a tea merchant, William Tuke, established an alternative, the Retreat, opened in 1796. It was modelled on the ideal of bourgeois family life, and restraint was minimized. Patients and staff lived, worked, and dined together in an environment where recovery was encouraged through praise and blame, rewards and punishment, the goal being the restoration of self-control.”

- 98/99: “Criticism thus led not to the abolition of the madhouse, but to its rebirth, and institutionalization was transformed from a hand-to-mouth expedient into a positive ideal. In France the reforms of Pinel and the new legal requirements of the Napoleonic Code were further codified in the key statute of 1838. This formally required each departement either to establish public asylums, or to ensure the provision of adequate facilities. It guarded against improper confinement by establishing rules for the certification of lunatics by medical officers—though for paupers a prefect’s signature remained sufficient. Prefects were also given powers to inspect. Similar legislation was passed in Belgium twelve years later.
A comparable reform programme was put through in England, despite opposition from vested medical interests. Scandals revealing the improper confinement of the sane had already led to the Madhouses Act of 1774. Under its provisions, private madhouses had to be licensed annually by magistrates; a maximum size for each asylum was established; renewal of licences would depend upon satisfactory maintenance of admissions registers. Magistrates were empowered to carry out visitations (in London the inspecting body was a committee of the Royal College of Physicians). Most importantly, certification was instituted. Henceforth, although paupers could continue to be confined by magistrates, for all others a letter from a medical practitioner would be required to make confinement lawful. Further reforms followed. The 1774 legislation was strengthened in a series of Acts passed from 1828, above all establishing the Commissioners in Lunacy, first for the metropolis and then for the whole country. The Commissioners constituted a permanent body of inspectors (made up of doctors and lawyers) empowered to prosecute unlawful practices and to deny renewal of licences. They also took it upon themselves to improve and standardize care and treatment. The Commission ensured eradication of the worst abuses, for example, by requiring that all cases of the use of restraint should be documented. Safeguards against improper confinement were extended. Under an influential consolidating Act of 1890, two medical certificates were required for the detention of all patients.”

- 100: “Similar developments occurred in the United States, where the asylum arrived in the nineteenth century. The success of the York Retreat was the impulse behind the Frankford Asylum in Pennsylvania (1817), the Friends’ Asylum near Philadelphia (1817), the McClean Hospital in Boston (1818), the Bloomingdale Asylum in New York (1821), and the Hartford Retreat in Hartford, Connecticut, founded in 1824. Most early American asylums combined private (paying) and public (charity) patients. As in France, the early asylum era in America was spearheaded by physicians specializing in mental disorders, notably Samuel B. Woodward at the Worcester State Hospital and Pliny Earle of the Bloomingdale Asylum in New York, both of whom integrated medical and moral therapies in a climate of Pinelian therapeutic optimism. They were among the thirteen originators of the Association of Medical Superintendents of American Institutions for the Insane, established in 1844—it later became the American Psychiatric Association.”

- 101/102: “Throughout Europe, it was the nineteenth century which brought a skyrocketing in the number and scale of mental hospitals. In England, patient numbers climbed from perhaps 10,000 in 1800 to ten times that number in 1900. The jump in numbers was especially marked in new nation states. In Italy, no more than 8,000 had been confined as late as 1881; by 1907 that had soared to 40,000. Such increases are not hard to explain. Positivistic, bureaucratic, utilitarian, and professional mentalities vested great faith in institutional solutions in general— indeed quite literally in bricks and mortar. Schools, workhouses, prisons, hospitals, and asylums—would these not contain and solve the social problems spawned by demographic change, urbanization, and industrialization?”

- 103/104: “In England ‘non-restraint’ was introduced in the 1830s, by Robert Gardiner Hill at the Lincoln Asylum and independently John Conolly at the new Middlesex County Lunatic Asylum at Hanwell on London’s western outskirts. Taking moral therapy to its logical conclusion, Hill and Conolly renounced all forms of mechanical coercion whatsoever: not just irons and manacles but fabric cuffs and straitjackets too. These would be replaced by surveillance under ample trained attendants and a regime of labour, which would stimulate the mind and discipline the body.”

- 105: “…absolute non-restraint was seen by Continental reformers as a quixotically English idée fixe, a foible of doctrinaire liberalism, and it was little imitated. But French and German reformers made resourceful use of the asylum environment in their own ways. Work therapy was widely favoured. Planted in the countryside, the asylum typically became a self-sufficient colony, with its own farms, laundries, and workshops, partly for reasons of economy, partly to implement cures through labour. In France balneological treatments became a key feature of ‘asylum science’ (police intérieure). In Germany, C. F. W. Roller spelt out detailed directives for such matters as non-slip, smell-proof flooring, good drains, apparel, diet, and exercise at the influential Illenau asylum in Baden, where music and movement therapies were also pioneered. Everywhere, the care and cure of the mad became the subjects of the new ‘science’ of asylum management, spread by professional organs such as the significantly named Asylum Journal.”

- 139: “To some extent, psychiatrists were victims of their own propaganda. They had insisted that many of the aberrant and antisocial behaviours traditionally labelled vice, sin, and crime were actually mental disorders in need of the doctor and the asylum. As a result, magistrates deflected difficult cases from the workhouse or jail, but superintendents then discovered to their dismay and cost that rehabilitation posed more problems than anticipated. Furthermore, the senile and the demented, along with epileptics, paralytics, sufferers from tertiary syphilis (GPI), and other degenerative neurological disorders were increasingly shepherded through the asylum gates. For all such conditions, the prognosis was gloomy, and the asylum became a dustbin for hopeless cases.”

- 156: “Pinel’s favourite follower was Jean-Etienne Dominique Esquirol (1772-1840), whose Mental Maladies (1838) was the outstanding psychiatric text of his age. While asserting the ultimately organic nature of psychiatric disorders, Esquirol concentrated, like his mentor, on their psycho-social triggers. The diagnosis of ‘monomania’ was developed to describe a partial insanity identified with affective disorders, especially those involving paranoia, and he further delineated such conditions as kleptomania, nymphomania, and pyro-mania, detectable in advance only to the trained eye. A champion of the asylum as a therapeutic instrument, he became an authority on its design, and planned the National Asylum at Charenton, a suburb of Paris, of which he was appointed director. (It briefly housed the ageing Marquis de Sade.)”

- 156/7: “…the condition known as general paresis of the insane (one manifestation of tertiary syphilis) was elucidated in 1822 by Antoine Laurent Bayle. Although the micro-organism which causes syphilis had not yet been discovered—the bacteriological era lay ahead— the neurological and psychological features of GPI (notably euphoria and expansiveness), combined with the organic changes revealed by autopsy, supported Esquirol’s conviction that psychiatric disorders could be revealed using the techniques championed by such great French pathological anatomists as Laennec who had investigated tuberculosis and other internal conditions. Closely related to GPI, tabes dorsalis was another disorder, prevalent in the nineteenth century, which became the focus of neuro-pathological research. It was the subject of a masterly clinical study published in 1858 by Guillaume Duchenne, which established its syphilitic origin: so definitive was his account that it was soon named ‘Duchenne’s disease’. He was also at the forefront in describing many other neurological disorders involving personality degeneration, including progressive muscular atrophy and locomotor ataxia (lack of coordination in movement).”

- 177: “in the new world, where George M. Beard (1839-83) popularized the concept of ‘neurasthenia’, nervous breakdown produced by the frantic pressures of advanced civilization, which drained the individual’s reserves of ‘nerve force’. ‘American nervousness is the product of American civilization’ , he pronounced with mingled pride and regret. Neurasthenia’s prevalence in the modern era was no mystery, held Beard: the telegraph, railroad, press, and the market-driven rat race of Wall Street had rendered life insupportably hectic, intense, and stressful. Civilization made demands on nervous systems that nature had never anticipated. As with the eighteenth-century ‘English malady’, neurasthenia struck the elite and flagged up civilization and its discontents. Beard’s ideas were given a practical twist by Silas Weir Mitchell, who introduced the ‘Weir Mitchell treatment’—bed rest, strict isolation, fattening up with milk puddings, and passive massage—to counter such fatiguing tendencies amongst the neurasthenic.”

- 181: “The insanity plea became controversial in Britain when the trial in 1843 of Daniel M’Naghten for the murder of Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel’s private secretary was stopped on the grounds of insanity. The resulting furore led to new guidelines being drawn up, by the House of Lords, to clarify the legal basis for criminal insanity. The M’Naghten Rules (1844) grounded the insanity defence in the defendant’s inability to distinguish right from wrong. This pre-empted the claim advanced by post-Esquirolian psychiatrists that the grounds should be ‘irresistible impulse’, that is, disorders of emotion and volition, independently of delusions of the understanding. In France by contrast, ‘irresistible impulse’ and partial and temporary insanity figured large in the plea of insanity and crime passionelle. Disputes over the insanity defence (who was bad? who was mad?) highlighted conflicts between legal and psychiatric models of the person, and left the public standing of psychiatry dubious.”

- 182: “Mental illness, Hunter and Macalpine believed, was not psychogenic. Hence the utterances of the insane were but cries of distress—and not necessarily even good clues to its nature. You don’t crack mental illness by decoding what the mad say: for, they held, mental disease had a biological base. Powerful psychiatric currents have furthered such tendencies to silence the insane, especially in institutional environments.”

- 183: “…did not the methods of the natural sciences prescribe observation and objectivity, not interaction and interpretation? The noisiest patients were shunted off into the back wards, and all too often those who were shut up were, indeed, ‘shut up’—or at least nobody attended to what they were uttering, there being less communication than excommunication.”

- 215: “The course of psychiatric illness, he insisted, offered the best clue to its nature, rather than, as in common practice, the raft of symptoms the patient showed at a particular moment. On this basis, Kraepelin wrought a great innovation in disease concepts and classification. Amalgamating Morel’s demence precoce with the notion of hebephrenia (psychosis in the young, marked by regressive behaviour) developed by Karl Kahlbaum and his pupil Ewald Hecker, he launched the model of a degenerative condition which he named dementia praecox, to be decisively distinguished from manic-depressive psychoses (Falret’s ‘circular insanity’). The archetypal dementia praecox sufferer as pictured by Kraepelin on the basis of meticulous clinical experience might be astute and clever, but he seemed to have forsaken his humanity, abandoned all desire to participate in society, and withdrawn into a solipsistic world of his own, perhaps mute, violent, and paranoid. Kraepelin routinely used phrases like ‘atrophy of the emotions’ and ‘vitiation of the will’ to convey the sense that they were moral perverts, psychopaths, almost a species apart. As the precursor to schizophrenia, Kraepelin’s dementia praecox has left an indelible mark on modern psychiatry.”

- 242: “Invasive treatments equally reflect the powerlessness of patients in the face of arrogant and reckless doctors, and the ease with which they became experimental fodder. In a now notorious experiment, hundreds of black mental patients at the Tuskeegee Asylum in Alabama were guinea pigs without their knowledge or consent in an experiment to test longterm responses to syphilis, a minor echo of the atrocities committed by Nazi psychiatrists.”

- 272: “The growing centrality of women to psychiatry over the last couple of centuries is superbly handled in Elaine Showalter’s The Female Malady: Women, Madness, and English Culture, 1830-1980 (New York: Pantheon Press, 1986)…”

- 272: “Andrew Scull, Museums of Madness: The Social Organization of Insanity in Nineteenth-Century England (London: Allen Lane, 1979)—this has appeared in revised form as The Most Solitary of Afflictions: Madness and Society in Britain, 1700—1900 (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1993)”

- 276: “Leonard D. Smith, Cure, Comfort and Safe Custody: Public Lunatic Asylums in Early Nineteenth-Century England (London: Cassell, 1999)”

- 279: “Extracts from nineteenth-century English psychiatric texts may be found in Vieda Skultans, Madness and Morals: Ideas on Insanity in the Nineteenth Century (London and Boston: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1975).”

- 279: “Autobiographical writings of ‘mad’ people have been anthologized and surveyed in Dale Peterson (ed.), A Mad People’s History of Madness (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1982); Michael Glenn (ed.), Voices from the Asylum (New York: Harper & Row, 1974); Allan Ingram, Voices of Madness: Four Pamphlets, 16831796 (Stroud: Sutton Publishing, 1997) and Roy Porter (ed.), The Faber Book of Madness (London: Faber, 1991; paperback 1993). Some attempt at reproducing their ‘view’ is offered in Roy Porter, A Social History of Madness: Stories of the Insane (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1987).”

Timur Vermes, "Look Who's Back" (2012)

This is likely one of the most clever, amusing, intriguing and generally enjoyable fiction books I have read in a long time.

Essentially, the premise is that Adolf Hitler awakens with a pounding headache in a Berlin vacant lot in 2011. He has no memory of what has transpired since April 1945, with his last memory of that time being the act of showing Eva Braun his antique pistol. The rest of the story is simply too good to spoil. Vermes combines a singular wit, trenchant political commentary, and thought-provoking representation of how Hitler might understand the contemporary political world (both within Germany, as well as beyond).

Some snippets that I found particularly enjoyable (pagination is from my digital version):
37: “…in the last sixty-six years the number of Soviet soldiers on the territory of the German Reich had fallen substantially, particularly in the Greater Berlin area. The current figure was between thirty and fifty men; in a flash I could see that this afforded the Wehrmacht a far better prospect of victory compared to the last estimate from my general staff of around 2.5 million enemy soldiers on the Eastern Front alone.”

41: “We all know, of course, what to make of our newspapers. The deaf man writes down what the blind man has told him, the village idiot edits it, and their colleagues in the other press houses copy it. Each story is doused afresh with the same stagnant infusion of lies, so that the “splendid” brew can then be served up to a clueless Volk. In this instance, however, I was prepared to be somewhat lenient. So rarely does Fate intervene this strikingly in its own workings that even the smartest minds must find it difficult to comprehend, let alone the mediocre intellects serving our so-called opinion sheets. My brain required the stomach of an ox to digest the other information I managed to unearth.”

48: “What irony: yesterday I was repositioning the 12th Army; today it was magazine racks.”

194: “the so-called reunification of Germany into his expansive lap. I have to concede that this supposed “reunification” was one of the few first-rate lies propagated by the republic. For how could they call it a proper reunification when essential components – such as the aforementioned Silesia granted to Poland, as well as Alsace-Lorraine or Austria – were missing?”

378: “That’s pure gold!” Madame Bellini said when, heavy-hearted, I showed her the report on the “National Democrats” alongside others we had filmed.”

540: “the telephone has to be a telephone, a calendar, a camera and everything else besides. This is dangerous nonsense, the only possible consequence of which is that thousands of our young people will be mown down on the roads because they cannot stop staring into their screens. One of my first undertakings will be to outlaw such telephone devices or allow them only for those inferior racial elements remaining in our society – for the latter I may even make them compulsory. Then they will litter the main thoroughfares of Berlin like squashed hedgehogs.”

541: “Christmas decorations have become more tasteful with the passing of the years. A most disagreeable industrialisation has taken hold. I am not concerned about whether something is kitsch or not, for every example of kitsch harbours a residue of the feelings of the simple man, and since that is the case there will always be the possibility of a development towards real art. No, what really bothers me is that the importance of Father Christmas has grown disproportionally, doubtlessly as a result of Anglo-American cultural infiltration.”

547: “He has also devised a new electoral slogan. It will be plastered at the bottom of all the placards, giving them a common thread. The slogan addresses old virtues, old doubts, and for good measure has a humorous, conciliatory element to win over those pirate voters and other young people. The slogan reads: “It wasn’t all bad.”

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Don Fulsom, "Nixon's Darkest Secrets" (2012)

Subtitle: "The Inside Story of America's Most Troubled President".

Fulsom offers a rather challenging interpretation of Richard Nixon's life. While some of his sources are highly reliable, others are extremely questionable. His speculation regarding Nixon's possible complicity in, or at least knowledge of a conspiracy to assassinate President Kennedy seems far-fetched, if not impossible to prove.

Some comments I found noteworthy (pagination corresponds to my digital version):
14: “Relying on exhaustive research into recently declassified government documents and tape recordings, previously published accounts, little-known historical facts and fresh interviews, Nixon’s Darkest Secrets paints a picture of a racist, anti-Semitic, homophobic chief executive who dwelled in a world of dishonesty, paranoia and secrecy, a president whose darkest clandestine maneuvers are only now coming to light, more than fifteen years after his death, and—ironically—through his own words.”

206: “JFK assassination expert Jim Marrs—without knowing about Haldeman’s revelation—asks two perceptive questions about taped “Bay of Pigs” conversations between Nixon and his most trusted adviser: Could they have been circuitously referring to the interlocking connections between CIA agents, anti-Castro Cubans, and mobsters that likely resulted in the Kennedy assassination? Did they themselves have some sort of insider knowledge of this event?”

216: “It is quite possible top elements of the Mob and the CIA decided to send their hired guns against Kennedy instead of Castro. Would Nixon know? After all, he and Hunt had come up with the original ideas they thought JFK later bungled. And Nixon’s tight CIA and Mob contacts undoubtedly kept him completely up-to-date on major related developments. Fletcher Prouty, a former Air Force officer who regularly worked with the CIA on covert operations, has said Nixon “may very well have realized” that such a killing team “was involved” in the Kennedy murder.”

222: “Newly declassified tapes and documents reveal, however, that LBJ was, indeed, ready to play a huge national security card—the treason card—against Nixon’s desperate Watergate gamble. The ex-president was prepared to disclose that, in 1968, for purely political reasons, presidential candidate Nixon had undermined U.S. efforts to end the Vietnam War.”

226: “As President Nixon’s premier spook, E. Howard Hunt was involved not only in the plot to eliminate Jack Anderson, he headed at least one other assassination scheme—a canceled overseas mission to rub out Panamanian strongman Omar Torrijos, according to Newsweek.”

227: “Among many other illegal covert criminal operations Howard Hunt undertook for President Nixon, one stands out as especially seamy. In the immediate aftermath of the 1972 shooting of third-party presidential hopeful George Wallace, Hunt was dispatched to Milwaukee. His mission: to plant campaign literature from Democratic White House aspirant George McGovern at the apartment of Wallace’s attacker, Arthur Bremer. By the time Hunt arrived, however, the FBI had sealed off Bremer’s apartment.” This was disclosed on Nixon tapes released during the 1990s.

239: “In New Orleans in the early 1960s, Hunt worked out of the same office building—perhaps even the same office—as Lee Harvey Oswald. On behalf of the CIA, Hunt had set up a dummy organization called “The Cuban Revolutionary Council” at 544 Camp Street, the same address Oswald put on pro-Castro leaflets he handed out. That very building, which was close to the local offices of both the CIA and the FBI, also housed the detective agency of former FBI agent Guy Banister, who associated with leaders of the CIA, the Mafia, Cuban exile groups, and with suspected JFK assassination plotter David Ferrie.”

239: “Banister and all those with whom he rubbed elbows blamed JFK for the failure of the 1961 CIA-backed invasion of Cuba. They felt the president acted in a cowardly fashion in not providing adequate air cover for the exile invaders. Future president Richard Nixon said Kennedy’s behavior was “near criminal.”22 All parties were keenly interested in ousting, even killing, Castro. Then, there’s the handwritten “Dear Mr. Hunt” letter. In 1975, a JFK assassination researcher in Texas received from an anonymous source a copy of a brief handwritten November 8, 1963 note to a “Mr. Hunt” purportedly from Oswald. The writer asked for “information concerding [sic] my position. I am asking only for information. I am asking that we discuss the matter fully before any steps are taken by me or anyone else. Thank you. (signed) Lee Harvey Oswald.” The letter, which bears a Mexican postmark, was sent to assassination researcher Penn Jones. Three handwriting experts found that the writing was that of Oswald. “Concerning” was also misspelled in a letter Oswald was known to have written in 1961.23 Was E. Howard Hunt the Hunt addressed in the letter? It is highly likely that he was. It just so happens that Hunt was the acting CIA station chief in Mexico City at the time Oswald is supposed to have turned up there, according to Hunt’s biographer.”

242: “…former spook Victor Marchetti—once a close associate of CIA Director Richard Helms. Marchetti was privy to most of the agency’s chief secrets. His take—published in Spotlight just a few days before the CIA leak to the Wilmington paper—held that Hunt would be “sacrificed” to protect the agency’s clandestine services: “The agency is furious with Hunt for having dragged it into the Nixon [Watergate] mess and for having blackmailed it after he was arrested.” Marchetti said the CIA was prepared to “admit” that Hunt was involved in Kennedy’s killing. “The CIA may even go so far as to ‘admit’ that there were three gunmen shooting at Kennedy.”

268: “In 1968, Nixon’s campaign received a secret $549,000 donation from the brutal military government of Greece. Tom Pappas, a Greek-American businessman, self-admitted CIA operative and front man for the Greek junta, delivered the money in cold cash. Through sources he still refuses to reveal, Greek journalist Elias Demetracopoulos…provided this information to Democratic committee chairman Larry O’Brien. Could Nixon’s worries about just what O’Brien might know about this so-called Greek Connection have been one of the reasons for the Watergate burglary? The funds came from the KYP, the Greek intelligence service—an operation subsidized by the CIA. When White House tapes revealed this donation in 1997, Salon columnist Christopher Hitchens observed that “United States law was being broken in two outrageous ways—the supplying of campaign funds by a foreign dictatorship and the recycling of U.S. intelligence money into America’s own electoral process.”

273: “…June 27, 1973. That’s when Attorney General Elliot Richardson told then White House Chief of Staff Alexander Haig that Agnew was under investigation for tax evasion, bribery and extortion.”

277: “On October 10, 1973, Agnew resigned in disgrace in order to stay out of jail. He pleaded no contest to cheating on his income taxes.”

347: “Nixon authority Stanley Kutler observed that Nixon’s resignation speech—blaming Congress for depriving him of a political base—was actually “the opening salvo in his campaign for history.” … Kutler adds an ironic footnote to the resignation speech: “Six years earlier, to the day, Nixon had delivered perhaps the best speech of his career as he accepted the Republican presidential nomination. He had told the nation that he would restore respect for the law. ‘Time is running out,’ he said at that time, ‘for the merchants of crime and corruption in American society.’”

358: “Despite repeated assertions that “I’m not a quitter,” the president knew a quick exit was in order. He also knew a pardon would allow him to keep his fat congressional, vice presidential and presidential pensions. He would also gain taxpayer money for an office and staff—and be provided with Secret Service protection—for the rest of his life. To stay and fight would be to face the certainty of congressional impeachment, conviction, and expulsion without any golden parachute or perks.”

360: “In his 1999 book Shadow, star Washington Post Watergate reporter Bob Woodward revealed that Haig also used the August 1 meeting to deliver to Ford two sheets of yellow legal paper that had been prepared by Fred Buzhardt: “The first sheet contained a handwritten summary of a president’s legal authority to pardon. The second sheet was a draft pardon form that only needed Ford’s signature and Nixon’s name to make it legal.”9 Former Nixon aide Clark Mollenhoff later observed that, “by any normal standard of conflict of interests,” Ford should have been disqualified from even considering a pardon for his lifelong friend and financial benefactor. By appointing Ford vice president, Nixon had increased Ford’s salaries and pensions. Ford went from House minority leader, at $49,500 a year to $200,000 a year as president. And the pension benefits Ford gained “couldn’t have been bought for a million dollars,” according to Mollenhoff. Then there was the side deal—later revoked by Congress—that gave the disgraced Nixon control over all of his tapes and documents. The financial worth of such an arrangement—allowing a crook to keep self-incriminating legal evidence—is hard to estimate. But Nixon spent an estimated $10 million during a long but unsuccessful post-resignation fight to obtain the materials.”

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Martin Luther, "Concerning Christian Liberty" (1520)

Page numbers are from my digital edition, and should not be regarded as authoritative:

Letter to Pope Leo X
- 2: "Your see, …which is called the Court of Rome, and which neither you nor any man can deny to be more corrupt than any Babylon or Sodom, and quite, as I believe, of a lost, desperate, and hopeless impiety, this I have verily abominated, and have felt indignant that the people of Christ should be cheated under your name and the pretext of the Church of Rome."

- 7: "I cannot bear with laws for the interpretation of the word of God, since the word of God, which teaches liberty in all other things, ought not to be bound."

- 7: "They are in error who raise you above councils and the universal Church; they are in error who attribute to you alone the right of interpreting Scripture."

- 7-8: "How much more rightly did the Apostles speak, who call themselves servants of a present Christ, not the vicars of an absent one!"

Concerning Christian Liberty
- 10: "…the things I have spoken of can be done by any impious person, and only hypocrites are produced by devotion to these things. On the other hand, it will not at all injure the soul that the body should be clothed in profane raiment, should dwell in profane places, should eat and drink in the ordinary fashion, should not pray aloud, and should leave undone all the things above mentioned, which may be done by hypocrites…"

- 10: "One thing, and one alone, is necessary for life, justification, and Christian liberty; and that is the most holy word of God, the Gospel of Christ."

- 11: "For the word of God cannot be received and honoured by any works, but by faith alone. Hence it is clear that as the soul needs the word alone for life and justification, so it is justified by faith alone, and not by any works. For if it could be justified by any other means, it would have no need of the word, nor consequently of faith."

- 11-12: "…it is solely by impiety and incredulity of heart that he becomes guilty and a slave of sin, deserving condemnation, not by any outward sin or work. Therefore the first care of every Christian ought to be to lay aside all reliance on works, and strengthen his faith alone more and more, and by it grow in the knowledge, not of works, but of Christ Jesus…"

- 12: "…the whole Scripture of God is divided into two parts: precepts and promises. The precepts certainly teach us what is good, but what they teach is not forthwith done. For they show us what we ought to do, but do not give us the power to do it. They were ordained, however, for the purpose of showing man to himself, that through them he may learn his own impotence for good and may despair of his own strength. For this reason they are called the Old Testament."

- 13: "…what is impossible for you by all the works of the law, which are many and yet useless, you shall fulfil in an easy and summary way through faith, because God the Father has made everything to depend on faith, so that whosoever has it has all things, and he who has it not has nothing."

- 14: "The highest worship of God is to ascribe to Him truth, righteousness, and whatever qualities we must ascribe to one in whom we believe. In doing this the soul shows itself prepared to do His whole will; in doing this it hallows His name, and gives itself up to be dealt with as it may please God."

- 14: "…what greater rebellion, impiety, or insult to God can there be, than not to believe His promises? What else is this, than either to make God a liar, or to doubt His truth—that is, to attribute truth to ourselves, but to God falsehood and levity?"

- 14: "For faith does truth and righteousness in rendering to God what is His… It is true and righteous that God is true and righteous; and to confess this and ascribe these attributes to Him, this it is to be true and righteous."

- 16: "It is not by working, but by believing, that we glorify God, and confess Him to be true."

- 18: "…there is nothing of which I have need—for faith alone suffices for my salvation—unless that in it faith may exercise the power and empire of its liberty."

- 19: "For though it is true that we are all equally priests, yet we cannot, nor, if we could, ought we all to, minister and teach publicly."

- 20: "There are now not a few persons who preach and read about Christ with the object of moving the human affections to sympathise with Christ, to indignation against the Jews, and other childish and womanish absurdities of that kind."

- 20: "Who can injure such a heart, or make it afraid? If the consciousness of sin or the horror of death rush in upon it, it is prepared to hope in the Lord, and is fearless of such evils, and undisturbed, until it shall look down upon its enemies. For it believes that the righteousness of Christ is its own."

- 21: "If faith does everything, and by itself suffices for justification, why then are good works commanded? Are we then to take our ease and do no works, content with faith?" Not so, impious men, I reply; not so. That would indeed really be the case, if we were thoroughly and completely inner and spiritual persons; but that will not happen until the last day, when the dead shall be raised. As long as we live in the flesh, we are but beginning and making advances in that which shall be completed in a future life."

- 21: "…he remains in this mortal life upon earth, in which it is necessary that he should rule his own body and have intercourse with men. Here then works begin; here he must not take his ease; here he must give heed to exercise his body by fastings, watchings, labour, and other regular discipline, so that it may be subdued to the spirit, and obey and conform itself to the inner man and faith, and not rebel against them nor hinder them, as is its nature to do if it is not kept under."

- 21: "…he comes into collision with that contrary will in his own flesh, which is striving to serve the world and to seek its own gratification."

- 22: "…from the requirements of his own body, a man cannot take his ease, but is compelled on its account to do many good works, that he may bring it into subjection. Yet these works are not the means of his justification before God; he does them out of disinterested love to the service of God; looking to no other end than to do what is well-pleasing to Him whom he desires to obey most dutifully in all things."

- 23: "Adam had been created by God just and righteous, so that he could not have needed to be justified and made righteous by keeping the garden and working in it; but, that he might not be unemployed, God gave him the business of keeping and cultivating paradise. These would have indeed been works of perfect freedom, being done for no object but that of pleasing God, and not in order to obtain justification, which he already had to the full, and which would have been innate in us all."

- 23: "Thus a Christian, being consecrated by his faith, does good works; but he is not by these works made a more sacred person, or more a Christian."

- 25: "For if works are brought forward as grounds of justification, and are done under the false persuasion that we can pretend to be justified by them, they lay on us the yoke of necessity, and extinguish liberty along with faith, and by this very addition to their use they become no longer good, but really worthy of condemnation. For such works are not free…"

- 25: "We do not then reject good works; nay, we embrace them and teach them in the highest degree. It is not on their own account that we condemn them, but on account of this impious addition to them and the perverse notion of seeking justification by them."

- 25: "The voice of the law should be brought forward, that men may be terrified and brought to a knowledge of their sins, and thence be converted to penitence and to a better manner of life. But we must not stop here; that would be to wound only and not to bind up, to strike and not to heal…"

- 25: "…the word of grace and of the promised remission of sin must also be preached, in order to teach and set up faith, since without that word contrition, penitence, and all other duties, are performed and taught in vain."

- 26: "…it is impossible that he should take his ease in this life, and not work for the good of his neighbours, since he must needs speak, act, and converse among men…"

- 26: "...but in all his works he ought to entertain this view and look only to this object—that he may serve and be useful to others in all that he does; having nothing before his eyes but the necessities and the advantage of his neighbour."

- 26: "It is the part of a Christian to take care of his own body for the very purpose that, by its soundness and well-being, he may be enabled to labour, and to acquire and preserve property, for the aid of those who are in want, that thus the stronger member may serve the weaker member, and we may be children of God."

- 27: "…the Apostle lays down this rule for a Christian life: that all our works should be directed to the advantage of others, since every Christian has such abundance through his faith that all his other works and his whole life remain over and above wherewith to serve and benefit his neighbour of spontaneous goodwill."

- 28: "Lo! my God, without merit on my part, of His pure and free mercy, has given to me, an unworthy, condemned, and contemptible creature all the riches of justification and salvation in Christ, so that I no longer am in want of anything, except of faith to believe that this is so. For such a Father, then, who has overwhelmed me with these inestimable riches of His, why should I not freely, cheerfully, and with my whole heart, and from voluntary zeal, do all that I know will be pleasing to Him and acceptable in His sight? I will therefore give myself as a sort of Christ, to my neighbour, as Christ has given Himself to me; and will do nothing in this life except what I see will be needful, advantageous, and wholesome for my neighbour, since by faith I abound in all good things in Christ."

- 29: "…we are quite ignorant about our own name, why we are and are called Christians. We are certainly called so from Christ, who is not absent, but dwells among us—provided, that is, that we believe in Him and are reciprocally and mutually one the Christ of the other, doing to our neighbour as Christ does to us."

- 31: "We give this rule: the good things which we have from God ought to flow from one to another and become common to all…"

- 34: "…we ought boldly to resist those teachers of tradition, and though the laws of the pontiffs, by which they make aggressions on the people of God, deserve sharp reproof, yet we must spare the timid crowd, who are held captive by the laws of those impious tyrants, till they are set free. Fight vigorously against the wolves, but on behalf of the sheep, not against the sheep."

- 34: "If you wish to use your liberty, do it secretly, as Paul says, "Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God" (Rom. xiv. 22). … On the other hand, in the presence of tyrants and obstinate opposers, use your liberty in their despite, and with the utmost pertinacity, that they too may understand that they are tyrants, and their laws useless for justification, nay that they had no right to establish such laws."